12 First Sale Stories to Inspire You [BONUS: Infographic]

So you’ve finally taken the plunge.

You’ve started your own ecommerce store.

You’ve spent hours deciding on what to sell, finding reliable suppliers and setting up your store.  

And now it’s time to make sales.

But let’s be honest, this is the hardest part.

“Build it, and they will come,” might sound great on paper, but in the ecommerce world it’s not that straightforward.

Getting to that first sale requires a solid dose of hustle and creativity.

And for every entrepreneur, getting there is a little different.

But what does the journey to the first sale really look like?

To answer that question, I spoke to twelve ecommerce and dropshipping entrepreneurs about the stories behind their first sales.

They share what it felt like the moment of their first sale, as well as their winning marketing channel and strategy.

They spill on the embarrassing mistakes they made on the way, and share their advice for anyone still trying to make it happen.  

BONUS: We surveyed a group of dropshipping entrepreneurs on Facebook to find out about their first sale. Want to know what we learned? Check out the infographic at the end of the post.

ran moore dropshipping first sale stories

The Moment

After suffering a heart attack last year in April 2017, I had to find another way of earning money while working from home.  

I started my ecommerce business in November of the same year. At first, I had a few different men’s fashion products, but they didn’t sell. Then I came across this leather coat that I felt captured the perfect look for my store. I added it to my store, spent time writing my own product description, and posted it to a men’s Facebook Group.  

Next thing I know, I’m sitting at home and a notification popped up. I checked it and practically leaped from my chair in shock. I had made my first sale! It took me two weeks after opening to make my first sale.

The Advice

The key to my first sale was persistence. If it doesn’t work at first, try and try again. I think it’s very important to write your own product descriptions, it helps with SEO.

My advice for anyone starting out is just to keep trying! Never give up. There’s always room for improvement and success.

Tin Ho, Dropshipping Entrepreneur

tin ho dropshipping first sale stories

The Moment

It was seven days after my launching my store, and I remember being in my room and hearing a ka-ching sound. It was the sound of my Shopify app going off, telling me I had my first sale! It was exciting because I felt that all the late nights and hard work had finally paid off. It solidified my belief in ecommerce and the dropshipping model even more.

The Process

The sale came from Facebook ads, where I was testing several different products at the time. Out of the 10 products I was testing, only two of them sold. I believe that the key to getting the sale was that I tested so many different products rather than putting all my eggs in one basket by putting all my money into one product.

The Advice

My advice to other people that are looking into ecommerce and dropshipping is don’t give up if your first couple of products don’t sell. It may feel like you are spending a lot of money but keep doing your research and keep testing different products. You will eventually find a winning product that sells. All it takes is one winning product. Once I found my first winning product I was able to scale it to make back all the money I invested in testing, and make some profit. Also, remember that you are building a business and in most businesses, you have to invest a lot of money before you see a return. The great thing about dropshipping is that you do not have to spend thousands of dollars to start and buy inventory to sell, but like any other business you still have to invest.

zoe abel dropshipping first sale stories

The Lead Up

This is actually my fourth Shopify store. I had a store selling face cream, another selling cosmetics, and I opened my third to be an online store to support my brick-and-mortar store. We sold clothing mostly from other brands. I added a few of my designs, and they actually sold better than anything. I realized I was trying to do too much and I wasn’t really passionate about anything I was selling except my own designs, so I sold the first three and opened a fourth store, marigoldshadows.com.

The Moment

I had the store set up for a few weeks before I got my first sale. I took my time building it and didn’t advertise it for a while. I was at the cashier at the car wash and heard a ka-ching sound. I looked at the cashier thinking it was her and she looked at me, then I saw my phone and realized it was the Shopify app!

zoe abel quote dropshipping first sale storiesI had spent about $150 with Facebook to get my first sale for $50, which definitely isn’t profitable. Fortunately, it’s gotten so much better. I’ve had to silence the Shopify ka-ching alert!

The Advice

I think the key to getting your first sale or any sale is to learn who your target customer is, it’s not always who you think they might be.

You’ll also find the most success when you sell something you’re genuinely interested in. When I started selling my owns designs that I really liked, running a store felt less like work and sales came faster.

Kobe Gatsby, Dropshipping entrepreneur

kobe gatsby dropshipping first sale stories

The Moment

My first sale was unexpected. I had built two stores already and was starting to re-evaluate my process, wondering if I was going doing this right. The ad went out at 3pm and the results were typical; little traffic, a few comments, $0 sales. Later that afternoon I wrote it off as another trash ad. Then an unfamiliar ka-ching sound went off. And then another. It was $60 in sales in two minutes.

The Advice

The best way to get your first sales are through Instagram influencers or basically any traffic source other than Facebook directly. Instagram influencers allow you to use common sense and target a niche of people who are passionate about what you are selling. You’ll get proof of concept and make a little money too if you do it right. The entire purpose of this is to get that pixel data and move to Facebook ads, which are the holy grail. From there it’s relatively smooth sailing.

Tim Vangsness, Dropshipping Entrepreneur

tim vangsness dropshipping first sale stories

The Moment

When I got my first sale, it was the greatest feeling! I had just spent that night setting up my store, and I had the app on my phone set up so it would give off an alert when I got a sale. I had some ads running, and as I was drifting to sleep I remember thinking, “I can’t wait to check it in the morning!”

Just as I was falling asleep, I heard the notification on my phone go off. I don’t know what happened, but it must have just been a massive rush of adrenaline, and excitement, my heart started smashing in my chest almost to the point where it hurt! I checked my phone and it was a $9.50 sale, haha. But then I couldn’t sleep, and I was straight back onto the website adding more to it. I was up all night that night.

The Process

The sale came pretty quickly because I had a good source of traffic, so I was probably getting a few hundred views to the website per day. That traffic took a while to build up, it was probably six months of developing the website to get that traffic. But as soon as I changed the products in the store and starting running ads it happened pretty quickly, probably within four hours.

In the end, I had to turn the Shopify notifications off because every time it rang my heart just beat too fast!

James Holt, Dropshipping Entrepreneur james holt dropshipping first sale stories

The Lead Up

My first two Shopify stores never made a sale. I was listening to the wrong advice and frankly, half-assing it and expecting to make money. Only once I took the time to learn from real experts, invest in an existing store and do Instagram shoutouts (instead of messing around with Facebook ads) did I made my first sale.

It took a little time, but once that first sale came, it wasn’t just one sale – the sales notifications on my phone started going off like crazy!

I still remember that I was sitting at my desk, where I was supposed to be studying for a high school exam, but I couldn’t take my eyes off my phone as it kept lighting up with sales notifications.

The Advice

Since then, my advice to everyone is to start with Instagram influencers instead of Facebook ads. Transitioning later is easy once you have the data for a lookalike audience. Regardless of how often I give this advice, most people ignore it. Oh, well. More money for those who listen!

ronnie mckenzie dropshipping first sale stories

The Moment

I think I’d just launched a set of ads on Facebook within the last hour, and I was still launching a slew of other ads. That sale literally came about so quick I was lucky to catch it. I hadn’t even downloaded the Shopify app yet!

The sale came from a pair of sneakers I felt particularly confident about. I made that first sale within the first $2 of ad spend! Those sneakers went on to be the best seller on the store, and I had sold over $300,000 in a few months before selling my store.

I was super excited to have that initial confidence boost, and it put fuel on the fire to keep me going. I barely slept for the next five months while trying to build my store into a juggernaut.

The Advice

For someone starting out I would suggest 95% of your effort should be on finding those killer products. Bad ads will sell good products, great ads won’t sell bad products. Once our store is set up and super professional, the effort is on product research. There are so many other keys factors that need to be taken into account to make it sustainable, however once you get the sales popping it’s much easier to bring in the systems to really make the store work.

ronnie mckenzie quote dropshipping first sale storiesScott Hilse, “One-Product” Dropshipper

scott hilse dropshipping first sale stories

The Moment

In my first store, I had a few sales but it ultimately failed. When I got my first sale in the store that really took off I remember I was driving Uber in LA at the time. I looked at my phone and I had two notifications – I had a passenger to pick up, and I had my first sale!

It was pretty fast for me, it only took me two days to get that first sale, and it came through Facebook advertising.

The Advice

I think the key for me was that I kept it simple. I changed my whole approach by focusing on selling one thing first, not many things at once. As the saying goes, “The man who chases two rabbits gets none.”

Get the full story behind Scott’s success here.

ashwini yellow twig dropshipping first sale stories

The Moment

My first official sale was from my family (thanks!), but my first sale from a customer happened about two months after I launched my store.

I was getting into bed for the night. Before I go to bed I usually look up my site for a few minutes to check how things are going. I saw a pop up I had installed saying someone had bought an item a few minutes ago! I was so excited and opened up my Shopify account and saw that there indeed was a sale! It was from a customer that I had met at the farmer’s market where we had a stall the previous weekend.

The Process

I had already spent a decent amount of money on Facebook Ads and Google AdWords, but I was still learning to get them right. I had been getting site visits but no sales. Getting out there and promoting it in person gave me credibility and helps people trust that it’s not a fake site. I also got a lot of feedback that made me go back and fix my navigation, so that helped the site work better. There’s really nothing like having a face to face conversation!

Nate Schmidt, Dropshipping Entrepreneur

nate schmidt dropshipping first sale stories

The Moment

I remember I was sitting at my desk (where I was 99% of the time back then) when I got my first sale. It was only $7, but I’m not sure if I’ve felt a better feeling in my life. First thing I did was call my parents and ask them to meet me for dinner so I could convince them to let me take a semester off college.

It took about two weeks from when I opened the store to when I get my first sale, which came from Facebook ads. Honestly, I think a lot of it was luck because I barely made any sales on that store after that (it failed). The good news is that the next one I started took off like you wouldn’t believe!

The Advice

My advice for others is that your first store will almost undoubtedly fail. But it’s a learning process. You have to fail forward and learn from every mistake. Take what you learn and try again and again until you find something that works!

Karolis Rimkus, Side-Hustling Entrepreneur

karolis rimkus dropshipping first sale stories

The Moment

When I first started my running clothing store, I wasn’t sure which products would work. I was going through runners’ forums with my personal profile, reading people’s concerns about their bad running shorts or terrible headbands. I would offer suggestions on what to improve and slide in links to my products here and there. That’s where the first sale came from, and it took me a couple of months to get there.

The Lesson Learned

The first sale actually came from the Netherlands, and no one bought anything from there ever since! I was also a total noob, and didn’t know how to set up my payments properly. They paid through Shopify Payments, which were unavailable in my country, and so Shopify refunded them the whole amount in a week. But that still counts as a sale, right?!

Read more about how Karolis used his side hustle to finance an eight-month trip around the world.

Yuliya Chernykhovskaya, Successful Dropshipper

karolis dropshipping first sale stories

The Moment

I remember that for our first sale I was terrified because it was a bigger order. Plus everything went wrong. Her order got delayed, then it arrived broken. Then I tried to give her a gift card to make it better, and the gift card wasn’t working. But luckily, as soon as that first sale happened I got a lot more that went smoothly.

The Process

For that first sale, it took us about two weeks and came from Facebook ads. I spent way too much money on ads for the first two months, and didn’t profit much at all because of that. But I think that helped a lot in figuring out what didn’t work quickly.  

The Lesson Learned

I was very trigger happy with my ads at the beginning. If I woke up the next day and saw that an ad did really well, I’d massively raise the budget. And then if the next day I saw that it did badly and I’d completely kill the budget. And so with the Facebook algorithm that doesn’t really work so well. Now we give it at least three to seven days to really gauge the performance of an ad before we kill it or scale it.

Read more about Yuliya and her partner Mike’s journey to ecommerce success in our interview.

Take the Next Step

Every entrepreneur’s journey is different, and persistence pays off. Whether it took them four hours or two months, every one of these business owners made it to their first sale.

So don’t be discouraged. Everything you try will teach you something new and get you a little closer to your goals.

And if you’re struggling for ideas of what to try next, we’ve got a book for that. Check out our free ebook 50 Ways to Get Sales With Dropshipping.


We surveyed a bunch of entrepreneurs at various stages in their journey about how they got their first sale.

Here’s what we found out.

your first dropshipping sale infographic

The Ultimate Guide to AliExpress Dropshipping

If you’ve been thinking about learning how to dropship with AliExpress then you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re just starting out with ecommerce or are a seasoned veteran looking switch up your business model, we’ve created the ultimate guide to both AliExpress dropshipping and AliExpress premium shipping. Read it, and you’ll be one step closer to achieving dropshipping success.

If any of you have doubts that you can create a successful ecommerce business with AliExpress dropshipping, I will change your mind in this dropshipping guide. 

Without further delay, this is the ultimate guide to AliExpress dropshipping.

Post Contents

The Ultimate Guide to Dropshipping

If you’re looking to become an ecommerce entrepreneur, dropshipping is the easiest way for you to start your online business. As you do your research you’ll likely come across AliExpress dropshipping, in particular, and for a few good reasons:

  • It doesn’t require much capital. In fact, I wrote a guide on how to start an ecommerce business with $0.00.
  • You don’t need a physical store. Since we’re talking about ecommerce here, you can run a successful AliExpress dropshipping business from anywhere in the world. As a digital nomad, you’ll be able to travel the world, while making sure you have no regrets. With dropshipping, you also don’t even have to stock any of the inventory yourself.
  • Everything you need to learn is available for free online. You can use the vast number of articles, videos, and other educational material to learn on the go and achieve ecommerce success.

In this post, we’ll make sure to cover all major aspects of dropshipping.

AliExpress Dropshipping: Why You Should Try It

Let’s say you’ve decided you want to start an ecommerce store. What are your next steps? Most entrepreneurs try to come up with a product idea, look for suppliers, pay for the products and get them into your real-world store. Then, once you receive your merchandise, you’ll try hard to sell them.

The problem is you don’t really know what will sell well or if you will be able to sell the product at all. There’s a lot of risk involved in this traditional business model.

Here’s an example:

  • Elena buys 100 units of a particular product line, paying $1,000 for them.
  • She only sells 10 products and brings in $200 in sales.
  • Elena quickly realizes that nobody likes her products and decides to close her store.
  • She experiences a loss of over $800.

In the above scenario, Elena invested $1,000 to open her store, but quickly realized the product line she decided to sell is not popular or at least that she simply doesn’t know where to find the right people who would be interested in that product. She only makes $200 in sales and is forced to close her store with an $800 loss.

Alternatively, if she had tried dropshipping, she would have made $100 in profit in spite of failing to pick the right products at first. Here’s an illustration of this scenario:

  • Elena uses dropshipping, so she doesn’t buy products in advance;
  • She only manages to sell 10 products and brings in $200 in sales;
  • Elena orders the products from her suppliers and has them shipped directly to her customers;
  • She quickly realize that nobody likes these products and decides to try a different niche or product instead;
  • Elena is still happy because she just made $100 in profit.

That’s how two very similar situations can bring very different results, with the key difference being dropshipping. Of course, if everything went well, she would have made $1,000 in profit in the first scenario. But don’t forget that people often overestimate their ability to create a successful ecommerce business, especially if it’s their first time. If you believe in numbers, more than 50% of Shopify store-owners never receive a single order at all.

So here’s the beauty of dropshipping. You don’t have to buy a product before selling it, so you don’t spend your precious budget on stocking inventory.

You don’t even have to take our word for it that this system really works at little risk to you. You can read more about ecommerce entrepreneurs who use AliExpress dropshipping successfully here: The Huffington Post, The Next Web, Forbes.

How to Dropship With AliExpress

AliExpress dropshipping is one of the most popular marketplaces for ecommerce entrepreneurs using the dropshipping business model. You can import the product content and images from AliExpress.com directly to your store, choosing from millions of different items right at your fingertips. You’ll also have the freedom to set your prices and markups. The best part is that after you sell a product, you purchase it from a supplier on AliExpress and then have it shipped directly from their warehouse to your customer. AliExpress dropshipping is simple, easy, and low risk for new ecommerce entrepreneurs.

While we’ve already covered many of the benefits of dropshipping with AliExpress, this process can still be a bit difficult to grasp. So, before we go on, let’s explore how it works step by step. To utilize AliExpress dropshipping, first you’ll set up your online store using a platform such a Shopify. Once you have your store set up, you’re ready to start importing products from the AliExpress Marketplace. Using an app like Oberlo can help streamline and sync your imports from AliExpress with your Shopify storefront by notifying you of any inventory or price changes from your supplier, and it can aid you in sending tracking codes to your customers once their orders have been dispatched. When a customer places an order with your store, you’ll then go to your supplier and order that exact same item to be shipped directly to them. The infographic below offers a good visual representation of how AliExpress dropshipping works.

AliExpress dropshipping

FAQs About AliExpress Dropshipping

Now that this dropshipping guide has helped you understand the basics of AliExpress dropshipping, you might still have unanswered questions. After all, dropshipping isn’t a traditional way of doing ecommerce, and there are additional steps involved in the process.

I work at Oberlo, a software app that helps ecommerce entrepreneurs automate their AliExpress dropshipping businesses. We receive hundreds of questions from budding ecommerce entrepreneurs every day. Here are the three most frequently asked questions we receive, along with the answers.

For a full list, check out this article.

Will My Customers Know If the Products Are Dropshipped From AliExpress?

Unlike other marketplaces (Amazon, eBay, Etsy), AliExpress has a very unique infrastructure that is most conducive to dropshipping. I’ve talked with dozens of suppliers using AliExpress. They all dropship, so you’ll find many suppliers who are reliable and familiar with this business model and their role in it.

Thousands of new merchants sign up with Oberlo every month, demonstrating the growing popularity and feasibility of dropshipping. While it can be a leap of faith to put your order fulfillment in the hands of suppliers, rest assured that there are rarely any promotions or invoices in the packages your customers receive. You can even tell your supplier not to include any of these materials to be on the safe side. In addition, you can even arrange for custom packaging and the AliExpress premium shipping known as ePacket. Do keep in mind that the packages your customer receives will have Chinese shipping labels.

Why Should Someone Buy From Me If They Can Buy the Same Product From AliExpress Cheaper?

This is an easy one: because you can do it better! You might be a superior marketer who reaches potential customers first. Also, you might create a more trustworthy brand that people feel safer buying from. In addition, you may also provide extra services or content that builds a relationship with your customer. Remember that the concept of merchants buying products from suppliers for lower prices and stocking them in their stores long predates dropshipping itself. Most stores in your own community likely do the same.

Regarding dropshipping, choose your battles wisely. There are strategies that are more likely to set you apart from competition than others. For one, don’t try to compete on price you will never be the cheapest. Especially with lower-priced products (<$100), the price is not the determining factor at all.

Look at the same product on several popular websites such as Milanoo.com, LightInTheBox.com, DHgate, and AliExpress. These companies are all multi-million dollar businesses. Are these companies price competitive? No. Are they out of business? No! Instead, focus on your marketing strategies and building an awesome brand.

AliExpress dropshipping

AliExpress Shipping Takes Too Long, My Customers Won’t Wait. What Can I Do About It?

That’s just an assumption on your part, and I strongly suggest you test it. You’ll find that many customers are fine with waiting as long as you make the shipping times apparent on your site so that they know what to expect. While as mentioned above, you shouldn’t look to compete in terms of pricing, it is likely that you’ll be able to offer customers a pretty good deal on products sourced from AliExpress dropshipping even with a markup. People are willing to wait if it means attaining a discount.

Alibaba made over $17.7 billion in sales in one day. Customers of other businesses listed in the price comparison example don’t seem to be concerned with long delivery terms either.

As an ecommerce entrepreneur, your task is to establish clear expectations, define your shipping policy, and display it in the relevant areas of your online store. Seeing that information, some people might leave your site, but you’ll be surprised how many people really don’t care about that.

Another way to mitigate any distaste among customers over long shipping times is to offer free shipping on all of your products. Often, this alone will indicate to them that it’ll likely take a little longer to receive their product. You can account for the shipping costs in your product markups.

Moreover, with the AliExpress premium shipping ePacket delivery option, it takes only 7-14 days for most shipments to reach the US, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and multiple other countries with bustling economies. We strongly recommend opting for ePacket whenever possible. It’s the perfect shipping option to help you achieve ecommerce success and higher customer satisfaction when you’re dropshipping from AliExpress!

How to Select Trustworthy AliExpress Suppliers

With AliExpress dropshipping, you can easily lose control over the customer experience because you never see the product since it’s shipped directly from your supplier’s warehouse to your customer.

If you’re trying to provide top-notch customer service, which is a must, dropshipping could become a liability. Although AliExpress as a marketplace handles improper suppliers as best as it can, we still suggest being very careful when selecting your dropshipping suppliers.

Here are some top tips from our dropshipping guide on how to select the best suppliers:

Don’t Always Go for the Lowest Price

Here’s an example of how the AliExpress dropshipping marketplace works:

A supplier called Original Hoodies starts selling a high-quality product named “blue hoodie” at $40. Then, another supplier named Competitive Hoodies manufactures the same hoodie but reduces its price to $15 by adding more polyester instead of cotton.

When a merchant such as yourself searches for a blue hoodie, he sees two that look the same, but one is selling for a lower price. In most cases, the merchant will pick the cheaper one. The first supplier, Original Hoodies, becomes unhappy with her sales and also replaces her “blue hoodie” cotton materials with polyester and reduces the price to stay competitive.

While opting for the lowest priced product might seem like the obvious choice, it’s key to remember that this kind of competition can cause the quality of marketplace products to go down. Suppliers try to be price competitive, and each product usually has a number of very similar variations, often at artificially reduced prices.

In short, the price on AliExpress.com goes down with the quality. If you’re trying to create a successful ecommerce business, then you’ll need to research and compare the prices offered from different suppliers. If a number of sellers have similar prices on the same product, but one supplier has a significantly lower price, this usually indicates that they have compromised on the quality of the product.

Here’s a guide that will help you decide what price is right for your products.

AliExpress dropshipping

Buy From Suppliers That Have 95% and Higher Positive Feedback

A way to generally assess an AliExpress dropshipping supplier is through their positive feedback ratings. The rating systems for products and sellers are extremely important to every marketplace. Imagine you’re walking through a flea market, and someone shouts that the guy in next booth is a scammer. Would you buy from him? Probably not.

The same applies to the virtual AliExpress marketplace. Listen to what other merchants say about each supplier, and learn from that feedback. Essentially, look for the highest-rated suppliers in order to identify the most reliable ones.

Find the feedback ratings by navigating to a given supplier page on AliExpress.com and clicking on the feedback tab. The scores listed here are broken down as follows. The Feedback Score indicates the seller’s sales volume, while Positive Feedback represents the feedback rate the supplier has received. When you’re sourcing products for your store, you should always aim for a 95% or higher in positive feedback and at least a 2,000 feedback score. Also, don’t forget to look at customer picture reviews.


Be Careful With Branded Products

Known luxury brands on AliExpress.com are very rare. You can’t even search for Versace or Chanel products because these search keywords are blocked. If you notice a copyright infringement or a counterfeit item being sold on AliExpress, you should report it here. This could include items that are questionably similar in design to well-known brands or that include logos resembling those of more established ones.

However, it’s also important to note that not all branded products are fake. AliExpress often organises partnership promotions with brands such as Lenovo as well as others. Just remember to exercise caution, and use your best judgment on this in order to avoid any problems.

AliExpress dropshipping

Pay Attention to the Responsiveness of the Supplier

To test this, you can even make up an urgent issue and message a supplier about it to see how he or she responds. Things to take note of include the supplier’s response time and his or her command of English, along with the supplier’s ability to understand your problem and provide you with clear information. If he or she just responds with a generic, meaningless message, you can cross that supplier off your list.

After all, chances are good that at some point, you’ll have a real situation like the one you made up, and you’ll want to know your supplier will handle it correctly. When you’re trying to create a successful ecommerce business with AliExpress dropshipping, your suppliers are essential, so always choose wisely.

AliExpress dropshipping

Look for ePacket Delivery (The Aliexpress Premium Shipping Option)

The delivery time associated with AliExpress dropshipping is a sensitive topic, especially for new ecommerce entrepreneurs. It is true that this is a common hurdle that most dropshipping ecommerce entrepreneurs must figure out how to deal with. To do so, start by always keeping your eye out for AliExpress dropshipping suppliers that can offer the best delivery options possible for your ecommerce store.

As it is strikes the best balance between cheapness and speediness, ePacket, also known as AliExpress Premium Shipping, is ideal. With ePacket, delivery takes around 14 business days door-to-door and includes a tracking code, which your customers can use to check for the location of their order.

AliExpress dropshipping

Pro Tip: Oberlo’s Free Chrome Extension offers a handy feature to identify products with the ePacket delivery option.

How to Dropship With Aliexpress: Order Samples

If you’re trying to achieve ecommerce success, then you may want to make sure that all of your products are as described online by ordering samples for yourself. While this may seem like a perfectly logical ideal, I don’t recommend doing it. If you’re importing 100+ products into your store it isn’t cost-effective to order each and every one of them to check for quality.

Instead, only order samples of products that you’re going to use in your advertising campaigns. Let’s say you have two or three items on which you are currently offering the best deals. You know they’re great, so you plan to use them in your Facebook or Instagram Ads to attract many visitors to your store. Order samples of these ones for sure. Savvy ecommerce entrepreneurs would order samples of these products to ensure that they are of the highest quality. If your top selling products are of great quality it will speak volumes about your store, and you’ll be more likely to gain some valuable social proof.

AliExpress dropshipping

Since you’re only ordering a few items, pick the Express Delivery option and receive them within a few days.

How to Pick the Right Product to Sell

Picking the right products is a key aspect of understanding how to dropship with AliExpress. One article is definitely not enough to answer this question. We created this useful guide to selecting products for your dropshipping business to get you started.

In the midst of all these in-depth materials, however, my approach is very simple. I try to generate a huge list of product ideas and then cross out the ones that aren’t worth testing. Once that’s done, I’m left with a few winners to use in my ads, and then I add some other related products to my store to give it a large enough selection that it looks natural.

Generating Product Ideas

Here are the top three sources I consult for finding product ideas:

  • Whether or not you realize it, your mind is already filled with great product ideas. Think about your own hobbies, products you like, and the trends you observe around you. Take some time to brainstorm, and write down everything that you can think of. At this stage in the process don’t worry so much about whether you think a product will be a bestseller or not. Just add it to your list for now.
  • Also, be sure to check out other stores for inspiration. Glance through their offerings, best selling lists, and promoted products. The big online retail sites have tons of data to draw from, and they typically employ entire departments of people dedicated to picking their products and organizing sales. Use this information to your benefit as well. The following links are worth checking out on a regular basis: AliExpress Most Popular Products (Weekly), Amazon Best Sellers, Ebay Daily Deals, Lazada Top Sellers, LightInTheBox Top Sellers List.
  • Third, don’t underestimate the power of social shopping sites such Pinterest, Polyvore, Fancy, and Wanelo. These platforms feature hundreds of millions of different products. This might not be the first place you think to look for product ideas, but they are very valuable as social media in general becomes a more dynamic part of our lives. To get the most out of using these sites, create an account on each and subscribe to categories and lists of interest and keep an eye on trending product feeds. See if you can decide what people like the most and then add these items to your list.

Dropshipping Guide to Filtering Product Ideas

When you’re satisfied with the length of your product list, it’s time to refine it down so it only contains the very best ideas.

  • Look for niche products that are not as readily available on mainstream ecommerce sites or in stores. This will help ensure that you create a successful ecommerce business with products that actually in demand. For instance, even if there is no specific market to pinpoint for selling a regular belt, you can easily draw the conclusion that cycling gear will be of interest among cycling enthusiasts. Find your niche!
  • There are a few different product categories that have grown to large proportions in the few years. Odds are a mixture of large scale marketplaces and smaller shops have already seized the opportunity to sell these products. To avoid markets that are already saturated, cross off the following categories from your idea list: jewelry, books, clothing, and electronics. At this stage in the ecommerce game, you’ll need to be more specific in order to find a lucrative niche.
  • Now, let’s talk product pricing. In my experience, the sweet spot for a price is between $40 to $60 (with a 200% markup). I arrived at this price range based on the fact that the lower the price, the better the conversion rate. Simultaneously, the higher the price, the more customer support you will be expected to offer.
  • Scan through your product ideas and enter each one as well as variations on its name into the Google Keywords Analysis tool. Select ‘Keyword Ideas,’ and check how many searches each Low Competition Keyword receives. When using Google Adwords or search engine optimization (SEO), though I personally suggest advertising with Facebook and Instagram, avoid product categories that have little or no search traffic. The key is striking the right balance between keyword competition and search traffic. Here’s a helpful guide for using Google’s Keyword Planner
  • Next, go to trends.google.com, search each of your product ideas, and look at the trends. Is the trend increasing or decreasing? Are there any other patterns worth noting? Where are the spikes occurring? Cross out products whose trends are fading as well as seasonal items.

After crossing off any ideas that don’t prove to be worth testing, you’ll be left with a few potential winners. Now it’s time to open a store, and try them out! We’re sure that you’ll find success, especially after reading our guide to AliExpress dropshipping.

A Few Product Ideas I Like

Phone Grips

AliExpress dropshipping - phone gripsWe all know how fragile the screens of our precious smartphones typically are. Therefore, it’s not surprising that phone grips are currently catching on like wildfire in the world of ecommerce. According to trends, it’s a good time to incorporate these into your store’s inventory.

Magnetic Eyelashes

AliExpress dropshipping - magnetic eyelashesThere’s no product like magnetic eyelashes to serve as a reminder that we live in exciting times! Who knows what they will think up next? This item is very in right now, and lots of people are searching the web in order to buy a set or two of their own.

Fitness Bras and Leggings

AliExpress dropshipping - how to dropship from aliexpress

Fitness activities and clothing associated with them are both trendy areas to explore as you come up with product ideas. Thanks to new technologies that make sports more social, there is a massive social impact from Instagram and apps like Endomondo or Nike+. It’s a strong business idea for ecommerce entrepreneurs.

MEGIR Watches

AliExpress dropshipping

A top watch brand available via AliExpress dropshipping offers affordable watches with a look of luxury, and they are well received all over the world. You can find a number of great reviews on Youtube and Instagram to prove the quality.

If you’re looking for other ideas on what to sell, it might help to look here.

At this point of the dropshipping guide, you now have the basics for understanding how to dropship with AliExpress, along with tried and true strategies for selecting products. This, however, isn’t the full story. There is one missing piece we have yet to consider.

The Key to Using AliExpress Successfully

I work at Oberlo, the company who created the aforementioned dropshipping automation app. Before launching Oberlo, my brother and I were running a standard dropshipping business and managed all our orders through email. Needless to say, it was tedious! Weary of communicating with dozens of different suppliers, we wondered why we didn’t just add products to our online store directly from the AliExpress marketplace. All the suppliers we were in contact with sold their products there anyway, and we could avoid all the hassle related to email communication, orders getting lost between Excel files, and not having any way of ensuring our suppliers would fulfill the orders.

So, we started adding items to our story directly from AliExpress and were immediately impressed with the results. We soon had 2–3 full-time employees manually placing orders on AliExpress, but even after making this change, things still didn’t feel quite as efficient as they could be. It was extremely time consuming, and we had problems with selling products that turned out to be out of stock.

My colleague was a developer, and we discussed how we could try building a tool to automate the AliExpress dropshipping method to eliminate some of the common errors and tedium associated with it. We had a working prototype within a few weeks of that discussion, and once we began using it, everything started falling into place.

Fast forward a few months, and we sold the successful ecommerce business to our partners in China, which left us with the tool that made the business possible. We launched it publicly in October, 2015 and now we call it Oberlo.

We’re extremely happy to have helped thousands of entrepreneurs sell over 2,000,000 products through AliExpress dropshipping since then.

That’s pretty much how AliExpress dropshipping got started. Oberlo is an invaluable partner in your ecommerce journey because it was built by people like you in order to power ecommerce businesses like yours.

If you plan on using AliExpress dropshipping as part of your business model, we strongly recommend giving Oberlo a try. The app helps you to add hundreds of products to your store, and ship your orders with just a few clicks. In addition, you can track your order delivery information with ease. On top of those great features you also get full support from our experienced customer success managers.

What Is Oberlo? 

Oberlo is a marketplace that makes it easy to find awesome products to sell online.

With Oberlo you can access a huge variety of different products with just a few clicks. Whether it’s fashion, electronics, toys, beauty, or the next trending product – Oberlo makes it easy for you to find products from suppliers all over the world and instantly add them to your own online store.

Once you’ve made a sale your supplier will ship the products from their warehouse straight to your customer’s doorstep – you’ll never need to worry about storing, packaging, or shipping your products. Instead, you can focus on the things which really matter – growing your brand and making sales.

With Oberlo, it costs nothing to add products to your store – you can select the forever free plan to start dropshipping today.

Try Oberlo for Free >>

What Products Can I Find on Oberlo?

Oberlo gives you access to a huge variety of products from three different types of suppliers: Oberlo Verified suppliers, Oberlo suppliers, and AliExpress suppliers.

Oberlo Verified

With Oberlo Verified, you’ll never need to worry about finding exceptional suppliers – we’ve already picked them out for you. These top-performing suppliers on our marketplace have been providing the highest quality service for our merchants over a sustained period.

What Is the Benefit of Choosing Oberlo Over AliExpress Suppliers?

AliExpress suppliers offer a huge catalogue of products that you can import to your store.

However, AliExpress is an independent platform with independent suppliers, so we haven’t checked through their operations and we can’t ensure high performance levels from their suppliers.

This also means that you won’t be able to take advantage of automated one-click order shipping, or any of the other benefits that come with Oberlo Verified suppliers and Oberlo suppliers. Some of these benefits include fast support, dispute rates that are lower than 2%, guaranteed unbranded parcels (so you don’t need to individually tell every supplier that you’re dropshipping), warehouses checked by Oberlo, and many more benefits that you can check out here

Want to Learn More?

Is there anything else you’d like to know more about and wish was included in this article? Let us know in the comments below!

Facebook Algorithm Changes: What Marketers Need to Know

Few things inspire more chewed fingernails and cold sweats among ecommerce marketers than Facebook algorithm changes. When Zuck & Co. whisper those dreaded words – algorithm changes – it catches the attention of every business that uses Facebook.

And in 2018, just about every business uses Facebook. Which is why you get headlines like, “Facebook’s Algorithm Is Apocalyptic for Brands.”

Apocalyptic? Well, that seems a bit strong, but Facebook algorithm definitely matters. After all, Facebook sets the rules of engagement for reaching your customers (and potential customers) on the biggest social media platform in the world. So we need to know what’s going on with that algorithm.

This post will go over exactly that. First, we’ll look at Facebook algorithm changes in 2018. Then we’ll identify common themes that emerge in lots of Facebook algorithm changes, and go over tips for how to survive new and future changes.

Post Contents

What is a Facebook Algorithm Change?

A Facebook algorithm change refers to a change in the News Feed algorithm. That’s the queen bee algorithm controlling who sees your content and ads in their News Feeds.

True, Facebook is fueled by god-knows-how-many algorithms. Algorithms for finding friends, playing games, and attending nearby events. But when marketers say “Facebook algorithm changes,” they are talking about the News Feed algorithm.

It’s the News Feed algorithm, more than all the others, that dictates how much noise you can make on Facebook. So for our purposes, a Facebook algorithm change is a change that Facebook makes to the visibility of your content in the News Feed.

The Big Facebook Algorithm Change in 2018

The most recent Facebook algorithm change that made marketers shudder came in January, when CEO Mark Zuckerberg penned a lengthy Facebook status update explaining that content from friends and family – not businesses and brands – would populate users’ News Feeds. In other words, posts from your business page will be pushed aside. From Zuckerberg:

The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups….

You’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see… should encourage meaningful interactions between people.

Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s Head of News Feed, gave some more details in the Facebook Newsroom:

Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.

So, it’s easy to see why this Facebook algorithm change has spooked ecommerce marketers and store owners. Facebook is very clearly saying that the content you build around your store will probably be seen less. Your reach will drop, and it will drop not because of anything you did, but because Facebook wants it to.

That Facebook content strategy you worked so hard to create and execute? It’s still relevant. Just not as relevant as it was in December.

What the Facebook Algorithm Change Announcements Don’t Say

We can get so worried by these Facebook announcements that we forget to look at what’s not said. And with the 2018 changes, it’s vital to remember what isn’t there.

For starters, everything is framed around “content” and “posts.”

Recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments…

You’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media…

We’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses…

Sure, it’s a shame that your carefully crafted content will have a harder time cracking into people’s feeds. But even if this Facebook algorithm change puts a dent in your organic reach, you can still use Facebook ads. Ads are the lifeblood of Facebook, and neither Zuckerberg nor Mosseri use the words ads or advertisements once.

Users might see a post about Grandma’s new car instead of your flash sale announcement. But Grandma won’t be replacing your ads.

There is speculation that a decrease in business’ organic reach will cause ad prices to spike. And that makes sense: If everyone starts relying on ads, the demand will go way up. (According to one theory, the Facebook algorithm has been tweaked specifically to drive up ad prices.)

Even so, don’t get caught up in doomsday scenarios about what this Facebook algorithm change means for your ability to reach your target groups. It’s just that instead of spending a few hours creating engaging copy and images, you might have to spend a few hours (and a few hundred bucks) creating ads.

The New Facebook Algorithm Change Isn’t New

Another aspect of this Facebook algorithm change that often goes unmentioned: Facebook has been heading in this direction for years.

For example, after a 2014 algorithm change, Facebook said, “People told us they wanted to see more stories from friends and Pages they care about, and less promotional content.”

In a 2016 press release, Facebook said, “That’s why today, we’re announcing an upcoming change to News Feed ranking to help make sure you don’t miss stories from your friends.”

Fast forward to 2018, when Facebook said, “The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups.”

That’s how you can get nearly identical headlines two years apart:

2016: Facebook’s algorithm update will prioritize posts from friends over news organizations

2018: Facebook will now show you more posts from friends and family than news

In other words, featuring content from friends and family has been a Facebook talking point for years. Evidenced by these ongoing changes to the Facebook algorithm, Facebook is apparently still trying to find the right balance. But the point is, Facebook has long wanted the content in users’ News Feeds to come primarily from friends and family. Not from your ecommerce store.

How many times will Facebook announce algorithm changes about prioritizing content from friends and family before it finally, permanently, successfully prioritizes content from friends and family? Who knows. But one day these threats about clearing brand content from the News Feed will come to life, and you need to be ready when marketers’ organic reach is put on life support.

So, What Should I Do About These Facebook Algorithm Changes?

Facebook algorithm changes won’t go away any time soon. Facebook is going to keep tweaking what users see, and if history is any indication, those tweaks will continue to make it harder for brands, businesses, and companies to reach people organically inside their News Feeds.

So, what does that mean for you and your business? Here are some things to keep in mind.

Place a premium on interaction

Check out how 😍 Zuckerberg is about interaction in his announcement:

Clearly Facebook will be placing a premium on interactions, so you can expect to be rewarded if you post stuff that generates comments and inspires people to tag their friends.

Of course, right before this Facebook algorithm change launched, Facebook announced that it was actively fighting “engagement bait.” You know, those posts that say, “Tag 5 friends and get registered for our giveaway!” So the interactions you generate should be legit.

Launch a fundraiser

Facebook is trying to reshape its image. That means less content from companies, sure, but also more transparency. Fewer dodgy apps. Better data protection. Less content from Burmese military officials.

And finally: More charity fundraising.

As you may have seen on your last birthday, Facebook now lets you launch a fundraising campaign for your favorite charity. This is exactly the sort of PR-friendly change that Facebook loves – and it’s something that you can leverage to get visibility for your brand.

Wait, don’t brand visibility and charity contradict? No!

Facebook has expanded its launch-a-fundraiser function for brands like yours: “Pages – including those run by brands, public figures, and nonprofits themselves – can now create and donate to fundraisers.”

Ecommerce shops from across the web tap into social responsibility as a way to simultaneously help a good cause and make customers feel good by helping that cause. If you want content to get in front of people, this is one type of non-paid post that Facebook seems to love.

Play with Audience Optimization

Facebook wants engagement? Let’s give it to them.

There’s a cool feature that Facebook does a really good job of hiding: Audience Optimization. Audience Optimization lets you set the same sort of targeting rules for your organic posts as you’d use for your ads. As Facebook explains, you can “target your posts in News Feed to audiences most likely to engage with your content (e.g., based on interest). Also allows you to restrict who can see your post in News Feed based on audience age or location.”

So if you have content that you think would be most relevant for a certain segment, you can use this feature to hit that segment. This will drive up your engagement rate, which will show Facebook that people in your target group like this post, which will get the post seen more.

To launch Audience Optimization, go to your Facebook Page settings. In the “General” area, you’ll find “Audience Optimization for Posts.” Go ahead and enable that, and get your engagement on.

Look into “Live” videos

When announcing their recent algorithm changes, Facebook dropped multiple hints about the importance of live video. In fact, they weren’t hints: Facebook said it loud and clear.

According to Zuckerberg, the brand and business content you see “should encourage meaningful interactions between people…. We’ve seen people interact way more around live videos than regular ones.”

As Mosseri put it: “Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed. For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook – in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos.”

Translation: We want interactions, live videos generate interactions, you do the math.

Now, doing video for Facebook Live is easier said than done. But if you want to flatter the Facebook algorithm into showing your content, it appears Facebook will be charmed by video. Just remember:

  • Your videos don’t have to be pristine quality. They shouldn’t be grainy, but people will tolerate less-than-studio quality if the content is engaging.
  • Don’t expect an immediate flood of viewers. Facebook, YouTube, and Google Search, among others, are notoriously fuzzy with details about their algorithms, but it’s conventional wisdom that all of these platforms like frequency: The more content you produce, the more the algorithms like you. That means you have a clear path to increased visibility – produce more videos – but also a built-in disadvantage when you’re just getting started. Tl;dr: be patient.
  • Facebook Live video probably won’t be the magic bullet forever. There is no “final Facebook algorithm change.” Changes will keep coming, and the next one will probably treat video differently than this one. Facebook was “obsessed” with live video back in 2016, then they were less obsessed in 2017, and they seem obsessed again. Who knows – maybe by the time your live video operation is thriving, there will be a Facebook algorithm change that favors VR.

Trust that your ads will continue getting seen – and that they’ll be more expensive

As we discussed earlier, the newest Facebook algorithm change will make it harder to get your organic content into people’s News Feeds. But your ads? Oh, Facebook isn’t hiding your ads.

In fact, a strong argument can be made that this algorithm update will make ads even more important for Facebook. The prices will probably go up, sure, but if Facebook succeeds in generating more engagement – that is, after all, the stated goal – then at least there will be engaged eyeballs on your ads.

Use the new Facebook algorithm as an excuse to diversify your marketing mix

If you were looking for an excuse to mix it up and quit relying so much on Facebook, here you go. Sure, if you’re running an online business, you can’t avoid Facebook. But with every Facebook algorithm change, we are reminded that success on Facebook is a moving target.

That’s why it’s important to make sure your customers can find you on other platforms, too. While Facebook may want to protect its friends-and-family roots, that other Facebook-owned social media platform, Instagram, has no such philosophy. So maybe instead of sending people to your Facebook page, do like online bra store Harper Wilde does and send them over to Insta.

Google doesn’t care about friends and family

Okay, that’s a deceiving headline. Maybe Google does care about family and friends. The point is that Google doesn’t mess around with these “more content from friends and family” algorithm changes that Facebook seems to roll out every 18 months.

Does Google adapt their algorithms? Absolutely. Google’s Panda algorithm, for instance, was designed to remove search results from content farms that were producing searchable but ultimately lame content. The Penguin algorithm, meanwhile, was designed to remove search results from sources that were deemed spammy.

That said, Google will never ice you out in favor of your cousin’s new cat picture. That means SEO can be your friend today, tomorrow, and next year.

Same for AdWords. AdWords does not appear to be subject to the drastic changes that Facebook organic content is. If you plop down your money and create your ads, AdWords will make sure people see it.

Assume that your content won’t get seen as much

As if making noise on Facebook weren’t already hard enough. It’s only going to get harder.

True – even with these Facebook algorithm changes, posts that generate legitimate engagement will continue to pop up in News Feeds. And the hacks that we’ve just gone over will help with that. But generating that engagement in the first place will be harder because you’re working against a built-in bias that Facebook’s algorithms have against your content: You aren’t friends and family.

Facebook Is Still a Business Platform

All this talk of prioritizing friends and family over brands might make you think, “Well, I guess Facebook has transformed into a quasi-philanthropic platform whose mission is to connect people with loved ones.”

Thing again.

Facebook still has bills to pay and shareholders to please. Which means it still has industry-leading business tools that they are more than happy for you to use.

Facebook Pixel: The Facebook Pixel is a snippet of code that lives on your website and lets you leverage Facebook data to run more impactful ads. Basically the Pixel looks at who visits and buys at your store, and then does two things: (1) targets those same users with ads later on, and (2) targets people who are similar to your customers and who, by extension, might also be interested in your store.

Facebook Analytics: Facebook Analytics is a powerful tool for analyzing how people interact with your website, Facebook page, and Facebook content. Contrast Facebook Analytics with Google Analytics, which doesn’t have any idea what is happening on your Facebook page, and it looks all the more powerful.

Facebook Business Manager: The average Facebook user might start to see more heartwarming posts of their new baby cousin, but entrepreneurs out there are still going to have full access to the suite of toys available in Facebook Business Manager. Business manager will remain the place to make ads for Facebook and Instagram, and ads are still how Facebook and Instagram make money. So fear not, Business Manager is still your friend.

Conclusions on Facebook Algorithm Changes

Facebook algorithm changes will never stop. That much seems clear. If we take that as our starting point, here are some things that marketers can trust through past, ongoing, and future changes:

  • Don’t expect a Facebook algorithm change – at least not one announced publicly – that deprioritizes content from friends in favor of content from your store. Period. The trends is always in the direction of friends and family, and away from brands. So assume that the News Feed algorithm will never be as nice to you as it is today.
  • If there’s a silver lining, it’s this: Facebook is making changes to keep users more engaged. Engaged users are more likely to engage with ads. Your ads. It’s not like Facebook is becoming a charity. There will still be ads, and if these Facebook algorithm changes have their intended effect, those ads will be seen by users who enjoying themselves and open to seeing your ads.
  • Facebook algorithm changes are a good reminder that Facebook is not the be all end all of advertising. Facebook is sexy. The user base is ginormous, the Business Manager UX is nice (mostly), there is a proven record of brands gaining traction and driving sales via Facebook. At some point, though, these Facebook algorithm changes might test your patience. And when that happens, remember that Instagram, AdWords, and our old friend SEO will be waiting with open arms.

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