You’ve probably heard of many people who have founded successful dropshipping online shops and are making a lot of money with it, right? But you’ve probably seen a few stories of people who fail with their dropshipping business and don’t earn a single cent, or even spend a lot of money on a shop that doesn’t bring any success afterward.
YouTube and Reddit are full of reports of people trying to make money with dropshipping but not succeeding. Then it is quickly claimed that dropshipping is dead or that dropshipping no longer works.
But that is wrong. I read through many of these reports or watched them on YouTube and was able to find a “common thread”. Many of the shop owners are doing basic things wrong.
When you look at the reports on Reddit where people are sharing their stories of failed dropshipping stores, it’s easy to see that most people approach the business the wrong way.
For example, shops that are built with Shopify without any premonition of design. That ends up with the online shops having a very bad design and layout.
You can also read more often that the costs are too high to keep a shop permanently. The problem of high costs comes up again and again for people who use Shopify.
Shopify is very expensive and in my opinion not a good platform to start an online shop or dropshipping store. No matter whether you want to create a conventional shop or want to build a dropshipping shop. The basic fees are enormous and then there are also the horrendous prices for the apps. There are definitely better and cheaper/free alternatives to Shopify. I personally am a big fan of WooCommerce.
The third major problem with dropshipping store operators is that they don’t know how to get traffic to their new store. For example, you can see instructions on YouTube again and again on how to place Facebook (meta) ads or Google ads and thus get traffic without great costs.
However, this is usually not as easy and inexpensive as described. Ads can get very expensive if you target the wrong keywords. I would even like to say that almost all keywords are too expensive if you only have a small budget. Of course, this always depends on the individual financial situation.
Because I have already created successful dropshipping stores for many customers, partners, and myself, I can give you a few details and experience reports that will probably help you to create a shop and make it a success.
I have structured the following list in such a way that the order makes sense and that you have a “roadmap to dropshipping success” with this guide 😉
What exactly do you want to sell? Do you have a specific product category that you are personally interested in? Then you should find out more about this category. Look at what products there are in this niche and what your competition is there.
Most people who fail with dropshipping choose product categories that are too competitive, such as pet accessories or kitchen accessories.
There are thousands of these types of dropshipping stores. For example, if you read reports on Reddit from other people who own a dropshipping store and fail with it, they usually always choose the same product categories.
While these product categories may be very promising at first glance and offer a lot of products, the market for these categories is usually extremely saturated.
Find a category that might not be that obvious. Have you ever thought about focusing your new store on home security technology, office furniture, or gadgets for garages? There are many categories that are not too competitive!
Of course, these are just a few examples. There are no limits to your imagination here. Just make sure you focus on a niche and don’t go too broad.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with starting with Alibaba or AliExpress. I run a few dropshipping stores myself that use AliExpress as a supplier.
The big disadvantage with these suppliers is of course the long delivery time. Since the suppliers are usually based in China and ship the goods from China to the United States, a delivery time of two to three weeks is not the exception, but rather the rule.
You should also avoid importing clothes from these Chinese suppliers. In my experience, you have no quality control whatsoever. The complaint rate is very high for clothing from China. Of course, you could order samples beforehand to convince yourself of the quality, but in my experience, almost nobody does that and it is also very expensive if you have several hundred items in your store.
And also be careful with electronics sourced from China. Make sure these products have a high quality and don’t cause fires or any other problems.
The other problem with dropshipping from China is that you have no way of returning the goods or making a complaint since the shipping costs to China usually exceed the value of the goods. This means that you are left with the costs in the event of complaints and have to refund the money to the customer.
The alternative to dropshipping from China is “Sellvia“. Sellvia is a fairly new platform that allows you to access a range of goods that is already in the United States.
As a result, you and your customer benefit from extremely short delivery times and also from a return option to the warehouse.
Did you know that you can buy premade WooCommerce dropshipping stores? So you can save yourself the development costs.
If you search for the topic of dropshipping on YouTube or Reddit, you will find 90% of the topics related to Shopify. Anyone who deals with the topic of online shops or dropshipping will come across Shopify at some point.
Shopify makes it extremely easy for the user to set up a shop. Shopify also offers a simple user interface that makes it easy for even a newbie to create a store. So Shopify’s marketing is extremely good…
However, the disadvantage of Shopify is that Shopify is very expensive. Starting with the monthly basic costs, up to the expensive prices for the apps and extensions you need. Most shops that were created with Shopify and offer a certain range of functions pay over $100 a month (monthly fee + monthly plugin costs).
In my opinion, this is way too expensive. Another disadvantage is that Shopify’s shop software is only located on the Shopify servers. So you can’t decide for yourself which hosting provider you want to use.
Likewise, Shopify can close your shop at any time if they disagree with your website. You never technically own the shop, because, at the end of the day, Shopify owns the servers and so your content.
So you have to pay small monthly fees, except for the hosting fees ($3-$10p/m).
Since WordPress and WooCommerce are open-source software, you can freely access the source code and change everything or adapt it to your needs.
There are also a lot of extensions you can use to customize and personalize your stop. Many of the plugins are free or relatively cheap. But you don’t have to pay monthly fees like you have to pay with Shopify Apps.
WordPress also has an extremely large community that can help you with any questions or problems. If you are looking for a developer or designer who will help you with certain tasks, you will find it very quickly. You can find these developers on Fiverr or UpWork, for example.
You can also find a lot of pre-made store themes for WooCommerce. Themeforest is the biggest marketplace for pre made WordPress and WooCommerce Templates. So you don’t have to design your new shop from scratch and can use ready-made templates.
There are often problems in finding the right design. Many unsuccessful shop operators often use poorly designed shop themes. It is important that you adhere to some standards when designing your new shop.
The design isn’t the most important thing, but it shouldn’t be a deterrent either! Take a look at a few shops that are successful and generate income. Either you search Google for a special keyword, such as “Buy Socks Online”, or something similar to find a good store design.
So try to create a modern design that makes a professional impression and inspires trust.
Plugins are great for extending a shop’s functionality or providing the user with a better experience on your website. There are thousands of plugins that you can use to customize almost anything.
The most important thing about a dropshipping store is the connection to a dropshipping supplier. If you want to use AliExpress as a dropshipping service, I recommend the Alidropship plugin.
Alidropship is probably the best and most comfortable dropshipping plugin. Although this plugin is not free, around $80-$100, it offers a lot of functions and an easy fulfillment of the orders.
If you are looking for more extensions for your WooCommerce shop, then CodeCanyon is probably the best platform to find premium plugins.
Now it’s getting interesting 😉 What use is a great shop design and the best products if nobody can find your shop or you don’t have visitors or potential customers visit your shop?
Therefore, you should start thinking about marketing at an early stage.
In my opinion, there are actually only three effective strategies for getting visitors to your shop.
Paid Ads: You can, for example, use Google or Facebook Ads to advertise your shop or your products. The advantage of ads is that you get visitors to your website immediately. You can publish an ad in minutes.
The disadvantage of paid advertising is that it can quickly become very expensive. The click prices can vary from 20 cents to several dollars. It always depends on how high the competition for the respective keyword is.
However, it is not guaranteed that the visitor will then buy something in your shop. Normally, with a good online shop, you can assume that your conversion rate will be around 1-2%.
So you have to direct 100 visitors to your shop so that you can make a sale. Now you have to calculate for yourself whether it’s worth it… If you pay 50 cents per click, that’s $50 for 100 clicks. Ideally, one person will then buy something from you. But if the customer then buys a product that makes you less than $50, you haven’t made a profit!
Social media: You can, for example, open an Instagram channel and post pictures or videos about your product there. Of course, the same also applies to YouTube or TikTok.
You can then add a link to the product or your shop in the description.
Although this method is free, it means a lot of work for you.
Content Marketing/SEO: You can generate free shop visitors with content marketing or search engine optimization. When someone searches for a specific product, you’ll appear in organic search results.
Then when someone clicks on your link and visits your shop or product page, it’s completely free for you.
The disadvantage of SEO, however, is that it can take a long time for SEO to work. You have to wait at least 3-4 months for your optimized content to be indexed and displayed.
Content marketing for online shops includes optimized product descriptions, optimized category descriptions, on-page content, and blog posts.
So if you have more time than money, SEO or content marketing is the right strategy for you!
Product pages should always be designed in such a way that they offer a lot of information, are friendly and clearly laid out, and have informative and detailed images.
Make it easy for your visitor to see the special features of your product and to be able to quickly recognize the benefits of your product.
A product page should still be easy to scan. So use bullet points and if possible Gif animations to explain the function quickly.
Visitors don’t want to read walls of text. Visitors want to be informed quickly and easily. Because of this, you need to find a compromise between SEO optimization and usability.
Have a look at your favorite online shop where YOU have already bought something. There you will definitely find inspiration for designing the product pages of your shop.
Another big mistake is when you set too high goals or expectations. For example, don’t assume that you’ll make sales in the first two weeks.
Especially if it is your first online shop. You will need some time to optimize your product pages or to optimize the ordering process.
For starters, set yourself the goal of finding a way for yourself to generate traffic that doesn’t cost you any money.
The most important thing is that you set traffic as your top priority. As soon as you have successfully generated traffic, it is no longer difficult to get the first orders.
Look at your competitor’s stores in your niche. What do the stores look like or what functions do these stores offer? What would you improve about these stores to create more trust or to offer a better service?
If you have found the weaknesses of these stores, you can implement these functions in your online shop to make your shop better.
For example, see if it’s easy to get in touch and ask questions.
Is the blog section good and does it offer a lot of interesting and helpful articles on each product or product niche?
Likewise, the various search engines such as Google or Bing will recognize that your shop is better than the shops of your competitors and your shop will rank higher than the shops of your competitors.
In principle, it’s all about offering the user a good experience in your shop and convincing them with quality.
Starting a successful dropshipping store is not easy. But it is definitely possible! The most important thing is that you think about it beforehand when creating your new shop and work out a plan on how you can use different strategies to make the shop a success.
You should take your time when creating and optimizing the shop and pay attention to quality.
If you ever get stuck, don’t hesitate to get help or ask other people for their opinion. For example, you can find Facebook groups on this topic and post a link to your store and ask for an honest opinion.
However, you should avoid asking your family or friends for their opinion if possible, as they usually only give positive feedback so as not to hurt your feelings.