What to sell online: The 10 most profitable products trending in 2018 (so far)

June 13, 2018

What to Sell Online: Trending Products 2018

This guide will share some of the best trending products of 2018 so far, and show you exactly what to sell online to make a huge profit!

So you're thinking about starting an online store and you aren't sure what to sell.

That's fantastic! Running an eCommerce business can help you achieve financial freedom, be your own boss, make your own schedule, and quit your 9 to 5. It's one of the best business ideas.

eCommerce is a trillion dollar market, and it’s still growing as we speak…

...but that doesn’t automatically mean that any average Joe who starts an online store today is going on to become a millionaire.

In fact, only 650,000 (out of the 12 million stores online!) make over $1,000 per year. That’s a measly 5%.

Number of eCommerce Stores that increase sales

Image from Blog.Lemonstand.com.

What’s the secret sauce of this top 5%, you ask?

Well, it boils down to a couple of things, including selling the right products and having a good marketing strategy.

If you ask me, the most important thing that makes or breaks an eCommerce store is the products that it sells.

If the demand for your product just isn’t there, you can invest your entire life savings into marketing, but your consumers still won’t bite.

So before you dash off to Shopify and start setting up your website, put some thought into what products you want to sell.

Obviously, you should look at trending products to sell (which are likely to turn a profit), but  there are other factors that come into the picture as well. Last year it was fidget spinners - this year it's totally different!

We'll look at 2018's trending products in a moment. First, I'd like to explain what makes a good product to start selling online so you know what to look for. Consider this an ultimate guide to trending items and choosing a product!

If you want to skip straight to the trending eCommerce product ideas, click here.

What makes a good product to sell online?

There are five keys to a great product:

#1: Profitability

Pop quiz: when you’re trying to decide whether you should sell Product X on your website, what’s the first question you should ask yourself?

Is it…

A) Do I like this product, or

B) Is it profitable?

If you answered B, you’re correct!

Plenty of first-time entrepreneurs somehow get the idea that they should only be selling products they personally use and love.

If you ask me, that’s a terrible idea.

You’re running a business, not a hobby. You should be selling whatever makes you the most money!

Say you purchase a thousand sets of bed sheets from your supplier and you pay $10 per set.

After you add in 20% duty fees to import, shipping fees, and credit card processing fees, the total cost of your product rises to $17.

Because you’ll probably need to run some Google AdWords or Facebook Ad campaigns as well, let’s add an extra $3 for marketing. Now we’re at $20.

In order to make a 50% margin on this product, you’ll have to sell it at a minimum of $30.

Pro Tip: if you’re trying to get a sense of how to price your products, check out Shopify’s Profit Margin Calculator. Just plug in the cost of your item and the % markup, and it’ll spit out your item price and profit margin.

#2: Price point

Profitability might be important, but it’s only one part of the puzzle.

Let’s say you import hair accessories from China at $0.10 a pop, and resell them on your website for $1 each.

That’s a 900% profit margin, which sounds incredible!

BUT at the end of the day, you’re only making $0.90 per sale. And it’ll take you a long time to get rich with $0.90 transactions.

Personally, I recommend selling products priced at $50 and above.

First, this gives you a decent profit per sale.

On top of that, it also filters out lower-income customers - these guys typically bombard eCommerce stores with a ton of questions and they’re tougher to serve.

Now, you might be wondering…

If I’m aiming for as large a profit as possible, why stop at $100? Why not sell items which are $1,000? Or $10,000?

Best Pricing Strategy for eCommerce

Image from MadeFreshly.com.

Well, no one’s stopping you from selling more expensive items. But remember: the larger-ticket your item is, the harder you’ll have to work to earn your customer’s trust.

Let’s flip this on its head, and imagine you’re the one making the purchase.

If you’re buying a $10 t-shirt, you’ll probably complete your purchase pretty quickly without giving it too much thought.

You might not even read the return policy. Even if the shirt doesn’t fit, you’re just out $10 - it’s not the end of the world.

But if you’re buying a $1,000 camera, you’ll probably spend more time researching the camera (and comparing it to other models) before you click that checkout button.

You’ll also read the customer reviews, and I bet you’ll want to know if there’s a warranty included, how long it lasts, and what it covers. Heck, you might even ring up the company’s customer service hotline to confirm certain details with them.

Now, imagine a scenario where you’re in the market to purchase a $10,000 state-of-the-art speaker set.

Unless you have a lot of disposable income, you probably wouldn’t dream of making the purchase online. You’ll go down to the company’s showroom and test it out for yourself before you hand over your credit card.

Moral of the story?

The more expensive your item, the more time you’ll spend pre-selling customers and responding to inquiries.

If you’re up for it, then by all means, go for it!

But if you’re an introvert who’s balking at the very thought of chatting with your customers, then keep your items in the $50 - $200 range. This way, you won’t get too many questions and will have a much easier time selling your products.

#3: Size / weight

Ideally, you should be selling products which are light and don’t take up a lot of space.

This makes shipping your products more cost-effective, which in turn makes it easier for you to offer your customers free shipping (which has been shown to increase conversions).

What should I charge for shipping?

Image from Acquisio.com.

If your products aren’t too bulky, this also makes it easier for you to expand your operations and start selling overseas.

Selling overseas might seem completely unnecessary at this point (when you’re just getting started), but don’t write it off completely.

Sure, you might be able to make a decent profit just by selling in the US for now, but what happens 2 years down the road, when your business has peaked and you can’t get your sales figures to grow regardless of how much you invest in your PPC campaigns?

You’ll want to venture overseas to try and expand your market.

Pro Tip: If you don’t want to store products in a warehouse yourself, you can always dabble in drop shipping!

#4: Popularity

Last but not least, make sure that the products you’re selling are popular and in-demand.

How do you know which products are in-demand?

Simple - hop on over to Amazon’s Best Sellers page.

While you’re at it, also check out:

Now, once you’ve put together a list of options which fulfill all your criteria (profitable, decent pricing, lightweight and small, and in-demand), the next step is to run these through the Google Trends tool.

If you’re new to Google Trends, bookmark it now!

This tool shows you how many people have searched for a particular product over the past few years, and it’s super easy to use.

All you need to do is to type your search term in…

Google Trends Tool


...and Google Trends will spit out a graph showing you consumers’ interest over time.

Falling Google Trends Curve

 

Now, if you look at this graph I’ve got here, you’ll see that interest in acai berries is waning.

Bearing this in mind, I probably wouldn’t want to sell any sort of acai berry related product on my eCommerce site.

Let’s throw in a second search term - kombucha.

Detox Tea Growth Trends

 

Now, look at that graph again.

It’s obvious that consumers are a lot more interested in kombucha, so you’ll be better off selling kombucha-related products in your store. Always look out for fashion trends!

Pro Tip: You can also swap out your graph to find out what shoppers in other countries (outside of the US) are searching for. If you’re planning to ship to Canada, for example, click on the drop-down list on the top left hand corner and switch the country accordingly.

#5: Competitiveness

Now that you know how to assess a product’s demand, let’s look at things on the supply side.

Obviously, the more exclusive your product is, the better.

Hold your horses. I’m not saying you have to sell a product that’s completely unique and never-before-seen. That’s pretty unrealistic, unless you’re an inventor who's manufacturing their own stuff.

But at the same time, you don’t want to be selling the same products that a gazillion online retailers have already listed on their stores.

Think about power banks or generic, mass-produced phone cases, for example.

With so many online retailers selling the exact same product, there’s really no way for a single store to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

Because of this, retailers who are selling these items often resort to drastically dropping their prices and “spoiling” the market. It becomes a race to the bottom, with no one being the winner.

Even conglomerates like Best Buy do this:

Cell Phone Accessories

 
When this happens, everyone suffers.

If you can afford to slash your own prices to match your competitor’s, you might still be able to move some stock, but you won’t make much on these items.

If you can’t slash your prices, then your stock will just be taking up space in your warehouse (or your basement, if you’re still in your startup phase). Sooner or later, your items will become obsolete, and you’ll have to write them off.

The bottom line?

Don’t sell generic, mass-produced items on your site. Unless you have enough capital to wage a price war and come out on top, it just isn’t worth it.

This begs the question:

How do you know whether there’s a ton of online stores selling a certain product?

Simple - just Google the product you have in mind and see what pops up.

At the same time, check to see if there are a lot of sellers offering the same item on Amazon as well.

While you’re doing that, look at their prices (do they have some breathing room, or are they making a tiny margin?) and quickly browse their reviews so you can gauge how long they’ve been in business.

Once you’ve dug up all the dirt on your competition and understand your target audience, you’ll be ready to make your decision as to what products to sell!

10 profitable trending products in 2018 (and their suppliers!)

Wondering what the top trending products to sell online right now are?

I’ve compiled a handy list for you. You’re welcome! ;)

Side Note: Drop shipping is available for each product listed below.

1. Keto Supplements

Keto Supplements to Sell Online

Image from FoodFitForFun.com.

A few decades ago, the Atkins diet was all anyone could talk about.

Five years back, the Paleo diet was in fashion.

And today? The Keto diet is all the rage.

If you haven’t heard of it, the Keto or Ketogenic diet involves people cutting down on their carb intake. The rationale behind this? When you consume less carbs, your body starts burning and breaking down those stubborn fats instead.

It isn’t just the Keto diet that’s popular - Keto-related products are equally high in demand.

Here’s what the Google Trends graph for Keto supplements looks like, for example:

Spike in Demand

Pros of keto supplements:

  • Small, easy to ship
  • Perishable (meaning you’ll get re-orders!)
  • Great profit margins

Cons of keto supplements:

  • May be subject to strict import laws
  • No need to get FDA approval, but you’ll need to ensure that these are safe for consumption before selling them

Potential Profit: $20 - $40 per bottle

Suppliers: JustNutra, NutraBusiness, Private Label Nutraceuticals

2. Enamel Pins

Enamel Pins Fashion Products

Image from EyeOnDesign.Aiga.Org.

Enamel Pins , which people use to jazz up their jackets or backpacks, are increasingly becoming a thing.

It’s easy to see why they're growing in popularity - they’re cute, inexpensive, and they help you transform an outfit into something that’s truly your own. (People LOVE to customize things, and beauty products that help them do that are almost always popular.)

Trending Products Search Volume 2018

Now, the fashion industry is notoriously tough to crack (the competition is stiff and the keywords are expensive), but if you want to take a crack at it, I’d say this is a good product to start off with!

Pros of enamel pins:

  • Small, easy to ship
  • Won’t take up much inventory space
  • Easy to create packages that increase average order values

Cons of enamel pins:

  • Low price point (to get around this, consider bundling your pins and selling them in a large packet - or even starting a pin subscription box!)

Potential Profit: $3 - $5 per piece

Suppliers: PinCrafters, MadeByCooper, Cangnan Qiaoyuan Crafts Co.

3. Beard Oil

Beard Oil

Image from NotOnTheHighStreet.com.

It’s not just women who are spending money on beauty and skincare - men are getting in on the action too.

One men’s grooming product which has gained quite a bit of traction in the last few years?

Beard oil.

Now, if you look at the Google Trends graph, you’ll notice that demand for this product peaks around December every year, which suggests that a lot of people are purchasing these oils as Christmas gifts.

Growth Curve
 

But that aside, there’s also a growing trend in demand across the years, which is a good sign.

Pros of beard oil:

  • Ties into a larger trend (men spending more on grooming)
  • Can be marketed as a gift (people are willing to spend more on these!)
  • Potential to expand into other grooming products

Cons of beard oil:

  • Due to special packaging, you might encounter complications with shipping
  • Potential customer service nightmare
  • High competition

Potential Profit: $8 - $18 per bottle

Suppliers: Private Label Select, Grizzly Adam, Guangzhou Caiqi Cosmetics

4. Shapewear

Fashion Products

Image from Macom-Medical.com.

After Kim Kardashian “broke the internet” in 2014, and Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda was released in that same year, there was a noticeable shift in standards. Today, societal trends suggest that the ideal body shape (for women, at least!) is a curvy one.

As it happens, for women who need a little help achieving that "perfect hourglass figure," shapewear is marketed as the answer.

Disclaimer: This is completely an observation of societal trends. I am NOT advocating any kind of diet, ideal body type, or passing judgement of any kind. 

eCommerce Trends
 

And looking at the Google Trends graph, it seems as though women are biting! They want these niche products.

Pros of shapewear:

  • Small, easy to ship
  • Potentially high profit margins

Cons of shapewear:

  • Product might generate high volume of inquiries
  • Some waist trainers can do more harm than good. Be sure you only sell high-quality waist trainers from a reputable supplier (for your safety as well as your customers), or you may run into liability and customer service issues.

Potential Profit: $8 - $50 per piece

Suppliers: Feel Foxy, Rago Shapewear, Siluet Shapewear, Shantou San Dian Hong Underwear Industrial

5. Minimalist watches

Best eCommerce Products to Drop Ship

Image from ManOfMany.com.

Watches might have traditionally been used to tell the time, but they’re now fashion accessories in their own right.

What brought on this change?

If you ask me, the growing trend comes from the influx of watch brands which offer beautifully-crafted watches at affordable price points (Daniel Wellington being the brand that started it all).

Profitable eCommerce Niches
 

There are plenty of minimalist watch brands available today, but as evidenced by the Google Trends graph, demand is still growing. (Although it does have some intense peaks and valleys.)

In other words: it isn’t too late to join the party!

Pros of minimalist watches:

  • Small, easy to ship
  • Potentially high profit margins

Cons of minimalist watches:

  • Designs can be easily copied
  • Batteries in packages can cause issues

Potential Profit: $15 - $60 per piece

Suppliers: JSDA Watch Co, Shenzhen Gezfeel Watch Co, Shenzhen TianWeiShi Watch Co.

6. Travel Backpacks

Travel Backpacks

Image from timbuk2.com.

It’s 2018 and we want our traveling gear lighter, smaller, and easier to check in.

Enter the travel backpack.

These babies are sleek, they’re functional, and some of them even come with power bank chargers to power up your phone (and other devices).

No wonder they’re so well-received!

Popular Items Search Growth
 

I don’t foresee demand for these travel backpacks falling anytime soon, either.

Think about it:

Travel is now a lot easier and cheaper than it used to be, and it’s going to continue becoming more accessible in the future. (Hello, Smart Cars and AI drivers!)

And with the number of travelers on the rise, you can bet that more people will be purchasing these nifty backpacks as well. Selling this product should be a breeze!

Pros of travel backpacks:

  • Potentially high profit margins
  • Lots of customization options
  • Ability to branch into other product categories (fashion, travel, camping, etc.)

Cons of travel backpacks:

  • Bulky, might be expensive to ship
  • Customers are not likely to repurchase
  • Tough competition

Potential Profit: $20 - $80 per piece

Suppliers: Weierken, Dallas Wholesalers, Alpine Bear, Xiamen Xilong Commodity Co.

7. Korean Skincare Products

Korean Skin Care Products

Image from PeachAndLily.com.

Skin care products, detox products, and beauty products are all excellent eCommerce niches to get into. But Korean skin care products are where it's at.

Koreans are known for their intricate skincare regimes that result in flawless skin, and plenty of Korean skincare brands have amassed a certain clout overseas. Beauty products are in.

Consider this:

South Korea is the world’s fourth largest cosmetics exporter, and their skincare and cosmetics industry is expected to hit $13 billion in revenue by 2020.

A key driver of that demand? Good ole’ USA!

Just ask any friend who’s a beauty addict, and they’ll probably be able to rattle off at least 3 cult Korean skincare brands that you can find in the US. Just look at the search volume growth:

Growing Demand for Beauty Products
 

If you can find a way to tap into that demand, you’ve got a good shot at building a successful eCommerce business!

Pros of Korean skincare products:

  • High demand (especially if you import cult brands)
  • Potential to branch into other categories (fashion, beauty, etc.)

Cons of Korean skincare products:

  • Lower margins (if you’re purchase products from an existing brand, and not white-labeling)
  • Competition from traditional retailers (stores and pharmacies are now joining the Korean skincare bandwagon; CVS, for example, recently rolled out a “K-Beauty HQ” section in 2,100 stores nationwide)

Potential Profit: Varies according to product and brand

Suppliers: USA Cosmetics

8. Menstrual Cups

Menstrual Cups: Weird Products to Sell Online

Image from Slate.com.

Menstrual…. whaaaat?

If you’ve got no idea what these are, they’re basically cups which women use whenever their periods roll around, replacing the use of tampons. 

Now, there are quite a few benefits to using these cups that can marketed quite easily. 

For one thing, these cups are a lot more environmentally-friendly and you don’t accumulate as much waste. On top of that, the cups also don’t contain chemicals (while pads and tampons do).

Then there’s also the fact that menstrual cups require less “maintenance.” You’d have to change a pad or tampon every two to three hours, but you can get away with emptying a menstrual cup once every 8 to 12 hours. Personal care is one of the best eCommerce niches!

Trending Items Search Volume
 

For plenty of women, menstrual cups are a real game-changer.

Pros of menstrual cups:

  • Small, easy to ship
  • High potential for word-of-mouth business

Cons of menstrual cups:

  • Product might generate high volume of inquiries
  • Customers are not likely to repurchase (for a couple of years at least!)

Potential Profit: $10 - $25 per piece

Suppliers: Casco Bay Molding, DivaCup, DongGuan Xu Fu Rubber & Plastic Co

Related Reading: Ultimate Guide to Influencer Marketing

9. Bamboo Toothbrushes

Trending products to sell online

Image from MyPlasticFreeLife.com.

Honestly, I didn’t know bamboo toothbrushes were a thing.

But as it turns out, they’re actually pretty popular! Selling this product shouldn't be too hard.

Search Volume for Trending Products
 

So I did a bit of research, and it seems like people are buying these toothbrushes predominantly because they’re environmentally-friendly.

Maybe it’s because the ice caps are melting, or because experts predict that Venice will be completely underwater within a century.

Either way, consumers are increasingly doing their bit by using bamboo toothbrushes (which are biodegradable)!

Pros of bamboo toothbrushes:

Cons of bamboo toothbrushes:

  • Low price point

Potential Profit: $8 - $15 for a pack of 4

Suppliers: okBamboo, Sumboom, Brush With Bamboo

10. Fairy Lights

LED Lights

Image from Mason.com.

Fairy lights have been around for ages, and there’s nothing novel or innovative about this product idea.

So why is search volume for these lights still growing, after all this time?

Growth Curve
 

If you ask me, social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest have a lot to do with it.

Think about it:

#homegoals type pictures (involving fairy lights!) are Liked, Shared, and Pinned on these social media platforms all the time. These platforms are essentially fueling envy (as in: this bedroom is gorgeous, I want mine to look like that too!), which contributes to demand.

Pros of fairy lights:

  • Universal appeal (not limited to a specific gender or demographic)
  • Trending

Cons of fairy lights:

  • Low price point
  • High competition

Potential Profit: $8 - $12 per set

Suppliers: LinHai TengYuan Plastic Products Co, Ganzhou YuanJia Technology Development Co, iLED Lighting Technology

If none of these products tickled your fancy, look into these other trending items:

  • Detox teas
  • Phone holders & other phone accessories
  • Avocado Oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Chalk paint
  • Portable LED lights
  • Flat top sunglasses
  • Nail trimmer
  • Any weight loss products

You're on your own for suppliers - but it's a start!

A final word on selling trending products online

Whew! You’ve made it all the way to the end of this list of trending products in 2018, and you’re probably all excited and raring to go.

Now, there’s one last tip I have for you.

Even though you’ve found trending items to sell, this doesn’t mean you can neglect your marketing efforts and simply count on the trend to tide you along. Driving traffic is still the ultimate goal.

I’m going to remind you of the same stat that I referenced at the start of this article:

There are over 12 million stores online, but only 5% of them make over $1,000 per year. And $1,000 per year isn’t anywhere near enough to live on.

The truth of the matter is - the eCommerce industry is cut-throat.

And in order to survive (and thrive!), you’ve got to pull all the tricks you have out of the bag.

I’m talking optimizing your website for conversions, using Google Analytics, hitting up your customers with re-targeting ads, and more.

You’ve got plenty of work ahead of you, but as long as you’ve got the grit and determination, you can make a great living out of this business.

Here’s to making your first $1,000!

If you enjoyed this article, please take a second to share it with your entrepreneur friends!

Related Blog Post: The Ultimate Guide to Driving Traffic to Your Online Store (For Free!)

Topics: eCommerce News

Bill Widmer

Written by Bill Widmer

Bill is an eCommerce content marketing and SEO consultant. He's run several stores and worked with many well-known brands including A Better Lemonade Stand, SaleHoo, and Lifehack.

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