Choosing between a niche store and a general store will be one of the first decisions you will make as a new Shopify store owner.
And making that decision isn’t as straightforward as some may think, especially for someone new to eCommerce.
Well, after reading this article, your polarizing and conflicting decision making will come to an end.
I’m going to take you through not only deciding which choice to make but also how to get your store set up and find products that will sell the day you open up shop!
But first, let’s cover the basics of each store type.
A niche store is a dropshipping or print on demand (POD) store focuses on a single specific niche or subject.
Niches focus on passions and items that have a cult-like following, such as particular careers, specific dog breeds, and hobbies.
A general store is one that sells a variety of items from different categories of niches.
General stores aren’t necessarily composed of passion-based items, although some can be.
General stores focus on selling a variety of unique products with the same shopping experience, similar to a Wal-Mart or Amazon.
There are 30 other articles out there that will explain, in-depth, the universal pro’s and con’s list that distinguishes a niche from a general store.
So I’m not going to rehash the unnecessary information to you.
Instead, I have created a straightforward chart that will explain each point to you.
Let’s move on and debunk some common myths and misconceptions associated with the chart above.
You can effectively sell products to consumers in a niche you’re unfamiliar with.
It may take a little extra research, but you can familiarize yourself with the pain points and passions of the customers within your stores’ niche.
It’s true, AliExpress can turn into a rabbit hole that will suck you in without even realizing it. However, with the right tools and methods set in place (which we will be going over shortly) you can resist the distractions.
Starting with a general store is the easiest way to break into eCommerce.
A general store gives you the chance to test different products without any restrictions on products or audiences to sell to.
No matter what you choose to do, you’ll never be ‘stuck’ with that decision.
I will admit, it is easier to start with a general store that pivots into a particular niche based on which types of products sell the most on your store. Not to mention, you will know how to target the niche you decide to focus on precisely.
However, if you start in a particular niche, you can always expand your product line and introduce new collections of different niches. Targeting new audiences may be rocky at first, but you’ll still have old traffic to rely on for sales.
For the scope of this article, I’m going to mostly focus on getting started with a product line and sourcing products.
If you want to learn about optimized store set up and design, check out our free downloadable Shopify Conversion Checklist!
This checklist will take you through the ABC’s of building a Shopify store from the ground up.
It teaches you the optimal placements of certain features, how to choose a cohesive color scheme, app recommendations, and even recommendations for the best sales converting themes!
Instead of spending money on hiring a designer that is unfamiliar with store design optimization, download our FREE Shopify Conversion Checklist created by those who specialize in it.
You should start with a product line of 5 items or less, here’s why:
Just because you’ll have access to every single type of product available on AliExpress doesn’t mean that they’re all great products to sell.
You want to pay attention to the wholesale price, dimensions, and the accessibility to the products in questions.
You want to avoid dropshipping products that have a high wholesale price because then your mark up will be too high for someone to purchase on impulse.
Larger items will have higher shipping costs; which will either have to reflect on your stores’ shipping policy or your products pricing – which will also exceed the impulse price point.
Finally, consider the accessibility to the products your customers may already have access to. Commodities such as car chargers and cable adapters wouldn’t be the wisest things to sell on your store.
You should be selecting products that:
If your product in question doesn’t meet any of these requirements, move on.
Although Amazon is viewed to be every dropshippers biggest competitor, you can use their strong points as your very own.
Amazon has a section in its navigation titled “Today’s Deals.”
Essentially, it’s a treasure trove of products separated into different categories and niches that are only on sale for 24 hours.
The reason I mention it as a validation tool is that underneath each product, you can see the number of products that have been ‘claimed’/bought during the sale period.
So not only can you view the popularity of products, but you can see how they will perform with added scarcity metrics added to your product page.
The key is to look for products that have had half of their stock ‘claimed.’
eBay is another popular platform you can take advantage of.
eBay also separates its products into categories. However, you won’t be doing much product research on the platform itself.
There is a site called Watchcount that you will use in conjunction with the platform.
According to Watchcount: “Watchcount shows you the most popular eBay items in real-time, as voted by eBay users.eBay continuously tracks votes (when users click “Add to Watch List”), and we report the results…We reveal live Watch Counts (how many watchers), providing rankings and unique search capabilities you won’t find on eBay US itself.”
Take product categories from eBay and type them into the search bar of Watchcount.
You can then verify the product popularity and interest by ‘watch’ feature!
Once you gather a wide selection of product types and niches, go to the Audience Insights tool in your Ads Manager.
Once you’re there, type the niche into the interest field and if the reach isn’t at least 1 million people, ditch the niche and product and move on to the next niche and product idea.
Now that we’ve validated the niches and found prospective products to sell, its time to find them on AliExpress!
However, I’m sure that you’ve found out pretty quickly that there are thousands of variations of products on AliExpress, which is why I want to recommend Cookie.io.
Cookie.io is a comprehensive product research tool that allows you to quickly find profitable products you can start selling on your store within minutes!
Instead of spending 10 hours a week on product research that yields no results, Cookie.io allows you to quickly find proven to sell products so you can focus on tasks that will scale your business.
Instead of scouring through hundreds of products and comparing reviews, order amounts, and seller ratings, Cookie.io does all the work for you!
However, Cookie.io is not just limited to dropshippers. Cookie.io integrates with platforms such as Etsy and Pinterest to generate trending product ideas for print on demand stores.
Let’s take a look at the specific tools within the Cookie.io suite.
For those of you interested in a print on demand store, you should know that Pinterest will be your go-to validation buddy.
You won’t be able to copy the designs you find on Pinterest. However, you can see what types of products and niches are trending to inspire yours.
And with Cooki.io’s Pinterest Searcher sorting through engagement on Pinterest has never been easier.
Just type in the ‘niche’ + product you’re interested in the search bar, and the items with the highest engagement and pins will appear in the search results!
You can narrow down results by the number of times a post has been saved and specify the time frame, so you only view the most recent designs and products out there.
The Etsy Product Search tool allows you to see which products customers are buying in real-time on Etsy with a simple keyword search!
This tool allows you to stay on top of current product trends and find products that your customers will want to buy.
Another tool in the Cookie.io arsenal that shows you which products are selling in real-time is the Reveal Top Sellers.
The difference between this tool and the Etsy Product search tool is that you aren’t limited to the best selling products on Etsy…
…You have unrestricted access to the top-selling products on ANY Shopify store!
In addition to viewing the best selling items on a store, you can use this tool to determine:
The only thing required of you is a Shopify URL, which you can find on Myip.ms.
Myip.ms is an online database that hosts every single Shopify stores URL.
All you have to do is grab any URL from the database and plug it into the search field.
… Now you can find your next profitable product!
The AliExpress Search tool is the go-to product research tool for dropshippers.
This tool filters out low interest products on AliExpress and only pulls products that are proven to sell in the search results.
Let me show you how the AliExpress Search tool will start making you money the moment you use it.
… And watch your soon-to-be profits populate!
As you can see, the first result generates a product that has had 3,242 orders!
The price is only $0.80, and you can easily resell it for $25.00.
The product research doesn’t stop there! Just click the ‘Find Stores Selling This’ button on the search result to find other dropshipping stores selling this same product!
You can then use the information on their product page to determine a competitive price and different ways to pitch your product! You never want to copy someone else’s descriptions or titles exactly. However, you can improve upon them to create your own!
You can then use their URL in the Reveal Top Sellers tool to see which products are selling the most amongst your competition!
In addition to our powerful software, you also get access to our revolutionary $10K a month Shopify training and weekly interactive workshops put on by eCommerce Experts
This 5-part training takes you through building a store from the ground up to scale it and turn profits as quickly as possible.
This training includes the EXACT strategies we used to scale our Shopify store to $10K a month in just 30 days.
In this training you’ll learn everything from:
At Cookie.io, we believe that there is always an opportunity to learn, especially in an ever-changing eCommerce landscape. Which is why all Cookie.io members get free access to live, interactive workshops hosted 3X a month!
In these live workshops, taught by industry leaders, you will learn conversion-boosting strategies that you can implement immediately. Topics range from SEO best practices to custom store designs and even using metrics to increase your store’s revenue.
Typically, these workshops are about $200/session, but as a valued Cookie.io member, you get access for free.
Cookie.io usually is $67 a month…
… HOWEVER, if you sign up today, you can get started for only $1 and locked into our 33% off startup special.
So, instead of paying $67 a month, for just $47 a month you can get access to our proprietary software, $10K a month Shopify training, and weekly interactive workshops indefinitely.
Subscribe to Cookie.io Right Now to Get Instant Access to Your $10K a Month Tools and Roadmap for Only $1 Today.
This is great and useful information. This is the problem I have with starting a dropshipping store is decideing which path to take niche or general store. I find that yes a general store will be difficult because of the competition that exsists, however a niche store you really need to get it right from the start or you need to start again. From what I gather in your information is that you recommend going with a general store at first to see which products or niche sells the most. From there you can tweak the store down to that particular niche, is that correct?
Any information would help
Hello, on the cookie.io sales page it says there is a video training suite regarding Facebook ads, to know which objectives to use, video vs image etc.. where could I find these trainings?
Hey Anthony! Glad you asked, go to the navigation menu at the top of the page, click on ‘$10K/month Shopify Training’, and go to part 4 of the training – Getting Your First Sale. All of the Facebook ad related training will be there 🙂
You also have access to past webinar trainings which has even more training on running and scaling Facebook ads.
Best of luck!
I want my own customized store that sells a wide variety of stuff
Looks like you’re on track for a general store then, Dalton!
Check out our article on finding unique, winning products to sell to your customers 🙂
Hello I just started and I’m really excited to start my business ???? but I’m having issues with how to set it up and having the right tools to do it, it seem like I got everything figured out but it’s no taking me no where I don’t feel like I’m making process with it
You came to the right place 🙂 We have loads of content on our blog that will help you get your store off the ground!
If you have any further questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂
I’ve tried this for a couple of weeks, but I need more guidance. I love the idea, but after throwing money at this and getting no where. I shut down my store until I can get some more help with this. It’s great you guys are giving out ideas, but they seem to be out of date. I got a lot of people viewing my store, but had no sales for almost 2 weeks. So I had to give up and not spend the money on shopify just yet. I might have to join the team for H-com to receive guidance, and that’s fine! This has some good facts on what to look out for, but unless you are getting the hands on from coaches and what not…this may not be the best thing for you IMO. Guidance is what I need…
Hey Michael – I completely agree. However, we are using a case study from one of the HCOM coaches, and we are still familiarizing ourselves with this strategy just as you are. We plan to post more updates the further we get into testing and before the launch in September 🙂
I always had the question of which type of store should I make mine into. It was answered with pretty good quality on the article. It helped my decisive self out a little, lol.
Yesss! I’m so glad to have helped, Andrew 🙂
OOPs sorry, but I did get the first set of action maps, and on the advice of ‘the boss’ (my girlfriend of 13 years) I didn’t take the upsell.
CURSES, she’s right again! LOL She said “I think they are two different things” and advised me to wait on either you or Patricia.
So I have been going through the $10K/Month Shopify Training in Cookie.io and I want to thank you for getting me to here. I want to thank Devon, Wyatt ( hope that’s spelled correctly) and Patricia for getting to take action and not wait. I have my advertising budget set aside for Bing, Google (of course) and Facebook & Instagram ads.
OKay I’m going all in I have been researching and researching as much as I can about Shopify so I’m taking the plunge and ready to start setting up my store.
I’m purchasing the apps on this page, I already purchased the Action maps from Drip Apps and will most likely purchase the upgrade so I get them all as well as live training each month. ( Ok I know I will purchase the upgrade) LOL
So is there anything I need to know before advancing forward? I will be doing more and more research until I hear from someone like either Devon (Which is where it all began for me) or you Patricia.
Thanks Guys you are greatness in action.
Drip Apps is a separate company and has nothing to do with SMART 🙂
I just signed up and want to repeat a question asked earlier. What do I do first? I did not join H-COM for the simple reason it’s a bit too high for my budget at the moment. In the Intro video Devin goes over from scratch how to get started,
Are the steps contained in Drip Apps? I signed up and am wondering.
As far as starting out with your store – soak in all of the information you can. Subscribe to our blog, join our facebook group and go through the posts : https://www.facebook.com/groups/smar7apps/, and subscribe to our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmCl9fkNhxt_MfN-BKZHBYA.
As far as our blog content goes, I recommend starting out with the following:
Best of luck!
Hello Patricia, I have to say that this is quite an impressive article and the tools seem to be a truly great asset and I do have a few questions for you and the pretty darn amazing Devon Zanders. (Which is how I come to read your article here.
Thanks, Devon and see I do read your emails. LOL)
Since this is my first time commenting here I feel I should tell a little about myself before I start bombarding you with questions. I have been doing affiliate marketing with some success since 2011 and have been hearing about Shopify for about the past year or so but have actually taken notice of the success boom in the last 6 months and instead of being the ‘professional procrastinator’ that has seemed to make me the last to jump on board of what’s actually making money online I am taking the first serious steps into starting a Shopify store.
So my first question is, how do I get started with a great team like Smart7Apps and what is the cost?
#2: I am retired and on a fixed income is it possible for me to get started with a Shopify store without losing my house?
#3: I do still have my side gigs which is my digital product review Blog and two Youtube channels and I already have ad accounts with Facebook, Bing, and of course the big G. (Google) are these an asset or a hindrance?
I hope I’m on the right track here but the key to it all is, that I am retired so I have time to spare but not a lot of cash. I have a wife, four Boxers (that are our children/baby’s) and 13 grandchildren that we just can’t seem to stop spoiling but in order to spoil them properly and leave something for our 6 kids ( the original Brady Bunch here 3 girls, 3 boys) I want to do the Shopify set-up right, and grow it into a nice online business and use it to generate a comfortable income.
I look forward to your response and let Devon Zanders know that I say “he ROCKS!!!”
Thank you for everything and “to your success, we wish the very best!”
Have the day that you deserve,
Hi David! Very excited for you and your new business pursuit. SMART Apps only creates apps to help facilitate your sales and business growth – so you can find our apps within the app store and at cookie.io.
I have also created an article on how to start a store on a budget – so feel free to check that out 🙂
Wish you all the best!
Thanks for everything, I am determined to achieve success with your program/s. I have not added everything yet because we had a major upset in family, hopefully it’s over and I can get back on it. I have a question though, I have tried to access the pdf for the 20 niches several times and nothing has ever been sent to me accept an email asking if I want help with finding profitable products and talking about cookie. Is this what is supposed to apear ? In your videos you talk about the list of 20 niches and I have never seen or been able to find it yet. Could you help me by commenting here or email me at my email address please. Thx so Much Kenny
Hey Kenny, I admire your tenacity! as far as the niches download, just contact our support and they should get it sent over to you 🙂 https://members.smar7apps.com/support
I normally don’t read the bottom comments but i’m glad i did this time. I lot of info shown down here.
My questions is, I just started and would like to know when i can get started? Can I start now or do i have to wait until the course ends, to begin?
If you are referring to the HCOM course, it’s set up as a learn and earn situation. I believe after going through week 5 you should be able to start running ads to your store 🙂
Great Article. Cheers Guys!
My few questions that you probably address in other blog posts are more about the process. I would be glad to read such posts if you do have and can send me the link to them.
First, how do you handle the competition from the Ali express suppliers that ship to the customers on your behalf? Do you have to beg them for respecting your business by not putting price tags and ads in the package? And how do you get certain that they respect it?
Second, why is the Ecom advice all about trending products? is it because we are small starting stores compared to big names like Walmart and others? Is there no way to sell good products without caring about them being trending?
Third, how can we be sure of the quality of products when we try to dropship from China through Smart Express? Do you have a kind of pre screening of suppliers. As a buyer myself, I prefer buying form walmart or other big names because of the easy (and sometimes free) return. If I become a store owner dropshipping from Ali Express, how do I handle customers returns (all the way back to China)?
I know I am literally asking for Golden knowledge by my questions. It may not be free to get answers. But it will be more than helpful.
Hey Abraham, glad you liked the article!
For your first question, all you have to do is simply leave a request in the note field while ordering the products on Ali Express requesting that no promotional material will be left in the packaging. Your suppliers will honor your wishes because the end goal is to continue doing business with you. They won’t compromise that.
For your second question, it will be a lot harder to sell a product that isn’t currently trending, it’s not going to fulfill that impulsive buy that most shoppers are out for. However, if there is a market for the product and it solves a pain point that will stoke that impulse purchase, then, by all means, you should test it out.
As far as quality, there are ratings that you measure by such as supplier feedback, you don’t want to go with a supplier rating less than 90% and avoid any products that have less than 4.0 on feedback. You also want to go with suppliers that have been distributing for at least a year. In the ‘find products’ section of SMART Express you can filter the number of orders for a particular product, you want to look for items that have around 200-1000 orders (this will be variable depending on the product) but generally, the more orders a product has the more it tells you about the quality of the product and the fact that it is in high demand.
And for the returns, suppliers will replace damaged items for free, but if a customer changes their mind on the purchase or wants to return it for any reason, you have to create your own policy but in those cases, you will usually have to pay for that product at cost.
Hope this helped and if you have any further questions I’d be happy to clarify!
Great info – well written. This is super fun – thanks for your great guidance!
I’m happy you enjoyed it, Scott!
Thanks Devin and Patricia! Great info which I am going to check out now! I have been trying ecom for several months now, with no success. I did have my first sale on a free just pay shipping product in Dec. I have two niche stores and now thinking of going general with the next. Tired of the tedious product research only to find products that are not really in my niche. Not a techie is my worst deficit. Yours, Bethany
I am not sure where my first questions went as it came as a pop up at the bottom. The question was how do I navigate this site https://myip.ms/browse/ to specify Shopify stores. also, I am not receiving my free 20 popular niches, I have provided my email address a fair few times already. By the way, I really enjoyed your article.
The next question I have: 2) I have just bought the action map for FB ads and again Devin suggests view content initially etc but Devin has told me recently that now the objective should be Purchase, you can probably understand that I am a little concerned about purchasing training material that is out of date as I am very eager to learn the current method and it causes me uncertainty as to how many other training materials I may purchase which are also obsolete. I would love for the training that I am receiving to be current methods especially on FB ads as this is precisely where I am short on knowledge. Final question; the video Devin presents on the cookies site suggests that you will get smar7 express alongside the cookies app if you were to purchase the cookies app.
I am from India. I would like to know do you have any special advice or suggestions for dropshippers based out of India. It’s still early for Indians to accept dropshipping, but we are trying out.
I think it’s possible to do from anywhere, sadly since I’m not familiar with any laws or regulations there I can’t be of much help
hi! this is a wonderful website and i constantly take pleasure in the information posted here. Bookmarked and shared. Thanks once more!
We love that you love it, Chara! Thanks for sharing!
Very good article , definitely reveal the truth about starting with general or niche store , and go even further by giving tools fr products research a.d high performing ads on fb , as suggestions we would like to know how to generate free sales on Instagram and other social media platforms , a blog on this one this topic will greater , thanks in advance Smart7 Apps
I’m glad you enjoyed it! I am ALWAYS open to suggestions, I will definitely keep that one in mind 🙂
I started through the cookie.io and when watching your webinar it seemed very easy just lost but going to signup for my 14 day shopify trial to get started and will research with the tools provided.
Devin your story is mine and I want to succeed and pay for my ‘shiny objects’ plus more LOL. 🙂 Thank you
We’re so excited to see your success! Go get ’em! 🙂
Just read your article still in first faze of building my business but can not wait to start using your formula ,
🙂 We can’t wait either!
Great informative post patricia..i spared my time and energy on “learning” instead of >(getting lost in Ali Express’s sauce)…I’m greatful to be here studying with you guys…
We’re glad you like the article!
Great article, Patricia and I love it to the top. Looks like in order to succeed in this e-commerce business, one have to do a whole heck of work but the consolation is what my main man Devin has put together to make it a walk in the park. Devin, you absolutely rock. Hey I’ve almost purchased everything you put out there in this article and can’t wait to pick your brains in the path of success. I’m yet to launch my store, still going through the modules and just finished Build Week. Can I apply all these tricks while going through the modules or I have to finish first?
Thanks a million Patricia and Professor Devin.
You are awesome, we are thrilled to have you apart of the SMAR7 Family! You can totally apply as you go 🙂 We are excited to see your successes to come!
I’m a little confused looking for the cookie app on Facebook, can you guys post a link to it or let me know what exactly to search for? thank you
Do you mean to start using it? There are multiple links in the article and you can purchase the Cookie app here: https://skup.net/instant-products
Exactly what I needed.
Love SMAR7 Aps !
Is it too soon to say we love you too?
Great article, this info has really given me confidence in continuing my general store.
So glad you enjoyed it and found it useful Jack 🙂