Dropshipping is hardly a new concept, but innovations in eCommerce and internet marketing make it one of the fastest changing industries. Learn the latest dropshipping trends that will shape this industry in the coming months.
Global eCommerce is rapidly growing, and dropshipping is one of the easiest ways to become part of this industry. Keeping up with the latest trends ensures that your dropshipping business stays afloat.
Here are some of the most significant dropshipping trends you need to know to boost your sales and keep ahead of your competition.
Showing your products on social media is a good way to trigger an impulse buy. This strategy works particularly well on Pinterest and Instagram.
Plenty of marketers are already employing this technique, but with the upsurge of mobile eCommerce and feature enhancements of these platforms to cater to both merchants and shoppers, now’s the time to join the bigger stores and step it up a notch.
Pinterest’s buyable Pins were rolled out in 2015, enabling people browsing on Pinterest to buy an item featured in a Pin right on Pinterest. Customers can pay with Apple Pay or through credit card.
If your dropshipping site is powered by Shopify, then you’re in luck, because Shopify is one of only 5 platforms that can work with buyable Pins (in case you want to know, the other 4 are BigCommerce, Demandware, Magento, and IBM Commerce).
Currently, this feature is only available for users in the US, but as Pinterest continues to grow worldwide, it’s highly likely that buyable Pins will find its way into more eCommerce platforms and more countries.
Social media giant Instagram is also making it (somewhat) easier for users to shop online.
No, they’re still not allowing external links in comments.
But the URL section of your bio is still clickable, so make sure it links to your store. You can also create a unique, trackable URL so you’ll know how many visitors you’re getting from your Instagram bio.
Instagram’s algorithm is continually getting improvements, and its latest update floats posts with high engagement from followers, interactions from the account owner, how long followers view your post, and how relevant your hashtags are.
Take advantage of your knowledge of this algorithm so that your followers see your posts. Make sure you’re regularly updating your Instagram account with photos of your products, any ongoing store promotions, and engaging content.
If you have 10,000 followers or more on Instagram, you can add a link on your Instagram stories. If you post photos of your products then post a link to its product detail page right on the Instagram story, you can shorten the buying process even more.
Cryptocurrency is a type of digital currency that is not regulated by any central bank. Proponents of cryptocurrency rave about their security and zero risk of payment fraud.
By far, the most popular cryptocurrency is Bitcoin, which is already being accepted by various online retailers, such as Shopify, Stripe, Etsy, and Microsoft.
Cryptocurrencies are built on cryptography, and thus aren’t secured by people, trust, governments, or banks; they’re secured by math. There aren’t any sensitive or confidential data exchanged, making transactions very secure.
Another advantage of using cryptocurrency for ecommerce include almost no transaction fees because of its point-to-point nature; no middlemen to put holds on your funds.
Yet another important advantage of cryptocurrency is that there are no chargebacks. Once the funds have been transferred to the receiver (you), the party that made the payment (your buyer) can’t get it back without your consent.
Of course, cryptocurrency is not without its disadvantages. They are entirely market-driven (i.e., supply and demand), and so their value can fluctuate largely from day to day. A solution would be to exchange Bitcoin for your local currency immediately instead of letting it stay in your wallet.
Also, it comes with having to research and learn about cryptocurrency, because customers will certainly ask you about it when you start offering it as a payment method. It can be distracting because you’d rather answer questions about your products instead of your payment method.
The way the value and popularity of cryptocurrency are going, it’s here to stay. Consider offering Bitcoin as a payment option on your dropshipping site.
The checkout form we all know and love is evolving.
And it’s all thanks to one-click purchasing.
It all started when Amazon introduced this technology in 1997. After you’ve stored a preferred payment method and shipping information, you can place an order with a single click of a button, doing away with the whole rigmarole of inputting all that information.
Being able to order this way is especially valuable to mobile shoppers, who probably don’t relish having to type long blocks of text and their credit card number, especially in public.
Amazon had monopoly over this technology for a while (Apple licensed the technology in 2000 and presumably used it to develop Apple Pay) but since the patent expired in September 2017, other ecommerce platforms have been developing their own one-click technologies, such as Shopify Pay.
Being able to place an order with a single click (or tap, if you’re on your mobile device) is attractive to both customers and merchants. The obvious benefit for customers is not having to go through 4 or 5 pages just to place an order. Set up the preferred payment method and shipping address once, and they’re all set for all their future orders on the site.
For merchants, the biggest value is that it minimizes shopping cart abandonment. Customers place items in their carts, only to exit the checkout process at some point, leaving the items behind unpurchased. Single-click buying helps to minimize this abandonment.
With the advantages, however, come disadvantages. It’s easier to make a mistake when ordering through this method, such as ordering the wrong item or the wrong quantity. Problems can also occur when customers’ information are no longer valid and they neglect to change it before they order.
You’ll have to be ready to address these disadvantages in mind when considering this technology for your dropshipping site. Whether one-click purchasing is a right fit for you or not, it’s the future. The easier you can make the checkout process, the more likely your customers are to buy from you.
Artificial intelligence is already being used by online business to automate at least some of their customer interactions, and this trend is expected to grow more as online users become more comfortable with communicating with bots.
The purpose of many of these bots is not to take the place of actual human interaction, but to take customers through a fixed, step-by-step process. This frees you up to reply to more complicated queries for greater customer satisfaction.
Examples of processes that are already being done through bots include subscribing to an email list, directing the customer to the right page on your store, or helping them shop for the right product.
Facebook Messenger bots can do the functions enumerated above, plus a whole lot more, like deliver personalized content and information about your products and services, update you on the status of your delivery, and even process payments to a Stripe or PayPal account.
If you’re a developer or you have one on your team, you can create your own Messenger bot quickly by following their developer documentation. If not, you can hire a developer specializing in bots to do it for you.
Another option is to use the Facebook Messenger sales channel if you’re using Shopify for your dropshipping site.
Selling something through Twitter DMs is generally frowned upon. Instead, use automated DMs to build trust and answer inquiries about your products and your store.
As with the Facebook Messenger bot, you can build your own Twitter bot by following the Twitter developer documentation or hiring a developer who specializes in them.
From iPhone’s Siri, to Microsoft’s Cortana, to Google Assistant, to Amazon’s Alexa, voice search has been big.
And it’s only going to get bigger.
Voice-activated devices such as the Echo Dot (see above) are also increasing in popularity. People don’t even have to get up to turn off the lights, much less order something online.
This may have implications on your keyword research and SEO tactics, as people tend to use different words and phrases when searching by voice.
For one thing, voice searches tend to be longer and phrased as questions. Plus, using voice search tends to be a series of questions that only makes sense if you treat all the questions as related.
For instance, if I need to search for maternity dresses in Google search, I’ll type in “maternity dresses.” The results pop up and then realize I need it in a certain size. I go back to the search bar and edit my query to “maternity dresses size 14 US.”
By contrast, if I used voice search, I’ll be asking Google Assistant “where can I buy maternity dresses?” and then ask “size 14 US.”
In conventional keyword research, “where can I buy maternity dresses?” and “size 14 US” are two separate queries. Good luck trying to get your store to rank for the keyword “size 14 US.”
Don’t neglect “conventional” keyword research, but definitely learn how to adapt your keyword research and SEO tactics to accommodate users who are using voice search.
The ability to automate at least some of the processes involved in eCommerce has been around for a while, but it’s expected to become more commonplace and personalized as artificial intelligence becomes even more advanced.
For most ecommerce sites, marketing automation involves a series of content aimed at selling the customer on one or more of your products.
We’re already seeing this in automated email sequences wherein a certain action will trigger a particular email or set of emails.
For example, a visitor lands on your blog and subscribes to your email newsletter by clicking a link in one of your blog posts. Your email service provider “detects” which blog post your visitor clicked and sends them emails that are related to the subject of the blog post.
If your blog post is about one of your products, like a review or an instructional video of how to use it, the next emails can be about the product, its features and benefits, and if they click on the link from your email, they get a discount.
If they ignore the email, then maybe another series of emails can be sent about another product. Or, if they click on the link on the email but abandon the cart, you can try to lure them back through an email with a coupon code for an additional discount.
Marketing automation is also at work in ad retargeting (or, why you can see KitchenAid mixers on the ads on the pages you visit after checking out that KitchenAid mixer on Amazon).
Ad retargeting is only useful to you if you’re already investing in social media ads or Google AdWords, so if you haven’t started with ads, keep this in mind for the future.
Remember that the goal of marketing automation is to take mere visitors from merely knowing about your site to reminding them of your products that they’re most interested in. You can expect automation to gain more traction with other marketing channels in the coming months.
Machine learning has been the stuff of sci-fi movies, and it has been frequently depicted as the stuff of a bleak, scary future where sentient killer robots reign over humankind.
Fortunately, this is the real world.
AI is a big factor in eCommerce nowadays, and machine learning is also rapidly gaining popularity. There are a great deal of applications of machine learning, with some I’ve already enumerated like chatbots and voice search.
If you liked [this product], you’ll probably like [this other product].
Product recommendations are potentially going to be increasingly (frighteningly?) accurate and helpful to customers, thanks to better algorithms.
Right now, recommendations are usually based on keywords. As AI continues to develop, we can look forward to recommendations that take into consideration not only keywords but purchase histories of that customer as well as other customers, related products based on customer profile, and customer preferences (e.g., color, size, style, etc.).
Advanced algorithms are able to identify patterns in data to learn what is “normal” and what isn’t. When anomalies like these are detected, it’s possible to flag transactions on your site that are probably fraudulent and warrants a closer look.
If you have the time and manpower, you can even try to contact the customers whose transactions are outside of their normal ordering habits. For example, they may be ordering way more than their usual, or they may be buying products that don’t match their profile.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you can visualize how a piece of décor or furniture would look like in your room?
Thanks to augmented reality (AR), you don’t have to wonder.
In the latter part of 2017, Ikea launched Ikea Place, an augmented reality app that allows users to see exactly how a lot of their furniture items would look and fit in their homes.
Amazon wasn’t far behind, launching their AR view app at around the same time.
Augmented reality is a technology that integrates digital information with a user’s view of the real world. In social media, we’ve seen this in Snapchat (and now Instagram) filters, but AR has many more applications for eCommerce than making you look like a bunny (or a deer).
Imagine getting to see what a pair of pants or a shirt will look like on you instead of on a model, or visualizing how that necklace will look with that dress, or how those bookends will look on your bookshelf or your desk.
With the continuous advancement of AR technology, this vision is steadily moving toward reality (hah!).
The larger eCommerce grows, the more concerned customers get about their personal information and the possibility of them being scammed.
And they’re right to be. According to an identity fraud study in 2017, there were 15.4 million victims of identity theft of some form in 2016.
It is more important than ever that your customers trust you and your store. This is where trust signals come in.
If your visitors don’t trust your site, they won’t buy anything. They’re subconsciously looking for clues that their personal and financial information will be safe with you.
Some trust signals you can employ to instill trust in your customers are third-party badges, social proof, and evidence that you are a legitimate company.
Icons of various payment methods (e.g., PayPal, Visa, Mastercard, American Express) and of security companies (e.g., VeriSign, Symantec, McAfee, etc.) do a lot to make visitors feel that your site can be trusted.
Display these trust badges on your footer so that they’re visible on every page. More importantly, give them prominence on your checkout page to remind them that their information is secure with you and to let them know which payment methods you currently accept.
Ensure as well that you have the right to display these badges; that is, you really have secure checkout and are registered with the Better Business Bureau, for example. Otherwise, when customers find out that you don’t really have a secure site, that trust you’re trying to earn will just go bye-bye.
When it comes to purchases, customers rely on other customers to share their experiences with a company in an honest, frank way. In this case, you don’t want to just rely on ratings. You want your customers to share what went incredibly well or on the other extreme, what went wrong.
Another source of reviews that you can place on your site is social media. If you can get screenshots of reviews from Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ and display them on your page (with the account owners’ permissions), this can be a big factor in their purchase decision.
Social proof is even more effective if you include names of the reviewers. This authenticity is what will make your reviews trustworthy.
However, this authenticity should never be done at the expense of your customers’ security. Remember, your customers rely on you to keep their personal information safe and secure.
Get permission to use their images and social media handles. If they don’t consent, concede to blurring out their photo and/or any specific identifying information and see if they agree. If you want to post names, protect their privacy by including only the initial of their surname.
What about negative reviews or one-star ratings?
You may be tempted to not display less-than-flattering reviews, but it’s not advisable to do this. You’re bound to get at least 1 or 2 negative reviews for some reason. You can’t please everyone, and purchases don’t always go smoothly.
The important thing here is to be real and authentic. At the same time, you need to show that you’re able to turn these negative experiences around and at least do some steps to gain back their goodwill.
You need to convince visitors that you are an actual person and that your store is legally operating.
To convince your customers that you’re a reputable seller, display your contact information on your footer, and make sure they’re accurate and working. This includes your physical business address, phone number, hours you can be reached, and email address.
If you’re working from home and don’t want to display your home address for all to see (a wise decision, really), you can subscribe to virtual office services that’ll give you a mailing address that you can receive actual mail and shipments in.
For an additional fee, some of these virtual offices will even give you a dedicated telephone number that you can use as your business phone number.
Make sure to test their services as well so you’re sure they’re working, especially your phone number.
Another important aspect to establishing that you’re a legitimate business is sharing your social media profiles where you can be followed and where your visitors can interact with you.
If your header and footer are looking a little crowded, you can opt to display smaller icons, or display them vertically on a floating sidebar instead.
Add even more credibility to your site by promoting your blog posts or starting one, if you don’t already have one on your site.
Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer, I don’t intend to be in the near future, and I don’t practice anything related to the law. The information below was obtained from thorough research. For any legal concerns, always consult a lawyer.
As more and more online entrepreneurs go into dropshipping, more and more of them are also thinking of ways to protect themselves from shoddy suppliers and policies that heavily favor them.
Some dropshipping platforms have escrow services available such that the supplier only receives the funds only when the dropshipper confirms that the buyer has received the item and there are no issues with the item.
But there are still always loopholes around policies, with very little that can be done if something goes wrong. Remember, you’re taking on the responsibility of being the seller without actual control over your products.
Create a dropshipper agreement that clearly outlines both your supplier and your liabilities when problems arise. If possible, create a solid service level agreement that takes into account the exact amount of working days it takes from production to shipping.
Expectations on branding, price ceilings (i.e., no change in prices once you’ve posted your price on your website), and when suppliers would receive payment should also be clearly outlined.
Ownership of intellectual property (e.g., images, product descriptions) as well as non-disclosure of your customers’ information should also be specified.
Fines and chargebacks should be clearly outlined as well when you or your supplier fail to meet an agreed deadline or target.
If you need a template to start with, this one seems to be helpful for many dropshippers. It’s not free, but it’s fairly comprehensive, and you can easily modify the wording to fit your needs. You might want to consult a lawyer before you send it to your supplier and have it signed to make sure you didn’t leave anything out.
To summarize, here’s what the future of dropshipping might look like:
Let me just also say that no one can truly predict the future, but we can safely say that these dropshipping trends will be shaping the dropshipping industry for the better.
Just a couple more reminders for you as you brush up on these trends.
These trends are exciting, no doubt. But rushing to be trendy won’t do you any good.
Research each trend carefully. See how it’s being used by other dropshippers in the same or a different niche. Then decide if a trend is a good fit for you, your site, your products, and your audience.
Honestly assess if it’s going to help you serve your customers better, or help your customers get the products they need, or ease the ordering process. If a trend isn’t helpful, it isn’t worth implementing in your site.
When you’ve decided which dropshipping trends will be a good fit with your store, you still have to test if it does anything for your bottom line or if it improves your customers’ shopping experience.
Find out what your customers think about the new changes you’re making to the site. Depending on the change, you can roll it out only to selected customers, or you can create an invitation-only version of your site so you can survey visitors about their experience.
What other dropshipping trends do you think will shape eCommerce this year? Share your opinions 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.