Episode 163 Featuring Joseph Ianni

Christy Liu - Launchers Academy, Dropship Startups And Task Delegation

Christy Liu - Launchers Academy, Dropship Startups And Task Delegation

Our discussion today with Christy Liu of Vancouver's Launchers Academy is a well needed back-to-basics episode of ecomonics, whether you're still looking for an entry point or in need of a refresher course, our episode today will cover all you need to know to start, continue or evolve your dropshipping pursuit. 

Beyond that, we also take some time to discuss the nature of running Launchers Academy, and the vital need to best delegate tasks and responsibilities, a lesson each of us are well to learn.


Christy Liu is the Co-Founder & Website Design, Branding Expert of Launchers Academy, an academy built by dropshippers, for dropshippers. We’re a team of passionate and dedicated dropshippers committed to helping new and aspiring eCommerce entrepreneurs find winning products and launch successful Shopify stores.

Who are you and what do you do

Joseph: So Christy, tell us what you do and what are you up to these days. 

Christy Liu: Yeah. So again, I'm super excited to be here. Um, so I'm Christy, I'm a co-founder of launchers academy, an e-commerce mentorship agency based in Vancouver.

Um, and we help aspiring entrepreneurs globally get started in drop shipping, build a winning store, find winning products and run profitable Facebook ads. Um, and launchers academy is one of the most intimate e-commerce mentorship agencies right now in the industry. Um, and a lot of new e-commerce entrepreneurs really are excited to work with us.

And we also have, you know, regularly great service in terms of our mentorship, a lot of individualized support and always answering a lot of our students' questions, um, in our private community. So, um, it's been a pleasure working with a lot of entrepreneurs, uh, through launches academy and I'm also, um, you know, super passionate about drop shipping and ecommerce.

Dropshipping's place in the e-commerce industry

Joseph: My most consistent I've listeners know, you know, they, they tune into, to, uh, to economics and, you know, they expect an e-commerce podcast and most of the time they get an e-commerce podcasts, but it does branch out into the very nature of the human condition, which I didn't see that I said, I'm doing this.

I'm gonna tell you, but I'm glad that we do. So what I'm looking forward today is to, uh, secret teeth into some, some quality of dropshipping talk. It's great. That drop shipping. It continues to be a, you know, a, a viable strategy. I've had a lot of opinions on the program. We've had some people who shy away from it for one reason or another.

We've had people who are all in. We have people who use it as a starting point, and then they, they usually transitioned depending on how committed they are to the product they, they move onto. Um, uh, other, I don't, I don't want to say like advanced, but I would say like more involved, um, methods where they're more closely, um, interacting with the product.

Maybe get into a point where. And they get, they have their own warehouse and even doing their own manufacturing. So, so, so good on them. They're definitely a lot of ways that it can go. What I would like to actually start with is actually your, you know, your take on drop shipping and we're you feel a drop shipping place that it has in the e-commerce industry right now.

So in 2021 going into 2022 going into, you know black Friday, it's recording this and like just on the cusp of July, but you know, people having the black Friday conversations right now, where do you feel? We're we're where does drop shipping's place in, in the e-commerce. 

Christy Liu: Yeah, that's a great question.

So, um, you know, we get a lot of people asking us that too, because it is one of the myths out there right now that dropshipping is dying. Um, however we believe it's not dying because, you know, drop shipping like any other is like any other business model out there right now. Um, it is a fulfillment model within e-commerce where you don't have to buy or manage inventory, um, especially at the beginning.

And you have suppliers dealing with all that for you. So, um, you know, shipping and managing inventory. So getting started in drop shipping is, um, has low upfront costs, um, and also low barrier to entry. So it's actually a really great model to get started, especially if you're looking to build your own online business.

Um, and how we see dropshipping is it's really, you know, it's part of e-commerce, it's where you're testing out products for. And trying to find a product that really sells before you really dedicate all your time and money into this one particular product that might end up, you know, if you don't test it at the beginning, it might end up being, um, a loser, a losing product, which is a product that doesn't actually make sales.

It's not in demand. Um, so really see it as two parts, right? The first part is, um, using drop shipping as a method of testing these products to find the one that's really going to sell. Um, and then the second part is going into the branding stage where you have this product now that it's making you consistent sales on a daily basis.

And you're able to move into, you know, a one product store that sells just this particular product. Um, you're able to build a bigger brand around it because you know, it's selling and you're able to build a community, build your store around this one product. Um, so it's just been, it's a great model to really test products first, before you dedicate all your time and money into it.

Joseph: My next a follow-up to that. Um, there there's two pillars to it. One is what I know from, from looking into what you and your co-founders have been up to is I do have a great deal of experience in drop shipping. It was a success for you and actually will putting a pin in wanting to hear your story, because I found a new word for that because that word has turned into a struggle.

But what I find from a lot of the people that I talk to is like with drop shipping, they move into, you know, private, private, labeling white labeling manufacturing, but they also move into other. Areas of e-commerce they focus largely on maybe advertising, um, brand building, um, uh, influence and marketing that become a heavy presence on YouTube, where they just turn into an influencer and want other people to have the same success.

There it is that other people have shared, so people will branch off in a number of different ways. What compelled you to commit to drop shipping and be able to provide the service stuff? 

Christy Liu: Yes. I've a bit of background on how I got started here. Um, I'm actually, you know, I have a background in, uh, marketing and design.

Um, I've worked at incorporation. I've worked at startups, uh, as well as, um, agencies and I also co-founded my own strategic design agency along with actually one of our co-founders at Launchers academy, Melissa. Um, so. Uh, we took a lot of clients and we helped a lot of e-commerce clients actually create their branding, um, create their brand strategy, create their websites.

Uh, so it's been really exciting working with e-commerce clients and I've actually, um, haven't had too much experience in e-commerce before, until really last year. Um, so, uh, it's been really interesting e-commerce in general, just having your own product and building a big community around it. Um, creating a brand that's well known.

So, um, that's been one of my goals that I've recently had, and that's what I looked into drop shipping along with Melissa. And we saw that. So there was a lot of potential, um, especially at being, um, you know, low barrier to entry as well as low startup. Uh, for startup costs, um, that was one of, you know, a great model that we wanted to test out.

Um, so we, we actually tried it out ourselves doing it ourselves at first. Um, there's so much inconsistent information out there. So then we, um, you know, we invested in mentorship ourselves and learned from several coaches and we were able to really, you know, within just two and a half months, we were able to reach five figures.

And that was amazing because, you know, when you, when you start a business, it's really hard to really get, um, you know, that revenue, uh, uh, right when you start. So this has been a great model because, um, you know, just following some proven strategies, you're able to get your store up and running, um, test out different products through Facebook ads, and then you're able to find a product that's going to make you consistent sales on a daily basis.

And that's how you can reach five figures within just two months, really. And that's been a amazing journey with dropshipping. 

[00:09:03] Joseph: You know, one, uh, not that there's any shortage of limiting factors, but one limiting factor that even I deal with personally is the concept that my time can actually be worthy of a five figure worthy of six-figure.

And I'm pretty transparent on this. And so, you know, there, there hasn't been an episode where I don't get at least like a little nervous being able to talk to somebody whose time is valuable and identifying that, recognizing that and doing my best to, to make that worth, uh, both of our wild and, and it's, and it's been helpful for me to be in the presence of people whose time has become more, you know, objectively valuable.

Uh, but not everybody gets to host a host this content. So for you, did you encounter any limiting factors in believing your own ability to actually be more financially, uh, valuable, especially in regards to your. 

[00:09:58] Christy Liu: Yeah, I've always, you know, just being, I worked in a nine to five before and, um, I really want it to get that sense where I'm able to make some, you know, passive income on the side, which is what dropshipping was able to provide me because, um, I was making income by just getting sales and the suppliers doing all the fulfillment.

So I don't even have to manage the shipping myself. I don't have to dedicate too much time to it and I can also hire virtual assistants to help me. Um, so that's kind of the model as to how you can run this business further. Um, limiting factors, I would say in terms of, in terms of timing and it was just.

Um, just having a lot of different roles to take on, um, which was really beneficial for me to have a business partner to work with actually. Um, so my co-founder is Jayden and Melissa as well. They have their own specialties. Um, for example, Jayden is an expert also in e-commerce and, um, he's does a lot of advertising as well.

And just everything he's really a big expert on to, um, Melissa is also an expert in advertising and, um, finance. So she manages a lot of the, um, kind of backend of things too, and also the marketing side of things. And, uh, for myself, I was able to focus more on, um, you know, creating a store that's converting and, um, putting together product pages that really sell.

Um, so that's what my main focus was. And I had a big team with me, so I actually recommend, uh, you know, anyone that's looking to start, it's always good to start with a partner as well, because you're able to cover. More responsibilities together and really ensure that the business is moving forward. 

Fundamental roles in their team

Joseph: I think that's a great point.

If there is a way to, I'm about to make up a word, which is fundamentally, um, distill to the, the fundamentals, um, in the same way that the three of you represented three different pillars, but what would you say would be like the fundamental roles for, for our team to play?

I'm going to guess I'm just going to take a shot at myself. You definitely have to have somebody in the marketing, um, and I, you definitely need to have in the backend. So I think front-end back-end are probably the two most essential light, light, dark, uh, start, stop fundamentals. But that's me. I'd like to hear your take on it. 

Christy Liu: Yeah. So for us, we have three people. So, um, we were trying to split up the tasks based on what our strengths are, first of all. So what were the strongest at, and, you know, Jayden, he was, he's actually a serial entrepreneur and he's been in the scene for a long time. So he has a lot of entrepreneurship skills and time management, um, marketing.

So a lot of it, he does more of the planning. Um, so he's more of our CEO. I would, uh, he is the CEO. Um, so he does more of the planning and in terms of the strategy of things. So he does that. And then, uh, Melissa, she, I would say also the role is, you know, finance, you need someone managing all the financials within the business.

And then, uh, she also. You know, when it comes to e-commerce as well, you're always running ads and especially in drop shipping, you have to test all the products upfront. So she also helps on the advertising side of things. Um, so she manages that and she's also, you know, very strong in terms of marketing content.

Um, so she'll be able to review some of the content as well and provide her insights on, and she's also strategic. So she looks at competitors and see how we can market our products better than our competitors. Um, and then for myself, I would say I'm more on the tech side of things. I was able to step back a little in terms of marketing, because I have my partners, Jayden and Melissa managing most of that.

So for myself, uh, the technology side of things, that's also super important, uh, when it comes to running an online business, especially in e-commerce, uh, for example, putting together the website of the store, uh, super important, you need to know. Are the, you know, what strategies to execute when it comes to putting together a store that really converts and make sales.

Um, so that's what I focus on. And then anything in terms of also putting, managing the tools that are able to help us execute processes more smoothly and automate a lot of processes. That's also my responsibility. Um, so I do that and of course, branding as well. Uh, when it comes to putting together a business, you need your logo, you need your brand guidelines with the colors and texts.

Um, you need to understand your target audience and what they're looking for. Um, so that's what I also do in terms of branding side of things. So websites, tech, branding, that's all me. Um, and then for my other two, co-founders more on the strategy and marketing side of things. 

Joseph: And one thing that I think is a key to take away from this is that it's not as, I mean, it's not as simplified as like saying, well, one person's Rockland versus Faber.

One person scissors, what you have is each person has different pillars within their own skillset. And, you know, there's, there's, there's blending, there's, there's crossover there's ways for people to support one another, because let's just say if I don't marketing seat in the well, but somebody else kind of knows it, they can help identify my blind spots and, you know, and keep and keep me grounded.

So I don't get too far ahead of myself. So I think that that's some more, I think, um, honest way to look at it is, you know, each person has their own stack of skills and are, and are working together in a cohesive way. 

Christy Liu: Yeah, exactly. And I mean, The audience here might be running their business on their own, which I also have. We also have students not do it themselves. Um, and honestly, they're just, it's amazing because you have to learn so many things and take on so many responsibilities, but I want to also mention that later on, you can outsource these tasks, um, and also find, you know, hire virtual assistants to help your hire experts to help you.

Um, so it's not overwhelming, definitely is just for us. We were able to start as a team. Um, and of course that's been exciting, uh, journey working with my co-founders and each of us having our own. Areas of expertise and areas that we're passionate about. So, um, but definitely if you were to start yourself, it's definitely doable.

Um, don't be intimidated by all the different responsibilities. You can always find help, you know, as long as you're, you're able to drive yourself forward and stay motivated, um, and really plan out your time and responsibilities. It's definitely doable if you want to get far start your own business. 

Joseph: Yeah. And I would say it's a pretty consistent through line. Whenever I got to speak to, you know, many of the people who have I take it up upon themselves is that most of them to some degree are part of a group, whether it's a, it's a mastermind group on Facebook or it's a community, or they just, they, they there's somebody that they follow on YouTube and they're commenting often and they join the live chats.

Um, a lot of people have mentors. So even though, you know, somebody is no matter how independent somebody is and you and I consider myself an independent, I mean, I just decided I brought the day, there's like 50 people that I rely on that I don't even think about. Like who keeps my power running, who, uh, who's who made my, my, my coffee today, all of that stuff comes up.

So there are, there are limits to, uh, the actual individual. Not to say that I'm against it or anything like that, quite the opposite. But we have to recognize that we all, no matter how independent we think we are, we are always, depending on at least like 50 people to make it through one day to the next.

Origin of Launchers Academy

Joseph: So here's my plan. I have a very specific question that I asked, you know, agencies or services or companies, um, such as, uh, what you're doing. It's um, and then after that, what I also wanted to ask about was case studies. And I think because we've talked about, you know, individual stories, as well as group stories, I'd like to hear, um, examples from both.

So, so that's chamber, but this is one of the, the Ecomonics trademark questions here goes. Um, what was the origin in specific of launchers academy? Um, you know, like what good year it started and when you know, you, you and your group were working together on this, um, w w what would you say was the most, a distinct problem, you're identifying at that year?

Christy Liu: Right, right. Right. So for launchers academy, we actually started last year. So we're quite new. It's been, um, you know, almost a year and it's been amazing. Actually. We've worked with over, you know, uh, over 50 clients already around the world. Um, so it's been a lot of impact that we've made in. Uh, we've had a lot of clients launched their store and set up their business and everything.

Um, and so for us, we actually, again, we started in the drop shipping space. So myself, Jaden and Melissa together, we, uh, started drop shipping together and we were able to find success through that. Um, and then we found that we started going a lot on clubhouse and just sharing, you know, our story and answering questions and being in conversations.

And we noticed that a lot of people on there, or even just in general, they're actually looking to start a business as well, especially during COVID. Um, you know, people are looking to. From what they're currently doing to, into something new. Um, and we wanted to really share our tips and story with everyone.

Um, there's just so much interest. There was a little overwhelming and, uh, we thought, you know, we already, we tested out so many different methods and we worked, we invested in coaching ourselves. Um, and we also were able to come together and put together really proven methods that helped us succeed. And we're also, the three of us are all super passionate about helping others and giving back to the community as well.

So we really wanted to not just keep that knowledge to ourselves and we wanted to teach other people how to do the same, right. Because you know, we are also passionate about gaining financial freedom, uh, putting, getting passive income, um, you know, working together as a team and helping a lot of people around the world.

Um, so that's when we put together, uh, we created launches academy, uh, so that we can. People that are aspiring to become online entrepreneurs. How exactly to do that from A to Z to set up their store, um, to find these running products within dropshipping, um, to run Facebook ads and create ad creatives that are really compelling and saw a lot of that.

Um, you know, it comes together from our experience and our skillsets individually, and we're able to put together an online course, um, as well as our mentorship program that has more personalized support. So we have a private channel where we answer questions daily and provide audits on people's landing pages, um, campaigns before they launch.

So we make sure that everything is set and proper before we actually get them to launch. So, um, there's definitely been a lot of service that people have appreciated and getting feedback and the mentorship that they need to go through the drop shipping journey. Um, so it's been amazing. We've been helping so many people and, uh, Really excited to get started in e-commerce and launched their store.

Auditing landing pages

Joseph: Okay. So one thing that stuck out before I asked you about the case study is, and I guess this kind of transitions into it while we're at it is when you're doing audits of, uh, of landing pages. Um, what do you tend to catch the most as a, this needs to be this needs to be worked on this is a not ideal.

Christy Liu: Yeah. Yeah. So for that one, I, um, there is a lot, I did find a lot of patterns and I'm super excited to also talk about, you know, what really makes a learning page convert. Right? So when it comes to, first of all, it should load within three seconds because, uh, the, the landing page. You're driving your ads to this particular page and people are going to click into it if it captures, if your ad captures their interest.

Right? So when they go to the page, if it loads longer than three seconds, usually people hop off. They don't even wait for it to load. So you want to make sure number one, that it loads fast and how you do that is keeping your images small, the file sizes. Um, and also not using too many widgets or add ons or plugin, plugins, or apps and all that sort of stuff.

Um, so making sure that's, you know, it's loading fast and then number two is, uh, really having product names, not capture people's attention. So it shouldn't be too long or too a bag. It should be something that's interesting when it comes to their product name and everything about the product really. So the images should be also high quality and not have too much text and graphics on there.

It can get a little confusing. So you want to really highlight the product. Um, and increase the perceived value of the product. Um, and then most importantly, when it comes to the product description itself, which is super, super important because people do read through that. Um, and we noticed that a lot of students, or even just people in general, they tend to focus more on features and not product benefits.

At the end of the day, it's the features, the features don't sell it's the benefits, right? People want to know if a product is able to solve their pain points. So that's what you want to highlight when it comes to the product. Copy, you really want to highlight the benefits, not the features. Um, so that's definitely one of the important points there, and just not having your description being too long because, uh, people can, again, you can lose their attention.

You want to make it easy for them to digest and understand the benefits of your product. Um, and then lastly, I would say customer reviews. So a lot of people don't. 10 or at least the people that we've reviewed, um, you know, websites in general, not even just our students, they tend to not include customer reviews.

Um, but people see potential customers do go onto your page. They do look at the reviews. They want to see what other people have. What their experience was with your product, what the product looks like. Maybe they took some photos in the reviews, and that's always great to have because you're really building credibility and increasing the perceived value of your product, which can really help you in terms of converting that visitor into a sale.

So you definitely want to make sure that your landing page is really showcasing your product benefits, um, and also building credibility for your product, for your brand. That's all very important in making those sales.

Joseph: Credibility. And one of the issues is those early reviews are the hardest ones to, to, to get, because you need to sell people on the product. They need to be happy. They provide reviews. And so one of the workarounds has been to import the review from Alix press. So that's where the supplier is coming from. And so what I'm wondering from your, uh, expertise is, um, you know, alternative methods to that. Like you're not reaching out to family and friends to provide reviews me. I know that's an option, but I tend to shy away from that. Cause it's like asking my mom for money. Like I don't want my success to be measured on how much I rely on my mom. I mean, anything else in the ether? Any other options? 

Christy Liu: When you are starting out, you know, what you mentioned about ali express is actually part of the methodology where you're importing the reviews for valley express so that, um, you know, people can actually look at that when they go onto your page.

But once you start finding that this product is selling well, um, you can start investing more time into building actual new reviews from your customers that actually bought the product. So that's where that's, when you can look into email marketing, which is also super important in really scaling your, um, scaling your business.

And that's where you can, you know, you can send out an email that says, oh, uh, you know, leave us a review and get, you know, a certain discount off. Um, that's definitely very helpful when it comes to getting people to leave some reviews, um, and just really appreciating their purchase and, um, showing that you care and you want to know their feedback.

Um, that's always really. That's always really positive and creating a great customer experience and connecting your brand with your customers. So I would say leverage email marketing at that stage, um, and try to gather some new reviews from the, your emails that you send out to your customers. 

Case studies

Joseph: So, as I had a, as I had planned out was the case studies question. So we're going to hop to that. Um, I, what I like to do is I want to fixate on a certain point, which is when the, the students sellers, they're both in this case, this revolving around when they finally got through the door and actually started to, to get through some of those first sales and, you know, what were some of the things that were working for them, how it aligned to the right product.

Um, and then the next thing I actually want to ask you about that. And I also want to go on record and say, I can, I don't know how to keep that pen any longer, because you did talk about your backstory. That's housekeeping in the middle of the episode anyways. Um, so the next thing I also wanted to ask you about as well, I actually managed to drop so nevermind. So some of our lines, like tell me about the case studies. What are some of the ones that stick out to you? 

Christy Liu: We definitely had a lot, um, and these are people that are coming from no experience with drop shipping or even just e-commerce. And they're able to really launch their store within 60 to 90 days and make sales.

And it's been a great journey being a part of that and seeing them grow from the beginning of joining us and, uh, you know, the graduation and, um, furthering their mentorship with us. So it's been a great, and the ones that really stand out and actually we recently had a student, um, his name is Phillip, so they'll talk about him.

Um, yeah, he's found his winning products. So what that means is he found a product. That's able to get him to, you know, five figures or more a month. So, uh, that's been really exciting and it's been making him consistent sales on a daily basis. And so we call that a unicorn, just making, uh, you know, consistent sales and, um, really being an attractive product in the market.

Um, so it's been amazing and we've been helping him scale their Facebook ads, um, really targeting more, a look alike audience now, um, targeting more people that are, uh, similar to who are already buying from him. So, um, that's really how you can scale at eight in the, into the millions. Right. Um, so we're also helping him start to, well, I helped him build, um, from a general store.

Uh, where he was selling a lot of different products from different niches and that's where he found his winter and now he moved into a one product store. So, um, that's always the goal and you move from the general store to the one product store once you find consistency. Um, so he's been putting together his brand now for this particular product, um, starting on building a social media presence as well.

Uh, that's usually at the later stages, once you are able to, um, you know, determine that consistency and invest more time and money into this product. So now he's building a community. Uh, he's definitely, uh, you'll probably, you know, order the product himself and take some quality images as well to use on his, um, new store now.

And he's been testing out more different methods to increase his average order value. Um, and we've been helping him along the way in suggesting a lot of different strategies so that he can capture even more sales, um, from people going to store and just continue. Improvements throughout the process and finding ways to really succeed even further now that he found his winning products.

Um, and he was able to, you know, make party over a hundred sales within just weeks. And that's definitely a big achievement because, um, we always like to say 90% of products and drop shipping are losers. So you really have to know the methodology behind finding those 10% of winning products that are going to make you millions, uh, later down the road.

So it's been an amazing journey and just seeing him launches door, um, and make sales already off the bat. That's been great. Um, and then he hasn't really tested too many products. He just because he's able to test quality products. So he didn't need to spend a lot of time and money on products that are just not going to sell at all.

So he actually found it really early on when he just launched. Um, and he's been with us for three months now and he's extending with us. So we're able to help him further along the journey as he. So that's definitely a great story that we've recently had and I thought I would share that. 

Product testing

Joseph: Excellent. Well, a couple of things.

Uh, so I got to me one of them, I remember the question that I had dropped like seconds after I said that I forgot it, which is about the testing. Um, which is something that I wanted to ask you about really throughout this whole thing so far. So let's, let's jump to that. So with winning products and losing products, here's what I know.

So far based off the conversations that I've been fortunate enough to have, um, products obviously have to solve a problem, you know, address, uh, address a need, uh, you find the deeper, the pain point, the more relieving it is to define a problem, a product that solves that problem. So there's that, and then there's the wow factor, which is, you know, a product that I really like as a showstopper or a scroll stopper.

Uh, people were like, oh, well, I've never seen that before. But what I find fascinating about this whole process is that it's not like any product out there is designed to fail. Like every product in some way, shape or form is designed to. You know, be used, be, be bought. So what have you found to be the qualities are lack of qualities, rather of the losing products.

What are, what are the Wednesday testing? They're trying it, they've given it their all. And for some reason it's just not working. 

Christy Liu: So with the losing products, that's, you know, that's, uh, for us with, because we teach a proven methodology behind finding these products, there are the considered, um, you know, considered products that are really good quality is just when it comes to the market, that's hard to determine, right?

That's where the testing comes in, where you're trying to find whether or not this product is really, um, appealing to this . Particular market. Even though it's, you're able to prove, or you're able to pick this out of so many other products. Right. So it's really depends on the testing. Things and how the market acts.

Um, but for I, when it comes to picking the products, we always tell people to, first of all, think of the different niches out there right now, and think of the trends. Um, so again, not just, you know, trends that will die out a few months. Uh, we're thinking about long-term trends. Here are long-term benefits that people can get from using this product.

Um, as well as the popular niche is right now, for example, It's during COVID right now are still, many of us are still at home and we're trying to make our house our life at home comfortable. So, um, it definitely any products that are home-based and make your life more comfortable at home. Those are really popular products right now.

Um, there's also products, you know, some people are looking to go outdoors as well. So anything outdoor is actually also really popular. Um, so you look into these popular niches first, which is why we also suggest creating a general store, which you're selling different products initially. So you can test out to find which one is the winner.

Yeah. Just think thinking about the Poplar niches right now, and then, uh, when it comes to actually picking the product, we do, um, you know, some of the tips that we have is, uh, making it, usually women dominated products are more popular, especially because our. Advertising avenue is usually Facebook because of how targeted they can be with their ads.

And I'll actually a lot of the data shows that majority of people on there are women. So that's been one of the traits that we usually teach students when it comes to picking a product. So something that really appeals to, um, women, but of course you can sell it to anyone, but, um, just, it's just, that's more of the bigger market, especially if you want to find a, your winner and test it out and see if you can get a lot of sales from that.

Um, and then the other one would definitely be something that you don't just find, you know, the drug stores or big box retailers, uh, because that's already showing that it's a little saturated because other stores out there already selling it so people can just buy it from there instead. Um, so that's definitely another tip there.

And then I would say it has to be unique. Um, it's, can't be something that you see every boat, I guess that kind of goes back to my previous point, but something that looks. Yeah, like the wow factor, right. You just see on you're like, whoa, this is so cool. I want to try it out. Um, especially when it comes to advertising on Facebook, we are targeting impulse buyers and you definitely want something that really captures their attention looks interesting because that's, what's makes them click into the video, click into the ad, go to your website, learn more about the product. Um, so you definitely want that whole process. To be interesting for whoever's viewing your ad and wanting to buy the product. So those are some tips when it comes to picking the product. 

General store vs. Single product store

Joseph: One thing that's definitely stuck out to me in all of this is the transition from general store into single product store. Just to remind everybody about my bucket analogy is that my brand is a bucket and my bucket is under a waterfall.

And the reason why I say that is because I, to my recollection, I don't think I've actually talked to anybody who, uh, has, uh, focused on this, on this strategy. And the reason why I use a waterfall is because I don't know, maybe it just was part of the overflow, but all of that said, I'm actually really fascinated about this full, full disclosure.

I mean, my, my, my brand right now is like, it's a, it's work at home, home living brands. So, you know, very, very COVID friendly, but it is a fixated on, on a single product. And I've gotten, I mean, can I get all every kind of opinion possible? And so I have gotten the opinion of, if you don't focus on that, uh, don't go.

Just having a bunch of products on your store, it might get cluttered. So I just want to hear more about what are the, I guess the, the, the lines to draw are, what are the, the limitations for a general store? Are we talking about hundreds of products or is it you picking and choosing, and obviously in all of this too, we're also centering on, on a brand, right?

It's not like, at least I don't think that a general store is so general that they just sell anything under the sun, like pet toys and then kitchen and then garden. And then, um, I don't have to just go on and on and on. The pillows. So consistently, what are what's making general stores work at the very least as a testing, as a testing. 

Christy Liu: I found it funny that you actually mentioned about all the different categories of products. It's actually, that's what the strategy is. So yeah, no, no. So just to explain a bit about that strategy there, right? Um, so this is a general story you can think of it as, um, you know, the branding is going to be general too. Like usually people like to name their, um, like trendy zone. That's one of the names of the stores.

So, um, the goal of the general store when you're starting out is just, um, to it's it is your testing playground. So you look at it as somewhere, you can test out different products and most of the people that are coming to your store from Facebook when you're running the advertisements, um, they're actually just going to stay on this one page, uh, whichever the landing page you're going to direct them to, um, so that's often, you know, whichever product you're testing out in terms of the ads. Um, usually people don't go to other pages, so they're not visiting, you know, throughout the store. They just looking at this one product. Um, they're trying to make this purchase is very fast. Um, so, and that's where the strategy comes in, where you're just testing out this one product that you're running ads on.

Um, seeing if you're able to capture a lot of sales before, um, then that's how you determine your winning product. And then you move into your one product to niche store. And later on, you're able to, uh, once you have more consistency with this one product, you're able to sell other products within the niche as well.

Um, so for example, if beauty is your winning product and niche, so you can sell other beauty products as well within the store. Uh, but when it comes to the general store, you actually testing out different products from different niches, um, and seeing which. So which product is selling well. And again, you're not really directing them to your catalog or anything is just going to this one particular page.

Um, and trying to see of this people, aren't going to click by whoever you're targeting within your ad. So it's very, very specialized, I would say, very targeted kind of funnel. So they're actually not going to your other store, but they could, I mean, they could look at your other products and they're seeing, you know, this looks cool too.

We haven't had trouble with people. Uh, being a little thrown off with a lot of different products. I think some people like to look at different products, but again, I can see that this strategy is not very common. And, um, it's just more of the process that we have when it comes to drop dropshipping that really worked for, you know, ourselves and also our mentors as well.

Joseph: I'll start by, um, uh, clarifying my own, um, misalignment of my information, which is general is general. That's the name, but then there's, you know, niche general or general niche, which is probably more what I was, what I was thinking of. So that was just my, uh, my little miscommunicate for the day. So my, my YouTube counterpart, uh, on, uh, Connor, uh, early on him and I were, were doing some tests as well when we were being trained up so that, uh, you know, I understand this a little bit better or a lot better.

And we so we, we ran an ad and the ad, uh, had. Uh, got our account banned, which is not a common, lots of people run into to banning issues on Facebook. We think the reason why we were banned was because we were leading people, not to a landing page per se. We were leading people to a product specific page.

So what I think is the right thing to do here is your landing page, which is like the homepage is catered to focus on the product that you're testing. So instead of going to like a welcome page with a welcome mat and say, hi, how are you doing here's us the homepage. The very first thing that they see is structured to focus just on the product.

Christy Liu: Yeah, exactly. Because you are, your goal is to test this one product, right? If you drive the call to action to the homepage, people are going to get lost. They're not going to know, oh, where's the product that I was just looking at it on the ad. They might, you might lose them at that point. So you want to make it really easy for them by directing them to the exact product page.

And, um, you know, they look through all the information. You have the add to cart button, we call it the, buy it now button. Um, but yeah, they'll add it to their cart. And then that's the goal of the journey that you want them to go through so that you can really see those sales coming in and whether or not this product is worth investing more in, in terms of ads.

Joseph: And then, uh, on the, on the subject of ads, uh, I I'm, I'm happy to get your take on, on as, as well. Um, so there is a, a formula that has come up numerous times and I just want to get your, uh, reinforcement of it or perhaps reputation. I don't know. Um, it's, uh, hook old, bad news. Uh, benefits over features called action.

That's been the, the formula. Uh, I'm not the one to, to oppose it, uh, nor do I want to, um, preconceive whether or not what's your take on it, but let's just go specific about talking about the ads themselves is I know you can't like actually talk about the exact thing that your students are selling this confidentiality there.

So all of those asks suicide is, um, what have you been finding to be the consistent, uh, rules that have been getting people to? I think the reason, the way I want to specify this is again, focusing on the fact that this is bringing people to a general store. And I tend to think about this as if it's advertising a single product.

It's bringing people to a single product story. Okay. Here's here's, here's the way to make the question unique for you is do you have any changes to the formula because it's a general store rather than a single product store? 

Christy Liu: For that one income when it comes to putting together the ad again, the, yeah. The call to action is going to go to your main product landing page. Um, and we actually used video ads, not image ads. So the video itself is going to showcase more of the product. And then you have your general store branding there as well. Um, so in terms of again, having the hook is definitely really helpful, for example, highlighting the product benefits, but we actually do that within the video itself and, um, making sure there's people talking about the product.

Uh, so that, that is all within the video. And then, um, also having her clear call to actions, um, that's definitely really important when it comes to creating an ad that really captures attention. So yeah, that's mostly the formula when it comes to putting together the ads. Again, there are a lot of specific strategies behind it as well.

Um, but generally that's what you want to do. Um, so using video ads, uh, having, you know, highlighting product benefits, as well as having people talk about your product, that's always really important. And, um, it's definitely been a formula. That's been working a lot, a very consistently. 

Joseph: There's one part of it that I want to get a little bit more focused on. So let's just say, hypothetically, this was the ad that I'm running for a general store. And then I transitioned over into a single product store. Has anything changed about the ad? 

Christy Liu: Great question, because you're going to have to actually redo your ad because you have a different branding now and you have a different website and you have a different logo, so you do have to redo it.

Um, sometimes, uh, if you are getting a lot of consistency, then you could be because it's a general store name. So people don't even know what the exact product is. You couldn't get away. If you just keep your, it depends on how general or how good your name is. Um, and so you can keep the ad going and your branding, and then just change your website first, initially, around the one product and just changing up the content first.

Um, the branding part could come a bit later, um, depending on. Well, if you're already making a lot of sales from this one particular ad that you've created. So, um, that's kind of, that's definitely a challenge when it comes to switching into that one product store, but eventually you're going to have to do it because then you can build a bigger brand around that one product.

And that's actually, um, you know, we have a lot of examples as well, so, uh, there's a soapy skin code. I always like to talk about with my students. Um, they've made, you know, millions now and, um, they sell the, uh, the laser IBLs laser hair removal remover device. Um, so. No, they've tested the product and to finding this one product that's really selling, and now they're putting together their one product store that really focuses on this one product.

And even just, if it's just one product, it's actually a lot of work to build a big brand, um, build, you know, uh, create a store and focus a lot on building the content as well. Um, getting brand recognition, it's a lot of work. So even if it's just one product is definitely, it's not easy. 

Joseph: I guess there is, there was one more part of the picture here that I think is worth asking, which is, uh, have you found any viable reason for a general store to stay general? Or would you say it's pretty well, uh, set that as soon as the momentum starts building, you gotta move to a single product store.

Christy Liu: That's a great question that I haven't actually answered too much. Um, so, um, but I think my take on that is. Um, if you want to scale it, then the filling of the one product store, because then you're taking your efforts off of this general store.

Yet you also have to manage, uh, all these different products on there that are still selling. Um, you have to manage all these different suppliers from these products and a lot of products often change in terms of like pricing or availability. And you're just having to all constantly update your store around this one or the, your general products.

So it's definitely a lot of maintenance and I would rather put that into just one product. I'm able to find a better supplier for, um, do white labeling or, uh, put my logo on it, order in bulk and, um, you know, provide faster shipping. There's so much you can do with this one product. Right. Um, so I would definitely just spend my time more on it, on this one product, especially if it's able to scale into the millions, because that's definitely been, that's happened to a lot of people in this space.

Knowing when to upgrade your store

Joseph: Here's another one that I had chamber for a little while. Little while here. This is based on your, your, your tech expertise is. The the most common term is the shiny object syndrome. So how do you know when to upgrade or when to stick to your guns? Uh, how do you like, you know, when it's right to, yeah. To, to make the change, you know, resist temptation, um, you know, dealing with fear of missing out on some new, uh, some new apps.

So, uh, one way that might, uh, be a good starting point is I should just run through, like, what are the general, you know, um, tools that you recommend people use. Um, and then I, I, I'm just really curious to hear is like how you reconcile when and what to use and when to make an upgrade. 

Christy Liu: Um, yeah. So with that, you know, with that, when it comes to coming up with your choices, so we actually use Shopify, uh, I guess that's given here with Debutify.

Um, but yeah, we use Shopify and there's so many apps out there, right. That you can download. Um, but we, uh, as we mentioned, as I mentioned earlier about loading speed, you definitely don't want to download too many apps that leaves a lot of script on your website, slows it down. Um, so picking the right apps is super important. Um, and that's where you know, just knowing the, I guess what's worked for other people, um, then you're able to follow behind their footsteps versus trying to figure out the apps yourself. Um, so for us, uh, the apps that we always share with people, um, you know, even in our own podcast and our, uh, on clubhouse as well, we actually host a lot of, uh, chat conversations on there too.

Uh, well, we always tell people to, you can start with some simple tools. There's a lot of free tools out there as well. So, um, Oberlo would be one. Um, there's also, um, I would say when it comes to fulfillment, there's, AfterShip, those are some of the tools that we use. Um, again, Debutify, of course, that's always a tool we recommend to people.

The starting out and you want to keep it simple, right? You don't want to have managed too many different tools, external issue when you're not too tech savvy. So a lot of our students are actually just quite new to technology, new to Shopify. So we want to give them some simple tools from, uh, from the start.

Um, even for ourselves, we want to keep it simple as well. We want to, um, not have to manage so many different tools. Uh, so those are some of the main tools you really, for in terms of the tools you just need, um, you know, tools that help you automate your process. Um, for example, with, uh, the overload, they're able to automatically fulfill some orders, um, and, and other tools that. Um, are able to, I think later on down the road, some tools are able to increase your average order value. Um, so if you're able to set up volume discounts or bundling, um, that's super important. Um, and I would say other tools would be, you know, any tools that able are able to help you communicate better with your customers.

So a chat bot, um, that's a really great tool that you can have, um, to provide that human touch point with your customers. Um, so those are some of the main tools I would say when it comes to, you know, uh, when you're first starting out and then later on, once you focus on scaling, um, it's super important to have tools that help you increase your average order value.

Um, so making sure you use that, and I know also w has a lot of other add-ons that are great to have to use, to increase conversions as well. For example, skip cart, you're able to go directly to the cart. So I would say just looking at. Um, starting off with some simple tools and then seeing how you can further know, upgrade it to access more features as you find, as you start scaling your store. 

Healthy ecosystem of sellers and buyers

Joseph: We're getting pretty close to the hour, mark. And, um, my goal a little bit over that's all right with you. Uh I'm uh, for one, like I said, I'm still calibrating, uh, my, my main takeaway for the day. So it's definitely been a good quality hour so far. So what I want to do as we start wrapping this up, because I got a couple of, um, more like fun perspective questions for you.

You don't have to be like the, the, the authority on these. It's more just for the fun of them. So this is by far, at least, you know, since I got up today, the silliest question that I've asked picture a scenario where you have like a doctor or a mechanic, you know, their that's their profession. And throughout the day, everybody that they is an e-commerce. So like one seller after the next step, the next, after the next, after the next I'm wondering about, I guess like the, the limitations of this as an industry where what's gonna stop say like an engineer or a doctor or anybody in an active profession from throwing their hands up and saying, yeah, you know what, nevermind, I'm going to go be an entrepreneur.

And then next thing you know, we don't actually have anybody doing anything else because it's so essentially it's, it's high risk. So that's actually one of the main reasons, but it's so appealing. And most people love freedom. Some people don't, you know, I'm happy for them. So, so what are you, what do you think are, I guess, the barriers to the e-commerce and, uh, what would you, what would you like to see as like a healthy ecosystem of, of sellers and buyers? The buyers are basically anybody who's not doing e-commerce or at least not as much. 

Christy Liu: Well, I think that, you know, I comes to entrepreneurship. Yeah, they're not for everyone. Um, some people are more eager to get started. Some people just prefer to be more comfortable in what they're doing and what they're passionate about, and everyone has their own passions.

Right. Um, for myself, you know, I'm passionate about design, I'm still within the design space. Um, but I also like entrepreneurship. So I'm also building my business on the side as well, or, well, right now it's more of my, um, main, main project. But, um, you know, before previously when I got started and it was more of on the side. Um, it was more of something that I would do after working, um, you know, after working on something that I'm passionate about and then doing something else that I'm also passionate about. So I think it's finding the balance between the two when you're first starting out. And, um, you know what, when you do scale, there does, there is going to be a lot of dedication needed and that's when you can decide what you want to pursue further with, um, when it comes to having a business, as well as what you're already doing with your career.

Um, so I would say finding a balance is definitely doable. Yeah. For those people that, you know, aren't too keen on starting their own business. They prefer to stick to, you know, just having, uh, doing their own career, their job. That's definitely, uh, you know, a lot of people are like that still. Um, even the people that we've reached out to.

Um, so I think there's always going to be, um, a good balance between the two it's just now, um, with COVID going on, people are looking for other ways to maybe spend their time. Uh, so a lot of people are still at home. They have more time now. They don't have to chance it or drive to their office. And so after work hours, they able to dedicate a few more hours into doing some, you know, a side project or side hustle.

Um, and that's been actually, uh, a main reason for a lot of people starting with us as well. Um, they're looking for, um, just some guidance on how to get started and not be, I guess, uh, taking advantage of the time that they have from work. So actually a lot of our students have jobs as well. Um, so. Uh, being able to set aside some time outside of your work hours and just dedicating it to starting a business, that's always exciting.

And I think it's so valuable actually is something else is to have multiple streams of income. So not just one stream of income, um, but having, you know, different projects that you're working on that are able to bring in income as well. I think that's always really great to have. Um, so you don't have to dedicate all your time and efforts into this one area, but you're able to do multiple and, um, as long as you enjoy all of them, of course. 

Joseph: And I will follow up as well. It's just because, you know, I've asked this question in the past and I've had time to, to, to consider it. So my other standing positions have been for one, not everybody has the ability to take a risk, right? Some people, like you said, they're, they're comfortable. And also on top of that too, they also have people who are depending on them and it's just really feasible for them to it. And then the, the, the counterweights that as well as I also think it's important, as you say, not everybody actually even needs a scale. I think for some people they're actually quite happy. Um, just running it as a small operation, something to, uh, um, use their passion. And I mean, you have some people, they, they have their passion and this is a means to pursue that.

And some people they're pursuing their passion, and this is just a means to accentuate that, to actually have an, have an opportunity to take whatever it is that they enjoy and communicate it to others via commerce. So some of us just to wrap that up, just some of my own on my own takes on it as well. So here's the other one.

Future of e-commerce

And then I will wrap this up even on Forbes. Um, yeah. Who finance, the entrepreneur, just to name a couple of the examples of some of the, uh, you know, appearances and, and mentions and so on and what I'd like to get your, your opinion on is I guess the, the next steps for the e-commerce industry at large is do you find that there is an element of this that needs to be more legitimate or there needs to be work for, to change public perception of e-commerce I know drop shipping, especially there's a lot of misconceptions about it. So where do you think the, the, the, the humidity of the industry have to focus some of their collective attention?

Christy Liu: I have a, I'm an advocate for customer experience. I have a background in user experience design as well. Um, so I think when it comes to e-commerce, um, you have the online experience and then you have the physical store experience. I actually, for myself, I prefer both. Um, you know, I like going online. I like browsing products online, but I still like in person experience with the sales representatives, um, asking them questions, actually looking at the product and feeling the product. Um, so I definitely see there's been a lot of innovation in this space, right. There's, um, you know, bringing people from online experience to in store experience. Um, and I've, I've been into a lot of stores right now where, um, they're able to combine a bit of both.

So you get that digital, you know, even clicking around within the store and then you're able to also get help, uh, with you're looking, you know, you're looking to learn more about a product in the store. Um, so I think that's been really amazing and I know, you know, we're still in COVID time. So a lot of the experience has been moved online and a lot of stores have been selling products online more.

Um, so that's been a really, I think, interesting shift within the last few years, just online being such a big space. Um, so the online experience. I would say, uh, needs to be improved and focused on because it's now so important because people are shopping online more, um, especially during COVID the sales e-commerce sales just went so high.

Um, everyone's buying online. So, um, I think, uh, moving from the physical experience onto the online experience, it's just so important. Um, you know, when I teach people how to create their online store, their website and the overall customer experience is so important to, for example, how I mentioned about having that live chat feature there to provide that human touch point for your visitors.

That's I think so important because right now, um, people aren't shopping online or sorry, shopping in person. So, um, you still want it to be able to interact with your customers through, um, you know, something that's more, uh, interactive and being able to answer their questions. I think that's so important.

And then, um, just in terms of presenting your product as well, um, you really want to get people to picture themselves using it too. Um, and sharing a story around the product. And again, talking more about benefits, not features. So, um, the actual content. It's really important when it comes to creating a positive experience, um, and also showcasing your product in a really good light that helps increase the perceived value for the product.

So I think that's super important. And I would say when it comes to creating a positive experience, just keeping it simple, um, not having so many popups that really, um, are glaring on the screen. And, um, uh, just having a lot of, a lot of texts all over the place, lots of crowded graphics and everything. Um, I think sometimes we over-complicate things we think that we show so many things and people are going to be like, oh, I want to click on this.

And I want to click on that, but it could actually drive people away. Uh, so just creating a really simple, um, experience, not really showcases more of the product, but also having your brand, of course, your branding throughout the site. So consistent colors, consistent typography. Um, that's always really helpful.

Um, No shifting for more of the physical back to online, I would say really focusing on the digital experience of your store. Um, that's really important when it comes to e-commerce, especially during this year when everyone's shopping online as well. 

Joseph Ianni
Joseph Ianni

Debutify is the easiest way to launch and scale your eCommerce brand.

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