Being your own boss, working from wherever you want, and having access to a global market: these are all perks of having your own ecommerce store. Honestly, I can write an entire ebook on how the internet has transformed the way we work and live, with new success stories emerging all the time. However, starting an online store isn’t a walk in the park…
… it’s hard work.
Generally, it requires a good understanding of things like marketing, logistics and fulfillment, to name a few, but focusing on these areas before you even get started can be stressful. Then, you have to chalk out a plan for inventory storage, which can pose an even bigger challenge if you plan to operate from home.
That’s where dropshipping becomes your savior.
Dropshipping is a fulfilment business model that allows you to sell items you don’t own. The idea behind it is that a wholesaler or manufacturer (supplier) offers you the option of selling products without buying them first. They also function as service providers to save you the hassle of:
- Storing inventory
- Risking money on products when you aren’t confident about their demand
- Packaging and shipping products
Dropshipping works well for solopreneurs with limited time and capital. If you have both, then you already have an edge, but you don’t require either to launch a successful dropshipping company.
This post sheds light on everything that goes into starting a dropshipping business, from finding suppliers to choosing a platform to sell on. To make the process easier to follow, I’ve broken it down into 5 super simple steps.
1. Find Dropshipping Suppliers
You need to explore multiple avenues to find the right dropshipping suppliers. A good place to start is our own website which connects you with credible suppliers stocking a wide range of items from hoverboards to kitchen appliances. We offer both a curated marketplace of unique products as well as access to Wish.com to source millions of high-margin items. Also, you get to see the potential profit for each product, which can be factored into product selection.
In addition, Modalyst users enjoy the following benefits:
For more suppliers, try flicking through the following websites & directories:
Inventory Source: The site connects you with 150+ suppliers and even offers an option to add your own private supplier. Its features include optimized inventory sync, full product data integration and worry free order automation.
Worldwide Brands: This is one of the oldest and most popular supplier directories with over 10 million products. It says it only includes suppliers that adhere to a set of guidelines to ensure quality wholesalers.
Doba: Doba boasts a selection of over 2 million items ranging from books to apparel. The site also lets retailers export products into their store, and ensures that the products are shipped in a timely manner.
If you’re on the lookout for local suppliers, go through the Suppliers section in your Yellow pages. Consider ones who have prior experience in dropshipping and understand the importance of delivering products to your customers on time. You might also want to inquire about their quality control system i.e. how they deal with sub-standard products and return requests. This will help prevent headaches down the road.
2. Choose The Best Products to Sell
Begin by sifting your supplier’s product range and select a few items that interest you. Get a feel of their demand by:
Browsing Popular Items in Online Marketplaces
You can search online marketplaces to discover which of your selected items have the potential to become top sellers. Check out sites like Amazon, eBay and Alibaba to gauge the demand of your product mix.
If you find the products you want to sell (or similar ones) in one of the lists, you’re on the right path. However, you’ll have to spend some time looking around as there’s currently no option that allows you to search specific items.
Use Google Trends to Speed Things Up
If your product selection doesn’t match any of the best selling items, you’ll likely start questioning its viability. However, a product not making Amazon’s best sellers list doesn’t mean it’s not in demand. You can study the popularity and trendiness of any product by typing its name in Google Trends.
Using this tool, you can easily and quickly see search volume trends over a period of time to know whether or not your selected item is in demand. For instance, let’s say you want to sell drones. To get started go to Google Trends and type in “drones” to see what the search volume looks like. At this time of writing, here’s what I see:
As you can see here, there is an upward trajectory for the month of December, which possibly implies that this is a viable product to sell during the holidays. It’s also worth mentioning that its demand has been somewhat stagnant during the second and third quarter of 2017, which isn’t a good sign. Hence, the search volume trend can also be an indicator that it’s time to modify your product selection.
3. Set Up Your Store or Choose a Platform to Sell On
Creating a branded store is one of the best ways to present yourself to prospective customers. It is a tangible extension of your business that defines the purpose of your existence, what you like and don’t like, what makes you stand out, and if customers are able to resonate with your brand, they’ll buy your products with confidence.
Shopify is the most recommended store creation platform to use because it’s inexpensive, easy to understand, and intuitive for the services it provides. On top of that, it’s easily scalable. So go ahead and create your store on Shopify, there’s a 14-day free trial period.
Note: If you’re using Modalyst to source products, you’d be glad to know that it automatically integrates with Shopify and Bigcommerce but has .csv files for you to easily import items to stores hosted on other ecommerce platforms.
The other option is to sell via a marketplace. The most obvious choice is Amazon but there are plenty of other online platforms out there which get a lot of traffic.
Check out sites like Etsy.com and Bonanza.com and find if there is a market there for your product selection. It’s smart to diversify when it comes to online selling platforms as each one has its own unique audience.
4. Create Beautiful Product Pages
Your product pages are your opportunity to impress prospective buyers. If you want them to choose you over your competitor, you need to build compelling product pages.
Here’s what goes into an amazing product page:
- Original product image
- Enticing product description
- Easy access to shipping details and return policy
- Transparent pricing
A lot of suppliers will provide you with product images, which should be integrated into your listings in their original state. Consumers will appreciate the fact that they’re getting exactly what they saw in your product listing (edited images often raise expectations and result in disappointment later on).
In addition, several suppliers will give you pre-made product descriptions. Awesome, right? No, not in this case. I don’t recommend using pre-made descriptions because everyone else is using them. How can your products stand out when everyone else has described them in the same way?
That’s where your copywriting prowess comes into play. Carefully construct copy for your products to resonate with your audiences’ personalities/interests/demographics, and you’ll be in the driving seat.
5. Get Rest of the Things in Order & Launch
The last step pertains to adding the final touches to your store and then experiencing that big moment: the launch!
Some of the things you need to set up at this stage are social media accounts and any third-party applications that will add to the experience of shopping from your store.
Most online store owners should focus on the important social media platforms, namely:
You can reach the audiences on these platforms by posting about your store in general as well as by promoting your product listings.
As for the applications, only install the ones that’ll really make a difference for your prospective buyers. Install too many and you can face problems like slow loading product pages. I suggest installing a couple, and once you know how to use them well, you can consider installing new ones.
Some apps I recommend:
Abandonment Protector: This Shopify app retrieves those who abandon your cart and encourages them to come back via email. Similar apps are available for BigCommerce and other ecommerce platforms.
FOMO: This Shopify app creates urgency and social proof by showing how many products other people are buying (makes a great add-on for hot selling items). Orders are displayed in real time via a small popup.
Boost Sales: This app does a great job at lifting up sales by increasing order value per customer. It does that by collecting sales data and creating offers that will make people more likely to buy.
Finally, once you get these things in order, you can launch.
Once you do, continue to update your product listings, learn how to make them more beautiful, continually post on social media and maintain a good relationship with your suppliers. With persistence and hard work, you’ll craft your way to dropshipping success!