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"The Art of Finding Winning Products"
It was in the first few weeks of quarantine when Jean and her team noticed something peculiar happening in their community. Instagram feeds were full of puppies, newly adopted cats and dogs, and an explosion of cuteness all around.
They soon discovered that the pet shelters in their city were achieving the highest levels of adoption ever, with furry friends finding new homes every day.
The new-norm of remote work and increased time at home had finally solved the one hurdle people encounter when they want to get a pet: The Time.
People were discovering the joys and pains of loving a pet and dealing with a new normal that involved shedding, potty training, and lots of walks.
Jean and her team had an idea. They all worked together at Hypewell, an eCommerce ad agency where they’ve scaled clients across verticals using high-return advertising strategies.
They got together and decided that it would be cool to start a passion project: something that intersected between their love for marketing and advertising, and their entrepreneurial spirit. But most importantly, their love for pets.
With the demand for pet products at an all-time high, the vision was clear: To start a dropshipping business that provided a go-to store for new pet households and pet lovers all around.
In their first month of operating, they made a sale on their first day and managed to generate USD$60,000 in their first month. Pretty impressive right?
We reached out and asked them to share their story, their methods, how they managed to build a high converting eCommerce website and got customers to come back again and again.
We asked them all the questions a new or seasoned entrepreneur may have, and now, we’re ready to share it with you.
Jean and her team noticed that they didn’t know of a single place outside of major brands where they could purchase great pet toys and accessories online.
With the quarantine making buying in-store pet accessories unsafe, they decided that they could make an online store that fulfilled all the holes the industry was lacking.
“As dog owners ourselves, we have also struggled with finding a really solid online source to get products we love. With that being said, we decided to launch our first dropshipping store and have had a ton of fun doing it!"
Since the surge was originating in the USA, they decided they needed fast shipping and high-quality products that their customers in the US would find appealing.
They decided to use Spocket to get instant access to dropshipping suppliers in the USA, and globally. With their Unicorn Plan, they had the freedom to focus on premium products and focus on the heavy-hitting best sellers.
With the demand for a sturdy and trusted source of pet accessories increasing exponentially, they decided to seize the opportunity.
Many entrepreneurs struggle with finding the perfect niche.
Like most successful dropshippers, Jean and her team decided on a niche that they already had knowledge of, and cared about. Since they all had dogs at home, they chose the pet niche.
This gave them insight and an advantage in their target market, mainly because they were in it themselves. They knew the pain points and the things people were looking for, as well as the generic products to avoid.
Mixed with consumer trends and the happenings around them, they knew that the pet niche was going to yield results and longevity.
Loving your pets and getting them toys and accessories will always be an evergreen topic. Based on the Google trend for “dog collars” there has been a spike in searches since March 2020, higher than the 5 years before it.
As for the name, it needed to be simple, direct, and flexible in the long term.
“We wanted a store name that immediately conveyed that we offer pet products, but did not want to limit ourselves by making it strictly dog focused, in the event that the store was a success.”
They also decided to add a community oriented focus to their online store name so that they could build a community of pet lovers, along with trust and engagement amongst their customers.
Since Jean and her team started their online business as a passion project within Hypewell, they were accustomed to building websites that had high conversion as well as a dynamic that matched their client’s brand.
From their perspective, they were looking for something that was:
“We actually built the entire store 100% from scratch internally and wanted to make the website feel extremely social friendly and fun, which led us to playing with color schemes that conveyed a light-hearted and feel-good vibe.”
Having a store that matched their mission and brand was critical to building a trusting relationship with website visitors, and a major component in conversion.
For their research, they conducted an analysis of all of their competitors and made sure that they took notes on what they could do better, and how their dropshipping business could compete in the market.
Everyone can get stuck in the minutiae of making everything look and feel perfect. But the important thing is to launch, and improve as time goes on:
As they said themselves: “Try to launch without having to be perfect. You can always improve over time."
Jean and her team at Hypewell were very strategic and organized in terms of planning their spending and budgeting for growth. They asked themselves the following questions:
For starting out, they suggested $1000/year to get the store ready, with products, and other software to automate the conversion process.
For advertisements on Social media: such as Facebook and Instagram, they suggested a more aggressive budgeting of $2,000-3,000 a month to start, and create a healthy presence on social media and the market.
Of course, all of these numbers vary depending on the budget that works for you. Every entrepreneur finds a way to budget that works for them.
People forget that dropshipping is not a get rich quick scheme. It’s a small business idea, and it needs grit and hard work to be successful.
The importance of choosing winning products is an art that needs hard work, time, and consistent improvement.
Jean and her team found their winning dropshipping products products by first filtering for dropshipping suppliers in the USA and then using their unicorn plan to access and sell premium dropshipping products.
“After vetting multiple dropshipping apps within the pet industry, we decided Spocket had the greatest range of pet products that we thought would sell well for our strategy.”
From there, they chose high-quality images and product descriptions that resonated with their audience. The importance of choosing viral products is so critical, that their top three products accounted for 70% of their volume, and the rest was either random or upsells from the original product.
Naturally, they would pivot their ad spending towards these three trending products and use upsell strategies for the rest.
“After upgrading our Spocket plan to the Unicorn plan, we first set filters to only show us products that would be shipped from the US, ensuring fast delivery time, and then focusing first on “Premium Products” to ensure we were acquiring high-quality products from the start. After exhausting the catalog of “Premium Products”, we then opened up our search to non-premium products, and filled the rest of our store.”
As another important note: Imagery and high-quality photographs were pivotal to successful advertisements on social media. People need an image that makes them personally connect and click on your ad.
Conclusively, the importance of fast shipping is no longer a luxury, but a matter of survival.
Choosing amazing products with fast shipping and impulse purchase power is a competitive advantage that dropshippers need to adapt to in order to be successful.
Although Jean and her team were well versed in advertising, We asked them what someone with little to no experience can take from their case study, and what they can do to capitalize on every dollar of their marketing spend.
They started off with the importance of creating a buyer persona. They already knew what their target audience was, and having a crystal clear idea of your audience is incredibly important.
They are dog owners themselves, and they know how to reach other dog owners.
They started off with Facebook ads, Google Ads, and email marketing. They also used Pinterest to acquire new leads by connecting their store directly to their images and account.
“We launched with a combination of Facebook, Google Ads, and email marketing.”
They test each segment of their target audience, and from there they choose the successful ones that result in sales. The rest are lessons on which segment is the most prone to conversion.
The importance of failing and learning from mistakes is something they don’t take lightly. Every bit of data that is collected through Facebook, Google, and emails are golden nuggets that can be used to move in the right direction.
It’s important to note that It usually takes 4+ ad exposures to get someone to convert. So even if the ads didn’t yield anything in the beginning, they could be bringing you closer to that tipping point that leads to a sale.
“Our marketing strategy hasn’t really changed since we started but has more so been optimized towards winning products and audiences that we continually tested since day 1. As our store began getting traction, we then started implementing modern-day SEO strategies to drive organic traffic to our website.”
SEO optimization from a description and Alt text perspective is imperative to gaining traction organically and in the long term.
Through Google Keyword Planner and Google trends, you can float to the top of the search page without having to consistently pay for it. Something that requires work in the beginning, but gives you lasting results in the future.
For example: Optimizing for a “leather dog collar” gives you ideas on what you can use for your titles, descriptions, and categories! Something you don’t want to skip out on.
There’s always a question that goes hand in hand with marketing efforts and extensive research into winning products:
On their first day!
After many weeks of preparation and investment, Jean and her team heard that first “ding” from their phone on the same day they launched.
Many lessons are learned at the beginning of an eCommerce business venture, and everyone has a few nuggets that are unique to their experience. From Jean and her team’s experience, they noted the following important tips to enhance the shopping experience for their customers:
Search capability relies heavily on updated descriptions, titles, and tags on all products, and although it's a lot of work initially, it gives your customers a clear result on what they can purchase from you.
A seamless user experience void of pop-ups, messages, and large banners makes the shopping experience that much easier.
We’ve all encountered the online store popup, banner, then messenger bot that all bombard us when we simply wanted to take a look at the products.
Make it simple and easy to get to the checkout with as few clicks as possible.
Another method of building trust is having a social proofing mechanism that lets your customers know that people are purchasing certain trending products, through a small tile at the bottom left corner.
This reassures people that you’re legitimate, and other people trust you enough to buy from you.
Setting goals is pivotal to actually attaining them. A close second is measuring them accurately and using this information to deep dive into improvement and possible inefficiencies.
Jean and her team set the goal to earn $2 for every $1 they spend. They used this model for pricing on their dropshipping website and ensuring that they’re on the right track with each product they sell online.
Another question they asked themselves was: How many customers do you want out of your budget?
They concluded that they wanted their customers to purchase over $30 per order, and managed to average out on $34 an order.
In their first month of operation, they managed to acquire 1800 new customers.
Set a budget based on how many customers you want to gain out of your budget.
If you don’t meet the numbers, take a look at Google Analytics and Shopify to see what’s happening and how you can improve.
Although Shopify has an automatic abandoned cart integration, Jean and her team found that Klaviyo gave them the flexibility they needed to create their own flow based on their customer base.
First, they outlined their user journey and created an abandoned cart email flow from beginning to end. This automation saved them time, effort, money, and most importantly: increased their conversion rate.
As a final note: Email automation needs constant improvement as well.
A/B testing as well as constantly improving your email flow based on lessons in successful conversions are critical to a successful campaign.
As always, failure and constant improvement are an important part of consistent (and successful) growth
“We really wanted to convey a playful vibe that tapped into current events, which is why our tagline is a comedic reference to a viral Netflix show, which became super popular during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Jean and her team knew that relevancy and a light-hearted vibe would go far during hard times, and mixing in a reference that most quarantine-ers could understand made it all the better.
Their store has pastel colors, adorable pet photography, and an easy to navigate product flow that makes shopping for pet accessories fun and exciting. Everyone is looking for a good laugh when stuck at home!
It’s no secret that automation is key.
We asked Jean and her team to share some helpful apps that save time, money, and effort, all while helping you convert. Here are their suggestions:
Building automations is critical to running a successful dropshipping business, and having the right tools to do so is easy and worth the investment.
As future goals, Jean and her team hope to be a fast-growing US-based pet product store that becomes a go-to for pet owners. They’ve also decided to focus on verticals such as cats - in order to appeal to more pet owners.
They’ve also begun partnering with local non-profit organizations in LA, and give back to communities and animal shelters. This initiative not only connects them to their community, but it also gives back to the very cause that they’re supporting: Getting a pet, and keeping them (and ourselves) happy.
“We want to continue growing our customer base within the pet niche while expanding to other pet verticals that our customers would be interested - cats are next! We also have begun developing partnerships with local non-profit organizations we love here in Los Angeles, and want to give back to the community and animals that these organizations support!”
Lastly, we asked them what advice they could give to entrepreneurs starting out on their journey.
Like any small business venture, it’s not easy. It takes perseverance and patience, as well as a true passion for entrepreneurship. Without further Ado, we let them say it better for themselves:
“We know that starting a dropshipping business is sometimes really tough because there’s almost an infinite number of ways to go about it.
We would recommend for new entrepreneurs to really focus on niches and products that they know and love, which is ultimately going to help ensure that you stay focused, motivated, and of course - deliver a high quality offering to customers that they can’t ignore. Staying vigilant on consumer trends and behaviours is also super important, and was a huge crux for when we launched this store.
Being curious about new technology and learning from others who have experienced success is invaluable, and is something that we’ve done through our experience in working with our agency clients across all verticals.”
So, there you have it. Another case study that outlines the importance of picking a niche you love, committing to consistent improvement, automation, and the fearlessness in failing only to fuel you forward.
Getting started is easy and it starts with a free sign up to Spocket. With a free trial and some elbow grease, you can take the world of eCommerce on and use your own unique perspective to really target that niche that resonates with you. We’re here to support you with 24/7 customer service, and a team that’s bent on seeing you succeed.
Enina is an avid writer with a passion for eCommerce, technology, and self-made stories. Her work revolves around inspiring others to take the leap Into entrepreneurship and sharing stories on doing so.