By 2025, an estimated 256 million U.S. shoppers will make digital purchases — meaning over 88% of the US population will be shopping online in just a few years. Now is the time to brainstorm ecommerce business ideas that can turn into a digital empire.
That can be challenging in a crowded marketplace where there appears to be an infinite number of existing businesses for just about any offering you can imagine. But fear not, this post explores the best online ecommerce business ideas to inspire you as you begin your journey.
The Best eCommerce Business Ideas
1. Handmade Products
Niche online stores make great businesses because they cater to a very specific audience. Hand-made products are especially popular because they allow customers to learn about the people behind the products and their specific processes for creating them.
Artisan Soaps is a great example of a niche online business where the shop owners feature the hand-made soaps and body-care products they manufacture.
Pro tip: Even if you don’t make your own products, you can still develop a niche eCommerce business by featuring the products in a specific category created by others. In this case, the business owner would be the retailer, acquiring the products directly from the makers via a wholesale purchasing relationship.
2. Online Learning Courses
Everybody is an expert in something, so why not turn your expertise into an online learning course?
There is no shortage of platforms designed to help you create and sell your course. Some of the more popular ones include Teachable and Kajabi. Both offer an easy-to-use system to create and share course content, accept payments, and even promote your courses under your branding.
What we like: Melyssa Griffin turned her passion for content creation into a profitable eCommerce business, where she sells online courses catered to entrepreneurs looking to profit from their online courses. In other words, she uses her platform to make money by teaching others how to do the same thing.
3. Custom Apparel
Print-on-demand tools like Printful make it easy to sell apparel with custom graphics and designs.
What we like: Printful will even drop-ship products directly to your customers with your branding, so the packaging will look like it came directly from your own warehouse. Sync up Printful with your favorite ecommerce software, and you’ll have a custom apparel store running on auto-pilot.
64% of American adults currently consume coffee every day. That’s about 400 million cups of coffee served daily across the country. So why not jump in and start an ecommerce coffee shop?
If you find yourself making more than a few stops a week at your local Starbucks, consider applying your passion for java to your own curated eCommerce coffee business.
What we like: Profitable ecommerce businesses like Chamberlin Coffee package their own coffees and coffee-related accessories. Not everyone can convert their garage into a bean processing operation. Thankfully there are plenty of wholesale coffee and tea manufacturers that would love for you to distribute their products through your store.
5. Lip Balm
The global lip care products market size was valued at $1.98 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow 5.9% annually from 2021 to 2028. That’s a whole lot of lip balm being sold. If you have a passion for beauty products, starting an ecommerce business focused on marketing and selling lip balm could be a good move for you.
Pro tip: Consider partnering with DIY lip balm producers who sell their products on websites like Etsy. Create your own YouTube channel demonstrating the products, and then link back to your store where your subscribers can purchase directly from you.
After a few years of consistent content creation and audience growth, you may find yourself giving brands like Glossier a run for their money.
Like coffee, tea is a fast-growing segment of the consumer market. With an ever-increasing number of tea producers, now might be the perfect time to invest in setting up your own profitable ecommerce business focused on teas and tea-related products.
What we like: Online stores like The Tea Spot sell not only tea, but tea-related products, accessories, and gift packs. We especially love their Rise and Shine gift set. For $54.95, customers get a beautifully etched mug and bamboo lid and three whole-leaf teas.
Get as creative as you can with a variety of different gift packs to delight your customers, set up your social media accounts to showcase your creations, and you’re off to the races.
Who doesn’t love a great-smelling candle? While consumers can readily purchase candles at their local home goods store, consider curating your own collection of handmade candles and offering them for sale online. Or even better, learn how to make your own candles and have full control over your inventory.
What we like: Seattle Candle Company is a great example of a handmade candle shop that uses a sleek design and modern branding to set itself apart from its competitors. By offering uniquely Pacific Northwest scents like Evergreen, Coffee, and Cedar for as little as $12, customers can experience the scents of the Seattle area without leaving the comforts of their own homes.
8. Business Coaching
Like selling online courses, business coaching is a great way to package your knowledge and experience into services you can market. This may be one of the only types of profitable ecommerce businesses where you can sell something intangible: your time.
What we like: Top Biller is an eCommerce business started by a professional headhunter, designed to help independent recruiters looking to grow their own independent recruiting companies. While the site offers specific products to help business owners (templates, forms, etc.) along with training, the site owners also offer 1-hour “coaching calls” that can be booked and paid for online.
Everybody loves a treat, so why not start an ecommerce business selling pre-packaged candy? This is undoubtedly a crowded space. However, a well-conceived site, clever marketing, and your unique stamp on the packaging could go a long way toward helping you get noticed.
What we like: Sugarwish offers a unique spin on the gift packaging idea. Rather than choosing what goes inside the gift box, they leave that up to the recipient, who is able to select the treats they want inside the box. This highly-personalized touch leaves an impression on the recipient.
10. Vintage Clothing
If your idea of fun is spending an afternoon rummaging through the local thrift shop for gems, creating an ecommerce business focused on selling used or vintage clothing might be the perfect match for you. It’s one of the few businesses where you get to be both the buyer and the seller at the same time.
Be sure to offer a wide range of clothing to browse and select from. Because you won’t be able to sell the same item in multiple sizes, it will be important to feature items that appeal to a wide range of styles and tastes.
Unique Vintage does a good job of keeping its selection broad, but with an aesthetic that is uniquely its own.
Pro tip: A well-laid-out website with a simple shopping cart feature will help you get those hard-to-find vintage threads off of your shelves and onto those of your customers quickly.
Did you know that the U.S. jewelry market earned $57.965 billion in annual revenue in 2021? Even a tiny fraction of that would amount to a profitable ecommerce business.
There’s never been a better time to launch an online business focused on affordable jewelry. That can be either pieces you make yourself or those you acquire from others.
What we love: A shop like Hello Adorn offers a wide selection of affordable handmade jewelry. With over 85k followers on Instagram, the site does a great job of cultivating an audience on social media by sharing relevant posts that convert casual onlookers into shoppers.
12. T-shirt Shop
A good old-fashioned T-shirt shop is the way to go if you have some basic design skills and an abundance of creativity. By leveraging a print-on-demand fulfillment partner, you can quickly get your shop up and running. Be sure to allow customers to purchase your designs in any size and color they wish.
What we like: Super 70s Sports has grown its presence on Twitter into a pop-culture superstore, taking the memes they share on social media and converting them into T-shirt designs. With a focus on nostalgia from the 70s and 80s, customers are delighted by the wide selection of shorts featuring memorable movie quotes, characters, and themes from the past.
13. Cell Phone Cases
Cell phone cases are one of the quickest and easiest ecommerce business ideas to implement. If you can strike licensing deals with popular social media influencers, even better, as you’ll have a massive base of prospective customers available to you instantly.
Popular eCommerce site Casetify offers a wide range of cases for just about every conceivable device, from cell phones to tablets and laptops and everything in between.
14. Custom Poetry
Here’s a novel idea for entrepreneurs with a flair for language: Consider starting a custom poetry business. What better way to commemorate someone special than with a poem written in their honor?
When researching this idea, we were consistently impressed with the number of amateur poets who have built successful ecommerce businesses by selling their made-to-order prose.
What we love: Emily McDermott is passionate about writing. She uses her website, Simple by Emmy, to feature her work. As she states on the site, one of her greatest joys is to help people tell the stories of the people they love. She’s turned that joy into a business by offering personalized poems for any special occasion.
15. Sports Memorabilia
If you’re passionate about sports and collecting, starting a sports memorabilia-focused business may be the perfect idea for you. In some cases, you may need to look no further than your own closet for inventory. Perhaps that ball you had signed at a major league baseball game when you were younger might be your first sale.
What we like: There’s no question the owners of Powers Sports Memorabilia have a passion for collecting. As both buyers and sellers of sports memorabilia, Powers’ offers “consulting calls” for parties interested in acquiring or selling specific types of collectibles. They function as a one-stop shop for customers looking to buy, sell, or trade just about any kind of sports-related memorabilia.
You don’t have to be Jeff Bezos to figure out how to make money selling things online. Plenty of hobbyists have turned their passions into profitable ecommerce businesses simply by figuring out how to package and sell whatever it is they are most passionate about.
Once you have your idea, there are dozens of ways to quickly launch your online store without the help of a web designer. Tools like Shopify and GoDaddy make it easy to get an ecommerce business up and running quickly. Then, you can focus on the things that matter: Attracting customers by offering great products they won’t be able to find anywhere else.