Every successful dropshipping story starts with questions. Lots of them. So in this episode of Start Yours, we answer the most frequently asked questions about dropshipping. We sourced these questions directly from, well, you. From entrepreneurs, from dropshippers, from people who want to know more about how exactly this whole dropshipping thing works.
How much money do you need to start dropshipping? What to do about Amazon? How come I have traffic to my store but no sales? Why do, like, 85 different suppliers all offer me the same product? We hit on it all.
If you want to reach out, shoot us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
David: Number one on the list of dropshipping FAQs: “How much money do you need to start dropshipping? So there is a way to start dropshipping for free but we definitely do not recommend it, because you’re just not giving yourself much of a chance of success if you play your free trials, just right and if you play your premium plans, just right, and if you think you can sell stuff without advertising, then yes, you could theoretically start a dropshipping store for zero bucks but if you wanna do it right, there are some inevitable expenses that you’re gonna incur. So we’re gonna hit on some of those Magda. What are some of the things that people should be prepared to spend money on, as they get into dropshipping?
Magda: That’s an amazing question, David. And it’s a dropshipping FAQ that I’ve heard time and time again. But the first thing that I want to note, and this is a really important distinction that I think a lot of beginner dropshippers don’t make, is that when you start a dropshipping store, you’re starting a business. So it’s not just expenses, these are investments you’re making into your business and dropshipping is one of the cheapest ways to start a business right now, so it’s really important to keep that in mind when you’re going through the expenses of getting started. Just remember that.
But to actually start on some of the actual expenses of starting a dropshipping store, the first thing that you’re gonna need is your monthly Shopify plan, so Shopify runs the back end of your business. It runs your online store and it helps you connect Oberlo and actually sell products from AliExpress. So, that’s super important and you can pretty much build a huge successful business with the basic Shopify plan. That’s $29 a month, it’s awesome.
Next, you’re gonna need a domain name. A lot of people wonder, “Do I really need a domain? Is it that important?” Yes, it is. When people come to your website, that’s the first thing they see, and you can get an amazing domain for $14 for the whole year. You can’t go wrong with investing that into your business. $14 is three to four cups of coffee. You got that. Continue on to Oberlo. Oberlo is a free app. Amazing. So you don’t have to worry about investing into Oberlo when you’re starting your business. It’s gonna connect you with all of your AliExpress suppliers and products that sell, which have their own costs, but Oberlo itself, what’s connecting everything, is free to use, so you’re all good there.
The next thing is testing products, so Oberlo helps you import products from AliExpress to sell. But how do you know which products are gonna do well? You don’t. You have to test them. And that’s just a reality of dropshipping and reality that the best dropshippers in the world know. You don’t test one product and then quit. You’ve got to test a few to see what works, what works the best, and which dropshipping suppliers work the best. Most professional dropshippers that I’ve spoken to usually test around five products at a time and within those five products, they usually find a winner. So around $75 is a great budget to set for testing products and seeing if the quality is good and how are the suppliers. It’s really important to make sure that you nail that down early because if you start running some ads and you’ve got tons of orders, you don’t want to be dealing with a supplier who’s mailing you saying, “Hey, actually, there’s been a delay. We’re gonna be sending your products out in a few weeks.” You wanna make sure you test that beforehand and especially the quality of the products.
David: And so the 75 bucks would be spent buying, what exactly? Would that be five versions of the same thing, or five of the same products but from different suppliers? If we kind of take it as our starting point that we need to spend, you know, something like 75 bucks, okay, that’s fine. But what’s the most efficient way to making sure you’re getting value for the investment that you’re making?
Magda: If you were looking at how it’s divided up, I would probably suggest spending $75 on five different types of winning products or products that you think would be best for your store. If you don’t have those funds, start with three. Beginner dropshippers make a huge mistake thinking that their store needs to have hundreds of products to sell and we’ve found that some of the best and most successful stores usually have three to five to start. So if you don’t have that much, start with three. But I would say just getting at least one of each product that you’re trying to sell. Start by reading the reviews of the supplier. Start by reading the reviews of the product. If it turns out that your experience is different from all the reviews, try another supplier. But if you do your due diligence in reading about them, starting with three and making sure that you have one of each product usually is enough.
The next thing that is super important to touch on is marketing. So a lot of times when people ask, “How much money do need to start dropshipping?” They’re actually asking, “How much money do you need to market your store?” With any online business, and this is not exclusive for dropshipping, this could be anything. Even if you make your own cupcakes at home and you wanna sell them online, you still need to bring traffic to your store, and unfortunately, you can’t put a sign outside. Well, you could I guess, but you can’t put a sign outside normally to bring in lots of traffic and especially the specific traffic you’re looking for to sell your products. So this can vary depending on what products you’re selling, what audience you’re trying to target, and what marketing channel you’re trying to use.
So, most dropshippers and a lot of professional dropshippers love Facebook ads. If you’re gonna enter dropshipping, you’re gonna hear Facebook ads over and over again. They go hand-in-hand in this industry. If you’re running Facebook ads, the cost can definitely vary. You’re usually testing, spending money to test money on ads, to see which product is gonna be a hit. Once you know that a product is gonna be a hit, it’s easy, it’s smooth sailing from there, because you can just keep investing in that product.
But otherwise, you are gonna need to spend some money on testing. So let’s say, for example, previously when you budgeted some money aside for testing products, you ordered three products and you’re gonna sell those three products in your store. Well, you’re gonna need to test each of those three products to see which one is gonna be a winner and the cost of that might vary. We usually suggest budgeting around $250 just to make sure that you can really test them and find the best audience, the best country, and what ads are actually gonna work to sell that product. So we suggest $250, though this can vary. It can actually be a lot lower.
In one of my first dropshipping stores, I was purchasing Facebook ads for $5 a day and I got a sale after three days, so that was $15. But there have been times when I’ve had stores where I didn’t get a sale past $200. So it really depends on the product and it can vary from store to store. After about six weeks you figure that that’s gonna be about $29 for Shopify, $14 for your domain, $75 for products, and $250 for ads, that’s $368. You might be thinking, “Whoa, $368? That’s a lot of money.” And it is a lot of money. But not when you’re starting a business. This is an investment into a future for you and a future business to build. If you look at the cost of starting a retail brick and mortar store these days, it can be anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000. When you compare that to $368, that looks like pennies, and it’s a huge opportunity for you to actually build and change your life.
David: The second dropshipping FAQ: “Why wouldn’t the customer just order my products from Amazon for cheaper?” So Amazon is in the back of the minds of a lot of dropshippers, especially ones who are just starting out. And this makes sense, given that Amazon sells everything imaginable. So no matter what a dropshipper wants to build their store on, those products or that product will exist in one form or another on Amazon. And not just that, but Amazon will probably be able to get it to the customers faster. And, you know, Amazon is this multi-gazillion dollar company and it’s just kind of intimidating going up against the big boys like that. But it does work to sell the same products that are available on Amazon. We see this work all the time.
So, Magda, what should people keep in mind or what’s some reassurance for anybody who’s worried about going up against Amazon?
Magda: This is another frequently asked dropshipping question that we get all the time and the first thing that you want to keep in mind is we work at Oberlo. We can see how much money and how many successful stores there are using Oberlo, how many amazing and successful dropshippers there are selling thousands of orders every single day. We can see that, yes, customers do in fact order products from dropshipping stores all the time, thousands of them. And it happens all day, every single day. And we’ve really tried to figure out why this reason is and try to break it down for people that are concerned and that see this as a huge wall when it comes to starting dropshipping.
The first reason that you need to know that people do buy products from dropshipping stories is because when you’re a dropshipper, your target market is customers that are impulse buy shoppers. You’re selling products that are impulse buy that they don’t necessarily know that they want or that they know that they need yet. So when they’re browsing on Facebook, or browsing on Instagram and they come across your ad, and they’re like, “Wow, I want that.” Let’s say, for example, you are selling unicorn slippers. This was a huge dropshipping product. It made a lot of people a lot of money. If I’m browsing on Instagram and I see some unicorn slippers I just go, “I want that,” that’s how my brain works.
My brain does not go “Hey, actually, I think I need to go to Amazon. Let me check Walmart, let me check Target,” and all these potential department stores for this product. I just go, “I want that and I want that right now.” And that’s why Facebook ads and Instagram are such an amazing platform for dropshippers because it’s people just scrolling through their feeds. You have to understand when you’re usually shopping on Amazon, it’s because you need something. I don’t just log on to Amazon because I’m just curious about what’s on Amazon today. No way. That sounds so weird to even say. I’m usually on Amazon if I need something. I’m like, “Oh yeah, I need a new light bulb. Okay, let me go get it on Amazon it’s gonna be here pretty quickly.” But when I’m scrolling on Facebook, or when I’m scrolling on Instagram, I’m just enjoying myself, I’m not actually looking for anything, so when something pops out and I feel the need to purchase it, it’s an impulse buy. I don’t even think to look at other websites.
The second reason is that there are two types of people, two types of customers in this world. Price shoppers, and not price shoppers. Yes, there are always going to be shoppers that are comparing every single discount, every single website, and trying to see where they can get it the cheapest. But that’s not everybody. Most people aren’t like that. Yes, we’re talking about an online business here. But think about an example from even walking down the street, if you’re doing some window shopping. Imagine you’re walking down the street and a pair of shoes, catches your eye in a small store.
David: Unicorn slippers.
Magda: Or slippers. Let’s say, let’s go back on my example of unicorn slippers. So let’s say I’m walking on the street and I see some unicorn slippers. Wow, I’m gonna run into that store, for sure. I want those right now. So I’m gonna go into that store and I’m gonna purchase them. $20.99? It sounds amazing, that’s a great price. Why? Because I don’t know the other price of unicorn slippers. To me, I just need $20.99 and I think for unicorn slippers that are gonna make me the happiest girl in the world, that’s amazing. And it’s totally worth that cost to me.
Of course, there are gonna be some other people who will come by, see unicorn slippers and go, “Uh oh, I’m not gonna buy them here. Let me just do some researching see where I can get them cheaper. What are the prices of these in every single country?” Yes, they do exist. But there are about eight billion people on this planet. So you can still make a lot of money if you don’t worry about those people at all. Just focus on the people that are going to be impulse buyers and you can still build a huge successful business.
David: And so it sounds like maybe part of the idea is that when you want to start a dropshipping business, you’re not necessarily even competing with Amazon, that Amazon’s gonna get its shoppers, its shoppers who know what they want and who are going there for good prices and good delivery times. But then there’s this whole other group, in a whole other segment of products, these impulse-buy products that just don’t register in the minds of these Amazon shoppers. So it’s kind of… It’s not really going head-to-head in a way. Is that fair to say?
Magda: Absolutely fair to say. If you were thinking back to my example of my unicorn slippers that I’m simply obsessed with, let me just mention, I didn’t even suggest that they might be available at Walmart. They might be available at every single Walmart in my city, but I saw them at this local shop, I saw them for $20.99 and I feel that’s a good price so I purchased them. They absolutely might be and probably are available at Walmart too… But that doesn’t even cross my mind. So you have to really remember that, so the psychology of sales is also really important.
David: Number three: “Isn’t dropshipping too saturated to start?” And this is a question that we’ve been hearing for years. And so this isn’t a new one. There’s been this perception that dropshipping is too saturated to start, since at least 2017, Maybe going back even further. And I guess I should preface our answer by saying that, obviously, we’re gonna say no to this one. We are a dropshipping app so we’re never gonna tell you, “Yeah, it’s too saturated, don’t worry about it.” But this isn’t just us with marketing speak. People use Oberlo every day. There are new stores launched every day, and there are stores making their first sales every day, stores scaling and expanding and so on. So, we’re not BSing when we say it’s not too saturated. That’s the truth. Now let’s talk about why that’s true.
So, Magda, what are some things to keep in mind, if it’s in the back of anybody’s head, that perhaps it’s too late to enter, dropshipping.
Magda: Is dropshipping too saturated? I ask, “Is shopping too saturated?” No, of course not, dropshipping is a fulfillment. It has nothing to do with the type of ecommerce or selling that you’re doing. You’re selling products. Could you imagine if someone said “Oh is it too saturated to do shopping or just to sell products?” Absolutely not. If you want to be technical about this, look at ecommerce statistics and how much ecommerce is growing every single year. You can see ecommerce is only growing more and more and more. And that’s something that you need to keep in mind when you have this concern. I can completely understand.
Dropshipping… it’s really exploded in the last few years. If you’re a new dropshipper, I can completely understand that you see how many people are starting dropshipping now, you’re thinking, you’re competing for the exact same products to sell, even though there are about a million or gazillion on AliExpress and you’re thinking everyone’s gonna have the same angle as me and there’s no way it’s gonna work for me.
Or maybe you run one ad and it doesn’t work and you’re like, “Well that’s because dropshipping is too saturated.” But that’s absolutely not the case. Dropshipping has only been around for a few years. It’s still brand new. If you are wondering how new it is, go ahead and ask your local barista if they’re now at dropshipping is. Or your local hair stylist. They probably will have no idea. We’ve had many successful dropshippers tell us that their families still don’t know what dropshipping is. So you can rest assured that it’s absolutely not too saturated to start.
If you want some more examples, you just have to dig deep a little bit more into where dropshipping has been in the last few years. In the first few years of dropshipping, the majority of dropshippers were suggesting to market the United States because it’s the biggest market in the world, and it’s where you can make the most money. However, ads there cost a lot of money. So it’s definitely a difficult space to win in. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t win there. And that doesn’t mean that you can’t win with the rest of the world. A professional dropshipper named Mordechai was telling me an amazing story about this exact phenomenon. A few years ago, all dropshippers were selling these charcoal face masks. It was everywhere, and yes, people made a lot of money on it. Mordecai pretty upset because he had missed out on this trend. A few years later, he was like, “Oh I wish that I was selling these.”
So he looked at the numbers and he realized that, Yeah, this product would definitely be considered saturated at this point, but only saturated in the United States. He noticed that everyone had been selling it to the United States and nowhere else. So he started his own store selling this charcoal face mask, which any dropshippers would tell you is so saturated and you would just lose money on, and he targeted countries other than the US. He actually targeted Canada. So the US’s neighbor, and he made a lot of money selling this product.
So there’s a huge market out there. The world is big and you can use that to your advantage. You should not let this fear of dropshipping being too saturated stop you from building your business because you can find customers out there. And if you’re worried about saturation, an amazing dropshipper once gave me this advice and it really changed the way that I think about this question. They told me, “Yes, maybe some things are getting a little bit more saturated. But when it comes to building a business and when it comes to making income, do you really need the whole pie to start? Why not just a piece of the pie? I think a piece of the pie would probably be better than no pie at all.” And I completely agree. You might think, “Well, this product might not make you a million dollars.” But what if I told you, “That’s fair, but realistically, maybe you could make a $100,000.” $100,000 is a lot better than zero. So, it’s still probably worth going after.
David: Yeah and just to follow up on the point you made about the United States and how that’s a huge market. On the Oberlo blog, we wrote about this actually, that the US, in 2018, accounted for more Oberlo orders than the rest of the world combined.
And so it just shows you that the US is indeed a massive market, but that there are a lot of untapped places out there that dropshippers can and should look for. So it’s not too saturated to start. Maybe you need to be a little bit more clever with your targeting, maybe it requires a little bit more ingenuity when you think about where you’re going to sell stuff. But dropshipping as a business model. The beauty of it is that it’s all decentralized and so you don’t need to sell only to people in your country. It’s very much border agnostic, so definitely don’t be thinking that the whole world is done buying products that are fulfilled through dropshipping because, like Magda said, shopping is not going out of style and shopping online is definitely not going out of style. There’s still a lot of upside here.
On to the fourth dropshipping FAQ: “I have traffic to my store but no sales, what should I do?” So first off, this isn’t the worst situation to be in. You need traffic to be successful. So it’s a big deal if you have traffic to your store, if there is a silver lining to this issue of having traffic and no sales, that’s it, that you’re gonna need to traffic at some point. So it’s awesome that you got it, it means your ads are working, it means that the general premise of your store seems to be valid, people are interested in the product you’re selling. It’s a niche that people have time to come browse around. But you don’t want people to just be browsing around and you want people to be buying. So let’s dig in to some steps people should take if they have traffic but no sales. What can be done?
Magda: After working in support, this is a question that I have answered hundreds, if not thousands of times at this point because it can be extremely frustrating and especially once you have everything set up and you think everything should be working, it can be really daunting to understand what isn’t. What is the secret piece of the puzzle that is not working. And as someone who has answered those questions a lot in the past, I can tell you a few steps to take that are gonna really help you break this down. The first one is put yourself in the shoes of your customer. Right now, you’re looking at this issue as a store owner. But you also want to be approaching this issue as the customer.
When I receive this question, the first thing I do is open up the link of the store. I open up the link because that’s the exact point where the problem starts. You know your ads are already working so you can give yourself a pat on the back for that because that’s already a huge achievement. But once you open the store, that’s when you really get to work from the perspective of a customer. And if it’s not my store, it’s a lot easier to see that the first thing might be the price. That’s number one to look at. Maybe the price seems too expensive for the product. Maybe I’ve seen this product or this type of product with a different price range and I don’t feel comfortable purchasing at this price. One thing to note down.
I would suggest going online, not AliExpress, but other places where there are mark-ups of this product than they’re being sold and to look at the pricing. See if maybe you can nudge it down a little bit. Of course, it does cut into how much you’re gonna be making and your eventual profit. But at the beginning, that’s okay. The most important thing in the beginning, when you’re starting dropshipping, is getting information and getting customers. You can use that customer information later to drive even more customers and traffic to your store. So if you need to cut into your profit margins right now, that’s what you need to do. A lot of successful dropshippers will actually offer their products at a lower, lower, lower price first, they will work really hard to get about 100 to 200 customers and once they do, they’ll use Facebook ads to find look-a-like audiences, which are customers that look like their customers, but then they’ll change the price. So once again, this is a business. You’re investing not only into the success of your business, but you’re also investing into finding the best audience and the best customer. So it might be price. That’s the first thing I would look at. And if you’re wondering, Well, is lowering this price gonna work? Is raising the price gonna work?
The only way to know is to test it, you’ve got to test those products and you’ve got to test it with different prices, and if you’re concerned about lowering the price, I will be honest. Sometimes, raising the price works. I’ve actually seen that too. For yourself, it can be difficult to understand or rationalize because if a product is being sold on AliExpress for $5 and you’re trying to sell it for $15, you would probably think, “You’re crazy if you’re gonna try to sell it for $30, that’s way too much money,” especially because you can see the actual cost of the product. But it might not be crazy to your customer actually your customer might feel more trustworthy because the product is more expensive. I know it sounds crazy and if I didn’t see it work myself, I wouldn’t believe it either, but you’ve gotta trust me on this one. It does work sometimes. So when you’re testing price, definitely test the lower price and test the higher price too, because you never know. Until you start to figure out your customers a little bit more, you’re still not in their heads yet so you have no idea what they’re thinking. So test everything and that way you can rule it out.
The next thing you wanna look at is your product and the product description. Is it speaking to your specific customer? Not what you think is your specific customer, but really break it down. Where they’re from? What language do they speak? Is it speaking to them on that level, is it relevant to where they are? Is it relevant to what they have available? For example, in our Oberlo 101 course, we were selling reusable espresso pods and that was extremely popular. We were seeing so many flexes for reusable espresso pods. But European espresso machines are a lot different than American espresso machines and those are also different from machines in Australia. And that made the biggest difference when it came to us actually seeing sales. We were thinking about it just from our perspective. Yeah, our customer does want a biodegradable coffee pod. However, they might not be the ones that fit their machines in their local country. So really put yourself in their shoes because it is important.
David: Yeah, this is something that we didn’t anticipate. We only saw this after we got the data and Magda mentioned that sometimes, at the start, you’re not advertising just for sales, but you’re also advertising for information. And this was something that… this is information that we definitely only gathered after we got into it, and so we were perhaps a little bit in the dark on how many variations there were of espresso machines and the different types of reusable coffee pods that are out there and so… After we gathered this data and saw that we had a ton of interest in the product, but not a ton of sales. I mean, this was us: I have traffic to my store but no sales. After we realized this, we were able to kind of adapt and we said, “Okay, for people in this market, they’re gonna need this brand. So let’s get a product that’s compatible with that machine, and then for this other market, they’re gonna need this other brand. And so, again, it’s this idea that the product could be cool but it needs to match the people who are arriving at your stores. That’s a huge thing to keep in mind.
Magda: Absolutely. And when you’re worried about this issue, all you see are no sales. And of course that’s extremely frustrating because our ultimate goal is to get sales. But there are other things that we can get in the meantime. If traffic is coming to your store, I would definitely suggest having a pop-up app that has an email accidental form. So what this means is when a customer is browsing your product page, maybe they choose not to buy so they’re ready to leave and close the tab. Just before they do, there’s a little pop up that says “Hey, I see that you’re leaving. If you would like to get 15% off your order next time, just drop your email.” Maybe they will, maybe they won’t, but it’s a chance to start collecting emails and information on your customers and if you’re wondering, “Well what’s the point of an email? What am I gonna do with an email?” An email is a potential customer. They showed interest in your store enough to click the ad. That’s huge.
You can use that email to build look-alike audiences on Facebook and start finding other people who might also be interested in your store. Or you can subscribe them to your email list, and say, “Hey, I see that you were interested at some point. Maybe you would be interested again to come back. If so, here’s a little bit of a discount or here’s a little bit of an incentive.” But an email can be so important and an email can be a way to actually build recurring sales. So don’t discredit that. It can be frustrating to not get sales, but it’s important to remember that there are a lot of things you can do by looking at what you can get and looking at what you can fix. Because if someone’s coming to your store, that means that you’re doing everything right up until the product page and something there needs to change. So you’re close, don’t get discouraged, just keep testing, because you’re right to a sale.
David: Number five: “Why do suppliers carry the same products?” Some context here, on AliExpress, if you’re browsing products, you might sometimes notice that two different products and listings from completely different suppliers are basically identical. Like they’ll have the same product images, they’ll have the same basic details. It is essentially the same product, just being offered from two different sources. And this is kind of a bizarre phenomenon and it’s something that, if you spend any time on AliExpress, you’re gonna run into. And so, Magda, what is going on here when there are multiple suppliers featuring what seems to be the exact same product?
Magda: This was a huge puzzle for me at first. When I started dropshipping, I was so confused. How are suppliers getting the same products? Are they making them exactly the same way? Why do they look exactly the same? And how come they have every single same color as the other supplier? And then why are there different prices? What is going on here? Well surprise, surprise, AliExpress is a marketplace. Those suppliers, they aren’t actually the manufacturer. That’s two very different things, and that’s an important distinction to make. There are manufacturers in China. Those are the people that are actually making the products. Then there are suppliers on AliExpress who go and purchase those products.
So let’s say for example, there’s a manufacturer who is making my favorite unicorn slippers. And there are a few suppliers on AliExpress who think this product is really gonna sell. So they all go to that manufacturer and purchase these unicorn slippers to sell in their AliExpress store. You got it. It’s exactly like Amazon. It’s crazy. So, as a dropshipper, you’re actually dealing with other dropshippers to an extent. These are people who are selling products, and not products that they’ve manufactured. That means that they’ve actually put a mark-up on those products as well. Yeah, you heard that right. You might be thinking, “No way, that’s impossible. AliExpress products are so cheap. That must be the manufacturing cost.” Nope, it isn’t. There’s a middleman, and the suppliers on AliExpress are that middleman.
They’re actually selling it at a mark-up because AliExpress is not only a place where you can find products for your dropshipping store, but it’s also a place where you can just purchase products on their own. You might not be used to the layout of AliExpress, you might find it a little bit janky to be on, and you might be a little bit concerned when you’re on there and wondering, “Is this legit? Is it not?” And I only say this as someone who has been shopping on AliExpress for years now, directly. I have many friends who, when I send them a link on AliExpress, they’re like, “This website does not look safe right now,” But it totally is. It just looks a little bit different than what you’re used to. So if you have a little bit of an open mind, you can see that it’s just a marketplace website and you can buy lots of different products on it. So that’s why there are a lot of different suppliers and stores that have the same products, because it’s also a place where people are running their own businesses.
It is like suppliers who are dropshipping to dropshippers. Now, what does this mean for dropshippers themselves? Well, this means a few things, and something that you can actually use to your advantage. Because these suppliers are not the actual manufacturers of the products, that means that you have a lot of options to work with. That means that you’re not actually tied to one supplier who’s selling those unicorn slippers. There are multiple suppliers selling those unicorns slippers. So you can go to each one and see who’s gonna be offering a better price. Who is actually getting a more high quality product? Who is actually gonna be shipping their products quickly and responding to your messages if you need them to be? This is really important, because your business relies on their business. So you can use this as some leverage when you’re looking and shopping for suppliers and products. When we were discussing earlier about ordering some samples, this is what we were referring to.
There are a lot of different suppliers out there. Some good, some really not good. And the only way to know is to read reviews and do some testing. Now, AliExpress does have a supplier rating. So you can see what the rating of the supplier is for the quality of the products, the communication, and also the shipping. And these ratings are actually determined from customers who are purchasing on AliExpress themselves. So you can feel pretty trustworthy in these ratings when you’re scouting through suppliers. We would definitely only suggest considering a supplier with a 4.7 or above. You can definitely find suppliers with 4.9, and the higher, the better. Because you only want the best for your customers, and you’ve already got enough things to worry about. You’re not trying to be worried about if your supplier is gonna be reliable.
David: Is there anything else with kind of that basic AliExpress supplier information that people should be looking for? I mean I know there’s also information about how long this supplier has been on AliExpress, are the other signals where you might be able to kind of deduce who is more trustworthy than who?
Magda: The best way that I would suggest testing a supplier, other than just ordering their product, is two ways. The first, send them a message. Send them a message and then just ask them about a product. Maybe ask them about shipping. See how long they take to get back to you. This is really important, you wanna make sure that they’re gonna be able to communicate with you if something goes wrong. Next, go ahead and read the reviews of the product that you’re looking to import, or other products on their page. Because when customers are reviewing products, a lot of times, they drop in reviews about the supplier themselves. You’ll see them saying, “Oh, I asked them a question, they got back to me so quickly. They shipped it so fast.” Or the opposite, “I tried to reach out to them with an issue, and nobody got back to me.” They always drop hints of their interaction with the supplier in their product reviews. So make sure to go through those as well.
I definitely would suggest checking out how long they’ve been on AliExpress, but take that with a grain of salt, because a lot of times there are new suppliers who are trying to get into the game and want to make a lot of money. So a lot of times, they’re actually willing to give better support, faster shipping, whatever they need to do to start building those orders and building their credentials on AliExpress. So keep an open mind, but remember to look at all of the information when deciding on which product you’re gonna be ordering first.
David: Number six on the list of dropshipping FAQs: “How can I find US suppliers on AliExpress?” There are some legitimate reasons why people would wanna track down US suppliers on AliExpress. If your dropshipper is selling to the US, for example, then a US supplier, would figure to offer a quicker shipping, and again, if it’s sales within the US, then there are fewer chances for complications like products crossing borders. Definitely some good reasons that people wonder about US suppliers. So, Magda, can you find US suppliers on AliExpress?
Magda: This is one of the biggest issues that we used to receive in support and actually still continue to receive. It’s something that we see in our social pages all the time. People wondering, “Okay, I really wanna dropship and I really want to work with Oberlo but I want US suppliers.” And it’s something that we hear over and over again. And mind you, not even EU suppliers. It’s always US suppliers for some reason. And I think that it’s important to note that there’s a bit of an underlying concern here. It’s not exactly that someone wants to find US suppliers, it’s more that they’re worried about people seeing Chinese wording on the package of the product, wondering if it’s from China, wondering if it’s gonna be low quality and wondering, especially, how long it’s going to take. There are a few people online who will say, “Shipping from China? It’s gonna take two months.” Well, they might use to take two months, but it’s 2019 and now it actually takes around two weeks. I can tell you that sometimes I get products faster from China than I do from the United States and I live in Canada.
David: And what about this low-quality concern? So maybe there is no shipping time advantage or the shipping time advantage is perhaps overblown. Okay, we accept that. But what about if there’s this underlying concern that the product itself is not good.
Magda: That’s a very, very fair concern, and there absolutely can be products from China that are low quality, I’m sure there are. But there are also products from China that are extremely high quality. If you’re really concerned about it, test it. Look at the reviews of the products on AliExpress those are people who are purchasing those products from all over the world directly, so they’re gonna tell you exactly what the quality is like, and they’re gonna tell you exactly if it matches the description or not. So if you’re really concerned about it, I would suggest actually just going ahead and testing one of the products yourself. Last year, I really needed to buy some new handlebars. I’m a hobby biker, I enjoy building some bikes in my free time, and I really wanted some new handlebars for my road bike that I wasn’t able to find in any of my local bike shops for less than $100. So I jumped on to Amazon and I was like, “Okay, there’s gotta be one that looks like what I need.” And I found one for $20. Perfect, I was super excited. I put in my information and I pressed ‘order.’
Well, as I was looking at the tracking code I realized… It’s not gonna be here for two weeks. That’s kind of strange. I thought everything on Amazon was gonna be delivered in two days but surprise, surprise, not everything on Amazon has Amazon Prime and it’s also a marketplace. So after about two weeks, my package came in the mail and I was shocked, my handlebars… absolutely perfect. And they absolutely came from China with ePacket shipping. It was crazy, I was so shocked and I didn’t even realize that products on Amazon were being sold from China as well. And I would like to remind you, these handlebars… I look through tons of pages of them. I chose ones with only five-star reviews when I was searching for these handlebars. So you can absolutely find great quality products from China. You just need to be able to read the reviews and understand how to look for them. And I can tell you, I’m still using those handlebars today. They’re some of the best handlebars I’ve ever purchased. So remember to keep that in mind next time you’re concerned about that.
David: And you mentioned, real quick, you mentioned ePacket shipping, and that’s maybe… not everybody knows what ePacket delivery is. Can we basically sum that up by saying that it’s a delivery method for products coming out of China, and then going to… I think now it’s like 40 or 50 different countries. It’s basically a delivery agreement between China and much of the western world.
Magda: That’s exactly it. So, ePacket shipping is a shipping type that is an agreement between China and about 40 to 50 countries at this point and mind you, more are being added all the time. And it’s an extremely fast, extremely cheap form of shipping that also comes with free tracking. That’s right, you heard that, free tracking. So you can actually use ePacket shipping and feel comfortable and confident knowing that your products are gonna arrive to your customer in about two to three weeks. Now I know what you’re probably thinking, “Two to three weeks? That’s still a really long time, that’s not two days like Amazon Prime.” That’s completely fair. However, it’s really important to understand that not all customers are looking for two-day shipping, and also sometimes, Amazon two day shipping actually takes longer than two days. Because maybe it’s the weekend, maybe you weren’t home. Shipping can take a lot of time, especially if it’s going, for example, through customs. There’s a lot of different shipping logistics that can make things take longer.
And there was this time last year where I ordered a pair of pants from the United States and I live in Canada. I thought, “Awesome, it’s in the United States. USPS. This is gonna take about three days to get to me.” Well, guess what? It took three days to get to Canada, and then it was sent back to customs and then customs sent it to some other side of Canada, and then from that side of Canada, it did finally end up somewhere in my city, but they couldn’t deliver it to me because I wasn’t home and when I actually held the pants, when they were finally in my hand, it had been two weeks.
David: Seven: “How can I tell if a product is saturated? How many orders are too many?” So the number of orders is a statistic that you can find all over the place. So AliExpress makes a big deal about order counts in its marketplace, and then inside of Oberlo, when you’re searching for products inside the app we offer information about order count. You can filter by order counts, platforms like Ecomhunt, which people use to find products, also make a big deal about this order count. So this is a data point. The number of orders is a data point that we talk about it a lot, dropshippers talk about it a lot, it’s a big deal. So, Magda, maybe you could offer some context on what orders is all about and what people should be thinking about when they see these order statistics flying around.
Magda: Orders is a really tough topic to discuss when it comes to dropshipping. The reason being is that it’s just a number, but it can mean so much and it means so much to different people. When I just got started with dropshipping and I was a brand new dropshipper, all the dropshippers that I followed told me, “If it has over 1,000 orders, it’s saturated, that means that there are way too many people selling it and there’s way too much competition.” And that wasn’t necessarily true. A thousand customers? A thousand customers in the whole world? That’s a very small amount of people. Now that it’s been a few years, and I’ve talked to more dropshippers and experienced a little bit more success with dropshipping and just seen the industry grow, that opinion has completely flipped on its head.
Now when you talk to professional dropshippers or if you’ve probably taken a dropshipping course, I’m sure you’ll have heard this before, orders is a good thing. A lot of orders means that the product is actually popular, that people are buying it. And if some people are buying it, that means that other people might be buying it, so it can be a really, really positive thing. And when you’re looking on AliExpress for a potential product idea that you have and you want to import into your store, make sure to sort by orders. That way you can see which suppliers have sold the most of it and exactly how many of those have sold. This is a great way to gauge how much interest there is in the product. I would say from my experiences talking to successful dropshippers, anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 orders is a great number to look at. If it’s between 1,000 and 5,000, that means that the product is popular, that means that people want to buy it and people are actually buying it, and if a few thousand people are buying it, you can definitely find a few other thousand people who would be interested.
David: It also says something about the supplier, doesn’t it? If there are thousands of orders being placed and especially if the reviews and the ratings are relatively high, it shows that the supplier is not gonna flake out on fulfilling orders and that there’s a lot of competence and a lot of trustworthiness that you can assign to a supplier who has thousands and thousands of orders getting fulfilled right.
Magda: Absolutely and it’s a really great number to compare suppliers as well. Most recently in my dropshipping store I was looking to test a new product and I saw this product from only two suppliers, two different suppliers on AliExpress. One of them had 3000 orders, and the other one had about 200 orders of this product. So at first, my reason of thinking was, well, maybe I should go with the one that has 200 orders because he’ll have more time to focus on my orders. That’s where my logic was. I clicked on to it and I looked at the reviews and everybody was saying this supplier took so long to ship my order and I would not purchase from the supplier again so I went ahead and checked out the other supplier that actually had the 3,000 orders and the reviews were raving. Everyone said they got their product within two weeks, great communication, and it was so eye opening to me to see that sometimes if a supplier has more orders, it’s a great thing because it means someone is trusting them to do business. So you can probably trust them to do business too.
Also, it’s really important to remember that this number can mean a lot of different things. Just because it means orders doesn’t mean you know exactly where the orders are coming from. You might be seeing 5,000 orders and think, “Wow, this is way too saturated for me to sell.” However, there might be other markets that you can hit. There was someone that I used to work with, who is now a successful dropshipper, who was selling those motorized ab workout products that you can put on your abs. And I guess you get…
David: Get ripped without lifting a finger right?
Magda: Get ripped without lifting a finger. And this product on AliExpress had over 10,000 orders, and I thought, “You’re crazy. There’s no way that this is gonna sell.” But what he did after testing the product out on some Facebook ads is realize that all those orders were actually coming from the United States and that he was still able to test other markets, so he made over $6,000 selling this product to Spain, just to Spain, just because he realized that all the information was actually just coming from one country. So you wanna make sure that you keep an open mind.
One more really important tip… Is that when you’re looking at the order count. Look at it in ratio to the reviews left on the page, if a product has been sold 10,000 times and there are 8,000 reviews, that means that the product is being sold mostly directly from AliExpress. That means that customers are signing in to AliExpress, seeing the product, purchasing it and then leaving a review. However, if you see that a product has 10,000 orders and only 2,000 reviews, that means that someone is most likely dropshipping it, if not multiple people. Because if you’re dropshipping a product you’re not gonna go back to leave a review. However, if you’re purchasing directly, then you’re gonna leave a review.
David: Number eight: “How can I tell if a product is a winning product?” I guess for this one, we can assume that someone knows generally what niche they want to be in. Maybe you’re going after something that you’re really interested in, you know there’s a market for it. You think you can reach a certain target audience and you can speak their language and kind of relate to the people who you think are gonna be your customers. So let’s assume that the broad stroke ideas about what kind of products you’re selling, everything looks good there. But what about the products themselves, what makes a specific product a winning product?
Magda: This is a really tough question to answer because there are a lot of ways that you can answer and explain what makes a winning product. When you start dropshipping, it can be extremely difficult to figure out, “Well, what product am I going to sell?” I’ve seen dropshippers build stores ready to go, they learn as much as they can, and then they get stuck when it comes to product research because there are about a million products that you can sell on AliExpress. And how are you supposed to know which one is gonna be a winning product? Unfortunately, you actually can’t know until you test it. That’s the reality of the situation. Until you actually test your product with your audience, there’s no way to just know whether it’s a winning product or not.
However, there are definitely a few key things that you can look for. And after speaking to hundreds of dropshippers and seeing lots of dropshipping stores and products that are very successful, I can tell you and summarize a few key points to look for. The first one that most people would say is, “Does it have a ‘wow’ factor?” This is really important because you’re advertising online. That means that when people are seeing your ad, they are scrolling, they’re in their timeline. There are 100 different things going on. Is it gonna make them stop? Is it gonna actually make them stop in their feed? There are a few ways that you can achieve this. With the unicorn slippers, for example.
David: Everyone’s stopping for unicorn slippers.
Magda: That’s gonna be just a wow. You know, that is a product that just catches your attention and unfortunately there’s no way really to describe it except to actually think, “Will that product make you stop scrolling even for one second?” Because if it makes you stop scrolling for one second, that’s a ‘wow’ product right there. The other way is you can make someone stop scrolling is through your marketing and this is something that is really important to know. The founder of Ecomhunt, Mordechai, said to me once, “The difference between a good product and a bad product? There is none. The difference is between a good marketer and a bad marketer.”
And I completely agree. It’s how you position that product to speak to your customer. When someone is scrolling through their news feed, you might want to stop them. How do you stop them? With emotion. Usually if it’s just facts, they’re not gonna stop scrolling for that. But if you catch them with some emotion, then they will absolutely stop scrolling. For example, a mosquito repellent. That’s not a really ‘wow’ product. That product is not something that I particularly feel would make me stop scrolling. However, if I’m on Facebook and I see someone trying to read a book, or sit by the fire and enjoy a smore and they just can’t because they’re swatting mosquitoes all the time, I think, “Oh my gosh, same.” That is exactly how I feel. And it’s so frustrating, it really draws out an emotion in me and it makes me stop for a second. Afterward, they can introduce a boring product, and I will be completely taken and my attention is completely focused on that because they’ve connected with me emotionally and it’s something really important to remember.
David: Number nine: “Are products from China low quality?” As you might know, Oberlo works by importing products from AliExpress and AliExpress is this marketplace which is owned by Alibaba and Alibaba is a massive Chinese company. So there’s a good chance that if you’re dropshipping, especially if your dropshipping off AliExpress, there will be some connection between China and the products that you’re adding to your store via Oberlo. So that’s kind of the backdrop for this China question. There is some link between a lot of dropship products and China. So, Magda, what can you say just generally about the quality of products coming out of China, and any concerns that people might have about that?
Magda: This is a great question, and it’s something that a lot of dropshippers have a difficult time with because product quality from China is a huge fear. And when you’re running a business, you want your customers to be happy. Of course, you want sales, but you wanna get those sales by making sure that your customers are satisfied with their product and satisfied with their experience.
David: It’s a lot of headaches if they’re not, right?
Magda: It’s a lot of headaches if they’re not. You do not wanna be dealing with refunds, returns, and all that. Let’s not even focus on that right now. So it’s a huge concern when dropshippers are getting started. And I can completely understand where they’re coming from because there is this huge fear and perception about Chinese quality products in America. Let’s start with one of the classic examples: the iPhone. The iPhone is made and manufactured in China. It’s extremely high quality. There are actually lots of other huge tech products that are manufactured in China, and it can be done extremely well.
Rather than focusing your attention on that cheap trinket at the dollar store that’s about to break, think about other things in your home, maybe other things that you use all the time. Are you sure that those actually aren’t made in China as well? You might love those products, and you might rely on them all the time. They also might be extremely durable. And there’s a pretty good chance that they’re probably from China. So, rather than focusing on other products and cheap trinkets, look at everything that you have around you, and check out some of the things in your home. That might start to change your perspective a little bit. And, also, it’s really important, if you’re concerned about this, to actually go on to AliExpress and read the reviews. I can’t state this enough. AliExpress is a marketplace, that means that the people that are leaving reviews for each product, those are real customers. When you use Amazon, for example, if you don’t have an excellent experience, you’re not gonna be leaving five stars. You’re gonna be leaving less than five stars, and you’re gonna explain exactly why.
It’s the same thing with AliExpress. Those are real customers, and those are real reviews. So if you do your due diligence and looking over the reviews, and actually reading them to see if it matches the description and what the quality is like, you’ll have no problem finding lots of high quality products from China. Recently, I went to dinner with another one of my colleagues from Oberlo and she had a gorgeous gold watch on. And I just told her, “I love your watch. It looks amazing. Where is it from?” And she was telling me that it was from a watch company that she had found in her local city. But she told me that this watch had actually cost her a few hundred dollars. She found a very, very, very similar watch on AliExpress, and she just ordered it because it was only a few bucks and she just wanted to see what the quality difference would actually be. And she was shocked because these watches almost looked identical. She told me that she was so upset that she had thought that she could only find a good quality watch by going to a watch company in her store, that she ended up paying a few hundred dollars for. That was probably just a mark-up for those people standing at the front in a suit. And she couldn’t believe that this watch that she found on AliExpress for a few dollars was of almost the exact same quality.
David: We had another colleague who dropships and who writes about dropshipping all the time, somebody who definitely knows AliExpress, and she got accessories for her wedding off of AliExpress. And so there’s definitely good stuff on there. Even those of us who are really familiar with AliExpress, we’re familiar also, of course, with the horror stories of AliExpress. Some of us have had bad experiences ourselves when it comes to dropshipping. So we’ve learned from those. But another thing we’ve learned is that some of these products are legit, and they’re just as good as anything you’d get anywhere else, and you just gotta do, like Magda said, the due diligence, which is a big part of this. And just getting your homework done, before you start selling stuff, suss out what’s good, and definitely rest assured that there is plenty of good stuff on AliExpress.
Number 10 on the list of dropshipping FAQs: “How do I convince customers to wait two to three weeks for shipping?” This is, I don’t know Magda if you’d agree, this might be the most common question that we’ve ever gotten.
David: The all-time champion. The deal here is that shipping times on AliExpress is almost always slower than you might be used to, and especially if you’re used to Amazon and other two- to three-day shipping outlets. If you browse around AliExpress, you’re gonna see estimated shipping times ranging from seven days all the way up through 60 days. There are really huge shipping windows, and a lot of ambiguity around the shipping times, and at the very least you’d expect it to take a couple of weeks. So, Magda, how should people message this shipping time question when it comes to their dropshipping stores?
Magda: This is a great question. It’s something that I see all the time, especially from people who are beginners thinking about dropshipping, but not sure if this is a business that’s viable. They always say, and always ask me, “Customers are not gonna be waiting two to three weeks. I won’t be able to find any traffic, I won’t be able to get any sales because of that.” Well, guess what? They are willing to wait and many do. We see the numbers. There are lots of customers that are willing to wait two to three weeks for shipping. It’s not an issue. However, it can be an issue if you don’t prepare for it. That’s the most important thing to know. Customers are usually fine with waiting for shipping as long as they know what’s going on. You usually only get frustrated when you have no idea or you’re in the dark about where your product is. And think about this with yourself as well. When you’ve ordered something in the past, you might have wondered where exactly it was, and if you’re not seeing any updates, or what’s going on, you might be freaked out. You probably didn’t mind waiting a little bit longer if you just knew exactly where it was.
So, as a dropshipper, it’s really important to make sure that you let your customers know exactly how long it’s gonna take and be transparent about it. If you’re not transparent, then you might have to deal with returns and refunds. That’s another headache. It’s so much easier if you can just let your customers know ahead of time. This is so easy to do. Add it into your ‘About Us’ page, add it into your final step at check-out. Just making sure that your customers actually know how long their shipping is gonna take is gonna save you a lot of headache in the long run.
Another thing to know is when you’re dropshipping, you are gonna be marking up your products, you are gonna be adding in a price for marketing and your other fees that you need to pay for your business, and then also, of course, for some profit. It’s a great idea to add in a little bit more for shipping. The great thing about ePacket shipping is ePacket shipping is usually about $1 to $3 coming from China. That’s amazing. Take that in for a second. Sometimes when I order products from Amazon shipping can be $6.99. Most products on AliExpress with ePacket are $1 to $3. That is amazing.
Because of this price, it’s really easy to add the shipping cost into your markup of the products. Why, would you ask? Well, because then you can offer free shipping. Yes, it’s a psychology play, but no problem. When you’re online shopping and you see stores offering free shipping, guess what, the shipping probably isn’t free, you’re actually probably paying for that shipping but within the product cost. You just don’t realize it. You see free shipping, so you think it’s free, but you don’t actually know what the cost of the product was so it might just be added in there. However, it’s a huge incentive for you to actually purchase the product. So this is a great tactic to combat the shipping times. And, also, it’s really important to note that with ePacket shipping, you get free tracking. Yes, you heard that. This shipping that’s coming all the way from China and taking this product anywhere in the world for one to three dollars also comes with free tracking.
This is a huge advantage for you and your customers. They may not wanna wait two to three weeks, but if they know where their package is, it’s a lot easier for them to have some more patience with you. And, with Oberlo, it’s really easy to change your settings, and add in automatic tracking codes, so that as soon as your customer gets an email saying their order has been shipped, it comes with a tracking code, and it comes with a way to track it. So, yes, two to three weeks isn’t ideal. Of course. We’ve got to be realistic here, but it’s so doable.
David: Awesome. Magda, thank you so much for taking the time to chat and answering our dropshipping FAQs. We can leave it there, but thanks for answering these questions today.
Magda: Thank you so much for having me, David.