Dropshipping Guide for Beginners

hristijan@digitalnode.com

Dropshipping Guide for Beginners

Chapter 1

What is Dropshipping?

Dropshipping: noun

A business model that allows you to sell merchandise online, without ever having the need to set up and manage any inventory. 

Retailer: noun

A retailer is anyone who owns an online store and sells merchandise to the public. 

Wholesaler: noun

A person or company that sells goods in bulk (large quantities) at lower prices.

Dropshipping is a business model that allows you to sell merchandise online, without the need to set up and manage an inventory. 

Pretty intriguing, right? In reality, the dropshipping model is quite different from the traditional eCommerce model. The following in-depth descriptions will help you understand both eCommerce business models better and make a differentiation between them. 

Characteristics of the traditional eCommerce business model

If you want to open and run an online store following the traditional eCommerce business model, you would have to acquire a storage space. Furthermore, the products from your suppliers would usually be purchased in Minimum Order Quantities (MOQs) in order to get a better price. Finally, you will have to store your products in your storage space until a customer makes an order. When an order is placed, you’ll be the one who packs the product and ships it to the end-customer. 

Having explained the details of how the traditional eCommerce business model works, let’s see how dropshipping is different.

Characteristics of the dropshipping business model 

First, and most important, is that dropshipping doesn’t require storage space. This is the aspect that puts numerous entrepreneurs under a spell. Not having to invest money, time, and energy in managing inventory is a big plus for new business owners. Not only for people who want to test this business model but also for everyone who wants to start an eCommerce venture as a side project. 

Particularly, there are people who start dropshipping as a secondary job and then leave their first job to dedicate themselves to dropshipping. Aside from the aspect of not having to manage an inventory and storage space, let’s see how dropshipping works exactly. 

We mentioned that with the traditional business model once an order is made, the retailer itself packs and ships the product. In dropshipping, once a customer makes an order, the order is automatically forwarded to the dropshipping supplier. Namely, the supplier charges the retailer with the product price, usually wholesale, along with a dropshipping fee. That way, there is no need for the retailer to have a physical space for storing and packaging the goods. But let’s explain this process in more detail.

How does Dropshipping actually work?

By explaining the process of dropshipping from start to finish we will help you get the whole picture of how dropshipping works so that you can decide whether it’s the right business model for you.

To illustrate the process more comprehensively, we will make up a scenario of you owning an online boutique for luxury clothing where BrandsGateway plays the role of your dropshipping supplier.

Step 1: An order is placed

Let’s suppose that you have established an online store on Shopify and partnered up with BrandsGateway as your dropshipping supplier. How does the ordering process work? Well, a potential customer comes to your clothing boutique with the intention of buying a high-end designer dress. Your potential customer becomes a buyer in the moment of making an order and a purchase ADD. Once an order is placed, the second step follows.

Step 2: The order is forwarded to your supplier automatically

After the first step is completed, the order with all its details is automatically passed to your supplier, in this case, BrandsGateway. In this stage, as a retailer, you pay the wholesale price to BrandsGateway. 

Step 3: Your supplier ships the product

After receiving the order and the payment, your supplier packs the product and prepares it for shipping. The difference between the retail price your customer paid to you and the wholesale price you paid to your supplier is your profit. Finally, BrandsGateway ships the product directly to your customer.

Step 4: You inform your customer about the shipment of their product

Even though the dropshipping supplier packs and ships the product, their role is invisible. In the dropshipping process, the end-customer doesn’t need to know who ships the product. Instead, the customers consider this eCommerce model as the traditional one and they don’t know precisely what happens backstage. In reality, the dropshipper doesn’t exist for the end-customer. As a retailer, you have the duty to inform your customers when their products are shipped, and when they are supposed to arrive.

Overall, the above mentioned four steps are crucial to grasp the concept of dropshipping. Once you fathom the fundamentals of the dropshipping model, everything becomes easier.

Understanding the roles in Dropshipping

In the above-mentioned scenario, we included several roles that are the major players in the dropshipping game. The key to mastering this business model is understanding and learning the role of each player. 

Retailers 

You will have the role of a retailer if you decide to start a dropshipping business. To emphasize, a retailer is anyone who owns an online store and sells merchandise to the public. As a retailer, you will have an online store where you will showcase the products you have in your collection. 

Dropshipping supplier

In dropshipping, the dropshipping supplier has the role of the middleman between the retailer and the end-customer. As explained in the scenario above, the dropshipping supplier stores, packs, and ships the products to the end-customers after receiving an automatic order forwarding. 

Manufacturers 

A manufacturer is an entity that manufactures a certain product. Most manufacturers don’t sell the products they made to the end-customer. On the contrary, they usually sell their products in bulk to vendors, wholesalers, or retailers who resell them to end-customers. 

Wholesalers 

With wholesalers, the process of buying and selling is the following – they buy products from manufacturers or vendors, and sell them to retailers. Similarly, as with manufacturers, wholesalers often require a minimum purchase. However, it depends on the wholesaler’s philosophy of operating but they are mostly selling in bulk at a lot lower prices than manufacturers. 

Lastly, various features make dropshipping an attractive business opportunity. This ultimate guide to dropshipping is created to help you learn and understand all of them. However, just like with any other type of business model, these qualities have advantages and disadvantages. 

In the following chapter, first, we will cover the benefits of dropshipping that lure people towards exploring this popular eCommerce model. Second, we will discuss some of the advantages that could be a potential discouragement for beginners in the dropshipping industry.

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Chapter 2

Understanding the Pros and Cons of Dropshipping

Upon comparing dropshipping to the traditional eCommerce business model, one quickly notices the major differences between the two models. As the dropshipping model is going to be our primary focus in this eBook, we will now dive into the advantages and disadvantages that this model provides. 

The best way to understand how dropshipping works and form an opinion on it is by measuring the pros and cons. Before you immerse yourself into building your business you need to get a better grasp of the fundamentals of dropshipping. It will help you make the best decisions for your dropshipping endeavor. 

Advantages

Low start-up costs

This advantage is largely considered to be one of the biggest perks that the dropshipping model presents. Simply put, dropshipping doesn’t require huge financial investments for setting and managing the business. 

Advice from successful dropshipping business owners:

Read more about Stacy’s dropshipping journey in
How a couple from Eastern Europe makes 10k euros per month selling clothes online

To emphasize, having a traditional eCommerce business means one must possess a considerable amount of money in order to start purchasing inventory. Dropshipping is a way for you to avoid this complication because it doesn’t impose the necessity to invest in warehousing and other expenses. When you are not tied up with a warehouse you can conduct experiments with little to no risks, trying to sell items that are new to the market or simply sell items that stay popular for a short period of time. In case an item doesn’t sell well, you won’t be left with tons of the product, wasting storage space with no way of getting rid of it for profits in the foreseeable future. 

No need for inventory

If you choose the dropshipping model, you won’t need to spend any money on inventory. When your customer makes an order in your online store, it is automatically forwarded to your supplier and you leave the rest to them. Because of this, nothing can stop you from setting up your online store almost immediately, with minimum investment. 

Fairly easy to run

As mentioned above, when running a business using the dropshipping model, you eliminate the hustle of handling any inventory. This characteristic makes running any type of online store much easier and simpler. In other words, you won’t need to take care of the following obligations:

  • Finding, renting, and operating a storage space/warehouse;
  • Packaging, shipping, and delivery;
  • Keeping track of inventory;
  • Handling returns;
  • Receive and account for new items in stock.
Low expenses for business management

For managing your dropshipping business, you will need nothing more than a laptop connected to the Internet. Your expenses in some cases may be lower than $100 monthly, at least in the early stages of your business. As your online store develops, the expenses will get higher, yet they won’t be as high such as for owning and managing a brick and mortar store or an online store stocking their items.

Location flexibility

As mentioned above, all you need to run your dropshipping business is a fairly good laptop with a constantly available Internet connection which means it doesn’t matter where you, your supplier, and your customers are based.    

Your job is to communicate with them, and that can be done virtually from anywhere in the world. This is what makes dropshipping the perfect option if you are looking for a way to make extra money while working a full-time job. 

Advice from successful dropshipping business owners:

Read more about Sam’s dropshipping journey in 

How one entrepreneur makes over $44.000 in revenue per month with BrandsGateway

Versatile product selection

Another advantage in dropshipping is the possibility for versatile product selection. Not having to stock the items means you can provide customers with as many products as you wish, provided your supplier (or suppliers) have them in stock. The biggest pro here is that if certain items don’t sell, you can simply stop selling them without losing any money.

In dropshipping, you can experiment with different products and niches until you find what suits you best. You can do the testing of the market in real-time without investing in resources beforehand. If the product doesn’t sell you can always switch to another one without the loss of profit.

No need to take care of packaging, shipping, and returns

In dropshipping, the process of packaging, shipping, and returns is completely taken care of by your dropshipping supplier. Those processes take up a lot of space and time logistically. Your supplier will be the one who will manage all steps of the process with delivery and handling returns. The only thing you’re responsible for here is finding a trustworthy supplier that will deliver premium service. 

Easier growth

When creating a traditional eCommerce business, one puts an immense amount of effort into it and they don’t always see the results. This can suggest that traditional online stores require even harder work and bigger investment. 

On the other hand, when running a dropshipping store, the suppliers are responsible for taking care of most of the work that surpasses processing orders. Due to this, as an owner, you can develop your business gradually at your defined pace and on a lower scale compared to online stores that carry items in stock. In the end, you save yourself a lot of extra work and nerves by using the dropshipping business model.

Namely, you can focus on providing a seamless shopping experience and exceptional customer service. This way you can reach a wide network of new targeted audiences and grow your business, letting the supplier process and ship the orders without your direct involvement. Excellent customer service is essential to make an online business work, including dropshipping. When you don’t have a physical location, reliable customer service that is available 24/7 is what makes people stay in touch with your company and return for more. Even if your prices are higher than your competition, if you provide your customers with great customer support, they will certainly turn into returning customers. 

The aforementioned advantages make the dropshipping business model attractive to numerous entrepreneurs who are looking for a hustle free business model. However, just like any other business, dropshipping also has its drawbacks you should be aware of before starting an online dropshipping store. Let’s address these cons that you should learn about beforehand.

Advice from successful dropshipping business owners:

Read more about Oleg’s dropshipping journey in 

How a couple from Eastern Europe makes 10k euros per month selling clothes online

Disadvantages

Lower profit margins

If you decide to sell products that fall under competitive niches you can face the disadvantage of low-profit margins. In fact, there will be dropshippers selling the same products as you for the lowest price possible, making minimum profits in the process. Since it costs them nothing to start this business and it doesn’t take too much effort to run it, they can afford not to make bigger profits, just to beat the competition – you. Additionally, even if these resellers may have lousy customer service and their websites aren’t as user-friendly, they’ll still have customers willing to buy, simply because their prices would be incredibly lower than yours.

If you choose a more competitive industry for dropshipping products, your net profit won’t reach its full potential because of merchants that lower their prices to make more sales. Instead, to avoid this problem, you’ll need to dig deeper into niches that are more profitable and less competitive, such as fashion items from luxury brands.

Inventory management difficulties

This factor was already mentioned as one of the advantages of dropshipping, as you don’t need to keep an inventory. However, the aspect that you should leave other people to do that for you is a big thing which can also prove to be a challenge. 

When it comes to managing inventory you will have to trust other people to do a good job of tracking what’s in stock and what’s not. And since your suppliers will certainly work with more than one reseller, their stocks change drastically every day. To avoid this, you’ll need to seek a dropshipping supplier that provides real time synchronization of their inventory levels, to minimize the risk of selling merchandise that is out of stock. 

Limitations in branding and customization

Another disadvantage of having someone to deal with packaging and shipping your products directly to your customers is branding. If you buy in bulk usually you are able to customize your products’ packaging and give a touch of your brand. 

On the other hand, with dropshipping, it all depends on your supplier. Some suppliers don’t allow their retailers to customize or design packaging, while others do. That said, if this aspect is important to you and you want to brand the products you sell, you’ll have to look for a supplier who will allow that. 

Advice from successful dropshipping business owners:

Read more about Sam’s journey in
How one entrepreneur makes over $44.000 in revenue per month with BrandsGateway

Additional important things to consider

Registering your online business

An important thing to take into consideration is licensing your business. Many dropshippers start their dropshipping journey without registering a private entity but some decide to open up a company first. The latter group has few options:

  • Sole Proprietorship – no personal liability coverage provided;
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – protects your personal assets by separating them and identifying them as separate assets;
  • C Corporation – highest protection guaranteed, but most costly as well.

The second option, Limited Liability Company (LLC), is the license that is commonly obtained in the dropshipping business.

GDPR compliance

As of 25 May 2018, the regulation in the law system of the European Union was updated with the goal to protect the personal data of EU citizens and to guarantee their privacy.

When getting into eCommerce, regardless of where your business is located and registered, if your online store is available anywhere in Europe and you have visitors and customers that are EU citizens, you must comply with the GDPR requirements and ensure full protection of your visitors’/customers’ personal data. 

Website operation

You don’t have to be a tech genius with programming skills to set up your online store and start selling your products. But it’s still very useful to get some basic knowledge of setting up a website, operating it, and bringing it to its full potential. 

Having a general knowledge of how websites work can save you a lot of trouble in the future when you will have to solve problems with your website and research for information about how to do that effectively.  

Domain name pricing platforms

Creating a website for your online store is not free. First, you will have to choose and buy a domain name. There are many different platforms where you can register your domain name and they will charge you yearly for using it. Some platforms charge an introductory price at first and in time, move to their regular price. 

The best way is to contact the platform and have them explain their pricing plans and practices to you. If the provider doesn’t charge an introductory price don’t be afraid to ask them if they can do it. Introductory rates are not bad, but they can surprise you if you are unaware of your platform’s pricing strategies.

Website downtime

One of the rarely considered things when choosing a domain provider is how much uptime they can ensure. And the performance of the website is detrimental to your business’s success. No host can provide 100% of uptime as there are many factors that can make a website go down and not all of them can be controlled. Four major reasons for a website to be down/offline are programming errors, planned downtime, natural disasters, and viruses. 

Planned downtime is when the provider has some upgrades to do. Once the software or hardware is upgraded, the website will be back up and running. Sometimes programming errors, or as they are commonly known “bugs” or viruses may cause the website to become unavailable/unstable. Any natural disasters such as hurricanes, fires, earthquakes that cause damage to the hardware your host uses can also cause your website to go down.

If the website is down for a long time this can have a very negative impact on your business and SEO rankings. Your customers will be dissatisfied and your sales will drop. You cannot control your website downtime, but you can find a quality provider for your domain name to limit it as much as you can. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Dropshipping (FAQ) 

After doing some research, we’ve come to the conclusion that many people have different questions regarding the dropshipping business model. Therefore, we included this section to try and answer the most common questions about dropshipping that people interested in dropshipping usually ask. 

Is Dropshipping hard?

Dropshipping isn’t hard, nor is it a complex business model. Everyone could succeed in the dropshipping sector if they put their mind to it. If you want to bring the most out of dropshipping, a smart move would be to follow all the steps mentioned in this eBook to dropshipping and build a profitable dropshipping store.

Is Dropshipping still profitable in 2021?

Dropshipping is profitable in 2021 and will continue to be in the years to come. Numerous numbers and data speak about the potential that the dropshipping business model holds. Research conducted by Grand View Research, Inc. anticipates that the global dropshipping market will grow exponentially and will reach $557.9 billion by 2025.

Is it possible to make a full-time income with Dropshipping?

Every business can be successful if done in the right manner. With dropshipping, it’s fairly possible to make a full-time income, and numerous owners of dropshipping stores are proving it. An example of a success story with a dropshipping business is a couple from Eastern Europe that makes 10,000€ monthly by selling clothes with BrandsGateway. Another example is an online entrepreneur who by dropshipping clothing earns over $44.000 per month. Therefore, you can definitely make over $10,000 a month with dropshipping, if you develop a good business plan and choose the right supplier.  

If Dropshipping is so profitable, why isn’t everyone doing it already?

Dropshipping is not a complex business, but it requires time, energy, patience, involvement, and most importantly passion. Finding the right products to sell is the foundation for building a profitable business. Also, as the competition is becoming heavier, you should explore niches that are not very common. 

Dropshipping is legal, and it’s a business model that many eCommerce entrepreneurs across the globe manage. However, as with any other type of online business in general, depending on the location you plan to register your business, there might be different protocols and regulations one needs to follow, such as the GDPR regulations we mentioned earlier. 

All in all, as long as you follow your country’s regulations for opening and managing an online store you will be safe. Obtaining a business license, avoiding suppliers that sell counterfeit as well as restricted or prohibited products, following tax rules, and complying with GDPR are some of the things that you need to have in mind before starting your business.

Chapter 3

Choosing the Right Product Niche

Choosing the right niche and products for your dropshipping business might be one of the more challenging sides of this business model. In fact, this is the greatest obstacle that you will need to overcome. Your decision can either make or break your business. Going with the products that you’re passionate about or interested in instead of what people want to buy, especially, can be a very costly business miscalculation. 

Simply put, your success depends on how well you will satisfy your customers’ demands and needs. Going with products and categories that are trending is instrumental. Therefore, doing thorough market research before making your final decision about what you are going to sell is the smartest approach. While this process may be exhausting, it’s of essential importance because you wouldn’t want to sell products that will not appeal to your target market.  

Research on the market trends of your business idea to find out how it’s currently performing in your target market. And even if you are starting from scratch and you don’t have any idea about how to position yourself in this industry, the latest eCommerce trends and statistics can give you a better picture of which eCommerce categories are trending at the moment and are expected to be popular in the years to come, what people are mostly buying or are interested in. This way, you can be able to decide on what to sell. 

To help you get started with your research we gathered some information about the eCommerce predictions for 2021 and the near future. 

Fashion items

There’s no doubt why this category is first on this list. There was a demand for fashionable items in the past, there is now, and there will be in the future. In particular, the largest segment in eCommerce is fashion with a market volume expected to reach US$1,002,215m by 2025.

You can’t go wrong with selling fashion items online. Except if you decide to sell cheap pieces of clothing with low-quality materials. Instead, our recommendation would be to choose a supplier of high-quality luxury clothing and accessories and explore the benefits it can bring you.

Hobby, toys & DIY

The category for Hobby, Toys & DIY products includes selling baby toys and clothing, outdoor and garden items, and entertainment products. At the moment, it holds the second position of the most popular eCommerce segments with a market revenue projected to reach US$766,857m by 2025.

Electronics & media

The niche for Electronics and Media is third on this list with a market volume forecasted to reach US$633,644m by 2025. It’s a segment that has great potential for online sales. If you have a great guarantee model, then you are set for success. Build your trust with the customers who are looking for some tech products. 

Advice from successful dropshipping business owners:

Read more about Stacy’s journey in 

How a couple from Eastern Europe makes 10k euros per month selling clothes online

To conclude, with the products you sell, you should offer solutions to problems that your target customers are facing. If through your research you find out that online buyers are no longer interested in categories that were trending in the last couple of years, offer them products that are expected to be popular in the eCommerce market in the years to come. 

In case your product choice is based on current market trends that might be transient, ensure to bring the best of your sales before those trends fade away. If you don’t take advantage of certain trends on time, you could miss out on a golden opportunity as people will soon be moving on to the next big thing. In eCommerce, it’s crucial to think ahead of time and prepare for the upcoming trends in online shopping. 

Differentiating your products from the competition

Even if you choose to sell within one of the categories of products that are predicted to be popular in the years to come, a very tricky aspect is your choice of actual products within that particular category. It’s significant to take in mind that there are a plethora of dropshippers that specialize in the fashion category which means it’s a competitive niche and you will need to find a way to differentiate yourself from the crowd and increase your profits. Next, we will cover some tips about how to differentiate your product offerings from your competitors.  

Look into specific product niches

You shouldn’t shy away from product categories and niches that are very specific. Even though they may have fewer prospective customers, they’re not oversaturated with competitors. For example, if you are drawn into the fashion category, you should find something specific to sell within this category. People are buying fashion items regularly so this is what makes this category very trending and competitive at the same time. If you find a specific fashion niche to specialize in, you will get better chances to succeed. One example would be selling branded luxury clothing and accessories, as this niche is more specific and focused on the luxury market.  

Advice from successful dropshipping business owners:

Read more about Sam’s journey in 

How one entrepreneur makes over $44.000 in revenue per month with BrandsGateway

This choice will make it much easier for you to get a high search engine ranking and be able to run cost-effective advertisements. The proper product plays a huge role in the success of your business, take your time to choose a product that will appeal to your target market.

Try to get exclusive distribution or pricing

Exclusive agreements for products or pricing are something to consider if you’re into selling specific and niche products. However, keep in mind that getting exclusive agreements is not an easy task. Also, your products might still be more expensive than those of your competitors who are offering the same or similar ones in the market at cheap wholesale prices.

Therefore, when you decide to offer exclusive products and prices, you will need to persuade your customers that your product is of superior quality as compared to the competitor’s product. Especially if you are aware that some of your competitors are selling counterfeit products at lower prices. That’s where the role of your website’s ‘About Us’ page comes into play. This page can be used to share information that you are the exclusive, genuine seller of the products in your portfolio. 

Align your prices with the products’ quality

Offering your products at the most reasonable prices possible is a strategy that you can use to attract a large number of buyers to your website. Whether you sell high-end expensive products or everyday products with lower prices, the important thing is for your prices to be aligned with the quality you provide. 

Customers don’t always decide to buy something because the prices are low or high. Quality is also a major determinant of purchasing decisions. This implies that, if you sell luxury products, if your target audience decides that they are worth it, they will buy them without thinking twice. 

Add more value to your products 

As a dedicated owner of an online store who strives to succeed you shouldn’t only depend on the prices of your products as the selling point. You should offer solutions to your customers’ needs and issues they encounter in order to add more value. 

For example, you can offer information about your products so that your customers can know more about what they are buying. Especially if you sell more expensive branded products, offering information about the authenticity of the products and the brands or the material of the products could be decisive for your customers’ buying decisions.            

Offering knowledge and guidance to your specific niche will help you add value to your products. Your customers will appreciate having access to readily available product information for any questions that they have about your products.  

However, this isn’t very simple as it may seem and it may work in some niches, not all. Therefore, look for major features that will make it simple for you to add value with content, particularly if you are selling: 

  • Products that are more complex 

If you decide to sell products that are more complex and have various components, there is a higher chance that your prospective customers will search for more information about them. If you manage to provide them this information on your website, it would be a big plus because you will avoid sending them to research on the Internet on their own. In other words, you have better chances of increasing your store’s value and your reputation by providing product information for products that are more complex and consist of components that require a user manual or instruction for use.

If your product offering is consistent and doesn’t change year after year, you can also develop a separate informative page on your website that will help your potential customers understand why the products you’re offering are valuable to them. This will also help build trust with your customers. The information you provide should answer their FAQ conveniently instead of them having to call or email you to make their inquiries.

  • Products that are customizable

In this case, apply the same strategy like the one above – if the product you are offering can be customized, build your value by offering knowledge on the customization of the product. 

The process of adding significant value to your online store and your products is reasonably easy and can be achieved in the following ways:

  • By developing comprehensive user guidelines;
  • By developing comprehensive product descriptions and listings;
  • By developing guides for installation and setup information;
  • By developing comprehensive videos that showcase how a particular product works;
  • By developing a guide or system that shows the compatibility of a certain product.

Additional considerations

You must take these additional considerations into account when choosing the product that you intend to sell:

Your customer support

Take your price point into consideration in connection with the services you provide to your customers before the final sale. A lot of people will be prepared to make a $200 purchase without first speaking to a customer service representative. On the other hand, they won’t do it so eagerly if a product costs around $1000. When more expensive products are involved, the majority of people will require additional information not only about the product itself but for you as a seller as well, to make sure that you are reliable and offer genuine products.  

If you decide to sell products that are highly-priced, ensure that you have the capability to offer quality customer support to your customers, and that means that your customer service staff will need to have sufficient knowledge about your products and be available 24/7. 

MAP Pricing

MAP basically stands for the minimum advertised price. This is the price that some manufacturers set for specific products so that resellers cannot advertise below the set price – they either sell at a set price or a higher price, not below. This is done in order to prevent price wars, which occur a lot in the dropshipping business. It also helps the resellers to earn good desirable profit margins.

Search for manufacturers that will impose MAP pricing so that your business can make substantial profits. Even when all competitors sell their products at the same price, you can still create a competitive advantage by developing a strong and convincing website and sales pitch. This way, you will still be able to stay relevant in the market should cheaper prices arise. 

The marketing potential of your business

This refers to the entire size of the market for your product at a particular time. Put in place an effective plan to let as many people as possible in your market know about your website. 

You shouldn’t wait until the launch date to start thinking about marketing your product – marketing is very crucial and you should think about it well in advance. You will only get new visitors to your website by promoting it on your social media channels, creating articles, and participating in online forums that are relevant to your niche. 

Experiment with products that are harder to find

Don’t be too rigid with your product choice – if you can identify a product that people can’t easily access in the local market, you have a chance of highly benefiting from the returns. For example, having rare branded pieces of jewelry or clothing in your portfolio may be appealing to people who are collectors. 

Finally, in the process of choosing the right product niche, you shouldn’t only focus on which categories are trending. Another fundamental element is learning which dropshipping niches are better to be avoided. This way you can easily make a list of the best and the worst products to dropship and choose one that would bring you substantial success

Dropshipping niches you should avoid

Heavy & bulky products

Why avoid dropshipping heavy and bulky products? There are a few reasons behind this statement. The bigger the product, the bigger the shipping costs. 

Let’s say you want to sell small kitchen appliances. Packaging and shipping start at an average of $20 per item, so you’ll need to set higher profit margins in order to make some profits. On the other hand, your competitors probably sell the same products at lower prices and get all the customers. It’s a ‘status quo’ situation for your store, meaning you can’t even earn decent profits, nor increase the price per product.

Perhaps you’re interested in something as simple as office desks, furniture, and kitchen drawers. Sure, you can negotiate prices with the local manufacturers and start reselling, but what about shipping? Will you take over logistics by yourself? Unless you have your own shipping service and a warehouse, it’s very hard to sell big when starting small.

Electronics

Reselling any type of electronics is great unless you haven’t tested it first. You can’t sell something you haven’t seen or touched before, because neither you nor your customers will know what to expect of it. As with most dropshipping niches labeled “to avoid”, there might be a problem with the quality of products, so you can expect a high amount of refunds due to a manufacturing error. This depends on the quality of your supplier, so make sure to read the reviews before you decide to sell their products.

Another important thing that concerns resellers is refunds and shipping. If you can calculate shipping rates and delivery time, as well as check out their refund policy, you can easily find out whether or not it’s profitable for your store. Still, you need to have some sort of expertise in the area, to explain to customers how a specific kitchen appliance will save them hundreds of dollars per month.

Health products

It’s incredibly hard to sell health products without knowing the side effects first. First and foremost, customers expect miraculous effects from health products. Unless you’re a manufacturer with over 100 years of experience in the industry, there is no way you can guarantee anything. 

Additionally, the shipping and delivery of health products, including supplements and vitamins are delicate because of the products’ sensitivity to high and low temperatures. To dropship such products you would have to look for a supplier that works in line with high standards and regulations, and that could be an expensive partnership. If it sounds very risky, it would be probably best to stay away from this dropshipping niche. If you feel like experimenting with the sales, you can research more about CBD-based products, and perhaps try yourself in this industry. However, the majority of countries still prohibit the sales of products containing cannabis as an ingredient. 

Laptop and PC accessories

First and foremost, to be able to sell these products, you will need to have extensive knowledge of both computer hardware and software. Customers will almost always ask various questions before buying. Thus, if you don’t have a team of experts that could explain how the graphics card is compatible with their laptop configuration, it would be better to avoid this particular niche. Also, another reason why this niche is on the list of dropshipping niches to avoid is the number of refunds due to malfunction. Many of the products can break during transport/shipping, so you’ll probably need to pay more and label them as ‘fragile items’. 

So, it would be wise to ask around for shipping costs and calculate profit margins, before you can continue with anything else. Pay more attention to competitors coming from the Asian marketplaces, as they usually go for quantity to reach maximum sales, at the cost of lower profit margins. Overall, it doesn’t sound half as bad as the other dropshipping niches, but in truth – it’s a rather complicated niche with sensitive products to be showcased. You can test this one out when your online store makes enough profits each month, for you to experiment with other niches as well. 

Highly fragile products

Items similar to the ‘home decor’ product categories are always fragile. If anything breaks, you get to pay for it. Shipping companies have specific policies about these situations. As long as it’s delivered in record time, some of the employees won’t care much. Vases, RC toys, and other products that are easy to break can be packed with extra layers of protection. The fact still remains – it will simply cost you more and there is no guarantee that every product will arrive safely to its destination.

So, unless you find a reliable dropshipping supplier within this niche with great reviews, there will be many unhappy customers wanting their money back. Fragile items are risky business, so you want to perhaps focus on something less delicate to deal with. Some examples of fragile products include glass items, porcelain, valuable collectibles, optics and accessories, musical instruments, and laboratory sets.

Lifestyle products

Although always trendy, everyday lifestyle items are part of a niche with the highest variety of product categories. So you can expect a lot of competition here. There are literally tens of thousands of these stores popping out every day, trying to make quick profits. Therefore, for a beginner dropshipper, it would be a real nightmare to start a business with so many rivals around you.

As for profits, they vary from one product to another. Still, you can’t expect to make a lot of money at the end of the month, unless you buy something at a really low price, then sell it with higher profit margins, having to do it time and time over. To make things clear, dropshippers look for safer ways to profit nowadays. This doesn’t include the ‘high competition’ feature in their concept.

Fake & counterfeit products

Selling fake and counterfeit products is never good for business. Sooner or later, your customers will notice the difference and you will probably get tons of lawsuits and negative customers’ reviews. Anyone knows how famous brands react when someone is trying to sell cheap copies of their products – which is strongly forbidden. You risk a lawsuit for copyright infringement and bankruptcy only by thinking you can succeed with selling counterfeits.

In fact, less than 1% of the customers in developed countries will be interested in buying fake copyrighted products, simply because they can afford to buy from the official stores. Copyright infringement could be a major issue, so always avoid this dropshipping niche. It’s really popular in the less-developed countries, mostly as a concept of ‘pop-up online store’. The bottom line is – it’s advisable to not risk starting a business with ‘failure’ written all over it. Start something stable, something that’ll last for years to come.

Fitness equipment

Lastly, fitness equipment is yet another one of the dropshipping niches to avoid. Generally speaking, any type of gym or home exercise equipment is either heavy or bulky. This just adds to the shipping costs due to logistics companies demanding more based on the weight or size of products. This niche is very risky, even though at first glance, it seems highly profitable.

Most importantly, you might want to consider including more quality packaging since some parts are made of plastic and are small in size, meaning they can easily get lost or broken during the packaging process. This is why the fitness equipment niche is practiced by more experienced dropshippers, ones who can allow losing a few thousand dollars if everything else fails.

Finally, it’s never easy and simple to make a decision about your online store’s niche. You will have to consider a lot of things before you settle on one. Deciding on a product to sell on your online store can be overwhelming because there are way too many products to choose from. Look into the market trends and customer interests and habits we mentioned above. Also, learning more about the potential competition will help you decide on whether the market is already too crowded or if there’s room for you as well. 

Getting a product that will be of value to your business will require effort and time. However, once you have achieved this, you will be able to launch a very successful eCommerce website and earn great profit margins. 

The next chapter will delve into some tips on how you can identify and determine who your target customers will be. 

Chapter 4

Selecting your Target Audience

When it comes to determining your target audience, it’s essential to keep in mind that target markets or customer groups constitute various demographic types. When researching product niches it’s a smart move to not overlook the audience around it. 

You can’t just assume that all customers are the same – you will learn that there are customers who prefer to buy small products with low prices and expect the most from the sellers, while there are customers who purchase expensive products and don’t expect anything from the seller except for the product that they are buying to be of high-quality and to be safely delivered.  

Developing a ‘buyer persona’ 

Every product brings with itself a certain type of customer. This means that you will have to ensure that you are targeting the correct demographic for your products, otherwise, you won’t be able to sell them. 

Learning what demographic would potentially have an interest in what you’re offering and what’s the best way to appeal to your target demographic is what you need to master next. 

There are some characteristics you should take into consideration when defining your ‘buyer personas’ and developing your marketing plan and strategy. 

Audience interests & passions

Everyone has their own particular interests, hobbies, passions, and goals. These often are closely connected to particular products or services which people explore, want to try, or purchase. Regardless of the types of products you are going to sell, you should analyze your potential target audience and learn which are their strengths and weaknesses. 

As an example, if you decide to start dropshipping branded clothing and accessories, do you know who would be your target audience? Being able to target your audience in the most specific way is a must when owning an online store. You should put yourself in the shoes of your potential customers and understand their needs and requirements. 

What makes them buy a branded piece of clothing? Is it because of how they want to be perceived? Or is it because they would rather spend more money on a high-quality product that would last for years to come, rather than buying a low-quality product and wear it for one season? Whatever their buying instinct might be, these people are your potential customers and you need to figure out a way to attract them and satisfy their needs. 

Buying behavior

The buying behavior and habits are a significant part of defining who your target audience is. Do discounts matter to them? Are they buying from you only for special deals? Or are they truly interested in your portfolio of products?  

There are people who are only interested in special deals and discounts while others will buy from you regularly regardless if you have a discount or not. Understanding their habits and learning from them can help you establish a better strategy for reaching your target audience. Ultimately, you can develop long-lasting relationships and turn them into returning customers. 

Professional and personal life

Aside from the interests and buying habits, another important aspect of the process of understanding your target customers is their personal and professional life. By determining the type of products you are going to sell, you actually determine the type of your customers. 

For example, if you are selling kids toys and clothing, your target would be men and women who are expecting or have children. On the other hand, if you are selling beauty products, your target audience would certainly be women of all ages.  

Returning vs. new customers

This goes hand in hand with the previous characteristics. Some first-time visitors to your store could become new buying customers if you manage to attract them with your product selection. Later on, if they are satisfied with their first purchase from you, they hold the potential to become a returning customer. Having returning customers means having a repeating stream of income. Therefore, if you turn all your first-time customers into returning ones, you have the opportunity to grow your business through their repeat purchases. 

Finally, all these aspects we mentioned are beneficial to better understanding your potential audience and their needs and requirements. They will help you find out where each of your buyer personas fits and ensure that you cater to their needs as effectively as possible.   

Chapter 5

Choosing the Right Dropshipping Supplier

Once you decide on your product niche, you can go on exploring the dropshipping suppliers present on the market. In this phase, if your chosen niche is competitive you may experience difficulties when making a decision. 

One thing to keep in mind is that many suppliers have been in the dropshipping business for numerous years. So, take advantage of the ones that are market leaders in large sectors. This is the best way for you to enter the market because their products are already accepted and popular in the market. You may need to use your profit margins to buy your products or run your business under regulated conditions. However, you will still be getting access to market opportunities that will allow you to start up a long-term successful business. 

Another piece of advice to keep in mind is that it’s better to choose the supplier that would answer your specific needs, not the supplier that every dropshipper collaborates with. 

Some of the crucial questions you need to answer in this phase are the following:

  • Does the supplier have a reputation for being legit, reliable, and trustworthy? 
  • Are the representatives of the supplier well equipped with the information you need?
  • Does the supplier offer a convenient return policy?
  • Can the supplier assign your account to a specific person?
  • Is the supplier running an organized company?
  • Will the supplier ensure timely and safe shipping of orders?
  • Will the supplier notify you about backorders and products that are out of stock?
  • Will the supplier send you tracking information and order numbers in a timely manner?
  • Will the supplier accept your payment methods?
  • What fees will the supplier charge you?

Recognizing fraudulent supplier deals

This section is to help you find the answer to the first question we mentioned above ‘Does the supplier have a reputation for being legit, reliable, and trustworthy?’. Before diving deeper into the key aspects of legitimate suppliers we must cover the topic ‘how to recognize and avoid fake dropshipping suppliers’.

Here are some red flags you need to watch out for that could be a sign for fake or unreliable suppliers:

Selling to the general public

If you are looking for actual wholesale prices, ensure that you sign up for a wholesale account. You will need to provide proof that you actually have a genuine business, then wait for the wholesaler to approve your account before you can start placing orders. Just in case your wholesaler is offering wholesale prices to everyone in the general public, they are not genuine; they are retailers that sell products at extortionate prices.

Identifying trustworthy dropshipping suppliers

Now that we established the ‘red’ flag that you should watch when researching and recognizing illegitimate dropshipping suppliers and fraudulent operations, let’s see the green signs that are usually a characteristic of legitimate suppliers. 

Per-order shipping fee

It’s an industry-standard for dropshipping suppliers to ask for a pre-order fee. The fee can be diverse depending on the products you are ordering and the services a certain supplier provides. It will depend on the involvement and bulk of the order. This practice is expected in the industry because packaging and shipping orders for single individuals are more involved and expensive, compared to bulk orders. 

Advice from successful dropshipping business owners:

Read more about Oleg’s journey in 

How a couple from Eastern Europe makes 10k euros per month selling clothes online

Ongoing fees

Legitimate dropshipping suppliers generally are offering different pricing packages for subscribing for their services. Depending on your needs and requirements, usually you will be able to choose from several different pricing plans. To sum up, if you are asked for a recurring service or membership fee, this supplier charges for its services in a legitimate way. 

14-days return policy

Another thing to consider when looking for a legitimate supplier is the possibility for 14-days return policy. Nowadays, the majority of consumers are not familiar with the European Trade Law which poses the need for traders to accept 14-day returns, so suppliers are using this to their advantage and don’t offer a smaller return policy or some offer returns under ‘special circumstances’. When doing your research for a supplier don’t forget to check if it operates according to this EU regulation. 

Experienced and expert staff

Quality suppliers will only employ staff who have sufficient knowledge and are experts in the respective field of their business and the products they sell. A reputable supplier always has a team that is prepared and able to provide enough information about the industry and the services the company offers. 

Dropshippers should be offered assistance from a representative who is well-informed about the business and everything related to it. Therefore, if you stumble upon a supplier that can’t answer all of your questions and can’t provide you high-quality support, you should think again if it’s the right one for you.

Dedicated account manager

Providing a dedicated account manager is important when starting a dropshipping business because you could encounter many challenges and issues. Especially, if you are a newbie in the industry – a supplier who can promise you feedback and advice from an experienced account manager is a must

Excellent customer service

Aside from a dedicated account manager, in general, every reputable dropshipping supplier should have a customer service team available 24/7 to help its customers solve any issues or answer any questions they may have even at the beginning before starting a new partnership. 

Having a customer service team that would answer all the questions about the products, shipping, or else, will also enable you to develop a closer personal relationship with your potential supplier and will also help you learn how to conduct your business more effectively.

Technology-advanced service and solutions

In these times, one thing that is of instrumental importance is staying up to date with the latest technology advancements. In dropshipping, it’s noticed that a large number of good suppliers have substandard outdated websites, which sometimes might be a big challenge. 

If your supplier doesn’t invest in quality service and isn’t open to implementing inventive technology changes, you might fall behind while your competitors are conquering the market. Finding a supplier who is dedicated to staying on top of new industry trends and understanding the benefits of innovation will certainly set aside resources for updating its business model in every aspect.

As an example, your supplier’s website should include helpful features like inventory tracking in real-time, a comprehensive online catalog, high-quality product images, automated integration, data fees that you can customize, and online order history.

Worldwide services and shipping

When choosing your supplier, you might think your location plays a decisive role in your success. However, that’s not always the case. In fact, your location is the least important in dropshipping. We emphasized a few times that you can be based anywhere in the world and manage a profitable dropshipping business. What matters most when deciding who your supplier is going to be is your target audience. 

It doesn’t matter if you are based somewhere in Europe, if your target audience is the USA you should start by looking for a dropshipping supplier that offers services and shipping on the US territory. Again, it doesn’t matter if your supplier is also based in Europe as long as the company has a warehouse somewhere in the US or offers fast and timely shipping to the US, your online business will be on a good track.

Well-organized and efficient

Other qualities that set one supplier apart from the rest is good organization and efficiency. Specifically, having well-organized and efficient business operations is something that extremely influences one company’s success. So, surely, in the process of looking for suppliers, you will encounter those that have an exceedingly effective staff and that gives you seamless customer service. 

On the other hand, you will also make contact with others that make blunders on every other order. The most tricky part is that you can’t really determine their capabilities before working with them, so there are two ways to analyze and monitor their work. Regardless of how inconvenient it might be, one way is to put in a little test order with every one of your chosen suppliers. This will allow you to learn about how they work and you can discover the following things:

  • How each company handles its order process;
  • How quick they are in shipping the orders;
  • How quick they are at sharing tracking information and invoices;
  • The quality of the package when it’s delivered.

If you don’t have time and resources at your disposal for the above-mentioned trick, the other thing you can do is extensive research into customers’ reviews that are available online. However, have in mind that you will have to rely on others’ opinions and experiences. So, make sure that you don’t take into account only one bad or one good review. When reading reviews, it’s important to see the bigger picture, therefore, if one company has 90% positive reviews, and a rating of 4.5/5, surely, it would be a good potential collaborator for you. 

Convenient payment methods

Having convenient and easily accessible payment methods is another thing you should look for when choosing a supplier for your dropshipping store. The majority of suppliers take payments in either of these ways: Paypal, Credit Card, or bank transfer. If you choose a bank transfer, you will have to wait for a few working days before we confirm your orders. It is extremely important that all orders are paid within 24 hours to secure your clients order. 

  • Credit Cards

When you are beginning your journey with a supplier, they will most likely require you to use a major credit card to pay for the order. When your business is established, you will often find that this remains the best option. When you are starting your relationship with a supplier, it’s highly likely that they will expect you to use a major credit card to pay for the order. In essence, it is even the best option for your established business. 

  • PayPal

PayPal is one of the most popular payment methods. Some of its advantages include: it’s available in 200 countries worldwide, supports receiving funds in more than 100 currencies, and withdrawing in 56 currencies.    

Besides, PayPal accepts payments through all major credit cards as well as debit cards. If your potential supplier uses this payment method, and you decide to set up PayPal for your store, you will use the PayPal Commerce platform for which you’ll need to set a business account.    

  • Net 30 invoice payment

Another common payment method is through net 30 invoice payment. In this case, you will have a set number of days to pay your supplier. Net 30 means that you have 30 days to pay for the products that you have bought. 

Before they approve this, most suppliers will need credit references since, basically, they are advancing your cash. This is normal, so don’t be shocked if they ask you for any references. Working with the right supplier plays a huge role in your business. The wrong supplier can seriously affect your growth as a business and can determine whether your business is successful or not. Considering that you don’t actually see the products, you are choosing to believe that your supplier is offering the right product and will ship it to your customer in the condition in which it was ordered. You don’t want to end up with a fake supplier or a supplier that you can’t depend on to complete the order requests. This will waste your money and create a bad reputation for your business among your clients. You can easily avoid fake suppliers by choosing not to go with the first supplier that you come across and actually do your research first. This step will help improve the chances for a successful dropshipping business.

These were some of the most common things you’ll experience on your journey to identifying genuine and fake suppliers. Remember this information when starting your research for the supplier that is suitable for you and your business. After you have identified a potential dropshipping supplier, double-check all the above-mentioned details, and once you’re assured of his services, you can make the deal official. 

Where to find legitimate dropshipping suppliers?

Now that you know the qualities that make one dropshipping supplier reliable and trustworthy, the next step would be to learn where to actually find the right one for you. 

This is the phase in which you’ll need to be patient and verify the information you stumble upon on the internet. There are several aspects that make a supplier trustworthy and good to build a business relationship with. What you need to do here is follow the tips we gathered because they can ease your process of researching, finding, and vetting good dropshipping suppliers. 

Ask for advice from the professionals in the industry

One of the key things to consider when you start contacting possible suppliers is asking for advice from people who are already working within the industry. Instead of wandering around by yourself, these people can help you find a supplier who is the right fit for your business. Considering that these people are experts in the dropshipping industry, it is highly likely that they have each other’s contacts and will be willing to share them with you. 

Participate in industry events

Another way through which you can increase your chances of finding a reliable supplier for your business is by participating in or attending industry events where professionals in the field hang out. These events offer the opportunity to network with alike people and share experiences, advice, and contacts. At these events, consider every lead to be a good lead, even if it doesn’t bring useful results. 

Identify your competitors’ suppliers

Take the time to research the market and identify who your competitors are and what they have to offer. Learning your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses can be a big advantage. In the dropshipping business, for example, it is important to find out who are the suppliers of your competitors. You can use this strategy as a starting point as it can help you identify the most reputable suppliers very quickly and you won’t have to lose time to research on your own.

For this strategy to succeed, you or someone you know and trust will need to order a product from your competitors. When the package arrives, you can look up the address on Google in order to find out who shipped the product. In the end, if everything goes well, this could be your new potential dropshipping supplier you can make a business arrangement with.

Join forums where professionals from the dropshipping industry hang

Another great strategy is to join groups and forums for dropshippers. There are many professionals who can offer good advice or help in many ways. Most of them share their experiences and will give you lots of ideas. This way, you’ll learn a lot of new things and tricks and keep up with the latest dropshipping trends.

Aside from allowing you to constantly stay in the loop by learning wide-ranging tips and tricks, this can also simplify the process of looking for the right suppliers for you. Finally, this approach will help you grow your business.

Use search engines

This may appear to be a quite obvious way but make sure to remember the following number of things. First, wholesalers are not good marketers so do extensive research before settling on one. You may need to search through a huge number of results before you find what you are searching for. 

A lot of times, you aren’t going to easily find any genuine outcomes to your search until after you have gone through the first ten or so pages of the search results. Second, modify your search words. Don’t simply search for the main word ‘wholesalers’. Be sure to include related words that are related to your search intent, such as ‘dropshipping suppliers’, ‘clothing suppliers’, or ‘wholesale clothing suppliers’. Be ready to spend a lot of time on this task and don’t simply settle on the first result or two in your search.

Chapter 6

Getting your Dropshipping Business off the Ground

We have come to the most fun chapter of this eBook which will cover the topic of getting your dropshipping business up and running. Once you complete all the phases covered in the previous chapters – you will be ready for this one. 

This phase requires much less work than you would think, and it has tremendous benefits. Certainly, a lot of people are skeptical when thinking of starting an online business. Some think there is not enough time, given their 9-5 daily jobs. Others believe it requires much more money to start this kind of venture and fail at the beginning. Some aren’t even confident in their abilities, which are otherwise easy to learn and don’t require advanced programming skills.

These are all excuses to not start dropshipping, so if you are making them, stop right now and continue reading. In order to get your dropshipping business up and running, you must have one major thing – a website for your online store. 

Setting up a user-friendly online store on WordPress

In the past years, there weren’t many convenient solutions for building eCommerce websites from scratch. Mostly, people with strong programming and designing skills could build websites. However, thanks to technological advances and the creation of many online tools and eCommerce solutions, today, there are other easier alternatives to creating a web store. Many eCommerce platforms have the ‘build your store’ option. Sites like Shopify, BigCommerce, and Wix let the users take full control and customize their shop according to their needs. 

We’ll cover the most popular eCommerce platforms in the next section of this chapter after we see how to create an online store on WordPress. Whatever your decision is at the end, it’s highly recommended to choose a solution that’s simple, user-friendly, and easy to transform. This is a major advantage in case you want to change your store’s looks later on. 

Picking up a business domain name and a place to host the data

Your prospective customers will most easily find you and your online business via your domain name. It also ensures the integrity and legitimacy of your brand. The Internet Protocol (IP) is responsible for addressing your online requests, not the domain name. Meaning that your web server will require a Domain Name System (DNS) to route your online requests to the IP address. The correct domain name would, therefore, enable you to be reached by your customers.

  • Take a look at this example:

URL: www.google.com

Domain name: google.com

The most important part of the domain name: Google

Extension: .com

Popular extensions include .com, .org, .net for both businesses and organizations. Other popular extensions are ones specific to countries, for example .us for the United States, .au for Australia, .za for South Africa, etc.

As much as free hosting and low-level domain names are easy to get, they can cause some issues. In order to get good visibility online, make sure to choose the perfect domain name and a good hosting provider to store your data without interruptions.

When it comes to the domain name, always choose one that isn’t too long because people don’t have to spend a minute trying to type the whole domain name. Make sure it has a ring to it because off-site marketing is very important and people will start hearing about your business and easily find it via search engines. Most importantly, don’t make it sound like a joke. Make sure it’s a serious name for the business because people need to take it seriously, even if it’s kids’ toys they’re buying. The domain name has to be available for purchase and not taken from another company. 

For most companies, the leading choice of an extension will be .com. After all, it’s among the most popular extensions. Nonetheless, if you are relying on word-of-mouth to market your online business, then there is a high likelihood that people will just search for the name that has referred to them. You can go around this by using a cheaper alternative such as .net and select a name that will easily connect with it to create a memorable company name. For example, in the URL safebet.net, the domain name connects flawlessly with the extension, .net, because of the rhyme and flow of the words ‘bet’ and ‘net’. This allows the extension to be part of the name quite smoothly, making it memorable to your customers to share it with other potential buyers.

After you have chosen your domain name, you also need to choose a favorable web hosting service. This is because the domain name only serves the purpose of a signpost – it only directs visitors to the servers that are ‘hosting’ your website. This server, therefore, needs to efficiently and effectively run what is required for your website to work smoothly. 

Try finding a company with a good reputation. They are usually rated high by their users. Also, make sure the company supports WordPress-based sites and ask what control panel (background settings) they use so that you can easily navigate through some of the more difficult stuff. Finally, ask where their servers are based by testing their customer service. This will tell you much about the level of user care and get you insights into whether or not the store will load fast in the countries you prefer to sell it.

Setting up an online store with WordPress 

As mentioned before, WordPress is among the most used platforms for website creation because it’s quite simple to manage. WordPress is widely used by so many people, ranging from celebrities to bloggers, news outlets, and even some of the largest companies from around the world. Millions of websites are created using this platform, so it’s highly recommended even for beginners.

WordPress is also advantageous for your online store because it comes with APIs and built-in user management and security functionalities. This enables you to build your own application using these readily available features. Consequently, you can easily set up a unique, user-friendly website. As previously stated, choose a host that supports cPanel or DirectAdmin backends. cPanel is the most popular and easiest backend to use. It offers more features and plugins than DirectAdmin, giving you more alternatives when you are setting up your website. Also, these features are divided into categories, making it easy to find the specific category you’re looking for.

When you register for your web hosting services, your hosting company will send you an email with full instructions for the installation of WordPress. In these instructions, cPanel provides a link labeled ‘Install WordPress in 1 Click’ while DirectAdmin provides a link labeled ‘Installatron Applications Installer.’ Once you click on either of these links, you’ll receive instructions to install WordPress on your screen.

How to install and configure WordPress Themes

One great benefit of WordPress is that it gives you the option to customize the look of your website using basic themes to suit your needs. To this end, you are required to choose one that will attract and captivate your prospective customers then install it. This theme will come as a template that will be uploaded on top of WordPress. It can be free, or you could pay for it with extra options. Either way, choose the one that suits your needs.

There are way too many themes to choose from; therefore, you should browse through these thousands of options before settling for the most appropriate one. You can’t just choose the first one that you come across thinking that it will work for your business. When it comes to making this choice, consider these two factors:

  • Simplicity

An online store needs to be designed with a theme that will make it easier for the products to stand out and attract visitors. Avoid themes that have too colorful and strong features, layouts that are difficult to understand, or flashy animations. Such features would take away the attention from the products that you’re trying to sell and also can create an uncomfortable experience for your potential buyers. Therefore, opt for a simple and neat theme that will make your products stand out on your website and not fall into the background, coming second to distracting features. 

  • Responsiveness

A responsive theme is one that is versatile and easily modifies its design to fit different devices and screen sizes. Considering that in the current technological era most people are accessing websites using smartphones and tablets, your website theme should provide the ability to make an automatic adjustment to fit the screens and sizes of these devices so as to give customers an easy and enjoyable user experience. An unresponsive theme will most likely turn off your customers, causing them to opt for competitors’ stores that have responsive websites.  

Additionally, the theme you choose should be in accordance with what you want to sell (or it should at least not be in contrast with what you want to sell). For instance, you can’t install a snow theme if you are going to sell beachwear. Also, a blue or green theme can go with just about any product that you want to sell. Thus, after choosing your theme, customize it to match your personal needs.

How to install an eCommerce plugin

While WordPress doesn’t come with an online store functionality, it does allow you to install plugins that achieve the same purpose. Choose a plugin that’s most appropriate for your functionality needs, install it on WordPress, and activate it for use. One of the most favorable and simplest plugins to use is WooCommerce. However, you have to make sure that it is compatible with your theme.

This plugin will need to be configured with the basic information about your store. These are the major changes that will need to be configured:

  • Pages

Pages play a crucial role in directing your page visitors to the exact place they’re searching for. In a nutshell, they enhance the navigation experience for page visitors.

  • Homepage

The homepage is the first element of your online store that your visitors get in touch with when coming across your brand. Just a glance at your homepage can give them a brief introduction of your business, which includes crucial information that you want them to know about your business or products.

  • About us 

This page usually includes personable information that is meant to convince your potential customers to choose you over your competitors. It contains proof of why you are the best bet.

  • Contact us 

As the name suggests, this is where your potential customers will come to ‘contact’ you with their inquiries. This page usually includes a contact form, an email address, and a phone number with the hours when you can be reached.

  • New arrivals  

This page showcases your new products, allowing your potential and existing customers to view the new arrivals in your store. It is also an avenue through which you can create repeat business because customers may keep coming back to your page just to see what’s new and if they can buy it.

  • Top products 

Top products are the most popular among your customers. Therefore, you should list these products on this page because they are the most likely to attract new customers. They also have the best reviews which will convince both potential and existing customers to come back and buy from this category.

  • Promotions 

This page should be used to announce the promotions that you want to run or are already running and how your customers can participate in them.

  • Privacy policy 

This page legally makes your customers aware of how their personal data is being used and being protected.

  • Terms and conditions 

This page includes the rules and guidelines that your customers must agree upon before making a purchase. It’s a legal contract that, for an online store, often covers shipping terms, payment terms, return policy, and other crucial information.

Don’t feel limited by these pages. You can customize your web-store to include more pages that will suit your needs and enhance your customers’ shopping experience. These pages may include news or additional information for particular products.

Make sure that all the pages you set up are configured properly, otherwise, they will not work.

Additional things to consider

  • Payment settings

Getting customers is great. However, this will all be in vain if they are not able to pay for their purchases. Therefore, ensure that the payment settings are well configured to enable a seamless payment process.

  • Shipping options

Your customers should be aware of what payments they will be expected to make for shipping upon completing their purchases. Therefore, you should ensure that your web store provides all the information they will need to estimate your costs and any other additional shipping charges. The settings should be well configured so that your customers are charged exactly what’s required, not more or and not less. 

How to add your products

We have gone through all the major steps for setting up a web-store: having a domain name and a hosting package, and creating a fully functional WordPress website with the most important pages. Now let’s talk about how to add the products that you want to sell.

To add products to your website, create a clear and precise product title. This title must name your product. Next, create a clear, detailed, and simple product description that will contain specific keywords you’re targeting. After you add your products you need to assign them to proper categories. These categories will include the type of product, type of shipping, product code, price, and any other common information that customers usually look out for. As adding categories simplifies the shopping experience you should seek for creating simple, clear, and well-organized categories. For products that fall into multiple categories, add them into those multiple categories so that they can be found easily.

Having professional images of your products also plays an important role in making your online store more successful. In particular, when shopping online people tend to buy only products that they can see how they look. Therefore, make sure to source high-quality images from your suppliers and share them in your online store. And as much as visual presentation plays a huge role in a buyer’s decision making, remember that a full product description plays an even more important role because it will tell them how to use the products and why the products are a perfect fit for their needs.

Setting up an online store with an eCommerce platform

eCommerce sales are expected to account for 22% of all retail sales on a global scale in 2023. This is the fundamental reason why more and more entrepreneurs decide to open an online store in the upcoming period. 

Especially if you are interested in starting this journey with an eCommerce platform. These days there are numerous options available that make the deciding process rather complicated. The eCommerce platforms we come across on the internet have diverse advantages and disadvantages. They vary in prices, ease-of-use, built-in features, or design, which can be the crucial elements for choosing one platform over another. Now, surely, you’re asking yourself – Which is the best eCommerce platform to use? Shopify, Magento, Prestashop, or WooCommerce? What’s the difference between them?

There are two types of eCommerce platforms, hosted and self-hosted ones. One of the greatest advantages of hosted eCommerce platforms is that the software isn’t installed on-site or maintained by the users. Instead, the entire eCommerce system runs on its very own hosted servers. On the other hand, self-hosted eCommerce platforms require users to set up servers from hosting providers, to store and maintain data and files. Let’s see both types of eCommerce platforms more closely and explain their characteristics. 

Advice from a successful dropshipping business owner:

Read more about Oleg’s journey in
How a couple from Eastern Europe makes 10k euros per month selling clothes online

Hosted eCommerce platforms

Shopify

Shopify is considered the most famous eCommerce platform in the world and is used by more than 1,000,000 businesses in approximately 175 countries. 

For starters, it’s easy to register, set up a store, and manage it. Most designs and templates are suitable for establishing an online store to sell clothes and other merchandise. On top of that, Shopify offers powerful tools to help boost sales. Some of them include email marketing, social media marketing, SEO, gift cards, promotions, and discount coupons. As for customer support, Shopify’s staff is available via live chat, email, and other communication methods, 24/7. 

Furthermore, today most of the dropshipping suppliers offer dropshippers Shopify integration which makes it very simple for dropshippers to boost online sales.

BigCommerce

Founded in Austin, Texas, BigCommerce lets users customize their site, manage shipping and payment options, and list products on eBay, Amazon, and Facebook. The trial option is included, without requiring any credit card details. This allows users to try it out before deciding to use it as a primary eCommerce solution.

Many eCommerce templates are available, as well as fully-customized options. As for marketing and sales, in-class SEO is built on the store, with Google Shopping and email marketing options available, too. Most importantly, to make sure conversions stay high, BigCommerce saves abandoned carts automatically, for later purchase. 

Wix

Wix tries to gain leverage over competitors with low prices in exchange for a quality eCommerce site builder, simplicity, and great design. When it comes to choosing themes, Wix offers over 500 at your disposal, along with over 200 widgets for your online shop. With it, many users have built amazing online boutiques by dropshipping clothes. To conclude, with excellent reviews, Wix shouldn’t be overlooked when measuring the pros and cons of the most popular eCommerce platforms for a dropshipping business. 

Advice from successful dropshipping business owners:

Read more about Sam’s journey in 

How one entrepreneur makes over $44.000 in revenue per month with BrandsGateway

Self-hosted eCommerce platforms

Magento

‘The cloud platform built for whatever’s next’ (as they define it), Magento is highly reliable for starting an eCommerce business. Used by the likes of Ford, Nike, and Burger King, Magento can prove complex to use if you’re not a programmer. However, it makes up with flawless, flexible designs. Basically, you can do whatever you want with it, customizing the whole interface the way you imagine it to be. 

Although some wouldn’t recommend it for small and medium businesses, Magento is used by dropshippers, especially in the clothing industry. Don’t let the technical part worry you, Magento’s app integrations are limitless and its automated mobile responsiveness is better than that of an experienced front-end developer. 

WooCommerce

According to their official website, WooCommerce counts over 40 million downloads since its inception. Why is this WordPress plugin so popular? In short, it lets users create an online store they want. This open-source eCommerce platform is used by over 28,000 of the world’s top websites, indicating its importance in building a stronger, more efficient eCommerce community.

Users can sell just about anything with it, both physical and non-physical products and services. There are no limits with users, products, and orders, perfect for ‘quantity over quality’ sellers. The extension store includes helpful tools for marketing, payments, various enhancements, shipping, and other important features for resellers.

PrestaShop

Founded in 2007, PrestaShop is a freemium eCommerce solution mainly used by around 300,000 merchants. It’s a free and open-source eCommerce solution. Basically, users can visit the website to download and install PrestaShop. 

PrestaShop provides three main solutions, you can create a store with hosting, you can set up a store that’s fully customizable, or you can hire one of their experts to build a store for you. 

In the following chapter we’ll put an accent to the marketing and promoting of your new online store. 

Chapter 7

Promoting your Online Store

Regardless of the product niche your online store specializes in, you won’t accomplish much unless you start promoting your products and store more aggressively. eCommerce marketing is of crucial importance if you want to reap the benefits of the eCommerce industry. Social media channels are one way of connecting your store to new audiences to sell luxury goods online.

Promoting your brand on social media is one of the most common ways to do it. Social media is the new “word of mouth”. Remember, you are the curator of your content in this age of the “curation generation” so make sure you have a distinctive voice and recognizable content so once the customer sees it they know it’s you. 

Social media marketing is considered fairly easy to perform, however, it still is a time-consuming process and it requires some digital marketing skills. If poorly done, at best, there won’t be results from social media. On the contrary, if done properly, social media could help you build a strong relationship with your customers and increase your revenue.

Social Media Marketing as a way to promote your business

You can start by creating the official pages of your online store on the most popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Linked In, Pinterest, and Instagram. 

It is a known fact that people love visual content more than text. Especially, for example, if you are selling clothing, your potential customers need to see your products, not just a product description. That’s why the demand for visual social media platforms has become quite high, especially Pinterest and Instagram. 

However, the leader in the social media market leader is Facebook which, as of 2020, counts 1 billion registered accounts. Additionally, Facebook currently sits at more than 2.74 billion monthly active users. It’s no surprise that Facebook is the social media giant that it is, as the company currently also owns four of the biggest social media platforms including Facebook (core platform), WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram. 

Other ways to promote your online store

There are other ways of promoting and growing an online business aside from social media, of course. Some include SEO keywords, which is a more complex way of ranking better on search engines and requires professional assistance. Getting more knowledge won’t only get you more sales, but new ideas for promoting your products, too. There are beginner courses for digital marketing all over the Internet, so you’ll have to rely on Google for more information on this. 

However, aside from the above-mentioned marketing tips, there are additional activities that are proven to be as effective. Here are some you can consider: 

Feature attractive visuals of your products

A picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, great visuals will most likely bring in more sales. Some customers love visualizing clothes on themselves, so it would be great to hire a local model for a photo shoot.

Later on, these professional photos can be used for advertising your store on social media by testing two different images (posts) with the same amount of money. For example, spend $100 on each post and check back after a few days. Whichever provides better results, redirect your whole budget to that one, and pause the worst-performing one. This way, you’ll know where to invest in the rest of your marketing budget. In the world of digital marketing, it’s called A/B testing.   

Offer discounts and coupons

Another way to increase brand awareness and increase sales is to take care of the old customers you already have. A sense of community is present when old customers merge with the new ones. You can include coupons with the purchase. You can also have a customer loyalty program, for example, in the form of a membership card. This card gives customers discounts, a gift with the membership card for a certain amount of purchases, birthday gifts, or an exclusive offer if they recruit another member. 

Use designer and brands’ names to your advantage

Depending on what you are selling, if you offer pieces from recognized designers and brands, you can use them to your advantage. People are hooked up on famous and renowned brand and designer names and they are following the fashion trends. 

If you bring some timeless branded pieces you can promote them and gain more attention. With respect to these giants, you can use these names to your advantage, but make sure to follow the rules and regulations in terms of advertising and brand copyrights.

Explore geotargeting

If you target customers globally, then know this – certain countries stand out from the rest, and it’s not just the USA. Here are the best countries to target when dropshipping.

Platforms such as Google Adwords offer the possibility to target specific locations. Of course, you’ll need to check with your local delivery services first. Other than that, if you’re targeting US audiences only, there’s much to learn about America’s most prosperous cities. This way, you’ll be more precise about who you want to become your new customer.  

Don’t increase your prices dramatically

Think of it like this – when running an online store, sellers usually buy their products at wholesale prices. So, it’s important not to get greedy and increase your retail prices dramatically. Don’t get cocky with your customers only because you’ve earned a lot of money last month. They are the main reason for this kind of income, and without them, the balance for next month will surely decrease. 

Provide exceptional customer service consistently

Finally, this is one of the most important things. Good customer service is the best strategy for a successful online store. The more satisfied customers, the more people will hear of you treating them right. 

Make sure your customers are taken care of well, to get that feeling of ‘being cared for’. How can you achieve this? Make sure the live chats are in real-time, offer them a discount on delivery for orders over a certain amount of money, and even provide coupons for discounts. This way, you’ll be making sure they will still be loyal to your store.

Moreover, hearing what they have to say is important because the only way to improve is to accept customer critiques. They are the only ones that see what’s good and what needs to improve in your store.

Additionally, be honest as much as you can. Especially when it comes to your shipping and delivery times. Every customer needs to know how long they will wait until the product arrives. In accordance with your supplier, specify your approximate times for delivery of packages based on locations. Taking care of your customers puts them above everything else, and they will surely develop a certain feeling of affinity for your shop. This is the best way for many eCommerce resellers to gain a loyal audience.

Chapter 8

Being up to date with the news and latest trends is of major importance for every business owner, regardless of the industry. When starting a dropshipping business it’s also significant to know what awaits you this and in the upcoming years. In other words, as a dropshipper, you should be familiar with everything that has the potential to change and shape up the face of this industry during this year and beyond. This would help you adapt and modify your business according to the new trends, requirements, and needs of your target market.

Being one of the most profitable industries that don’t stop flourishing all year long, regardless of the season, dropshipping will not stop intriguing and surprising us even in 2021. On one hand, Covid-19 is the reason for accelerating certain changes that have been in slow motion for some time now. On the other hand, other changes have been coming naturally and have nothing to do with the pandemic crisis that came as a bolt from the blue.  

Advice from successful dropshipping business owners:

Read more about Sam’s journey in 

How one entrepreneur makes over $44.000 in revenue per month with BrandsGateway

The rise of mCommerce

With today’s rapid mobile penetration on a global scale, it’s almost impossible not to expect the expansion of mobile shopping. It’s, indeed, one of the trends that will be on the rise and that will mark the dropshipping industry this year and the years to come.

For this reason, it’s indispensable for you, as a dropshipper, to shift your attention to a ‘mobile-first’ approach. In other words, while the desktop shopping experience remains of major importance, in 2021, mobile is predicted to dominate online sales, driving 54% (or $659 billion) in sales.

How to prepare your dropshipping business for this trend? For one, when designing your website, focus on developing a user-friendly mobile design so that your customers can freely and easily make a purchase. The challenge is to test user experience and come up with a design that is simple and easy to navigate. 

The year of omnichannel transformation

A seamless, unique, and fully integrated online shopping experience is something that you should strive to deliver to your customers. The growth of dropshipping stores in this period will heavily rely on this trend which many business owners still take for granted. Known by the term ‘omnichannel’, this approach is the only one that could bring a fully unified shopping experience. 

What does omnichannel mean exactly? Simply put, an omnichannel experience is an integrated experience that is intertwined across multiple devices and channels. If there’s only one industry that mostly benefits from omnichannel, we can safely conclude that it’s the eCommerce industry. 

As a dropshipper, you should invest time and money into omnichannel transformation and take advantage of several channels in your campaigns rather than a single one. It is known that businesses that engage their customers in omnichannel marketing have higher conversion and customer retention rates. The first step toward establishing a proper strategy is identifying your buyer persona(s). The second step is determining which channels are best suited for their needs, requirements, and habits.

Digital voice assistants are the new normal

Another technological advancement that is emerging at a fast pace is voice search. It’s expected that this year over 50% of the internet searches will be made with a voice search. Amazon Echo, Microsoft’s Cortana, Apple’s Siri, or Google Home are more likely to be used for online searches while people are multitasking at home, work, or even while driving. Therefore, if you still haven’t optimized your dropshipping store for voice search, we assure you that you are missing a golden opportunity because this trend is already transforming the dropshipping industry. 

How to optimize your dropshipping store for voice search? First and foremost, research the most common questions in your niche that people ask search engines and digital voice assistants. Then, optimize your content to answer these questions and more similar to them.  

Automation is vital

How to save precious time and money for your dropshipping business this year? One word – automation. Automation is one of the major hot trends in the dropshipping industry and there’s no surprise about it. Instead of focusing on managing a hundred things at a time manually, you should employ a strategic plan for automating your dropshipping business. 

Automation doesn’t always refer to advanced technology solutions. As a dropshipper, you can use a myriad of steps to simplify and automate your business activities. One element we mentioned in the previous chapters as well is that you should seek a dropshipping supplier who can automate things for you by offering an automated integration with eCommerce platforms, such as Shopify and WooCommerce. 

In a nutshell

The sole purpose of this eBook is to provide you with enough quality information about how to get started with dropshipping. We tried to cover as many important segments as possible starting with defining the dropshipping business model, how to set up an online store, how to make a decision about what to sell, how to differentiate between legitimate and illegitimate dropshipping suppliers, and which are the trends that await the industry this and the years to come. 

Remember, from start to finish, you need to take it to step by step and think twice before you choose which eCommerce platform you’ll use, which supplier you’ll go with, and what products you’ll sell. If you follow this guide, the chances of your store succeeding in the business will be much higher. 

Want to learn how BrandsGateway can help you set up and manage and scale your dropshipping business? 

Start dropshipping with BrandsGateway

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