As with any flourishing industry, there are some techniques for success that not everyone knows. In today’s blog post, I reveal dropshipping secrets that you can apply to your own business to boost your chances of success.
Starting your own dropshipping business can be exhilarating. There’s nothing like the possibility of earning a steady income from dropshipping to motivate you at first.
The thing is, if you fail, it can be costly—lost time, lost money, lost self-esteem.
In today’s article I list down some dropshipping secrets you need to know to dramatically increase your chances of being successful in your online business.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with other details that are less important.
Marketing brings in the customers who’ll buy the products that you’re offering in your store. Without customers, you’ll have no profit. No marketing, no customers.
Here are some aspects of marketing that you need to work on.
Content marketing. Your blog might be a little neglected at this point because of all your activities with your dropshipping site. But getting visitors to your blog can also draw traffic to your store.
Creating unique content on a regular schedule is a great way to build an audience and educate your visitors about your products while keeping your website updated. Don’t constrain yourself to creating traditional blog posts. You can also create videos and photo galleries to showcase your products.
SEO. Don’t neglect your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, either. You want to be found by your visitors through search. More content means more keywords you can optimize for, increasing the chances that you’ll be found.
Social media. Remain active in your social media platforms. You can always automate a percentage of your posts, or repost old content or other peoples’ content (with attribution!) so that maintaining your online reputation doesn’t eat in too much of your time with other activities for your dropshipping store.
However, your social media accounts should be active when curious visitors look at them. Replying to comments, engaging with your audience, and building a strong rapport with your followers should be part of your daily routine.
To sum it up: Put your brand out there!
When you’re starting out, it’s tempting to add as many products as you can to your store.
You might feel in the beginning that the more products you offer, the more respectable your store looks like and the more likely customers will buy from you.
While that may be true, you’re creating a ton of work for yourself at the very start. For instance, if you add 100 products to your store, that means you’ll have to create 100 quality product descriptions, find or take 100 sets of product photos, compute optimal prices for 100 products, and, well, you get the picture.
By starting small, you can focus on writing higher quality product descriptions, taking higher quality product photos, and optimizing prices and discounts in a smaller amount of time. Once your store takes off and you get some sales, you can then add more products every month.
For instance, you can start with just 20 products, sell them for 4 weeks, and when they’re profitable, you can add 10 more products the following month. This can go on until you reach an optimal number of products, whether it’s 100 or more.
While you’re at it, don’t hesitate to remove products that are giving you problems, such as negative reviews or shipping delays, or are just not earning you money. Sometimes cutting down the fat can help your store become even more profitable.
Following a regular schedule lets customers learn what to expect. Consistency makes you appear more professional and serious about your business.
Plan in advance when to post content on your blog, newsletters, and social media. Upload new products on the same day or days every week. Schedule your flash sales with the same product categories on a particular day of the week.
Publishing on a schedule encourages your longtime customers to know when to check back for your new blog posts or new product offerings or flash sales on products they love.
Find your Goldilocks schedule (i.e., not too often, not too rarely) and stick to it.
Once visitors are on your site, do everything you possibly can to motivate them to buy. Presenting the right product with the right offer might just be the push they need to make that purchase.
Here are some offers you can experiment with on your site.
Bundle deals. This is an ages-old technique done by merchants to get people to buy slow-moving merchandise: bundle them with your best sellers for a reduced price.
When you’re dropshipping, though, you’re not keeping inventory, so doing bundle deals isn’t really a matter of “getting rid of slow stock.” Your objective is to increase the amount that your customers spend per transaction.
For example, instead of spending $10 for a novelty phone case, offer a novelty phone case and a basic phone case for $15 that would cost $20 if ordered separately.
Upsells and cross-sells. When your customer is going through checkout, it can be assumed that they already have their credit card out, ready to buy whatever they placed in their cart.
Upselling a product that is similar to what they’re purchasing but an upgrade (e.g., more features, more premium look, rare color) as they’re checking out might just push them to spend more on that order than they would have. If it doesn’t work, at least they now know that such a product exists.
A cross-sell might work at checkout as well. You might already be displaying related products to your customers on the product detail page, but showing these related products to customers as they’re checking out already checking out could convince them to add those items, especially if you reduce the price.
Bulk discounts. For instance: “Buy 4, get 1 free!”
You’re trying to get your customers to buy more of a product, so make it more attractive to them. Again, the point is to get them to spend more on a single transaction, so make it worth their while to buy more of a single item. This normally works for less expensive items.
Flash sales. One of the simplest ways you can use urgency to increase sales is to add a flash sale page or section to your store, where you can add particular products that are on sale for a limited time only.
You can do it by product category. For example, if you’re selling makeup, you can have makeup brushes on sale Monday, then lipsticks Tuesday, then eyeshadows Wednesday, and so on.
The urgency is emphasized if you have that countdown timer ticking down the minutes/days before the sale is over. It’s also generally better to display it prominently on your navigation menu so that visitors know there’s a flash sale going on.
Discount codes. Online shoppers are mostly bargain hunters as well. Discount codes can help push your visitors or casual browsers to finally try purchasing from your store.
You can offer discount codes to customers who reach a certain purchase amount. For example, you can give customers who’ve spent $100 discount codes for 10% off on their next purchase. This helps secure repeat customers.
Social media discount codes are also being used by many online sellers to attract their social media followers to their stores and convince them to buy. This also helps them track which of their social media platforms are attracting more customers.
You can also place discount codes on group buying sites like Groupon or LivingSocial. This will give your site exposure to a greater audience, even though this audience is comprised of deal hunters.
Emailing exclusive discount codes to your mailing list is a good way to persuade your blog subscribers to transition from readers to customers. Plus, that exclusivity is a good way to retain loyalty.
Plenty of other entrepreneurs have discovered dropshipping and how it can be a profitable online venture. And chances are you aren’t the only dropshipper who’s targeting your chosen niche.
Competition isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There’s a good deal of knowledge to be learned from your competition, especially the biggest ones. Take advantage of this knowledge and apply it to managing your own store.
At the risk of sounding like a stalker, I’d recommend checking their online store, following them on social media, and even possibly subscribing to their mailing list.
Take note of what products they’re selling, how they’re describing them, the quality of their blog and social media content, and how they talk to their mailing list subscribers. Take note as well of which products they seem to be talking about more than others, and which channels they tend to share these products on.
A word of caution, though. Garnering this much information about your competition doesn’t mean you should copy everything they do. Respect their intellectual property: don’t plagiarize their content, don’t steal their product photos, and don’t copy their website design. If you get caught, you might get your business closed down, or worse, be heavily fined.
It pays to sell products or at least product types that you already have knowledge in. If you know what you’re looking for in a product, you’ll know what your target customers are looking for as well. This gives you a major advantage when researching products, because you’re more likely to choose products that your audience will love.
Choosing products you already know also makes it easier for you to write descriptions that play up a product’s best features and take product photos to feature details that are important to you and your customers.
It’s not enough for you to sell what you know, though. You also have to know what you sell; that is, you have to continue using the products that you sell, reading up on them, being updated to changes in how they’re manufactured, and researching competing products or alternatives.
Knowing what you sell makes it easier for you to answer your customers’ questions about the products that you’re selling and recommend bundle or package deals based on which of your products go together.
Know about your products more than the average buyer.
The design of your site doesn’t have to be award-winning, but it does have to look polished and professional.
When you’re designing your store, you’ll want to ask yourself: What do you want your visitors to feel when they browse your site?
The answer to this question will vary with your target customers and the products that you’re offering them. For example, if you’re selling home exercise equipment targeted to a female demographic, you’ll want them to feel inspired, motivated, and confident.
The next thing you need to ensure is that the information on your site is complete, organized, and accessible. For example, make sure all the policies they need to know are published in full, clearly organized into sections, and easy to find on the page.
Different designers will probably have different ideas on the perfect layout and the perfect colors. But the most basic thing you need to remember is that the optimal design of an ecommerce site is one that doesn’t take attention away from the products and helps customers make purchases smoothly and painlessly.
Standing out from the crowd is important, especially if you’re selling in a high-competition niche.
One of the best ways to stand out is by providing outstanding customer service.
And I don’t just mean replying to their questions and comments, or honoring your return policy. Those are bare minimum customer service requirements that you should be doing.
I’m talking about truly going the extra mile for your customers to make their experience with your store memorable.
Convincing happy, loyal customers to repeatedly purchase from your store is much preferable (and easier) than convincing more and more prospects to buy from your store.
Here are some ideas to make your customer service really exceptional.
Talk to your customers. I mean, really talk to them. It can be time-consuming and tedious, but knowing what they need and expect from your store will make it worth your while.
Set up an automated email for customers who have bought from your online store to ask how they’re finding the product, what other products they’d like to see in your store, and whether the purchase went smoothly.
Invite them to reply to that email and assure them they’ll get a personal reply or even a phone call from you. Keep this promise! Get in touch with everyone who does reply so you can get a deeper insight and have an actual conversation with your customers.
Don’t expect everyone to reply, but show your gratitude to the ones who do by giving them an incentive, like a free gift or discount codes.
Most importantly, take note of the feedback that they’ve given. Bring them up in your store newsletter and set up a poll to know if other customers share the same sentiments.
Treasure your customers. Treat your customers right and they’ll buy from you again. Think of unique ways to make your customers feel appreciated.
You can send personalized thank you emails after they purchase something from your site. Basic courtesy goes a long way in getting them to remember your online store.
Add discount codes for customers who have purchased a certain amount on your store. For example, you can give 5% off discount codes to customers who’ve purchased a minimum of $50. Experiment with not advertising these codes and just giving them out as surprise gifts.
Another way you can express your heartfelt gratitude is by holding monthly giveaways through electronic raffles exclusively for those who’ve purchased from your site.
Consider starting a loyalty program. Probably everyone is familiar with basic store loyalty programs. Buy something from a store, get points for your purchase, then exchange your points for rewards, normally free items from the store.
The good thing about having an online store is that you can award points for actions other than purchases. You can award points to your customers for doing actions as simple as registering for an account or liking your Facebook page.
There are many more steps you can take to provide the best customer service possible. Remember to do as much as you can to make your customers feel valued and appreciated. Your customers might not always remember what they bought from you, but they’ll always remember how you treated them.
Providing social proof that other customers have purchased your product (and loved it!) can help increase your sales.
When you start getting sales, include a request for a product review on your post-sales email series (after thanking them for their purchase). You can even encourage them to post photos of the product on the product page.
As your sales (and customer base) increase, look into automating product reviews. There are applications for Shopify and WooCommerce that enable you to automatically ask your customers to leave reviews for products they’ve received.
Here are some more things you should keep in mind when dealing with product reviews.
Respond to both the negative and positive reviews. Negative reviews are a part of the eCommerce hustle. It’s how you deal with them that can make or break your business.
The fact that they took the time to leave that review means that they probably want to give you the chance to redeem yourself. Reply to those negative reviews with steps you’re willing to take to turn a negative experience into a positive one.
For example, if they’re unhappy with the product quality, offer a refund. If they received a damaged package, offer to send a new one. Owning up to your mistakes can turn an unsatisfied customer into a loyal one.
However, don’t neglect your positive reviews. Online store owners usually only respond to negative reviews. While this is obviously good practice, you don’t want to ignore customers who have positive things to say. Take the time to reply to them and express your appreciation for their kind words.
Take action. Reviews are only valuable to your business when you pay attention and act on them.
One-off problems with orders can be considered normal, but constant problems with product quality or deliveries should be addressed. It might be time to change suppliers or take the product off your store.
Shopping cart abandonment is when customers add items to their carts without actually completing the purchase. You’ve probably done it once or twice, both in physical stores (I’m looking at you, Target) or in online stores.
As a consumer, we know that abandoned carts are normal, but as an online store owner, abandoned carts suck because there’s no way you can find out what your customer was thinking at that moment before they closed their browser, or whether in fact it was them who closed the browser (your site may have crashed, their connection may have been interrupted, etc.)
There can be lots of reasons why customers abandon carts. They may have been surprised with the shipping costs, or they may not like being forced to create an account on your site, or they find the checkout process too tedious.
The good news is that you can still do something to try to save the sale. There are now apps available to automatically email customers who have left items in their cart (provided they’ve provided their emails at that point).
Not all dropshippers know how to do this, so it’s in your best interest to study how to do this at the start.
When you import products from your suppliers into your store, they normally provide you with product photos you can use on your site without watermarks or any other identifying marks that they came from other sources.
While getting ready-made photos is certainly convenient, it’s going to benefit your business more if you learn how to do your own product photography. Suppliers may work with plenty of other dropshippers, not just you, and might be providing the same product photos to everyone who carries that product in their store.
Taking your own product photos works to your advantage first and foremost because it proves that you have the product, you’ve used it, and you can vouch for its quality.
This is especially important to show customers who’ve been eyeing the product and may have seen other sites carrying the same product. Your original photos are surely going to stand out from other sites who have the same photos from suppliers.
An additional advantage is that you can take photos of the products you’re selling when they’re in use or when worn. It helps customers visualize themselves using your product when you show the product in context.
One more advantage of taking your own photos is that they’re yours. You can place your own watermark and protect it as intellectual property.
The most important equipment you’ll need is a decent DSLR camera. It doesn’t have to be top-of-the-line, but it does have to take amazing, high-resolution photos. From there, there are lots of courses available you can take to hone your photography skills.
If you already have a knack for photography, then don’t be afraid to experiment and snap away. Always keep in mind what your customers will be looking for in your product photos.
For example, if you’re selling clothes, you’ll want to have photos of every color and style available, and you’ll want to show how they look like when worn. By contrast, if you’re selling an electronic gadget with plenty of features, it’s more important to show closer views that really show the details.
Dropshipping, like any other business, can present plenty of challenges and obstacles. When you encounter turning points in your business, you’ll have to be ready to change your course or even abandon ship if necessary.
The speed at which change can happen is even more accelerated for an online business. To keep yourself and your business afloat during turbulent times, you must develop a mindset that’s ready to handle turning points and make the necessary changes.
Examples of turning points in your dropshipping business can include your supplier suddenly becoming unresponsive or failing to ship products to your customers, or a new trend in your niche that you want to capitalize on.
Your competitors can unexpectedly drop their prices, or one of your blog posts can unpredictably become viral, increasing traffic such that your site crashes or increasing orders such that your suppliers can’t handle it.
Turning points, good or bad, force you to implement some changes on your online store and your business in general. Know this from the start and brace yourself so that you remain level-headed and not make rash decisions that can destroy your business.
First, here’s a recap of the dropshipping secrets we’ve talked about today.
Let’s end this with the most important dropshipping secret.
The one step that most people never get to take is to actually get started!
How can you become a success if you never start, right? But you’d be surprised how many would-be entrepreneurs just give up before they even get their idea off the ground.
I’ll have to admit: it’s scary. Just thinking of the possible mistakes you’re going to make is enough to make you hold off on your dream business just a little longer.
However, you need to remember that even the most successful dropshippers had doubts and made mistakes. No one is ever 100% certain that their dropshipping site will ever be successful.
Plus, the longer you hesitate, the more competition you’ll have to face when you finally launch.
Suck it up, buttercup, and get started now!
What other dropshipping secrets can you share? What has worked best for you so far? Share it in the comments!
JoAnne is your average, everyday, sane stay-at-home mom who believes in the power of the internet to make dreams come true. She has an insatiable appetite for chocolate, as well as all things internet marketing. She keeps up with the latest trends in blogging, affiliate marketing, e-commerce, and more.