The Million Dollar Case Study: Europe – Session #2: Advanced Product Research

Kym EllisThe Million Dollar Case Study: Europe19 Comments

private label product ideas

Our favorite time of the week is Million Dollar Case Study time – and this week we kicked off the second session of the Europe edition of the case study, with some advanced product research tactics to find private label product ideas.

Phew! Since last week it's been a whirlwind of doing my product research that I had some great guidance from Greg for in last week's session, as well as putting together all of my thoughts to share with you guys.

I spent about three hours poring over the Web App and browsing Amazon.co.uk to find a list of product ideas (which I will share with you shortly). The main thing that stood out to me was that, although it is time consuming, it's definitely something you can do alongside your full-time job or other commitments. If you just dedicate 1 hour a day every other day, you will have a list of up to 50 ideas within a week! How cool is that?

In this weeks session we cover:

  • How to critically assess your list of product ideas and narrow them down to a shorter list of viable products
  • Advanced product research tactics to define market depth and trends, product details and the competitor landscape
  • Your homework: to follow in our footsteps and reduce your own list of ideas to the top 3-5 for next weeks session

Here's the full replay:

And this weeks slides:

 

What We're All Here For

Greg started the Million Dollar Case Study primarily to help people unlock their potential and build their own lifestyle by documenting a proven blueprint to building your own business and growing it successfully. Additionally, we are donating all of the profits of this case study to Pencils of Promise and are aiming to help build 5 schools around the world with the donations!

You have a chance to get involved too – first of all by participating each week, asking us questions and most importantly, following along in real-time to launch your own successful product on Amazon.

But other than that, you can also enter our giveaway every single week at www.junglescout.com/giveaway. We are gifting 1 Jungle Scout Lite Extension and 2 Jungle Scout T-shirts each week throughout 2017.

Here's an inspirational story from our recent giveaway winner, Keoki:

MDCS giveaway winner

 

That's all the motivation I need to inspire me to dive into my advanced product research! Let's begin…

 

I have a list of product ideas… what's next?

Last week we ran through the “basic” (read: super important) product research criteria. This was the top level stuff that you need to be thinking about constantly when building a larger list of product ideas. These criteria were:

Must have:

  • Existing Solid Demand
  • Low Competition
  • Good Margins
  • No Legal Issues

Nice to have:

  • Small/lightweight
  • Easy to source and ship
  • Able to improve
  • Low Seasonality

Depending on which marketplace you are researching, the level of demand and competition you are looking at will vary. If you need to recap, we have covered this for the US marketplace here and Europe here!

 

My List Of Private Label Product Ideas For The UK

With Greg's words of wisdom, I went and did my own research using these criteria alone, and curated a list of 43 product ideas for Amazon UK. Here's a list of those ideas, all of which have varying levels of demand and competition:

Main KeywordCategory
Dog RocksPet Supplies
ABS Hard Shell Suitcase Cabin LuggageLuggage
Strong Cardboard BoxesDIY & Tools
Clothing RailsHome & Kitchen
Full Face SnorkelSports & Outdoors
Double Skin Dome TentsSports & Outdoors
Milk SteamerHome & Kitchen
Kids ScootersToys & Games
Wireless Meat ThermometerHome & Kitchen
Automatic Pet FeedersPet Supplies
Sleep White Noise MachineHealth & Personal Care
Foldable Travel Cot MattressBaby Products
BBQ coverGarden & Outdoor
Jam Jars (bundle)Home & Kitchen
Giant Pool FloatsToys & Games
Glass Water BottleHome & Kitchen
Vacuum Water BottleHome & Kitchen
Baby Sling WrapBaby Products
Maternity PillowBaby Products
Cotton Crib SheetsBaby Products
Baby CutleryBaby Products
Garage storage shelvingHome & Kitchen / DIY Tools
Metallic Plastic CutleryHome & Kitchen
Abs TrainerSports & Outdoors
Garden Waste BagsGarden & Outdoor
Giant Tumble Tower (Jenga)Toys & Games
Glass Food StorageHome & Kitchen
Oil DiffuserHome & Kitchen
Inflatable LoungerSports & Outdoors
LED spa lightGarden & Outdoor
Key Safe BoxDIY & Tools
Sleeping Bags Sports & Outdoors
Shower OrganiserHome & Kitchen
Bathtub CaddyHome & Kitchen or Beauty
Silicone Cooking Utensil SetHome & Kitchen
Folding Camping BedSports & Outdoors
Cotton Baby MuslinsBaby Products
Travel PillowHome & Kitchen
Bath PillowBeauty
Solar Garden LightsHome & Garden
Waterproof Picnic BlanketGarden & Outdoor
Yoga MatSports & Outdoors
Badminton NetsSports & Outdoors

 

Hopefully, if you tuned in last week, you did the same and have a similar list of ideas? I would love to hear more about what you found in the comments!

Picking Out Your Top Ideas

Prior to this weeks session, I started to narrow this list down to my top five product ideas, which I wanted to bring to the table this week to discuss with Greg and get his expert opinions.

The top 5 I picked out are highlighted in the list above, and this was very strongly based on the level of existing demand and the top-level view of how competitive these products may be.

 

top 5 products uk

 

Other things I was already thinking about include:

  • Will it have low seasonality
  • Is it easy to manufacture
  • Will it be profitable

Now, a lot of this boils down to my own intuition and from listening to Greg's advice in the last session. I don't actually know for sure how much these products would cost to manufacture and I need to find out more about the seasonality.

This is exactly where the advanced product research comes in. We need to take a much deeper look at our top products. I am using 5 as an example, but if you wanted to spend more time and investigate more than 5 products in more detail, that's cool too.

 

Advanced Product Research Tactics

There are a whole host of things to consider to weigh in on which product would be the best one to launch! Greg went over some of these in the slides before he took a look at my top 5 products. Here's the advanced criteria that you need to be investigating for your top product ideas:

advanced product research

 

Here's a breakdown of this and how you can start researching each topic:

 

Keyword relevancy 

do a quick search on Amazon for your top keywords. If the first couple of pages have products that aren't the product you are looking to sell then this can be a good sign and indicate lower competition

 

PPC ad spots used?

it's a good sign of demand if the top keywords are bringing up the product idea that you are looking to sell. Plus you can also gauge the competition levels by doing this quick check.

 

Legal Issues

If a product looks like it might be a unique design, or even if it doesn't, it's always worth double and triple checking you won't infringe on any intellectual property by launching this product. I found a few useful UK websites when doing my research, including a European IPO search website and the UK government website for information about patents.

Of course, at this point, you just want to do as much research as you can. Later on, you might need to seek legal advice if you are unsure if a product would have any legal issues.

How strong are competitor listings?

The Jungle Scout Web App database shows a listing quality score out of 100 (LQS) which is our own proprietary scoring system. Although this is a quick way to assess the competitor product listings, you can do this manually really easily. Here's what you need to look out for in a poor listing:

  • Only 1 to 3 images on the listing
  • A title that is not explanatory and does not contain main keywords
  • Less than 5 features (bullet points)
  • A short, poorly written and unformatted product description
  • Number of reviews

If you find that there are a few sellers with poor listings, and especially if those sellers are still making sales each month, then you know you have something that you can improve on right away (because we are going to cover how to create the best listing ever, of course!). If you see a lot of high quality listings, then you might find that the competition is a little higher, or that you need to find other ways to differentiate… see next point.

 

Can the product be improved?

A really simple way to find out if you could source and manufacture a better version of a product is to read customer reviews for all other sellers of this product. Take a look at what people are unhappy about and figure out if you can improve that. We did this with Jungle Snugs, by sourcing the thickest and snuggliest baby hooded towel, and we also made it larger in size so that it would be suitable for a longer period of the child's growth.

Don't forget to also take a look at the positive reviews to see what people like about a product to make sure you don't miss any unique selling points!

 

Can you bundle it?

This is a really easy way to improve a product. Take a look to see if other sellers are already doing this. If not, get creative. What could you add? Using Jungle Snugs as an example again, we added a free bonus washcloth using the off cut material. So it didn't cost us any more and it makes our customers really happy. Win win!

There's an endless list of things you could bundle with a product, whether it's a free case, a low cost item that makes for a nice addition, or even a free guide that becomes a lifestyle addition

 

Is seasonality low?

You can usually guess which products are going to have high seasonality. By this I mean products that only sell well at certain times of the year. Even though your gut instinct is probably right, make sure you head to Google Trends (you can access this directly from the Jungle Scout Chrome Extension), and double check. Trends will show you when people are searching for keywords related to your product idea, so you can quickly assess if there are huge spikes at certain times, like the holiday season.

 

Are there plenty of suppliers on Alibaba?

Especially if you are a new seller, you may not have any experience of sourcing and manufacturing capabilities in China. The quickest way to ease your fears is to head to Alibaba and search for your product idea. You will very quickly be able to see at a top level if there are plenty of suppliers that specialize in your product, or the components that make a product.

 

Is it profitable? 

Saving the best until last here. Once you have been through all of the above and you still think “yep, this is a kick-butt product idea”, you need to start investigating if it is going to be profitable. Being as you have just been searching for suppliers on Alibaba, you will also notice that you can see some estimated cost prices right on the search results:

Alibaba prices

Greg advised me to take this with a very fine grain of salt, but it is a good top-level indicator of how much the product would cost to manufacture. From there you can take a look at your Net (price minus FBA fees) and calculate some rough profit margins.

For example, if a product cost $10 to manufacture per unit, and your Net was $20, then you would have $10 profit.

 

Real Life Examples: Greg Reviews My Product Ideas

Although all of those things above seem like a lot, it really is worth spending the time assessing all of the products you are considering investing in. This ensures you are exploring all avenues and making sure your final decision is one that you are confident in, and that suits you and your future business.

Greg shared his thoughts on my top 5 products as follows.

  • Cardboard boxes – Greg thought this was an interesting idea and liked the high demand but was unsure about whether this would be a good item to get manufactured in China. He mentioned that you may actually be able to source this type of product in the country you want to sell it in, but that's not something he has experience with. Therefore, this is one idea where research into suppliers and shipping would be very important. (I was making notes for my homework, your homework is coming up very soon).

 

  • Full face snorkel – This is a really hot product right now, and they are pretty unique. Greg liked this and the fact that the demand was high. His two initial thoughts were: would there be any legal issues and is their seasonality. In terms of legal issues, because it's such a unique product, there may be an existing patent or even a patent pending. However, Greg felt some comfort in the fact that there were lots of other FBA sellers making money from this product. So legal issues, definitely one to look into.In terms of seasonality, it looked like there were two spikes, one around the December holiday period and one in July. Greg didn't seem too worried about this, though. This would be a medium level of seasonality and it's not a total deal breaker.

google trends full face snorkel

 

  • Baby sling – This product is essentially a large piece of fabric that sells for quite a high price (£20 and over). Greg mentioned that this would mean high-profit margins which is great news. The demand wasn't as high for this product as the others but it seemed like it would be a good product to market. Greg's views were that price is not always about the cost of manufacture. In this example, it may be that a parent would be willing to pay more money for a baby sling that is stronger and guaranteed to keep their baby safe, whilst also making them look good wearing it. Wise words on product marketing!

 

  • Sleeping bag – This product has high demand and quite high competition, but when Greg took a look, he could see that the sales were spread out across the top 10 sellers and beyond. Therefore the depth of market is sufficient. Though this is quite a competitive product, for the purposes of this case study we would feel comfortable launching this product. Greg mentions that if you were a new seller and this was your first investment, then you may pick a less competitive item to start out with!  I had a concern in that I could see a fairly well known UK brick-and-mortar retailer selling sleeping bags in the top 10. Again, for Greg this was not a deal breaker. The thing that he would look out for is “do the consumers care?”. Because of the depth of market with this product, it seems that consumers aren't brand aware when purchasing sleeping bags on Amazon.Conversely, if you see a product where one seller is killing it and everyone else is trailing behind, then you should be seeing red flags.

 

  • Travel pillow – Again this item has strong demand and mid-level competition, but Greg liked it because it is one that could easily be bundled. Think eye masks, ear plugs, free carry case. Another fabric product too, so we should be able to see strong profit margins from this. Greg also took a look at some of the existing sellers and saw some poorly put together product listings, so that looked promising too.

 

 

Session #2 Homework

You knew it was coming – it's time to do your homework alongside me. Together we can use Greg's advice and ideas that he shared in this session to do further research covering all of these advanced criteria. I've put together a template that you can use to keep a note of your findings for your top products which you can download here

Remember, the point of this case study is to help guide to find your own opportunities, not just use exactly what we are doing. So just add your own list of ideas into this spreadsheet, and all of the relevant information for your product:

You can also use these tactics and this same spreadsheet to find product ideas in any Amazon marketplace, not just the UK. Make it work for you 👌

Conclusion

It's going to be a tough call, I really like all five of my product ideas. But I need to let my research, and most importantly the data, determine my final decision.

Spending your time on product research is wise because it's going to be your investment in your future. Following these guidelines helps to minimize risk and maximize the chances of success!

 

Next time…

Since this session I have been busy doing my homework and I created a vlog to share some of my findings with you ahead of session #3, check it out:

Before I decided on my product, I started out with some supplier outreach to double check that I could find a reliable supplier and pick a product that is going to be most profitable. Find out exactly how I did that in Session #3.

If you are following along after the live case study has taken place, my advice is to stay on track and complete your homework each week for a full step-by-step intro to selling on Amazon. You can find all of the available session recaps here.

Subscribe on YouTube for the latest informational content on all things Amazon & ecommerce:

Kym Ellis

Kym Ellis

SEO & Content at Jungle Scout
When she's not being an SEO geek or crafting content, Kym can be found making friends with cats, taking photographs, cycling and traveling.
Kym Ellis

19 Comments on “The Million Dollar Case Study: Europe – Session #2: Advanced Product Research”

  1. Hi Kym,
    Hope you are well and have had a great weekend !!!
    Thank you for making the Europe edition available.
    I would like to ask you about the Spreadsheet you use to enter data for each product.
    There are 4 columns (namely, Price, Net (Price minus FBA Fees),Best Seller Rank,
    Estimated Sales) which I am totally confused about. I spent over an hour and half just trying to understand it, but finally thought I would be better off bothering you with this. I hope you don’t mind me asking you this, and I hope this is not to stupid to ask:

    As for each of those 4 aforementioned columns, could you please help me understand how do you arrive at the answer that you enter into each of those 4 fields.
    Say for the “Price”, is it the price of just 1 of the top 10 in the list, or is it the average price of the top 10 on that list?
    As for the Best Seller Rank, is what you entered into that the BSR for just one item or multiple…

    Take for instance: Plastic Cultry…
    Plastic CutleryHome & Kitchen£15 | £10.56 | 2,952| 379

    How did you arrive at the following Price, Net (Price minus FBA Fees),Best Seller Rank,
    Estimated Sales:

    £15£10.562,952379

    Thank you for taking the time to explain this to me
    Appreciate it very much!!!!
    Looking forward to hearing back form you as this helps me in creating my own Spreadsheet/table of Products!!!

    Adam

    1. Hey Adam,

      No question is stupid 🙂

      Here’s how I found the information:

      Price: This is the selling price of the product, for the sake of this spreadsheet (generating a list of product ideas) I am focusing on the first example of this product I found in the Web App. But I will of course take a look at this information for the top 10 products too.

      Net (Price minus FBA fees): This figure helps to identify how much money you will really generate in revenue per item once your FBA fees have been removed. I got this information from the Jungle Scout tools, but here’s a useful post about calculating your FBA fees if you don’t have Jungle Scout.

      Best Seller Rank: This is the rank of the item which can be found on the product page itself, but for speed and ease I also got this figure from the Jungle Scout Chrome Extension.

      Estimated sales: This is the estimated monthly sales for this product, and I have used the Jungle Scout tools to find these estimates as they are the most accurate. However, you can also use our free estimated sales calculator here!

      Did you also check out Session #1 of the case study? This might help to verify some of your questions.

      Hope this helps!
      Kym

  2. Thank you so very much Kym, for caring to explain.

    If you don’t mind I’d like to ask you this. On your chart for “Sleeping Bag” you have the followings:

    Price: £16.99
    Net (Price minus FBA Fees) :£12.67
    Best Seller Rank: 621
    Estimated Sales: 472

    When I pull the Jungle Scout Extension, for Amazon’s “Sleeping Bag”, I see a range of different sellers items for the keyword “Sleeping Bag”. As you know the “PrIce” for each of the top 10 Sellers varies as it is the case when we look at the “Net” “BSR”, & “Estimated Sales” columns.

    As for the “Sleeping Bag”, I would like to know how exactly you got the following figures:

    Net (Price minus FBA Fees) :”£12.67″

    Best Seller Rank: “621”

    Estimated Sales: “472”

    I ask this only because, obviously you can not have a BSR of “621” & Estimated Sales of “472” for
    for all the 10 items listed there.

    So, if you’d be so kind to tell me how did you arrive at the specific figures of “£16.99” “621” and “472”
    for “Price” “Best Seller Rank” “Estimated Sales” respectively.

    Thank you
    Adam

    1. Hey Adam,

      No worries – as I mentioned, on my spreadsheet I am just using one example product to fill in this information as I find new product ideas. The product I used to enter info into the spreadsheet is the one I initially found in the Jungle Scout Web App using my search criteria. This gives me a good indication of the price, net, BSR and est. sales of an average product of this type in the top 10. Then, when I go into my advanced product research I can look across all of the different sellers for this product to assess market depth, competition and so on.

      If you wanted to you could create a new tab in the spreadsheet and add the data for the top 10 sellers of your top product ideas. Personally, I just used the Jungle Scout Chrome Extension to get this information straight out of Amazon (and I can export this data to save for later).

      Hope that helps!

      Kym

  3. Every time i look at this (i need to stop looking at this) i scream VAT at you. You sounds as British as I am Kym so you must get VAT.

    if you bring stuff into this country before it’s been sold and store it in an Amazon warehouse you’ve instantly become a business that needs to be VAT registered in the UK.

    You go Pan European and that’s seven individual countries you need to register with. stop making it sound so simple. we’ve just been through this and even for people who have lived and fully understood vat pan european is a vat headache of epic proportions.

    People go to prison for VAT evasion – it’s not to be messed with.

    To use Adam’s example above:

    Gross Price: £16.99
    Net Price after VAT £14.16
    Price minus FBA Fees) :£12.67

    So on the above. remembering that there’s no VAT on Amazon’s selling fees that you can reclaim

    the money you’re left with once you’ve paid Amazon and you’ve paid HMRC is £9.84

    i know you say “we’re going to tackle this issue at the end” but you’ve got to factor it in at every stage or else how do you gauge profitability?

    The differences between sales tax and VAT are massive. the UK’s VAT rate is 20%. Germany is 19% some countries are as much as 23%. you can’t ignore this or look at it as a side issue.

    people keep posting about this. i wish you’d listen.

    1. Hey Sarah,

      You raise some very valid concerns. We are actually going to delve deeper into my product research so far this week and start to account for VAT in our profit calculations at the top-level. Alongside this we’re going to be contacting suppliers for pricing quotes.

      We are not planning to tackle this issue at the end, and definitely before we send inventory to the UK. It’s a huge topic (and a very important one as you have mentioned), so we’re working on this so that we can cover it in the most useful way possible, and get some expert advice and opinions from external sources.

      So we are working on it and we take your concerns on board. I hope this will become more clear in tomorrow’s session. Our aim is to help people in navigating these headaches by documenting our entire journey, successes and failures, along the way!

      Thanks for the feedback!

      Kym

  4. Great video! Looking forward to next week 🙂 How many products would you recommend purchasing to start with as an initial order from a supplier? If I plan to sell 150 per month, is it recommended to still purchase approx. 500 or would 150 be o.k.?

    Thanks!

    Will

    1. Hey Will,

      Good question! It depends on your product but usually the better suppliers have a minimum of 500 or more. Some will have lower minimum order quantities (and you can also use AliExpress) but this usually means paying more per unit and can work out to be very ineffective.

      Another thing to bear in mind is that if you plan to sell 150 per month (after you have completed a successful launch), then do you really want to be paying for shipping, duties and customs that often?

      Here’s a post from part 1 of the case study that might help you:

      We will be covering this for the Europe MDCS at a later date, too!

      Hope this helps,
      Kym

  5. Hi,

    Thank you for doing this series. It is much appreciated. How many weeks should you track a product to get a good overview of its sales, using the Product Tracker?

    1. Hi Tina,

      10-14 days should be sufficient to ensure that you are getting a true picture of the cometitive landscape and sales, and that there aren’t any pricing manipulations or promotions going on.

      Gen

    2. Hey Tina,

      A few weeks is fine – you are mostly ensuring that the sales volumes are consistent across a longer period of time. My advice is to keep the tracker running whilst you are also doing your supplier outreach, so you can even take a look back at this stage before placing an order for inventory. But prior to that, a few weeks or as long as you can. You don’t want to leave it too long before getting started as the sooner you launch, the sooner you can scale 🙂

      Thanks for reading,
      Kym

  6. Hi Kym,

    I have a question about bundling – like your travel pillow example (“think eye masks, ear plugs…”).

    If I have an idea for bundling, how do I make it all come together if the product is from one manufacturer and the extra item is from another manufacturer? Does this only work if the related items are from the same manufacturer?

    Risa

    1. Hey Risa,

      Sure, this is often the easiest way to bundle your product. For example for MDCS part 1, we bundled a washcloth using the same fabric as the product itself.

      If you start bundling from elsewhere you will likely have logistical headaches and impact your bottom line.

      Worth speaking with manufacturers you are having conversations with to see what their capabilities are.

      Thanks,
      Kym

      1. Thanks, Kym. I thought I had a good bundling idea, but now I realize that it just wouldn’t work unless I personally did the bundling, which is unrealistic if I’m hoping to sell thousands.

        Risa

  7. Hi Kym

    What are your thoughts on “copying” someone else’s product on Amazon almost exactly with specs and colours and maybe adding just one additional feature? As they are doing the best in their category, it is Ok to replicate the product, put my own logo on and perhaps sell it for slightly cheaper as the high price point seems to be the main issue with their reviews. There is no copywright on the product as far as I am aware.

    I look forward to hearing from you!

    Candice

    1. Hey Candice,

      Great that you have identified the higher price point being the issue with the reviews. Another way you could look at this is: are people complaining about the higher price because the product is not of a high enough quality? If so – can you actually manufacture a *better* product and sell it for the same price? (or even sell it for slightly less, if you can get the profit margins).

      I would always opt for quality and product improvements over selling the same product at a lower price. When you aim for quality, you generally get happier customers, better reviews and often, higher profits.

      Many thanks,
      Kym

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