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Starting an eCommerce business is one of the best ways to replace your nine-to-five job. Unlike traditional brick-and-mortar businesses, most eCommerce business ideas are not capital-intensive.

With adequate market research and a comprehensive business plan, you can spend less money on launching and sustaining an online business.

The internet provides a ton of free training materials to help you take consistent strides in your entrepreneurial journey.

In this guide, you’ll learn about the best eCommerce business ideas and how to start a profitable small business.

Is eCommerce a good business?

A 2022 Statista study reveals that global retail eCommerce sales are expected to reach $8.1 trillion by 2026, up from $5.2 trillion in 2021. This rapid growth indicates that there’s no better time to launch an eCommerce business.

At 42.8%, eCommerce has a high gross profit margin, making it a good industry for entrepreneurs to tap into. It also has a low barrier to entry — you can launch a profitable online business with little to no money, set your work hours and become your own boss.

Ecommerce gives you global exposure, increasing profitability. This makes it a good business to start, regardless of your budget.

Ecommerce business models

eCommerce business models.

Like traditional businesses, eCommerce offers several business models to choose from. They’re classified according to the type of customer you target. These business models include:

  • Business-to-business (B2B): B2B companies sell products and services to other businesses. For instance, Alibaba runs on a B2B business model. Its purpose is to help business owners source goods directly from suppliers in China.
  • Business-to-consumer (B2C): Of all eCommerce business models, B2C is the most common. It refers to businesses that sell directly to end-users. Amazon is a popular example of a B2C company — it sells products directly to consumers.
  • Consumer-to-business (C2B): Consumers can also offer their products or services to businesses. For instance, Fiverr relies on users to provide professional services to its customers.
  • Consumer-to-consumer (C2C): This business model enables consumers to sell products and services to other consumers. Online marketplaces like eBay and Etsy are great examples of C2C businesses.
  • Consumer-to-government (C2G): To many, this feels more like an obligation than a business model. When you pay electricity bills through a government website, you’re participating in the C2G business model.

The most profitable eCommerce business ideas

The profitability of your online business depends on several factors. One of these is your niche. Some niches have a wide customer base and low profit margins. Others have a smaller customer base and high profit margins.

Hence, you must conduct in-depth market research to know your target market, their purchasing power, demographical data and what drives their purchase decisions.

Here are the most profitable eCommerce business ideas to consider in 2023.

Idea #1: Offer a subscription box service

A subscription box service is an online business model where customers subscribe to receive curated boxes of use-specific products periodically.

The global subscription box market is projected to grow from $26.79 billion in 2022 to $31.27 billion in 2023. This business idea is lucrative and only requires you to find new customers occasionally.

Once a customer subscribes to a plan, everything is automatic from that point on. Customers sign up for a recurring subscription, and packages are shipped out automatically, depending on your fulfillment setup.

Here are a few niches where you can offer subscription boxes:

  • Beauty products like makeup kits.
  • Baby products.
  • Groceries.
  • Hygiene products.

Idea #2: Sell professional services

Professional web development services website.

Selling professional services is a profitable eCommerce business idea if you have a skill to monetize. For instance, if you’re an accountant, you can offer paid services such as bookkeeping, financial planning and virtual consultations.

Unlike selling physical products, you don’t need to stock up on anything. Neither do you need to find a supplier. Selling professional services is therefore one of the cheapest eCommerce business ideas you can pursue.

Here are other services you can sell online through a personal website:

To increase your earning potential, consider offering a subscription-based service. This is ideal for services people need regularly, like tax filing and website maintenance.

Idea #3: Sell handmade items

Handmade items attract higher profit margins. They’re original, unique, authentic and aren’t mass-produced. Crafters invest time and effort to produce them, so it’s only fair that they charge significantly higher than other business owners.

To start selling handmade items, you must have a skill you can use to create a resourceful product that solves a user’s problem or alleviates their pain.

Here are examples of handmade products you can sell:

  • Jewelry.
  • Paintings.
  • Scented candles.
  • Baked pet treats.
  • Organic soaps.
  • Children’s toys.

The handmade product market is booming and is expected to grow in 2024 and beyond. Selling your handmade items on your website, on Etsy, on the new Makerplace by Michaels, and various other online platforms is an excellent way to make a profit.

Idea #4: Become an affiliate marketer

Affiliate marketing is a revenue-sharing marketing strategy where you earn a commission for each sale a merchant makes through your marketing efforts.

For instance, if you have a food blog and publish a recipe that involves the use of a pressure cooker, you can share a link to a pressure cooker manufacturer’s website.

If a consumer makes a purchase through your link, you earn a percentage of the sale as a commission. The amount you earn depends on your agreement with the merchant.

Here are some affiliate marketing opportunities you can pursue:

  • Join an affiliate network like ClickBank, find products to promote and earn commissions.
  • Clickbank has one of the best affiliate programs online. It rewards you each time a customer signs up and pays for a digital product following your link.
  • Amazon Associates allows you to forward traffic to You earn a commission each time a lead makes a purchase.

You can use paid advertising, content marketing or influencer marketing to drive traffic to a merchant’s website. Paid advertising and influencer marketing are pricey but guarantee faster results than inbound marketing.

Idea #5: Sell collectibles

Examples of collectibles you can sell online.

Collectibles are valuable items collected for their historical or sentimental relevance. These items are usually expensive, probably because they’re no longer produced. Collectibles include items like watches, rings, paintings and vintage items.

You can attend auctions or visit marketplaces like eBay and Craigslist to find collectible items.

Once you have a sizable collection, create an eCommerce website, list your products and market them to your target audience. Consider publishing niche-specific blog posts on your website. This is a great way to attract a highly interested audience through your SEO efforts.

Idea #6: Open a dropshipping store

Dropshipping is one of the best ways to start an online store on a budget. This form of retailing allows you to list products for sale without owning or handling inventory.

Even though it may sound illegal to sell something not in your possession, dropshipping is legal in the U.S. and many other countries.

As a drop-shipper, you find a supplier of high-quality products, list their items on your eCommerce store and advertise them to your target market. Once a customer makes a purchase, you get their order details and forward them to the supplier.

The supplier ships the product directly to the customer. Some suppliers will brand your products for you for a small fee before shipping them to the customer.

You can dropship niche products like smart home products, pet foods, smartwatches and supplements.

Idea #7: Launch a print-on-demand store

An illustration of how print-on-demand works.

Technically, print-on-demand falls under dropshipping. Both ideas are built on the same principle: You advertise and sell goods you don’t own. However, with print-on-demand, you sell designs on different items like mugs, t-shirts, face masks and tote bags.

Upon receiving an order, you forward it to a fulfillment company, which prints your design on an item the customer ordered and ships it to them.

For example, if a customer orders a teddy bear design on a mug, the print-on-demand company will print the teddy bear design on the mug and ship it to the customer on your behalf.

Idea #8: Sell an online course

Online education is in demand. People go online to learn different skills. If you are an expert in your field and you have a passion for teaching, consider creating a course and selling it on platforms like Skillshare and Udemy.

Skillshare and Udemy are eCommerce platforms that facilitate C2C transactions. Instructors upload courses and earn money when students enroll.

These platforms offer a broad selection of courses, so you must provide more value than other instructors in your niche if you want to stand out.

Idea #9: Flip domains

Domain flipping entails buying domain names and reselling them at a higher price. You can visit a domain registrar’s website and purchase a domain name if you think it will be valuable in the future.

There isn’t a sure way to predict the future value of a domain. This is why you need to purchase numerous domains.

One of the downsides of flipping domains is that buying many domains can be expensive. Additionally, if you don’t sell them during the year, you have to renew them, which may be costly.

However, search engines assume older domains are more authoritative and relevant. So, these domains rank higher on search engine result pages (SERPs).

Therefore, when you register a domain and hold on to it, its value increases with time. The older a domain is, the higher the price it’s likely to sell for. While domain flipping is a great way to generate passive income, it may not be suitable for those who want to earn quick profits.

Idea #10: Sell natural beauty products

Examples of natural beauty products you can sell online.

Synthetic beauty products are cheaper to produce than natural products. However, these products tend to be harsh, causing irritation to sensitive skin. In contrast, natural products are gentle, and customers are taking notice.

The natural skincare market is growing massively. A Statista report reveals the market is expected to grow from a total value of $9.9 billion in 2021 to approximately $20.4 billion by 2030.

With its surging growth, natural skincare is a profitable niche to tap into. Despite its aggressive competition, you can still stand out by offering unique products that address specific concerns like melasma and acne.

Other natural beauty products you can venture into are natural makeup and hair care products. Examples of products in these categories are hygiene products like body soap and shampoo.

Idea #11: Start a clothing line

To build a clothing line, you need to invest more time and money than many other online businesses. This is because a successful clothing business requires you to source high-quality materials and create unique designs.

A 2023 Statista study reveals that up to 26% of clothes purchased online in the U.S. are returned. This is the highest return rate across all industries.

To lower the risk of returns, ensure what your customers see on your online store is what they get. Provide an accurate sizing chart that’s easy to understand so customers can pick the right fit.

One of the best things about having a clothing line is that you can release new products as often as you want. Customers expect to find something new and exciting whenever they visit your website.

Other profitable ideas to consider:

  1. Eco-Friendly Products Store: Focus on products made from sustainable, recycled materials. This caters to the growing market of environmentally conscious consumers.
  2. Vintage Fashion Marketplace: Offer a platform for selling vintage clothing and accessories, tapping into the trend of sustainable and unique fashion.
  3. Health and Wellness Supplements: Specialize in vitamins, supplements, and health foods. Health consciousness is a growing trend worldwide.
  4. Tech Gadgets and Accessories Store: Sell the latest tech gadgets and accessories, appealing to tech enthusiasts and early adopters.
  5. Artisanal Foods and Snacks: Offer gourmet, artisanal, and locally-sourced foods. This appeals to foodies and those seeking unique culinary experiences.
  6. Home Organization Solutions: Sell products that help organize and declutter homes, appealing to those looking to streamline their living spaces.
  7. Premium Pet Products Store: Focus on high-quality pet food, toys, and accessories, catering to pet owners who treat their pets as family members.
  8. Customized Gifts and Crafts: Offer personalized gifts and handcrafted items, appealing to customers seeking unique and personal products.
  9. Second-Hand Books Store: Sell used books online, appealing to book lovers and those seeking budget-friendly reading options.
  10. DIY Craft Supplies Store: Offer materials and tools for DIY crafts, targeting hobbyists and craft enthusiasts.
  11. Specialty Coffee and Tea Shop: Sell high-quality, specialty coffees and teas, appealing to connoisseurs and casual drinkers alike.
  12. Travel Gear and Accessories: Focus on products for travelers, such as backpacks, travel pillows, and portable gadgets.
  13. Ethnic and Cultural Products: Offer products specific to different cultures and ethnicities, like traditional clothing, music, or food items.
  14. Plant and Gardening Store: Sell plants, gardening tools, and accessories, appealing to home gardeners and plant enthusiasts.
  15. Niche Hobby Supplies Store: Focus on supplies for specific hobbies like model building, knitting, or photography.
  16. Customized Apparel Store: Offer personalized clothing options, like printed t-shirts or embroidered hats.
  17. Health and Fitness Apparel: Sell activewear and fitness clothing, targeting health-conscious and active individuals.
  18. Mobile Phone Accessories Store: Specialize in accessories for smartphones, such as cases, chargers, and screen protectors.
  19. Children’s Educational and Play Furniture: Sell furniture that doubles as play items or educational tools for children, appealing to parents who value multi-functional items.

How to start a profitable eCommerce business

An illustration of a live eCommerce website.

Ready to start a profitable eCommerce business? Follow these steps to increase your success rate.

1. Conduct market research

Before choosing an eCommerce business idea, it’s important to conduct market research first. Market research helps you to determine the viability of a new product or service.

You can also discover unique ways to improve your offerings, giving you a competitive edge.

2. Identify your niche

A niche is a small subset of the market you intend to target with your products or services. It is a group of people to whom your product is most relevant.

Focusing on a niche can help you tailor your marketing efforts, products and services to customer needs. This makes it easier to develop a strong brand identity and gain loyal customers.

3. Define your audience

Defining your target market is essential to the success of your startup business. You need to consider the age, gender, income and purchase behavior of your target customers.

Understanding your audience helps you determine the profitability of your business, develop product ideas and define a buyer persona.

4. Create a business plan

A business plan is an essential part of your business. It helps you set meaningful goals and come up with effective strategies to execute your business ideas.

A business plan can help you identify blind spots in your strategies and adjust them as required. It also helps you estimate the capital required to successfully execute your ideas, which is crucial when seeking funding from investors.

5. Build a website

This is an exciting phase of starting a new business. A website allows you to showcase your eCommerce products and take orders from customers even while you sleep. Website builders like WordPress have thousands of beginner-friendly templates you can use to build a fully functional eCommerce site.

You need to choose a domain name and a reliable web host before you start building a website. A web host lets you store your website on its servers so potential customers can always access it using your domain name.

6. Market your online business

Types of online marketing for your eCommerce business.

There are three ways to market your eCommerce website.

With paid advertising, you spend money on advertising platforms like Facebook Ads and Google Ads. If you’re a beginner, you may need to watch online tutorials or enroll in a course to learn how to set up your first promotional campaign.

Influencer marketing involves collaborating with influencers who’ve amassed a huge following in your niche. Customers follow and trust them. That trust is transferred to you when you collaborate with these influencers.

The last option is inbound marketing, where you create content like blog posts, YouTube videos or Instagram reels that drive organic traffic to your store. However, content creation requires SEO knowledge to boost your ranking on search engines.

Final thoughts: 11 most profitable eCommerce business ideas to consider

If you want to supplement your income, an eCommerce business is a great place to start. Entrepreneurship allows you to be your own boss and make money from the comfort of your home.

To start a profitable entrepreneurial journey, pick one of the eCommerce business ideas we’ve covered here and start planning. With a healthy balance of creativity, research, effort and time, you’ll set your business up for success.

If you have difficulty building an eCommerce website, consider getting help from a web hosting solutions company like Bluehost. We offer full-service web design, helping you build a user-friendly eCommerce store your customers will love.

With robust security and 100% uptime, our WooCommerce hosting services can help you start selling with confidence.

  • Devin Sears

    Devin is a Senior Event Marketing Manager for the Bluehost brand. He is our brand steward for all things Bluehost and WordPress. You'll always see him supporting Bluehost at WordCamps around the world!

    Brigham Young University
    Previous Experience
    Social Media, Customer Experience, Field Marketing, Sponsorships, Event Coordinator
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