Dropshipping is a term often flung around like a cheap whore. Rightfully so, the failure rate is very high, but few admit the failure rate of any business is equally high. Personally, dropshipping changed my life and I want to share some tips for dropshipping success that I hope will help you too. A disclaimer: dropshipping is a serious challenge that requires you to remain focused on what matters–retail psychology.
And I mean US consumer retail psychology.
This post is targeted at a US market only.
If you don’t understand retail psychology, no matter how advanced your web design skills and aspirations in ecommerce may be, you’ll likely not survive a month on the retail battlefield. Buy books, work in retail, take courses, whatever, but do get exposure to the world of retail sales. Ignoring me is fine too, but blame no one but yourself for not listening.
Yeah, I know I’m being blunt.
But I’m here to share truth and not fiction.
I’m not going to paint a picture of a beach and palm trees in the Indian Ocean and you sitting under them with your laptop, watching the money roll in.
First step: always seek advice from successful dropshippers. You’ll have to look for them, they’re like a bunch of Yodas. Hidden, yet full of wisdom. They let the naysayers neg everyone out, and then enjoy the shortfall of competition that comes as a result of people buying the negative crap. Do not at any cost enter dropshipping without speaking to an expert first.
You will otherwise likely end up failing. Trial and error in dropshipping can be a very costly process, one which you can possibly avoid by heeding their advice. Offer to pay them a fee to help you, if you have to. It’ll be the best investment you make.
If you’re too broke to pay a successful expert to advise you,
Then odds are you’re too broke to dropship.
The 13 tips for dropshipping success are the culmination of over twenty thousands dollars in losses (and lessons well learned) , all the while learning the nuances of success. Please don’t ignore them or mark them off as not applying to you. That is the most self-centered, egotistical bullsh*t I usually run across from new and even veteran dropshippers. All of them apply to everyone, always. I religiously follow my dropshipping tips and don’t just post them for vanity’s sake. I follow them; I use them to turn failed stores around.
My 13 Tips For Dropshipping Success will help you properly position your store for success and also give you plenty of food for thought:
1. Use Trust Seals
I personal love TrustGuard, but there are a ton of other options out there to help you “legitimize” a new site. Don’t make the mistake of waiting for a sale before implementing trust seals. Launching a store means launching it right from the get-go. That’s right–WITH ALL THE BELLS AND WHISTLES. This way you incrementally increase your odds of succeeding where others have failed, simply because they chose to launch half-ass, half-hearted stores. Trust seals could be anything from verified business badges, to BBB and security seals. Most of these badges or seals carry a fee and, again, if you’re too broke to pay $20-30 a month for a legitimate seal, get into another business. No. Really. Find something else. Your top competitors will be willing to pay way more to get off on the right foot.
2. Hire a VA In Your Store’s Timezone
It perplexes me why anyone would hire someone in their own timezone if their business is in a totally different timezone. If you choose to enter the US market, make sure your VA is in–or within a few hours of–the US timezone. If customers need to be reached at 7pm, you don’t want to lose a sale because you and your 12 VAS are busy nodding off in China.
My VAs are always close to the timezones of my businesses. If shipping, sales, or customer service requests arise, someone is always available during extended business hours.
The good news for you is that 90% of your competition does not follow this rule, giving you a major timezone advantage. This alone boosted my sales by over 25%.
3. Stick To Your Niche
What I mean by this is that if you are selling Victorian picket fences, make sure the majority of your fences are just that–Victorian picket fences! Too many stores branch into other types of fences or sub-niches that sidetrack the original niche. You should seek to have the largest collection of Victorian picket fences. Add any other fences to your collection if you want, but, again, your customers expect you to be the authority on Victorian picket fences–or whatever the title of your store is. Be the largest authority of that title/niche. My #1 priority is always carrying every supplier in that niche so that I can comfortably say I carry the largest inventory online in that specific niche. This adds a great deal of legitimacy to any storefront.
4. Stick To High Price Points
When I see folks uploading cheaper price points first, I see a lack of business acumen. Large ticket items have a higher margin. It takes you as much time dealing with a low-end customer as it does a larger-item customer (with the exception of ultra-luxury goods), so make sure you upload profitable items first. Make sure your offerings exceed the $800 price point. You’re golden in the $1,200-1,500 range. If your niche happens to be lower-end items, then upload the higher margin items first. If you can, obtain more suppliers with higher price points. Personally, my focus goes to anything over $1,000. I quadrupled a single store’s sales by simply focusing on that price point.
5. Pick Up The Phone
One of the most important tips for dropshipping success: PICK UP THAT F*&#% phone when a customer calls!! Either have a receptionist service or VA do it for you, or do it yourself, but never, never, ever let a customer go to voicemail. It shouldn’t take a hundred surveys to prove why not picking up wastes a lead. If you are not willing to pick up the phone–do something else. Seriously. Stop wasting everyone’s time whining about why your sales aren’t taking off.
Dropshipping is retail and a biblical retail rule is to strike when the iron is hot and the lead is in buying mode. Waiting just an hour can compromise a customer’s decision to buy.
More than likely, though, they’ll just buy elsewhere.
Customers are even willing to pay a premium if it means they can talk to someone right now. Saturated or not, my decision to tackle niches is focused on my calling stores and gauging their response time. Thankfully, most fail the call test and I enter the niche with a great service and sales team. Pick up the phone at all costs and close that sale! (see below).
6. Learn To Sell
Customers call. Customers inquire. Customers want to be sold. I personally love selling. I especially love closing large 3-4k transactions and I always make time to teach my VAs sales skills.
Everything is always low on stock, or there are only 2 items left, and one just got booked. All customer decisions must be made today. A meteor is striking us tomorrow. Urgency is key.
Don’t ask close-ended questions. Seek the need behind the need and assume the sale, never ask for it. I spend a lot of time training my VAS and they have done so well I’ve rewarded them with all-expenses paid trips to other countries. Learn to sell or find someone who can teach you, or do it for you. Dropshipping is retail; retail is B2C sales.
7. Forget The Flip
Ask any dropshipper what they want to do with their store and 95% will say they want to ramp it up and sell it. What? Why? You’ll never develop long term relationships with suppliers that way. Many suppliers will be critical to your success–especially if they offer you deals they offer no one else. All of my main suppliers allow me to sell products no one else can sell. They will ship for me when they don’t ship for anyone else. They will offer free add-on products. How? Because of the great relationship I’ve built with them over time. Now, if I want to sell the stores years down the road, I have something to offer, something no one else can. Unique stores with even more unique relationships.
Find me a serial store-seller who’s been successful at it for years, then get back to me.
The crickets will be chirping while I wait.
Having bought stores upward of $60,000 myself, I tell you I would never purchase a store I could simply build myself. There needs to be a certain value-added aspect to it, a critical advantage no one else has, so build your store with longevity in mind and give it that critical advantage that a buyer couldn’t refuse!
8. Stay Away From Freight Shipping
If you are tight on cash, stay away from any niche that requires you to ship the products yourself. Generally, these are larger and heavier items. Furniture is one example. If your supplier doesn’t ship for you, then stay away from having to ship things yourself, especially if said things are expensive.
The last thing you need is $3,000 of damaged goods in one month, which sets you back double that. How? Well, until you receive the insurance money, if you do, you still have to deliver a replacement or refund for the damaged product. This means you’re out the initial $3,000 plus the replacement $3,000 for a total of $6,000.
9. Get Into Freight Shipping
What? You’re crazy! You just told me to stay away from freight shipping! Yes, I did. This is one of the more unconventional tips for dropshipping success, but freight shipping does act as a significant barrier to entry. Many competitors will face breakages and will bow out of the niche, or will not tackle the niche at all because they don’t want to deal with freight shipping. This means that if you have the reserves, you should get into this niche and master Freight Shipping from A to Z. Tons of competitors entered some of my niches and exited a few months later. Why? I know freight damage rocked their bank accounts and dreams of an easy life on Koh Samui. I’ve experienced the downward spiral myself. It seriously stressed me out, until I mastered it. Freight shipping will break the competition’s spirit or bank over time.
10. Play The Numbers
Launch many stores at once. Keep them simple and don’t analyze numbers all day and night. Quit with the analysis (see point 12). Just keep launching. Anything that fails within a month or so (meaning little profit), shelf. Launch 2-3 stores at a time. Go for an abundance mentality, not scarcity. If you don’t have the money to pay for large Adwords campaigns, go get a job, make some money, and come back when you can compete with the serious competitors that have flooded many niches and are dropping serious money in Adwords campaigns. I spend on average $1-4k per store per month in Adwords campaigns. I’m trying to de-glitter things and remind you this is a real business with people dropping serious money promoting their stores. Make sure your stores also have as many suppliers as possible.
11. Install A Chat Messenger
Don’t omit chat messengers. Who would launch any store nowadays without a chat option? If anything, it would help those who don’t like answering customer phone calls. But not answering the phone and not having a chat option? Where is the business sense in that?
Chatting online has become ordinary and almost expected–ultimately it translates into money. People want a quick chat, see if an item is in stock, then possibly order. Or they may want to ask a quick question. Or they simply prefer chatting instead of calling. They want answers, now.
Urgency is key.
Make urgency your priority, whether by chat, phone, or whatever–speed should be your priority.
12. Quit Analyzing Sh*t To Death
I often find people analyzing every single aspect of a customer’s movements across their store. In addition, they want to know the customer’s shoe size, what cologne they wear, what they ate for breakfast, and that’s just the beginning. It then moves onto what their marital status is, why they do what they do, and why they haven’t bought from you.
Launch your store with the right product lines and speedy service. Pick up the phone. Offer all price points. Retail first, everything else second, third, and fourth. Retail starts with understanding the basics of retail psychology.
13. Your Competition Is Your Asset
New entrants always come up with fresh ideas. Their competitive advantage becomes yours. As soon as you see something you like, use it. Every new entrant is a new opportunity to improve your presence. Some will offer products through suppliers you never knew existed. Others will have neat add-ons or website structures.
This is one of my personal favorite tips for dropshipping success; you can learn a ton from your competition. A niche with very few competitors spells complacency and laziness. One that is very active tremendously helps you hone down your site, and in turn replicate the new concepts across all your stores.
I copy all of my competition. Always. You should seek them out. What is theirs becomes yours. Find new entrants and feed on their creativity.
If I’ve been honest in a crude way, I do apologize, but I’m here to drive a point home and I find that many folk just don’t listen. They then blame their failures on anything but themselves. Take these tips for dropshipping success and use them. When friends or family ask me what I do and if they should do it too, we run through the afore-mentioned points.
If there is any hesitation at all, or excuses, I tell them it’s best to move on.
These tips for dropshipping success are meant to help put things in perspective and give you a roadmap. They’re meant to test your resolve and in turn strengthen a new or existing dropshipping store. As I said before, dropshipping changed my direction in life. Before getting into it, I was totally negative about it.
Guilty as charged.
But I did keep my ears open and gave it a shot, and listened to people way more experienced than I.
I’m thankful I did.
I hope you do too.
And I hope these tips help push your store, and your success, to the next level.
What tips for dropshipping success can you share? What’s worked best for you so far?
Additional resources I highly recommend:
- The Dummy’s Guide to Dropshipping: Set-up & Advice
- Shopify–Easy-to-use and deploy; launch your store within 30 days!
- The Future of Ecommerce: 7 Trends That Are Changing How We Shop
- How To Legally Start A Dropshipping Business: Banking & Licenses