Managing an online e-commerce website has never been easy. You will go through a lot of stress from crazy product launch to managing stock and shipping process. All of these requires a lot of money and energy right?
And if your product does not meet customers needs, they would sell and you won’t make any money.
But not with dropshipping.
You don’t even need to create a product or worry about stock management, inventory and shipping process. A third party has to do those jobs on your behalf.
In this post I am going to show you how to start e-commerce without having a product of your own. It is called dropshipping.
What is drop shipping? to start with.
Dropshipping is a form of online retail business where you (the seller), owns an e-commerce store like Amazon without going through any sort of product creation and managing warehouse space.
In a nutshell, you sell other peoples product directly on your online store I have the supplier fulfill the order and have the goods delivered correctly.
It works like the diagram below.
First, there is a supplier. His work is to ship the right products received from your online store to your customer correctly.
The next in line is the dropshipper (you). Your work is to add products from the merchant store to your own online store and drive together traffic to it. You need to make sales to make profit.
Lastly, you see the customer. They are your customers. The people who buys the products from your online store.
Does it look similar to affiliate marketing?
Oh no! They are two different things.
In affiliate marketing, you only recommend products to your audience and make money when the product sells through your affiliate funnel.
It is far from dropshipping.
Think of dropshipping as an individual (or a company) who walks into a merchant store and be like:
“Hey! Give me your product samples let me help you and sell them on my own online store, while you take get the money and deliver them to my customers”
It’s that simple. Your only job is to make sales and take your cut while the supplier carry on the rest of fulfillment.
You even make money before the order is fulfilled.back to menu ↑
How dropshipping works
- Find a reliable supplier who has the products you want to sell
- Add the supplier’s products with marked up prices on your online store and advertise them
- Receive direct payment from customers who buy from your online store
- Send the orders bact to your suppliers and pay them their original price. Keep the profits to yourself!
- Do nothing: the supplier will ship the order directly to your clients
- Repeat the whole process! Find more products and suppliers if you like, and make more money!
To start dropshipping, there are basic steps you should take.back to menu ↑
Planning & Researching
Just like any other business, Dropshipping requires a good amount of time to plan. If you skip this very basic first step, you may end up not succeeding in the business.
Plan how you want to start your dropshipping business, which country you want to sell to, who you want to sell to and their ages, etc.
In short, planning to start dropshipping business starts with a research. An in-depth one!
First, you need to:
- Research your start up capital.
- Find a niche and research your target audience. Find out things like: how they spend money online, When they often buy stuffs online, what kind of products do they buy? Etc.
- Know a big deal about your competitors, like: How do they drive traffic and sales? What keywords are driving them sales?How do they promote their offer?
Look, it is easier to start any business, but it may not be easy to grow that business in most cases, especially if you fail to plan for your business success.
Before you even start planning on how to start dropshipping business, let’s see how we can help you in:
1. Researching your start-up capital
Even though dropshipping does not require a lot of start up capital, but it is not also free-to-start at the same time.
You should first ask yourself; ‘how do I sell dropshipping products?’ you already know, it is e-commerce.
That means you need an ecommerce website of your own, which is not free to get.
The cost of setting up an e-commerce website? Let me help you…
- Shoppify store = $29 Per month ($348 per year)
- Woocommerce store = $60 Per year + Alidropship plugin $89 (one time payment)
It totally depends on you. I personally prefer Woocommerce for dropshipping, plus it’s really very cheap.
Again, you also need to research the cost promoting your dropshipping business. In most cases, PPC advertising works better. That means you should also be ready to spend a few dollars in promoting your dropshipping business, in other to get traffic to your website.
It is not quite cheap for most people. at least, the cost of one click on Google ads is around $0.5 – $5 per click for non competitive keywords.
In short, the average cost of sending 1000 visitors to your website is from $500 Per month.
Add that to the cost of creating a website and you get your approximate start-up cost.
For example, summing up the cost of setting up a shopify store and the cost of advertising would be:
$29+ $500 = $529 Per month, and $6348 per year.
So, it will cost you less or more than $529 Per month to maintain a dropshipping store that can generate over $1 million every year
2. Finding a niche and understanding your audience.
This happens to be the most important part of every business research. Without understanding your target Audience, you would only be spinning the wheel.
What’s a niche or Niche market to start with?
“A niche is a smaller section of a broad market”. Simple and short.
If you choose to only dropship baby cloths, then that’s your niche. You are only interested in selling baby clothes instead of overall fashion apparel.
Going Niche is a way to attract more customers.
How to find a niche
While finding a niche for blogging, the best advice you will hear from us is – follow your passion, the money will come. Believe me, that totally changed when it comes to Dropshipping.
You can follow your passion only if there are high demand for products within your interests.
You need to sell what’s already selling to make money with dropshipping business.
So, the best way to find a niche for your shop is to look into other big markets like Amazon and Alibaba to figure out what’s selling faster.
Amazon has a dedicated page for best selling products. It is a good place to start!
Choose any department and see their top selling products. You can even expand your idea by conducting a simple keyword research using any seed keywords related to the products listed there.
3. Researching your competitors
Believe me, there is competition almost every where. Dropshipping is not exceptional.
But that’s a good thing. Competition is a sign that there is money within a particular space. However, if a niche is too competitive that you can barely be heard, you may need to choose a different niche.
The very first step in researching your niche competitive level is to conduct a very basic keyword research.
Take a seed keyword and type it directly into Google and see what comes up. If you have MOZbar extention installed, you will be able to see the domain authority of every search result listing.
If the DA (Domain Authority) of those websites ranking on the first page is above DA70, it means you will compete with bigger websites.
But that’s only true to an extent. Do not panic.
The next thing you should do is conduct a competitor’s analysis using SEMrush tool. It is easy.
Copy the URL of your main competitors and paste them one after the other on SEMrush competitor’s analytics tool below to get even more insight on your competitors strategies.
What the tool does?
It analyses any website URL and give out data such as:
- Traffic source
- Backlink profile
- Ranking Keywords
- Domain Authority, etc.
So, you can see what knd of content your competitors create and those keywords driving them the most traffic.
You can also see the keywords they are paying to rank for. Ie. PPC keywords.
Tip: if your competitor keep paying for a keyword, it means that keyword is driving them sales.
The idea of using Semrush is to understand how your competitors manage to promote their business.back to menu ↑
How to start dropshipping business
1. Choose a dropshipping niche first.
You already know what a niche is, right? We’ve discussed it earlier in this post. You can go back and read it.
Choosing a profitable niche for your dropshipping business is not a choice. It is not something you can avoid! Otherwise, you may be playing with your time.
2. Choose a supplier
Dropshipping is not a one-man business. You definitely have to work with suppliers to nail your success. However, not all suppliers are worth doing business with.
While it is important to choose the perfect dropshipping products, it is even more important to work with a reliable supplier to deliver products to your customers.
You should bear in mind that picking just any supplier without knowing how trusted they are, would be putting the trust of your customers at stake.
If they are not satisfied with what they received, that’s a spoiler for your business.
What’s more? You will start loosing your customers when your business start receiving negative reviews.
So, how do you find a reliable supplier for your dropshipping business?
Let’s help you…
How to choose a supplier
Let’s assume you already have a niche and maybe, couple of product ideas you could sell.
Your next step is to find a reliable supplier to work with.
Basically, there are 5 things you should look out for, while choosing a supplier:
- 1. Supplier store rating
It is very difficult there days for businesses to conceal their flaws. The internet made it so. Businesses now strive to provide only the best services to customers, because a single lag could surface on the internet within a blink of an eye.
So, the first thing to pay attention to while choosing a supplier for your dropshipping business is the store rating of the supplier.
AliExpress is good at revealing suppliers with a very poor rating if you want them to.
Go to AliExpress and open a product page. Right there at the top of the screen you will see it up with the name of this appliance store.
Click on it to navigate to the main page of the distributor. Now you will be faced with a whole range of products offered by this supplier.
Now take note of what you see!
You should be able to tell if the store is well customized, filled with appealing pictures, prices of products listed, etc.
What’s more important is the rating. As you can see it is a 78.7% and that’s NOT a good sign.
Rating is the very first thing you should look at while choosing a supplier for your business. Ideally, if a seller rating is very low, anything below 95% , you should find another supplier.
- 2. Duration of suppliers presence on the platform.
96% in supplier rating is a good sign that they are in for business. But does that mean they are reliable? How can you tell they won’t upset you?
Well, time Will tell. Check how long they have been in business.
The longer they had been operating on the platform the more confidence they instill.
AliExpress is also willing to provide such information. All you have to do is open the suppliers profile page and see how long they have been operating.
As you can see from the image above, the seller has only been in business for since 24 March 2021 – that’s less than one year!
- 3. Check suppliers with a “top brand” sign.
Before anyone get a “top brand” sign on their store, it means AliExpress trust them. That should also tell you that they are worth doing business with. You can safely trust the supplier.back to menu ↑
3. Set up an e-commerce website
Dropshipping is e-commerce right? You definitely need an e-commerce website to run this business. You have already chosen niche, find a supplier, what is remaining is to start selling.
There are different e-commerce website builders such as shopify, Ecwid, etc. but we are going to be using wordpress for this guide.
Basically you need a domain name and hosting plan. Get it from bluehost if you don’t already have it then continue with WordPress installation.
How to install WordPress on Bluehost
Even if you are not a tech savvy, you can install WordPress on Bluehost.
Click on the My Sites tab from the side navigation menu to the left.
Click the Create Sitebutton.
New windows appear for two highly recommended website builders.
Click the Start Building button under the WordPress option.
Enter the Admin Information:
Site Name: This will be the name displayed on your site. This is not the URL but simply the name used on your site.
Site Tagline: This should reflect a brief description of your website.
Advanced Tab:Email Address: This will be where your login information will be sent.
WordPress Admin Username: The desired login name for your application
WordPress Admin Password: The desired password for this application.
The installer will take a couple of minutes to install WordPress.back to menu ↑
Enabling e-commerce function on your WordPress.
To install WooCommerce:
- Go to: Plugins > Add New.
- Searchfor “WooCommerce”.
- Click Install Now.
- Click Activate Now and you’re ready for the WooCommerce Wizard.
WooCommerce Setup Wizard
When WooCommerce is activated for the first time, the WooCommerce Setup Wizard will be the next screen you see after clicking “Activate”.
This helps you set up and configure your site with WooCommerce functionality.
For a full walkthrough of the Setup Wizard (also known as the Onboarding Wizard), please read through the WooCommerce Setup Wizard documentation.
Next step will be to activate e-commerce theme.
By default, woocomerce comes with a free store front theme. You can activate it by going to Appearance > Themes > Add new and search for “store front”.
Just install and activate it.back to menu ↑
Importing Products from AliExpress
Now that your online store is ready, you can start adding products to it. But you don’t have to do it manually.
Alidropship is a WordPress plugin specially designed to import and manage products from AliExpress.
Watch next video to see how alidropship works
To start adding products to your site, go to Import section and click ‘Import Products‘.
Select a category and a subcategory from the dropdown menu. You can look for the necessary products using keywords in the search field.
In the catalog you will get detailed information for each item: variations, product description, shipping options, etc.
In the Reviews tab, you’ll see up to 20 customers’ reviews with star rating, date and the customer’s country. (They are not imported with the product, they are here just for your information. Reviews should be imported separately using the Import Reviews option.)
In the AliExpress tab, you can find links to the product and the supplier’s store on AliExpress, logistic reliability and the demand curve – how often this product has been ordered during the last two weeks.
You can sort out the search results by popularity, price and relevance with the help of Sort by dropdown menu.
Use some product filters to narrow your choice. You can filter products out by a warehouse, a country of destination, a shipping method, free shipping availability, supplier price, and number of orders. If you need to clear all selected filters, use ‘Clear all filters‘ button above.
Before adding products, you can apply necessary import settings in the sidebar on the left.
Create categories from product database – if you don’t select a category from your site and activate this option, the plugin will create and add the same categories presented in the database.
There are three options: Use full structure, Create child categories, and Create parent categories.
When you choose ‘Use full structure‘, the product will be imported with the whole category structure from the database, i.e. ‘Smartphones / Phone Cases & Bags / Phone Case’.
‘Create child categories‘ means importing with the narrowest category only (i.e. ‘Phone Cases & Bags / Phone Case’).
‘Create parent categories‘ mean importing products with the widest category only (i.e. ‘Smartphones / Phone Case’).
Here’s an example of importing a product with the whole database structure.
Remove item specifics–use this option if you don’t want to import product attributes like brand name, material, style, item type, etc.
Publish products – if this option is enabled, the products you import will be published right away. Otherwise the items will first appear in your import list so that you can publish them later.
Select a category to import products to. You can import products one by one using Import button. If you want to import more than one product at once, tick the boxes or select everything and click ‘Import selected’ button. The number of products selected for import is shown in the button.