Being a retail entrepreneur, whether you choose e-commerce or brick and mortar, is not a passive business. Especially since the internet makes it so easy for potential customers to shop and compare.
To stay ahead of your competition you must continually study, research, and learn about your market, your chosen product categories, the market trends, and your competition. It is not an easy task.
Every major retailer like Walmart, Target, or Amazon, among all the others, have hundreds of employees whose job is to monitor their assigned product categories for new products, market trends,pricing, promotions, and competition so they can stay competitive. These employees go by many different names depending on the company. They could be called buyers, merchandisers, category managers, product managers, etc.
I suggest you limit your product offerings to a few categories to make it easier for you to keep up with what is going on with your industry. Just about every product category has a trade association. These trade associations sponsor trade fairs or shows to allow their members to exhibit their merchandise and give potential customers the opportunity to view many companies all in one place. The trade associations also produce newsletters to keep their members up to date. It is a great idea to subscribe to them for the latest industry news. Also, make regular shopping trips to major retailers to review what they are offering in your chosen product category. It’s ok to take advantage of their expertise.
Often, the first piece of advice given to new retailers is to sell products you already have knowledge about. Having an interest or prior knowledge about a product category makes your learning curve so much easier.