Are you looking for a way to start your own business without spending large sums of money? In this article we will walk you through the steps you need to take to build a dropshipping store from scratch.
Indeed, if you are short of money but you are ready to start your own entrepreneurial adventure, what you want to do is open a dropshipping business, and become a seller of third-party products through eCommerce. The dropshipping method has undeniable advantages such as:
- No stock: your supplier handles the goods for you;
- No shipping: packing and shipping process are organized by your supplier;
- Low startup costs: because you don’t need to buy goods in advance, the startup costs are only the ones coming from the e-commerce website building process.
Now all of the above sounds like a sweet cake doesn’t it? So why isn’t everyone turning to dropshipping instead of sticking to a 9 to 5 job they hate? Well, there are a few reasons why. Because although it seems easy to build a dropshipping store, there are various difficulties:
- Choose the best platform: choose the right platform for building an e-commerce store. Among all the online offers it is not an easy task. You need an app that is easy to use and also does not require high computer skills.
- Find the right niche: you should focus preferably on a small niche with low competition. In the past dropshippers used to create single-product stores that they used to close after the trend of those products was finished.
- Find the right suppliers: if, for example, you decide to choose products from Aliexpress, what you need to do is contact the different merchants on this website and ask them if they agree to sell with dropshipping. You not only have to find a supplier but also a reliable one, because the customer care is provided by you and if something happens with the end customer they will want an answer from you.
- Manage daily activities: manage your website, upload your products, write descriptions, upload images and prices, download the order file and send it to suppliers, etc.
- Promotion of your store: find the right marketing strategy to make your store visible.
Ok, to build a dropshipping store you have to do all these things, but do not worry, in the following paragraphs I will tell you how to solve all these problems step by step.
How to build a dropshipping store step by step
Step 1 Choose the right platform
First, you have to choose the right platform, the one that I suggest is Shopify for many reasons:
- economic: among all the platforms on the market, it is not the cheapest, but certainly is the best when comparing price and services offered.
- simple: it is very easy to use, doesn’t require any kind of coding skills and also has an integrated payment system.
- customizable: thanks to Shopify’s large amount of plugins, you can easily add into your store various types of useful services, such as a chat for customers, a coupon service, pop-up messages, etc.
Step 2 Find your niche
If you want to max out your chances of success, you should find a narrow niche, and stay well clear of general niche stores or one-product stores.
Nowadays, nobody can afford to lose all leads every time and start off again with every new product. Marketing campaigns, especially Facebook campaigns, become more expensive every day, therefore the only way to make a real profit is to retain old customers.
On the other hand, a broad niche or a general store requires a huge marketing budget and quite often eventually leads to failure.
When you choose your niche you have to keep in mind some important points that are fundamental to open a successful dropshipping business. The items that you choose should be profitable, they have to be trendy and most importantly, they have to be easy to ship and this means they should be small in size and weight.
Just to give you an idea of what I’m talking about, the best dropshipping products normally can fit a shoebox and should not weigh more than 2 kg.
In general, these are the kind of products that you always have to avoid:
- Popular items: you should never try to sell big brands products because you can’t legally sell them without specific agreement with the copyright owner company, they have low margins and often fixed prices.
- Counterfeit products: you should never try to sell imitations because this can get you in trouble.
- Hard to ship products: not all the items available on the market are suitable for dropshipping. You have to consider that this method is characterized by postal shipping. Therefore, you should try to find items that can be sent by post. In fact, in the end, when you calculate the shipping costs for an over 2kg package, it can be insanely expensive.
Step 3 Find the right suppliers:
Once you have decided the products you want to sell and the niche you want to address, it is time to select the supplier who can dropship your items to your clients. The traditional options to find them are two.
Looking directly for a supplier
In this case, while you might very well get convenient prices, you need to do everything manually, spending hours looking for factories who produced the items you are interested in, getting in touch with suppliers via phone or email, likely incurring into communication problems, as the suppliers who sell products at convenient prices are most likely located in China and they only have a limited knowledge of English.
Securing a “dropshipping deal” is not so easy, it uses to involve many back-and-forth communication between the supplier and the online retailer, such as sharing of photos of the products, shipping of samples, negotiations on minimum order quantities, constant contact to make sure that the products are still in stock, exchanging of the orders details and of the tracking numbers of the packages.
Every single step has to be done manually from scratch, even the uploading of the information and pictures of the products on the retailer’s website.
Moreover, you won’t be sure about the quality of the products and the time of the shipping. Normally dropshippers who work with the main online distributors have huge problems with their customers. This means negative feedbacks, refund requests, problems with payment gateways, and more. Long story short, your business won’t last long.
Buy from an online marketplace
The second solution can be to use Aliexpress. This is a B2C marketplace so prices won’t be so convenient, but you can avoid many communication problems and manual works. In order to save time and effort, dropshippers uses web integrations which connected to their eCommerce stores, like Oberlo, help them to quickly import products from AliExpress.
Although these types of tools are very useful to cut down the time spent uploading product pages, they don’t solve the core problems as AliExpress was not developed to be a B2B sourcing platform. Using this website improperly, dropshippers did incur in many problems.
For example, AliExpress sellers often don’t ship the packages with the agreed method, they share wrong/fake tracking numbers which were impossible to track down and they did not offer any kind of after-sale assistance. Hence, many online store owners started to lose clients due to products being late and/or wrong.
The ultimate solution
Currently, the best solution on the market is a third one and it is called Yakkyofy. Yakkyofy is the only software that helps you manage and automate completely all the dropshipping business daily tasks, from sourcing, to order fulfillment and delivery.
Yakkyofy provides the products to sell, offers B2B prices, guarantees quality control, and assures stable and fast shipping times. Moreover, being fully integrated with Shopify and Woocommerce, Yakkyofy helps you to manage all your stores and products from only one dashboard and with only one supplier.
Plus, thanks to their unique shipping method, Special Line, they can ship your orders in 3-12 days in North America and in most of the European Countries.
Until considerable sales volume is achieved, AliExpress retailers are a reliable source for product procurement.
Newcomers usually start with manual order assignment moving to automated processes at later stages with supplier apps like Yakkyofy that can assure faster and more stable shipping time than AliExpress and consequently a low complaint ratio.
Finding a good supplier or supplier platform is imperative because bad quality products and shipping lateness bring to customer complaints and customer complaints lead to Facebook and PayPal bans.
Step 4 Manage daily activities
As a store owner, you will have some management related activities that you must on a daily basis to help the functioning of your dropshipping store.
If you decided to choose suppliers that you found independently or chose to buy from a marketplace, you will have to manually upload the products on your store.
Moreover, you might find yourself having to send your customers’ orders every day, with a back and forth communication to make sure everything runs smoothly. This is a very time consuming process that will take your attention away from scaling your niche market and finding new customers.
If you choose Yakkyofy, however, we will help you in this phase, because when you choose a product from our catalog, the product’s data (photos and description) are automatically copied to your store.
Furthermore, when an end customer places an order to your store, Yakkyofy will handle the order and fulfill it automatically, so that you can get rid of all manual work such as sending shipping orders to a supplier, update orders with tracking number, etc.
Step 5 Promotion of your store and additional tips
Now you have everything you need to start your business: you found your niche, built your store, found a good supplier for your products, automated all your fulfillment process, and connected your store with the most important Ads platform.
You reached the first milestone and now you are ready to start your adventure and build a successful business. To achieve that you have to find your winning products, create a marketing strategy, and optimize your sales, so before leaving you I want to give you a few last words of advice.
You might be asking yourself: Now your dropshipping store should be ready with products, easy? Well, now you have to start selling.
To sell your products you have to find the right marketing strategy to make your store visible and increase your sales. Like any business, you need a strategic plan:
- Choose your products consistently: do not sell random products, try to imagine your ideal customer (for example owners of hamsters) and choose products that can be of use to them.
- Choose a niche market: it is often easier to be more successful when you know the needs of the customer in your niche market, so it is better not to choose a random niche market but stay with something that you already know. For example, you breed hamsters, so you know all the problems that those hamster breeders are facing every day.
- Check out your competition: search which stores sell products similar to the ones you sell and establish competitive prices.
- Study your customer habits: where to find my niche market customers? how to contact them, what are their buying habits, are they following forums, groups or events?
At this point you can move on to the promotion step. After having studied your customers’ habits and needs, you have to decide:
- which social media is better for your business.
- if blogging is important to your business and/or to contact influencer, etc.
- which ad platform is better for you, Facebook ads, Google Adwords, Linkedin…etc.
- if you will sell products only in your store or also in other platforms, such as Amazon.