One of the important considerations in the launch of an e-commerce store is the accurate identification of products that are viable to be sold online. When it comes to products, it is often the tangible items such as fashion merchandise, beauty care, electricals, appliances and home furnishings that spring to our mind. However, e-commerce is not limited to the sale of physical products only. Businesses can also choose to sell non-physical or intangible products that have their fair share of demand in the market and can prove to be equally profitable as their physical alternatives, if not more.
If you are in the process of setting up an e-commerce business and looking for some inspiration on the type of products that you can sell on the Web, here’s is a handy compilation of a few trending digital offerings that can help you make money online, without involving exorbitant upfront and overhead costs or cumbersome inventory and logistics management.
1. Online courses, classes and workshops
Online learning is fast gaining popularity as a flexible and convenient mode of education in the 21st century – more so for students who do not have the time or money to acquire formal training as well as for adult professionals in full-time jobs. The benefits of online learning are manifold. The audience gets to save on commute time and money, set their own study schedules and pick up new skills in the comfort of their homes. Thus, it’s no surprise that Udemy, the world’s largest online learning platform, boasts 40 million students, 50,000 instructors, 130K courses and 245 million course enrolments to its credit. So, if you pride yourself on your mastery of a particular skill or your proficiency in a certain language, feel free to share your knowledge with others, albeit at a price.
Along with online courses, you could offer your buyers the option to enrol in classes and workshops. With all the fad surrounding fitness and healthy living, you could rake in the bucks by selling packages for Zumba workshops, dance workshops, yoga classes, cookery classes and more.
2. Resume writing, proofreading and editing services
In a study conducted by the US-based online job search service, TheLadders, it was revealed that recruiters spent no more than a few seconds on skimming through a resume, what with each job opening attracting a high number of applications from prospects. So, it’s all but six seconds that a job seeker has to grab the attention of a recruiter. Think you have good reasons to believe that you are a pro in the art of writing the “perfect” resume? Why not utilise your skill to generate income by selling expert resume writing services online? Your gamut of services could include writing resumes and cover letters from scratch and providing the final touches to previously written resumes/cover letters.
Proofreading and editing services are also much in demand these days, thanks to writers across the globe trying their hand at creative pieces in languages that are not native to them. You can encash this opportunity by offering chargeable proofreading and editing services for academic journals, manuscripts, unpublished research papers and books, magazine content, applications to MBA schools and other documents in languages as diverse as English, Dutch, French, Finnish, Thai and Japanese.
3. Appointment and consultation bookings
The present-day consumer is too busy to spend time on long wait times when visiting a clinic, a beauty salon, a retail store or a car servicing centre. The need of the hour is to provide time-crunched consumers with a simple, hassle-free and convenient appointment scheduling system that allows them to pre-schedule their doctor visits, hair and beauty appointments, in-person meetings with store stylists, financial advisory consultations and bookings for other essential services from anywhere, anytime and with just a few taps or clicks.
A case in point is Europe’s leading 24/7 booking platform for beauty, styling and wellness appointments, Treatwell, which offers consumers the convenience of round-the-clock scheduling of thousands of salons and spas through its website and app.
4. Rental services
One of the changing patterns in the ever-evolving consumer buying behaviour is the new-found inclination towards rentals – the act of owning products for a short term and at a lower price. Rentals are big these days and it’s not hard to see why. With millennials increasingly adopting a more flexible approach to their lifestyle, mobility is fast becoming an essential consideration for many people who don’t see themselves rooted in one place for long. Hence, there’s a strong urge to do away with anything and everything that could entail significant time and effort in their purchase or disposal.
Take the case of Furlenco – a market leader in the online rental of furniture. Furlenco caters to several cities in India and aims to make the process of owing stylish yet good-quality furniture pieces less stressful and more affordable by allowing customers to hire them through a monthly rental. You could even go the Flyrobe route and offer dress rental services to customers who don’t particularly fancy splurging on designer wear or expensive outfits for grand occasions such as weddings and receptions.
5. Gift experiences
Gone are days when presents were synonymous with material gifts. Today, more and more millennials prefer receiving and giving creative gifts in the form of experience vouchers, which let the recipients enjoy some much-needed time off and indulge their passion for activities they pursue out of interest or as a hobby, e.g. driving, adventure, sports, theatre, gourmet dining and spa breaks. Virgin Experience Days, a reputed experience day company in the UK, also provides experiences as unique as dolphin watching trips, Asian Masterclasses, luxury chocolate-making workshops, The View from The Shard and Harry Potter Walking Tours.
According to a survey, experience gifting is on the rise and a study reveals that experiential gifts represent one of the gift industry’s faster-growing segments – a fact worth considering if you are looking to establish your online venture in a yet-to-be-fully-tapped business sector.
6. Software services
When it comes to selling products online, the sky is indeed the limit with regards to your choice of digital offerings. Niche products, such as software, can turn out to be a profitable investment as they are infinitely scalable, and your possibilities of creating saleable offerings are truly endless. And it is not just about leveraging your proficiency in writing codes to drive software-related sales. Sure, you can convert your code writing skills into cash by selling WordPress plugins, web templates, video games, mobile apps, snippets etc. However, you can also seek inspiration from the likes of GoDaddy and try your hand at selling other money-making software services that do not require extensive coding expertise on your part, e.g. selling domains, web hosting, SSL certificates and professional email.
7. Event and entertainment tickets
Another booming space that is ripe with opportunities is in the arena of entertainment and holidays. Ticket lines are truly passé, thanks to websites such as Ticketmaster – a globally renowned ticket sales and distribution company that sells verified tickets for concerts, sports, theatre and other entertainment events online. Tickets are dispatched to event attendees through post outs or printable e-tickets. Closer home, BookMyShow is one of the country’s most popular ticket-selling website, offering tickets for movies, plays, events, activities and even attractions such as heritage monuments. You can also get a customer’s holiday off to a great start by selling them package holidays that combine attraction tickets with accommodation.
8. Digital gift cards
Ever encountered a situation where you had to buy presents for someone with whom you were not very familiar with? Did you, like many of us, struggle at times to find the right gift for a special someone or a fussy recipient? If you did, bravo, you just spotted another selling opportunity for your e-commerce business!
Yes, we are talking about digital gift cards or e-gift vouchers that come loaded with a set amount of money and enable the recipient to choose the gift that he or she would like to receive for a special occasion. Electronic gift cards help buyers save on time and take the guesswork out of gift shopping. As a digital gift card seller, you can collaborate with merchants across the board to offer your customers the choice to buy e-gift cards from sought-after retailers across a broad selection of industries such as fashion, tech, travel, entertainment and food.
Gyft, a reputed digital gift card platform, offers a seamless user experience to both gift shoppers and gift receivers. Buyers get to select from hundreds of popular retailers and send gift cards to their loved ones instantly. The recipients get to save their gift cards in their Gyft Wallets and use their digital cards directly from their mobile devices using the platform’s mobile gift card app called Gyft app.
9. Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is another lucrative revenue stream for many people who are looking to generate passive income without making any significant monetary investment on their part. As someone providing affiliate marketing services, your source of income would be the commission that you get to draw by boosting someone else’s sales through your marketing of their products and services. You can do this by including affiliate links in your blogs, e-books, website etc. Your income is directly linked to your performance, i.e. the higher the number of visitors that you bring for a company or a person, the more is the commission that you get to earn for your efforts.
E-commerce giant, Amazon runs a very successful affiliate programme called Amazon.in Associates. You can join it for free and earn up to 12% in advertising fees by driving traffic that leads to sales on the Amazon website.
10. Virtual assistant
Thanks to globalisation, a rising trend in the job market is the practice of hiring virtual digital assistants or “VAs” to administer day-to-day tasks for busy professionals. A study estimates that 1.8 billion people worldwide will be availing themselves of the services of digital assistants by 2021.
As a virtual assistant service provider, your primary goal would be to free up time for someone else by managing time-consuming and laborious activities on their behalf. Your administrative responsibilities could vary from responding to calls and emails and scheduling meetings to performing market research, preparing customer spreadsheets, maintaining records, managing social media posts and more.
Excellent time-management and organization skills are vital to succeeding in this role. If you feel you have what it takes to handle challenging administrative projects under minimal supervision, go ahead and take that leap into this rapidly growing sector.
11. Other digital products
Along with the above, the following digital products are also worth considering for your e-commerce business:
a. Installation Services
b. Licenses for Software
f. Research and Reports
g. Audio Content
h. Video Content
i. Design Services
j. Stock Photos / Videos
l. User Testing
m. Career Consultations
n. Translation Services
p. Financial Planning
q. Stock Market Analysis
t. Travel Panning
u. Meditation Workshops/Programmes
v. Workout and Nutrition Plans
w. Art and Craft Sessions
x. Astrology and Tarot Card Readings
y. Social Media Engagement
z. Support for Events
If you are convinced that physical products are at the core of your business model or if you are looking to offer your customers a mix of tangible and intangible products, you can leverage drop shipping to save on inventory cost, inventory space and the time involved in packing and shipping products to your customers.
As a dropshipping business, you will be engaging the services of a goods manufacturer, vendor or wholesaler to ship goods directly to your consumers. The process works by sending orders from customers to a dropshipping supplier, who then delivers them on your behalf.
Dropshipping can be an attractive proposition for you if you are starting your online business with a limited amount of money or if you don’t boast a high-risk appetite. Plus, there is the advantage of not having to deal with the hassle of shipping-related logistics. However, before you gravitate towards this retail fulfillment method thinking that the overall risk is negligible, it will be wise of you to take into consideration that the margins with dropshipping are usually meagre. So, your business may require considerable time to become profitable and make significant money.
Now that you have a ready reckoner at hand to help you decide upon some of the most viable electronic offerings for online businesses, it’s time to dive in and kick off your service-based business with full drive and enthusiasm. Remember to back up your choice of a particular digital product with thorough market research to ensure you are well-attuned to the needs of your intended audience. Once you have tapped into the demand of your target market and identified the right product to cater to that demand, all you need to do is put together the necessary digital assets in place to establish your online venture. Whether you are planning to pursue your venture as a full-time business or as a source of supplementary income, gear up to bring in the extra moolah that you are eyeing with unconventional yet high-potential and profitable offerings.
If you are looking to save on the time and effort that is involved in the setting up of an e-commerce store, you can consider reaching out to an expert eCommerce website development company to make the process seamless for you. An award-winning IT solutions provider, such as Notion Technologies, can help you make your online store stand out with modern web design solutions and effective e-commerce marketing strategies. Plus, it can equip your store with the necessary tools and features that it needs to attract traffic and generate sales as early as possible and with bare minimum involvement at your end.