Before working at BlockApps, I created a number of dropship businesses by following a fairly standard process.
I would identify a promising niche, source a small product line from AliExpress, and setup a connection between AliExpress and my Shopify store.
After a few months of this, I came to an interesting conclusion. People were reluctant to buy products from AliExpress because of its poor UX for the Western consumer. It’s not a surprise; AliExpress product descriptions are jammed with nonsensical keywords, the product photos are often comical, and the reviews are not exactly trustworthy.
In addition, many AliExpress products were designed as blatant counterfeits. This suggested that AliExpress merchants had incorrectly tagged their target audience. While some buyers sought replica products, other buyers (like myself) sought generic, unbranded, white-label products that could be sold to customers who were indifferent to labels. In other words, these AliExpress merchants had assumed that the typical FashionReps buyer was their target buyer. But actually, the FashionReps customer only represented a segment of customers. There were an equal number of buyers who didn’t care about labels, but instead sought a lower-cost substitute to the brand-focused products available to brand-conscious Western consumers.
Around this time, I learned about Wish.com from Kevin Ryan, an entrepreneur in NYC. Wish.com capitalized on this insight and built it into an incredible product. Instead of advertising replica products to the FashionReps community, Wish.com advertised generic products to the CouponClippers community. It was this distinction that made all the difference and allowed Wish to balloon into a $10b+ company.