Dropshipping is a hot topic in eCommerce today, and with good reason. Between ⅕ and ⅓ of online retailers currently use dropshipping as their main method for fulfilling orders. What does this mean? Essentially, dropshipping is a method by which entrepreneurs partner with larger distributors to process sales. The individual entrepreneur promotes the product and sells from their store, but doesn’t personally hold onto any inventory- instead, when an order comes through, it is delivered from the distributor’s stock.
There are a ton of benefits to this style of eCommerce, including low front-end investment and the ability to sell from anywhere with an internet connection, but it will take some work to build a customer base and get your store off the ground. Let’s take a look at the simplest method for dropshipping with Selz: AliExpress.
How to make it work:
In essence, using AliExpress for dropshipping requires nothing more than an email address and a method for listing products. Start out by picking a niche, finding shippers to buy from (more on this later), and starting to list products. Remember that savvy individuals are absolutely capable of buying from AliExpress without the middleman. You make sales by successfully marketing and finding an audience for the wholesale-priced items you dropship from AliExpress.
Whenever a customer orders an item from your store, you email the details of the order to your distributor. They ship the product. You field questions from customers, gradually add to your product base, and find ways to reach new audiences.
Simple, right? The process isn’t complicated, but let’s get into some important tips to help you do it well.
Tip One: Use ePacket shipping
ePacket shipping is the result of a trade agreement between the postal services of the United States and China/Hong Kong. The service allows for cheap, fast shipping between the two countries. ePacket shipping has expanded in recent years- currently, shipping is supported to 38 countries including the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Brazil, and Japan. Be sure look up size and weight requirements for your location.
Know that regardless of the shipping option you choose, fulfillment will take longer than shipping within your country. Offering product at intense discounts will help offset downside this for your customers, but you’ll want them to be clear that it takes time to receive their order from the offset.
Tip Two: Spend time hunting through sellers and get to know them.
You need to find sellers that you can rely on to consistently ship high-quality product on-time. Be sure to ask a lot of questions and pay attention to the response time from any seller you consider working with. English skills may be a limitation in some situations. Go for suppliers that communicate quickly, well, and are able to answer a range of questions. Again, look for ePacket delivery as an option with any supplier you consider working with.
Avoid branded merchandise. These are often fakes, which could land you in hot water with customers and official manufacturers. In your emails, be sure to ask sellers not to include branding, packing slips, invoices, pricing, samples from their catalogue, etc. Essentially, you don’t want to confuse your customers, or make it too obvious that you are selling via an outside source.
Tip Three: Make customer service a priority
Because products are not coming directly from you and can take time to arrive, you’ll need to be prepared to answer questions and work with your customers. Remember, that negative reviews can have a large effect on your business incredibly quickly.
Dropshipping means that processing refunds is tougher and can take more time. Think of ways to grow and maintain relationships with your customers.
Be sure to keep an eye on available inventory for the items you sell on AliExpress- you don’t want a customer to place an order, only to discover you need to use a different supplier than usual.
Tip Four: Automate via Zapier
It’s seriously simple to set up an automation to pull order information directly into Google Sheets. This makes tracking your business that much easier, so you can focus on acquiring new customers.
Start by setting up a Google Sheet with columns labeled for the information you’ll need to track your deliveries. This can include things like customer name, shipping address, item ordered, etc. With this made, you’ll need to start by connecting your Selz account to Google Sheets. To do this, go into the apps section of your Dashboard, find Google Sheets, click on the app, then hit “connect with Zapier”.
This will bring you to Zapier, where you can follow the zap template and create your automation.
To start, set the response as “Create a spreadsheet row,” then connect your Google Sheets account. You’ll be able to search through all of your existing sheets, and even choose between worksheets within a single Sheet. The “Category” section allows you to assign specific information to specific columns within the sheet.
Zapier makes this process surprisingly easy to follow. Simply follow the instructions, test the connection by making an order from your store (you can always cancel, or make a free item specifically for the test). You can set the automation to be triggered by specific products, or whenever you receive an order. Play around with different systems and find one that you like most.
Once that’s all set and tested, you can name your Zap and turn it on!
Keep in mind what kind of membership plan you are using with Zapier- depending on what you use, you may find you have a finite amount of Zaps per month.
If you need help getting set up, feel free to reach out to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org. Zapier also has fantastic support that can walk you through Zapier-specific steps if needed.
Remember that a dropshipping store doesn’t have to rely exclusively on drop-shipped products. For example, a store selling discount gardening tools could also offer eBooks on urban farming tips and video tutorials on prepping soil for planting. A discount art supply depot could also sell video and eBook content relating to specific techniques for different mediums, tools, and styles. While you will want to focus in on a specific niche, you have a ton of versatility in the kinds of products you choose to offer.
Low cost items can work as a “tripwire” for your business, establishing interest and trust with a cheap, valuable product, which then allows you to market your core products to the audience. Remember, again, that dropshipping businesses live-and-die by their marketing. Think of creative ways to build your sales funnel and to reach new customers.