When starting a new business or launching a new product line, most sellers instantly look to the most popular imports as a starting point. They wrongly assume that “popular imports” means quality, highly demanded goods. However, more often than not, the popular Chinese imports are actually the products you don’t want to be selling on Amazon or other eCommerce sites.


We’ll go through the most popular Chinese imports, Amazon’s best sellers, and how you can pick a product that will work best for your business.


The Most Popular Chinese Imports


Below are the items that were most popular imports from China into the U.S. in 2015, according to GeoPolitical Futures.


  1. Umbrellas
  2. Toys, games, sports equipment
  3. Feathers and down (pillows)
  4. Headgear
  5. Leather articles
  6. Footwear
  7. Straw
  8. Textile articles
  9. Furniture and bedding


These imports are also reflected in the categories with the highest number of competitors on Amazon. Toys and games are among Amazon’s most popular items, followed by electronics, apparel (footwear, leather, textiles), and pillows/bedding. See Amazon’s best sellers here.


But that seems like a good pair, right? Best sellers plus popular imports seem great. You’d expect quality products with a high variety of sellers at an inexpensive cost. You’d expect to sell-through your inventory in a jiffy.


While this can be the case, this popularity brings with it high levels of competition and scams. You’re showing up late to a game that already has a complicated, established set of rules that can be hard to keep up with.


How To Pick A Product


So what products should you be importing and selling? If you don’t go by “what’s popular,” then how do you know what will do well in the market?


Take a look at our article “What You Need To Consider When Choosing An Imported Product” for an in-depth look at the 11 key factors for product selection. You’ll need to consider:

  • Target audience
  • Differentiation
  • Margins
  • Portfolio
  • Scalability
  • Risk
  • Infringement
  • Import regulations
  • Passion
  • Quality


Below you’ll find our importing tips and tricks that will help you find the right product, not the popular one.


1. Avoid products dominated by big brands.

Who are you up against for that product? What hold does your brand have on the market compared to your competition?


Large companies tend to have a hold over popular Chinese imports and Amazon best-seller lists. It’s hard to compete with big organizations. Competition can spur innovation… but only to a point. At some point, too much competition can kill an online business.


In this way, you’ll want to stick to categories that have lower competition or more variability in purchasing behaviors.


For example, you’re considering choosing to sell toothpaste. Big brands like Crest and Scope already have a hold on the toothpaste market. However, you could choose to sell toothpaste using a unique differentiator, like eco-friendly toothpaste that comes in a biodegradable tube. Although you’re up against big brands, this USP (unique selling point) puts you within a specific target niche of that market. In this way, the big brands can become indirect competition.


2. Find a niche.

That brings us to finding a niche. When you find a product you want to sell, think where you would go to buy that product. Do you usually go to the pharmacy to pick up toothpaste when you’re on your last squeeze?


If you already have a way to buy it, chances are that your target market already has a different purchasing route for that product as well. And it’s hard to change a customer’s purchasing patterns.


But let’s say you’re highly conscious of the environment, and you want your toothpaste to reflect that. Can you pick up eco-friendly toothpaste in the store? If not, then you’ve found a niche within the market. People who want a specific, unique product will search for it online in order to find it. They’ll change their purchasing patterns to meet a greater wish: their love for the earth.


Think of your ideal customer. How are big brands and popular items solving their pain point currently? How can you better the solution to that pain point?


3. Don’t sell seasonal or trending items.

It’s hard to be a trendy company. Popular items tend to be “hot” only for a short period of time. Fidget spinners blew up the market but are quickly losing steam. Similarly, seasonal items have a time limit on them before they go cold for 10 months.


This can pose a problem for online sellers, as you could risk not selling through your trending or seasonal inventory. Then you’re stuck with worthless, idle inventory indefinitely. Thus, you’ll want to avoid time-limit items as much as possible.


Granted, there are some popular, trendy items that never go out of style. Barbie has been the number one girl’s holiday gift for nearly two decades. Hot Wheels are always a hit. But notice that these popular items tend to be brands that work hard to keep their fan-base tight; it’ll be a challenge to penetrate that sphere.


4. Keep it simple.

The easier the product is to manufacture, the less likely there will be defects. This means that you can pick a quality product that will “wow” your customers, even though it’s not the popular and hot item right now.


Furthermore, standardized products make it easy for you to scale. These also often can be combined to meet the minimum order quantity, so you can have stronger inventory management.


5. Never sell counterfeit items.

“Popular” items are often counterfeit items that are meant to look like popular designer brands. We never recommend importing counterfeit items, as this brings with it a number of legality concerns. Infringing on patents or trademarks could land your business—and personal assets—in a lot of trouble. That’s one reason Ask Idea Sourcing offers legal services for contract agreements.


The Bottom Line

Avoiding popular imports is an unpopular opinion in this industry… but it has proven results.


If you want to differentiate your product and brand from the “popular” folks in your competitive pool, you need an importing partner. Ask Idea Souring offers product consultation services to help discover the optimal solutions for your brand portfolio. We provide our clients with productions options from thousands of new invention patents every day, so you will always have a unique, distinguished product.


Forget the mundane and popular—go for the exciting and exceptional!


Request a quote NOW to start finding the ideal product for your brand.

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