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8 Examples of Ecommerce Business Ideas

Ecommerce is one of the most attractive business models nowadays. It is easy to get started, and the possibilities for profit are quite high.

But it’s also highly competitive—worldwide ecommerce sales hit $8.1 trillion and are expected to grow by 24% by 2026. These ecommerce sales have to come from somewhere, and that means countless up-and-coming business owners are taking up the challenge.

If you’re considering starting an ecommerce business, but you’re not sure where to start, here are eight examples of successful ecommerce businesses to help inspire you.

1. Start a dropshipping business

Four steps showing how dropshipping works

Dropshipping is a type of ecommerce business where you sell products without having to carry any inventory. When a customer places an order in your store, you simply contact the supplier, who will then ship the products directly to the customer’s door.

Dropshipping is one of the most popular ecommerce business models because it’s easy to get started and it doesn’t require business owners to carry any inventory. It’s also a low-risk way to test out starting an ecommerce business.

If you want to start a dropshipping business, you’ll need to find a niche, find profitable dropshipping products, and then find a supplier who is willing to work with you. You can either find a supplier yourself or use a dropshipping platform like Oberlo, which connects you with suppliers.

Here are a few ways to find profitable dropshipping products:

To ensure your product is profitable, you’ll want to find a product that costs more. If you choose to sell a product like bracelets, cheap sunglasses, or phone cases, you’ll likely find yourself in a situation where you’re spending more money on ads than you’re making in sales.

Let’s look at an example:

Pretend you’re dropshipping bracelets that cost you $2 to source from your supplier. You set your retail price at $10, giving you a gross profit margin of 80%. But after accounting for the cost of your shipping and handling, your margin is much slimmer.

Additionally, you will need to market your product. Otherwise, it won’t sell. Even if you choose to run targeted ads with low-cost-per-click keywords (i.e., under $1), assuming the average conversion rate (2.5-3%), you’d lose a significant amount of money on each sale.

2. Start a print-on-demand business

Print On Demand homepage

Print-on-demand (POD) is a type of ecommerce business where you sell custom-printed products. The most common type of POD business is t-shirt printing, but you can also print on mugs, phone cases, tote bags, and more.

The great thing about starting a POD business is that you don’t need to invest in any inventory upfront. You only pay for the products when you make a sale, which means there’s very little risk involved.

Some platforms like Zazzle enable you to design and upload your own products, while others like Printful will print and ship the products for you. All you need to do is send them the design, and they’ll take care of the rest.

The main disadvantage to starting a POD business is that the margins are usually quite low. For example, if you’re selling t-shirts for $20, you might only make a few dollars per shirt after accounting for the cost of goods and shipping.

Especially if you use a service like Printful, which takes a cut of each sale, you’ll give up a large portion of your profits. And if you want to find your own supplier or handle fulfillment, you might spend even more money on each order.

To be successful with POD, you need to focus on two things: finding a niche market and marketing your products.

To do this, you need to be socially aware and have a pulse on what’s trending. You can do this by staying up-to-date with popular culture, reading blogs, and following influencers in your niche.

A few creative ideas include:

  • Selling a book with 300 completely blank pages titled “Best Things About Being A Millennial”
  • Creating a line of “This Is Fine” dog mugs inspired by the popular meme
  • Designing a series of t-shirts with clever sayings for new moms, such as “I Survived The First Three Months”
  • Designing a “niche-specific” clothing line for a group that’s often overlooked (e.g., plus-size, petite)
  • Creating a coffee mug with a sassy message like “I’m not bossy. I’m the boss”

The key is to be creative and think outside the box. If you can tap into a trend early on, you’ll be able to find success with POD.

3. Sell products using Amazon FBA

How Amazon FBA Works in six steps

Amazon FBA (Fulfillment By Amazon) is a type of ecommerce business where you sell products on Amazon, and they fulfill the orders for you.

The great thing about Amazon FBA is that it gives you access to Amazon’s massive customer base. And because Amazon is such a trusted platform, buyers are more likely to purchase from you than from a stranger online.

Especially if you want to become a digital nomad or work from home, Amazon FBA is a great option because it doesn’t require a lot of upfront investment. You don’t need to buy much inventory to get started, and you don’t need to hold onto it either. Amazon will take care of all the storage and shipping for you.

But because Amazon is the biggest ecommerce search engine, it’s also the most competitive. You’ll need to find a niche market and spend a lot of time marketing your products to succeed with Amazon FBA. And even then, there’s no guarantee that you’ll make a profit.

Nearly 1 in 4 Amazon sellers make over $25,000 per month in revenue, but you’ll need to be skilled in Amazon SEO to even get close to that number.

A few ideas for products you could sell on Amazon include:

  • Gadgets and electronics
  • Home goods
  • Kitchen supplies
  • Fashion accessories
  • Beauty products

To get started with Amazon FBA, you can either buy an existing FBA business or start from scratch.

If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll need to find a supplier, create your product listings, and start driving traffic to your listings.

If you buy an existing FBA business, you’ll take over the seller account and have access to their products, inventory, and customers. You’ll also be responsible for any outstanding orders and customer service issues.

4. Create an online course

Animated image of woman teaching a course

If you have expertise in a particular subject, chances are you have information that others would pay top dollar for. And since courses are created once and sold forever, they’re infinitely scalable (hypothetically).

Of course, it’s not that simple. You can’t just record a video of yourself talking and expect people to pay for it.

Your course needs to be high-quality, comprehensive, and well-structured if you want people to take it seriously. It also needs to be marketed properly to attract students.

To maintain credibility in your subject matter’s community, you’ll also need to make your course as valuable as possible. Many online courses are scams, and people are rightfully skeptical of them.

So how do you create a high-value online course?

The key is to start with a specific problem that your target market has and then craft your course around solving that problem.

Your course should be structured like a step-by-step system that walks students through each stage of solving the problem.

Here’s a quick framework for how to start an online course:

  1. Create a website and landing page for your course.
  2. Build a lead funnel that gets users to subscribe to an email list using a downloadable whitepaper or checklist.
  3. Send legitimately helpful content to your email list to establish trust.
  4. Upsell your course to your email list using a webinar or video sales letter.

You can also grow your following organically by posting content on TikTok, LinkedIn, or other social media platforms.

Once you have a few thousand followers, you can start promoting your course to them.

5. Build a SaaS platform

SaaS

Believe it or not, you don’t need coding skills to build a successful software company.

There are now platforms that allow you to create and launch a fully-functional software product without writing a single line of code.

Of course, you’ll still need some technical skills to get everything set up, unless you plan to outsource that as well.

Once your product is built, your primary goal will be to get people to use it. You can do this through content marketing, paid ads, social media, PR, and other marketing channels.

You can start charging for your product if you can get a few thousand users. And since it’s a software product, it’s easy to scale up your pricing as your user base grows.

To find profitable software to build, you can start by thinking about products you already use. This could be:

  • A tool you use at your job
  • A platform you use for side hustles
  • A piece of software you use for your hobbies

Then, ask yourself how you could improve upon that product. Is there a different way it could be built? Is there a niche market it could be catering to?

Or, you can also look at popular software in your industry and see if there’s a way to build a similar product for a different industry.

For example, the software Asana is popular among marketers and agencies. But what if you built a project management tool specifically for architects?

This is how most successful software companies get started. They see an opportunity in an existing market and find a way to better serve it.

6. Make an affiliate marketing website

How affiliate marketing works

Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing where you get a commission for promoting someone else’s products or services.

You can find affiliate programs for just about any type of product or service out there. And if you have a website, you can start promoting those products and earning commission on every sale you generate.

This model is particularly popular in the blogging world. Many bloggers make a full-time income from affiliate marketing alone.

To get started, you’ll need to sign up for an affiliate program and then create content promoting the products or services you’re promoting.

Once you have enough visitors per month, you can start earning commission on every sale you generate. And if you can get to a sizable number of visitors per month, you can start earning a six-figure income from your website.

Of course, it takes time to build up to that level. Unless you buy an affiliate website that’s already generating traffic, you’ll need to spend time growing your audience before you start seeing any significant income.

Ahrefs results page for Crazy Egg

The Crazy Egg blog has a monthly traffic value of $1.5 million, but it took us years to get there. So don’t expect to start earning six figures overnight.

7. Sell subscription boxes

FabFitFun subscription box

Some companies like Bespoke Post or Birchbox have built entire businesses around the subscription box model.

With this business model, you curate a box of products each month and send it to your subscribers. The box’s contents can be anything from clothes to books to beauty products.

To get started, you’ll need to find suppliers for the products you want to include in your boxes. Then, you’ll need to create a marketing plan to get people to sign up for your service.

This business model is particularly popular with niche businesses that cater to specific audiences. For example, there are subscription boxes for:

  • Dog lovers who want new toys for their pups each month
  • Wine drinkers who need new wines to try without looking too hard for them.
  • Makeup enthusiasts who want to experiment with new products without spending a lot of money.
  • Fitness buffs who want new workout gear and healthy snacks delivered to their door each month.

The key to making this business model work is to find a niche audience that’s willing to pay for your service. Once you’ve found your target market, you can start working on your marketing plan.

8. Market white-label products

White-label products

White-label products are already-made products you can brand with your logo and sell as your own.

The best thing about this kind of business is that you don’t need to create any products from scratch. You can simply find a supplier, brand the products with your logo, and start selling.

Figuring out how to get your products made efficiently and for an optimal cost is an incredibly challenging part of starting a business. But with a white-label business, that’s all taken care of for you.

To get started, you’ll need to find a supplier for the products you want to sell. Some niches (e.g., fitness and beauty products) have multiple suppliers you can choose from. Others (e.g., electronics) may only have one or two.

Some suppliers allow you to order small quantities of products (e.g., 100 units), while others require you to order in bulk (e.g., 10,000 units). In some cases, you may be able to order them directly from the supplier. In others, you may need to go through a distributor.

You’ll also need to create packaging for your products and come up with a branding strategy, which will include designing your logo and choosing a color scheme.


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