While it’s true that getting started in eCommerce is easier than ever thanks to non-technical, user-friendly technologies, there’s still a huge obstacle no one has been able to completely solve just yet: finding products to sell.
Store-owners struggle to find suppliers and get products into their stores, and it’s here that many would-be entrepreneurs find themselves on the slippery slope to failure.
It happened to Chris Gardner, author of The Pursuit of Happiness, and it happens to lots of other people who end up buying and stocking things they don’t know will sell and then never make a sale. Even worse is when people spend months setting up deals with suppliers only to end up in the exact same situation.
Avoiding the above scenarios is just what Lithuanian startup Oberlo had in mind when it developed its tool aimed at making product acquisition easier. Oberlo allows people to easily import products into their online store and have them shipped directly to their customers with just a few clicks. What’s more, there are no contracts, no pre-payments, and no obligations. After installing Oberlo, users can start selling immediately, and if you have second thoughts about your product choices, you can easily change them to try something else.
“We made it infinitely easier and far more efficient to launch an eCommerce business,” says Oberlo CEO Andrius Slimas. “Out of almost 3,000 active Oberlo store owners, 66% of them had zero orders through their stores before installing Oberlo, and now as of this moment they’ve processed more than 74,000 orders.”
The concept isn’t entirely new. Most know it as dropshipping, and it’s especially popular among smaller merchants. Oberlo users can sell and ship products to their customers without ever seeing or handling the actual products themselves. After merchants sell a product, they simply buy it from a supplier and have it shipped directly to the customer. With the help of Oberlo, you can launch, control, and automate a dropshipping business with ease.
Dropshipping is especially attractive for first-time entrepreneurs because it carries less risk than traditional eCommerce since you don’t have to buy products in advance or keep them in stock. It requires little to no investment, and getting started is a breeze. Oberlo has even created a step-by-step guide on how to launch an online store complete with products in less than 30 minutes.
Founded in September of 2015 by a group of long-term colleagues, Oberlo has quickly gained traction and has already become a leading inventory app in the Shopify app marketplace with nearly 3,000 active stores that collectively have made $10 million in sales so far.
Andrius Slimas, Oberlo’s founder and CEO, tells us that the company’s success is the result of deep expertise in their market, as well as learning some hard lessons along the way: “We’ve been dropshipping for three years, doing manually what Oberlo now automates. At the same time, we launched a startup company, Esellio, which failed miserably. We analyzed our mistakes and created a roadmap of what the market needed, how to achieve it, and what missteps we needed to avoid.”
Slimas goes on to say: “With Shopify and the like, you can launch a store in a day, but populating the store with products is another thing entirely. Oberlo is the missing link in the eCommerce puzzle.”
Oberlo allows users to select from more than 20 million different products, all currently generated from Chinese retail giant AliExpress. But the company will introduce their own supplier database at the end of this summer, and plans to add in European and American suppliers in the future.
“We had to be creative in solving a classic chicken-and- egg problem with our offering,” Slimas notes. “We planned to introduce our suppliers first, but we knew they wouldn’t partner with us if we didn’t have any users while at the same time users wouldn’t sign up for Oberlo if there are no products for their store. That’s why we partnered first with AliExpress to test the market fit, and it has proved to work as we hoped it would.”
Actually, it’s working much better than expected. Oberlo has exceeded its initial launch goals by a factor of ten and plans to double its users by the third quarter of this year while reaching break-even with a team of eight full-time employees. Without any capital funding rounds, Oberlo is already a hot product with a clear market fit. If it manages this rapid growth and transitions to its own supplier database, the future does indeed look bright for this startup.