Use Google Trends For Product Sourcing Research

- Posted by to E-Commerce

Okay, so you know how I love product sourcing? Well, I often receive emails from people asking me about my research methods for sourcing new products to sell online. How do I know which products are hot? Which tools do I use to help me? How do I do product sourcing research?

So today I thought I’d explain to you how to use one particular tool, which I use on a daily basis and is extremely useful when it comes to product sourcing!

This tool is one that you will probably already have heard of, Google Trends.

We are all aware Google is the place to be for searching. In fact it's grown so popular that it has actually become a verb – to Google! And, with so many millions of searches happening every day through, it’s no wonder that this information can benefit you when buying and selling goods online, whether through eBay, Amazon or your own website. You can literally utilise the power of Google for product sourcing research using an online tool that is just sitting there!

Google Trends – a seemingly simple webpage ran by Google and linked directly to the Google search engine – but it has hidden advantages, as you’ll discover! This site allows you to search for any term that you want and see, at a glance, how many searches that particular search term has received over the last few years.

More than that, you can narrow the results down by a particular country, a particular region and even a particular span of time.

Whether you want to see how often people have searched for iPhones over the course of the last four years, or how often people have searched for Jimmy Choo shoes in the last 30 days, Google Trends will show you whatever you want to know! Sounds good doesn’t it?
 So, with that in mind let’s run through the step-by-step process of actually using the Google Trends tool for product sourcing researching.

Step 1 – Load the Google Trends Website

Your first step is to visit the Google Trends website, either by entering Google Trends into a search engine or heading straight for the website here.

You’ll see a search bar along with a scrolling bar showing the Hot Searches. Don’t worry if the initial page shows up results for the USA as we’ll be able to narrow the results down to a UK audience after your search.

Step 2 – Enter Your Search Term, or Terms

You can search for as many different terms as you want to at once, simply by separating them with commas. I recommend starting with one or two keywords or phrases at a time until you’re used to the tool.

Maybe you could experiment with a couple of products that you’re thinking about selling, for example “Yoga DVD, Fitness DVD”. Then, once you’re happy with your selections click the ‘Explore’ button to get the results just like in the example below:

Step 3 – Narrow down Your Search

Once you’ve clicked ‘Explore’, on the left of the results screen you will see four drop down menus beneath the 'Limit To' section. The first will display the text ‘Web Search’. The second option is set at ‘Worldwide’, the third option displays the dates, and finally, the fourth option refers to categories:

Each time you select a different option within these drop down menus the page will update, giving you the exact information you require. So for example, you can change ‘Web Search’ to 'Product Search' for more accurate results regarding the actual items you are researching. You can then also specify a particular country - for example the United Kingdom - and you can change the dates which will allow you to gather data from as recently as the last 30 days, as well as much older past information.

I’ve shown you an example of some typical results below for those original keywords ‘yoga dvd, fitness dvd’, using a product search in the UK only from 2008 to the present day across all categories:

Have a play with these drop down menus to see the different results; a graph showing lots of past history might not show very much detail but you’ll be able to spot trends over different times of the year for some seasonal items, whereas a graph showing just the last year will show you much more detail about how popular your particular item is currently. You're already gaining a ton of information from your product sourcing research so far.

Step 4 – Analyze Your Results

While you’re getting used to the Google Trends tool you might just want to have a play around to see how the different drop down menus will affect the graph displayed to you, however once you’re past that point you’ll need to start thinking about the actual results.

The information provided by Google here is incredibly useful. Let’s stick with my example of 'Yoga DVD' for a moment; from a brief look around the Google Trends tool I’ve spotted the following pieces of information that could really help with my selling strategy.

The search term 'Yoga DVD' only started to appear from late 2009, it rose in popularity but the more established 'Fitness DVD' always fared much better - I know this because I searched for both terms at the same time, and Google then provided me with information on both so that I could compare:

Now, despite some small spikes during 2010 and 2011, the popularity of 'Yoga DVD' has now dropped and leveled out during 2012.

Perhaps people are searching for a new form of exercise now? Perhaps people prefer general ‘fitness’ dvd’s rather than specifically ‘yoga’. You could also then do another comparison search using ‘yoga dvd’ against a different niche dvd in the same genre – for example ‘pilates dvd’ to see what is the most popular out of a number of different searches.

These are exactly the types of questions and the research you should be doing into your own niches and products using Google Trends.

Below you’ll see the updated results when I add the keyword ‘pilates dvd’ into the searches:

So, ‘yoga dvd’ and ‘pilates dvd’ are less popular searches than the very generic ‘fitness dvd’. This could mean that you should concentrate on this as a starting point for sourcing products rather than diving straight into a narrow niche such as yoga or pilates. Then you should analyse the results for ‘fitness dvd’. They show a spike at the start of each new year. Is this the after Christmas desire to lose weight? Perhaps this would be the best time of year to secure some stock to sell? Ask yourself these questions based on the results from your searches and you will soon learn how to spot a lucrative market to get into!

So, do you see how this can work to your advantage? Look at the results for your own product search terms and see if you can come up with some similar revelations. This will really help you to understand why some of your products sell better at one time than another, or help you to work out whether a new product is worth the investment of your time and money.

You should also compare the results that you take from Google Trends with items already for sale on eBay and also with items in Amazon’s bestseller lists to make sure that the products you’re considering to source are really selling. It’s always best to combine other research methods with Google Trends so that you get a really clear picture, but it is a fantastic place to start, and there is nothing quite like it to help you to spot items that could soon be increasing in popularity or that have proven to be consistently good sellers over the months and years.

Now you should have an even better understanding of where to start when performing your product sourcing research with Google Trends.

Have you used Google Trends for product research? Share your experience and even your tips & tricks below!