Choose your products and build your brand
Your brand and your website will be defined by both you and your products. Before you’re able to build your site, you’ll need to first decide which products you’ll sell, how they’ll be curated, and how to build your brand around these products.
Choose products you love
You’re going to be spending a great deal of time supporting, selling, and advertising the products on your site. Without a passion, you’re unlikely to enjoy your work or pursue the business for an extended period of time. Your customers will know whether you’re passionate, and by sharing their passion you’ll drive sales and build a business you enjoy being a part of.
Choose products you know
Though you’re not producing or even shipping the item, you will still be the face of the products and the company and you’ll be required to support the products. Having a great understanding of the products and how they’ll be used, as well as the type of customers who purchase your products will ensure you can provide quality service and support.
Build a brand image that your customers can relate to
Your design, your branding, the context of the text on your site, and the way you advertise to your customers will all be driven by the product you sell and the type of customers that will attract.
This is the time to be creative and set yourself apart from your competitors. Survey potential customers, join forums and communities and understand who you’ll be selling your product to.
Find your suppliers
Once you’ve chosen your products it’s now time to find suppliers who support dropshipping. First, you’ll need to define where you want the products to come from, the margins your business will require, and then begin reaching out to your suppliers, getting samples, and building your product offering.
One of the most popular choices for dropshipping products is to order direct from distributors and producers in China. This has very recently taken off with sites like Wish, and services such as Oberlo. Though these are incredibly convenient from a seller’s perspective, it’s undoubtedly complex from a shipping perspective. Yes, it’s free, but taxes and duties could be incurred, and shipping can take several months. Your shop is likely competing with Amazon, Walmart, and other online retailers, which means you’ll need to compete to provide products equally fast and offer the same types of prices. Thankfully, you do not require the same level of staff or warehouses as many of your competitors.
Similar to competing on popular marketplaces, by competing as a dropshipper you’re likely to be competing against others selling the same or similar products. Only a few things can set you apart from your competitors, with the price being one of the most important factors. Keeping prices down will require you do both reduce overhead and the cost of shipping. If your distributor has multiple warehouses or, numerous shipping options, or options for packaging or distribution, consider collecting data as early as possible to improve optimizations down the road.
By using sellers within your nation, or even local sellers, you can easily build relationships that ensure the quality of your products is maintained.
Some key drawbacks to importing products is that it can often be difficult to receive samples, shipping can be expensive, and quality can vary wildly. When dropshipping products, make sure you have a distributor whose quality you can trust. Ask yourself this: Would you recommend your products to a friend? If the answer is yes, you’ve found a great distributor.
Building your website
Building a site that fits into the niche you’re selling is going to be key, but ensuring the right products are on your site is important as well. Your distributors will likely have tens of thousands of products or more, and you’ll need to decide which of those will be selling on your site, which you’ll support, and which products do not fit in.
If you’re entering products manually, writing descriptions, and uploading images, there is an investment for each item added to the site. You’ll need to choose each item carefully.
Integrating your website to your supplier feed allows you to automatically add thousands of products, reducing the investment and allowing you to offer a catalog of products. By receiving information directly from the supplier you’ll be able to easily add new products as they become available, ensure the accuracy of the information, and reduce the investment required for the sale of each product.
There are a few ways to do this, including direct integrations, applications, and EDI. When choosing who to integrate, ensure you research your competition. If the supplier data is highly accessible, such as with many integration apps with pre-integrated suppliers, you’re likely to have considerable competition cutting into your margins.
EDI allows you to connect with nearly any supplier online and handles all documents and information that will need to be exchanged between your site and your supplier, eliminating manual risk.
Now that you have your suppliers, products, and your site, you’re all set!