Dropshipping is one of the best e-commerce business models for small businesses. Yet, it’s not as simple as it may seem. In this post, I will give you a complete step-by-step guide on how to start a successful dropshipping business.
Your personal success as well as the success of your business depends on what product you sell, and where you are going to find it. Of course, the choice of a product is not everything, as there is a lot of competition in this kind of business, and how to stand out among them is a real challenge.
There are many things to know and understand if you want to run a successful dropshipping business. So now that you’ve decided that dropshipping is what you want to go with, your next question would probably be “how do I succeed at it?”
Luckily for you, I’ve made a list of things that are essential for your business to succeed and be profitable.
What is dropshipping?
Dropshipping is a business model that lets you sell products from different companies without ever holding the products in your inventory. In short, dropshipping is the process of selling a product without it ever moving through your hands.
Meaning that you do not keep stock of the item and you don’t keep track of the sales. You simply generate revenue when a customer orders an item from your website.
Besides, dropshipping is an e-commerce model that has been growing and becoming popular in recent years. It has proven itself as one of the most profitable ways to start an eCommerce business and can lead to huge success.
But how exactly do you go about starting it and doing it right? I will reveal to you 8 steps on how you can make your dropshipping business successful.
1. Are you ready to commit to dropshipping?
Before you start a dropshipping business, it’s important to ask yourself the question, “Are you willing to commit to this business?” Because once you get started, you could be spending many hours away from your family and friends trying to make your dropshipping business a success.
The life of a dropshipper has many ups and downs. There will be days when you wonder what you are doing, weeks where no orders come in, and months where you earn enough to pay your rent. Starting a dropshipping business is a lot of hard work.
It requires patience, persistence, and dedication to get through the beginning months when you are trying to build up your customers and network.
So, there are some key things to keep in mind when starting a dropshipping business. Some of them are but not limited to these:
- Do you have the time available to find suppliers?
- Will you be able to handle customer service issues on your own?
By asking yourself some questions first, it will give you an idea about the work involved and if it is worth starting a dropshipping business. Are you ready for that?
2. Decide on your niche
The world of eCommerce is diverse. While the ease of having a business online presents endless opportunities, it can also be incredibly overwhelming. After you’re convinced that dropshipping is for you, the next thing is to decide on a good niche.
A niche is simple enough to understand. It’s just a targeted group of people that are looking for things specific. They are looking for products, services, and solutions that will help them solve a certain problem or enhance an aspect of their lives.
Make sure your business is operated in a niche that has specific customer needs and demands and has a high demand for your offering. The key here is to find an area with high demand.
Also, keep in mind that you will have to change niches if it doesn’t work out. You can get stuck with unnecessary inventory because you didn’t follow one of the most important startup business tips.
3. Find products to dropship
Every single dropshipping store requires a product. Once you have that figured out, it is time to find the right products to dropship for your target market. Whether you are just getting started or have been in business for years, one thing that has remained constant is the need to find products.
A good dropshipping product can be any product that is in high demand, has high margins, and is easy to source. When searching for products to dropship, you want to look for trending niche items that have a high demand and a low supply.
Check out the best-selling products on Amazon, type in your niche into Google search, and visit Reddit’s subreddit for your niche to see if your product has been posted there. There are many ways to find dropshipping products to sell.
Here are some suggestions on some tools to get ideas of what to dropship:
Keywords Everywhere is an excellent tool to discover product ideas. This chrome extension works great for finding niche ideas to dropship. It shows you the number of competition and their keywords for the top 25 search results on google or bing for any keyword you are researching.
Google Trends is an excellent way to know what the most sought-after products are. This tool shows how interested people are in topics through the popularity of related searches. It’s important to check to see if these products go in line with your niche and your potential customer target, too.
4. Carry out competition research
For any new product you want to develop, you must carry out strong competition research. This will help you find out all the similar products in the market. You will also get to know about your main competitors. Identify their strengths and weaknesses.
Besides, if you want to be successful as a dropshipper, then you must carry out your competition research properly. If you don’t know what your competitors are offering and the prices at which they are selling their products, then how can you sell at a cheaper price?
It would also be easy for your competitors to overtake you in terms of sales due to their prior knowledge of what’s currently on offer. Always try to come up with a unique marketing approach, that will set your company apart from the crowd.
To determine how your competitors advertise their products or services, do keyword research on keywords associated with your product. For example, if you are making writing T-shirts, you can do keyword research on ‘T-shirt printing’.
From this keyword research, you can easily find out which company ranks 1, 2, and 3 for this keyword search (these companies are your main competitors). Another way to determine your competitor’s marketing approach is by checking out their website and social media profiles.
5. Select a reliable dropshipper
Once you have figured out what your product will be, the next move is to find a dropshipper or a supplier. This is important since you do not want to deal with products on your own. Finding reliable suppliers is crucial especially for fresh food products.
These are the businesses that will act as your manufacturer, purchasing inventory from suppliers and then shipping it to individual customers when ordered. You can choose from a variety of dropshipper available online.
It costs few hours of your time to check out their website and see what they are offering. And the best thing is that you can even visit their warehouse to see what kind of products they are selling. Make sure that you select a reputable dropshipper who sells authentic products.
The following are some of the factors that you should look at when deciding which dropshippers to work with:
How long does it take for goods to be processed?
That’s a valid concern. The whole idea of dropshipping is to get your products immediately without worrying about storage and shipping costs.
It would be unwise to order from a store that doesn’t have enough manpower or infrastructure to handle your orders on time. In fact, if you aren’t able to track your package for weeks, dropshipping may not be for you.
What methods of shipping the products are available?
If you plan on shipping the products to individual customers, you’ll need to consider whether the dropshipper offers a variety of shipping options.
Factors that play into this include where the company is located in relation to your store, and what methods the website uses to display shipping rates.
Do they have a tracking order system?
Every dropship company worth it will provide you with a tracking order for each shipment you send out. You can use these shipment numbers to check on the status of your dropship items. A good tracking order system is vital, especially when large volumes are involved.
What warranties/guarantees do they provide?
Warranties and guarantees are very basic for any eCommerce website. You should ask if they provide any business guarantee, customer service guarantee, and money-back guarantee.
So there you have it! These are a few of the things to consider when selecting a dropshipper. Be sure to fully read up on the dropshippers reviews, how long they’ve been in business, additional features that stand out to you and other customers as well.
6. Build your eCommerce website
eCommerce websites are an excellent choice for product-based companies to sell online. Having a custom and professional eCommerce website is very critical to the success of any online business.
A well-designed website can help you increase sales and reach a broader audience. Gone are the days when you only needed a simple blog or website, now you need a fully functional eCommerce website.
Once you have your products finalized and your vendor or manufacturers ready, you can set up an eCommerce website with website builders.
eCommerce website builders are a great way to build your website easily. Build your very own eCommerce store for free. With just a few clicks you can have a full-featured website up and running, open for business in days, not months – and without any technical skills.
More than just an e-commerce site and a store creator, Shopify is also good for dropshipping business. For, the app works equally well as a backend. Many plug-ins and add-ons make it very easy to run stores on Shopify.
You can connect your site with tons of marketplaces, shipping carriers, payment processors, and more.
That means Shopify gives you the power to start your own dropshipping business since it has features like a cutting-edge eCommerce shopping cart, world-class fulfillment, and customer service. Everything you need to sell online is here.
One of the best platforms for building an e-commerce website for your dropshipping store is by using the WooCommerce platform. This WordPress plugin allows you to customize your products and integrates well with other Shopify themes.
The simplicity of this platform will save you a lot of time and effort. It’s easy to set up and comes with everything you need to start selling today, including over 40 free extensions.
On the website, you get support any time of the day and have an active group of users who can help you fix any issues you may have.
BigCommerce is a fully integrated, end-to-end eCommerce solution that provides hundreds of professional, blazingly-fast eCommerce website designs to start your dropshipping business.
With many integrations and built-in digital marketing tools, Bigcommerce makes it easy to provide the best online shopping experience for your customers.
7. Promote your business
You have a website. Now what? It is important to get your business the visibility it deserves online. This is possible only if you effectively promote your business through all available digital channels.
Lucky for you, there are tons of smart, affordable social media marketing tactics that can get the word out. By owning a dropshipping business, you’ll likely have to market your products via social media and sites like Instagram or Facebook.
Using these platforms will help you start growing your business by increasing your follower count. Each social media platform functions differently and has different recommended actions to increase followers. Here are some tips to promote your dropshipping business:
Use email marketing
Email marketing is a cost-effective, scalable, and precise way of promoting your dropshipping business on a large scale to your target market. It’s like texting in bulk to all your friends & family about the event of the year.
Turn your subscribers into buyers by sending them special offers and cool deals they can’t refuse.
Run Facebook ads
Using Facebook ads is a great way to promote your dropshipping business. It allows you to test what advertising strategy works best for your product category. As Facebook Ads help make buying decisions easier, you can expect increased conversions and sales.
What’s more, with Facebook ads you can order different types of advertisements: text only, carousel post, video ad, etc., and set certain statistical goals for a particular campaign.
Carefully choose your social media strategy
Social Media can be crucial to your dropshipping success and the way you will go about promoting your business. No matter the size of your business, you do want to be on as many social media platforms as possible.
It is also impossible for you to maintain a social media presence everywhere each day. Therefore, it helps to have a strategy in place that encompasses your brand’s voice, tone, and personality.
Start a YouTube channel
Start your own YouTube channel to boost your online presence and help your customers understand the benefits of each feature.
Depending on what kinds of videos you create, you can expose your target market to new products or generate hype around an upcoming product launch. Also, do not focus on making money from the beginning, it will take some time for this to happen!
Learn more: Social media managing tools.
8. Seek financial stability
Your most important, if not the most important skill in business is financial management. “If you don’t get that right, everything else will be a waste of precious time and resources.
Finally, with the idea of never having to work another day in your life, most people would agree that becoming a successful entrepreneur is one of the best goals you can set for yourself.
It sounds amazing and it is but there are going to be days when you want to quit, crawl under a rock and give up on this newfound life.
Is dropshipping worth it?
Yes. Dropshipping is great for entrepreneurs, especially those starting. For those just starting, it offers a nice opportunity to test the waters. It’s a wonderful opportunity to save money while getting what you want.
One of the main reasons that small businesses have experienced a large increase in new entrants is due to dropshipping. Of course, what could be better than buying things at low prices?
How hard is it to start a dropshipping business?
It is not hard to start a dropshipping business. However, you must have some great knowledge about the product(s) that you sell. You must know the demand for a particular product for your niche market.
Besides, it doesn’t require a lot of money to get started. I must warn you that it may not be easy right off the bat, but if you are persistent and apply everything that you learn in this post, I’m sure that your online business will take off.
How quickly can you make money dropshipping?
When starting a new business, many entrepreneurs ask themselves, “how quickly can I make money?” The answer to that question comes down to how quickly you can earn money with your dropship products.
If you’re able to drive a lot of traffic to your store and sell your products for higher than retail price, then making money dropshipping could happen very quickly.
Of course, if you’re not able to generate traffic or sell at a profit from the beginning, then it could take more time to start earning revenue. The truth is that most successful dropship businesses start generating revenue within the first 30 days.
Is dropshipping profitable?
Yes. Dropshipping is very profitable. An individual can do it even from his or her home. It is easy to establish a business that will make some cash.
Even if you make a loss at first, your competitors are also doing it and hence you should not give up easily. So long as your marketing skills are good, you will be able to move past the initial loss and earn some money with dropshipping.
What’s the catch with dropshipping?
There is no catch with dropshipping. However, there are some drawbacks to dropshipping that should be considered.
For some, it can be harder to manage to price when compared to a traditional retail store. Because customers receive their products from suppliers directly, you may or may not have control over the cost and quality of the product delivered.
Because of this factor, price comparisons can be difficult. Nonetheless, if you can use the internet, and click a button, you can run a successful dropshipping business.
What are the best products to dropship?
The best products to dropship are those that are in high demand, with niche markets. The idea is to sell products that people are ready to buy right now otherwise you will leave money on the table.
Besides, you can research products that other successful dropshippers are selling by checking out their profit margins. Chances are if they’re making great returns on an item that means there is a market for it and the demand isn’t dying anytime soon.
Can you live off dropshipping?
Yes, if you are willing to put in the hours and make your dropshipping business work.
People tell of a few online dropshipping success stories; a few of them even claim to be doing well from their dropshipping ventures.
Dropshipping as a passive income is possible to generate, but you’ll have to put effort into it.
Can you dropship without a website?
Yes, you can dropship without a website. However, this might not always be the best option for your business. Having your eCommerce website allows you to control your brand and product image.
Besides, you will have the capability to personalize your marketing efforts to customers and reach them on their preferred channels, whether that’s through email, social media, or messaging apps!
Is dropshipping safe?
Yes, dropshipping is safe and legitimate if you are going to do it the right way. There are still some risks involved especially in this industry where there are a lot of scammers out there but if you learn how to avoid scams, then this business really will be profitable for you!
A successful dropshipping business is a dream for many e-commerce entrepreneurs. It allows you to start an online business with little to no money on your part.
In fact, it could be significantly less than the cost of starting an e-commerce site with a merchant account. For years, dropshipping has been known as one of the easiest ways through which you can start your successful online store.
Once you get the formula right, scaling your operation gets much easier to achieve. While there are many pitfalls when getting started with dropshipping, it doesn’t have to be complicated.
This guide lays out everything for those who want to learn how to get started with dropshipping and also for existing dropshippers looking to improve their performance.
Get started today by creating your store on Shopify.