Dropshipping is a business model or a retail fufilment method in which the seller of a product doesn’t keep stock or inventory of the product it sells, instead it purchases directly from the supplier and ships directly to the customer so the seller doesn’t have to handle the product directly.
The difference between dropshipping and the retail model is that the selling merchant doesn’t stock or own inventory. Instead, the seller purchases inventory as needed from a third party, usually a wholesaler or manufacturer to fulfill their orders.
Understanding The Business Model:
The dropshipping business model is a very easy to setup model because it’s less expensive and very profitable, At its most basic, every time someone buys a product, the wholesaler — who typically manufactures the product — ships that product, and you get a portion of that sale for marketing the product.
Another way is that you can set up your website get a good supplier and upload products from their store, set your prices and once a customer makes an order or request for a product, you notify your supplier, pay them and have them ship the product.
Setting Up A Website For Dropshipping:
There various kinds of ways to set up a website for dropshipping and each CMS (content management system) or website builder, has their own advantage over one another, and it has become easier than ever before but most importantly consider the following steps:
Identify an ecommerce website builder/platform
As mentioned before, building websites and ecommerce websites in particular has become extremely easy. Several companies offer website building services by either doing it for you or giving you templates/blueprints for you to edit and how to make a dropshipping website yourself. As with all softwares, different companies have better features than others and some are suited to different types of websites than others.
Depending on your budget, the type of platform you choose could easily determine how good your website is and how many functionalities you will have access to. Some of the most popular ecommerce platforms today include Shopify, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce by WordPress, Wix, Magento, Weebly, SquareSpace, 3dcart Volusion, Open cart and so on.
Get a domain name and hosting
The domain name is the name of your website on the www.yourwebsitename.com This will be the name that will appear on the address bar of people’s browsers when they search for your business online. A good domain name is short, simple and relevant to the type of business that you are doing. Domain names aren’t very expensive and you should include the cost in your budget. The second thing is hosting, hosting basically means placing your website on the World Wide Web.
It is what guarantees that your website actually exist on the internet. It also cost certain amount based on the hosting provider that you choose and will have to be renewed after a certain period of time mostly a year. Some of the most popular hosting providers include BlueHost , GoDaddy, Namecheap, Lanes Hosting and so on. Always choose a hosting provider with fast servers and good reviews from existing customers.
Building the website
Shopify for example will want you to open an account and choose a price plan. They will then build a store for you but customization will have to be done for you. WooCommerce will require that you install WordPress first before installing the WooCommerce plugin that is for ecommerce stores built using WordPress. For most platforms including Magento, Weebly, Wix and BigCommerce, they will only give you the layout of the site or give you a template to edit. Customization of the store is left up to you and will involve the following:
● Selecting a theme – most platforms have several themes that you can choose from and edit. Most of them are free but others will cost you some money depending on the features.
● Placing your logo on the site.
● Content – Ultimately what you place on the site will be left to you in terms of text and images or any other relevant content.
● General settings – Shopify for example wants users to setup their return and refund policies before they begin selling. Other settings include payment settings, shipping information.
● Structure – This is the dropship website design and while the platforms will provide the layout, you will have to consider the entire customer journey from the time of entering your site to placing an order and checkout. Most themes should give you builders that should make this easy. You should also research your competitors to see how they do it. Structure will make it easy for you to know which part of your website to place different types of content such as you’re about page or FAQs section.
● Pages and categories – Most platforms will do this for you and you can add more pages if you need them. Most ecommerce sites have categories and sub categories for different product variations. Every category should have their own page.
● Additional widgets – These includes search, rss feeds, social media links, tags and several others.
● Plugins – Plugins are necessary if you want to have a robust website with advanced features and most of the good ones have a price but most of the essential ones are free.
● Security – This is a very important often overlooked. Most price plans for all platforms come with SSL certificates installed in your website.
● Blog – You might want to add a blog just so as to make your website more interesting. Most platforms can do this for you as well.
If you feel this is too complex, it’s best advisable to get or a hire a web developer so you don’t frustrate yourself.
4. Finding a reliable dropshipper with suppliers
your website is useless if you haven’t identified a reliable dropshipper with suppliers that you will use to populate your store with products. There are many examples to look at such as Chinabrands, Alidropship, Doba, dropshipper.com, Spocket, MegaGoods, SaleHoo and InventorySource. Some of these suppliers are free while some offer a one time payment to get started.
5. Add products to your website
The products are the main attractions of your website and therefore once you find reliable dropshippers you can add their product items to your site. Most of the best marketplaces have automated solutions or plugins that will allow you to import products to your website directly.
6. Edit product descriptions and images
For SEO purposes it may be wise to edit the product descriptions using your own words. Also if you have images you can use to depict the product well and good but using the supplier’s images won’t affect you as much because most product images often look the same.
7. Order system
Work on your order system and this means discussing with your supplier how they will handle shipments and whether the customer’s billing address will be sent to them automatically. Discuss the entire supply chain.
The website may be beautiful and dynamic but people will still need to find it. Marketing begins with competitor analysis and is a never ending process for ecommerce entrepreneurs. There are plugins that can help you for on-site marketing techniques but all the off-site techniques will be left to you. They include social media, blogging, email, events, flyers, word of mouth, referrals and many others.
Downsides Of Dropshipping Business:
- The success of your store depends on the attitude of your suppliers to your customers: This simply means if your supplier doesn’t live up to their end your business fails.
Expensive Fulfillment Errors:
Outsourcing fulfillment logistics is one of the most attractive parts of dropshipping — one less thing for merchants to worry about. The downside, though, is that you have no control over the supply chain. When fulfillment errors occur, like overselling or outdated stock levels, it’s often the merchant who has to pay for them, even when the supplier is at fault.
How to Avoid It
Product tracking software works with dropshippers just as well as if you had your own warehouse. They’re able to manage all your marketplace channels, and if you sell on one, the stock levels are automatically updated on all the others. If the supplier sells out, the software removes the listing — even if the supplier doesn’t bother telling you.
Dropshipping is not as easy as it seems — we can’t stress that enough! Just because you don’t have to worry about shipping or storage doesn’t mean you can kick your shoes off just yet.
The success of dropshipping depends on your marketing endeavors — branding, advertising, social media, content strategies, customer engagement, choosing products, pricing, and more. Monitoring and staying on top of all these efforts takes constant work, especially considering that you have to sell more to earn more commission.
How to Avoid It
As with product tracking software, you can use dropshipping automation software to both consolidate your campaigns and automate some of the busy work. You can manage all your sales channels from one central dashboard, track individual shipments, and auto-route sales orders to the right suppliers, not to mention other automated services like updating stock levels on all your channels.
Dropshipping can be done from anywhere in the world whether you are in Nigeria or any part of the world as long as internet connection exists.
But asides all these dropshipping is a very profitable and easy to start business all you need to incur is the cost of setting up a website and internet connection, and the presence of a good supplier makes it easy because they will also educate you on how you can make more profit, Alidropship does this a lot.
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