Omar Ali is the Founder of ROA Recipe, an eCommerce boutique that specializes in dropshipping, brand building, and advertising. Omar has been in the eCommerce and dropshipping industry since 2018, and since then, he's been through the process of building a brand more than a hundred times. On today's episode we talk about dropshipping techniques, researching products, dropshipping vs Amazon FBA, and much more.
Omar Ali: Basically, ROA recipe is something in the concept that I had in mind. I started alone. Basically, it is only an agency that's helped people with e-commerce, rob shipping, or in general with e-commerce and digital marketing. It's more specific to e-commerce, but we do other things as well related to digital marketing, but solely focused on e-commerce.
Providing solutions to things that we see that the audiences are struggling with, whether it's web design ads, ads management, video editing, and other stuff that trying to make their life easier when starting an e-commerce business.
Alex Bond: Talking about those services that you provide, can we dive into that a little bit? You mentioned video editing, media buying. What are in totality, all the services that ROA recipe provides for a client?
Omar Ali: Yeah, so it started out only doing web. We would design custom, custom stores, whether it's for brands or startups, drop shipping stores, all kind of Shopify stores. We would handle that.
And then we sort of expanded when we got good experience in media buying, for example, with Facebook ads and even Google ads right now. We've been developing that experience and now we can also help other eCommerce brands with such services when it comes to media. And we also have video editing.
It's not like our specialty, but we do have someone in house that can handle that as well. Basically, we try to cover all areas of e-commerce. We know that people might struggle with web design, actually launching their ads and managing the ads, and sometimes also they just need a quick video ad for the product.
Alex Bond: So with your clientele and the services you provide, are your clients typically entrepreneurs who are kind of just starting out in the e-commerce space and require. Maybe a little hand holding in the process, or are your clients more paying you for your services simply because they might not have the time to put all the legwork in themselves?
Omar Ali: Yeah, it can be a mix of both because there are people who can do this stuff, but they simply don't have the time, or they just want to allocate that service to someone who already is confident with. And so they can focus on other areas of their business. That's also one scenario or one type of client that we work with.
But yeah, most of the time it would be someone who is trying to enter to the e-commerce space, but not very confident with all of these areas. So maybe he can really design a good website, but he's missing the media buying part. So he would come to us and we'll manage it for him.
Their research process
Alex Bond: How do you conduct your research in determining what products to add to a drop shipping store?
Omar Ali: First of all, we have criteria in mind before even looking digging into product research. We wanna have a product that either solves a problem or adds, like, has a good perceived value. So not everything will be solving a problem.
Some products is just a value addition. Customer things like Omni as well. And we always have in mind the profit margins cause we're aiming for media buying and paid ads. So you wanna have a bit of a margin. So to work with, for the marketing, we always do the strategy of reverse engineering what is already working.
We're can, we can use all sort of ads by tools to see what's working right now. Maybe get some ideas, not necessarily just take the exact product. For example, I've seen Leggings that is popping off this winter, right? I took the idea and then I found a similar product that does the same job, but with a completely different design and no one is selling it, but there's a lot less competition with that vari variant.
So taking the idea and just finding something that can be. Unique differentiate you from the competition as well.
Dropshipping over the years
Alex Bond: You've pretty much said that it has become an extremely competitive space.
How has turning a profit in drop shipping become more difficult over the past few years?
Omar Ali: Yeah, I mean the, the very, very obvious evidence when you search it up in Google Trends, you see the trend is at its peak or just going up all the time. Right now, people are very aware about drop shipping and so many people that are new to this space are just copying products and just trying to get some something working.
They just copy a product that is already saturated. It's very difficult to see success. That's when really product research comes into play. Trying to differentiate yourself, even if you're selling the same product, I would try to tackle it with a different marketing angle as a solution to a different problem, to a different demographic. But don't just take the whole thing as it is and try to competes never gonna work.
Properly marketing your store
Alex Bond: So let's say, I open up a drop shipping store. My website looks good. I'm proud of the product.
You did great research for me, Omar. I'm about to put out a product that I'm really looking forward to. In your opinion, how do I properly market my store in the best way to ensure. That people will actually come and use it.
Omar Ali: So first of all, I would ask what kind of store are you working with? Is it general store?
Is it an niche specific, or is it just selling one type of product?
Alex Bond: We'll say it's selling one type of product just for right now.
Omar Ali: One type of product. The best thing you can do is if you've done your research right and the product is good, then you'll run the ads and let the results judge and, and get actual analytics feedback from because that's the only way that you can find a winning product is when you test it.
People tell you like, I'll give you a winning product. Yes, we can give you the highest chance of having a winner, but it's not guaranteed. Of course, unless you are on the ads and see the results, see how people are interacting with the product.
Maybe there's something wrong we can fix. But if there's nothing going on at all, then it's just the product and should probably try something different. But if there is a lot of clicks, for example, people are going into your website and they're not adding to cart, maybe we can look at something at, in the offer, in the pricing, providing more trust in the website.
If people are adding to cart, but they're not checking out, then we look at the next step in the funnel and so on until we get things, things going. If people are not adding to correct, not doing any, taking any action on your website, then probably it's just a bad product. Then you'll have to move to another product.
I mean, that's the name of the game. It's, it's never stable. You can never just stay selling one product forever. Unless you brand it.
Alex Bond: What sort of products have you found the best success with personally? I, I generally ask a, a lot of our guests this question in different ways and people generally have different answers.
Omar Ali: Yeah. Honestly, it's the problem solving, it's the easiest to sell because you, you can sort of play on emotions and good thing if it's aligning with a season. For example, if it's a Christmas season, it's a winter season and you find specific solution to a problem.
And during winter, whether it's something that keeps them warm, whether it's cloth, it's something, gadgets at home, some ice scraper for the cars. Some of these products were extremely, I mean, they performed extremely well.
How Omar started in the dropshipping industry
Alex Bond: So what are some of the other bigger problems that entrepreneurs run into when starting off in drop shipping?
Omar Ali: Honestly, the bad advice make, everyone wants to start drop shipping as an, an easy way to get into business and start printing money, as they say. But unfortunately, it's not as easy as it used to be. I used to do that in 2017. We literally, I'll just see any product and list it on the website, run some decent ads, and you'll get some.
We get something going on, but now people are very aware of what Rob shipping is, what a sketchy website looked like, you know, and, and there's more competition than ever. So it's not as easy as it used to be. Again, I repeat myself, but that's really the point here.
Alex Bond: How did you first get into the industry? Like, how did you know what you know, what was the scam? What wasn't h how did you personally go through that experience and. You know, what's your journey been like?
Omar Ali: Yeah, yeah. I'm sure you heard of the name E-com King. That was my motivation. I've been following him for at least four years now, following his journey. Of course it was always a big inspiration. One of the few people that you can actually take the word for everything that they say, that they practice what they teach, like very, very open when they teach this stuff.
So that's what really motivated me. Show me what's possible with it. I started it as, as just a side hustle. I was working as chemical engineer full-time in Dubai, so I used to save up, say, a thousand dollars every month just to try things out. I don't even expect it to work. I was just building website, trying some ads.
Most of them failed unless, until last product I did is was in your Christmas time. It was that popular smart led Christmas light that you can control with your mobile. That was my first ever win winning product. We did decent numbers. I did like a 10,000 and at that time, that number was like huge after just losing money and losing money.
Of course, that's 10,000 in revenue. It's not all profit, but it was an achievement. It made me believe like we can really actually build something out of this.
Alex Bond: How many products did it take before you found that winning one?
Omar Ali: Oh, that was really about like, probably like 20 something. Wow. And I never get, but cause I was just doing it to try something new and I didn't have the expectations that it'll work out tomorrow. I was just trying and trying and it was the first experience. So probably I was making a lot of mistakes, but you know, that's how you learn when you make mistakes.
Alex Bond: Of course. No, absolutely. And it actually, Brings into the, into the question of, with four years experience in this industry, why did you end up deciding to start r o a recipe instead of continuing to own and operate your own stores?
Omar Ali: Yeah, we do run stores as well as my two clothing brands. I have a clothing brand in Dubai. And in my home country, Egypt right now, and they're fully developed, working on them for the past two years and a half, bringing in automated revenue.
Basically everything is working nicely and then we also still doing drop shipping as well as the arrow recipes, helping people with that experience that we gained over this four years.
Dropshipping vs. Amazon FBA
Alex Bond: So one of the other things that I appreciate your frankness. Or your honesty in your Instagram and YouTube videos, it feels pretty upfront to me. You've stated in these videos that you're much more inclined to use drop shipping than FBA or Fulfillment by Amazon. Why is that?
Omar Ali: Yeah, basically, I was also a seller, not an expert, but I was a seller once in Amazon. It felt like I don't own my business while I was doing everything. I was having the stock trying to people to buy my products. Initially running ads, trying to push my product up. The Amazon pages.
Cause you know, when you list the product, it's like in page 13, no one ever sees it. And I found out after doing some good numbers in Dubai in Amazon, they were taking a big chunk of my profit.
And I remember in some items they take up to 18%, 20 per, I don't remember anymore, but pretty big percentages outta your.
That's number one. They can easily disable your account for any reason, and you have nowhere to complain. Of course, that's another reason. Third thing is that you don't really own your business. You don't have access to your customers. They're the one that they're growing their platform. You do. You do the selling and everything. You do the hardware.
So why not do the same thing, but build your own brand, build your name, build your customer, list your data. So you can do a lot of stuff with this data.You can do email marketing, you can do retargeting, you can do local like audiences. You are actually building an asset that you can use and you can actually exit and, and sell it for decent money as well.
Alex Bond: And you're actually creating like a brand identity at the same time too. You know that like Omar's brand is being able to be translated and understood a little more efficiently than hiding behind Amazon's brand identity a little bit. So I can totally understand what you're saying. So let's pivot and talk, talk about these clothing lines. I think that's pretty cool. So, are those more a passion project of yours?
I mean, obviously the goal of anything in terms. Creating a product is to turn a revenue obviously, but can you tell us a little about, a bit about that? Is that more of a, a passion thing or has that been a conscientious choice that you made to go into the clothing space?
Omar Ali: Well, let's say it's more of opportunity. You found in front of your eye And it actually, like, it was similar to drop shipping, very similar because I met a friend that works in Turkey and he has a lot of connections in Turkey and a lot of clothing manufacturers and suppliers. So it started off basically like drop shipping. We would list the items from their catalogs.
It's not from Aliexpress anymore, but from actual suppliers that manufacture the code in Turkey. We would list the items on the website, and then whenever there is an order, we will buy it, ship it to Dubai, and then deliver it to the customer. It would take roughly like seven to 10 days to deliver. It was decent delivery, fine, and it started off like this.
We kept expanding, adding more catalogs and more catalogs. Finally, we have our online as well as the, still doing the same method, taking some items from here and there and building that brand with our own name now.
His passion for content creation
Alex Bond: So you're also a content creator in terms of Instagram, YouTube, TikTok. That seems to be something that you're passionate about. What is your goal in the content creation? Is that educating the public? Is it a passion of yours? Is it a way to promote r o a recipe? What are your goals with that?
Omar Ali: Yeah, to be honest, like started out like a trial, started posting probably in like about one and a half years ago.
Not very old, but just try trying things out. And then I started getting some good feedback from people. You really explained things in a nice way, and especially beginners like they were saying, like you're explaining everything in simple terms. They enjoy with the content and I found something that I enjoy as well. Creating that and getting that feedback.
Maybe helping some people here and there struggling with things that I talk about share my experience while I was doing it as well. Now also, like when you teach something, you become even more good at it because you're just also teaching it at the same time. So it feels just good when you post something.
Other people find it useful at the same time, it's very good time to grow a personal brand, especially in this time. It's always good, whatever you want to do. It's, it's always like if you have attention, you can grow any business. Basically. It's gonna work all together. I enjoy it. Hosting content every day. I don't get bored. Doing that. Yeah. It's doing well as well. I'm not growing super fast, but also slow and steady, which is good.