Using online tools like Google Trends for product sourcing can help you spot new product ideas that others might still not know about yet. This can give you a competitive advantage in today’s hyper competitive retail & ecommerce market.
In this article we demonstrate with examples, how to use such tools in your product sourcing strategy.
Product Sourcing Strategy
Every retail business, big or small, already has a product sourcing strategy in place. In this article I am going to highlight some additional practices to incorporate in your existing product sourcing strategy, that can give you an edge over the competition.
When I first started my e-commerce business in 2008, it was very challenging to get people to buy a fashion product online. You had to give them a reason to buy online, and make a lot of compromises such as money-back guarantee and cash on delivery payment.
I figured out, if I want to compete with all the big brick & mortar retailers, I have to be offering products that they don’t sell.
Such products can be neglected by them for two reasons:
- The market for the product is too small for them to address (i.e Niche Market)
- The trend has just started and they still haven’t caught up with it
1. Niching Down
I introduced products that were very specific and targeted to certain audience and they have become my best sellers over the years. I was the only store in Egypt to sell T-shirt for Geeks for example. After all, I am a geek myself and would appreciate finding a T-shirt that was as nerdy as I am, so I went ahead and offered them for sale.
I then went ahead and promoted them at the places where geeks hang out online and through targeted online FB ads. After that they quickly spread through word of mouth.
Think about it: When you niche down, you will have a very narrow target market, which means smaller advertising budget that you can afford as a small business owner. And because no one else cares to cover this niche, your audience will probably appreciate it and buy from you.
2. Monitoring Trends
I’m sure all retail buyers are monitoring trends as well, but because we are geeks here, we are going to do it differently, and so achieve faster and safer results.
How buyers typically forecast the trend is by attending industry trade shows. These shows are exhibitions from different suppliers and usually the latest trends in fashion and fabrics are shown. But have you ever thought about the fact that when you attend the show you are still listening to the manufacturers and not the customers? Have you thought about the fact that, as you are all attending the same show, you will probably all be selling the same product the next season? How can you differentiate here?
If you are a marketer I’m sure you are already aware of the different online tools to monitor trends and conversations online. What I have done, was to do the same for my buying.
I would hang on all the social media and see what the latest trends and memes were, and then go quickly make a T-shirt design about it.
Now there are many different methods to monitor online, such as social media monitoring, or amazon reviews and best sellers monitoring, but here we will use Google Trends.
Google Trends for Product Sourcing
One of the tools available now and used by marketers is Google Trends.
I was recently searching for the trend of “sneakers” in Dubai, because there was an event this month for sneakerheads, so I wanted to measure the online hype around it. Let’s take this as an example and explain how it works.
You go to Google Trends and choose the location you want to explore
Enter the search term, here “sneakers”, in the search box and go
You will see the measure of interest, with the highest number being 100
Notice how the interest picked up to its full value due to the event being in the first week of December.
The most important part though is the “related queries”
The related topics or related queries will tell you what exactly people are excited about lately in the segment of sneakers.
You will see for example that interest in “dior sneakers” have grown by 250%, and that’s because Dior was launching a new sneaker and people were excited about it.
Also you will notice the come back of Fila brand in the market, which is what has been happening for the last few months, and this shows that people are loving this come back.
You will also notice on the left the “Navy blue Shade” which gives you a hint about trending colors.
My point is: If you were a buyer in the sneaker segment here, you could have acted very fast on those trends and made sure to be the first one to make them available in the market. If you already had those products in your store, you could have launched a targeted media campaign around it and gained traction from the hype.
In this highly competitive world, you should constantly be looking for the most cost effective ways to beat the competition. This usually is done through such small innovative ways that don’t cost you much (if anything at all) and still give you a big results.
Retailer & Founder of Retail Dogma, Inc.
Rasha has 14 years of retail & ecommerce experience. She has started an ecommerce business in 2008, and later worked at H&M, Bath & Body Works, Victoria’s Secret and Landmark Group. She’s lived in 4 different countries, speaks 3 different languages and holds a BSc in Pharmaceutical Sciences and an MBA in Strategic Management & Marketing.