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Day 4: Here’s how to find what you’ll sell

Chapter 5 by Tim Kock

how to find what to sell with dropshipping

1. Tweet today’s quote →  2. Get to work!

On Day 1, you got an introduction to Oberlo and AliExpress to validate your niche by looking at popular products.

On Day 2, you got a feel for how people are talking about your niche online through social media.

On Day 3, you set a goal that you’ll be working toward throughout our 3 weeks together.

Today, you’re going to use all this knowledge to choose the specific items you’d like to sell in your store.

Today, we’re going to:

  • Pick 10 products to add to your store
  • Order product samples so you can check the quality for yourself

Remember that handy spreadsheet you made on Day 1? That might be useful if you wrote down some top-performing products. (If you didn’t, no worries. We’ll handle it all today).

You can download and use a new, more detailed spreadsheet from our templates. You can find this on the 4th tab, titled ‘D4: Product Selection.’

product selection template

If you already have some products in the first spreadsheet from the niche you ended up choosing, you can transfer them into this spreadsheet.

And as you see great options today, paste in the item name, URL, and item rating at the very least. (You don’t need to fill in all columns at first, because that can quickly become a waste of time. But later when you’ve settled, you’ll want to have a single place with all this info.)

I recommend that you start with the name, URL, and rating because you might find more than one supplier selling the same items. In these cases, your final decision might come down to item and supplier ratings and reviews.

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What to look for to find ‘good’ products

[highlight]Since you don’t have time to test your products before selling them, it’s critical that you find quality products. This means making sure they have stellar reviews and ratings.[/highlight]

There are 3 key elements for choosing a good product that will make and keep customers happy:

  • The quality/demand of the product itself
  • The reputation of the supplier
  • The shipping options to your customers

Let’s break these down.

  • Have received a 5-star rating or close to 5 – under 4.6 is approaching the danger zone!
  • Have overwhelmingly good reviews from past customers
  • Have at least 100 orders already, to show that there’s demand – 100 isn’t necessary, but it’s a good validation
  • Have appealing photos for you to use in your own store (though there are other ways you can get photos)
  • Have 95% or higher rating – preferably even higher
  • Preferably have ePacket shipping available to countries that offer ePacket – often the fastest option
  • Shipping times as short as possible to minimize customer service needs from customers wondering where their products are


Amanda Asks

“What’s the deal with ePacket?"

My answer: ePacket is a type of shipping that’s an absolute lifesaver for dropshipping businesses. It’s faster, trackable, and cheaper – you don’t have to worry about exorbitant shipping costs or high international tariffs.

ePacket is offered by suppliers in China and Hong Kong. While standard shipping methods might take more than 50 days, ePacket generally gets to customers within 30 – usually less.

In addition to speed, another great perk is that you can track the package through services like EMS and USPS. Other shipping methods might not let you track packages, which can create some big problems for your customer service.

To be eligible for ePacket shipping, the product must:

  • Weigh less than 2.2 kg (4.4 lbs)
  • Have dimensions of 60 x 90 cm (24 x 36 in) or smaller
  • Have a value of less than $400

As of 2018, ePacket shipping is available to the United States and 35 other countries:

epacket delivery countries

I strongly recommend choosing products with ePacket delivery available.

Dig into product research

You’ve done a lot of research finding and validating your niche, plus all the social media research you did on Day 2. That means you have a pretty solid idea of ‘what’s happening’ in that niche and what kinds of products are popular.

So when you start your product research, you can just type in what you’ve been seeing and look at specific products that are available. Evaluate them through the lens we discussed above, about the product, supplier, and shipping.

Search via Oberlo

Go to your Oberlo dashboard and get going.

Amanda started super broad with ‘scarf,’ then worked her way down to more specific terms like:

  • Plaid scarf
  • Blanket scarf
  • Silk scarf
  • Cashmere scarf
  • Scarf set

In the search bar, type in a search term, then click the ‘ePacket’ box to see what fits the bill.

In the top right, click ‘Sort by:’ ➜ ‘Order count’ to see items with the highest demand.

oberlo verified product research

Clicking the top result, Amanda looked at a few things:

  • Does this seem like something my niche audience would want?
  • How are the photos? Are they appealing to use in my store?
  • Do the product and shipping costs seem reasonable?
  • Is the description helpful, or should I message the supplier for more info?
  • What’s the shipping time to key countries? Is ePacket available?

ecommerce product

To see shipping options to different countries, click the little downward pointing arrow in the ‘Shipping’ section. You can then type in any country to see if they have ePacket and how long it’s estimated to take.

dropshipping methods

Amanda also checked the ‘Oberlo Product Statistics’ section underneath each product, which shows:

  • Imports: how many Oberlo users have imported it into their store
  • Pageviews: the total number of times a visitor has viewed the specific webpage for this product on all of those stores combined
  • Orders (30 days): how many times the product was ordered in the past 30 days
  • Orders (6 months): how many times the product was ordered in the past 6 months

Oberlo product statistics

No customer reviews yet, but it’s gotten loads of pageviews and plenty of orders. 

This one looks solid. So she added it to her spreadsheet and continued her search.

spreadsheet suppliers

Now that you know how to find key product and supplier details in Oberlo, let’s look at AliExpress.

Search via AliExpress

Before you start, download the Oberlo extension for the Chrome browser. If you don’t use Chrome, I recommend downloading it and using it for Oberlo.

To download the extension, click here from inside Chrome and then click the ‘Add to Chrome’ button.

Oberlo chrome extension ali express

Then click ‘Add extension’ when the little confirmation window pops up.

Oberlo chrome extension for aliexpress

And bam, you’re done.

Now, when you go to AliExpress, you’ll see that many of the results have green boxes around them. That’s the extension telling you if the product has ePacket and how long the processing time takes for each order.

And when you hover your mouse over a product, you’ll see the blue Oberlo logo icon. When you click that, it will push the product to your import list automatically, so you can add it to your store.

Convenient, isn’t it?

epacket and dropshipping

So let’s get back to the search results.

If you look at the first page of results, you’ll see a lot of information before you even click on a listing. Like:

  • The product cost per piece (including any current sales)
  • Shipping cost and ePacket availability
  • The product’s rating, including how many people rated it
  • How many people ordered it

You can see that the top results are strongly rated (around 4.7 stars) from around 2,000 reviews, and have been ordered between 8,000 and 12,000 times.

dropship epacket

While these are quite solid, these strong numbers aren’t completely necessary. I would say that you’re good to go around 100 orders at a minimum and 4.8 stars or higher. Below 100 and you start playing with fire.

Let’s click a listing and see what we find.

At the top, you’ll see the supplier’s rating. Don’t bother with any supplier that’s rated lower than 95%.

aliexpress supplier rating

In the main section, you can see all the variations of a listing – like different styles and colors available.

aliexpress niche research

You’ll also be able to see the shipping options. Similar to Oberlo, just click the arrow and you can explore shipping options and prices for different countries.

choose shipping method

Then if you scroll down, you can see more details about the products as well as more photos.

Keep looking until your spreadsheet has 10 solid product recommendations from Oberlo and/or AliExpress.

Those will be your store!

[highlight]Don’t stress over which products you choose – you can always change or update them later. Plus, you’ll never know how they’ll perform until you try.[/highlight]

Populate your product import list

Once you’ve decided which products you’ll sell, add them to your import list.

This is super easy. In Oberlo, just click the ‘Add to import list’ button above the details on the product page.

Add to import list Oberlo

In AliExpress, click the blue Oberlo logo that shows up next to the product (we talked about this earlier).

epacket aliexpress

FYI, that same button shows up at the bottom right corner when you’re inside an AliExpress listing, too. It does the same thing there.

Once your list is populated, you can look at it by going to the left sidebar inside Oberlo.

Message every supplier

I strongly recommend messaging every supplier to inquire about the products and listings. If anything, this is just to make sure the listings are correct and that the supplier has good customer service.

If you don’t do this, you can run into extra stress last-minute.

Amanda learned this the hard way and had to swap out several of her products right before her store launch. The listing on AliExpress said that they had a U.S. warehouse that shipped the scarves to U.S. customers in 4-7 business days, but this simply wasn’t true in the end.

If your supplier doesn’t respond in 24 business hours, that’s a red flag from the get-go.

In AliExpress, click the supplier’s name in the dropdown on the product’s listing, then click ‘Contact now.’

dropship aliexpress

Price your products

Many new dropshippers don’t realize the importance of pricing – and because of this, many of them actually lose money in the end.

Do not be one of these people!

I like to make sure I’ll have at least $5 profit on every item when I choose my pricing. But to make sure this is the case, you need to consider costs like:

  • The actual price you pay for the product
  • The shipping cost to get to each customer
  • The transaction fees through your payment system (Shopify, PayPal, etc.)
  • Any currency change fees, if you’re international
  • Taxes in your origin country, state, city, etc. (for example, sales tax is 19% in Germany)
  • Acquisition costs, like money you spend on advertising and marketing – this includes any special programs, like an affiliate program
  • Fixed costs, like Shopify’s monthly payment and any paid apps

This can seem like a lot to consider, but trust me, it will save a lot of stress down the road.

I made a calculation spreadsheet for a previous case study I wrote for Oberlo. You can download and use it from our templates and fill in your own numbers. Find this on the 5th tab, titled ‘D4: Pricing Calculation.

To use this spreadsheet:

  • Fill in the ‘Product costs’ cell with the cost of the product
  • Fill in the ‘Shipping costs’ cell with the shipping cost
  • Adjust where needed, like the ‘Tax’ cell for your country
  • Type in a number in the ‘Listed Selling Price’ cell, and the rest will automatically update to  show your profit 

P.S. The ‘Affiliate’ column is a plan for affiliate marketing – if you want to have a program where you give an influencer 15% commission for every sale they bring in for you.

Even if you don’t do an affiliate program later, you can still use this to calculate a product discount, like when you’re having a sale or offering a personal discount to certain customers.

calculating product price

Apart from this basic strategy of minimum profit margins, there are some other things to consider:

  • What kind of item is this? Is it a ‘luxury item’ that can be more expensive?
  • Who is my general audience? Are they willing to spend more money, or are they ‘budget’ shoppers looking for a deal?
  • Does this item have a special value or competitive advantage that allows me to charge a higher price? This applies to products that are fairly unique and tougher to find.

If you’re on the fence, try a lower price (that covers your costs) first. Then once you get some sales and customer data, you can experiment and optimize your pricing to make a higher profit margin. Finding the perfect price will take some time and testing.

[highlight]Pro tip: Consider having a ‘grand opening’ sale where you offer a considerable discount – maybe 20% or even more. If you want to take this angle, make sure to include that in your pricing so that you don’t take a loss. Amanda decided to have a ‘buy one, get one free’ sale on blanket scarves, so she calculated the costs accordingly.[/highlight]

And that’s a wrap for today.

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Day 4 Recap

Today, you:

✓ Learned how to do in-depth searches on Oberlo and AliExpress
✓ Got a strong feel for the types of products and suppliers in your niche
✓ Found 10 quality products that you’ll sell
✓ Populated your import list in Oberlo, so you’re ready to customize and add them to your store
✓ Figured out how much to charge for them to still make a profit

Tomorrow we’ll pick right back up where we left off, and add these to your store. See you then!

next: Chapter 6

Day 5: Give your products some personality

By now, you’ve read all the descriptions for your products. And you’ve seen how terribly unexciting some of them are....