How To Start Your Own Profitable eCommerce Business
Starting your own e-commerce business is a great way to supplement your income and could even become a full-time gig pretty quickly. After all, it's estimated that 20.8% of all purchases in 2023 will take place digitally, a figure that will only continue to grow in years to come.
However, the growing popularity of the e-commerce industry can sometimes mean it's hard to know where to begin. Typically, many entrepreneurs will begin by running a dropshipping business. After all, this is a lower-cost option when starting your own business, and it also means that you have access to a wide range of opportunities as your brand begins to grow.
In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the world of dropshipping so that you’ll know how to start dropshipping and earning money online in no time at all.
So, if you’re wondering how do I start a dropshipping business? Keep reading and find out!
What is a dropshipping business?
From a consumer perspective, buying a product from a dropshipping business is no different from buying a product from any other e-commerce store. They’ll simply navigate their way through your website, place an order, and wait for a product to be delivered to their door.
However, owners of dropshipping businesses do not have any physical stock, nor do they run the location where products are produced and distributed from.
Instead, they operate a digital storefront by advertising a wide range of products on their site. Whenever a customer places an order, the site owner will then connect with the supplier to ensure the order is fulfilled.
There are a variety of different websites that you can use for dropshipping, including Alibaba and Shopify. Alternatively, you may choose to set up your own website, which is often considered the best way to start dropshipping as it gives you a lot more freedom and control over how your products are presented and sold. It can also help you avoid the seller fees often implemented by third-party platforms, meaning you can enjoy higher revenue.
What is a dropshipping store?
A dropshipping store is the digital marketplace through which business owners sell a variety of products to customers, using the supplier as the middleman. Customers do not liaise with the suppliers at all during this process, and many may not be aware that they are purchasing a product from a dropshipping company.
What are the benefits of dropshipping?
Even those who are just getting started with dropshipping can enjoy many benefits. After all, starting a dropshipping business is considerably less expensive than a more traditional store, as you are not paying overhead fees for physical stock or storage. As such, it requires less of an investment, giving entrepreneurs without significant financial backing a chance to start their own businesses.
Dropshipping also removes the need for business owners to operate a physical warehouse, which can reduce overhead spending. In fact, it means the company can be run entirely remotely, even when employees are brought into the mix. Minimal spending allows for maximum profit, which is why this is one of the easiest ways to start your own profitable e-commerce business, even if you’re working within a tight budget.
Furthermore, as dropshipping businesses can sell a wide range of products to a global audience, there’s a lot of opportunity for profit. For example, you can tap into current trends to sell products that are currently in high demand without having to risk purchasing a lot of stock. This way, you can move on when the trends change instead of being left with surplus products and losing money.
Want to know how to set up a dropshipping business? Believe it or not, the process is much simpler than you may think, and we’ve broken it down into a step-by-step guide to make it even easier for you!
How to get into dropshipping
1. Choose what you’d like to sell
The first step to starting your own profitable e-commerce business is deciding what product(s) you’d like to sell or the kind of business you’d like to run. For example, you may opt to run a novelty clothing store that sells products related to trending films and TV shows. Alternatively, you may want to sell beauty products, homeware, and more.
Either way, finding a niche is essential as this will help you to stand out from the crowd of e-commerce sellers and begin generating income sooner rather than later. If you cannot decide on a niche right away, try to start by determining who your ideal customer is. Then, once you’ve got a picture of your target audience in mind, you can start to think about the kind of products they like/need.
Ideally, you should try to fill a spot in the market that is not currently filled by a competitor. Otherwise, you’ll struggle to build a solid customer base, as they’re already buying similar products elsewhere from a business they know they can trust.
2. Build your brand
Once you’ve chosen what kind of products you’d like to sell, it's time to start thinking about your branding. This means you’ll have to come up with a company name, logo, and more.
During this time, you should also set up some social media pages for your brand, as this can help to grow your audience and put your business on the map. However, it's important that your social media presence is well-managed. It needs to be both professional and personable so that your audience knows they can trust your company from the offset.
You should also ensure that your branding is reflected in your social media posts. For example, you should use the colours featured in your logo on your graphics, and maintain a consistent tone of voice.
3. Connect with suppliers
If your dropshipping business is going to succeed, you must partner with trusted suppliers. After all, if they’re routinely sending out poor-quality products to your customers, it's your business that will suffer the consequences of this. The same can be said for dropshipping suppliers who fail to send out products on time (or at all).
Before partnering with a supplier, do your research. Order some of their products independently to test their quality and to gain a realistic understanding of delivery times. Read reviews from other partners or ask about their experience. This way, you can rest easy knowing that you’re only delivering high-quality products to your customers.
When drafting contracts with suppliers, it's important that the expectations of both parties are written clearly and concisely. This means you’ll be able to argue your case when things go wrong and know exactly what you can expect from your suppliers in terms of pricing, products, and more.
4. Negotiate a deal with suppliers
When running a dropshipping business, there are a range of fees that you’ll have to pay directly to the supplier. This covers the cost of manufacturing, packaging, and shipping the products, and they will likely also take a cut of your overall profits (typically around 15%). However, this can vary depending on your choice of products and the market itself. For example, they may take higher premiums if you’re running a luxury dropshipping business.
It's important that you negotiate these terms ahead of time so that you are not caught off guard by invoices and can manage your finances accordingly. This can also help you to price your products competitively and fairly by making you more aware of your profit margin.
If you’re not familiar with business contracts, you may want to ask for legal advice at this stage. At the very least, have the contract approved by a third-party to ensure that the best interests of all those involved are clear.
5. Set up your sales page
Whether you’ve decided to build your own e-commerce website or operate through a dropshipping platform such as Amazon, Etsy, or Alibaba, the next step of the process is to set up your sales page.
This is perhaps the hardest part of the process, but when executed correctly, it can propel your business toward success and bring in big profits. For example, you should ensure your sales page or website is well-designed and easy to navigate. Product pricing should be clearly displayed, alongside clear photographs/videos and accurate product descriptions. This helps ensure that customers know exactly what to expect when buying something from your store and can reduce complaints that are built on misinformation.
You should also work to manage your customer's expectations relating to delivery times, being mindful of the fact that many consumers expect products to be delivered within a matter of days. If this isn’t possible (such as if your products are being exported from an overseas supplier), relaying this information right away protects your business.
Once you’ve set up your sales page(s), it's time to start running your business!
Is dropshipping easy to start
Many of those learning how to get started dropshipping will question whether or not this is an ‘easy’ option. After all, as it eliminates many of the financial responsibilities that usually cause problems for new business owners, it seems like the perfect business opportunity for many.
However, that’s not to say that dropshipping does not require a significant investment of your time and energy. You still have to run a website and sales page, curate a range of products, and connect with your customers. You’ll also have to manage your relationships with suppliers, especially in the face of customer complaints. As such, there’s no such thing as easy dropshipping. You are running a business, after all!
Nevertheless, there are certain steps you can take to simplify the process, such as making the most of dropshipping resources and guides, working with reputable suppliers, or working with an e-commerce developer to set up your website.
Despite this, running a dropshipping business is significantly easier than running a more traditional e-commerce store due to the fact that a lot of the hard work is carried out on your behalf. For example, while you’ll process orders and liaise with customers, they’ll prepare and ship the products.
How to legally start a dropshipping business
When learning how to begin dropshipping, many people wonder about the legality of the process. After all, it can feel a little strange selling products that you do not have in your possession. However, this is a perfectly legal business model that is adopted by businesses across the world. In fact, a recent report estimated that 33% of online businesses are dropshipping businesses.
Of course, there are certain legal considerations you must make when starting a business. For example, you must still register your business legally in order to ensure that you pay the right taxes, and you must also pay close attention to local business regulations.
One of the most common legal complications faced by drop shippers relates to copyright infringement, which could mean that you need to also familiarise yourself with copyright law ahead of time.
While you do not need to hire a business lawyer when starting any kind of e-commerce business, a consultation could provide you with the peace of mind you need to know that you’re on the right track. It could also help you to avoid costly legal mistakes.
How to make a dropshipping website
As mentioned above, your website plays a crucial role in the overall success and profitability of your e-commerce business. After all, a poorly functioning website filled with broken links, dated content, and blurry images is hardly going to convince customers to purchase something - even if you have something good to offer.
Furthermore, if your website isn’t SEO-optimised, it isn’t going to rank highly in the search engines, which means you’ll receive minimal traffic. As traffic tends to be reflected in sales, it's crucial that your website receives as many visitors as possible.
This means that you need to learn how to build an ecommerce website that will generate traffic (and, by extension, sales). As this is often a time-consuming and complex process, those looking to get started right away may prefer to hand this task over to a web developer instead.
After all, web developers are well-experienced in building quality e-commerce websites that not only function effectively but perform well across all search engines. This, in turn, will make it easier to generate profits through your website and can help you build a loyal customer base.
Without a web developer, you’ll need to learn how to build a website from scratch while learning how to get started in dropshipping, which will place a significant drain on your time and energy as you’ll be managing multiple tasks at once. Furthermore, while you may know a thing or two about coding, there’s no guarantee that the website you build is a good one. Conversely, a web developer will be able to curate a state-of-the-art website in no time, specifically if they have previous experience in the e-commerce sector.
How to grow your dropshipping business
The above guide provides you with the tools and insight you need to learn how to start a dropshipping business. However, a successful start does not necessarily mean that you’ll have continued success moving forward - as with any business, this is something that you have to work on continuously. In short, knowing where to start dropshipping is only half of the battle.
Fortunately, there are many ways in which you can grow your dropshipping business. For example, you should study your sales metrics closely so that you can gain a better understanding of why your best-selling products are best-sellers. This will allow you to remain on the cutting edge of consumer trends, ensuring that the products featured on your site are the kind that your customers actually want/need.
You can also use these metrics to find out why some of your products may not be selling as well, which can help you to increase your profitability once again. For example, this could reveal a supplier issue, as the products aren’t of the desired quality, meaning you can begin to work with another provider. Alternatively, it may be a simple fix, meaning the only thing you need to do is upgrade your product description or use higher-resolution images. Either way, accessing and utilising this information means that you can facilitate business growth as opposed to resting on your past success.
Another way in which you can ensure your business not only survives but thrives is by staying on top of your daily practices. Respond to emails promptly, manage your finances well, and set quarterly targets. Check over your business plan and re-vamp it when necessary. The more you do this, the easier it will be to stay on track and reach your goals - whatever they may be.
An Overview: What do you need to start dropshipping?
When learning how to begin dropshipping, it's important you understand what is required of you ahead of time. This way, you can put together a business plan that sets you up for success, as opposed to encountering roadblocks at every turn.
As outlined above, to get started with dropshipping, you should:
- Have a vision for your brand. Think carefully about the kind of products you’d like to sell, your brand mission, and the kind of company you’d like to build. Then, ensure this is reflected on your social media pages and within your website.
- Develop an understanding of how dropshipping works. You should be able to explain how each stage of the dropshipping process works from the perspective of customers and yourself as the business owner. The more familiar you are with the process, the easier it will be to run your own profitable e-commerce business or dropshipping company. After all, this means you’ll be aware of the potential challenges you face ahead of time and can respond to them accordingly.
- Do your research. The best businesses are built on extensive research into their target audience, the consumer market, and more. In short, the more research you do, the better, especially when it comes to sourcing suppliers.
- Find trusted, reputable suppliers. One of the biggest lessons to take on board when learning how to get started in dropshipping is that you must work with trusted, reputable suppliers. Failing to do so puts your reputation on the line and could also mean that your investments don’t pay off.
- Deal with the legalities. While the legalities associated with running a business will vary depending on your geographic location, you should ensure that you formally register your business and brand and abide by the relevant business guidelines moving forward. You may also want to seek legal support when drafting contracts with suppliers to ensure that your best interests are protected.
- Set up your website. Once you’re ready to start your dropshipping business, you need to build your e-commerce website or hire a skilled developer to take on this task on your behalf.
Final Thoughts: How can I start dropshipping?
If you didn’t understand where to start with dropshipping at the start of this article, you should now have a better understanding of how to create a dropshipping business.
Simply put, the secret to getting ahead here is actually getting started. So, instead of asking questions such as how hard is dropshipping, ask yourself how hard you’re willing to work instead and get the ball rolling.
Remember, there are countless opportunities to explore within the dropshipping world - and it's relatively similar to running a traditional ecommerce business, only without the same level of financial investment. As such, it's an excellent choice for first-time business owners, as you have fewer responsibilities to deal with.
Furthemore, as online shopping becomes more and more popular (in fact, many studies predict that one day, digital sales will surpass physical ones), a drop shipping company can prove to be a profitable business opportunity.