In recent years, the dropshipping business model has been the perfect fit for new entrepreneurs as it allows for the sale of products without the need for a physical store or having to hold inventory. This model enables product manufacturers to produce, package and ship orders directly to customers without the business owner having to physically handle the products, thereby reducing business risk since the business owner only pays for goods sold to customers. Since most dropship stores are easy to set-up, are low-cost and can be mostly automated, it has become one of the best business models for most online store owners to adopt.
Here are top 10 hacks to consider for new online store owners looking to launch a successful dropshipping store and break into the e-commerce industry;
Hack #1 — Have a Niche
The idea of running a general store with pretty much every item on the internet might sound exciting at first thought, but on a closer look, it could be the first step to doom a store to failure. This is because operating a store which is too general reduces the chances of spelling out a specific audience and this can, in turn, make branding very difficult. A niche store, however, makes it easier to clearly define the right audience for products and helps narrow the focus to more potential shopper audience which is the key to success.
Analyzing trends, target audience and reviewing competitors are helpful when considering a niche. It is also essential to be knowledgeable and passionate about the area being delved into as this would ultimately play a crucial role in setting up a store to be successful in its niche.
Hack #2 — Verify Suppliers
A brand’s reputation reflects on what quality of products it offers and the need to be picky about which suppliers to work with and what products represent a brand cannot be overemphasised. While determining what products to dropship might be the easier part, auditing suppliers to partner with should also be treated with equal relevance. A few details to take into consideration when selecting a supplier include how the product content and data is managed, how often the inventory is updated, shipping times and cost and more importantly, how returns are handled. It is worth narrowing down the list to suppliers with high credibility and low dispute rates.
In the case where a supplier performs below standard, it is necessary to replace such a supplier as soon as possible, as dropshipping requires efficient transparency and collaboration to create the ultimate customer experience.
Hack #3 — Channels
With the emergence of dropshipping and its increasing popularity in the e-commerce sphere, there has been a myriad of channels offering services to online store owners. It is worth taking into consideration what channel a store decides to use. These channels make premade store templates available for store owners to revamp to whatever fits a store’s niche, thus easing up the process of running an online store.
Ensuring that whatever channel is selected has all the right integrations, and plug-ins needed for a specific store is paramount. For this reason, some store owners who are not technically inclined would often hire an expert to develop a store based on specific requirements.
Hack #4 — Branding
Creating a brand is the key to building a store’s reputation and would always guarantee returning customers if done correctly. Branding usually comprises a store’s name, logos, design layout, and all-round feel of whatever niche products are on sale. Although dropshipping help cut corners, it is crucial to have effective branding that creates a lasting impression on customers.
Before launching a store, observe other niche-related stores to see what works and how these could be modelled into branding your store, from landing pages to product descriptions, image quality and everything in-between. To get started with branding, sites like Turfmob offer good deals in ready-made branded domain names.
Pro tip: Including trust badges to a store’s site generally improve the impression of such store and boosts customer confidence when checking out.
Hack #5 — Automate
It doesn’t matter if a store is being operated as a full-time job or as a passive source of income, the more aspects of a store that is automated, the more the freedom the store owner has to focus on other crucial elements like marketing. While most dropshipping apps help to automate processing protocols, having a social media autopilot comes in handy to eliminate the hassle of posting new products and content across various social media platforms like Twitter and Pinterest.
Proper organisation of your store can be fulfilled with the EMERGE App which helps automate the process of creating quotes, sales orders and emails from the system within a simple, easy-to-navigate platform. For stores with team members, EMERGE App also offer features which support sharing and collaboration between team members. What’s even better is that the EMERGE App works fine for both B2B and B2C e-commerce stores and provides a more profound analysis of a store’s sale to aid successful marketing.
Hack #6 — Customer Service
Great customer service is a dropshipper’s best friend, and for store owners, this is one of the best ways to stand out from competitors. Most times, customers not only pay for products, but they also pay for the shopping experience, so it’s imperative that a store does it’s best to make sure that customer’s happiness and satisfaction is a top priority to maintain a premium customer relationship.
Interact with customers, send them a thank you card, run giveaways and offer discount coupons, all these make customers feel valued and not only does this improve marketing return-on-investment by driving sales, but it also increases the number of returning customers.
Hack #7 — Marketing
An amazing store without the right audience is just another unknown website floating on the internet. The beauty of dropshipping is evident in how much time it frees up for business owners to focus more on tightening marketing strategies and pulling traffic to their store. For starters, three marketing channels worth exploring are Google AdWords, Facebook/Instagram Ads and Pinterest Ads.
Asides these external channels, worth considering also is optimising an online store for conversions. Tools to show scarcity and urgency, customer reviews and content with proper SEO should also be used to drive long-term sales. It is therefore essential to have customer and product information as well as enough historical data of a store to effectively target the right audience with minimal ad spend and low acquisition cost.
Hack #8 — Handling Returns
As with other business models, the dropshipping model also experiences a number of potential issues that spring up from time to time, from lost shipments to unsatisfactory product and the likes. Therefore, there is the need to plan for returns especially since this could be a bit complex when dropshipping is involved as there are no full guarantees to the nature of the product upon reaching your customer.
Discuss policies and agreements with the supplier from the start to be clear about who receives returns in the case that they do happen. Receiving direct returns as a business owner encourages better customer service. However, it also introduces logistics cost. When suppliers accept direct returns, it reduces the hassle, but different suppliers might have different return instructions.
Although there is the tendency to receive returns while running a dropshipping business, it is important to keep these as seldom as possible and avoid complications with handling as this can have an impression in overall customer satisfaction.
Hack #9 — Analytics
Trends are always dynamic, and customer behaviour changes frequently. Dropshipping business owners should always keep an eye on the competition for new ideas, advertising strategies, branding and even competitive pricing on trending products in your niche. Keeping an eye on competitors helps to open up new avenues for effective marketing to the best audience.
Hack #10 — Be in the loop
Running a successful dropshipping business requires substantial dedication and a long-term goal. Invest both time and money to make sure you remain in the mix when it comes to understanding emerging trends and what’s fading out within the industry. This would ultimately help you to continually satisfy the needs of your customers and also help you be on par with your fellow competitors.
10 Hacks for Successful Dropshipping Business was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.