It seems like everyone is starting an ecommerce business these days - and for good reason. Experts say that the global market for ecommerce will hit $5.7 trillion this year. It’s not too late to get in on those earnings, as experts project continued growth over the next few years.
Still, about half of all businesses fail during their first five years. It’s critical that you choose a profitable ecommerce business idea to ensure your business not only succeeds but thrives. As the creator of my own successful ecommerce business, I’m here to help by walking you through the top business ideas that can earn you a substantial income.
How Do You Start an Ecommerce Business?
Creating a business from scratch can seem overwhelming when you’re first getting started. However, starting an ecommerce business is far easier than a brick-and-mortar store. You can complete all the steps online.
Once you’ve come up with a business idea and validated it via market research, you can work on your product. If you’re selling physical products, you’ll need to spend some time sourcing and pricing your products. If you sell a digital product or service, you’ll need to work on creating the product or building your skills.
Then, you’ll need to get a domain name and website hosting. With that done, you can use a website builder to create your online shop. You’ll also need to name your business and register it with the state you live in. Depending on what you sell and where you live, you may also need to obtain some business licenses from your city or state.
It’s also critical that you set up an account with a payment service provider. Pay.com makes it easy to accept online payments by offering a wide range of payment methods. You can read our full, in-depth guide on starting an ecommerce business here.
20 Ecommerce Business Ideas
1. Sell Downloadables and Printables
Downloadables and printables are exactly like they sound – digital products that customers can download, print, and use. Selling digital products is one of the easiest ways you can start an online business. There’s very little monetary investment required, though you will need to spend time creating products. Plus, it’s highly profitable, with some people earning six figures per year.
- Health trackers
- Self-care planners
- Coloring pages for kids
2. Start a Blog
If you have a flair for writing and expertise in a certain area, starting a blog can be quite profitable. Although you may not think of it as an ecommerce business, blogging can eventually earn you a six-figure income if you understand how to monetize it. This involves selling ad space on your blog, writing sponsored posts, and potentially selling services or digital products.
It does take time to build up a profitable blog. You’ll need to carefully research a niche and build an audience. However, there’s little cost to get started and the reward could be huge. Read our full guide on getting paid as a blogger for more information.
3. Offer Social Media Assets
The majority of business owners and influencers use social media platforms to sell products to their followers. However, not all of them know how to create a professional, branded online presence. If you have some design experience or an eye for branding, you can fill this need.
You can sell all kinds of social media assets, like Instagram story templates and Canva templates. This allows people to have a consistent look and feel to their social media presence without any graphic design experience.
4. Create Video Courses
If you have expertise in any given area, chances are there’s an audience looking to learn about it. Successful courses can bring in anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 per month. Meanwhile, top course creators can earn well over six figures.
Even if your expertise is in making courses rather than a specific topic, you can use that knowledge to your advantage by making courses for others.
5. Sell Beauty Products
Experts estimate that the beauty industry will be worth $571.1 billion in 2023. This industry has exhibited consistent growth in the last decade, so opportunities to earn continue to flourish. You can make your own beauty products, sell another brand’s beauty goods, or sell white-label products. Learn more about starting your own makeup business in our 8-step guide.
6. Source and Sell Second-Hand Items
The market for second-hand, thrifted, and vintage items is thriving online. Some people buy used goods to get a deal. Others are on the hunt for that unique, rare vintage item. Either way, you have a wide audience to sell to. You can earn anywhere from a couple hundred to thousands per month depending on what you sell and how much time you put into it.
Ideas for used products you can sell online include:
- Vintage jewelry
- Tech gear
- Vintage t-shirts
- Music equipment
7. Take and Sell Photos
If you have a passion for photography, you can sell your images online. For example, stock photographers can earn anywhere from $0.02 to $0.25 per image per month. You can also offer extended licenses for your photos for up to $500 per month. If you work with an agency, you can earn up to $0.32 per sale of each royalty-free license.
8. Offer a Rental Service
Some events call for clothing, tools, or products that you just don’t need in your everyday life. In these instances, most people would rather rent an item than purchase it - which creates an opportunity for you as a business owner. You can earn a steady profit by renting these items online.
For example, Rent the Runway earns millions each year by allowing customers to rent formal dresses for a short period of time. They can rent the same dress to thousands of customers, for $70 to $500 each time. Other examples of products you can rent out include jewelry, tools, equipment, musical instruments, office equipment, and photography gear.
9. Create Custom Clothing
People are willing to pay a premium for customized goods, especially around the holidays. You can use a print-on-demand service and offer customized clothing, like t-shirts or socks. Ask your customers to send you the text or image. Then, use your graphic design skills to create a mock-up, get the customer’s approval, and send it to your supplier for manufacturing and shipping.
10. Offer Custom Digital Art
If you have design experience, you can sell custom digital art. Vector art of people, pets, and homes makes for great gifts, which will keep you busy year-round. You can ask people to submit their photos, then use an app like Procreate or Photoshop to turn them into priceless art.
You can sell these services on a platform like Etsy. You may also opt to create your own website to avoid giving Etsy a cut of your sales. Just be sure to choose a payment service provider that makes getting started easy. Pay.com has a quick onboarding process, so you can start selling right away via a customized web checkout page or direct Pay Links.
11. Create Candles
Candle-making businesses can be highly profitable. There’s a low cost barrier to entry. Candles have a high customer-perceived value, meaning that people regard them as inherently valuable and are willing to pay more. If you create or source premium candles with soy wax and natural fragrances, you can sell the candles for even more.
12. Offer Natural Products
Natural and organic products make up an 11.92 billion dollar industry in the US alone. It’s safe to say that there’s a huge market for these products. You may opt to make your own or white-label natural products.
Natural products exist in many major industries, including:
- Health supplements
- Cleaning products
- Essential oils
13. Sell Sustainable Swaps
Sales continue to grow for alternative products that are better for the planet than traditional options. In fact, consumer surveys show a continued interest in sustainable products. This includes everything from reusable straws, cups, bottles, and bags to package-free skincare, organic cotton bedding, and more. Take advantage of this trend and help the planet by selling sustainable products.
14. Provide Print-On-Demand Apparel
Turn your art and designs into trendy apparel that draws in big crowds. People turn to sites like Etsy and Amazon for funny, clever t-shirts, beanies, and tote bags. The most popular designs often include a smart nod to pop culture, current social media trends, or seasonal themes.
You can work with a print-on-demand manufacturer so all you have to do is create digital mock-ups and run an ecommerce site. Meanwhile, your vendor deals with physical products and shipping.
15. White Label Jewelry
Like candles, jewelry also has a high perceived value. Customers are willing to pay a premium for earrings, rings, necklaces, and bracelets. You can even source jewelry that is gold-plated, solid gold, or bejeweled with semi-precious gems and charge an even higher dollar amount.
16. Provide Health Services
People are constantly looking for ways to lose weight, get stronger, and improve their health. With the power of the internet, you can connect with thousands of these folks rather than the small pool of potential clients you’d meet if you offered nutrition and exercise coaching in person.
You can offer one-on-one coaching or downloadable guides to really increase your profits. Read more about how to start your own personal training business in our step-by-step guide.
17. Sell Smart Home Products
As we grow more technologically advanced, more and more people are looking to connect all of their devices to make their lives more convenient. That means there’s a big market for smart home products, like smart speakers, light bulbs, garage door openers, and more. There aren’t a ton of ecommerce shops specializing in this area yet, so it could be very profitable.
18. Offer a Digital Service
One of the easiest ways to start an ecommerce business is to offer a service like copywriting, custom music creation, or customer service. There are very few overhead costs or initial investments needed.
You just need a marketable skill, a website, and a payment service provider. Pay.com provides a variety of payment methods, so you can allow your clients to pay however it's convenient for them.
19. Provide Children’s Toys
Children's toys can turn a great profit, as they’re fairly cheap and there’s always a need for more. The best way to get noticed in this industry is to choose a niche. For example, open-ended and sustainably-made toys will draw in more earth-conscious moms.
20. Sell Men’s Fashion
The fashion industry is booming, presenting plenty of opportunities to you as an ecommerce seller. However, there’s also a big disparity between men’s and women’s fashion websites, with women having far more options. Fill the gap by offering unique men’s fashion and reap the benefits.
How Can a New Ecommerce Business Accept Payments?
To start accepting payments for your new ecommerce business, you’ll need a payment service provider. Pay.com provides you with everything you need to get started immediately.
After a quick onboarding process, you can use the Pay Dashboard to set up a custom checkout page that looks and feels like the rest of your website. Even if you don’t have a website, you can send customers payment requests directly by using Pay Links.
With Pay.com, you can choose from a variety of payment methods so that you never miss a sale. Plus, you can display security badges on your site so that your customers can feel confident and safe shopping with you.
The Bottom Line
Starting an ecommerce business can be incredibly profitable, but it's important that you do your research before jumping in. While some products can earn you thousands, others may leave you spending more than you actually earn. You’ll also want to carefully choose an industry that will continue to grow over the years – not just one that’s trending now.
Once you land on an ecommerce business idea and validate it with market research, you can take the next exciting steps, like creating an LLC, sourcing products, and creating a website. Be sure to choose the right payment service provider. With Pay.com, you can easily start accepting payments online no matter what you sell.