Dropshipping is a way that many have found incredible success with earning a great amount of money with a business that creates little ongoing support. In short dropshipping is where someone (usually the manufacturer of the product) makes and handles all fulfillment for your ecommerce store. How it works is the customer comes to your store and buys a product. You then place an order or have automation set up to place the order with the dropshipper. The dropshipper then ships said item to the customer. The customer does not know you are using a dropshipper. With this model you hold the responsibility of creating a website or platform to market and sale the products, the dropshipper focuses on all the fulfillment. So let’s jump into how you too can start a dropshipping store.
Choosing A Product
The hardest and also the most difficult part will be locating what product to choose. People have a lot of ways they decide and I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way but there is a less successful and more successful route. Always start with the end game in mind. Think about what your ultimate goal is. Some products are not sexy or popular but they will give you steady and profitable sales. What happens to many is they hop on the popular train and they end up with a product that is in an over saturated market. Then to make matters worse they don’t do much to differentiate themselves from the competition. This is why I recommend you doing a ton of market research beforehand especially if you already have an idea of what you want to sell. On the flip side; if no one is selling a product then there may be a reason for that. Because let’s be honest it’s infinitely rare that we are the first ones with an idea. I believe ideas or bursts of inspiration come to us all. But they come to others as well. What I have found in my research is if an item “seems” valuable and no one is really selling it then one of the following things are creating resistance. The first is there is not a big enough market need. Meaning that yes there are people that want it but not a sustainable amount to grow a business. The other issue I see is the barrier to entry is high. This can be due to a number of reasons like production costs and market cap makes it very difficult to turn a profit. Or you may find you run into a bunch of red tape which will turn a lot of people away. The plus with these are you know what the problem is. The minus; you know what the problem is. LOL No, but honestly if you can solve that problem and not give up you may hit a gold mine. But that route is only for those who like a challenge and are ready for an uphill battle.
All of this is to say that it is important to do your research. Start looking and leveraging Google Trends to get an idea of what people are searching for. Notate the results and also notate how many results come up for a product. How much of it is relevant? Who all sells it? What is their price range? Are they including shipping? Read reviews. What are people saying about the product? Then you are going to want to get an idea of what dropshippers offer your product and at what price. Run some quick numbers on the average price you see a product selling for minus what you would pay at the high end. Is there enough meat on the bone for you? Only you can answer that.
Quick story. I encountered a young lady who was so frustrated cause she was only making about $3.00 per sale. Her goal was $10. She decided to close the store. I get it. She was frustrated but throughout our conversation I was able to find out that she had found a repeatable way to make $3.00 per sale. From my perspective, she had a winner. Personally I would have scaled that marketing up to whatever saturation point the market allowed and leverage all of those $3 sales. But for her it was not worth it because she was not making $10 a sale. There are so many business owners trying to just make sales and because I see all the difficulty throughout various Facebook groups I realized she did not realize that there are people that want her problem. Now listen, I don’t judge her for closing the business my bigger point is you get to decide what is worth your effort.
Choose A Supplier
Resources to check out to locate dropshippers AliExpress, Spocket, or Salehoo which has a directory of dropshippers. Be sure to read all of the fine print. Some dropshippers charge monthly fees and such and you want to have all of that calculated in to your costs.
You want to figure out who will be processing all of this for you. Use the resources above to help identify dropshippers. Check if they offer any creatives like images or video that you can add to your website. If not be prepared to have your own created. This is critical. Customers like to not only see the product from every angle but also see it in use. And with the high number of people creating crappy stores you want to stand out form the pack.
Choose Your Web Host
Web hosting is where your dropshipping website will be housed. And I go into some top web hosting provider in this article here. 7 Top Web Hosting Providers <<< Feel free to click the title to learn more. There are web hosting sources that are geared toward dropshipping and ecommerce stores. Bigcommerce & Shopify are probably the two more popular options. I am a fan of Bigcommerce because that is who I use for my webstore. MeanCoffeeMugs.com
Costs vary but can go anywhere for $10/month and scale up from there depending on how many services you are adding in. If you are not a web designer then my recommendation is to go with a web builder or host like Bigcommerce because you can get up and running a lot fast and the learning curve is not as steep.
I also offer a web builder through my marketing company. Feel free to check it out by click here. They are super easy to use, point and click technology, and you can accept payments, includes your SSL certificate for security, and it has a 24/7 phone number for around the clock assistance. And no it is definitely not me answering the phone. LOL. There are a team of professional much smarter at helping with tech stuff than I.
Choose Your Legal Structure….and more
You are going to want to set up you legal structure even if it will be as a sole proprietor, LLC, S Corp, C Corp, Partnership. Every state, country, county, ok government has a process for this and it’s important to start by getting your ducks in a row. Now I am far from anyone’s lawyers so I cannot give advice on which corporate structure works for you. What I do want to encourage is that you take the time to learn about each structure type and weigh the pros and cons. There are services that will help you with the process and getting the necessary things such as a registered agent.
In addition to the legal protection incorporation can provide you; you will need to open a business bank account as you do not want your personal earnings intermingling. And you want to build a business credit profile. So after you complete your articles of incorporation (should you choose to incorporate) then you will want to hop over to the IRS and get a EIN which is an Employer Identification Number. Here is a quick link to the IRS page you need. Once you have your EIN you want to open a business bank account. Listen, I have mentioned this before. There is access to funds (that are not credit based) for small business owners in the Fintech space. They run off of your business banking activity. I keep planting this seed for a reason y’all. I hope you are getting your ducks in a row. Don’t overthink it. There are several free business banking accounts and I have linked them below. All of these banks are FDIC insured.
- Mercury – focus on helping techs start ups
- Novo bank
- Brex – focuses on helping tech start ups.
You will want to create a merchant account. This is how you will process debit and credit card payment. They all charge a fee and they are pretty similar so it’s your choice.
Create A Business Plan
A business plan is how you will truly flush out your plan for your business. It is also a useful tool and expected many times when you are seeking an investment from an investor. In my opinion the larger reason is this will help you double check that you have thought everything out. The structure and topics that must be addressed in a business plan will help with this process. Microsoft Word has a great business plan template that asks the important questions that you may not have taken under consideration.
Your New Job Is Marketing
I have done fulfillment before. Once you get to where you are really making some money it’s overwhelming (at least for me it was). I quickly learned that I would much rather pay someone to handle the nuts and bolts. Dropshipping gives that option.
But now that this is off your plate your job is marketing. And you want to become highly efficient with your marketing. Now you may be thinking sure I’ll just do X or oh heck how do I figure that out. Either way I wrote an article on >>>Why You Should Consider Starting A Digital Marketing Business <<<. Marketing is your business. And you can hire a firm, but that will be out of reach financially for many, so I encourage you to take some courses on marketing and start educating your self on what it takes to create a marketing strategy. And believe me it is strategy. What I do not recommend is taking your money and throwing it at the wall and seeing what makes it stick.
Some key points include creating a customer avatar, assessing how they currently buy your product, assessing when they buy and if there is any seasonality to their purchasing habits, and also stalking your competitors and what marketing methods are working for them.
All in all, marketing is not brain surgery. It’s actually incredibly easy. But people often over complicate it and think the first thing they try should just make them a million dollars. And that is just not how it works. Focus, learn, scale, repeat.
Leverage influencer marketing and social proof. Now it can be difficult knowing what influencer to work with and there is some trial and error in this regard. Later I will jump into the ins and outs of choosing which influencers are best. Marketing also needs content marketing and showing people using your product. Billo gives you affordable access to someone that will create social media ads. It works very simple. You choose the platform you need content for. Decide on who you want to use through there large database. Send them the product and then you get your video or image to use as needed. Click here to learn more about the Billo.
One quick tip. Start marketing before you launch your website. You want to know how people sell out on day one. Most have done a ton of build up marketing. They have led up
- Locate the products
- Choose a dropshipper
- Choose a web host
- Choose your legal structure
- Get a EIN
- Open a business bank account
- Create a business plan
- Create a marketing strategy
Dropshipping is a great option to consider for those that want a low maintenance ecommerce store. The initial work is truly in the beginning points. Choosing the right products is critical. Developing a solid marketing strategy is just as important. Once you have your ducks in a row a dropshipping store can have you with a very simple income stream. We are in a great time where the options are plentiful and the resources are at our finger tips via the internet. The initial monetary investment is way lower than if you had to actually buy the inventory in bulk and then worry about if it will sell. It’s definitely worth the consideration if you plan to live abroad as you can do everything from your laptop.
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