Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Drop Shipping
You must have come across various articles and YouTube videos of Dropshipping Gurus flaunting all their “perfect” lifestyles with their vacations to exotic places and their flashy cars. Everyone will tell you about how much they made with their drop shipping business and how successful they have been, but rarely will they tell you all the hurdles they had to overcome and how long they took to reach that stage. Because, let’s be real, we all like to watch the world through our pink glasses.
But reality is not so forgiving. When we ourselves have to do something, only then we realize that not everything is as it seems to be. Drop shipping is not a perfect business, people get lured into it by getting blindsided with all the success stories and only after they jump into it do they realize that there is actually a lot more into it then they are led to believe. A lot of the newbies do actually make a lot of profit, but then they end up doing some sort of mistake which means they lose their customers over time.
Drop shipping will take time and your patience for you to make money. Unless you are an experienced person in this field, you won’t start making proper profits right in the starting. And if someone is saying you can, then they are probably trying to sell your their courses.
I have been dropshipping since the last 1 year. Although I ended up making profits of over 300 brands, it was not so easy in the starting. Like most of you, I grabbed the opportunity of what I thought was a quick and easy way to start a side income source, which may be in time would hopefully end up becoming my major source of income.
But I was not at all prepared for what I was about to delve into. I only saw the success stories and only saw what awesome things this will lead me into. But nothing about what may go wrong or what may not always work for me. So these are some of the things I wish someone told me before, so I would have been better prepared. I have prepared some ideas and suggestion so that you do not have to go face these problems like I did. So this is for all you dreamers and digital nomads who want to change your life, this is to better prepare you for the e-commerce world.
- Choosing a Proper Niche: I know this has been said again and again, but I will still repeat it. A niche can make or break your business. A niche matters- a lot! When I started my business, I blindly just found out what the highest selling products were and listed them on my store. But them being high selling also meant other drop shippers were after them as well, which meant the market was highly saturated, leading to tough competition. I ended up making just a few sales. This taught me that just because something is selling a lot does not mean it is always the right product for you. You do not want customers to shop just once with you, you want them to come back again and again. And this will only happen when they recognize you as unique. So be smart and select a niche which is in high demand and then maybe add some individuality to it. Find out how many competitors you will have and what you can do better them to attract your customer.
- Customer Service is Very Important: Since all the handling of your inventory and shipping are taken care by your supplier, customer service and marketing(coming on to it later on) are all that you need to handle. And if your suppliers are from China, like AliExpress, Alibaba, then you know the major headache associated with it is the long shipping time. Always mention it clearly on your site about how much time it will take for the products to reach them. I will encourage you to keep a steady flow of communication between you and your customer, this shows and ensures them that you care, and in customer service, this matters a lot. Always collect their emails, this will definitely help you out afterward for promotions, etc. Send them routine emails telling them that their product in its way to them.
- Marketing is What Will Put You on the Map: As they say, in business, best-known beats the best in quality. If you have never done anything related to digital marketing, then do your research on the three main advertising platforms, Google Ads, Facebook Ads & Instagram Influencer. After that, do your research on different advertising strategies such as remarketing, dynamic product ads, lead magnets, familiarise with the common techniques and practices used. Social presence matters a lot in today’s day and age, have at least 2 handles to start you out in the beginning, one of them should definitely be Instagram.
- Taking Care of the Legal Aspects of Your Business: Very few people know about this, and very few actually do it. But licensing your business is very important. In my opinion, you should opt for the LLC license, as it protects your personal property by establishing your business as a separate legal entity. This will also protect you in case God forbid some of your products causes any harm to your customers. This way, the blame will be on your supplier, and not on you. You should also have a strict refund policy set on your site. This will ensure that your customers do not ask for a refund just because they change their mind somehow, but only in cases of product default and non-delivery. Another important thing that most people forget is to pay for the taxes, remember the Big Brothers at IRS are always looking. Do not make the mistake I made. Having worked at a 9-5 job before, I took the part about filing taxes for granted. But as a business owner, state and federal taxes are 100% your responsibility. If you have been dropshipping from AliExpress, you know that they do not provide invoices for orders placed on their site, so you can use tools like AliBilling to download your AliExpress invoices to take care of your bookkeeping and taxes.
- Patience is the Key: In my case, well as my friends who have their drop shipping businesses, they aren’t any Hollywood rags-to-riches story where we gained overnight success. We had to work hard and go through different setbacks to understand what actually worked and what didn’t. Although a lot of internet Gurus hype it out to be very easy and something you can do in your free time, if you want actual profits, it WILL take a lot of commitment and work from your side. You might need to do multiple testings to see what products might be profitable to you, and which will lose you money. But that’s the thing about entrepreneurial life, obstacles will keep on coming and you might fail at the outset. But what matters most is how you overcame those. Just waiting around like a helpless Disney princess of the past won’t do the trick. Do not think that just making a store and putting it on autopilot will do the trick. If you want a business that will stand the test of time and grow big eventually, you will need to work hard to scale it.
So here’s the thing, I do not wish to discourage you by discussing these things. In fact, I do not regret my dropshipping journey one bit, because it taught me a lot of things like Google advertising and how to handle people in any condition. A lot of the drop shippers only stick to the sunny side of drop shipping because they fear that people will be discouraged when they hear this, and might end up never taking a step to start their own business.
The ones who think this is too much work are the people who will never start something on their own and stay in the safety cocoon of their 9-5 jobs. Truth be told, people who succeed and become rich are the ones who see challenges and hurdles as just another opportunity. They are the ones who know that there is a solution to every problem which can be found with a bit of research and innovativeness.
So now the question is, which group of people do you want to belong to?