Emery wants an experienced forward to replace Ings and provide competition for Ollie Watkins, who is for the moment the only senior striker on the club’s books.
Lyon striker Moussa Dembele, due to be a free agent this summer, is one possible option and Villa are thought to have lodged an enquiry with the French club.
Jhon Duran is due to complete a £15m switch from Chicago Fire in the next few days but Emery is wary of putting too much pressure on the 19-year-old as he gets to grips with the Premier League.
Villa have been scouting forwards and may consider bringing in a player on loan in the short-term, should their primary targets prove out of reach in this window.
Emery said: “I want to see if we can sign an experienced striker. If we can, then we will do it.
“It’s not easy now to sign a striker that would be better than the strikers we have.
“But if we have a problem with Watkins, we would need to find the balance without our only striker we have now in the squad.
“It’s not easy in this window to convince players to move. We are demanding about who can come in and improve us.”
Ings had scored seven goals in all competitions this season, including five in his last eight Premier League appearances.
But the 30-year-old had started just once in the league under Emery and with only 18 months remaining on his contract, the offer from West Ham proved too tempting.
Villa will receive an initial £12m and a further £3m if the Hammers, who currently sit 18th in the table, avoid relegation.
“We were happy with him but the offer received yesterday was a very good offer for him and the club,” explained Emery.
“I couldn’t refuse him (the option of leaving). It was his decision and we respect that. I was very, very happy with him, he was very committed with his team-mates.”
Duran is awaiting a work permit but could be available for the visit of Leicester on February 4.
Villa moved quickly to sign the Colombia international amid interest from Premier League and European rivals with Emery speaking to the player via Zoom to help convince him to sign.
"When the club told me about the possibility to sign him I watched some movies of him, and I spoke to him," said Emery.
"Of course my conversation with him was very important. But the club really invested in trying to buy him. They had a big demand to sign him. The club made a very good offer.
"He really wanted a new challenge in Europe and, for him, the Premier League was a very good option.
"He had many more options in Europe to play and we didn't want to lose the opportunity to bring him here.
"My idea is not for him to be the main striker now. He is young, he has to develop. I want to help him to adapt.
"I think he is going to need time but of course he is going to be in the squad and we are going to work with him."