18 Aug, 2020

Dropshipper Adrián Sáenz: ‘I Focus on Just One Product and I Put All My Effort Into It’

Adrián Sáenz is a dropshipper from Barcelona who tested out his very first business idea at the young age of 16. He didn’t know it at the time, but he was one of Spain’s first dropshippers.

His interest in the business world started all thanks to a high school teacher who ran his own business and told his students the ins and outs of entrepreneurship. It was then that Adrián began to sell some products he found interesting using Instagram.

Currently, Adrián has two stores with a third on the way. His stores generate around €10,000-15,000 in sales per month, and he employs five people.

“I believe my success comes from focusing on just one product and putting all my effort on it instead of creating a lot of stores and not having control over them.”

His story of professional development is the best example that there’s no such a thing as too young when it comes to successful entrepreneurship

Let’s get to know him.

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Adrián’s Beginnings

Adrián’s beginnings as an entrepreneur had little to do with dropshipping. He built his first store around products he liked, and he tried to sell through Instagram. This platform soon became his storefront.

Nonetheless, he quickly realized that his sales funnel was not working as he expected.

Just like many other entrepreneurs who start a dropshipping business, Adrián made mistakes along the way. And yet he always had something that pushed him to keep trying – the support of his family.

“My mother owns a business as well, so she understands the struggle.”

Slowly but surely, Adrián perfected the way he chooses which products to sell. He started to gather information about what his clients wanted. Then, with some more research, he came across dropshipping and plunged right into it.

Over the past few years, Adrián has seen how the market has evolved. He believes that when he started, it was easier to run an Aliexpress dropshipping business because the website wasn’t as popular as it is today – back then, only a few people knew their way around it.

From Selling on Instagram to Setting up an Actual Store

Adrián was quick to realize the potential of social networks in business. His goal was clear: Create a big audience that could eventually turn into buyers.

He published product pictures on his Instagram account. But he soon found that if he wanted his business to grow, he would have to make some changes.

After several failed attempts, Adrian was doubtful, but he never gave up. He took his failure as a reality check and decided to go back to his origins: selling products.

The first online store he created, which is still running today, sells clothes.

“It was then when I truly understood what running a store was and how dropshipping really worked in Spain.”

The Shiny Object Syndrome

Beginnings are, generally speaking, difficult. This applies to all aspects of life. When you start a business, seeing results takes a lot of effort. And many times, you want to abandon a project to focus on another. This is what Adrián calls ‘shiny object syndrome.’

He explains that when people realize things aren’t as easy as they first thought, they start looking at somebody else’s successful business model.

Consequently, this often turns into people abandoning their idea and trying their luck with starting another business from scratch.

“You can jump from one business to another and keep hoping for success, but, in my opinion, that only gets you more frustrated. As they say, ‘jack of all trades, master of none.’”

“Nobody is gifted with entrepreneurial skills. An entrepreneur is just someone who works tirelessly towards his or her goals.”

“If you take all that time you would waste trying out different business models, and you just focus on one instead, I’m sure you’ll get much better results, also because you can’t really know if a business will succeed until you run it for at least six months. Even a year would be better to really see results.”

Adrian also recommends being realistic when it comes to setting your timelines.

“If you give yourself enough time, you’ll work more relaxed, and it will be easier for you to enjoy the journey.”

Choosing Products for His Store

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Acaba de empezar la época más rentable para el eCommerce, se avecinan varias fiestas (Black Friday, Navidades, Reyes…) en las cuales se fomenta la compra, por lo que es mucho más fácil vender. 📷 @sofia_anyway

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At the beginning of his career, Adrián chose his products by following his instinct rather than proper research. He soon figured out that if he was to benefit in the long term, he needed to address the right niche.

This decision was vital to creating a profitable business. Adrián understood that it was best to specialize and focus on a specific target or social group. It is much easier to gain the attention of a loyal smaller audience than trying to get it from a larger, more heterogeneous one.

“I stopped choosing things I would buy and started focusing on what the clients really want.”

“Generally, I focus on micro-niches, so when I launch a clothing brand, I take a garment, and I build a whole ecosystem around it.”

Once he chooses a niche, he thinks about what products people would like to buy.

“What I want is that, whenever someone buys clothing from my store, he or she feels part of the social group I created the store for. The product is important, but what is behind it is what really makes people hit the buy button.”

The Spanish Market

One of the first decisions Adrián had to make when he started his business was picking the target market. He pondered whether he should choose international dropshipping or stick to the Spanish market. He ended up deciding to sell on the Spanish market because he felt he understood and knew the audience much better.

“Even though in the United States, online shopping is much more popular, there is fierce competition, and I thought that could be a detriment to me in the long term.”

Thanks to that, nowadays, 80 percent of his sales come from Spain, and the other 20 percent comes from different countries in Europe and Latin America.

Establishing a Foothold in a Big Market

Competing in the Spanish dropshipping market – which is in constant development and change – is quite hard, but it’s something many entrepreneurs have to face.

However, Adrían sees it as a positive. For him, a competitive market means that growth will come more healthily and that sellers will have to push themselves to try harder.

“Competition has forced me to professionalize my business and hire a team of people to be able to keep offering the best quality possible.”

According to Adrían, the thing that offers the real value to the customer is the brand behind the products.

“People want to identify themselves with a brand, and that’s where we dropshippers can stand out from the crowd. We compete against other brands, not against the product per se.”

Dropshipping Shipment Methods in Spain

With shipping a constant issue for dropshipper, Adrián shared a tip with Oberlo that he’s learned about shipment to Spain

“I usually use ePacket shipment or Aliexpress Standard Shipping. But I always try to use a shipment method that includes recorded delivery.”

This way, Adrián knows how many orders have been successfully delivered because the client has to sign and certify they received the package.

When you don’t have a shipment method that allows you to know with certainty if the order was successfully delivered, it is more likely you’ll get complaints and refund requests.

“It is something anyone in ecommerce deals with on a daily basis. That’s why you need to know how to handle complaints, refund requests, or any other customer support situation. We are problem solvers.”

When Adrián notices that a shipment has been delayed or does not reach its destination, he contacts the carrier and tries to solve it as soon as possible.

“As a rule of thumb, whenever we have this kind of situation, we refund the cash to the client if we are dealing with a reasonable amount of money. If we are talking about a big quantity of money, we invest more time and resources to see if we can figure out a solution to the problem.”

How to Personalize Shipments Through the Providers

Adrián has personalized orders sent to his clients using two different strategies.

Where possible, he asks the supplier to personalize the packaging. He’s observed that when a client opens a package that includes a little branded slip inside, a snowball effect occurs. That personalization adds identity and value to the brand. For that reason, customers are more likely to be buyers again in the future.

“It is all about creating a brand identity. When I include something extra, whatever that is, the chances of leaving a good impression on that person is much higher. They are more likely to buy from my store again or follow my brand on social media.”

The Importance of Good Packaging

Personalizing orders, even if it is just a small or straightforward detail, is one of the best strategies you can use to gain your clients’ loyalty. Adrián swears by it. He believes it is one of the most successful strategies he’s applied over the years.

“Lately, I really put my focus on personalizing each and every order in my store. Sometimes it’s the packaging. Other times it’s only the products, but even if it’s only a branded package, it usually translates into more sales.”

“I focus on specializing on just one product, and I put all my effort on it.”

Even with the personalization, Adrián’s products are still imported from China, and he does not have a warehouse in Europe. This works in his favor as he has a more favorable taxation situation, not to mention his workload better.

“It’s obvious that having your own stock has some advantages. Shipments are quicker, and you have greater control over logistics. But dropshipping allows you to automate a great amount of workload.”

Profit Margins

Although Adrián is successful with his stores, he still keeps things reasonably relaxed in terms of how he approaches his sales prices and profit margins.

“Honestly, I don’t really have a profit margin set. I treat each product separately. My strategy to attract new clients is having products that’ll catch the clients’ attention, while also having another group of products that give me the cash benefit I’m looking for.”

While he keeps things relaxed with his pricing, Adrián mentions that he tries to set his prices with a margin of roughly 20-30 percent in mind. He considers other factors like the market price of the product, how competitive it would be, and the psychology of sales. In other words: Is the price attractive to clients? According to him, going through this process is key if you want to sell in the Spanish dropshipping market.

One of the many marketing strategies Adrián uses to obtain a better benefit is upselling. In the checkout process, the client receives either a better quality product, an improved version, or a higher-priced one.

With upselling, the idea is that the client pays more for something they perceive as a better choice than what was originally in the shopping cart.

Strategies to Get Your First Sales in the Spanish Dropshipping Market

The main goal when starting a business is getting sales and making a profit. However, getting those first customers is not easy. Sometimes it doesn’t even depend on the seller as much as the circumstances and the market.

“In my case, it wasn’t difficult to get the first sales, but I know that’s not the norm. Now, every time I open a new store, it takes me a lot of time to get the first sales and gain momentum off of that. It’s because of that that I pay the closest attention to detail.”

Adrián states that he and his team try their best to reduce any doubts their potential clients may have, and that shows in the sales department.

“If a client reaches out to you with questions or doubts about your products and you offer a personalized and professional service, it’s more likely that the client will end up buying from your store.”

Based on what he’s observed throughout his business career, he advertises his products on Instagram while other entrepreneurs increase their web page traffic using Facebook Ads.

“Using influencers to increase store legitimacy is what works best for me. I look for suitable influencers, and I create a store that his or her followers could be interested in”.

Once he’s analyzed the influencer and Adrián is sure they’re a good fit for what the brand needs, he calculates the conversion rate. If he thinks it is necessary, he invests in Facebook ads to engage cold traffic.

How to Look for Influencers

Influencer marketing on Instagram can have some unpredictable risks. And many times, the outcome is not what was expected. Generally speaking, the impact publicity has on a product is entirely unknown. You can never be sure how exactly people will react to the ad.

Adrián says that when he invests in publicity, he thinks of it like rolling the dice and seeing if people will buy what they see.

“I’ve had highly successful campaigns that got me a lot of sales, but I’ve also had some horrible ones. Nothing came out of them.”

Over the years, Adrián has used Instagram to promote all his products.

“Once you have a professional relationship with influencers, you know what really works, and it becomes easier to decide when and how to invest to achieve a certain conversion rate.”

In case he ever has to look for new influencers, he tries to follow specific criteria to ensure the influencer will fulfill his expectations.

A common mistake people usually make is paying too much attention to the number of followers and likes. According to Adrián, these numbers are not that hard to fake.

“The most important thing is to check the engagement the influencer has with their audience. Especially, it’s important to look at the comments in the posts. It’s harder to falsify those; therefore, it’s easier for me to verify if the account has real followers.”

How to Measure Performance

To check whether they’d be a good fit, Adrián asks influencers to send him their Instagram statistics from past collaborations with other brands.

“Ideally, you want to get data from their last Instagram stories. If you are not very specific, they usually send you the most favorable ones for them. The ones that make them look better.”

Another method that yields excellent results is following the influencer on different platforms for a week or so, to see firsthand what they do and double-check if it fits your needs.

“I also contact the brands these influencers have worked with recently and ask for any feedback they may have on them. This way, I not only get statistics but also real insights from other people in the industry.”

Finding an Appropriate Influencer

Finding an influencer to do sponsored content on social media can prove difficult because of the wide variety of options. Not all of them will be a good fit for your brand.

Sometimes, so-called micro-influencers can be the key to reach a specific niche. These influencers usually have followers that are passionate and engaged with the accounts they follow.

“The product is very important, but what is behind it is what really makes people buy it.”

“My online store is focused on urban fashion and trap culture. I contact every relevant Instagram account that addresses this same niche. This way, I know that if I ever decide to promote my products with them, it will reach the audience I want.”

For entrepreneurs that can’t afford a collaboration with an influencer, Adrián recommends making a minimal investment to send them a cheap Aliexpress product.

“The goal here is to have someone promote your products so that the audience goes to your website to buy them. That’s why it can be a cheap product.”

If you still don’t have the money necessary, you can work on being your own influencer and represent your brand on social media. In this case, Adrián recommends keeping it simple and finding a coherent aesthetic.

“The idea is to post a picture of the product on a white background, another one with a model, and then a third one with the packaging. Staying consistent is important. It creates uniformity.”

This method, though useful, requires a lot of time investment. And there’s no doubt that it’s hard to create a community around your brand.

“If you can’t invest money, then invest time. If you aren’t willing to invest either, that’s when you have a problem.”

Trust the Influencers You Work With

One of the biggest fears many store owners have is the possibility of influencers not delivering on their part of the deal after they have been paid or sent the product. However, despite that fear, influencers not delivering is not something Adrián’s ever come up against.

“I recommend using Paypal as your payment gateway for collaborations with influencers. It’s secure, and that’s reassuring as the entrepreneur. Having said that, I haven’t come across many dishonest influencers that keep the money or the product and then don’t keep their end of the deal.”

A Successful YouTube Channel

On top of his stores, Adrián complements his business with a YouTube channel. Here he uploads videos about his life as an entrepreneur. However, it wasn’t the first platform he used to share his knowledge.

“I started to share my journey on Instagram. At first, I only talked about entrepreneurship in general. With time, I started writing more about dropshipping and how it works.”

Adrián decided to start a YouTube channel after he saw people asking the same questions repeatedly. The YouTube channel means people can access the answers to their queries at any time.

“First, I started uploading videos I recorded with my phone on which I shared what I knew and what I was learning about ecommerce. As my follower count increased with time, I professionalized it a bit more. Now, on top of doing educational content, I use my channel to promote my brand and business.”

His Personal Touch on Youtube: Reviewing Other Stores

Adrián tries to differentiate his channel from other business channels with videos on which he analyzes and reviews dropshipping stores in Spain and Latin America. He tries to keep the content as practical and accessible as possible so that anyone can learn from it.

“The idea comes from the amount of messages I got from entrepreneurs asking me if I could tell them what they were doing wrong. They were not reaching the goals they set for their stores. Back then, I only answered individually or made videos on Instagram commenting on the mistakes, but I kept them short, and I couldn’t delve much into it.”

What’s more, Adrián considers his channel a feedback line with other entrepreneurs and a great tool to keep up with new ecommerce trends and dropshipping in an always moving market.

“With this section, I realized one of the most common mistakes in online stores is that people forget to include legal disclaimers and privacy policies.”

Leaving these details out is a big mistake. It could be a deterrent to sales since it makes your store less trustworthy. It could even lead to your account being blocked, or get your Facebook Ads account canceled.

Other common mistakes Adrián frequently sees include:

  • Using a lot of colors. Generally speaking, it’s best to use only three colors: Black, white, and the color of your logo. That way, you quickly achieve uniformity and brand identity.
  • Creating a logo in JPG format or the wrong size. Tools such as Hatchful can help you create a logo for free and in the correct format.
  • Including too much information about the product in the product description. Sum up the information and break it down into bullet points. Don’t overwhelm the buyer with too much information.

Despite the fact his videos help many people on their entrepreneurship journeys, Adrián doesn’t have a plan to carry out private consulting.

“Everything I do has to be a long term project. If I invest my time on something, I want it to yield results eventually.”

For this reason, he chose to invest his time offering a high-quality product at Mentorify.com. Here, he teaches beginner entrepreneurs how to create a profitable store in the long term over 30 days.

Also, Adrián’s currently working on his third online store. This is a new challenge in his pursuit to offer the best products to his clients.

We look forward to following his journey closely.

What would you like to know about other successful entrepreneurs like Adrián? Tell us in the comments below.

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