Dropshipping is an attractive retail business strategy for people looking to get high returns for minimal investment. With dropshipping, a middleman takes care of warehousing and storage for you. No need to rent a physical warehouse or set up expensive equipment to run a proper facility.
Dropshipping is an attractive retail business strategy for people looking to get high returns for minimal investment. With drop shipping, a middleman takes care of warehousing and storage for you. No need to rent a physical warehouse or set up expensive equipment to run a proper facility.
Running an online store takes a lot of time, effort, and money. Dropshipping store owners will need all the help they can to grow their businesses without bloating their expenses. Unfortunately, many beginners fall for costly mistakes that ruin their businesses. Avoid rookie mistakes with these helpful, risk-reducing tips.
How to Reduce Risks for Your Dropshipping Store
1. Triple Check Orders Before Shipping
Customers often order items by mistake and sometimes, they forget to add more items to their basket before checking out. If a customer reaches out to update their order, you must coordinate these changes with your dropshipping partner immediately.
You’re on the customer-facing side of the business, so you’re the one who gathers information on what customers need. And as the vendor’s main point of contact, you’re responsible for sharing information with the vendor. Such information includes order changes made outside the selling platform.
Ignoring order changes and cancellations, even by accident, can be costly. First, you may need to arrange the return of the wrong items or the shipment of missing items. Both scenarios can take up both your time and money.
Second, when these concerns are not addressed properly, you’ll most likely get negative reviews and potentially lose repeat customers. A good way to avoid any of these scenarios is to have a solid tracking system for order amendments. And when there is an oversight in order fulfillment, you must have customer handling guidelines in place.
Here’s an example of a step-by-step strategy for when a customer complains about an incorrectly fulfilled order:
- Offer an apology.
- Explain what must have happened that resulted in the wrong fulfillment.
- Compensate customers by fulfilling the correct order. You can also consider offering a small token like a free sample or a small discount for their next purchase.
- Track such incidents to monitor how often they happen and how much these mistakes cost you.
- Review your customer complaint report regularly to find and close gaps in your operations.
2. Don’t Sell Too Many Products
An amateur move in dropshipping is offering too many things at once. The dropshipping industry is quite competitive; you may be tempted to offer as many products as possible to appeal to more people. While offering a wide selection may seem appealing to sellers, potential customers may find it off-putting. Browsing fatigue is real.
It happens when customers scroll and scroll through endless products only to end up not finding anything that interests them. When thinking of what products to add to your portfolio, always remember the paradox of choice — when there are too many options, customers end up stressed, indecisive, and less likely to make a purchase decision.
You can easily avoid this problem by picking a niche and sticking to it. Focusing on a certain product category gives you more focus. You can target a smaller but more engaged and profitable audience. It’s also great for marketing. You’ll be able to learn more about who your target audience is and how to engage with them effectively.
Make sure to pick a niche that is not just profitable but something you’re passionate about. Having background knowledge about the niche allows you to curate a list of more appealing products that your target customers will like.
3. Sell Multi-Use, Long-Lasting Products
Sustainability is something we can all contribute to. You can be environmentally responsible and still profit by selling long-lasting products. Many people, especially the eco-conscious crowd, are turning away from single-use products as they make an effort to reduce waste.
Many consumers are willing to spend a bit more for something long-lasting rather than buying a cheaper, low-quality alternative. While the world still has a long way to go in banishing single-use items in the name of convenience, you can do your part by offering reusable and long-lasting products.
4. Don’t Fall For Shortcuts, a.k.a Black Hat SEO
There are no shortcuts to success, which also applies to dropshipping businesses. Every business owner wants clients to find their store on the first page of search results as soon as they open up. However, a reputable online presence takes time to build, and this is something that beginners should understand and accept.
Search engine optimization (SEO) has been around for a while. Search engines have had more than enough time to recognize dodgy SEO tactics and penalize those who use them. Using Black Hat SEO, or the practice of increasing a site’s rank in search engines through underhanded tactics, can get your store noticed at first — but not for long.
Major search engines like Google have been cracking down on SEO violators, and the penalties are severe. You can either be blocked or suffer from lower search rankings. Common Black Hat SEO strategies include doorway pages, page swapping, keyword stuffing, and invisible text.
Don’t fall prey to Black Hat SEO tactics and the promises of agencies that use them. You can build up your online presence slowly, surely, and honestly. There are plenty of skilled SEO specialists out there who can create a solid SEO strategy to help you steadily climb the search rankings.
5. Leverage Influencer Marketing at the Right Time
These days, partnering with social media influencers to market products is all the rage. Influencers are individuals with a lot of followers on social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube. Their followers highly regard their thoughts and opinions, which is why many brands collaborate with these influencers.
Getting the right influencer to mention or highlight your product even in just one post can boost your sales.
While influencer marketing works, using this marketing tactic too early can mean using up your marketing budget with very few returns. For one thing, influencer collaboration is not cheap. The more followers and engagement an influencer has, the more money they will likely charge for every post.
The return on investment is not balanced too early in the game, so it’s best to use your initial marketing budget for more cost-effective strategies. Once you’ve already solidified your brand’s identity and online presence, then influencer marketing may be a sensible strategy.
6. Use Quality Packaging
Many online shoppers have had unfortunate experiences due to low-quality packaging. Imagine being excited to unbox their order only to find it damaged in transit. While this is often out of the control of the retailer, there are some things you can do to minimize the risk of damage.
One way to do this is to require your vendor partner to use quality packaging. Make sure the boxes are sturdy, and your packing material is protective. If products are highly breakable, then there should be a “fragile” sticker on the packaging.
Make sure that packaging requirements are part of your agreement with your vendor. It may seem costly, but it will save you a lot of trouble and complaints in the long run.
7. Offer a Variety of Payment Options
The way we pay for things has changed drastically in recent years. Various digital payment options are now available and sometimes favored over cash and check payments.
For example, some people prefer to use digital wallets like PayPal or Venmo. Others might want to use their credit or debit card. Some might even want to pay with cryptocurrency. Make sure to offer a variety of payment options for your customers.
This way, they can easily checkout and pay in the method that’s most convenient for them.
8. Offer Good Return and Exchange Policies
Another way to keep your customers happy is to offer good return and exchange policies. This shows that you stand behind your products and are willing to make things right if something goes wrong. Your return policy should be clear, concise, and easy to understand.
Don’t make your customers go through hoops to return or exchange products. Your policy should be generous enough to give your customers a hassle-free experience.
9. Support Sustainability and Environmental Initiatives
The world of dropshipping is a contributor to global carbon emissions. While you may not be able to avoid having a high carbon footprint, you can do your part in trying to offset them. Support environmental causes that are dedicated to promoting sustainability and offsetting carbon emissions.
Plenty of charitable causes are dedicated to planting trees, waste management, food shelters, and other similar causes.
Consider involving your customers by allowing them to contribute to your supported charities at checkout. You can also integrate your corporate social responsibility efforts in your communications or on specific product pages. Let your customers know that a portion of the proceeds of a specific product will be donated to a good cause.
Doing so will make customers feel good about their purchase and be more aware of your brand’s values.
Hopefully, these dropshipping tips can help you avoid the common risks of running this type of online business. Dropshipping may not be as tricky as other retail business structures, but it comes with its own challenges. The best way to succeed in this industry is to familiarize yourself with such risks and find ways to reduce or, even better, eliminate them.
Doing so can help your dropshipping store get through the shaky first few years.
ABOUT AUTHOR: Catherine Vanvonno