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15 Dropshipping Tips You Need to Check Before Starting Your Business

15 Dropshipping Tips You Need to Check Before Starting Your Business
Gabriela Martinez

By Gabriela Martinez

20 min read

You can find tips for absolutely everything on the internet these days. There’s information on investing money, cooking dinner, building furniture. . . even learning how to breathe properly. But if you’re looking for dropshipping tips for your online business, you should make sure it’s coming from a reputable source. 

If you’re not sure what dropshipping is, let me explain it in a few words: it’s a business model where you can sell anything online without having to worry about holding inventory yourself. 

Since it’s low-cost and low-risk, it’s become increasingly popular over the past few years, and many online stores have been launched. Some sank, some stayed afloat, but you can learn a lot from all of them. We sure did.

In this article, we’ll share everything we’ve learned about starting a successful dropshipping business, so you can avoid common beginner mistakes. To make your ride smoother, we’ve compiled them into a straightforward list of 15 dropshipping tips you shouldn’t ignore.

Enjoy!

1. Know your target audience

Some might think that the first thing you need to do when starting a dropshipping business is deciding what to sell. But, in our experience, it’s wiser to ask yourself who you’re going to sell to.

Why? Because it’s much easier to offer products that people already want rather than finding people who want to buy what you want to sell. In this sense, we recommend you start by picking a niche.

There are several benefits of selling to a specific audience instead of trying to target everyone. First of all, you’ll probably face less competition (the narrower your niche, the less likely the market will be saturated). Plus, you’ll have a higher profit margin. Meaning, you can charge more for your products since niche audiences tend to be less price sensitive (they see value in what you’re selling).

It’ll also be easier to market your products to a more defined segment and you probably won’t spend as much on ads. It’s like going fishing in a smaller pond—you just need to pick the right pond.

One of my favorite examples of this is the Amsterdam Duck Store.  You don’t even need a bathtub at home to want one of their fun, themed rubber ducks.

amsterdam duck dropshipping store

Source: Amsterdam Duck Store

The secret to success is finding a niche that’s both relatable and has high potential. Being part of your audience makes it much easier for you to put yourself in potential customers’ shoes and offer what they truly want/need (and maybe will pay a lot of money for).

Remember to use free tools like Google Trends and Facebook Audience Insights to get precious info about who your audience is and what they’re searching for. 

Read more: Profitable Dropshipping Niches: How to Find Them + Top Picks

As your business thrives, you can always adjust your target. Amazon, for example, started as a niche store selling books online and look at it now. You can start off small and still dream big.

amazon website 1997

Early Amazon homepage in 1997. Source: Version Museum

2. Analyze your competitors

Would you buy a house without taking a walk around the neighborhood first? What about joining a gym without checking out the facilities? Probably not. So why would you start a business without taking a look at what other brands in your segment are doing? 

I’ve had business owners tell me that they don’t like to research competitors because they don’t want to copy them. But who says that’s the goal? You should analyze your competitors simply to learn from what they’re doing, and then decide your do’s and don’ts for yourself. 

Start by searching for the products you’re thinking of selling and see what search results come up. Visit different websites, go through product catalogs, read reviews, and try to purchase something for yourself to find out how user-friendly the buying process is, as well as the quality of the products. In the end, take notes on what you like and what you’d do differently.

Should you follow relevant businesses on social media too? Of course! This is how you’ll keep up to date. Also, pay attention to the comments, what customers complain about, and what they love. This dropshipping tip could even help you stand out from the competition. A competitor’s weakness might eventually become your strength.

3. Start with few products

One of the most amazing things about dropshipping is the fact that you can sell everything you want without actually investing in products. This means you can build your dropshipping store and list 1000 items for anyone and everyone, right?

Well, you certainly can. . . but I’d think twice. Listing products on your online store is easy. Doing it well is a different story. Although many dropshipping providers have ready-to-use descriptions and photos that you can upload automatically to your website, you should always spice them up with your brand’s personality. This will increase your chances of connecting with your audience and closing the deal.

So, unless you have time to write 1000 creative descriptions and take original, in-depth photos of your items, it’s better to stick to your top 25 items in the beginning. Then, assess which items get more visits, clicks, and buys, and which are less popular. From there, you can add new collections in a more strategic way.

If your plan is to start a clothing brand, for example, there’s no need to begin with an entire wardrobe. How about adding unique designs to some best-selling items like custom t-shirts, sweatshirts, and hats? See what does well, and add other apparel items as you go.

shadawear clothing

Source: Shadawear.com

 Read more: How to Create a Successful Clothing Brand Featuring Kaysha

4. Be picky about your brand name

Naming your brand is one of the best parts of starting a business. But with great power comes great responsibility. Your brand name, as well as its logo, has the potential to leave a great first impression—or to fall flat.

In fact, it takes just a tenth of a second for a person to form a first impression about another person. So just imagine how fast we judge a company! Being selective about your brand’s name is one of the most important dropshipping tips we can give you, not only for the field of dropshipping but for all business.

In practical terms, your brand name has the potential to make people curious to learn more about what you’re selling. This in turn will help attract more visitors to your website, increasing the likelihood that they’ll connect with your message and buy from you. Alternatively, an off-putting name, logo, or look can turn potential customers off to your dropshipping store without even giving it a chance. 

Classic Dad—a brand that celebrates dad culture with humor and simplicity—found a good solution to this dilemma. By picking a straightforward name, the brand gave its audience an idea of what they were bringing to the table upfront.

But how can you come up with the perfect brand name? Here are some pointers. 

The best brand names usually are:

  • Simple

  • Easy to spell

  • Meaningful

  • Memorable

If you can’t check all the boxes, it’s ok, but try to get at least two of the qualities listed.

Do a brainstorm exercise: write down everything that comes to mind when you think of your audience and your brand. Think qualities, actions, feelings, and expressions. You can even make up new words by putting some ideas together (for example, the name Lego came from the expression leg godt, which means play well in Danish). Then, narrow your list down to your 5 favorite ones. 

5. Choose reliable suppliers 

Pay attention here because this tip is crucial for any successful dropshipping business. Imagine: you’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s when it comes to every detail of your brand and online store. You’ve guided your customers to the finish line. But when they receive the product, it doesn’t match their expectations. Ouch!

You are the soul of your business, but your supplier is the backbone of it. When choosing who will produce, store, and ship your items to your clients, always check their reviews and reputation. Consider fulfillment, shipping times and fees, packaging, and also customer service.  

“You’ll need a third-party supplier that can deliver the quality you’re promising to your customers.” 

If you’re thinking of selling custom products, Printful is an excellent choice for your business. It allows you to personalize a wide variety of clothing, accessories, and home & living products online in a matter of minutes. You can upload your own designs or let your imagination run wild using the built-in Design Maker.

printful design maker

Source: Printful

 

When your product designs are ready, you can use the Mockup Generator tool to create images of the products in real life that you can use to market them.

Printful also integrates with the most popular ecommerce platforms and marketplaces, so you can easily automate the process. This means you can export products directly from your Printful account to your storefront, and whenever you get an order, Printful will fulfill it and send it straight away to your customer.

Start your dropshipping business with Printful
  • Sign up for free
  • 439 custom products
  • Sell without inventory

6. Pick your ecommerce platform or marketplace wisely

It’s impossible to make a list of essential dropshipping tips without mentioning where you’ll choose to sell your products. This step dictates the future of your business, so we can’t overlook it.

Would you prefer to be found on a marketplace people already know, or do you want your customers’ full attention with your own site? Remember to always consider what’s best for your audience. 

“You have to be where your customers are.”

Other questions you should ask yourself:

  • Are you willing to make the effort—and the investment—to attract visitors to your new store? If the answer is no, a marketplace would be the best way to start. 

  • Do you have the knowledge and the time to set up your dropshipping store by yourself? Or can you hire a professional developer or web designer to help you? If the answer is yes, an ecommerce platform could be a good option to show how exclusive your products are. 

  • Which platforms can your dropshipping supplier connect with?
    Some suppliers, like Printful, connect with both types of platforms. Check yours to see what they suggest. It can help you find your optimal selling channel.

In summary, ecommerce platforms demand more time and dedication than marketplaces, but offer more exclusivity, since you won’t have to share a space with competitors. On the other hand, marketplaces are already popular and typically easier to handle, but you’ll have less room to be creative

You just have to decide what’s best for your particular situation. Remember that it’s always better to have your store up and running as soon as possible, rather than looking for perfection and never bringing your ideas to life. 

Luckily, both ecommerce platforms and marketplaces have ready-to-use templates and solutions for you to build your dropshipping store. And you can experiment with both options too. Why not? Being a multichannel merchant is more work, but it doubles your chances of selling. If you have the time, go for it!

7. Always order samples 

As much as you know and trust your dropshipping supplier, it’s always important to see what your products look like in real life before officially starting to sell them. 

Ordering product samples is the most effective way to check the quality, the packaging, and shipping times of your products. You’ll also get a taste of the unboxing experience your customers have with your brand.

Once you know that everything meets your expectations, you can use the samples to:

  • make original photos and mockups

  • produce videos of the product in action

  • launch giveaways on social media

  • use them yourself to spread the word about your business wherever you go

Sign up with Printful and get 20% off samples

Yes, your samples can be used to make high-quality content. Let’s dive into how in our next dropshipping tips.

8. Create high-quality content 

Every professional marketer on Earth has surely heard at least once that “content is king.” The quote belongs to an essay written by Bill Gates in 1996 and it remains current to this day. 

What does it mean for you as a dropshipping business owner? That you must dedicate time to creating content around your products in a way that attracts attention and drives the desire to buy.

About us page

Did you know that the About Us page is usually the most visited page of a website? People are curious about what or who is behind the products they’re thinking of buying. More than a space to introduce your brand, this page is an opportunity to tell a story and start building a relationship with future customers. 

Ideas to make your About Us Page unique:

  • Present yourself and your team, and make it personal

  • Tell the story behind the brand, its name, and its motivation

  • Show what happens behind the scenes

  • Build a storyline

  • Add photos and videos   

Helena Krüger made her About page personal by sharing her story with first-person narration, adding a photo of her creative process, and even mentioning her role as a new mother.

Helena Kruger website

Source: Helena Krüger’s website

Photos 

When it comes to ecommerce consumer psychology, 93% of shoppers consider visual appearance a deciding factor when making a purchase online. This explains why photos are one of the most important assets for your store and campaigns. 

product photography

Source: Styleshoots

Invest in good product photos, define your brand’s aesthetic, your photoshoot concept, and click, click, click. Having a good professional camera for your visuals is nice, but it isn’t mandatory. 

Tips for taking great product photos with your smartphone:

  • Shoot your photos in a space with good lighting

  • Choose a smartphone with a high-quality camera

  • Use a mini tripod

  • Set up a backdrop

  • Explore different points of view

  • Edit your photos before publishing

There are many editing apps that can help you get the best product visuals for your online store, like Lightroom or Snapseed. But if you don’t want to take your own pictures, you can always use tools like Printful’s Mockup Generator, where you get free mockups to download for your online store.

Learn more about mockups: How to Create Epic Product Photos with Mockup Generators

Video

How many books or articles have you read within the past month? And how many videos have you watched? I bet you can’t even put a number on the second answer.

The video-first marketing (VFM) trend has escalated with the rise of streaming platforms like TikTok, Reels, and YouTube shorts, as well as from changes in consumer behavior. The concept is simple: creating tailor-made content for each stage of the buyer journey. First there’s awareness, then consideration, evaluation, and finally decision.

A study run by the company Wyzowl revealed that 73% of shoppers prefer to learn about products and services by watching videos. So not using videos in your strategy could lead to missed opportunities. 

Where can you place your videos? Everywhere! In your catalog, on social media, in ads, pop-ups, or email campaigns. Use them not only to showcase your products’ features, but also to educate your audience about your offering and the brand.

Creative ideas for videos:

  • Products in action

  • Tutorials

  • Customer reviews

  • Interviews

preview play-button

See more product video ideas on Printful’s Youtube channel.

Descriptions

Do people still read product descriptions? You bet they do! And what you say about your products is content as well. It can be straightforward or witty, your choice. But remember that clever or fun info is generally more attention-grabbing. 

Good product descriptions include the main qualities of the product and make people imagine what it feels like to touch, hold, or wear them. Create scenarios where customers can see themselves wearing or using the product. 

If it matches your brand voice, don’t shy away from being playful or funny, just like Struck did brilliantly with their unicorn fart candles.

struck product description example

Source: Struck

9. Price your products right

Our list of dropshipping tips wouldn’t be complete without addressing one of the most common questions new entrepreneurs have: how to price your products. Although a typical strategy is cost-plus pricing—product cost + profit margin = your retail price—there are other options you can explore. 

For instance, when analyzing your competitors, you may find that market-oriented pricing could bring you more profit—as you notice that your competitors’ prices are higher than what you’d charge if you were to apply an initial profit margin using the cost-plus pricing strategy.

Or, you may feel inspired by startups and companies like Netflix to try the strategy of penetration pricing—where you start with killer prices to make your brand popular and, as your loyal consumer base grows, you can raise them gradually. 

netflix pricing strategy

Netflix penetration pricing strategy example. Source Statista

Learn more about pricing strategies in our Beginner’s Guide on How to Price Your Products Online.

It’s healthy for your business to review your product prices regularly. But even if you eventually need to lower your prices, never sacrifice quality to increase your profit margin. That’s another common beginner mistake that can cost you customers and even the continuation of your business.

You can also offer upsell and cross-sell suggestions to raise your profit without actually changing your prices. Cross-selling is offering complementary products to add to your customer’s initial purchase—Amazon does it really well. In upselling, you offer an upgrade of the product they already chose.

  upselling example

Upselling example. Source: HubsSpot

cross selling example

Cross-selling example. Source: HubsSpot

 And since we’re talking about ways of increasing profit margins, let’s see other ways to boost revenue with more dropshipping tips.

10. Consider branded dropshipping 

Next on our list of dropshipping tips is branded dropshipping, a way of standing out and helping you make more money with your dropshipping business.

You can do it by adding custom labels, custom packaging, and unique pack-ins (packaging inserts) to your orders. Remember, the more powerful your branding, the higher the chances of sticking to your customer’s memory and enticing them to come back for more.

personalized pack ins

Cute example of personalized pack-ins. Source: Leah Birhanu

 

But of course, to have the opportunity of surprising your customers with something extra, they need to be able to actually make a purchase on your website. This takes us to another of our dropshipping tips.

11. Make sure your website is easy to use 

Let me start by sharing a personal experience that explains how important this tip is. I was looking for a very specific leather jacket for a while and was even willing to pay a higher price for it when I finally found it online. 

I immediately registered to the online store and added some products to the cart. Before paying for everything, I wanted to delete some things—but for some reason wasn’t able to. I tried to figure it out for a few minutes, but in the end, was so frustrated that I decided to abandon the entire cart. 

I’m sure this story sounds familiar to everyone. The error in the checkout step can be replaced by a page that takes too long to load, or an “add to cart” button that isn’t working. But the unhappy ending is the same: the online store losing a customer.

What you should check

Mobile friendliness

Currently, over 72% of online purchases are done using mobile devices and more than 51% of users say they prefer mobile web apps. Preparing your dropshipping store for users who prefer buying on their phones can make a big difference in your store’s profit.

Website speed

Researches revealed that a store can lose 7% in conversion if the website takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Here are some tools that may come in handy for checking your website speed: PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix, Dareboost.

Checkout process

Make sure that potential customers can go all the way to the finish line and make their purchase. How? Go through the process a few times yourself or give some friends a coupon to buy something on your website. Evaluate each step of the process (registering, accessing the catalog, putting products in the cart, paying). 

Payment options

Offer multiple payment options. Familiar payment gateways mean a more trustworthy site, and in turn, better chances of making sales.

12. Be clear about your policies and shipping rules

A deal is a deal. That means that if everything is clear between both parties, the chances of you having problems after selling a product will drop significantly if your customer knows exactly what they’re getting and when. 

Minimize risks by giving your visitors all the information they need on your website. Not being upfront about the fine print for fear of losing customers can make you lose them anyway, so always be as transparent as you can.

Policies

Although you can create your policies from scratch, it’s wiser to use existing online models and edit them according to your particular business. Get some inspiration from this article: Printful Policies Your Store Should Copy [Free Templates]

If you sell on marketplaces, always check their return policies to make sure you are all on the same page.

Shipping rules

Shipping rates can be confusing. That’s why adopting simple shipping rules is the best way to start off. One good idea is to determine a flat rate based on your average shipping fee. 

13. Provide timely customer support

Saying how important it is to have good customer support is stating the obvious, but here are some stats to prove it: 

  • Customer service matters to 90% of Americans when they’re deciding to do business with a company 

  • Poor customer service is a good reason to switch companies for 58% of Americans

  • 89% of consumers say they would make a new purchase following a positive customer service experience 

So be prepared to answer customer questions and if you receive a complaint, remember that your customer is buying from you, not from your dropshipping supplier. Taking initiative to resolve issues for your customers will increase trust and buyer satisfaction.

As your business grows, consider implementing a help desk—like Zendesk, Help Scout, or Richpanel—and include FAQs on your site. Help desks increase the efficiency of your customer support and let you save time. Some of them have free plans available, while others may charge you a monthly fee of $15 to $60.

Depending on what you’re going to sell in your dropshipping ecommerce business, you should also consider phone support, especially if your products have higher value. Many people still prefer talking to someone when making a purchase online. It makes your business look more legitimate and reliable. In case you can’t or don’t want to take care of it yourself, there are companies like Grasshopper and Aircall that’ll help you on that mission.

14. Prioritize marketing

Having a dropshipping supplier that takes care of the entire fulfillment, packing, and shipping process gives you more time to do the fun part of the business: marketing your store. Your strategy should be focused on helping people find you online and building a strong brand. Sales will be the result of your efforts.

Be creative and never lose sight of your audience. But most importantly, follow the steps below:

Top 3 marketing tips for your dropshipping business

SEO-optimize your listings (to get organic traffic)

Make sure your potential users will find your online store when they search for a product in search engines like Google. To do so, the term they’re using must match the terms that are in your website. For example, if “t-shirt” is the more commonly searched term, don’t use “tee” in your product description. 

While general terms may be more common, long-tail terms have less competition. Using the t-shirt example, a long-tail term for this product could be: women’s lightweight cotton t-shirt. Being specific may help users who want particular items to find your store. Use tools like Google Ads or keyword.io to see related queries that can be incorporated into your item descriptions.

Build a social media presence

Remember when we said you should be where your audience is? That applies to marketing as well. Choose where you’ll invest your energy and build a community of loyal fans that have the potential to become buyers. Then, focus on publishing content that catches your public’s attention, not simply pictures of your products.

Look at what Lego did for Pride Month, for example. The brand involved its audience in its strategy and generated content and engagement at the same time.

Lego social media marketing

Source: Yoast

 

Run paid ads 

Organic content is absolutely important, but if you have the budget to invest in paid ads, it’ll also help boost brand awareness. You can run them on different platforms like:

  • Facebook

  • Instagram

  • Google

  • Youtube

  • TikTok

Read more: How to Develop an Effective Marketing Strategy

15. Cash in on seasonal products and promotions

Last but not least on our list of dropshipping tips are seasonal opportunities. For many dropshippers, it’s a challenge to go up against big retailers with lower prices and major discounts—especially during the holidays. But seasonal products can be an ace up your sleeve.

Think about it: big retailers typically don’t invest in very specific products that may or may not sell during the holiday season. Yet, with print-on-demand dropshipping, you can create unique collections without worrying about wasted inventory. You don’t have to be afraid to create limited-edition products or jump on trends when you’re backed by an on-demand supplier.

Seasonal products customized with print-on-demand. Source: @roby_lami_singer, @charmingrosesupplyco, PlantifulDesignCo

To properly prepare for seasonal opportunities, download this ecommerce holiday calendar and pick the dates that best fit your niche.

Promotions are also a good way to increase your sales on special dates. Here are some tips you can try:

  • % or $ discount

  • Free shipping

  • Quantity discounts 

  • Giveaways or contests

  • Promo codes

  • Loyal customer discounts

Think about your audience to find the best way to communicate your deals and assess the results to see which ones work best for each kind of product.

Ready, set, go!

We could go on and on about everything we’ve learned from our years of experience in the dropshipping business, but honestly, the best way to learn is by doing it. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and make mistakes. It’s part of the process.

Read next: Is Dropshipping Worth It

Would you like to share some tips that have worked for your business? Leave a comment!

FAQs about Dropshipping

author

By Gabriela Martinez on Nov 22, 2022

Gabriela Martinez

Guest author

Gabriela is a creative copywriter, professional blogger, and passionate content marketer with experience in publicity agencies and international companies. She loves sharing her ideas and new trends to bring inspiration to everyone around her.

Gabriela is a creative copywriter, professional blogger, and passionate content marketer with experience in publicity agencies and international companies. She loves sharing her ideas and new trends to bring inspiration to everyone around her.