XO’s 2018 Guide to Dropshipping the Right Products

Posted on January 30, 2018

Success in any eCommerce store – and especially with dropshipping – means only selling the right products. While these can vary from merchant to merchant, all of them need to build a product list that works.

Don’t panic – this is Dropshipping 101.

Lots of eCommerce merchants start out in the business thinking it must be easy.  Most of them either give up, or they learn quickly that it’s not quite as easy as they thought.

Some of them waste a lot of time trying to sell everything. Others focus to narrowly and then go broke by not offering more of the stuff they could actually make money on. Admittedly, this second category of seller is far more unusual.

The article below is diding into a first section that will help you to brainstorm for some of the items you ought to be selling, and the second part will focus on using free online tools to eliminate all of those items that are never really going to make you any money. Generating good dropshipping ideas is hard enough. Knowing which of them you can really run with is the actual “hard part.”

 

Brainstorming

Money is good, but think beyond the dough.

Most people start an eCommerce with a good idea where or how they want to go. That’s a lot better position to be in than to simply think “I want to make money.” Hobbies, passions and the identifying principles of yourself, that is, the things important enough to you to be “identifying of you” are all always good places to start.

Write them down. Even exhaustively.

Write down every idea for all the things you might like to sell and don’t eliminate any “bad” ideas. Not yet, anyway.

Scour the Competition

Spend a little time researching the competition.

Mastering the way any of your competitors are selling is one of the first and best ways to learn not just “what is being sold,” but also how it’s being sold. You need to get good at it.

Best selling lists are incredibly important, but digging deeper often means setting yourself up on a number of good email lists. The competition is more than happy to sign you up, but you should probably be clicking through on all of those emails too.

Oberlo’s List of What to Sell Online is a constantly updated reminder, and usually a pretty good read too. Very few other online sources have Oberlo’s perspective on dropshipping, specifically, and on eCommerce more generally.

Make sure you take specific notice of the items that interest you, and that you feel you could really get behind. Keep them on your list. That list should be getting pretty long, even pretty quickly.

 

 Social Shopping makes it easy to see what merchants are selling

The problem is, the specific products available on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and on websites dedicated simply to shopping like Wanelo and Polyvore among others quickly exceed 100 million different products. You can’t sell that many. But sorting them by what’s trending, and what’s popular, you should again start to see some few that you could believe in.

Again, get involved, (and sign up). Even if your email starts to look like it’s too much every day, at least at first, it’s important to read them.

Refining Your List: Part 2

As your unedited list grows, you’ve got to consider how many products you can probably manage. That number might be more than you think, but, at the same time, an inordinate list is obviously not going to do you much good. Let’s bring it down to the size it ought to be, and still keep it realistically profitable.

Import dozens – even hundreds – of products that are currently trending is easy. But let’s try matching them up with the stuff on your list.

Figuring out exactly what you should be able to sell is a little tricky but with a good marketing campaign and some know-how on your site, your products should begin to move. Some items in your store should actually be able to draw traffic all on their own, and those are what we will look for first. Once they are established, then we can look at using them to sell similar and related products as your product list develops.

 

Understanding Your Niche

Understanding your potential customers is key.

While niche marketing offers just tons and tons of opportunities, it’s important to understand your own niche (that is, your customers) exceptionally well. If you think your products alone will define them, then you’ve got a lot to learn.

In general, it’s simply easier to sell less expensive items and the more expensive they are, the more online and telephone support people need. That’s just a general rule, and a predictable expense.

There will be an ideal price range where you are making money and where you are dealing with the least possible customer service strain. This will vary considerably depending on your niche, and the products you are selling to them.

But, already, you’ve spotted your first filter. Your ideal product list will include only products which fall within this acceptable price range. Most dropshipping eCommerce merchants will place it somewhere between $40 and $200. Over $200, and you’re looking at considerably more online help and slower conversion times. Less than $40 and you are probably not making enough money to pay for the marketing. We’ve gone into some detail about why you must get your operating expenses to fall entirely within your marketing ROI as soon as possible, here.

But judging by price is just the first way to get your product list under control and to get yourself selling more.

 

One of the reasons we do marketing is because it’s vital to the online sales experience. It’s not as if marketing is extra to products that would and should sell themselves, as so many people still believe. With that in mind, we’re going to look now at how the channels you use are going to affect the products selected for your eCommerce store.

 

Using Products from Google Trends

Google Adwords is an expensive option. But it can and will lead to strong sales if you do it properly. One way to ease yourself into it without losing your shirt is to use Google Trends. Simply search each of the the products on your list and determine the degree to which any of them have trended over the past year. You can often be discouraged earlyon because it seems like nothing will really show more than a minor blip in trending. But experienced sellers will understand that even a minor trend can make an individual item profitable.

You can do very similar research using Google Adwords Keyword Tool from your Google Adwords account.

Adwords Keyword Tool

By now hopefully we narrowed your list of potential product down. Searching for them with the Google Keywords Analysis tool can take a considerable amount of time if your list is still long.

The point is really to examine which of the keywords associated with your products are really competitive. Can you afford to buy the keywords? And if you do, is there enough search volume to justify trying to sell those products? Can you expect enough sales to justify the expense of buying the ads?

The thing you’re looking for is low competition keywords with relatively high average monthly searches. You might expect to sell to about 2% of those searches, and that level of profitability will determine whether or not a product remains on your product list.

Using Google Trends you can do almost the same thing. Hopefully by now your product list is pretty short and you can start imagining a budget that might be dedicated to selling these products.

Search volume is the main thing you can look at in Google Trends, and should help you to determine if your keywords (those associated with specific products) really belong in your store.

Less than 500 monthly searches means you are really going to have an uphill battle to sell anything. If you’re not planning on budgeting a lot for Google Adwords, which is nearly always advisable for those just starting out, then you are only really selling low-competition but hopefully high-search-volume products.

That could quickly bring your list down to almost nothing!

But, as you get better and better using Google Adwords to really sell, you’ll see that you can increasingly afford to sell higher and higher competition items. At this point, your list doesn’t need to exclude all high competition keywords and products.

Competition:

By avoiding the high competition, you are now able to see your real competition much better. In fact, by checking out what the other merchants are selling – in addition to your remaining list of items – you may actually begin to augment your list again. But first, get onto the mailing lists of everyone else selling the items you’re thinking of selling. Look closely at what they send you. Notice thier pricing strategies and the traffic and social mentions and likes they’re picking up.

Hopefully they aren’t just demolishing your list, because at this point you can really be selling.

Get your products up on your site, and start giving it a real push.

Filed under: Blog

Tagged with: Dropshipping Tips, Oberlo, Shopify, WooCommerce

About James

James is a technology and marketing writer with 20 years experience in advertising, media relations, and eCommerce. His articles have appeared in numerous publications around the web.

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