If you’ve been looking at online marketing blogs, you’ve probably come across the term “dropshipping.” It’s everywhere. Heck, most people have heard of the term, even if they aren’t into online marketing. We’ve all heard that it’s either a great way to make money, or something that people used to make money from but no longer do.
So, what’s the deal? Here’s the scoop…
What Is Dropshipping?
Dropshipping is a business model that has been around for ages, but really flourished with the advent of the internet. In a traditional business model, stores would buy inventory, store it at their company’s address, and sell it in person or via mail.
With dropshipping, people cut out the need to store items in a warehouse or retail area. Dropshippers advertise products and sell them through their website. When people buy the products, the products are shipped directly to the buyer from the manufacturer—no storage needed.
This reduces the startup costs of online businesses and also makes running a business more convenient. However, it also makes it harder for business owners to track shipments and guarantee a posting date. Even so, most dropshipping companies remain popular with both buyers and sellers alike.
How To Set Up Your Own Dropshipping Store
Setting up your own dropshipping store isn’t hard; it’s getting the sales that can be the hard part. However, you’re still going to need to know how to make a store before you start. Here’s what you need to do:
- Choose and sign up for a store platform. Though it’s possible to make your own dropshipping store with your own coding, most people prefer to use platforms that use modules and templates to create their stores such as Shopify. Platforms like Shopify help streamline the ordering process, give you analytical stats that help you figure out your best sellers, and also ensure that all your store’s processes are running smoothly.
- Figure out your niche. The best dropship stores are ones that center around a specific niche, such as summer dresses or funny gifts. Your niche should be focused on a certain product, lifestyle, or person. This makes marketing items easier for you, and also makes choosing products easier for you.
- Design your storefront. Your storefront should be easy to navigate, visually appealing, and feature gorgeous photos of your products. Many platforms give you tools to create a storefront from a template, but you can always go for a customized look if you want to splurge.
- Choose your products. This is the hardest part of your dropshipping operation, and the one that you should place the most effort into. There are literally thousands of manufacturers who have good products, but the thing is, finding products that work for you and ship quickly is going to be difficult. There are a lot of factors that go into making a good product selection, including location and quality. But, that is going to have to be for another article. There’s too many details to mention here.
- Stock up your store. Once you find good products, you’re going to have to stock up your store. Most stores do well with a dozen or so products, but there are plenty of dropship stores that have pages and pages of products to choose from. It’s up to you to decide how you want to structure your store.
Marketing Your Dropship Company
Once you have a dropship store set up, you’re going to have to get it in front of buyers who are interested. The easiest ways to market it include through social media, word of mouth, and Google Adwords.
The issue with marketing your dropshipping company is that each store will have its own needs and target audience. How you reach them well all depends on what you’re selling and what kind of ads they respond to. Knowing that, it can be a trial and error type of deal for a while.
If you want to make decent money, it’s a good idea to have at least $100 to $500 for advertising spending. Going a fully organic route isn’t going to work well in most cases. At the very least, spending some money for good photos of models wearing your items or of items on display can improve your marketing plan immensely.
Can You Make Money Off Dropshipping?
This is the million-dollar question, isn’t it? Well, the truth is that there’s always going to be an opportunity in setting up an online store—dropshipping or not. How much you make all depends on how well you execute your plan, what products you choose to ship, and how well you advertise your store.
There are plenty of sellers who don’t make a single penny through dropshipping, but that’s mostly due to a lack of effort and a lack of marketing. Others make a decent effort and are able to get a couple hundred bucks per month with each site they make.
Though most dropshipping sites are fairly low income, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of websites that make serious bank through their dropshipping. Some even make six-figure monthly incomes!
Is Dropshipping Right For Me?
You’re probably wondering if you could be the CEO of one of the stores that makes a fortune dropshipping. That all depends on how much time, effort, and money you want to spend in order to make your business succeed.
The difference between big earners and mediocre companies is based on specialization, the products they choose, and yes, marketing. If you don’t have the time or the gumption to stick to your store’s guns, you’re not going to be able to make it as a dropshipper. It’s just that simple.
Look, I can’t tell you whether or not dropshipping will earn you cash. That’s something that only you can determine, based on your budget and your time allotment. A better question would be, are you ready for that challenge?
What Does White Label Mean?
I remember that I first heard the term “white label” when I overheard a former boss talking about a service we offered to a client. At the time, I was working for an ad agency with a slight PR bent. His client was an up-and-coming hair product manufacturer who was trying go get some new B2B customers of his own. It happened during a consultation.
“So, yeah, we do have an in-house brand that we sell,” he said, holding the bottle. “But just between you and me, we also offer white label formulas.”
“White label?” I asked.
The client quickly started to talk about his products and how he sold them. It was an enlightening moment for me—and made me realize a lot about branding and product flow that most people on the outside would never notice.
If you’ve ever wondered how Trader Joe’s gets such cheap (but familiar tasting) food products or why some brands just seem so darn similar, it’s time to sit down. This is a concept that is widely found in dropshipping and affiliate marketing. Want to know more? Well, let’s start with the basics.
What Is “White Label?”
“White label” is a term that originated in the fashion industry. Clothing makers and fashion makers would create basic designs (like shoes or tees) with a white label. They would then sell these basics to fashion designers as a way to help them cut the costs necessary to sew their own shirts or create the bases for their shoes.
This old school fashion practice made it more affordable to start a business while also keeping quality up. Since the olden days, companies started to wisen up to how useful the white label concept is and the practice is now widely used.
Though it used to be a concept that was strictly meant for basic pieces that would later be customized, the term white label now refers to any product or portion of a product that can be sold under a different brand name.
How Does White Labelling Impact Dropshipping?
People have gotten a little tired of dealing with having the same products as all the other dropshipping stores out there. Stores that are looking to take their brand to the next level are now turning their attention towards getting stuff made under their name. White label products make it happen.
How Can Dropshippers Get White Label Products?
There’s now an entire industry that is totally dedicated to the creation of white label products. These products range from skincare, to CBD products, to makeup, to full-blown software kits. To get your own white label product, search up white label manufacturers in your store’s field.
Once you find a white label producer you want to work with, you just give them your logo and branding information and let them make the products. After that, they will act as a dropshipper using branded merchandise with YOUR name on it. It’s that simple.
Are All White Labelers The Same?
Nope. Just like you can’t trust dropship merchants to be the same, you shouldn’t expect white label manufacturers to all be cut from the same cloth. There will be good ones and bad ones. Part of the difficulty that dropshippers have to do is figure out which will be the best partner for their work.
A good white labeler will:
- Addresss any and all quality concerns. If the white label company won’t stand by their products, why would you want to work with them? Quality will always beat quantity and price, period.
- Be willing to work with your standards in terms of branding. A white label company should not get testy with you over your brand’s vibe or with your logo. If you notice them pushing design assistance, back away.
- Ship things promptly. You don’t want to have a lazy manufacturer, trust me. 24 hour processing service and customer service would be ideal.
- Be straightforward about pricing. You would be shocked to hear how many manufacturers like to add on “surprise” fees. Manufacturers can have fees, but you sould be aware of them before everything is set up. If they have a rep for “springing fees” on people, avoid them.
- Make a product you would use. If you wouldn’t want to use it, do not try to sell it to others. If you wouldn’t feel comfortable buying the product, you should never try to add it to your store.
- Have products that are trending on Google or show great potential for it. Translation: everyone and their grandma has a CBD oil or gummy line. You don’t need to be one of the thousands out there. Getting trending products or unique products can wok better.
Is It Worth It?
In my opinion? Absolutely. White label products set you aside from the rest of the dropshippers out there and can help you launch your brand to superstardom. It’s one of the only ways to stay unique in industries that would be nearly impossible to broach otherwise, and it’s a way to do it for cheap.
Real talk, I’m all for it. However, there’s a caveat. You need to make sure that the products you’re going to white label are worth using, and that the company you work with is legitimate. Otherwise, you’re going to be in for a serious nightmare.
What Are The Best Products To Dropship?
When it comes to dropshipping, it’s fairly clear that there’s an opportunity to make money around every corner. As long as you know how to market your wares, you should be able to make some money. Though all dropship companies have some opportunity, there are definitely certain genres that make more money and become more popular than others.
Are you looking for a new opportunity or niche that will work for you? Check out these popular dropshipping categories for starters…
It’s no secret that most women love to shop—and that society expects us to have an outfit for every occasion. Is it really that surprising that clothing stores remain one of the most popular dropshipping options out there?
Clothing has a lot of perks when it comes to the dropshipping model. It’s easy to send out, people need it all the time, and it’s remarkably easy to market on social media. Since most women tend to shop online for impulse buys, it’s easy to work with that mentality in terms of marketing.
Candles + Home Decor
There are many parts of the United States that do not have interesting home decoration stores, and even more that don’t have many interesting candle shops. People always love adding extra pizzaz to their homes, and often use home decor items as gifs for loved ones.
Even people who live the most Spartan of lifestyles will want to get some home decor from time to time. This niche is excellent for people who “get” a specific aesthetic, such as modern or mid-century stylings.
Some might argue that the adult toy dropshipping market is overflooded, but I’m not so sure. It all depends on what toys you’re selling, how you’re marketing them, as well as the quality that you’re offering them up at.
With adult toy stores, people tend to fall in love with the brand more than they do with the toys—at least initially. Should you go into the adult toy sector, it’s crucial to pick a niche that is focused on a specific type of sex play and to do your research. Otherwise, your store will be lost in a sea of lookalikes.
Did you ever get gifted something that made you ask, “Where on Earth did you get that?” Maybe it was a pair of slippers that looked like dinosaurs, or a puzzle that had a weird twist. Maybe it was something that involved a geeky drinking game, or a uniquely witchy bedspread. You get the picture, right?
Having a gift shop that is stocked with quirky items is a great way to make sure that people are more inclined to shop at your online store. After all, it’s not like most malls have a place that will stock items that you have in your shop. Quirky, wacky gifts are great impulse buys and also look great on Facebook ads.
Most people already know that going to the local sporting goods shop means that they’ll pay retail prices—and no one wants to have to pay the full price tag on their gear. That’s why most people are fine with going to a dropship store to get cheaper sporting goods.
With these kinds of products, it’s a good idea to choose one particular sport (like yoga or baseball) and work with that. When your shop gets big enough, this niche will let you expand into personal nutrition, which makes it an awesome choice.
Women’s Fashion Accessories
Women’s clothing is a great genre of products to dropship, especially if you pick a specific type of clothing that can be hard to shop for. However, there are still issues when it comes to getting returns and sizing as a dropshipper.
The reason why selling accessories works so well. You can gain 20 pounds or lose 50, but accessories will never betray you. Since accessories are a “one size fits all” issue, the number of returns that you get never drops.
Though it’s not always as glitzy or glamorous as many of the other options on this list, I’d be lying if I said that office supplies aren’t great dropshipping products. Think about it. Most people don’t want to have to hit up Staples in order to get a notebook or a new set of pens.
Going online can help people save money and also get unique office items that might not be available near them. Since it’s a convenient way to improve your workspace, and you don’t have to worry about returns, it’s a good option for people to consider.
If you want to get into specifics, I’d strongly suggest looking at stylized stationery, envelopes, reams of printer paper, as well as pinboards that can be used to hold announcements. That being said, virtually any sort of supplies you would normally see in a backpack would work well here.
This is a product category that’s often overlooked but should be respected more. Most people take a little pride in dining in style, especially when it comes to their drinkware. A decent amount of people enjoy gifting others commemorative drinkware during major life milestones, as well as gifts “just because.”
I mean, there are plenty of people out there who collect drinkware or get a kick out of having drinkware that works with their overall vibe. This is one product that tends to be sold along other lifestyle products and home decor pieces, so if you want to have some cool accessories as part of your store, add a glass or two in.
The Main Mistakes of Dropshipping And How To Avoid Them
Dropshipping is incredibly popular and offers a way for people to start their own business with very little startup money. Their reputation as “easy money” ripped through internet entrepreneurial circles, and grew like wildfire. If you ask people who’ve never done it before, it’s a way to literally crap out a site and make money while you sleep.
Newsflash: THAT BELIEF IS TOTALLY WRONG!
The truth is that dropshipping is only good if you do it the right way. These mistakes below are where people tend to have the most problems and cause their business to become unprofitable. Are you wrecking your own company?
Mistake #1: Not marketing your website correctly, or to the right people.
When it comes to dropshipping, marketing is going to be your most important focus. A great website will not get any hits whatsoever if you don’t market it. How are people supposed to buy from your store if they don’t know you exist?
Refusing to promote your store is the worst thing you can do. The only thing that is close to being that bad is to promote your store to the wrong audience. If you make the mistake of picking the wrong demographic, you’re going to end up losing more money than you rake in.
Mistake #2: Picking bad products.
Bad products are the bane of every dropshipper. A bad product is a product that has one of the following ring true:
- Common. Everyone and their mother has a “Live, Laugh, Love” sign hanging up on their wall, so why would you sell them online?
- Ugly. If it looks visually jarring, no one will be drawn to them.
- Too Far Away. If it takes three weeks or more to ship, you probably aren’t going to have much luck. People don’t want to wait that long for something unless it’s truly spectacular.
- Low Quality. I strongly suggest ordering a sample before you try to sell anything. You’d be shocked at how badly mismarketed some of those products are.
Having bad products means that you’ll gain a reputation for bad stuff. Your reputation is what makes you money. So, don’t have bad products.
Mistake #3: Not having a return policy prepped.
If a person orders something and adores it, everything’s great. But, what if things go wrong? What if your stuff isn’t as good as you thought, and you get people asking for returns? If you don’t know how to answer that, you’re headed towards a customer service disaster.
Before you ship out anything, come up with a return policy that you can stick to. Many dropshippers will refund you if you get returns, so it’s wise to check out what companies offer in terms of refunds before you have a return hit you.
Mistake #4: Having a butt-ugly site.
Did you ever go on a website that had all the classic traits of a poorly-kludged spam site? A site that looks like it was made by a 12-year-old will not inspire a person to buy anything from there. If anything, it might inspire them to buy new anti-virus software and question their life decisions.
Aesthetics matter. They matter a lot, people. The thing is, you don’t need to bust your butt to put together a nice dropshipping store. Shopify has tons of great themes, and if you are running your store through a WordPress site, then you have limitless templates to choose from.
Mistake #5: Using bad photos to market your products and your sites.
Most dropshipping platforms will have plugins that let the dropshippers supply professional-quality photos, but be forewarned, not all do this—and many dropshippers don’t pay enough attention to take good photos for their product page.
The product photos are not the only thing people tend to flub. It’s also the photos you take that you use to advertise your site. Having models wearing your gear or featuring cool graphics is a must if you want to grab people’s attention.
Mistake #6: Not sticking to your plan.
Ever wonder why some stores just stop working? It’s a common issue that I attribute to burnout and distraction. Here’s what happens with many dropshipping companies:
- The owner sets up shop and starts an aggressive marketing plan. The shop looks great, the marketing plan is on fleek, and everything is okay…sort of.
- The shop gets some customers, but not enough for the owner’s liking. There’s still a profit, but maybe it’s not that good. The owner gets a little upset or disheartened.
- The owner finds a new idea or just gets tired of doing the upkeep. For one reason or another, people tend to push their stoers to the wayside or cease interest in keeping their shop updated for the seaon.
- The company starts to fall by the wayside, as people become increasingly bored with the options and marketing becomes less active. This causes profits to plummet, rather than grow as the campaigns gain traction.
- The company owner gets annoyed, then decides that dropshipping failed. The concept didn’t fail; the owner’s lack of consistency ended up killing the store before it bloomed.
See where I’m going with this? You need to be able to keep things consistent in order to get the results you want. Otherwise, you’ll see a downward spiral that will knock your plans down to nothing.
Mistake #7: Choosing a niche you really don’t understand.
Have you ever met someone who tried to pretend they were someone they actually weren’t? We all have, and we all have been in a position where we knew that the person in question had no idea what they were talking about. It’s painful, and it’s hard to watch without wanting to vacate the area.
Having a website that isn’t something you know well is a lot like that. Every niche has nuances that are exclusive to them, and outsiders just don’t see those little quirks. That’s why choosing a niche you don’t know and have no interest in doesn’t make sense, and will eventually bite you in the behind.