Online General Store: 5 Products From a Successful Entrepreneur
Jessica: Hey, I’m Jessica.
Chris: Hey, I’m Chris.
Jessica: And usually when I’m here with a merchant to interview, I’m talking about the niche store that they opened that made $100,000 and allowed the entrepreneur to travel to Thailand. Chris’s story is nothing like that.
Chris opened a general dropshipping store two years ago that made $500,000. And what’s more impressive? He ran his online general store while he was still working his full-time job. Today, Chris is going to share five dropshipping products that you can start selling today in an online general store. You don’t wanna miss this.
Today I’m talking with Chris Wane who, like I just mentioned, opened his online general store two years ago. And Chris, I wanna get to your recommendations because I know that’s what people are interested in. But before we do, tell me a little bit about how you got started dropshipping.
The Motivation Behind Starting an Online General Store
Chris: Well, it was actually a YouTube recommended product that came up. A YouTube recommended video that came up, about some paracord bracelets. And that was the first thing I ever bought, was some paracord bracelets to try and sell them. I bought say, ten of them, I think it was at the time and still got those ten, never really sold them.
But that was my first step into ecommerce and then from that, it basically found loads of videos around dropshipping, led me to Oberlo and that’s how it all basically came together. It was, there was… Basically YouTube recommended things to me.
Jessica: So was the online general store that you opened, that ended up making you so much money, was that your first dropshipping store?
Chris: No, it was my sixth dropshipping store.
Jessica: Oh! Oh wow, okay.
Chris: Yeah, the other five failed miserably to be honest. Over a few years, I tried it. I heard about it a few years ago. I tried dropshipping and it failed and then failed again and failed again. And eventually, I learned from those dropshipping mistakes. And obviously this online general store has worked out, so.
Jessica: Wow, so, okay. Those first couple of stores that you tried were over the course of a couple of years. What made you then decide to give dropshipping another try for this online general store that ended up making you so much money?
Chris: I wanted to go on holiday, that was pretty much the only reason, really. I needed a way to earn an extra 200 pounds a month to save up for a trip across America, and that was the dream initially.
And I’d just give it one more go and hoping it was gonna work out. And if it wasn’t, then that was basically gonna be it for me. I was giving it that one last shot to do something I’ve always wanted to do.
Jessica: A lot of dropshippers ask. when they’re just starting out, about the cost of launching a dropshipping store. And you have a really kind of interesting story about the amount of money that you gave yourself to test out, and how that ended up leading to the growth of this store. Can you share that?
Chris: Yeah, I gave myself 250 pounds as the initial budget. That’s all I had, that’s all I could save up. I was paying bills myself, I was working full-time. It was… I was just struggling month to month trying to pay the bills and I knew I needed some money to get started with this. So I saved up 250 pounds and I went in there to advertise on Facebook with the money and found my first product within the first 200 pounds.
Jessica: So you spent 100 pounds and then you saw these indications that you had a winning product on your hand.
Chris: Yeah, so I tried to test some of the products. They didn’t work out. So then I basically, I had that 250-pound budget, I had got up to 100 pounds before I found my first product, and then, the first winning product, and then from that, it went from there.
Advantages of an Online General Store
Jessica: So I have to admit to you that every time we’ve done a video we always tell dropshippers to open niche dropshipping stores. In other words, we tell them, pick a category like pet care accessories or women’s clothing and only sell in that category. But you tried that and actually the online general store worked better for you.
Jessica: Can you tell us why you think that is?
Chris: The online general store allowed me to test multiple different products from different niches. That was the entire reason I did the online general store. I tried the niche style, it didn’t work because it didn’t give me the flexibility to test different types of products.
And that was key for me, was to be able to jump onto trends that I saw on social media and test different types of products. If I’d just got into a pet niche, then I couldn’t have jumped onto a trending product that came out of nowhere. An online general store allows me to mix and match products depending on what’s working online.
Jessica: Okay, so all of this product testing probably made you pretty good at finding winning products online.
Chris: Yeah. You could say that, yeah. I had a lot of testing.
Jessica: I’m gonna make you brag a little bit, even though I can tell you’re not the type. Give me some stats. So, what kind of sales did you see out of the product that made you the most money?
Chris: The product that made me the most money was probably 140,000 pounds. So that’s what? Roughly $180,000, maybe $190,000.
Jessica: Holy cow! And we actually got Chris to share that product with us. So make sure you stick around to the end, when we’ll reveal what that product is, and how Chris found such success in selling it. Okay, so you’re definitely an expert when it comes to finding perfect dropshipping products that will sell.
Chris: I would say so.
It All Boils Down to Your Product
Jessica: A lot of dropshippers wonder where they should be placing their time and energy initially. Whether it really matters what you’re selling or if it’s more important that you learn Facebook ads, or if it’s more important that you just master store design. Can you comment on that a little bit?
Chris: I would say that product is king. Really that’s where it all starts. If you have a great product and you put that product in front of the right target audience, it will sell. It doesn’t matter how good your advertising skills are, or any sort of ad copy.
If you have the right product in front of the right people, they will buy it and that’s key, really, it’s finding that product that people want.
Jessica: Great, so we’re about to jump into the five products that you recommend dropshippers try selling in an online general store. And as we do that, we’ll be going in and out of this computer screen, so you can virtually look over Chris’s shoulder as he talks about how he found these products, why he thinks they would sell and how he would market them on an online general store. So without further ado, Chris, let’s get onto product number one.
1. Fish Scaler
Jessica: Chris, I don’t… This is different from any other…
Chris: I wouldn’t do that… It’d cut your hair off.
Jessica: Why? Why? Why? Why would it cut my hair off?
Chris: Because that’s not a hairbrush.
Jessica: Well, what is it?
Chris: It’s actually a fish scale remover.
Jessica: Oh, okay. So it’s for fish scales?
Chris: Yes it is.
Jessica: Okay. So people would use this device and brush it against the skin of a fish and it would take off the scales and then trap them within the blade in this container.
Chris: It would, yeah. Correct.
Jessica: This is maybe one of the least sexy dropshipping products we’ve ever had recommended on our show. Okay, I would never have thought to sell this. So take me through the process. How did you come up with this as a product to sell?
Okay, so you logged into My AliExpress account. Sounds good and we’re at the homepage. And for those who don’t know, it’s totally free to sign up for AliExpress and get an account. So there’s no problem there. Okay, from here where did you go to discover this fish scaling tool?
Chris: So within your My AliExpress account, if you just go into that. There’s a section called “Dropshipping Center”. And within here, this is gonna list lots of different products for you to look at that other dropshippers are selling. So it has all these different categories for different sections. And you can basically go through these and find something that you can sell.
So I think this was under the Home and Garden, Kitchen, Dining & Bar. And if you just click into there, you can see, then, a list of potential products that you could look to sell. And within here, it shows you the number of orders and the price and gives you a quick view of the actual products. So… Oh there. There’s the fish scale brush.
Jessica: Oh, there it is.
Chris: You can see it. ‘Cause this just got 35, well almost 36,000 orders. So that’s how basically I found this product. It was something that stood out to me. And it solves a problem.
So that was the key indicator for me that this could be a potential product, is that it solves a pain point for a customer.
Jessica: Now, is this a pain point that you’ve experienced? Because a lot of dropshippers wonder if they should sell a product that they know themselves versus just selling a product that solves someone else’s problem.
Chris: No, it’s not a pain point for me at all. I don’t eat fresh fish at all.
Chris: So this… I don’t look at dropshipping items that I want, I look at dropshipping items that other people want.
Chris: I think more around the consumer, not necessarily what I like, what I’m interested in. Some of my best products have nothing to do with my personality, nothing to do with my interests. It’s just… Is there a mass-market appeal for that product? And does it solve a problem? And they are my two main criteria.
Dealing With Product Competition for an Online General Store
Jessica: A lot of people I know are going to see you browsing this “Dropshipping Center” section of AliExpress. And they’re gonna say, “Okay, but if I can see this and get all these ideas on AliExpress, so can thousands of other dropshippers.” How do you respond to that?
Chris: There are millions of products on AliExpress. There’s… I mean even just within this section here. Now, this is just the home section. There are 250 pages of products there. And all of these are potential winning products for an online general store.
All of these have massive amounts of orders and they’re all being sold. So, to say that there aren’t enough products out there to sell is a dropshipping myth really. There’s always something out there for you to sell. You just need to find it.
Jessica: What about people who think, “Okay I’m interested in selling the fish scaler but someone else is going to sell this exact same product now that Chris has recommended it.” Do you have any experience competing with other dropshippers that you know are selling the exact same product as you?
Chris: Yeah, I’ve sold products that have been sold by other dropshippers before and they’ve still worked. You know.
It’s about the angle you go with, it’s about the offer you’re willing to give the customer. You need to be better than your competitors.
It’s a competitive market place. But you need to be the best and you need to keep driving to get to that point where you win. You are the better dropshipper.
Jessica: When you say that. Do you mean undercutting on price? Because this is only two dollars and I don’t know how low you can go and still make a profit with something like this.
Chris: It’s about giving a better offer to the customer. So… And that’s not just around the price, it’s around service as well. So customer service is very important and it’s something you need to be focusing on when you’re doing this.
But you could also, with a product like this, you could also offer them two or three. So bundle them together. So if another dropshipper might be looking at this and be thinking, “I’m just doing one and charging $15 for it.” But you could offer two and charge $15 for it and still make a nice margin on it. And that there is a better offer for the customer straight away.
Jessica: Okay, I see. Okay, let’s actually talk about price for a second there, and how you would sell a product like this. So this is… Yeah… This is about $1.66 per piece and shipping looks like it costs just a few cents, maybe with ePacket shipping, it costs about two dollars. So more than actually the product itself. Together, we’re looking at a product that’s still under five dollars. How would you price something like this?
Chris: I’d always looked to have a minimum of three times the price. But obviously with something like this, with a low price point product anyway. You’d probably look towards the $12, $15 maybe even up to $17. Depending on the offer you’re providing. And so it’s around that perceived value of the product and that’s how you can price it.
But as a minimum, you wanna go for a three times pricing strategy because that gives you enough as… To pay for your Facebook ads and it gives you enough for obviously making your profit and returns and any issues you have along with delivery.
With this, you would go more than three times, because it’s such a low-priced product. And you could easily sell this for $12.95, $14.95, even $17.95 if you’re gonna bundle in more in there.
Identifying Your Online General Store’s Target Market
Jessica: Okay, but the next challenge, once you’ve set your price, is how you find the group of people who are going to buy this. Obviously they’re out there because as you said, this product has over 36,000 orders. But how would you go about identifying your target market for this?
Chris: So this is where I differ from most dropshippers. ‘Cause a lot of dropshippers will tell you to do interest-based targeting. I don’t really do that much. Not with something like this because a lot of people eat fish. It’s… A lot of people do that.
And so, what I’d look to do is, I’d look to create a product video showing the pain points of the products, and also how this solves a pain point. And then I would look to do a PPE campaign for it, and then off that using 95 percent lookalike audience and use that as my audience that I target to.
Jessica: Okay I’m gonna make you unpack that a little bit because I think you’re speaking in expert dropshipping lingo. So I had gestured to my screen because I had the Audience Insights tab opened for you to show me how you would find interests and you spun it around on me. That’s totally fine. When you say PPE campaign, what do you mean by that?
Chris: It’s an objective within Facebook for post-engagement. So, it basically allows you to collect data on an advert that you’ve put out there, such as your click-through rate, and how many people are liking it.
But the key for a PPE campaign is to allow you to collect data at a really cheap cost, and it’s a lot cheaper than going straight out there for your purchase conversion companies. If you go out as a PPE, you will reach more people.
But what the Facebook Pixel will do, it will collect that data and it will allow you to create what’s called a custom audience and you can basically create that for people who’ve watched 95 percent of this video, and for anyone who’s watched 95 percent of a video would say that they are interested in the product, at least to an extent. And that’s your starting point.
You can create that 95 percent lookalike audience, where Facebook will take the people who’ve watched 95 percent of the video and then give you a larger pot of people to work with. And then that’s what you can go out with and target rather than interest, because it being such a broad product, you could use a broad audience.
Jessica: Okay, so in this instance, what you’re really doing is… You’re kind of telling Facebook, “Hey, I don’t know who’s gonna like this ad,” but you’re letting Facebook figure that out by running this campaign, and then Facebook will collect the data on who is clicking or engaging with the ad because that’s your goal. And then Facebook will use that data to then decide who to target the ad to next time.
Chris: Yeah, it creates a customer… Creates a lookalike audience for you to then do a purchase conversion objective to try and get those sales.
Jessica: Okay. By the way, if some of this talk about Facebook Ads is a little bit over your head, don’t worry. Facebook Ads is a learned skill. Nobody is a born Facebook expert.
Okay, so I get that you’re making Facebook do most of the work, which is really smart. But when you set that PPE campaign, are you literally just targeting the whole entire world on Facebook?
Chris: I’ll be targeting ePacket countries. So you can search for ePacket countries on Google, you just type in ePacket countries, that’ll give you a list. And I would send my PPE campaign out there to all those countries completely open, which is basically 18 to 65 plus, men and women. And within the interests, I’d probably just put online shopping just to narrow down a little bit.
But that would be it. There would be no other interests in there, it would just be a completely broad, open audience, and then just let Facebook collect that data, then work from there.
Jessica: Okay, so the only qualifications you would have for this audience is that they’re living in ePacket countries, and that they’re interested, maybe, in online shopping?
Jessica: Okay. Well, these are fascinating insights. But I want to move away from fish scaling and towards product number two.
2. Drill Brush
Jessica: So, this seems like a toilet cleaner with no handle, gross. What is this product number two?
Chris: It’s actually a cleaning attachment for a drill, so a power drill. So you basically attach these on to the drill, the drill spins and it allows you to clean really difficult spots, such as tilings, you know that grout within the tilings, very dirty areas that can use a rough cleaner to clean up, and that’s what this is for. So, you basically just attach them to your drill and let the drill do the work.
Jessica: Oh my gosh. How on earth did you find out about this product?
Chris: The same method, I was going through Dropshipping Center… And it just popped up as an option in there. And I went into there and had a look, verified it using my criteria. Does it have a mass-market appeal, does it solve a problem?
Obviously scrubbing something that’s really difficult to clean takes a lot of effort. But with something like this, with a power drill on the end of it, this is just gonna clean up stuff really, really easily.
Jessica: Okay, but I’m gonna play devil’s advocate. When you were in AliExpress looking at all those recommendations, don’t hundreds of those products match that criteria?
Chris: They do.
Jessica: So, why are you recommending this product over the product that was right next to it?
Chris: Because with the right video, this is eye-catching. This is gonna catch people’s attention on their Facebook feed, and that’s the key, is being able to stop people scrolling down their feed.
Jessica: Oh, okay. So, you’re saying there’s actually, there’s a bit of additional criteria here, which is something has to look really attention-grabbing in a video?
Chris: Yeah, it’s one of the criteria, it’s quite important. It’s not the most important criteria but if you think as people are scrolling through their Facebook feed and you want them to stop on your ad, that first three seconds that they see need to make them stop.
It needs to pique their interest straight away for them to look, and if you see this on the end of a drill, and somebody cleaning something, that piques my interest. That’s why I stopped on this product ’cause I saw the picture on the dropshipping page and that’s how I found it.
Checking Existing Facebook Ads
Jessica: Okay, so you’ve talked about this being a really great product for video. I’m curious about what videos are already out there. So, let’s go on Facebook and see if we can find any existing Facebook ads for this drill brush.
Jessica: I went into Facebook and I searched drill brush cleaner, which is what I, a dropshipping newbie would search if I wanted to see other dropshippers that were trying to sell this product.
Now what I don’t know is how to make sense of what I see here. I see the top result has 647,000 views, which sounds like a lot. And then I see a lot of results that have less than that. What does all of this kind of information tell you about the risks and the opportunities here?
Chris: Well, when I was looking at Facebook Ads here… Facebook videos here, I would be looking for videos that were within this range anyway.
So anything between 300,000 and 800,000 video views is a product that you should be looking at.
That means somebody’s spending money on these ads. Nobody gets that many views without spending money, and if you’re spending money, you should be profitable with it, you won’t keep running an ad if you’re not being profitable.
So that says to me that this product is working for this company, they’re selling this, they’re making money on it and they’re increasing that view count. The fact that there aren’t many other high numbers here says there isn’t much competition with this product.
Jessica: Oh okay, really interesting. So even though this had a lot of views, that doesn’t mean that the market is saturated because we see a lot of other people who are trying to sell it, but maybe for some reason or another, didn’t quite get there?
Chris: Correct, yeah, and there are lots of different reasons why it wouldn’t work. It could come down to website design, could come down to how they’re targeting the product, it could just be the ad copy itself, it might not have been engaging enough with the consumer base, and you have to test different creatives, different video styles to bring in the customers to your online general store.
Jessica: I wanna talk about Facebook ads since we’re looking at a bunch of Facebook ads. Now, is this going to be just like the fish scaler in the sense that you need to let Facebook determine who really wants to engage with this product or do you have a target audience in mind?
Chris: You can do it with a broad audience with the 95 percent lookalikes, that would work. But with something like this, you might wanna target something quite broad to do with cleaning, so even cleaning and DIY because with it being a power drill under cleaning tool, it might be worth trying to combine those into the same interest.
Hands-on With Facebook Audience Insights
Jessica: Why don’t we hop into Facebook Audience Insights and you can show us how you would do that?
Jessica: Okay. Okay, so now we’re in Audience Insights and what next?
Chris: What I like to do is I like to, within the countries here, I like to add the United Kingdom.
Jessica: Is that just a personal bias or…
Chris: It’s more just to increase the audience. And I like to put Australia and Canada in there as well.
Jessica: Oh okay, so you’re targeting the big four?
Chris: The big four, especially in the product research kind of stage, I want to just target that, because this is gonna give you the biggest audience, you can type all the countries you want within here, but obviously the big four will give you the biggest pot of people to work with.
Jessica: And if you’re new to dropshipping, the big four are four largest ecommerce markets, all with ePacket shipping available and all English speaking, which makes it easier to advertise to.
Chris: And then what you can do is within the interests here, you can type cleaning.
Jessica: Do people actually put “cleaning” as an interest?
Chris: It could be, yeah, there are all these different ones. You could have cleaner, let’s have a look. So we’ve got cleaner. So there’s an audience of 4 to 4.5 million people just in these four countries with an interest of “cleaner” within Facebook.
Jessica: Oh, interesting.
Chris: So then if you put DIY, you could do DIY in there as well with being power cleaners, you’ve now got 60 to 70 million people just in those two “interests” parts, alongside your 95 percent lookalike audience as well.
Jessica: Oh wow. So are you going for a particular number when it comes to the new audience here as 60 million seems like a lot? Do you wanna narrow that down?
Chris: No, initially you’re just collecting data at the beginning, that’s the whole point. You want to collect as much data as possible through Facebook Pixel to basically optimize it and then go out with your look-alike audiences that way.
Jessica: I see, so when you’re adding interests when you’re creating your Facebook ad, you’re still keeping your target market really broad in the beginning, you’re just giving Facebook the barest little bit of guidance, “Okay, they should be interested in DIY.”
Chris: Yeah, the broad audiences work well with products that can be targeted to most people. If you’ve got a product that’s very specific to a particular group of people, then you do need to be narrowing that down to your interests.
Setting Store Themes for an Online General Store
Jessica: I wanna ask a question because we’re on the second product that you would recommend and you ran an online general store. So in an online general store, like the one that you ran, would you sell this cleaning brush drill attachment side-by-side with the fish scaler?
Chris: I would, yeah. That could fit perfectly in my online general store, yeah it would work.
Jessica: Does it confuse customers when they come to your home page and they see all these disconnected products?
Chris: Not really because when I advertise I’m sending them to a product page, they don’t really see the other products, unless they go looking around on the website and the website is designed in a way that the products are sat within their own collections.
Jessica: Oh, okay, so you’re able to give some kind of order to your online general store through these categories?
Jessica: If you’re running an online general store though, how do you go about giving customers a cohesive shopping experience? Is there any kind of a theme to what you sell or do you just sell anything?
Chris: Yeah, the theme is the key to an online general store. I think you have to, instead of it being just a bunch of random products all over the place with no real cohesion, it’s just, you have to kind of theme it around, very loosely, around something.
So my online general store is themed around selling gadgets and accessories. So that’s the top-level that I run my products at. Anything that’s loosely connected to a gadget or an accessory, I can sell in my online general store.
Jessica: So I’d never find a women’s bikini in your store?
Chris: No, nothing like that, just if it’s a gadget or an accessory, or loosely resembles a gadget and accessory, then that will be on my store.
Jessica: Okay. And if, say, if someone wondering what kind of theme they could find for their store and what the difference between a theme and a niche is, maybe one thing that they could do is go to AliExpress and look at the broad categories and think of those as themes and some of the sub-categories as niches, would that be…
Chris: Yeah, that’s, yeah, completely accurate, I would agree with that. That’s probably a very good place to start to be honest.
Jessica: Okay, before we move on to our next product, let’s quickly touch on price. This is a little bit more of an expensive product because it’s $8 plus about a dollar for ePacket shipping to the US. So how would you price something like this, according to your rule, it would be something like $27?
Chris: Roughly, yeah, I would do it around the $24.95 upwards to $27. I probably wouldn’t go much higher than $27.95. It’d be in that kind of bracket and that would be a good price point for this product.
Jessica: A lot of dropshippers love to run these 50 percent off sales. So, would you actually price this at $50 and say it’s 50 percent off or do you just straight up say it’s $25 take it or leave it?
Chris: Oh, I would always do a discount offer on there as well. So yeah, you could put this at $49.95 and then have it as $24.95 as your price point.
Jessica: Okay, just always make sure that the three times margin is something that you protect, no matter what discount you give?
Jessica: Alright, well let’s clean up here and get the third product out.
3. Cat Litter Mat
Jessica: I never thought we would be recommending a car mat, but here we are.
Chris: That’s not a car mat, Jessica.
Jessica: What is it?
Chris: It’s a cat litter capture mat.
Jessica: Are we sure it’s new?
Chris: It’s definitely new.
Jessica: Oh, okay, well, here again, Chris, I can’t say you’re someone who’s recommending the most attractive, exciting products we’ve ever seen on this show, but tell me why you’re confident that this will sell? I’ll put it over here.
Chris: The main reason for that is it solves a big problem for cat owners. I personally don’t have a cat. But I imagine that with cat litter trays and the cat using it and then walking around your house, it could carry a lot of cat litter around, especially just outside of the tray and you have to then spend time sweeping it up and cleaning up.
What this cat litter mat does, it allows you to, basically, it has little holes in it that catches the cat litter as the cat climbs out of the tray and then you can literally just pick up the mat and pour it into the bin and it saves you having to sweep up.
Jessica: Okay, so how did you find out about the cat litter mat?
Chris: The same method, just going through the dropshipping lists and I stumbled across it within the home section and it immediately caught my eye because it solves a problem and that’s really important when you’re looking for products is trying to solve a pain point for your customer.
Nobody likes their life being difficult. If you can solve a problem for them, make their life easier, then they’re gonna buy from you.
Jessica: Okay. At first, I was a little frustrated with your answer here because I like to give cool sites and dropshipping tips and tricks for finding winning products. But I think what you’re getting at is, when you’re browsing through products, you’re looking for a product and you’re really stopping and asking yourself exactly what problem does this solve? And if you can’t write that answer out in a sentence, basically, if it’s not that crystal clear, you move on?
Jessica: So it’s that layer of like browsing this list of products but with this critical thinking that’s really what sets apart your search method from other search methods?
Chris: Yeah, definitely.
Always have in the back of your mind, “Does it solve a problem and does it have a large market, does it have a mass-market appeal?” And then those are the two, really, the two key criteria to find a winning product.
Validating the Product on Google Trends
Jessica: Okay, so say a dropshipper is interested in selling this cat litter mat, is there anything you’d recommend to help them validate this idea a little bit more and get a better idea of what the selling environment is like?
Chris: One of the first things you can do is you could head over to Google Trends and if you type in a search term that a customer might be looking for to do with the products, you can validate how often people are actually searching for it on Google, to see if it is on an upward trend or if it was on an upward trend but now it’s kind of petering out, you can’t really do anything with it anymore.
Jessica: Okay, let’s take a quick look at this. So “cat litter mat” is what I’ll go ahead and write and this is the United States in the past 12 months. Would you change these criteria?
Chris: I would usually change the past 12 months to the last five years, just to see what it was like. Usually, I could leave it in the United States, but you can just play around with it. Worldwide is a good option as well, I like to target internationally, not just one country. So you could definitely see.
Jessica: So this has an interesting graph. What’s your take on this?
Chris: So this shows me that the search term for cat litter mat has grown gradually over the last five years. But then there’s been a massive spike here at the end of last year, December time. But it’s still on an upward trend at the beginning of this year. So this says to me that more and more people are searching for this on Google.
Jessica: Interesting, so maybe we could even say that the spike indicates some kind of public awareness about this mat.
Jessica: That might stoke growth in the future? As we do with all of our products, I wanna know how you would sell this. Part of me thinks you’ve got to be using more Facebook targeting this time around because obviously you can just target people who like cats, right?
Chris: You could do, but I would still go broad with this.
Chris: I would still go broad with it because a lot of people have cats, doesn’t mean they’re gonna like a cat page on Facebook. There’s the untapped audience that everybody will target “cat products” or “cats” as an interest. Everyone will target cat brands, everyone will target cat magazines, so everybody’s doing that. What about these millions of people over here that aren’t targeted, ’cause they don’t like anything on Facebook, and that’s the key.
Jessica: That’s a really good point. I know I personally like cats but I don’t like anything about cats via Facebook.
Chris: Exactly, and that’s how interests work on Facebook. A customer will only appear in that part of the interest if they have liked a page or interacted with a page, but just because they haven’t interacted with something doesn’t mean they’re not gonna buy something from your store to do with cats.
The Challenges of Retargeting for an Online General Store
Jessica: Is this a product that would work in an online general store?
Chris: It would, yeah, it would definitely work in an online general store.
Jessica: Now, I think I’ve trapped you because now I’m going to ask you, is this a product that you could possibly sell and then get repeat buys from?
One of the things that we tell people when we’re recommending niche stores is that, if you start a niche store, and a customer buys from you, you have their email and you can probably reach out and say “Hey, you bought one women’s jacket, here’s another women’s jacket you might like.” Do you lose that opportunity entirely when you’re working with an online general store?
Chris: You do to an extent. Yeah, that is one of the downsides to a general store. The pros of an online general store are the fact that you can jump on trends and you can follow the wave that is social media.
The downside is the back end of it. You can’t re-target as much as you could with a niche store or even a one-product store, you’re kind of limited to that cold traffic. But if you are providing a good service and a good product, word-of-mouth will be enough to drive traffic back to your ecommerce store anyway.
Jessica: Okay, do you get a lot of repeat customers in your stores?
Chris: I get a small percentage of repeat customers. Yeah, a lot of it is organic, a lot of it is customers recommending me to their friends.
Jessica: So you’re saying that when you have an online general store, it’s way easier for you to test products and hop on trends the minute that they’re trending. But there are sacrifices with every business model and in this one, maybe you don’t get as many repeat customers and retargeting is a little trickier?
Chris: Correct. Yeah.
Jessica: That makes sense. Okay, I’m worried that our audience is getting a little bored because I was about to ask you about the price. But then I know you’re gonna tell me, price it at three times the listing price and it’s like this is getting so predictable. Can you spice it up a little or are we just stuck with this formula for success that you have?
Chris: Why would you change something that’s working? That is my argument to it, “Why would you?”
If you have a price point that’s profitable, if you have a targeting method that works and you have a product criteria that is a winning product criteria, why would you change that or why would you alter a winning formula?
Jessica: Because it’s fun. No, I could. Because you are actually the highest-grossing merchant that we’ve had on this show since we started interviewing merchants. So you have a point. Even if we’re not offering a new different pricing formula with every product that we’re talking about and even though we’re talking about fish scaling brushes and kitty litter mats, you made more with one product than a lot of our merchants do with their whole store and you made more with your one store than any merchant that I’ve sat next to and talked to.
So your formula definitely does work. I’ll stop complaining. Speaking of that winning product, we’re going to get to it, but first, there is product number four that we should talk about.
4. USB Port
Jessica: Well, Chris just when I thought we couldn’t get any more boring, you’re recommending a USB port.
Chris: I am indeed, yes.
Jessica: Okay, I can’t even make a funny joke to introduce the product here. Why don’t you just dive in and tell us why you recommend this USB port?
Opportunities to Upsell in an Online General Store
Chris: Well firstly, it solves a problem because laptops usually only come with one port. So what this does is it extends your port capabilities up to four. So you can place it into your laptop, you can have your phone charging, and you can have a USB stick. But what it also does, it allows you to create upsell offers.
Jessica: Oh, okay. So, we were just talking about emails and how maybe returning customers are a bit of an issue for an online general store. But this is an interesting new angle. Tell me more about upsells.
Chris: So upsells are basically a way to increase your profit margin. If you have a product you’re trying to sell, when a customer comes to your store and clicks the add to cart button, you would offer them products that go with the product you’re trying to sell.
So, in instance with this product, what you can order with it, is you can order a USB fan and a USB lamp that stick in the top. So then you could have a desk fan or a desk light, as well as having all these other ports free to charge your phones, put your USB sticks in, and anything you want.
Jessica: Okay, so then if you’re advertising this product, would you advertise the USB port and the fan would be the upsell or do you advertise the fan and then the additional port is the upsell?
Chris: No, I would advertise this USB adaptor here, and then there would be no advertising for the upsells. It would be just when they click the add to cart button, using that within the store, it would then show them the other products, the fan, and the USB, ask if they wanna complete their order by adding these products to their cart, and if they do, then obviously your margin is increasing on the order.
Jessica: So do you use Shopify apps for your upsells?
Chris: I do, yeah.
Jessica: Okay, let’s hop into Shopify and I’d love for you to show me what apps that you recommend for upsells like this. Okay. So, we’re in Shopify. I’ll go to Apps, and I’ll go to visit the Shopify App Store. Should I just search upsell or is there a particular brand you recommend?
Chris: You could search upsell, yeah.
Jessica: Upsell. Okay, lots. About 197 results.
Chris: So the one that I like to use is a discounted upsell.
Chris: So, what this allows you to do, it allows you to basically offer products but then offer them a discount to buy those products.
Jessica: I see.
Chris: So you could see here. If they had… With this, they could add this extra sneak to their store and get it for a 50 percent off… So, you could offer the USB fan or the USB light, and offer them, say, 10 percent off or 15 percent off those two products to add them to their order.
Jessica: I see, okay, really cool. Chris, for our last couple of products, you’ve been talking about how well Facebook videos perform in selling the product. This product doesn’t have a lot of motion going onto it like the drill brush for example. So would you still create a video or would you just have a static image of the product?
Chris: I would still create a video. I’d start it off with somebody struggling with a USB port, obviously, everyone has an issue no matter which side you put the USB stick on, you can never get it in there. And then, I’d also show them obviously trying to plug another USB stick in but they have no more ports, and that would be the start of the video to show that problem of not having enough options to charge your devices or use USB sticks.
Jessica: Okay, so once again, you are super focused on the problem that this product sells.
Chris: Yeah, definitely that is the main point. If you can solve a problem for the customer, then they’re gonna buy that product.
Pricing Tips and Tricks
Jessica: So now I’m on the product page for this product that you’re recommending, and I’m going to put your tried and true formula to the test. Let’s see if I can do the math on my own.
So, we’ve got a product that’s about $4.30. Let’s call it $4, so I don’t have to deal with cents. And then ePacket shipping is $3.87, so let’s call that $4 as well. So this is about an $8 product. I want to sell it for $24, why don’t we say $24.99, just to sweeten it up, is that right?
Chris: $24.95, that’s what I do it for.
Chris: I prefer 95 over 99.
Chris: Personal preference.
Jessica: Oh, okay.
Chris: That’s pretty much it.
Jessica: I wasn’t sure if you had run some cool experiment and saw that that performed better.
Chris: No, I just prefer the luck of a 95 cents rather than 99. So, that’s the only reason I run a 95.
Jessica: Okay. Well, I’m gonna charge mine at 99 just to see what happens. Really cool. Okay, everyone’s been waiting for this. We’ve taken them through four great product suggestions and also given them tips along the way.
But of course, they want to know what is the product that made you 140,000 pounds, about 180,000 US dollars in your online general store. Are we ready to show it to them?
Chris: We are, yes.
Jessica: Let’s do it.
5. Cycling Glasses
Jessica: Okay, I’m getting deja vu, because the last time I was wearing glasses on a video like this, it was Scott Hilse and these were golf ball-finding glasses. Did you make money selling golf ball-finding glasses too?
Chris: No, those are cycling glasses.
Jessica: Okay, but what’s so special about cycling glasses?
Chris: It’s not so much the cycling glasses themselves, it’s what they come with.
Chris: So within here, there is an inner frame, which you can take to your opticians and get your prescription added to. So this allows people who need glasses to ride their bike to basically clip this into the frame and it allows them to ride and be able to see where they’re going without having to mess around with glasses on their faces and then putting cycling glasses over that. So this solves a massive problem for people who need to wear glasses.
Jessica: Wow, okay. So this didn’t make you six figures. This little piece did.
Chris: But it isn’t just this. They also come with five other lenses. So, these are your polarized lenses and it also comes with five, or four more lenses for different light levels. So you have all these different styles. So, depending on what time of the year it is, what kind of light it is outside, you can basically mix and match these lenses to suit your needs.
Jessica: Yeah. That’s actually a lot of components in one product. Did you know, when you were browsing AliExpress, what this product would look like or did you order test orders and kind of figure it out?
Chris: No, I didn’t order any test orders. I just literally created an ad for it, sent it out there, and let the product go from the supplier.
Jessica: That is not the answer that I wanted from you. We usually tell people to order test orders so you always know what you’re getting into. But you’re an example that sometimes you can get really lucky and get a great product off of AliExpress in this case. And it looks really high-quality, even though you didn’t check that first yourself.
Chris: Yeah, it wasn’t so much a guess. I did a lot of due diligence on the supplier. I looked at the reviews. I looked at their product reviews. I looked at the feedback that they get. I sent them a message just to make sure that they responded well. And all that was done before I actually put this up for sale.
Jessica: Oh, okay. Can we pop into AliExpress real quick and you just point out exactly what you look at in the supplier profile so people can get an idea for that?
Chris: Yeah, definitely.
Checking for Reliable Suppliers
Jessica: Here we are on the product page for this exact product. Say I’m interested in selling it but I’m not sure about the supplier. What would be your first few steps to check up on this?
Chris: So the first thing I wanna look at is obviously the rating of the product itself. So this… And you want anything over a 4.5, even probably higher than that. Over a 4.8 is probably where you’d wanna be looking at. Obviously this has almost 4,000 votes and most of them are five stars, which straight away gives you a good idea that it’s a good product.
But I’m also interested in the supplier. So as you can see here, this supplier is classed as a top brand on AliExpress, so they’ve been around for a while. They give very good service. And as you can see on the detailed seller ratings here, they’re getting 4.8s, 4.7s across “item as described”, “communication”, “shipping speed”. And that basically tells this is a good supplier and it’s a good product.
Jessica: Yeah, as you were saying, they’ve been around for a while, since August 2013. That is quite a long time to be on AliExpress.
Chris: It is, definitely. Yeah.
Jessica: So like I did with the past couple of products, I wanna know how you found this winning product.
Chris: This was actually my friend’s recommendation.
Jessica: Oh, so you didn’t find it.
Chris: I didn’t actually find this product. No, it was a recommendation from one of my friends. He came around to my house one day and I was just scrolling through the cycling page of AliExpress, just having a nose.
Now I’m not into cycling. It’s not one of my passions. But he’s really into it. He really loves cycling. So because he knew about cycling itself, I said to him, “Oh, what would you buy? What would you be interested in? What works for you?” And he pointed out these glasses.
So that’s where it all came from. And then I started doing some more research on it and I realized that it fit my criteria for what I was looking for, especially with the… Solving a problem with the inner frame. So that’s basically where it came from.
Jessica: Wow, okay. So that’s a real argument for talking to your friends and asking them what’s tough in their day-to-day lives.
Chris: Yeah. Yes. Speak to people that know more about something you’re looking at than you do. They’re the best people to speak to.
You might not be interested in something, but they might have a massive pain point with it. Ask them what would solve their problem and see if there’s something out there.
Jessica: I’m gonna take a wild guess and guess that you used a Facebook ad targeted at a broad audience when you first started advertising this product. Am I right?
Chris: No, I didn’t actually.
Jessica: Oh, okay.
Chris: No, no, I didn’t. I targeted cycling specifically. So I grouped a number of different cycling magazines together and I targeted them because I wanted people who were very specifically into cycling. Because there are gonna be a lot of people out there that aren’t into cycling, but there are a lot of people that are into cycling.
So I wanted just to take away the people who weren’t interested in it, ’cause that’s just wasting money, and focused on people who are interested in cycling specifically. But it was still quite a broad audience, and then I still collected the data from that to allow me to do the lookalike audiences.
Jessica: I see. Okay. So, breaking your own rule a little bit.
Chris: A little bit. Rules are there to be broken, right?
Jessica: Right. Do you usually dropship to the United States?
Chris: I sell worldwide.
Chris: I sell wherever the purchases are coming from, kind of thing. So I don’t necessarily pick a particular country. I just go and I narrow it down to the countries that are working.
Jessica: Okay, I thought so. I thought that might be the answer. I’ll continue with my pricing math. So $12, free shipping. So I would think that this would be about $36.
Chris: Roughly. Yeah, I’m selling it at 29.95 pounds, so 29.95. So, yeah, about that price. Yeah.
Jessica: For all the different lenses you get and the insert and the problem that it solves, that seems entirely fair.
Chris: It’s also good because cycling glasses out there from branded companies are very expensive and the number of people that have commented on the ad saying these are worth it just because they break so many of their own cycling glasses that people want something that has a cheaper price point than the $200, $300 cycling glasses that are out there.
Figuring out Your Break-Even Point
Jessica: Chris, it’s been so cool talking to you about all of these products and why you would sell them, and you obviously speak from a place of authority. So I wanna ask you one more question before I let you go. What is one thing that you think is critical for all new dropshippers to know?
Chris: Without a doubt, your break-even point. You need to figure out at what point you stop becoming profitable.
So your break-even point is basically the price you’re selling your product for minus the cost and the shipping of that product.
If you can work that out… If you spend more than that on your Facebook ads, then you’re now in a loss and it’s time just to cut that ad set out and move on to your next ad set. And that’s just the way to continuously stay profitable day after day after day.
Jessica: Again, not a glamorous formula, but it works.
Chris: It works, yeah.
Jessica: Chris, thank you so much for joining us today and sharing your experience of setting up an online general store.
Chris: No problem.
Jessica: If you would like to learn more from Chris, make sure that you check out his website. Thanks and until next time, learn often, market better…
Chris: And sell more.