Guide: How to Choose Products to Sell on Amazon

For a seller starting out on Amazon, or even a seasoned veteran, choosing a new line of products to list can be a daunting task. There hundreds of categories to choose from and millions more competing products to sift through. That being said, there are plenty of opportunities to be found - if you know how to look. And, with the right tools and techniques, it isn’t that hard.

Essentially, when deciding on the right products to buy to list on Amazon, you’ll want to spend the bulk of your time analyzing the competition to see where you can take advantage of weaker competing listings. Furthermore, you’ll want to consider factors which signal the popularity of a given item.

This guide will cover how to analyze and consider these two factors when choosing new products to sell on Amazon. It is important to note, that, instead of detailing the minutiaes of each strategy, this guide will focus mostly on high-level strategies that encompass the buying process. That being said, it does, however, in every case provide helpful links to guides that I have written to automate as much of the process as possible.

How to Choose Products to Sell on Amazon

First off, it’s important to note that most of this work should be done in a spreadsheet. To find the right products to buy and sell we’ll be searching through hundreds of products and keeping track of them will be much easier if they’re all kept together in a table. So, with your favourite spreadsheet editor loaded up, let’s get started.

Wholesaler marketplaces like Alibaba make it easy to find a supplier for just about any product. However, whether it is DVDs, shoe soles or coffee makers, you’ll want to first pick a target category or search filter to choose your products from. Of course, this is not absolutely necessary, but it will help you focus on a similar grouping of products, which, in turn, will help you see the weaknesses in competing listings.

Not sure what category to pick?

There is, of course, no wrong category, but if you are just starting out, it is best to start with products that are small, easy to ship and are hard to damage in transit. This will make logistics much easier for you and will, hopefully, give you a higher order success rate (which is important for winning the buy box!). With your category in mind, you’ll need to go deeper and try to find a list of products within this category that have a chance at succeeding on Amazon.

How to create a list of candidate products

In this guide, we’ll be covering two ways of creating a list of candidate products: searching through products listed on Amazon and searching for products outside of Amazon. In any case, regardless of which method you choose, before analyzing the competition of these products on Amazon, you’ll want to extract the ASINs of each of the products that you are thinking about listing. Retrieving the ASIN will allow us to level the playing field and accurately compare all of the possible candidate items.

What is an ASIN?

The ASIN is simply a unique code that Amazon assigns to each product that is listed. The purpose of the product is so that Amazon can compare the prices of the same products. This means that when you are listing a product on Amazon, Amazon tries to find if another seller has already listed the same product on Amazon. If this ends up being the case, your product will be assigned that same assign. This means you and the other sellers will be competing for the buy box on a number of metrics including price and customer reviews.

Creating a list of Candidate Products From within Amazon

The first method for creating a list of candidate products is simply to search and gather information of already-listed products within your target category on Amazon. It goes without saying, of course, that this method will set you up with a list of candidate products rather quickly, but you won’t have in-depth knowledge into the popularity of the products or how likely they will be to succeed in the long run. So, even if you wish to skip the method detailed below, it’s still a good idea to give it a quick read as it may give you ideas on how to further vet your candidate products.

With that all being said, start by searching for your product category on Amazon. When you reach the search results page for your given category, you’ll then want to extract the product meta-data so we can analyze them quickly within a spreadsheet. We’ll want to get the following information on about 100 or so products: product ASIN, buy box price, number of sellers, rating and rank. You can go by hand, copying and pasting to export the list of product information; however, if that proves too time-consuming, there are tools that let you export ASINs and others that let you export their product information. With that information all loaded up in your spreadsheet, you’ll then want to skip ahead to the “Analyze the Competition” section to see if any of the products you’ve chosen are good opportunities.

Choosing Products from Other Sources

Although decidedly more difficult and time-consuming than the previous method, you are likely to see more success by following the strategies listed below than by creating a list of candidate products solely from within the Amazon ecosystem. That being said, you can still vet the list of products you’ve previously chosen with the method above, using the strategies below.

Search for Awards and Industry News

To start creating your candidate list, use your target product category to search for awards handed out to products in that category. There are typically several websites that host awards for a given product type and some even list links to award winning products on Amazon. Log any of the products that you find on these sites in your candidate list. For every product that you log, be sure to note down the product identifier in your spreadsheet. In most cases, you’ll only find a UPC or EAN code. To get an ASIN from a UPC code you can use a conversion tool or you can search through Amazon manually. Getting the ASIN for each product will be crucial for understanding how many competitors are selling each product.

Social Indicators

Next, broaden out your search by searching for your product category on social and social aggregator sites (Reddit, Twitter, Youtube) to see which products are generating the most social traction. As with the previous step, try to find either the UPC or ASIN of each of the products listed and keep track of them in your spreadsheet.

Google Trends

If you aren’t familiar, Google Trends is a tool that scours the internet to find mentions of a given keyword. And, with any given search, you’ll see if the amount of mentions of that keyword are increasing or decreasing over time. This gives us a great opportunity to see if our candidate products are increasing in popularity of decreasing. That said, plug in as many of the candidate products you’ve just found and remove any of the products that are showing a down trend for longer than a year (some products are seasonal and will downtrend during some parts of the year and we don’t want to remove them solely on that fact).

Compile Product Data from Amazon

Before moving on, you’ll want to get information of each of the remaining candidate products on Amazon. If you don’t already have the ASINs of each product, you can either do a keyword search on Amazon for the product or use the product UPC to find the equivalent product on Amazon. If you wish to automate this process use a bulk UPC to ASIN converter. With the ASIN in hand, get the following information about each product on Amazon: ASIN, UPC, buy box price, number of sellers, rating and rank. While it may be a lengthy process to do so, it is essential to being able to see how well you will compare against other sellers of the same item. Furthermore, there are tools available which can automate the process.

Figuring out your costs and sell price

Although tedious, if at all possible, you should try to determine the sell price any or all of the candidate products you’ve found. It is crucial to being able to determine if you can compete with other sellers on an ASIN. So, if you’ve found UPC codes for any of your candidate products, it will be easy to search through a site like Alibaba to find the cheapest supplier for a given product. If you haven’t you’ll have to rely on a simple keyword search to find the costs for each product. Before moving on, make sure your sell price is saved as a separate column in your spreadsheet.

Analyze the Competition

Analyzing the competition is the most important step of this whole guide. By now, your spreadsheet should be filled with items and should also have the following columns of data: ASIN, UPC, buy box price, your sell price, number of sellers, rating and rank. With all this information in your sheet, we’ll start creating a shortlist by removing candidate products that are not feasible to compete with on Amazon.

The first step will be to remove any product where the buy box price is lower than your minimum sell price. If you can’t compete on buy box price, it is not likely that you will sell many of those products as Amazon will divert any sales to your competitors with the lower price. The next bit is where things start to become more subjective. You’ll want to sort by product rank and remove the products on your sheet that have a very low rank for their category. What qualifies as a low rank depends on the category of the product, so you should do your research before determining what exactly your cut off rank will be. Last, you’ll want to sort by the sheet by the number of sellers for each product. This is because, simply put, with a lower amount of competing sellers on your ASINs, you have a better chance of winning the buy box. Therefore, your product shortlist should be comprised of items that have the least amount of competing sellers.

At this point, you should have a small enough list to go off and start buying products to sell. It goes without saying, it is very much up to your intuition and preference at this stage as to whether or not you will choose certain products. But this guide should be able to give you an objective strategy on eliminating and picking items to sell on Amazon.