In this second post, I'm going to walk you through filling out your product catalogue, making the menu items, adding navigation and filling out the essential pages. This process was incredibly easy, so easy that future possibilities for branding clothing and on-demand printing started cluttering my brain whilst I was doing it. But I'm getting ahead of myself. The goal here is to make our first sale as fast as possible and then look at purchasing goods for resale and branding them once the store gets established.
After a couple of hours exploring where everything lived, I developed a production line for producing the menu items and collections. You'll need to open four browser windows, and it does help if you have a dual screen setup. Have the following browser windows open:
- 1. The site, so you can see how it looks as you go along.
- 2. The Shopify navigation menu in your chosen theme.
- 3. A window with the Shopify "Collections" available.
- 4. The Oberlo App interface.
The way I built the navigation was to browse a couple of the top sites in Google and see how they had their product categories and navigation setup.
Every navigation item you introduce needs to point to a collection of products, so make the collection first for example "makeup" and then search for your products in Oberlo. Once you've marked all the items you need (I just went for a random ten items, to begin with, to see how it was going to look), then you import them into your collection. Once your collection is populated you switch to the navigation window, create the menu item and point it to the collection you've just created.
Importing Multiple Products
Building A Collection
Collections lie at the heart of the Shopify eCommerce engine, and they are so adaptable that once you understand how the operators work (contains, ends with, does not contain etc.), you'll be building extensive collections rapidly.
When you create a collection, it displays in your eCommerce store as a web page with a gallery of products that you've added to it. Clicking on the product image takes you to the detail page for that item.
There are two types of Collections:
An automated collection uses selection conditions to automatically include matching products. You can define as many selection conditions as you want, and you can also specify whether products must meet all conditions or any condition to be included in the collection. When you add a new product that matches the selection conditions for a collection, it will be automatically added to the collection.
A manual collection includes the products you add. The collection always contains the same products unless you add or remove them.
Change the sort order for the products in a collection
When a collection displays in an online store, the products in that collection display in the sort order that you've selected. Products are sorted alphabetically by default.
You can select from a few sorting options:
- By best selling
- Alphabetically: A-Z
- Alphabetically: Z-A
- By price: Highest to lowest
- By price: Lowest to highest
- By date: Newest to oldest
- By date: Oldest to newest
At this point, I've added just over 130 products to the store to fill it out and get an idea of how it is all going to look.
About eight hours work, and we have a rudimentary drop shipping store in the making:
Once you've got a base set of products from which to work it's time to start filling out all the collection descriptions and adding in images. I used Unsplash.com for all of my images.
This is really where the hard work begins because although adding products is remarkably easy, making sure the product descriptions are accurate and make sense is probably going to be another day's work. When manufacturers add their products into Aliexpress, I'm sure they use a mass uploader, and the product descriptions are just keyword stuffed garbage to try and get their products found on the platform. All of these product descriptions will need to be rewritten.
Dealing With Dropshipping Drawbacks
Dropshipping as a business model is inherently flawed, and I've discussed this at length in this blog post:
However, dropshipping using Shopify and Oberlo poses its own set of unique problems to try and solve.
Delivery Lead Time, Shipping Costs And Product Cost
Three problems to be addressed or our dropshipping site will never get off the ground.
Products shipped from Aliexpress typically state they can take 30 days to arrive (although 8-12 days is more common). In today's economy where supermarkets are now offering same-day delivery, and major brands offer next day delivery, how are we going to convince customers to part with their cash and then wait 30 days (or longer) for their goods to arrive?
First of all, we need to manage the expectations of the customer and make sure they understand the long waiting time and accept it. A good way of playing down the waiting time would be to state "Delivery times from 8-30 days". This isn't a lie, it's within the delivery guidelines, and I think it's far better than just stating delivery times are 30 days flat. Also, some goods are stocked and distributed from Europe, but of course we have no way of knowing which ones they are.
The other fact to make clear is that goods are being shipped from Asia or China and hence that's the reason for the longer delivery lead times. If you are upfront about this from the very beginning, it's going to help a lot in the case of disputes.
The plan should be to import the most popular products in bulk once we have established what the best sellers are to speed up the delivery times and eventually provide brand packaging.
One of the ways to reduce shipping costs is to work with suppliers that offer many products. That way you can consolidate some of your costs.
Browsing Aliexpress can lead to some eye-opening discoveries. Some identical products can be double the cost depending on which supplier you use, so it pays to spend a bit of time researching your products and finding good suppliers. It's not so important to focus on getting the lowest possible cost for your product, with so many different selling platforms available unless you have an exclusive product there will always be someone cheaper than you.
Take a look at this example:
The same product varies in price across platforms ranging from £2.40 on eBay to £9.97 on Amazon prime. For mass produced and everyday products, this is the case across the board. The seller at £2.40 may have bought thousands when the GBP purchased a lot more against the dollar, and they are selling the last few off at cost price to end the line. Or they may be the original manufacturer? With so many different channels to market, fixating on price will get you nowhere. As long as you are in the ballpark, you have a fighting chance.
The key is to be able to get your products in front of the people searching for them.
Next time I'll discuss some of the finer points of website design, setting up terms and conditions and other supplemental pages and I'll be including some templates from which you can use as a basis for your own.