Top tips to generate new product ideas

Generating new product ideas is something a lot of FBA sellers have problems with. You’ll need to build up a portfolio of different products to have a long-term sustainable business, but it’s not always easy to think what that next product ought to be.

We’ve asked FBA sellers what their best ways of getting new ideas were, and the top tips appear below. But it’s also important to build your portfolio steadily. Sometimes, sellers who are looking for the ‘perfect product’ never find quite what they’re looking for, while they reject products that would have actually made them respectable profits. Think about adding incremental revenue, rather than looking for a product that will transform your business overnight.

•      Brainstorm your way to new products. For instance, if you’re at the airport, your flight is delayed, and you’re bored, think of products that could entertain you or make the wait more bearable. Or look at one of the airport shops or bars and think of the products they use – signage, packaging, uniforms – and sell – travel adapters, luggage straps, to upscale watches or fashion.

•      Get catalogs from businesses in your niche or in your local area. Take a look to see what’s being most strongly promoted, and what’s new. Think about the customer needs that are being addressed – for instance, the difficulties of working from home with young children, or the desire to save time by doing food prep rather than cooking from scratch every day.

•      Adopt the Pomodoro technique – named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer (‘Pomodoro; in Italian). Give yourself twenty minutes to think of ideas. Just let them flow – write them down, however silly they seem.

•      Go to the mall. What’s new? What’s interesting? What are people looking at? Look at the food court – what foods are popular? What might people need to make that food at home? (The legendary Fidelity fund manager Peter Lynch used this technique to get investment ideas. And if he didn’t see anything himself, he’d ask his wife and daughters what they thought was interesting.)

•      Look at the categories and subcategories on Amazon that your existing products belong to, and see what else is being sold there. What’s missing that you could improve? What would make a good ‘also bought’ with your existing products?

•      Ask your suppliers for their catalogs to see what other products they manufacture. (This has the advantage for you that you’ve got an existing relationship, so launching will be a breeze.)

•      Look for products that you could bundle with your existing product. Think of the customer’s need: “I want to cook Chinese food”. You’re already selling a wok? Why not bundle it with chopsticks, a spatula, and a cleaver? Or branch out into Chinese spices?

Once you’ve found the ideas, you then need to qualify them. You need to see whether they are marketable on Amazon, and you also need to find out whether you’ve got a big competitor. (For instance, even if you think you’ve got some improvements you can make to trainers or basketball shoes, do you really think you can go up against Nike, Adidas, and Converse?)

Finally, give yourself a product expansion target for the year. If you’ve just started, it might be one new product; if you’ve been running for a while and have a reasonable portfolio, it might be one new product every two months. It might even be more aggressive than that. It’s an important target because you’re not just building your sales, you’re also building your resilience through diversifying your product range.

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