Third-Party Fulfillment (3PL) is a unique business model where the customer places an order from your online store but another company stores, picks, packs, and ships your products.
If you are just getting started with eCommerce, you may have questions about choosing the best products to sell in your online store.
Choosing which products to sell can be daunting and confusing, but it is one of the most important decisions you will make.
You will want to focus on products that will be most profitable and contribute to the success of your eCommerce store.
With all of the available options, how do you pick what to sell?
Below you will find everything you need to understand about selecting profitable products for your online business.
Let’s dig in.
How to Select Products for 3PL Order Fulfillment
As you choose products for your online store, it’s important to remember that the profitability of your business depends on more than the difference between your wholesale price for the product and the retail price at which you sell it to customers.
Some products may seem like they have a high-profit margin, but they are expensive to store or ship.
When considering potential products for your eCommerce store, you’ll want to rely on this proven strategy and choose products that are:
Choose a High-Margin Product
For your eCommerce business to return a profit, you’ll want to choose high-margin products.
A product with a high margin means that the profit level is relatively high compared to the cost of producing or sourcing the item. A key benefit to high-margin products is that your business will need to sell fewer of the item to make a profit.
Choose Low-Cost Products
Another key consideration is choosing low-cost products. While some high-cost products may offer a greater profit margin, the cost of maintaining your inventory is likely to eat into your profits.
This is why it is a good idea to choose low-cost products as you are establishing your eCommerce business.
Choosing low-cost products is not the same as choosing products with a low retail price. If your products are very inexpensive for consumers to buy, you will have to sell a high volume for your business to make a profit.
When you build your eCommerce store, it’s a good idea to aim for products that retail for between $15 and $50.
Products in this range are still considered “impulse buys” because the consumer does not give much thought to purchases in that range.
Choose a Low-Weight Product
The heavier or bulkier your product is, the more expensive it will be to ship it to your customer. In addition, larger products require more storage space and incur higher storage fees.
Ideally, you’ll want to choose products that are small and lightweight. You’ll also want to avoid products that are delicate or easily damaged.
Choose a Non-Seasonal Product
While holiday products sell well at certain times of the year, building a sustainable business is more achievable with steady profits all year round.
Holiday products may feel like a gold rush in November and December, but what you don’t sell by January will be sitting in the warehouse, incurring storage fees for 10 months out of the year.
That said, if your business already has a large and varied inventory, adding in the seasonal products can be an additional source of revenue.
Best Categories for 3PL Order Fulfillment
What are the best product categories for 3PL order fulfillment? Here’s a list of some of the most profitable and popular product categories.
1. Apparel (Clothing and Accessories)
One of the most popular and best-selling product niches is clothing and accessories. This includes a wide range of items, including athleisure, formalwear, outerwear, beachwear, winter wear, jeans, and skirts.
Lingerie is one of the top-selling products in the apparel niche and is especially popular with shoppers who prefer to buy their intimate items online rather than in-store.
While women’s clothing and accessories are always popular, men’s clothing has gained popularity in the last several years. Accessories such as socks, gloves, belts, belt buckles, and headbands are often low-cost, high-margin products.
2. Baby & Toddler
There are many top sellers in the baby and toddler category, including bibs, blankets, and enrichment items.
Baby and toddler items that solve common problems such as sleep, nursing, or teething issues are especially popular with new and first-time parents.
Baby care products have a large demand year-round. This niche includes diapers, teething toys, baby shampoos, baby activities, baby bottles, and larger, high-ticket items, including strollers, cribs, swings, and rockers.
3. Mother-Specific Products
There is a great deal of crossover between mother-specific products and other categories such as:
- Baby & Toddler
Popular products in this category include items that solve everyday mothering and parenting challenges, books, mother-specific jewelry that identifies the birthstones or genders of family members, keepsakes, gifts, and other things.
Beauty products are a broad and often profitable niche that includes:
- Beauty essentials
- Makeup accessories such as brushes and pads
- Haircare and styling products
- Nail care products
- Shaving and hair removal
- Hygiene, bath, and shower products
False eyelashes and eyelash accessories, and eyebrow razors are also trending upward.
Men’s grooming products, including beard balms, hair care, shaving cream, and razors are a growing segment in this niche.
Beauty and grooming items are generally low-cost with a high markup. Another key benefit of makeup and makeup accessories is that they are often lightweight.
One caveat of selling beauty products is that by law, you are required to inform customers about any risks that may come with using the product. These warnings might include the potential for skin irritation or harm to children or requirements for people with certain medical conditions to consult their doctor before using the product.
Even with the rise of e-books, print books remain the most popular book category.
Hardcover books generated over $3 billion worth of sales, and paperback book sales revenue has trended upward over the last several years.
The electronics category offers a wide variety of popular products, from finished products such as gaming systems, LED lights, medical devices, consumer electronics, automotive components, and security equipment to electronics components.
Circuit boards and computer components, including resistors, inductors, transformers, and capacitors have been a hot niche for the last two years, and the trend is expected to continue.
There are more than 294 million smartphone users in the United States, and 85% of American adults use smartphones.
Phones and phone accessories are a profitable niche. Products in this category include:
- Phone chargers
- Car phone holders
- Selfie sticks
- Smartphone tripods, and
- Other accessories
Phone accessories are generally inexpensive to produce and lightweight, offering a strong profit margin and low shipping costs.
Fitness equipment and accessories are popular year-round, with seasonal increases in January as consumers try to accomplish their New Year’s weight loss goals.
Products in this category include:
- Mesh shoes
- Massage guns and other massagers
- Resistance bands
- Recovery equipment
- Performance supplements
- Yoga balls and mats
- Fitness books
- Workout clothing
- Protein cookies and bars, and
- Other equipment
Health-conscious consumers have driven a substantial increase in health products over the last several years. This category is expected to continue trending upward as consumers are increasingly focused on maintaining and improving their health.
Products in this category include tools, books, and supplements aimed at:
- Weight loss and weight management
- Increasing energy
- Improving digestion
- Improving sleep
- Relieving stress
- Mood and memory enhancement
- Immune support
- General nutrition and overall health
These items tend to be compact, lightweight, and nonperishable, making them ideal for eCommerce. Additionally, many of these products are meant to be used or taken daily, creating a solid base of repeat customers.
The FDA has rules for selling dietary supplements online, so you’ll want to make sure you’re in compliance before adding health supplements such as vitamins or CBD to your eCommerce store.
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The demand for sporting goods has been trending upward over the past several years. This niche is expected to reach $70.6 billion by 2026.
This niche includes products used for various sports such as balls, protective pads, shoes, and products used for other outdoor activities including backpacking, hiking, and camping.
While sporting goods are popular year-round, this category does have some seasonal spikes.
Overall, sporting goods sales tend to increase in warmer months as consumers spend more time outdoors.
Sport-specific products, such as baseball gloves and bats, also increase during the baseball season. Sales for winter sports products, including snowboarding and skiing, increase as the weather becomes colder.
The demand for backpacks is especially high in August and September as students return to school after the summer break.
There is always a significant demand for hobby supplies. Products in this niche include:
- Specialized lighting fixtures
- Plastic filaments
- And more
This niche also includes high-end items such as 3-D printers, microphones, headgear, headphones, and other leisure time accessories.
12. Home & Kitchen
This varied and profitable niche includes a wide range of items, including:
- Kitchen utensils
- Small kitchen appliances
- Home textiles
- Home décor and art
- Storage items
- Bathroom products
- Coffee mugs
- Curtains and curtain accessories
- Other household merchandise
Changing seasons often inspire buyers to swap out home décor, bedding, and kitchen items multiple times throughout the year.
These products are ideal for starting an online business because they are generally in demand all year round and often have a high-profit margin.
13. Patio & Garden
This niche offers some excellent year-round and seasonal opportunities.
While items such as pool supplies and insect management are popular across the country during the warmer summer months, they are still year-round products for much of the South.
Additionally, many consumers buy patio décor items such as pillows, cushions, weatherproof artwork, outdoor rugs, and lighting every year.
Jewelry, including necklaces, rings, earrings, bracelets, memory jewelry, and beaded jewelry are lightweight, high-margin items ideal for eCommerce.
Necklaces and pendants are among the most popular products in this niche.
This is a popular category year-round and offers seasonal opportunities such as Mother’s Day, graduation, Valentine’s Day, and Christmas.
Jewelry is cost-effective to store and ship, and standard markup often exceeds 100%.
Watches are an extremely popular niche, including a wide range of product categories.
This top-selling niche includes:
- Aviator watches
- Ladies watches
- Dive watches
- Dress watches
- And specialty watches
70% of US households and more than 90 million people have at least one pet.
Pet supplies are among the most popular categories of online products. This niche includes leashes, collars, harnesses, food and treats, clothing, pet crates, and pet toys.
While the majority of pet owners have dogs or cats, opportunities abound for less crowded markets in the pet space, including:
- Other mammals
- Pet Poultry
- Pet Livestock
Toys are another popular category year-round. Items in this niche include:
- Baby toys
- Video games
- Game consoles
- Travel activities
- Play vehicles
- Learning toys
- Traditional favorites
Toys are a strong category for eCommerce stores because of their enduring popularity.
One challenge to consider in this niche is that trends often dictate toys, especially during the holidays.
This category offers opportunities for those who choose to specialize in sub-niches, including certain retro toys, baby enrichment, and specialized toys for children with learning disabilities.
Choosing the best products to ship for your eCommerce store can be challenging, but focusing on proven tactics and niches can significantly improve your odds for success.