5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Dropshipping Business

Trial and error is an essential part of doing business. As entrepreneurs, we find that mistakes sometimes need to produce successes. As the ancient Chinese proverb learns from our mistakes, “Failure is the mother of success.”

In fact, there is no replacement for hands-on experience dealing with real-world problems when running your own business. Some mistakes may be unavoidable, but by learning from these lessons you can save yourself from costly mistakes and wasted time, which I learned the hard way.

Dropshipping Business
Dropshipping Business

With 20/20 clarity, here are five things I wish I knew before starting a dropshipping business:

1. Emphasize product quality

If I can go back to the time when I first started dropshipping, I asked to keep the quality of my small product above all else.

I wish I had known that I would not trust the quality of the product without seeing the product.

A lot of dropshippers source their products from AliExpress and Alibaba, which are great platforms. However, do not do what I did, choosing the supplier with the cheapest prices.

This was a big mistake, as suppliers would compromise product quality and packaging quality to offer the most competitive prices. We did not examine the samples, as we were dropshipping. As a result, we received a lot of customer complaints that the products did not match those used in the advertisements.

We looked back and showed what went wrong. We realized that the suppliers we had chosen were offering the lowest prices, but providing products to everyone.

Put lessons into action:

Do not always go for suppliers who offer the cheapest prices without first checking the quality of their products. Doing this can hurt your bottom line in the long run. Always keep a test order with your chosen suppliers so that you can check the quality of the product and see what your customers will receive.

Doing your due diligence right from the beginning will save you from making costly mistakes in future.

2. Do not depend on just one supplier

In the past, we were relying on just one supplier for all orders for a viral, hot-selling product, and we were bogged down by the amount of orders coming for this product. We were quickly out of stock.

Because we had a great relationship with this supplier, we sent him all orders. He was not able to keep that amount of development, but he remained silent about it. Long story short, we had a backlog of orders that we could not fulfill on time and we received a lot of chargeback from angry customers due to long delays.

When you get a lot of chargebacks, you run the risk of your merchant account closing.

After this setback, we now look for three to five suppliers for every product we sell. And even though we know that supplier A can fulfill all our orders, we now divide our orders among other suppliers to serve as backup.

We use this formula:

60 percent goes to supplier A.

30 percent goes to supplier B.

10 percent goes to supplier C.

In this way, we are also building relationships with other suppliers, which we can tap into in the future.

Put lessons into action:

Your suppliers will form the foundation of your dropshipping business, so choosing good suppliers is critical to the success of your online store.

When starting a dropshipping business, look for three to five reliable suppliers. Evaluate each of these carefully so that you can identify the supplier who should receive the bulk of your orders.

In this way, you will diversify your risk and potentially reduce your downtime.

Note that even the best suppliers can run out of stock. This is a common situation in dropshipping, especially when you are selling popular products. When there is a manufacturing or supply chain problem, your supplier should keep you updated. However, it is your responsibility to ensure that your customers are able to receive their products and to ensure that your customers are informed of delays in shipping time.

Dropshipping depends on the relationship that exists between a vendor and a supplier. Taking time to build strong relationships with various suppliers will definitely pay off in the long run.

3. Invest in providing great customer service

At the beginning of our dropshipping journey, we were quite good at marketing, so we were able to get a large flow of orders.

Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to grow our infrastructure and get a support team to deal with customer concerns. As a result, we received numerous complaints from customers seeking updates about their shipments.

This was one of our biggest problems, which is why we decided to invest significantly in customer service. We now pride ourselves on providing excellent customer service and quick response times.

Put lessons into action:

Keep in mind that the supplier is not accessible to the consumer. It is your job to deal with customer questions and concerns, which is why it is important to address inquiries and complaints as soon as possible.

Ignoring this will severely shock your customer satisfaction rating and may result in lost opportunities.

4. Diversify your traffic sources

Relying on only one source of online traffic can cost you a lot of time and money in the long run. Ninety-nine percent of dropshippers focus on only one traffic source: Facebook.

As advertisements on Facebook become more expensive, it will come under your purview. As a result, you could see less and less profits as a dropper. And when you have all your eggs in one basket and you face problems (like your advertising account gets banned), you can see huge profit losses overnight.

We did not bother to diversify, and this is one thing that I would have done differently from the very beginning.

Put lessons into action:

Make sure your website traffic is coming from many sources. Having backup plans is important when running your business because they give you flexibility and choice when a crisis occurs.

Tap alternative traffic sources such as Snapchat Ads, Pinterest Ads, Google Shopping, Google AdWords and SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

You must be proactive in diversifying your traffic sources so that you do not suffer huge losses when the algorithm is updated on Facebook or Google.

5. Aiming for the global market

Although a lot of dropshippers focus on English-speaking countries, such as the United States and Australia, Europe is a great market as well. We have had great success in European countries.

Selling internationally through dropshipping has never been easier, and quite frankly, I wish I had thought about global expansion from the beginning.

Put lessons into action:

The beauty of dropshipping is being able to sell globally when you already have systems. There are plenty of opportunities in overseas markets where you will often find less competition for your products.

To prepare for this, check whether your payment gateway supports different currencies used in other countries or if there are additional fees that will be incurred.

In the dropshipping industry with over 14 years of experience as an expert in e-commerce, these are the things I wish I had known when I started so that I could get things right the first time. Handsite is a major asset, and looking at our past trials and errors can provide us with lessons that will show us the way forward.

Learn from my mistakes and other eCommerce business owners who came before you. These can be just what you need to grow and expand your dropshipping business to the next level.

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