People always ask me for advice about marketing, but often times, the real problem is what they’re selling, not how they’re selling it. Choosing products to sell is a bit harder than just randomly importing products to your store.
This week, I’ll finally be choosing products to add to my store. And I’m super excited!
In case this is your first week joining in on this store build series, over the past two weeks, I’ve explained my strategy on how to choose a niche and how to set up your Shopify store. And there’s a lot more lessons to be shared in the coming weeks.
Today, I’ll walk you through what I look for in a winning product. Plus, I’ll even be ordering product samples online so that later in the series you can see what the final product actually looks like next week.
So if you’re excited to learn how to find the right products to sell, read on.
How to Find Products to Sell Online
Back in the day, you either had to create your own products or buy bulk inventory to sell products online. I experimented with both in the past. And to be blunt, it sucked.
I still have boxes of inventory lying around in my parents basement from a jewelry store I created that never took off.
Nowadays, many people dropship products. What does that mean? It means they sell products that manufacturer’s create, package and ship directly to the customer on your behalf.
Why does this work well?
First, it saves you money in unsold inventory keeping your risk low. Second, it allows you to focus on marketing, instead of packaging and shipping, to grow your business faster. And third, it’s a lower effort business model. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to work because – you do. You just have fewer priorities to worry about, allowing you to do most of the work yourself. Well, at least in the beginning.
So, where do I find dropshipping products?
The Shopify App store, of course.
Last week I showed you how to set up your Shopify store. The coolest thing about Shopify is their endless supply of ecommerce apps. You’ll find an app for pretty much every aspect of running an online store.
Need customer reviews? There’s an app for that. How about getting sales with gamification? Yup, app for that too.
But the most impressive app of all, and yes I’m super biased, is Oberlo. The app where you can find products to sell the same day you launch your store. It’s been the biggest game changer in my career as an ecommerce entrepreneur.
I never really talk about this but the only reason I started writing articles for the Oberlo blog was because I was such a hardcore fan of the app. I was one of the first people using the app for my store, before Oberlo became super popular.
And so I know from first hand experience that it makes entrepreneurship more accessible to the average entrepreneur.
So, how do you install the Oberlo app on your store?
Let’s break it down.
On the left side of the Shopify homepage, you’ll see Apps under Discounts and above Sales Channels. Click on it.
When you click on it, you’ll likely find Oberlo as the first app.
In case you don’t see it. Click Visit Shopify App Store. Type Oberlo into the search bar.
Then, click Get.
And Install App.
Here’s what the backend of the Oberlo app looks like.
I use the Oberlo Chrome extension to find products from AliExpress. I’ve actually been using this tool since 2016. When you’re logged into your store, you can browse the AliExpress website in another tab and it’ll allow you to add products to your store while on AliExpress. I love how simple it is to use. After you click that blue Oberlo icon, it imports the pictures, copy, variants like sizes and colors, and more from that product page to your website. And once you’re in the Oberlo app, you can make changes to pictures, copy and variants as you see fit. It makes adding product details to your website so much easier.
Once on AliExpress, sort by Orders. The thing to look for here is to find the most popular products being sold that aren’t past their prime. Since letter boards are a very niche product, it’s less competitive. For example, if a product has 30,000 orders, it’s possible that the product’s peak has passed which will negatively impact sales. But most letter boards have under 200 orders.
The most successful product I’ve ever sold had an order volume of about 1000 on AliExpress. And we were able to generate hundreds of thousands in sales. The goal is to find a product with some sales to show that there’s an audience but not so many that the market is oversaturated.
I decided to import five products to my store. I chose the five, by looking at order volume, reading reviews and based on what other stores within the niche sell, that I noticed during week one’s niche research phase. The five products I chose were 3 10”x 10” letter boards in black, pink and grey, a larger rectangular letter board and a hexagon letter board. Based on order volume the 10”x10” black letter board will likely be the best selling product among these five. So, it’ll be the biggest focus throughout my marketing strategy. However, I’ll also test out other colors so that customers have more variety.
There are a few other reasons for choosing only five products.
First, if you import too many products on your store, you probably won’t want to write product descriptions because your list will be overwhelming.
Second, by only importing five products to the store, samples from suppliers can be ordered without putting a massive dent on costs before marketing.
Ordering Samples from Suppliers
One of the biggest mistakes I ever made was blindly selling a supplier’s products without ordering samples first. Customers complained and I didn’t understand why. Everyone kept asking for refunds.
But this is 100% preventable.
All you need to do is order at least one sample for every product you sell.
I know, I know.
The benefit for dropshipping is that you don’t carry inventory.
But selling products you’ve never seen before can hurt your business.
Order volume, positive reviews, and research just don’t cut it.
You need to know how long it really takes for a product to arrive, what the product actually looks like, and have solutions prepared for potential customer complaints.
By ordering samples, you give your business the best chance at success. And you get to lower your refund rate. So the money you do earn, doesn’t get returned to the customer.
So how do I order product samples?
Before you order samples, you can reach out to the supplier. The upside to this is that you can get to know your supplier a little bit before you launch your store. The downside to this is that you won’t know how the supplier treats the average package. If they know you’ll be selling their product, and helping them get more sales, they might package your shipment better than they will down the road.
So I decided to order products under the guise that I was just another customer.
Here’s a screenshot of one set of products ordered.
Under shipping details, change it to ePacket. This will likely result in the fastest shipping time at an affordable cost. You’ll notice that ePacket costs $1.37 for one product but over $6 for the other two. This is important to keep in mind later on when you decide to price your products.
I decided to order two of each product, though you won’t have to. Part of the reasoning behind two is for photographs. Should I accidentally damage one on my own I’d rather have a spare and not wait for another one to arrive. Plus, it also helps with quality assurance. The one product you order could be a fluke in terms with how it arrives maybe it doesn’t look as good or looks too good. Ordering multiple can help.
The total cost for all of the products I ordered I ended up setting me back $217.01USD.
Now that the products are ordered, it’s a bit of a waiting game. So it’s best to use this time to browse the Oberlo app to become better acquainted with the product sourcing tool you’ll be using over the next few months as you build your store.
In next week’s part of the series, we’ll be looking at what products from AliExpress actually look like when they arrive at your doorstep. I’ll share some photos and tidbits on what to look for in a product when it arrives. We’ll also start adding products to our store and writing product descriptions.