What Can I Sell Online As A Business

There are many types of products and product types as well as services you can sell online as a business. Examples are:

  • Merchandise
  • Handcrafted items
  • Latest gadgets and electronics
  • Digital products (like ebooks, audios, online courses, and downloadable templates)
  • Personalised Items
  • Pets Supplies
  • Shoes
  • Jewelry
  • Clothing
  • Power tool accessories
  • Dog toys
  • Baby shirts
  • Costume Shoes
  • Watch accessories
  • Cabinet knobs and handles
  • Curtain and drape Rings
  • Lip stain

The list is almost endless.

So, in essence, anything that you receive payment for online can be sold online. That said there are important considerations that must come into play to see if the type and nature of the product or service you are considering to sell online is suitable for ecommerce.

Criteria for Determining if a Product or Service is A Good fit for eCommerce

Physical Attributes: Can the product be easily shipped and delivered without compromising its quality, features and functions?

Size and Weight: How practical is it to ship and handle the product based on the product’s size and weight? Note that bulky or excessively huge and heavy items may incur hefty shipping costs.

Fragility: How fragile and delicate is the product? If the product is too fragile and delicate it may require special packaging as well as handling to prevent possible damage during shipping.

Perishability: This is another important consideration. Does the product have a limited shelf life? Also, can the product be stored and shipped without getting spoiled or deteriorating?

Customization Options: Can the product be easily customized or personalized in such a way that meets customer preferences? And can this be done without significant complications?

Complexity of Use: Does the product require special skills or expertise for use? Note that products with straightforward and easily demonstrable usage are often easy to sell online and actually perform better on ecommerce.

Product Variants: Check if the product comes in different shapes, sizes, or colors (variants). A good range of variants/options can attract a broader and diverse range of customers in a way that resembles how brick and mortar retail works.

When you are buying shoes in a physical shop for example, you normally have good options based on gender, size, color, style etc. If the product you are assessing has such options and possibilities, it may be a great fit for ecommerce.

Visual Appeal: This is important for effective presentation and visual marketing. Products with a strong visual appeal (look and feel) tend to perform well in ecommerce.

Niche or Specialty: This now relates to the business due diligence of market research and niche identification which I will go into a bit later on in the article. You need to determine if the product belongs to a particular niche or sub niche.

Niche products can have a focused as well as dedicated customer base online and can be easy to sell if pitched effectively to the target market.

Digital or Downloadable Products: With this product type category, you need to check if the product can be availed in digital or downloadable format. Typical examples for this category are software, course content, audios, ebooks, or other digital goods.

Subscription Potential: Does the product lend itself well for a subscription model. Some examples of subscription compatible products/services are: Meal Kit Subscriptions, steaming services, fitness and wellness subscriptions, book and audiobook subscriptions, clothing rental subscriptions, software as a service (SaaS), toy subscription boxes for children.

Note that if you get this right, subscription based products or services can be a great base for a consistent revenue stream.

Licensing or Legal Considerations: Is the product subject to any licensing or legal restrictions which hinder its online sale?

Compatibility with Ecommerce Platforms: Assess and determine if the product can be easily presented over common ecommerce platforms such as Shopify and BigCommerce. Note that some features may require specific features or compatibility.

Ease of Demonstration: It is crucial to determine the ease of demonstration for each product you are considering selling online. Check if the product’s features and benefits can be easily and effectively showcased, illustrated or demonstrated online.

One of the key drivers of ecommerce is the possibility to visualise and even get a 3D virtual experience of the product.

In theory, a wide range of products and services can indeed be sold online (ecommerce). The advancements of the internet over recent years has changed the face of business and created multiple possibilities in the way businesses can market and sell their goods and services globally.

Success in selling online however depends on a number of business viability related factors. The section below goes into more details on how to identify the best products to sell online.

How to Identify the Best Product to Sell Online

Having dealt with the product type or nature related questions, there is some business related due diligence you need to conduct to arrive at the best products to sell online.

Niche Identification

Before you even start on setting up an online store, you need to conduct due diligence in identifying the sweet spot for your online business. This involves identifying a niche that aligns with your knowledge, passion, interests, skills, as well as market demand.

Getting this right is the ultimate important foundation for building a growing and sustainable as well as profitable online business. Niche identification involves a number of considerations that we delve into below.

Assess Your Personal Interests and Expertise

Consider the things that you are passionate about and the skills you have. Your passions and knowledge in a particular domain will not only make the business line you are carving more enjoyable but will also position you and your brand as an authority in that niche or sub niche.

Conduct a Thorough Market Research

To discover real niche opportunities you need to conduct a thorough market research. This helps you to understand the current trends, what customers need, their pain points as well as potential gaps in the market. You can make use of tools like Google Trends, and various industry reports.

Also do some competition analysis for the niche/sub niche you are considering venturing into. This exercise will provide valuable insights into identifying niches which are viable and a good fit for your skill set and interests.

Evaluate Market Demand and Competition

This part is crucial for assessing the demand for products/services in the niche you are evaluating.

The crucial part of laying a foundation for success in ecommerce is the ability to balance demand with competition – this is how you arrive at your sweet spot- which is the gap where you offer unique value – THAT IS YOUR NICHE.

Selling Physical Products

So, selling physical products has a different set of considerations and implications from selling virtual products. If you want to go with physical products, careful consideration is necessary for the product itself.

You also need to consider where you will source quality inventory for the product (sourcing or manufacturing), also consider logistical aspects of this business model such as packaging and shipping.

Sell a Unique Product

Off the bat, you need to determine to sell a unique product that stands out in the market. You can either curate products or create your own if you have the competencies and the means.

Differentiation is essential in the cut throat competitive ecommerce landscape.

If you go the route of sourcing products then you need to consider where you will procure quality products. The key with this direction will be to establish good and mutually beneficial relations with your suppliers.

Do your due diligence to ensure that the suppliers you settle for deliver quality products timeously.

Selling Digital Products

If you are considering selling digital products there are many opportunities here as well. The range of opportunities includes monetising digital content, ebooks, online courses, software, downloadable resources, etc.

Creating and Selling Ebooks

If you have acquired a wealth of expertise in a particular subject, you can consider putting all your experience and knowledge into an ebook through the process of digital publishing. Digital publishing involves writing, design and formatting, distribution and marketing.

Developing Online Courses and Tutorials

With the rapid pace of technology and 4iR phenomena like the 4iR, upskilling, reskilling are in the thing. As such, eLearning is a booming industry. If you have solid expertise in a particular discipline or skill set, you need to strongly consider creating and selling a course online.

For this you need to understand the technical aspects of course development, and leveraging online course delivery and monetisation platforms such as Thinkific and Teachable.


Drop shipping has taken the ecommerce landscape by a storm. This business model involves selling products without holding any inventory. The way it works is such that products are shipped directly from the supplier to the customer.

All you do on your digital store is to run the front end of ecommerce (drop shipping in this case), display the inventory (synced with the supplier in the backend), do the marketing and handle the entire checkout process on your ecommerce website.

With all these and other models, due diligence in niche identification and market research are key.

Choosing the Right eCommerce Platform

Your choice of an ecommerce platform is crucial in establishing a business online business. Here is an overview of some top ecommerce platforms you can consider to bring your ecommerce dreams to life.


Shopify Review

As a leading ecommerce platform, Shopify has about 90% or so of what you need to run a successful ecommerce business from a platforming and technological point of view. The platform is suited for any type of product and services you want to sell online.

Shopify is a robust ecommerce platform that is easy to use for both experts and beginners. It is a pre-hosted solution meaning you do not have to worry about fiddling with a lot of technical issues to get started with your business.

Key Features

Shopify key features include:

User-Friendly Interface: Shopify has an intuitive and user friendly interface that makes setting up a digital store a breeze.

It’s a Pre-hosted Solution: As mentioned earlier this eliminates the need for separate hosting which means you do not have to worry about a lot of technical issues pertaining to the digital store set up.

Vast App Marketplace: Robust as Shopify features and functions are, you may still feel you need to customise this or that, or for example you need your sales and traffic reports in a certain format not provided for by Shopify default reporting features, no problem – it‘s easy to handle customisation issues with Shopify.

The platform has a vast app marketplace with various plugins and apps that you can install to enhance the features and functions of your online store.

Security: Shopify‘s approach to security is multi-layered so as to protect both your store data as well as customer data.

Affordable and Flexible Pricing: Also, Shopify has flexible pricing plans, allowing you to start with a low tier plan for as low $19 per month (paid yearly).

The good part is that the platform is designed to grow with your business such that as your business grows and scales you can switch to a higher tier pricing plan seamlessly.

Shopify is running a limited offer of $1 per month (for the first three months) for all its premium plans . Remember that the platform also offers a free 14 day trial. This gives you ample room to test the platform and pilot your business model without any financial risk.



If you have a strong WordPress presence and you want to leverage an open source ecommerce platform, WooCommerce may be a good fit for you.

This plugin integrates seamlessly with WordPress and transforms your WordPress blog into a fully functional ecommerce website.

This option requires basic understanding of WordPress or some investment into hiring a developer to handle some customisations and integrations – particularly if the payment gateway you want to use is not covered by WooCommerce off the shelf in the form of WooCommerce payment gateway plugins.

Also, with this approach you will need to procure and maintain your own hosting.


This is another solid pre hosted ecommerce platform you can consider for your ecommerce business. Take note that unlike Shopify, BigCommerce is built with enterprise level ecommerce business in mind.

The platform is suited for ecommerce businesses that handle large inventories and sales volumes and are in the zone of growth and scaling. As such, BigCommerce pricing plans cost more than Shopify plans.

However, One edge BigCommerce has over Shopify is that many of the critical ecommerce features are included out of the box, reducing the need to rely on third party apps and plugins as is the case with Shopify.

The platform also offers a multi-layered approach to security and just like Shopify, it provides features for multi-channel selling where you can push your product to channels like Facebook, eBay and Amazon.

Shopify turns out to be the best ecommerce platform overall based on its user-friendly and beginner friendly interface, comprehensive features, as well as hassle-free hosting.

The platform is an excellent choice for both beginners and even experts who are looking for a quick and efficient ecommerce website setup without the need to work through technical complexities.

Final Thoughts

So, there you are, getting into the world of online business presents unlimited possibilities and opportunities. You simply have to be willing to explore, innovate, think out of the box and adapt.

Whether you go the route of selling physical products, digital content, or offering services, the key to success lies in understanding your niche intimately and leveraging effective, omni-channel marketing strategies – to run a customer satisfaction centered business.

Remember that success in ecommerce requires continuous learning, adaptability, and a commitment to delivering value for your customers. Implement what you have gathered here and all other important insights you have (and of course keep learning and adapting), to establish a strong foundation to build a thriving ecommerce business.


Photo of author

Gugulethu Nyoni

Gugulethu Nyoni is a seasoned ICT entrepreneur, a full-stack developer with a portfolio of proprietary SaaS solutions under his name. His expertise span conceptualizing and developing digital solutions, including bespoke eCommerce applications. Gugu is also a proficient eCommerce and Whitehat SEO consultant.