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Starting & Building a Successful Dropshipping Business

Apr 14, 2008
Dropshipping is like any business and the most important thing when starting out on any venture is to do your market research FIRST...

When you open a store in your town, you wouldn't open it without doing your market research first. The same thing applies if you are going to sell something on the internet as a dropshipper. Not only are there billions of web pages out there that could be selling competitive products, the net changes so fast that you are obsolete as soon as you have gotten started.

If you are going to set up a dropshipping business you want make sure that the product that you choose can be easily sold. And you want to know how many competitors you have. And you want to stay as up to date as possible. Selling products on the Internet is easy. Hundreds of thousands of people do it every day online on auction sites such as eBay. The most difficult part of internet sales is getting the products delivered to the customer, otherwise known as order fulfillment.

You must have an efficient fulfillment system. One of the reasons that brick-and-mortar stores are so slow on the uptake when it comes to online business, is that supplying retail stores is done with pallet-sized orders usually. But internet sales requires an entirely different kind of fulfillment system. Selling on the internet is essentially mail order, with shipments going out in small parcels to end users.

Few brick-and-mortar retailers have a thriving mail order business to draw from. An inefficient fulfillment system can lose for you the advantages in good customer service that holding the inventory gained for you. And running a fulfillment system is a full time and trying job.

One of the simplest order fulfillment models to use is the drop ship model. Drop shipping does have its advantages and disadvantages. The most important being you don't have to pay for anything until after you sell it.

You also don't have inventory costs. Having to purchase inventory to ship to your customers can be expensive not to mention risky. In addition to the out-of-pocket costs, you need a place to store the inventory.

Finally you have to pick, pull, pack, and ship the products once the order is placed. Having the distributor or manufacturer take all these costs and responsibilities lifts a real burden off your shoulders.

Ideally a drop-shipper should be transparent. With most of your drop shippers, especially those with whom you do a regular business, you can send them labels and forms so their package looks like it is from you. Your customer probably won't know that your hands never touched the product. The customer will think that you have a warehouse.

You can sell many more products than you could if you had to buy and store them yourself. Drop shippers give you a wide choice of products so you can sell a lot more.On the Internet some categories of products are very price-sensitive. If you are selling computer hardware, for example, and using the drop shipping model, you may find it hard to be competitive price-wise and still make a profit. The difference between making money and losing it may be only a few percent. So be sure to pick a product that makes sense to drop ship.

You will be using third party customer service so you will not have full control. Drop shipping is really outsourcing your order fulfillment services to a third party. You will be dependent on your drop shipper to have the products in stock, to deliver on time, and to properly pack and ship your products. So pick your drop shipper carefully.

At the end of the day, however, drop shipping exists because it works. And the largest catalog companies and web sites use it. And savvy small web sites and auction site sellers use it. Drop shipping is simply an arrangement between you and the manufacturer or distributor of the product you sell whereby the manufacturer or distributor -- NOT YOU -- ships the product to your customers.

There are a few huge advantages to this model. First, it SAVES YOU THE COST of building your own inventory. If you're like most people starting a small business, you don't have much capital with which to play with. The last thing you want to do is tie up your cash in inventory that you may or may not be able to sell.

Not having inventory also means no leftovers. If the product you sell suddenly becomes outdated, obsolete, or just plain un-trendy, you aren't the one with a house full of stock that nobody will buy. Many online retailers find themselves having to offer deep discounts -- and taking huge losses -- on old products just to get them out of their homes to make room for more inventory!

You'll also don't have to deal with shipping your products. Unless you've already set up a shipping account with someone like FedEx or UPS, you'll be heading down to the post office every day to buy stamps and mail out your products. And you'll be able to ADD NEW PRODUCTS ALMOST INSTANTLY. Since you don't have to worry about ordering inventory, you can add products to your web site within a few hours.

If you find that your customers are eager to buy a certain product, you can have that item up on your site in almost no time. Finally spend time researching different kinds of products that you might want to sell. The products you choose should be in demand but not widely available online. As usual, I highly recommend targeting a niche market rather than trying to find a product that EVERYONE wants to buy.

Once you've found a product that you think may be the right one for your business, you'll need to do a little "competitive analysis." This simply means finding out what potential competitors are charging for the products you want to sell and calculating how much of a profit you'll be able to make. When it comes down to it...its all about 'Testing, Testing, Testing!'

Good luck!
About the Author
Thomas Griffin is the founder of Urbanload.com - The #1 eBay Dropshipper. Over 2000 resellers can't be wrong. Make money on with our eBay Drop Ship Reseller Program. Don't fall for scams and overpriced dropshippers. Choose only eBay certified Drop Shipping Companies.
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