Potentially dropshipping is an easy solution for eCommerce, just generate sales and don't have to worry about handling any products.
Dropshipping means that you promote and sell a product, but the order is sent direct to a wholesaler or manufacturer that sends it direct to the customer. So you don't have any warehouse or pick, pack and dispatch costs. Nothing is easy, however once you have your sale channel functioning, then it can yield dramatic results without the effort of handling any products.
Find a product
Given the multitude of products out there its important to define your niche and products before you start hunting for suppliers.
If you are really open to product ideas, then a great place to start is google trends say to compare the search for "Green Tea" v "Iced Tea". If nobody is searching for that product you are thinking of selling, that is a good clue that either you are either way ahead of the curve, or perhaps on the wrong track.
In addition as below you can see "Related Searches" these will help you to narrow down your niche product search. Why types of Green Tea are consumers searching for?
Find a supplier
Once you have decided on a product, then the next major challenge is to find a supplier who can both source and deliver the product to customers. There are many listings sites that list UK and international suppliers. Its important that you choose one that is currently servicing other dropshippers, otherwise it may be just something they are experimenting with.
In addition its important to understand delivery time-scales and costs to the UK, so you can make a clear promise to your customers. If from China / Hong Kong it may be 10-15 days.
As a start you should place a sample order and ensure that your order process is as expected. Did you get emails on dispatch etc? Also understand the packaging the product comes from. You need to define if the supplier can provide you with photo, video and product descriptions of the items and if not how you are going to get them.
Finally you need to map out the process for returns and where the product goes to if this occurs.
A number of these dropship supplier directories require payment to get the full supplier details. However with your product in mind you can at least register for free and then see if there is a selection of suppliers listed willing to dropship the products you want. Remember it may take going to a number of suppliers to get the one you want.
Build a brand
Although lots of branded products are sold through dropship channels it is hard to differentiate your sales channel from the competition. For this reason you should consider if you could build your own brand and attach it to a whole range of products.
First you need to create a brand name, use a tool to generate brand and business name suggestions. Then create a logo and ensure that this is used consistently across all of your marketing.
You will also need to get the product label specifications from a supplier that is wiling to
provide a white-label brand, so that you can then provide your own brand labels to them, to be attached to the generic product prior to dispatch.
This will start to build your own brand where you can then add in other products and apply to all your sales channel marketing.
Build a sales channel
Once you have built the supply-chain then you need to build a sales channel and more than on the web, you need once that can generate sales across many platforms, POS, Web, Mobile, Facebook, Twitter and basically anywhere your potential customers might be.
There are some great free tools here for creating logos, business names, product names etc.
This blog details how to brand and attract clients to your sales channels.
As a business running a dropshipping model, then the majority of your effort is going to be in attracting sales. You will need to develop a good relationship with your suppliers so that customers service is maintained. A lot of the process is out of your control, generating sales for suppliers who don't satisfy customer needs, will just lead to a lot of customer complaints.
The blog shows how they built a dropshipping operation in three days with an investment of $900, however they had quite a few skills that not every business would have. There is no doubt that it offers a quick and low capital risk way of entering into the world of online selling which can yield good returns as long as you can attract customers. Be prepared to spend effort finding the right supplier and money on the skills required.
I am Mark Mandel, if you want help building your eCommerce dropping shipping operation get in touch.