8 Easily Avoidable Dropshipping Mistakes You Could be Making


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Dropshipping is fast becoming a popular business model to adopt. It allows retailers to sell products to consumers without worrying about storage space, as the merchandise moves straight to the end user. When you’re considering using a dropshipping model for yourself, there are plenty of factors you’ll need to take into account.

Some retailers see dropshipping as an easy way to make money. It’s inexpensive to get started and easier to grow. But this can lull people into a false sense of security. They think it requires minimal time and effort to maintain. This means that they’ll make mistakes without realizing how costly these mistakes could be for their business.

These are key lessons that you can learn from. Here are eight easily avoidable dropshipping mistakes that you could be making.

1. Getting the Niche Wrong

Standing out in a competitive marketplace is difficult, which is why it’s important to choose a niche for your business. New dropshippers might go for a broad niche. They believe that this will allow them to capture a large market. 

The problem is that a broader niche works better for large, global organizations. Small businesses will struggle to compete with businesses such as this, thanks to changing costs and difficulties in the supply chain. This is something you need to consider, even if you know how to sell your products to the consumer.

Choosing a more specific niche is your best bet in the beginning, especially if you allow room to grow into other areas to meet changing demands and interests.

A useful rule of thumb is to find a niche that suits a long-term business, as well as your interests. If you have no interest in selling products, you won’t dedicate the time and effort to it. If you hit upon the right niche, you’ll find that pricing your products isn’t too much of a concern. Your customers are going to be more focused on the perceived value. So combine what sells with what interests you the most.

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2. Relying on One Supplier

When most businesses start out using dropshipping, they’ll have one supplier in mind. In theory, this will keep things simpler for you, the retailer. In reality, it can cause problems within the fulfillment process which you need to think about carefully.

If the supplier’s order fulfillment processes are inefficient, you could run into trouble. What if they run out of inventory? Your customers are going to still expect the product, as it was ‘in stock’ when they purchased it. You might have a strong inventory system in place, having considered if things like FIFO vs LIFO are right for you. The issue is if your supplier gets it wrong.

Instead of relying on one supplier, investigate other options. It’s always good to have a network of suppliers in case one runs into issues. It’ll also make it easier for you to fulfil orders should one of the suppliers run out of stock or if there’s a sudden increase in demand.

3. Not Building a Relationship With Your Suppliers

As a dropshipper, the suppliers you work with are key to your business success. Without them, you aren’t able to fulfil orders. This is why it’s important to build a strong relationship with them.

Suppliers might have many dropshippers to deal with, so they may start to take you for granted. It might not be intentional, but with so many demands of them, it can be easy for you to drop off of the radar. It can be an even bigger challenge when communication is limited to phone calls, emails, and the occasional video call.

If you concentrate on developing a relationship based on respect and problem solving together, you’ll find that your business runs that little bit smoother. Another advantage is that, if they have low stock, they might prioritize your business over others. It costs nothing to make the effort, and the rewards will mean it is well worth it for your business.

4. Unclear Branding

A common problem dropshippers encounter is branding. Making sure your brand is visible throughout the customer experience is a challenge, so inserting your brand where you can is key.

It helps if you understand sales channel strategies. Looking at what is retail and what is wholesale will give you the understanding you need. You might find that there are elements you can take from one and apply to another. Wholesale includes dropshipping, but by doing your research, you might find other areas to build up your branding.

By having a clear brand, your customers will be more likely to remember you. Add branded packing slips and custom external packaging. Follow up sales with a personalized thank you note or survey. These elements can establish your brand and provide you with valuable feedback.

5. Failing to Optimize Your Store

A poorly designed store is a quick way to lose custom. If your online store looks bad, you will lack credibility. They won’t trust you, so why would they choose to spend their money with you?

This is why optimizing your store is a key part of the process. For this, you’ll need to consider everything, from quality images to product descriptions. Does your product page make it clear what customers are getting for their money? Do the pictures you’ve used reflect the product? If the answer to either of these questions is no, then you need to rework your shop.

It’s important to also look at remarketing strategies. If a potential customer adds something to their cart but fails to checkout, you can use remarketing to get them back to your site. Suppliers have emails they send out to try to recover these sales but customizing it will make a big difference. 

You can add your branding and include a coupon code to convince them to buy. These strategies, combined with an optimized store, will gain you loyal customers. 72% of shoppers will abandon their cart, by 26% return with remarketing.

6. Not Giving Your Customers Clear Information

There is nothing more frustrating for a customer than a lack of information. Over the last year, many businesses have learned that communication is key, and this applies to dropshipping too.

Make sure the information your customers need is easy to find, whether that’s a custom email sent to them, or information on your website. What information do you send out when their parcel has shipped? Are your customers able to track their package easily? Do you include returns information?

Simplifying the process and making information clear to your customers is a good way to improve your customer effort score. It shows that you care about your customers and want them to have the best experience. It will also prevent them from heading to social media, as some of the biggest issues have been resolved with strong communication.

7. Confusion Over Shipping Costs and Expectations

One of the biggest dropshipping mistakes businesses can make involves shipping costs and expectations. Many businesses now offer next-day delivery but promising this is challenging when you are using a supplier. 

Use caution when giving shipping estimates. Being too optimistic with dates can leave your customers feeling disappointed at best and frustrated at worst, so talk to your supplier to see what is realistic.

Something else to consider is how shipping will work. Most suppliers have a variety of shipping methods and prices. If you adopt this as a dropshipper, you might find it difficult to manage. Instead, keep it simple for you and your customers.

You could offer a flat rate for shipping, keeping the cost low for the customer. Alternatively, you could offer shipping for free. If you do this, you can adjust the product prices to cover the costs. This works well as your customers will know exactly how much they are paying for their products. Consider your e-commerce pricing strategies to find what works best for you.

8. Failing to Plan

Planning is an important part of any business, but especially so when dropshipping. There are some things beyond our control, but it is always good to plan ahead.

One of the biggest challenges online businesses face is the holidays. Holidays like Christmas mean an increase in sales and demand. On the flip side, it also means an increase in shipping times and a decrease in stock availability. You’ll need to plan ahead to make sure your customers aren’t disappointed.

An effective way to do this is to look at inventory forecasting methods. Qualitative inventory forecasting can help you plan for sales demands around seasons, as well as other economic factors you might not have considered. It’s a great way to keep ahead of demand and plan for all eventualities.

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Learning From Dropshipping Mistakes

Making mistakes is a part of life and business. The important thing is to learn from them. There are plenty of dropshipping mistakes you can make, but doing your research and planning ahead can make resolving them quick and easy.

While dropshipping seems like an easy way to make money, it does require effort to do it well. You might find that you benefit from using the best productivity software to keep on top of your business. You’ll be able to easily keep track of where you are and any deadlines you have coming up.

There are plenty of options available for you, whether you want to use free software or you are looking for more competitive alternatives to Trello. Dropshipping can be as varied as your business, so look into all possibilities and plan to make it the success that you know it can be.

Nick Shaw
Nick Shaw has been Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) of Brightpearl, the number one retail-focused digital operations platform which encompasses sales, accounting, logistics, CRM and more, since July 2019 and is responsible for EMEA Sales, Global Marketing and Alliances. Before joining Brightpearl, Nick was GM and Vice President of the EMEA Consumer business at Symantec and was responsible for a $500m revenue business.


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