Dropshipping: Ecommerce For The Entrepreneur Without A Product, A Team, A Storage Unit, or Really A Starting Point of Any Other Kind
Dropshipping is a particular kind of ecommerce store - one that puts you (the entrepreneur) right in the middle between someone else’s product and your customer. Essentially, you curate an online collection of some sort of interesting product onto a website with prices and descriptions etc. When someone orders, you’ll tell the wholesale company where to ship it to. You get a cut of the profit because you’re the one who marketed and sold it, and you never have to actually see or store the product.
If I’m not making anything, what am I even doing?
Dropshipping is a great way to get into business for people with limited resources. Most of us don’t have the time, expertise or inclination to develop our own products. Plus there are plenty out there already! You don’t need to invent the next best pair of headphones to sell the next best pair of headphones.
You’re the middleman, the curator, the marketer, the sales pitch, the connection. Dropshipping businesses grab products from people who know how to make them for cheap and sell them to people who want to use them.
Dropshipping is also a great way to increase the selection of what you offer on a store you already own. Say you’ve got one or two products, but it looks pretty skimpy for a full store. You can dropship the rest and boost your business.
Take a look at one of our previous posts for a comparison of the different types of ecommerce stores out there.
The Good and the Bad
Pros of dropshipping:
- It’s easy to set up, and with just a little bit of attention each week can basically run itself
- Pretty easy money, compared to some other pursuits
- Low risk business
- Great as a side hustle
- Great way to test out a product or market
- Low low low startup costs
Cons of dropshipping:
- Relatively low returns because much of the cost of the product goes to the producer and the shipper
- Not a lot of flexibility in how things are packaged/presented/shipped. It can be hard to add value without tools like presentation.
- Often negative connotation of scams and ripoffs
(P.S. don’t scam people. It’s rude/illegal.)
Should I Dropship?
It could be a good idea to start a dropshipping business if you:
Don’t have more than a few hours a week; don’t have an idea for a product; don’t have storage; want to get a feel for business; don’t live in a place that’s easy to ship through; want to test out a market you’re thinking of disrupting; want to earn some cash on the side; are good at marketing; found a niche; move around a lot and need a job you can do from anywhere; someone with a store but only one or two products
It might not be the best idea to start a DropShop if you:
Can’t be bothered to keep up with orders; don’t know how to deal with customers, suppliers and shippers when an issue arises, are clueless about marketing (though you can learn!)
So How Do I Get Started?
Well, start with a Shopify Account. This is your ecommerce platform that will let you take orders, set up a store, accept payment and collect some data analytics. It’s also got loads of helpful addons made just for dropshippers like yourself. Want a little extra challenge? Try getting the 14 day free trial and using your DropShop to make what you’d pay for a membership (read: no cash investment). You can also take a look at our tips on starting an online store on the cheap.
Then, get an idea. Grab yourself a notebook, metaphorical magnifying glass and thinking cap, and find yourself a niche to curate in. Need some inspiration? Try Shopify Burst, which is their site for simple business ideas. Tip: You can also use Burst for some excellent stock photos for your DropShop.
Next, you’ll want to set up your store and start putting your products up. Find out details like the amount of time it takes for your products to arrive door-to-door. Shop around on the internet to find a good price for what you’re selling, and see what price is reasonable to sell them for.
Ready, set, launch.
You’re starting an ecommerce business, so the meat of it is the marketing. Need a place to get started? Try Shopify’s content marketing video series.
A Few Helpful Hints
There are tons and tons of companies already designed to make your life easy. Try, for example, Oberlo, which helps you set up your whole dropshipping business in a day using AliExpress (a huuuuge wholesaler in China called Alibaba).
We definitely recommend you read through Shopify’s Guide to Dropshipping if you’re serious about starting a shop. It’s got great tips for success, and a bit more of a hands-on tutorial.
One thing to seriously consider before you fully launch is to test out a couple of your products. If you’ve got the cash, order some for delivery yourself to double check the supplier isn’t scamming you (or your future customers) with faulty products that you then have to deal with as the seller.
Ready to Take Your Business To The Next Level?
Elkfox is a Shopify Expert. That means we know the ins and outs of building a great ecommerce business. Get in touch with us to learn about making your dropshipping business your full time income.