For years, the world’s retail economy has been slowly shifting online. In the summer of 2020, however, that change was fully solidified when a global pandemic shut down the entire world economy.
The only way that anybody could really buy anything was online- even for essentials like toilet paper, food, and pampers! Within a couple of months, some of America’s biggest retail companies went bankrupt and they were quickly purchased by entrepreneurs with a vision to take big brands like Pier 1 Imports and Crate and Barrel (purchased for pennies on the dollar) completely online.
At the same time, hundreds of millions of people were losing their jobs and left scrambling for money, wondering how they were going to pay their next month’s rent and feed their families. But humans are nothing if not resourceful. By the end of that fateful summer, many of the people who had lost their careers were now starting a new line of work online. They were working remotely, freelancing, and even opening up their own stores online.
In today’s article, we’re going to be talking about how you can open up your very own online store using one of the fastest-growing online sales strategies used by the experts- dropshipping. By the time you finish reading, you’ll be well on your way to producing a passive income business that can grow as big as you want it to!
What Exactly is Dropshipping?
Now, by this time you’re probably thinking to yourself, “This all sounds great, but doesn’t starting an online store take money? Don’t I have to spend thousands on a product to sell first?”
Well, this is the beauty of a dropshipping business model- you don’t have to buy any product upfront.
Yes, you heard that right.
The only thing that you’ll have to pay for upfront is building an inexpensive website and some marketing fees.
Here’s a step-by-step process of how dropshipping works in a nutshell:
● First, you find a product (or products) that you want to sell.
● Then, you source a manufacturer or wholesaler (usually overseas).
● Then, you create an online store, listing the products that you want to sell.
● Once customers visit your store and purchase an item, the manufacturer gets paid for the product cost and you get paid however much you marked the product up.
● The manufacturer ships the item out from their warehouse, so you don’t have to do a thing!
We’ll explain in more detail below, but the basic idea is that you’re opening an online store and handling all of the marketing and promotion, while the manufacturer handles all of the shipping. This symbiotic business model means that you will never have to pay for the product upfront and is a great way for beginners to start an online business with less than $500.
Are There Any Drawbacks to Dropshipping?
There is one small drawback to a dropshipping business model. Since most of your manufacturers are going to be shipping from overseas, your customers will typically have to wait a little bit longer than usual to receive the product they ordered. Amazon has gotten a lot of online shoppers accustomed to 2 and 3-day shipping times, but the average dropship order takes 1 to 2 weeks to get delivered.
It’s usually not a huge issue, and since the customer has to pay upfront, they don’t really have a choice but to wait. That being said, it’s always a good idea to having a shipping time disclosure somewhere on your site just to cover your back if you get any questions.
What is AliExpress?
Have you ever heard of Alibaba? Alibaba is one of the largest online distribution sites in the world and is based in China. You can buy almost anything that you could imagine on Alibaba, but it’s only designed for bulk orders, usually requiring clients to spend thousands of dollars upfront. It’s good if you’re trying to create your own product line, but not so good for a simple dropshipping model.
That’s why Alibaba created AliExpress. This platform is geared towards smaller businesses and shoppers and deals with single item sales. More specifically, AliExpress supplies almost every single dropshipped item online.
Benefits of AliExpress
You name it- they sell it. Shoes, phone cases, batteries, technology, wallets, clothes, hats, lighting, toys, and even makeup products!
All you need to do is find a product that you want to sell and network with a seller on AliExpress and work out a deal for dropshipping.
Creating Your First Dropshipping Store
Now that you better understand the concept of dropshipping, it’s time to learn how to create your first store step-by-step! Don’t let all of those internet gurus fool you- it’s a lot easier than it sounds at first. As long as you have some basic web design skills and an eye for products that sell, you’ll do just fine! The worst-case scenario is you pick a bad product, lose a hundred bucks or so on advertising, and choose another product to sell. The fact that dropshipping is such a low-risk business is the reason we recommend that all young entrepreneurs start with it before investing thousands of dollars in creating custom-manufactured products.
Step 1: Find a Product
Your first step is to find a product that sells. This is the most critical part of the process, so don’t be lazy when it comes to your product research!
A lot of first-timers mess up because they start by selling a product that they think is cool but that nobody else is interested in and then throw their hands up when it doesn’t go well for them.
If you are finding it extremely difficult to find a product you can enlist the help of SaleHoo – Find Your Product and Supplier They have helped countless numbers of people create profitable drop shipping stores online. They have a 60 day money back guarantee so can you can try it out and if you decide you don’t like it you will get 100% back.
One of the best ways to find products that are trending is to check out Amazon and eBay. These large sites usually have a section dedicated to “hot deals” and “popular items”. Browse through some of the top-selling products and find something that looks like it’ll sell well.
Try to find a product that’s useful or innovative in some way.
For example, one of the most popular items that we saw dropshipping companies ship over the past year have been:
● Galaxy projector lights
● Hard wallets (to replace those old-fashioned bulky ones)
● PPE Gear (masks, no-touch key fobs, UV sanitizers, etc.)
One Product vs. A Full Product Line
When starting your store, most dropshippers will typically make one of two choices:
● Sell one product (with options)
● Sell multiple products within a category
For example, if you’re just selling hard wallets, you may have the same wallet in multiple colors, shades, and sizes. On the other hand, you could also open up an online store specializing in modern accessories for men that would feature hard wallets, pocket-sized tools, sunglasses, Bluetooth rings, etc.
Ultimately, it’s up to you, and every seller will tell you something different. Some suggest that it’s better to just stick with one reliable product; others will tell you it’s better to have multiple options so that you can upsell them on more items through the sales funnel.
If you’re just starting, though, it’s probably simpler to stick with one product, so you don’t get too confused or off-theme with your product selection.
Step 2: Network With a Seller
Once you find the product you want to sell, head over to AliExpress, create a free account, and then do a quick search for the type of product you’re looking to sell. You’ll probably find hundreds of different manufacturers, all with varying price points, product options, variations, and shipping times.
Whenever possible, try to work with a seller who has a reputation for being in business for longer and better ratings. These sellers are more likely to provide quick shipping and better service. Contact them and tell them that you’re opening an online store and would like them to dropship your product. From there, they’ll work out a deal with you and give you some more information on the products that they sell, shipping times, etc.
Remember, they’re used to working with dropshippers, so don’t be afraid to ask them as many questions as you want. With so much competition on AliExpress, many of the sellers will go out of their way to give you the best experience so that you don’t go to their competitors. If you’re into haggling, you may even be able to reduce the price you pay for the products!
Step 3: Start Your Online Store
Although there are other platforms for creating online stores, Shopify is usually the easiest for beginners to use. They have a fully-integrated payment system that requires minimal setup, plenty of free themes so that you’ll do minimal styling work, and they just recently introduced a feature that allows you to integrate your site with AliExpress directly. This nifty feature streamlines your entire sales process, ensuring that both you and your supplier are paid your cut the moment the customer makes a purchase.
If you’ve never used Shopify before, it’s probably a good idea to check out YouTube for some tutorials on website layout and design. You don’t need any technical skills to build a Shopify site, but it helps to learn some basic design principles.
Once you get the hang of it, creating a new Shopify site shouldn’t take longer than a couple of hours! In fact, many of the most profitable dropshippers have multiple online stores selling a wide range of trending products.
Aside from product selection, the main difference between a successful dropshipping site and one that goes nowhere is advertising. You could have the greatest online store in the world, but if you don’t advertise it, then nobody will ever know it exists.
In the old days, you could just ask Google to index your website, and you’d have customers within a couple of weeks. Today, however, there’s so much competition on search engines that you would have to wait months or years to reach the top few Google pages organically.
The best strategy for marketing your new online store today is social media ads!
For less than half of the cost of Google AdWords marketing, you can display your ads to thousands of potential customers and fine-tune your target audience so that only people with a high likelihood of buying your product see the ad in the first place. This allows you to maximize the return on your marketing investment!
Create Some Great Ads
Once you create your site, it’s time to make some good ads! Some AliExpress sellers will have a packet of product images and videos they can send you for marketing purposes; other times, you may just have to create your own ad using pictures and product videos. Giving away some free products to influencers and using their “unboxing videos” as an ad is also a good strategy.
Target The Right Audience
Once you create some nice ads for your product on platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, you need to select the appropriate target audience. For instance, if you’re selling men’s wallets, you’ll probably want to target men between the ages of 18 and 45 who are interested in fashion and technology. You can create your own personal filters and make them as vague or specific as you want.
Split Test Your Ads
Once you’ve created a couple of good ads and narrowed down your target audience, it’s time to split test your ads to figure out which ones work the best. Split testing is an important process that involves spending a small amount of money on each ad (usually $10-$20) to see which ones get the best response over the course of a week or two.
Once you find the ad or ads that perform best, go all-in on those! Invest your full marketing budget into them since they’ve already proven that they can perform well with a limited budget. Scrap the ads that didn’t perform so well.
Sit Back and Wait!
Now that you’ve done all of the hard work, just sit back and wait! With your online store up and running, your ads distributed across social media, and a hot trending product, you’ll be unstoppable.
Just remember to check on your stores every day to make sure they’re successful. Don’t sweat it if there are a couple of bad days here and there. Eventually, your product (or ads) may lose traction and you’ll have to go back to the drawing board, but this is the nature of online businesses, so always be prepared to change your business model and move on to the next hot product.
As i said above, one of the hardest parts in all this is finding a product that will sell, you can alleviate a lot of stress by getting salehoo to help you find a product and supplier. Need help? Visit: SaleHoo – Find Your Product and Supplier