When it comes to selling apparel, dropshipping is a convenient, low-risk business model that lets you run your own online store without worrying about inventory or shipping. If you already run a dropshipping store and it’s performing well, you might think: how do I elevate my ecommerce business to the next level? Well, ponder no more—you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, I’ll outline 10 tips on how to grow your dropshipping business. You’ll find advice on how to build your own dropshipping brand, improve your content marketing, make your ecommerce website more attractive to customers, and much more. But before we dive into the ins and outs of the dropshipping business, let’s settle the big question—is dropshipping worth it in 2024?
The short answer is: yes. While the dropshipping market has become more saturated in recent years, that doesn’t mean it’s no longer a profitable business model. In fact, statistics show the exact opposite.
In 2022, the global dropshipping market size was valued at USD 225.99B, and it’s expected to reach a compound annual growth rate of 23.4% from 2023 to 2030. With more consumers globally turning to online shopping, the dropshipping business model isn’t going anywhere.
Of course, it’s easy enough to type “start dropshipping business” into Google and set up shop in one day. But building a profitable brand takes patience and know-how. So, let’s take a look at how you can become a successful business owner using the dropshipping model.
Often, when people start a dropshipping business, they make the mistake of thinking of their online store as just a side business instead of a brand. In reality, it’s especially important for business owners who use the dropshipping business model to build a well-rounded brand.
When you start a dropshipping business, you’re selling products manufactured by somebody else. If your online store doesn’t have its own unique identity and audience, there’s a chance other sellers will just swoop in and sell the same products for cheaper. But how can you build your own dropshipping brand? It’s more than just picking brand colors and logos. Branding is a careful process that takes time and consistency.
You can’t sell your products to everyone—you need to find a specific target audience. This way, you’ll be able to build a solid customer base and face less competition. Take a look at some profitable dropshipping business ideas here.
A brand identity is made up of tangible elements (brand logo, colors, packaging, or design) and intangible elements (brand values, mission, personality, story). Start with the intangible aspects—at its core, what is your brand really about? What is the message and aim of the brand?
Once you know what your brand is all about, you can start thinking about what it looks like. If your brand is all about being fun and energetic, you can go for bold colors and designs. If it’s more sophisticated, you can choose more muted tones and an elegant typeface.
If you’re working with Printful as your print-on-demand provider, consider utilizing branded dropshipping. You can integrate your brand visuals into every step of the shopping experience with custom packaging, personalized packing slips, and packaging inserts. Learn more about using branded packaging with Printful here.
If you’ve been running your dropshipping business for a while, you’ll already have an idea of your target market. You probably know if the people who buy your custom hoodies or custom t-shirts are, for example, millennials who love fantasy stories or Gen-Zers who are obsessed with the Y2K aesthetic. But if you want to scale your business, it’s time to go beyond demographics and do some serious market research.
The most important thing is to understand why customers buy from you. How do they find your store? How much time do they spend on your website? What are your customers’ main pain points? What solution does your product offer?
Create short customer surveys or polls on your social media platforms to learn how customers found out about your business and why they made the decision to buy your products. You can pair this research with tools like Google Analytics or HubSpot to get the full picture.
Knowing why shoppers choose your products will give you a better understanding of how to market your dropshipping business and attract potential customers effectively.
When starting a dropshipping business, it’s generally better to have a limited product range. Offering a ton of products in different categories can make your store seem unprofessional at the beginning and take away your focus from more important tasks.
However, as your dropshipping business grows, you can start considering expanding your product range. When you’re working with reliable suppliers like Printful, you can experiment with many product types and categories without extra costs.
For example, if your online store mostly offers apparel, you can introduce a few home and living items and watch how they perform. If customers seem excited and the new products start selling well, you can add them to your collection permanently. Or, you can launch new products that are available for a limited time only, perhaps around the holidays.
Having a website that drives conversions is essential if you want to grow your dropshipping store into a 6-figure business. So what does a good website look like? A high-converting website will be fast-loading, have a simple layout, and an engaging design. Across industries, the average page conversion rate is around 2%–5%; if your conversion rate is above 10%, you’re playing in the big leagues.
But how can you increase your conversion rate? The answer is—research and testing. Look for in-depth studies on shopper behavior, as those will provide valuable information on how people navigate ecommerce websites. You can also use a tool like HotJar heatmaps, to see how your customers use your website, what they notice, and where they lose focus.
A good example of a website that works is the brand FIERCEPULSE. They sell fun, bold leggings, and their website really reflects what the brand is about. It’s easy to use and works well on mobile. Nowadays, consumers are increasingly browsing online stores on their phones. If your dropshipping business isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re losing out on sales.
Is email dead? Absolutely not. Email remains an effective marketing tool with an impressive ROI of $36 for every dollar spent. So, if you want a low-cost way to reach your customers, this is the answer.
Data shows that personalized emails perform better, with a 139% higher click-through rate, while also leaving a positive impact on conversion rates. Personalization is the name of the game. You can try different types of personalization—welcome emails, happy birthday wishes, or emails with apparel care instructions.
Segmentation is also a must for your dropshipping business. Creating several separate email lists will allow you to be more targeted with the emails you send out. You’ll be able to tailor information to customers based on their location, interests, or past purchases, instead of sending one-size-fits-all emails to your entire customer list.
Poor customer service is often a problem for ecommerce businesses. When selling products fulfilled by a third-party dropshipping supplier, business owners have less control over the production process, which can make it harder to ensure stellar customer service.
However, if you’re willing to invest in developing a good customer service system, it’ll give you an incredible edge over your competition. But how can you get better customer service for your online business?
Here’s your answer: hire human agents. Customers tend to get frustrated when they feel like they’re speaking to a chatbot and not a real human being. So, even in the age of AI, real people will always be the best option.
Try to offer multiple channels for your customers to contact you—not just email. Adding a phone number or answering inquiries through social media will make your customers feel that they have the option to contact you through a channel that feels comfortable to them. You can also add a live chat to your ecommerce store. This will help speed up replies and ensure smooth communication between your customers and support agents.
If you want to build a successful dropshipping business, it’s time to think about expanding internationally. Offering your products worldwide can have many benefits—you might find markets that are less saturated than, for example, the US. As a result, you’ll see less competition, less demanding customers, and lower advertising costs.
To start shipping products globally, you first need to make a list of the countries you want to target. At this point, it’s important to research things like:
Can I easily ship products to this country?
Is there a demand for my product in this market?
Does the country have high fraud rates?
What are the legal requirements and rules to sell products in this country?
Who are my direct competitors in this market?
Once you have your list of countries narrowed down, you need to sit down and work out a dropshipping business plan for shipping worldwide. Because things like demand and shipping costs will differ from country to country, you might have to revise your pricing strategy for various products. And think about offering multiple payment options, because what works in the US might not always work in, for example, Europe (or vice versa).
But most importantly, you’ll need to find suppliers who can ship to the country of your choice. Think of your partner as the backbone of your business. So make sure to find a reliable supplier with a good reputation and a global reach. Like Printful—as one of the print-on-demand industry leaders, Printful has fulfillment facilities in the US, Canada, Mexico, Latvia, and Spain, with partner facilities in Japan, Brazil, and Australia.
A loyalty program is a great way to market your dropshipping business. Loyalty programs reward returning customers and give them an incentive to keep buying from your online store.
One example of a successful loyalty program is Starbucks. They use a points program—for every purchase you make, you receive a number of points, which you can use to redeem more items.
Another good example is the luxury fashion ecommerce platform FARFETCH, which uses a tier system. With every tier, you unlock new features, like private sales or even a personal stylist. If you implement a similar program for your own dropshipping business, you can use similar rewards—offer free shipping or discounts to your most loyal customers.
You gotta spend money to make money, right? Well, within reason. As your business grows, it’s good to reassess your business finances and see where you can reduce costs.
Are you still managing your own inventory? Maintaining and stocking a warehouse, no matter how small, comes with a lot of expenses and risks, so outsourcing this part of your dropshipping business can save you a lot of time and money. When you’re trying to level up your business, it’s important that your suppliers can match your ambition and scale. Watch how apparel brand MatchKicks found a reliable partner in Printful.
It’s also smart to take a look at your pricing plan every now and then to see if you’re not charging too little for your products. You should be selling dropshipping products with high profit margin potential and pricing them accordingly. Otherwise, you’ll go the Michael Scott Paper Company route, where your low prices won’t be keeping you in business—they’ll actually be putting you out of business.
The ecommerce world moves quickly. To maintain a successful dropshipping business, you’ll need to keep an eye on industry news and trends. Here are a few things to look out for.
Make sure to follow what the largest ecommerce marketplaces like Etsy and Shopify are saying about ecommerce industry trends. These ecommerce platforms have their finger on the pulse of the online shopping world, so their blogs, YouTube channels, and other social media platforms can be valuable resources.
It’s also worthwhile for dropshipping ecommerce businesses to keep up with the latest news from social media sites like Meta or search engines like Google, to know when new features or changes in their algorithms are coming. You can also follow Printful’s YouTube channel. There, you’ll find information on all things dropshipping—from search engine optimization and content marketing to graphic design trends and more.
All set to make your online business grow? Remember—when it comes to your own brand, it’s important to have patience, adaptability, and consistency. You probably have a ton of good dropshipping business ideas, but it’s important to stick to one and fully develop it if you want to see success.
Develop a strong brand, find a supplier that ensures consistently good product quality, and invest in your ecommerce website and customer service. All of this will help improve your dropshipping business store and the customer experience. Good luck!
Ilze Elizabete Strazda
Ilze Elizabete is a freelance writer with a background in law and international relations. In her free time, Ilze is an avid reader and painter.