In this episode of the eCommerce Lifestyle Podcast, Anton shares what to do if you get into a niche with lots of custom products.
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What's up everybody, Anton Kraly here from eCommercelifestyle.com and welcome back to the podcast. If you're new here, know that this show comes out twice a week. We have brand new episodes that go live every single Monday and Thursday morning. They are all designed to help e-commerce store owners to increase their revenue, automate their operations, and become the authority in their niche. So if you are looking to build, grow, or possibly even buy an e-commerce store, be sure to subscribe to this podcast. You can just go to whatever podcast player you use, search for eCommerce Lifestyle, click subscribe, and you will get notified every Monday and Thursday morning when a new episode comes out.
So with that being said, today's episode is all about how to sell custom products, and I'm going to keep this short and sweet, straight to the point, but I wanted to discuss this because I was just on a coaching call, a small group coaching call, that I do with members of my coaching program Drop Ship Lifestyle, and this question came in, let me just read it to you. It says, "Hey Anton, what are your thoughts on customizing products? I have a product line that needs a lot of customization, but has high margins."So great question, and this is something that some people might stumble upon within their niche almost accidentally, like they pick their niche, then they realize that they have a supplier or two or 20 that do have products that require lots of customization or possibly people will even intentionally get into a niche that requires a lot of customization.
For example, I'll post the link to this below this podcast in the description, but every year at Drop Ship Lifestyle, I post an updated Top 10 Niches list for that year, and in 2020, the top 10 list was actually all about custom products. And just so everyone's on the same page, when I say custom products or customizable products, I'll just read this top 10 list for you now. Again, this was from 2020, and then I'll link below to the posts where you can get all my top tens for the past six years, I think.
But for custom products, we had work benches. So picture something that a, I'm doing air quotes here, that a maker would build in their garage, or somebody that builds out a workshop. If they're going to get a work bench, they're going to get the work bench and then it's going to have add-ons for legs, drawers, clamps, all different things they can add on or build it up to customize it with. Stone pavers, right? What you see in people's driveways sometimes or in their patios. People, if they're going to buy stone pavers, have to buy enough to fill their area. So that would be a custom order because they're buying what they need it to fit their space, and then they might be adding the edging that goes around as well to hold them in place. Maybe the sand that goes underneath it, right? The whole kit. It has to be customized for them to get exactly what they need.
And I won't explain why the rest of these are custom products, I'll just read through them quickly to again, hopefully get you thinking what I mean by when I say custom products. So we have CNC machines and tables. Those are the machines people use for metal cutting and laser cutting. Home theater seating because there's different styles and tons of different color options and sizes. Outdoor kitchens, because some people just buy one small piece, some people build out the whole outdoor kitchen. Crown molding because the size of the room is obviously different. Warehouse shelving, closet organization systems, garage organization systems, and billiard tables, pool tables, right? You can get different colors. You can get different felt. You can get different legs. You can get different pockets, like the nets that hang underneath. So these are all examples of custom products.
Now when it comes to selling though, the question was what are your thoughts on them, right? So first of all, my thoughts are they're great and some of the reasons they're great is because there typically is less competition because people are less willing to do more work and to set up the ability, at least to do it the right way, to sell custom products on your store will take a little bit extra effort than just listing a product that has no customization available as well. So less competition is typically true. Also, higher margins are typically true because there's just more margins. When people are having that unique experience and building something out and usually spending more money to get exactly what they want because it's something custom, the margins are typically higher.
Now with that being said though, how do you go about actually listing these things and selling these things? Because another question that came up on that coaching call I did the other day was from somebody who said one of their suppliers offers custom products but they said the only way that they can sell, and when I say they, I mean the Drop Ship Lifestyle member, the supplier told them the only way you can sell our products is if you list them on your store and instead of having an 'Add to Cart' button, you have a button that says 'Inquire Now'.
Now I'm just going to say right off the bat, I told him do not do that. You do not want to force people to contact you to place orders. There's nothing wrong with people contacting you to place orders, but give them the option to buy it on their own. Because a few reasons here, the first is that a lot of people don't even want to talk to anybody, right? They just want to get it done on their own. Let them get it done. If they find your website at three in the morning and they're ready to order, nobody's answering the phone so let them order. And the other big reason why I am not a fan of listing products where people have to inquire to buy them is because if you do that, you cannot run certain types of ads.
For example, Google Shopping campaigns are only eligible. You can only run them for products that people can purchase on your site, right? It has to be exactly what the person sees on Google shopping. So if I was selling a work bench, right? The first example I gave, and even if there were a hundred different ways to customize it, I couldn't have it if there was not a way for people just to buy it on my site for a set price and run Google Shopping ads to it, okay? That wouldn't be eligible. So for those reasons, I would never recommend having custom products that people could not just purchase on their own.
Now with that being said, I mentioned this a little bit earlier, but it's not the worst thing in the world if people do contact you to order. So how do we make the most of this, right? And how can you do it as well? Well, when you're figuring out what products you want to sell on your store and not your niche, right? I'm thinking past niche here, you have your niche, you spoke with your supplier, let's just say you're selling workbenches and the supplier has a ... I should know this.
I don't even know what they're made out of, but they have a ... Let's say 76 inch tabletop with ... And that's the base version. And then the legs are ... They have different variations of the legs for maybe height. Maybe some are on casters, on wheels, some aren't, but the base one, they can get a 76 inch tabletop and some basic legs, right? The base version. Make that the product on your store. So your product would be whatever it is, 76 inch ... I wouldn't even say that. I would say brand name, supplier name, work bench. Whatever the product name is.
Now this is where you have the opportunity to run Google Shopping ads. Because now that that is a product on your store, you can run ads for that product because it's there, people can go, they can purchase it. Whatever price you say it is, is what it costs. People can buy it on their own. Now the next step, and this is where that extra work again, it's worth it, so don't think I'm not going to do that. I mean, if you think that then don't do it, fine. I'll do it. My other students will do it, they'll make more money, but the extra work is customizing that product page, right? In that example, the wood workbench product page, and allowing people to customize it on your website.
Now how can you do that? Well, a few options. The easiest that most likely won't require paying anybody to help you with coding or anything. I can't code so if I wanted to do it myself, I would use an app from Shopify called Bold Product Options, and this allows you to have options on your product pages. So in the workbench example, maybe one of the options is would you like to add casters, right? The wheels so you can push it. Would you like to upgrade from a 76 inch countertop or tabletop to 120 inches? Would you like pre drilled holes? Would you like to add a clamp? Would you like to add this shelving unit? And what that will allow the customer, the shopper, on your website to do is customize it without having to talk to you, right? They can go through that process on your page.
Now the next level of that, right? If you want to get really fancy, let's say with the stone paver example, right? The bricks, basically. So you can just have the bricks on your website and you can have bundles. So maybe the base order is, I don't know, 10, and then do you want to get 20? Do you want to get 40? Whatever it is, the next thing you can do there, the next level is hiring somebody that actually is a coder and building tools that ... I'll tell you in the beginning, I would think things like this weren't even possible, but the truth is there's a lot of very experienced web developers and the price wouldn't be all that much money.
But you can have a custom tool built, for example, for stone pavers on your product pages where people could put in the dimensions of the space where they wanted to lay them and then your website through this custom code could tell them exactly how many they need, right? So you could take it to that level. That way instead of somebody having to contact you and saying, "Hey, I'm building a new patio and it is 10 feet by 20 feet. How many pavers do I need?" They can enter that on your product page and it would automatically show them exactly what they need and allow them to add that to their cart. Now the benefit of that is again, you could still have your base product, maybe it's the set of 10 stone pavers that you are running the ads to, but then when people get to that product page, they can enter the size of their space, it would tell them exactly what they need, they can quickly add that to their cart and buy it.
Now if you're looking to have somebody do custom coding for you, we have full-time developers that do stuff for us, but I would highly recommend posting an ad on upwork.com. Not an ad, a job, on upwork.com looking for a Shopify pro and trying to find somebody from there. So beyond that, the other things that you'll want to do to sell custom products are on those product pages, even with either bold product options or custom code that allows people to customize it in a unique way on your store.
You still should have the option somewhere that they can easily see it for them to contact you if they need if they need to. If there's anything unique about what they want, give them that option. So you're not removing the 'Add to Cart' button or anything like that, but you can have a space on those product pages that could say something like 'Contact us for a custom quote' and when they click that, it can open a form that they can fill out to enter what they think they need. Or if they need any help putting together the custom product, you can have them ask about it there.
One pro tip I'll throw in is if you do that, if you add that, one of the questions you should ask them on that form for a custom quote is when they expect to order, because that will just help you and your team, if you have one, prioritize who to contact and what to expect when that contact is made. So when they expect to order is a good question to add there.
So yeah, those are the main things I wanted to cover, guys. Custom products, again, I would encourage you to sell them, and if you do it, make sure people can buy something on your store at a base price so you can run ads to it and so you can not make people have to contact you, but then build it out from there. Allow them to customize it themselves, whether that's using bold product options or having custom code created from somebody you can hire on Upwork and also give them the option to contact you if they need that extra assistance putting something together.
And I guess the final thing I'll say is with custom products, sometimes lead times are longer if the products are being literally made for the person, and that is totally fine. Everybody knows I do not like drop shipping from China. I can't stand long lead times, neither can customers, but the exception there is when the product is custom made, if it says it on your product page how long it takes to be made, customers that actually want the thing are willing to wait because they know it's custom. So don't get caught up or concerned there.
So that's it for this one, guys. As always, I hope you got value. If you did, do me a favor, go to Apple podcasts and leave a review. I will post a link for that in the podcast description. When you click that link and go to Apple podcasts, you do have to scroll down through all the previous episodes, I've got about 240 of them for you, but when you get to the bottom, you'll see the review section and yeah, I would really appreciate it if you can leave one over there.
So yeah, that's it, guys. And if you want, I should say this too for anybody listening that's like this sounds good, but I don't even have a store yet. Be sure to check out a new updated training I just released, you can find it at dropshipwebinar.com, D-R-O-P-S-H-I-Pwebinar.com. Again, new updated training there for you and I will link that in the description as well. So thank you, everybody. I appreciate you and I will talk to you in the next episode of the eCommerce Lifestyle podcast. See you, everybody.