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Blog / Beginner's handbook / Private Label Dropshipping: What It Is and What to Sell to Succeed

Beginner's handbook

Private Label Dropshipping: What It Is and What to Sell to Succeed

Private Label Dropshipping: What It Is and What to Sell to Succeed
Gabriela Martinez

By Gabriela Martinez

11 min read

When people think of dropshipping, they usually envision generic products with no personalization—and that isn’t entirely unfounded. But it’s also not the only way to do it. 

You can leverage this cost-effective business model to not only generate income but also infuse creative flair into your offering and establish a unique identity for your ecommerce venture. How? With private label dropshipping.

In this blog post, we’ll dive into this universe together. By the end of it, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to start dropshipping private label products and launch a successful brand with custom designs, without the need for stocking inventory or investing upfront capital.

What is private label dropshipping?

While standard dropshipping doesn’t necessarily involve personalization, private label dropshipping consists of selling products provided by a third-party supplier with your logo or brand identity added to them. This can be done through custom packaging or customizing the items themselves with services like print-on-demand.

The best part is that you don’t need to worry about packing and shipping. The dropshipping provider takes care of the personalization and inventory management, and then sends your items straight to your customer on your behalf. 

Keep reading for further insights into branded dropshipping.

Standard dropshipping vs. private label dropshipping: the key differences

So what’s the main difference between standard dropshipping and private label dropshipping? One word: personalization. But this is just one element that separates these two frameworks. Before you make your decision about which approach is best suited for your needs, let’s explore the other factors at play.

Profit margins

Let’s start with the numbers. In standard dropshipping, a multitude of businesses worldwide can sell the exact same products in their online stores. This leads to a highly competitive (and at times cutthroat) market where companies are compelled to undercut each other on price just to secure customers. Just check any online marketplace to see it in action.

Conversely, with private label dropshipping, you have the opportunity to offer a unique product or experience tailored specifically to your target audience—one that they would agree to pay more for. This is the foundation for creating a high-value brand that retains all the advantages of the dropshipping business model. Later on we’ll show you some examples that illustrate this concept.

Creative control

Designing your own products not only adds an element of fun to your business but also significantly enhances its value. That’s one of the perks of selling private label items.

Certain dropshipping suppliers, like Printful, provide the option of incorporating your own logo or artwork onto their products, making them one-of-a-kind. Maintaining creative authority over your brand enables you to offer products that cater precisely to the needs of your target audience. This brings us to our next topic...

Customer loyalty

You’ve probably heard that it’s 6–7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep a current one, right? That’s precisely why customer loyalty should be at the forefront of your considerations when starting your business.

It’s easier to build a strong customer base when your customers feel like you’re truly thinking of them when creating your product catalog. This involves designs and details that establish a genuine and unique connection with your target market. Achieving this level of personalization is far simpler with private label dropshipping compared to the standard dropshipping model.

Flexibility

In order to adjust your products to your audience’s needs and preferences, you need a level of flexibility that regular dropshipping typically can’t provide with standard products that can’t be customized. This is where private label dropshipping scores another point. Opt for a dropshipping supplier that grants you the creative freedom to craft your own designs, make your products unique, and adjust your pricing strategy in response to your objectives and market fluctuations.

This flexibility is particularly advantageous for those who always keep an eye on marketing opportunities. For instance, these custom stickers (inspired by one of the most popular memes of 2023) are among Etsy’s bestselling items, underscoring the potential of seizing trends.

Dissociating Sticker Zoning Out Black Cat Meme Dissociative image 1

Source: Etsy

Scalability

And let’s not forget to compare the scalability potential of both models. While dropshipping in its basic form offers a multitude of opportunities for business growth, the possibilities truly become endless when you can personalize your items with any graphic or text you like—without the burden of stock management or handling complex manufacturing processes.

Check more insights in our article: 15 Dropshipping Tips You Need to Check Before Starting Your Business.

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Once you decide to have your own private label dropshipping business, one of the pivotal decisions you’ll make is what you’re going to sell. There are many variables involved in this decision, and they’ll determine the future of your brand.

The first step is effectively exploring dropshipping niches that are promising and aligned with your personal interests. This connection is vital as it can serve as a motivating force, propelling you to gather comprehensive insights about your potential audience and enabling you to offer products they’re eager to purchase.

Regardless of the niche you pick, below is a list of some items that we, as experts in print-on-demand and reliable private label dropshipping suppliers, suggest you to have in your catalog.

1. Custom t-shirts

These staple apparel items are perfect for private label dropshipping due to their high level of customization. There are so many ways of making them unique! Add a cool design on the front or back, try a bold all-over-print pattern, or customize your store’s t-shirts with your brand logo on the sleeves and labels.

2. Custom hoodies

Following t-shirts, hoodies have maintained their space in the fashion industry as stylish essential items you need in your closet. Loved by everyone from Silicon Valley CEOs to young influencers on TikTok, they can be personalized and dropshipped easily all around the globe. Afterall, it’s always hoodie weather somewhere.

Natural Hoodie

Source: ND Renegade

3. Mugs

Everyone needs a mug that expresses their personality, and your ecommerce business can solve that problem with private label dropshipping. Beyond the conventional options, you can experiment with customizing different styles like the White Ceramic Mug with Color Inside, the Black Glossy Mug, the Enamel Mug, or a Travel Mug with a Handle.

a hand holding a mug

Source: @alphadesigner

4. Wall art

While clothing and drinkware can serve as fantastic canvases for artistic expression, some people might prefer to work with real canvas. Fortunately, custom wall art provides an excellent opportunity for those interested in launching a private label dropshipping business. Want to take it a step further? Consider expanding your catalog with the addition of posters and flags.

5. Phone cases

With a projected growth rate of $13.33 billion by 2027, the future looks bright for phone cases. This makes them an obvious choice to include as private label products in your ecommerce store.

Invest in designs that resonate with your specific niche, and don’t forget to offer options for different models of mobile phones, like iPhone and Samsung.

a phone case with a flower on it

Source: @aj.uniquedesigns

6. Eco-friendly products

The antithesis of fast fashion, eco-friendly products have been a game-changer for many private label brands. If sustainability is an important value for your brand, you should look into dropshipping some of these items:

7. Accessories

Versatile, cost-effective, and easy to dropship, accessories can boost your sales with minimal effort. We’re talking footwear, hair accessories, tech accessories (earphone cases, laptop sleeves, mouse pads, and more). All of these can become private label dropshipping products when you infuse them with your brand’s unique touch. Let your creativity flow, and watch the magic happen!

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8. Bags

One accessory in particular deserves special attention on our list: bags. Available in different shapes, sizes, and for diverse functions, they’re the ideal vehicle for everyday essentials and display your brand out and about. This makes them a perfect private label dropshipping product for your store. Depending on your audience, you can successfully sell:

9. Pet products


In 2021, the global pet care market reached a valuation of $150.67 billion, and it’s expected to expand at a CAGR of 5.1% by 2030. But you don’t need the numbers—a simple look around reveals the growing trend of increased consumer spending on the well-being of their beloved furry companions. This presents a prime opportunity for your business to step in and cater to this expanding market. 

By customizing pet products like pet bowls, pet clothing, and pet furniture you turn them into private label products and can sell them using the dropshipping business model.

two white bowls with black text

Source: Etsy

10. Baby products

The demand for adorable baby products is always in existence, which is why we also recommend custom kids’ & youth clothing for your dropshipping business.

Finding private label dropshipping suppliers that offer high-quality products is especially important if you choose to sell baby products. This is particularly crucial because a baby’s skin is more sensitive, and parents are extra cautious about the items they choose for their little ones.

a white baby bodysuit with a tag on it

Source: Printful

Read more about dropshipping products with high profit margin.

Private label dropshipping examples

Feeling inspired with these dropshipping business ideas? Great, now let’s explore some examples of online stores that sell private label products and see what we can learn from them.

Got Funny

Got Funny is Bryson Oppermann’s second foray into the world of clothing brands. Armed with the lessons learned from his prior experience, he’s transformed humor into a range of products designed to brighten people’s lives. 

Using trending jokes, memes, and humorous quotes as fuel to create new collections non-stop, Got Funny’s catalog includes a wide mix of items. For example, they offer shirts, tops, hoodies, sweaters, stickers, hats, tote bags, mugs, and flags—all of which are personalized and sold using the private label dropshipping business model.

a red t-shirt with a cartoon character on it

Source: Got Funny

5 things we can learn from Got Funny:

  • Using humor as a marketing strategy

  • Leveraging the dropshipping business model to consistently launch new collections

  • Social media engagement, using followers’ ideas to create new products

  • Persisting, learning from your mistakes, and starting over if needed

  • Strong brand identity translated into your designs and communication

Match Kicks

As the sneaker market grew, Match Kicks saw an opportunity to sell matching t-shirts. How does it work? Instead of attempting to compete with industry giants like Nike, they decided to create tees that matched those big brands’ bestselling items so that sneaker enthusiasts could wear both with style and flair. Genius!

As the business expanded, Match Kicks adapted its processes, transitioning from in-house printing to print-on-demand with Printful, converting their project into a private label dropshipping business. This shift enabled the business to streamline its operations and scale more efficiently. The outcome? The business has surpassed the 7-figure mark.

t-shirts-match-kicks-printful-2

Source: Match Kicks 

5 things we can learn from Match Kicks:

  • The importance of market research—identifying a niche within a larger market and creating complementary products can be a lucrative approach

  • Authenticity plus innovation equals differentiation

  • Investing in great design pays off

  • Automatizing processes is a great strategy to grow your business

  • Staying flexible and adapting to changes can make a huge difference

Midcentury Style Shop

Midcentury Style Shop is characterized by chic silhouettes and a vibrant brand personality that defines their range of private label dropshipping products. The shop focuses on home decor items like mugs, caps, beach accessories, and more. Interesting, right? But wait to hear their story! 

When graphic designer Karl Rowley decided to start his own brand inspired by the mid‑century modern aesthetic, he knew a lot about design and very little about digital marketing. What did he do? He asked for advice and diligently conducted research to learn about the topic. 

His curiosity led him to create and publish DIY content on a blog and a Youtube channel inspired by a friend. Long story short: one of his videos went viral, helping Karl to elevate his brand’s presence and understand the power of content in driving sales.

a couch with pillows on it

Source: Midcentury Style Shop

5 things we can learn from Midcentury Style Shop:

  • Creating great content using an efficient SEO strategy to attract customers

  • Picking a niche that you feel deeply connected with

  • Being curious and asking for help if needed

  • Learning new things is always helpful 

  • You can use your skills to make private label products

Read more about these and other private label brands in the article: 6 Online T-Shirt Business Success Stories

How to start your private label brand

Through the years, dropshipping has proven to be a compelling business model for aspiring entrepreneurs who wanted to start their online store with little investment and reduced risk. However, this accessibility has also spurred intense competition within the dropshipping market, prompting business owners to seek innovative ways to distinguish themselves and offer an exclusive experience for their target audience.

As we saw in the examples, private label dropshipping was the creative twist brands needed to take advantage of traditional dropshipping, while infusing a creative and unique dimension into their product offerings to drive sales. All that without compromising profit margins.

If you’re excited about using this strategy to launch or take your online store to a new level, here’s what you should do:

  1. Choose a niche that’s both promising and interesting to you.

  2. Run some market research to understand your target market needs and find opportunities.

  3. Look for private label dropshipping suppliers with positive reviews that offer the products your audience wants.

  4. Write a business plan that includes your brand’s processes and marketing strategy.

  5. Start with what you have and make adjustments along the way.

And if you’re still asking yourself “Is dropshipping worth it?”, we recommend you check these dropshipping statistics that’ll ease your mind and motivate you to take action. Good luck!

Read next: Etsy Dropshipping: What’s Allowed in 2024?

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author

By Gabriela Martinez on Nov 29, 2023

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.