Your time is scarce, but that doesn’t mean that starting a successful dropshipping business these days is impossible.
Everyone is on an equal playing field, provided with the luxury of the same 24 hours in every day. Money can be earned, lost, saved, invested, but not time. We can’t tuck away minutes in a checking account or inside the cover of our pillows.
Yet, most people inevitably opt to exchange their most valuable resource for cash. It’s a mistake that often leaves them miserable as they chase after their next paycheck.
During an interview, Warren Buffett captured this reality in perfect detail, “If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die.”
It greatly emphasizes the importance of creating multiple streams of income so you can retire early or live out your best life. Unfortunately, most aren’t afforded an ample amount of time to create our own business — or so you thought.
Now, there are a multitude of reasons why you might consider jumping on the proverbial e-commerce boom. This boom has given birth to an incredibly exciting business model known as dropshipping.
Thanks to dropshipping, entrepreneurship is at an arm’s reach for all newcomers with some spare time. Without a doubt, this business model poses the least risk as the owner doesn’t need to see, touch or handle the items they are selling. Each dropshipping store purchases the product from a third-party supplier who then fulfills the order to their customer’s address.
This revelation provides entrepreneurs the freedom to devote their budget and time scaling their business and revenue through paid traffic. But how do you start your dropshipping store? What does starting a successful dropshipping business entails?
Figuring out how to create a dropshipping business without the proper market research can be overwhelming. However, if you follow these six steps, you can be the proud owner of your very own dropshipping business today.
1Choosing the Right Niche
The niche becomes the backbone of every successful business as every decision is guided in part by the one you choose. The key to a six-figure store is determining what niche you’re both knowledgeable and genuinely passionate about. If you aren’t interested in the segment you select, there’s a high probability you will grow bored and discouraged from your dropshipping store.
In reality, it does take a fair deal of time, brains, resourcefulness, and ingenuity to become successful with your first store.
Understandably, it’s incredibly tedious to discover the right niche. So, here are the two main things to consider:
- What products do you buy frequently for yourself?
- What subjects do you love to talk about the most?
It could be fitness, health, beauty or jewelry. The options are actually endless. Once you identify what that is, you have officially picked a niche — congratulations.
When you explore an area that you’re passionate about, the advertising and product research becomes second nature. You understand what the customer wants and loves better than anyone else since you’re one.
Many beginners tend to pick extremely competitive niches like jewelry and clothing. Now, having competition isn’t a negative sign. Instead, it indicates that there is a clear demand for the different products being offered in your selected market.
However, if you plan to step into a crowded pool of sharks, you need to separate your business. You need to start laser-targeting your marketing onto a smaller subset of the niche.
For instance, if you want to step into the pet segment, it’s a much wiser decision to focus your precious time and money on a specific animal, instead of trying to be the next PetSmart. That way, you can easily identify your target audience and personally tailor your social media, advertising, and website to that individual market. This allows you to carve out your own space in the crowded pool.
As time goes on, the tools available to dropshippers have become more sophisticated and easier to use than ever before. If you’ve never done product research before, don’t break a sweat. An invaluable resource for dropshippers, product research software tools are the golden standard for researching potential winning products to test for your store.
My personal favorite, Ecomhunt, offers a wide collection of trendy products in nearly every conceivable niche. Ecomhunt allows you to easily discover products,. Once you click on a product that catches your eye, the software delivers a wide variety of useful factors like daily orders, ads of the product, links to other sites selling it, profit margin, and much more. Other softwares like Niche Scraper, Alishark, and Spocket provide similar services.
When evaluating a product, it’s vital to answer several questions when determining whether or not to add it to your store.
- Does your product solve a problem?
- Is it tailored to a specific group of people?
- Does it appeal to impulse buyers?
- Would I personally buy this product?
If you answer yes to all these questions, then there’s a favorable chance that you have discovered a winner. However, the final factor is availability.
Can you find this product at a local mall or large retailer?
With phone cases and jewelry, the answer is always yes; indicating that you may want to look elsewhere. Limited accessibility to the product drastically increases the likelihood of a consumer buying from you.
3Finding A Reliable Supplier
A step that is often overlooked, taking time to vet and compare suppliers is an integral factor in the future success of your dropshipping store. Having the wrong supplier can lead to unhappy customers, missing shipping labels, low-quality goods, and a tarnished reputation for your brand. Luckily, with nearly every dropshipping product, there are multiple suppliers to choose from.
Perform your due diligence and message each supplier before adding the product to your store. Most dropshipping suppliers on AliExpress are located in Asia, therefore, it’s extremely important to discover how quickly they respond to messages, along with whether or not they can communicate effectively with you. If not, scroll through the different options, and find out which suppliers you are most confident in.
The best way to identify a great supplier is by simulating the customer experience. Place a test order for the product you want to advertise and see how fast it arrives at your address. Evaluate if the product came damaged or in perfect condition, this is a crucial step to avoiding an avalanche of future chargebacks and refunds.
Also, ask the supplier if they offer custom packaging. If so, this allows you the opportunity to brand the product and drastically increase your conversion rate; as consumers will be convinced you’re the main seller of this product. The more chances you get to brand your product, the better.
4Designing A High-Converting Website
Once you pick the right name and logo for your brand, it’s on to the real moneymaker –your website. Designing a site may seem daunting at first. However, there are multiple e-commerce platforms like Shopify that offer plug and play options for designing your site. Once you spend some time getting familiar with the platform, it becomes a fun project to see how you can bring this blank canvas to life.
Shopify offers both free and paid themes. Personally, I always recommend using a paid theme. As your website is the first impression many potential customers will have on your company, unconsciously, they will determine whether or not your business is trustworthy based on your site. Therefore, it’s important to have this collection of pages on your site to melt away any objections a potential customer may have:
- Refund Policy
- Track Your Order
- About Us
- Contact Us
- Shipping Times
If you’re having trouble designing your site, you can hire a freelancer off of Upwork or Fiverr to create a beautiful site for you.
5Social Media Optimization
Your store can have a great website and products to match. However, without traffic, no one will be able to see it.
Now, the consensus method for driving traffic among dropshippers is through Facebook advertising. The platform has many built-in tools to laser target your ideal customer with the perfect ad. However, before you get started with Facebook ads, you will need to set up an Instagram and Facebook page for your newfound business.
Often overlooked, social media plays a crucial role in the minds of potential customers. If your business doesn’t have a lot of followers or posts, it will arouse suspicion among people who are seeing your brand for the first time.
Social proof is vital to convincing consumers to choose you over the competition. Investing in a few thousand followers for your Instagram account can make a sizeable increase in your conversion rate with cold traffic.
Make sure to stay consistent and post at least 4 times a week with your business.
Ideally, you want to stay as active as possible in order to grow your audience and drive free traffic from the platform to your website. Utilizing hashtags in the right way can dramatically grow your audience and capture more eyes on your brand. Finally, direct messaging your followers with discount codes is an innovative way to drum up some more sales without spending a dime.
6Scaling Your Store To Six Figures
The major factor that determines the success of a dropshipping store is how effective your systems are for finding, testing, and scaling products. The best products always solve a dire problem for a specific group of people. Once you find a product that matches that criterion, it’s up to you to design an ad that truly speaks to consumers and hits their emotional triggers.
The tough part is finding the ideal target audience for your product. Therefore, having a uniform system for testing products is crucial to the success of your store. With Facebook advertising, you must essentially buy data by testing different audiences with unique interests pertaining to the product.
Testing different ad copies, creatives, and audiences are necessary to optimize all your advertising and discover what is working. The sooner you find out who your ideal target audience is, the faster you will be able to scale your advertising and make a ton of sales with your new dropshipping store. Keep in mind, not every ad or audience will be a winner, however, if you end up spending over $100 without a sale, it’s either time to move on from the product or create an all-new marketing angle and hook for it.
With these 6 steps for starting a successful dropshipping business, you can create a side hustle that generates you money while you sleep. Start your 2020 the right way, and create your first store today.
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Author: Ethan Dobbins
Entrepreneur and E-commerce expert. Three years of experience along with publishing multiple articles and courses pertaining to the dropshipping industry. Contact on Instagram @ethandobbinsofficial