You may have already heard about the dropshipping business model, the trend of the moment in eCommerce. This business model makes setting up an online store incredibly easy and offers endless possibilities. Whatever your interest or specialization, here’s a practical guide on how to start dropshipping.
What Is Dropshipping Exactly And How It Works
Since this is a guide on dropshipping for beginners, we first need to define what it is. Dropshipping is an online e-commerce business model that doesn't require you to own, maintain, or ship inventory. In dropshipping, you only own an online store where customers visit to buy products. When there’s a purchase from a dropshipping store, a supplier the store owner orders the item from ships the products directly to the customer.
While the customer pays the listing price, the supplier gets his wholesale price; The price difference is your profit. For instance, a customer purchases two pairs of T-shirts from your store for $50. Then, you order the items from your supplier for $30— with the customer’s delivery details—who then delivers the product to the customer. At that point of sale, you just made $20 without leaving the couch. In the latter parts of this article, we’d learn everything about how to start a dropshipping business.
How To Start A Dropshipping Business On Your Own
Now that we know what dropshipping is, we can explore exactly how to start dropshipping with our practical step-by-step tutorial for beginners and pitfalls to watch out for. If you’ve been searching for how to start dropshipping for free, this might just be it. Let’s go!
Decide On Your Business Idea
Your very first step to getting started in dropshipping is to decide on the business idea. You must define what you want to sell or your product niche. Are you going for clothing and accessories or gadgets? Ideally, you want to consider what generates higher profit margins and is viable in the long term. Investigate what people are looking for, what preferences are, and what the market trend is. If you have doubts about where to start with this research, here are some useful tools:
- Google Trends: It’s a free tool from Google that shows the most popular search terms. These searches can be filtered by region (country) and time range.
- Keywords Everywhere: Utilize keyword research. There are free platforms where you can search for terms by region and show you the volume of searches of anything, including competitive products.
- DSers Order Volume: DSers is a dropshipping tool that can help your research. On DSers, you can easily find products with higher order volume, which is most likely to be a profitable business idea.
Perform A Competitive Research
Once you’ve decided on your business idea or product niche, next is to analyze the market around you, evaluate the competition, their possible strategies, and how you could stand out from them. By answering questions like;
- Who is the closest competition, and what are their pros and cons?
- What are their pricing and marketing methods?
- How are their website and product description?
- What makes them unique, and how can you do better?
Through this, you get to find out business gaps you can easily tap into. There are a few ways you could go about this research—by running a google search, subscribing to their email list, or even using competitors' spying tools.
Decide On The Products
Deciding on products is the next step to getting into dropshipping. With the thousands of products available on the market, you'll need to assess and figure out which it'd be for you by doing product research. It’s to determine the best dropshipping products with higher demands because uninteresting products or products with little demand hardly get sold. Fortunately, there are two options you can use to determine high-demand, profitable products; Look out for product categories trending or observe your competitors selling similar products.
Choose Your Supplier
Deciding on the products is good progress, but it’s not enough. What’s a great product without a reliable supplier? It’s one of the most important tasks, if not the most when it comes to running a dropshipping store —and it can make the difference between success and failure. When choosing a supplier, consider and coordinate how the workflow will be, consider product quality, define profit margin, establish a warranty protocol, and most importantly, get a binding contract.
Build Your E-commerce Store
The next step is to find the right e-commerce platform to register and build your online store. Ideally, you’ll need a platform that ensures a friendly sales process and, in turn, provides you with information to analyze your sales, customers, and stock. Shopify is a perfect example where you can easily create your online shop without needing to create a custom website.
They provide you with in-app support and resources, which is perfect for a beginner. However, if you wish to create your custom website, WordPress is a good option as you can readily install and use the Woocommerce plugin for your store. So, get your domain or brand name, set up payment details, install plugins, add contacts, and start dropshipping.
Register Your Business
A key point in starting a dropshipping business is the legal aspect. Before starting your business operations, you have to carry out a series of legal procedures to register it as a legal entity. And to ensure other legal compliance, especially regarding tax rulings and processes in your country.
Market Your Dropshipping Store
With your e-commerce store ready, it's time to get customers and start selling. Essentially, the success of your online store depends on the positioning of your brand. If no one knows your website, no one will buy from you—so the effort and desire you put into it at this stage will determine the viability of your business. You can market your store on your social network pages, via PPC and targeted social media campaigns. Don't forget about email marketing and proper SEO optimization of your website.
Analyze The Performance And Keep Improving
Given the first steps, it’s time to evaluate your results and target, especially your sales. This way, you can optimize the things that are working for you. If your results are not encouraging, do not be discouraged, it’s all part of learning. A few critical points to analyze and evaluate are your competitors’ price or differentiating factor and your website traffic. These would help you improve your offering and ads target.
Automation Of Your Business
By now, you know how to start dropshipping, but do you manage the process? Automation! It’s quite an important part of a dropshipping business to ensure ease and smooth running. So, while searching for suppliers, check if their process is automated. Some Print on Demand dropshipping suppliers, like Helloprint Create & Sale, help get your orders to be processed, fulfilled, and shipped automatically without your involvement through the integration of the relevant apps.
The Pros And Cons Of Dropshipping
Moving on to the advantages and drawbacks or limitations of this business model.
1. It allows you to start a business with little investment and low risk. Unlike traditional e-commerce, it doesn't require you to invest in the initial stock or worry about logistics.
2. The payment for the product is made only when you already have a confirmed purchase. You practically do not need money since you buy the products once they pay you.
3. You do not need to invest in the storage of products and inventories. Having stored products implies much more work than you can imagine. Handling means you need to hire personnel —meaning payroll and fiscal and tax issues.
4. You can offer a wide and varied catalog of products. By not having to store the products, you have a catalog without the limit to offer a large number of products.
5. You could start almost immediately. Set up an online store, choose the products, and start selling.
1. Less control over the brand and customer experience: As the dispatch of the merchandise is carried out by the supplier, details of the delivery, presentation or packaging cannot be supervised, since it depends on a third party.
2. Profit margins are usually lower compared to a company that buys its stock and ships it to its customers.
3. Increased bureaucracy and administrative processes: For each order, you must manage a purchase from the supplier, coordinate payments, and have a strategy to verify the correct delivery of the product to the end customer.
Starting A Dropshipping Business Vs Print On Demand Business
These two business models have become a little over common recently—and perhaps you’re reading this contemplating which to start, we’d briefly share some helpful insights here. You might want to catch up on the differences and similarities between both before continuing.
Print on Demand (POD) is a slightly upgraded version of dropshipping if we can call it that. While Dropshipping involves choosing from the millions of products available to sell, POD allows you to personalize your products like t-shirts, mugs, etc with your designs—which your supplier prints only on demand and ships to the customer. Basically, this production method is combined with Dropshipping to create an effective and profitable business more known as branded dropshipping.
That said, both businesses are as easy as they seem to start—however, dropshipping may have a bit longer setup process and more complexities, especially if you go with several suppliers and need to manage all orders manually. Let’s look at them.
Starting a dropshipping business
1. Set up your website, linking domain,payment details, contact, etc.
2. Find reliable suppliers and build your online product catalog
3. Install the dropshipping plugin of your choice
4. Set-up orders processing and shippings
5. Add other details needed and you’ve successfully gotten your shop live.
Starting Print on Demand business
1. Set up your custom website or connect to one of e-commerce platforms or marketplaces.
2. Connect to your POD supplier online store and integrate the POD app.
3. Upload your designs to your online shop and form a catalog of products.
4. Don’t worry about the rest, as through the apps all orders, production and shipping will be processed automatically by POD supplier.
You can read more on Print on Demand vs Dropshipping right here to understand key differences between 2 business models and choose the one that fits you best.
How Much Does It Cost To Start Dropshipping?
For those asking, how much money do you need to start dropshipping? Well, Dropshipping startup cost isn’t so high to rip you off when spending some of your hard-earned cash. Technically, less than $100 is all you need to get started dropshipping. Until you're ready to scale or go big, all you may need is a small investment using options like Shopify's free trial and basic plan offers. If you want to go even with less you may start your shop on print on demand supplier platform, using its storefront and not bothering with subscriptions, payments, and operational staff. Check Artist Store Solution by Helloprint Create & Sell.
Of course, there are other e-commerce platforms that you might use to create your e-commerce store, like Shopify, for instance. Your domain name registration with Shopify will cost you between $10 and $20 annually. After the 14-day free trial, you pay a monthly subscription of $29. For the dropshipping part, Dsers provides a free basic plan for dropshipping, which you can upgrade to at any time. If you go with print-on-demand dropshipping you can install POD app, like Helloprint Create & Sell, which is fully free to use and has no fees or subscriptions.
Want To Know More About Helloprint Create & Sell Dropshipping Services?
The whole process on how to dropship might seem like a lot but trust me when I say we got you covered. Helloprint Create & Sell Platform is the best buddy that holds you by the hand and shows you the ropes. We specialize in branded print-on-demand dropshipping, empowering you with various solutions to run an e-commerce business without any hassle. With a catalog of 100+ high-quality products and an incredible network of print suppliers in 18 countries, you can sell your custom products globally. We guarantee a friendly sales process, and fast deliveries —allowing you to enjoy your business.
And there you have it, your practical guide on how to start dropshipping from scratch. Although you might need to further research to assess if it interests you, dropshipping is quite lucrative and easy for small-scale business owners with little capital.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Dropshipping?
Dropshipping is an online e-commerce business model that doesn't require you to own, maintain, or ship inventory.
How Do I Start A Dropshipping Business?
To start your dropshipping business, you need to decide on your product niche, do a lot of research, choose the right supplier, and create and register your online store. Then start selling.
Which Is Easier Starting A Dropshipping Business Vs Print On Demand Business?
While POD is a slight upgrade of dropshipping, it is easier to start as dropshipping may cost you a little more and has a longer setup process.
How Much Does It Cost To Start Dropshipping?
On a small scale, all it may cost to start dropshipping is a little investment of less than $100. Until you're ready to scale, you can make do with the free trials and basic plan offers available.
How can we help you?
Helloprint Create & Sell is a part of Helloprint. We build wold's leading and most sustainable marketplace for customised printed products.
Passionate about print business, we help entrepreneurs and businesses to turn their ideas into printed products and grow own brands online.
- Design custom products
- Sell online without stock
- Reach customers globally
- Enjoy FREE integrations