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13 Profitable E-Commerce Business Ideas For 2024 – Forbes Advisor UK

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We’ve gathered together some top e-commerce business ideas that could double up as a passion. Our picks range from handmade pet treats to candle making and furniture upcycling. Read on to find out if any could be up your street.

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1. Sell homemade treats for pets

If you love animals, a handmade treats e-commerce store may be the perfect fit for you. Some appeal to owners too. For example, cannabidiol (CBD)-infused treats can help to relieve their dog’s (and, in turn, their own) anxiety.

To start this type of e-commerce business, you will need to contact your Local Trading Standards and the Food Standards Agency. You may also need a licence from your Local Authority. Do thorough research first to avoid a fine and the possibility of being shut down.

2. Set up an educational platform

An educational platform can be a good way to create passive income by selling products that help people meet their personal or professional goals.

Your educational platform could centre around an expertise you’ve worked to develop. Or, instead of working one-on-one with students, you can sell courses, ebooks, workbooks and other educational materials.

You can either create a website or take advantage of specialised platforms on which to sell educational materials around your expertise. Udemy, for example, allows educators to sell educational materials in video format, complete with a landing page.

Other websites, such as Amazon, allow you to self-publish ebooks for free, then sell them. By offering your educational material in various formats, you appeal to different learning styles and, therefore, wider audiences.

3. Create handmade toys

If you sew, knit or crochet, this idea could be the one for you. There are a few easy approaches you can take to selling handmade toys online. You can simply research what’s trendy now, then find similar knit, crochet or sewing patterns to create them yourself.

Or, you can charge a premium price to take orders for customised toys based on parents’ nursery themes or children’s preferences. Finally, for an extra niche approach, consider making nostalgic gifts for adults.

If you plan on following trends and crafting your inventory to match, be sure to research trends by asking other crafters what sells the most from their handmade toy inventories. You can easily do this via Facebook groups dedicated to your craft. Alternatively, if creating customised toys, be sure to get a deposit to cover the full-price cost of materials before you begin work.

5. Upsell used goods

Upselling (or ‘flipping’) previously used or worn goods has become something of a trend. From unravelling wool in second-hand sweaters and knitting them into luxurious clothing items, to upcycling furniture into current trends, there are multiple markets for opportunity.

And these items may not be difficult to flip. A little paint or a few craft supplies and some YouTube tutorials can be enough to create an heirloom masterpiece to display in your e-commerce store.

Just be sure to use natural light in marketing photos, then upload minimalist images that keep your new prize in the spotlight. Use clear keywords so Google searchers can find your pieces.

6. Get into speciality food ordering

With chain produce stores carrying much the same items across the board, there is a market for specialty foods. And by sourcing foods that speak to consumers’ tastes or other preferences, you can fill this gap.

Some ways to source niche foods include building relationships with local food producers or buying produce from local markets. If sourced directly from local suppliers, you can upcharge your food products to make a profit.

If sourced from local markets, correct marketing that highlights your products’ premium features can help you demand prices that earn a profit.

You will need to contact your Local Trading Standards and the Food Standards Agency. You may also need a licence from your Local Authority. Carry out thorough research to avoid a fine and the possibility of being shut down.

7. Brand-name fashion reselling

Fashion reselling at a profit means identifying and purchasing high value brand items in charity shops and reselling them in your own e-commerce store for a more fitting price.

When buying pieces to resell, look them over thoroughly to ensure you don’t also purchase stains and rips. In addition, try to buy clothing in in-demand sizes. A size zero is often more difficult to sell than a size eight or 12, for example.

When selling your items, include multiple photos from different angles. Also, offer close-up photos of the brand name and other attractive details. Then, list your clothing for sale during the seasons they’re most likely to be worn.

8. Grow a plants business

Plants are known to relieve stress, purify air and support cognitive health. With all of its benefits, selling plants online offers a means to market your e-commerce store to wide audiences, from stressed-out corporate professionals to environmentally-minded millennials.

To start sourcing your plants, first choose a niche. Examples are health-beneficial plants such as aloe or outdoor plants like potted fruit trees or flower bulbs.

From there, you have several options for sourcing your plants. You could start small by growing plants in your back garden. You can also buy them from wholesalers or local greenhouses and nurseries.

Finally, on your website, for each plant, offer a detailed description of what it is, how it was cultivated (organically, for example), where it was sourced and the planting zones in which it thrives.

When pricing your plants, consider the cost of the goods you’ve purchased or grown, including supplies, if they are or are not in season, your labour, your profit margin and any overhead costs you’ve incurred like storage and shipping costs.

9. Search out and sell collectibles

When searching for an e-commerce store that is in high demand, look no further than collectibles. After all, collectibles are very popular things to own. Your collectibles e-commerce store can revolve around rare items, antique items or both.

You can source collectibles from online auctions. Consider searching charity shops, eBay or property garage sales for products sold by sellers with little knowledge or care regarding how much they are worth. By combining these two methods of collectible searches, you may find rare and underestimated valuables that are easily sellable with healthy profit margins.

To price your items, focus on model numbers, editions, rarity, production dates, involved brands and condition. For antiques, pricing should revolve around the market value, the rarity of the item, its condition and its providence (individual history and the paperwork you have to back that history up).

Factor in the cost of shipping, insurance, packaging materials, and your profit margin into the final listing price

10. Craft your own home accessories

Home accessories offers endless products you can use to fill your e-commerce store. From paintings, coasters, candles and rugs to bedding, artificial plants and utensil holders, the possibilities are endless.

For example, with some essential oils, making and selling homemade candles is an easy process. Your supply list should include cotton wicks, a clean can for melting your oils, a wooden spoon or other stirring utensil, a pot, some organic beeswax or soy and essential oils of your or your client’s choice.

Many YouTube videos are available to guide you as you create unique creations with these supplies and ingredients.

Other examples of home products you can easily make include coasters, cloth napkins, rugs and table runners. YouTube videos offer beginner to advanced tutorials on how to knit, crochet or rug hook.

You can also tap into dropshipping. After applying for a dropshipping relationship with the right supplier, you can list home decor items on your e-commerce site, collect orders, then send them to your supplier to fill and ship.

11. Tap into ideology products

To many people, ideologies form part of their identity and many want to express their ideologies as a means of sharing themselves with others. They often passionately do so via the products they purchase.

You coud help them express their ideologies by selling ideology-based products through your e-commerce business. A cross necklace or a t-shirt with a human rights slogan on, are both examples of ideology-based products. The good news is that all of these items can be easily personalised for different target markets.

Dropshipping can be a powerful tool to offer a wide variety of ideology-based products to your customers. Vistaprint, for example, allows you to design common products, then list them on your website.

When customers place an order, Vistaprint is notified and ships the ordered product directly to your customer with no Vistaprint branding on the package or product. In this way, you cut down on overhead and labour costs while still offering a high-demand product.

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Bottom line

There are hundreds of e-commerce business ideas available to entrepreneurs. When evaluating ideas for this list, we looked for unique ones to allow our readers to find a market that is not already saturated and, so, is profitable.

But, for the highest profitability, we encourage you to take these ideas and make them your own based on what you know about your audience. By uniquely meeting audience needs, you further drive up your profit margin.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I start an e-commerce business?

To start an e-commerce business, first find out what products you can realistically sell.

Then, research competitors, find ways to differentiate your store from competitors, write a business plan, put together a branding kit, including logos, a store name, a domain and more, develop relationships with necessary partners, such as suppliers, choose your shipping strategy, set your sales goals and, finally, launch your business.

Is e-commerce profitable?

Some e-commerce stores are more profitable than others.

As in any business venture, the profitability of your e-commerce store will come down to product demand and quality, pricing, marketing and the ability to get your products before the audiences who will buy them.

Still, handmade products are some of the most profitable e-commerce products because supplies can often be sourced at low costs while final products often demand premium prices.

What are examples of e-commerce businesses?

E-commerce businesses can be between businesses and their customers or two businesses.

It can also be an exchange between individual customers. Amazon, Alibaba, Walmart, Wayfair, eBay and OLX are all examples of e-commerce businesses.

Can I start an e-commerce store with no money?

You can start an e-commerce store for just a few pounds. With dropshipping, for example, you can create a website and market your products but not hold any inventory.

Instead, products are shipped straight from the manufacturer to your customers.

This means you can create a dropshipping arrangement for free. However, to set up a website with a branded domain, expect to pay between £10 and £20 per month.

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