Dropshipping has become something of a household word, and it has piqued the interest of would-be e-treprenuers. The growth of Doba, Alibaba, and Oberlo, to name a few, and the relatively easy integrations into small e-commerce sites as well as larger platforms such as Amazon and Ebay, have all contributed to the popularity dropshipping is enjoying today.
A quick Google search will bring you to sites touting the ease of dropshipping, and YouTube videos of eager instant-millionaires who can’t wait to show you how you too can be semi retired, sipping margaritas on a Maui resort, all while your dropshipping business “literally makes you money while you sleep.” (They do want you to pay for their advice though…)
Maybe you’re considering opening a dropshipping storefront, or perhaps you already have one. Likely you’re experiencing some struggles that the “overnight successes” conveniently forgot to mention. Like, how do you get customers to your store? What if these products aren’t very good? How do you answer customers’ questions about the products? Another issue is shipping. You’ll notice that most of the products are dropshipped from overseas. Shipping typically takes anywhere from 20-40 days! How can I keep customers happy with these long shipping times?
So maybe dropshipping is not all it’s cracked up to be, but can you make it work? Here are 4 rules to keep in mind when thinking about dropshipping.
- Less is more. Instead of listing thousands, or even hundreds of products on your website, spend time researching and curating the ones that grab your interest. Then, work on those listings carefully. Customize the descriptions and meta data. Update pictures. Design unique pages for them, and add helpful links. Make sure these are products you would want to buy yourself, and figure out why others would want to as well. A focused website with fewer great products that are well researched is far more lucrative than simply listing everything your supplier has and hoping for the best.
- Know your customers. Once you have a good idea of which products you think you can sell, get to know your customer. What demographic are you seeking to attract? Figure that out, and connect with them. If you’re selling sporting goods and your ideal customer is the amateur fitness enthusiast, their interests might include exercise, balancing work and home, and healthy lifestyle choices. Your website needs to reflect that. Helpful guides, articles, and links are a great start. Your visuals and image choices should connect with that core audience. Social media and other marketing should not be about your products as much as it is about your customers. Give them a reason to connect with you.
- Create trust. Study websites that you visit over and over again, and think about what it is that makes them trustworthy. Then go to some other sites selling similar products and notice the subtle differences. It may be testimonials, videos, social interactions, certificates of protection, or a combination of all. Remember, the more you expose about yourself, the more trustworthy you become. Don’t underestimate the value of the “About us” page, especially before you have any longevity. Show pictures of the owners, tell your story, and give your customers easy ways to contact you. If you have social media icons, make sure they are active! Nothing makes users click off a website faster than dead links. Remember, no matter how pretty the template, it is only that. A template. And your customers know that. Give them a reason to trust the store, not just the theme.
- Move past dropshipping. Dropshipping is a way to generate some business without handling the physical products, but remember why you wanted to open your own business to begin with. You didn’t want to be reliant on the big companies for your income, or nickel and dime everyone else in the same space. No one wins the price war. The sooner you can have a direct involvement with your vendors and supply chain, the more control you will have over your product quality, nature of your business, and ultimately, your brand. If you can have your products in your inventory and immediately upon receiving your online order, ship the items domestically, you just jumped ahead of every one of your competitors who are still relying on the overseas supplier for transit. The good news is you still don’t need to open a warehouse and get into the shipping business. Fulfillment centers can handle all of that for you. You can have your products shipped directly to your fulfillment center and they will act as the fulfillment branch of your business. Here at Fulfillrite, for instance, we are seamlessly integrated into all your shopping cart platforms, and pick, pack and ship immediately upon receiving the order.
There are certainly advantages to exploring dropshipping, but nothing will bring you success like being your own brand.
At the end, that’s what matters most.