Dropshipping is a lucrative active type of business if done right. Sadly, there are more who fail than those who succeed. Over the years, I figured out that many who failed share a few characteristics, which I will share with you today.
Whether you are planning to dropship, or you are now dropshipping and currently struggling, there are five reasons why you will fail at dropshipping.
- You chose a bad niche
- You selected an incompetent supplier
- You have a bad website design
- You provide bad customer service
- You swallowed the blue pill
Let us discuss each topic, and help you understand why these mistakes are often the leading causes of dropshipping failures.
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1. You chose a bad niche
So, what is a bad niche?
For one, there is no such thing as a product that has no market. But there are things that are no longer in demand. For example, fidget spinners. There was a time when this product was in demand, but not anymore. If you look at Google Trends, it only spiked in May of 2017.
If you dropship in a niche for a product that is based on trend, you are not going to succeed in dropshipping.
Another bad niche is any niche that is tiptoeing on legal issues. For one, sex toys are a bad niche because it has a lot of legal requirements. Also, you cannot advertise products like this on social media site and Google, so how will you find customers?
While you can say that you can surely advertise sex toys in pornographic sites, many who go to these sites are not shoppers. They want porn for free and are not likely to buy your sex toys. And even if they would, how will you compete against the manufacturers who are also advertising on the same sites?
While there are marketers who will say that there is no such thing as a bad niche, I have to tell you that not all products are easy to sell. As a dropshipper, you are better off leaning towards the safe side unless you know the inner workings of the particular industry you want to join.
So, how will you know a bad niche?
Here are some guidelines:
- Single product niches that have no room to expand
- Niches that are bordering on the illegal
- Niches that have very small market
- Niches that are over saturated with no value proposition
Come on, everybody is selling clothes, shoes, and bracelets. I am not saying that these cannot be sold, but clothing is a bad niche if what you are selling has no uniqueness to it.
2. You selected an incompetent supplier
Your dropshipping business depends on your supplier. The problem with a lot of dropshippers is they do not put the supplier to the test.
What is this test?
Order the product from the supplier and have it delivered to your house. How will you even know how the product is packaged, and how long a supplier responds to inquiries, or whether there is a tracking number unless you place the order?
Add to that the shipping time, the product quality, and the quality of the packaging. Many dropshippers choose a supplier and then launch a store.
Later on, they get orders and the shipments take a loooong while. And then the customers end up cancelling, or filing charge backs against the purchase, and the dropshipper is gonna get the bad end of the stick.
Do not let this happen to you. Test the supplier and make sure that they will deliver as promised. I did this myself, and I ordered a product from an AliExpress supplier—a blouse.
The supplier shipped the item to a model I work with in Brazil, but she never received the item, even after 60 days have passed!
As it turned out, the package was stuck in customs and was blocked. The item was eventually returned to the supplier in China, and I got a refund. The supposed recipient was not a customer but a model who would wear the blouse so I can brand the item as mine.
Can you imagine that? Clothing that was blocked in customs?
I never used this supplier again.
This is why you need to vet the supplier, and also validate if the shipment is going to work in the country of destination. And of course, you need to know how long it would take.
You might say, “So, I should order per product? That is costly!”
Well, yes and no. Order one product from a supplier. If he does well, then you can sell several of this supplier’s products on your dropshipping store. If not, choose another one.
Order one product from each supplier to guarantee that this supplier is not incompetent, and to make sure that the product quality justifies the price. The last thing you want is an unhappy customer.
3. You have a bad website design
Your storefront is not any different from how a physical store looks. If it is ugly, the buyer is not likely to give you money.
What is a bad website design?
Web design does not end in photos and colors. You have to view your webs design as a single coherent whole.
You need to make sure that the photos are aligned, that the font sizes and styles are uniform, and that the navigation is so easy that your customer would get the best experience.
Web design also includes the checkout page, your cart functionalities, how customers can select their sizes or quantity of purchase.
Below are my guiding principles on how to create a great web store:
- Simplicity – do not cram your website with tickers and spin-the-wheel apps or games and email subscription forms. Use simple fonts, a few font colors, and use standard sizes.
- Navigation – looking for a product must be easy; use categories in your menu, and place the meu either in the left or top
- Standard imagery – photos must share the same background. You cannot use photo A with gradient background, and then a solid background for photo B. what this does is it makes your website look unprofessional and disoriented.
- Grid Layout – gone are the days of 90s websites like Craigslist. Please, find a theme that allows you to split your photos, imagery, and content in sections or grids. You can find many free and paid themes that have these elements in Template Monster. Here, you can find themes for WooCommerce, Shopify, BigCommerce, and more.
Five simple tips, five simple things. Apply these principles and you should be able to build a functional and beautiful website that makes a site visitor feel confident that you are not a sham.
4. You provide bad customer service
People who fail at dropshipping are also notorious for bad customer service. The thing with these dropshippers is they are not responsive, or they have no clear answer to their customer queries.
How can you answer an inquiry if you have never touched the product yourself? How will you know how long the shipping would take if you did not do your due diligence?
What I do is to keep an Excel sheet of the products that I sell, and the shipping period. If there is an order, I immediately know who the supplier is, how long it takes to ship it, and how to contact the supplier if the customer has questions that I am not able to answer.
Now, please do not use chat bots. Nothing frustrates a customer more than finding out that he is talking to a useless robot. If you promise that you are there 24/7 for support, then you must be there yourself, or your representative, to provide human interaction.
You would think that having a chatbot is cool. But this is terrible. A customer who has to go through this horrible experience of talking to a robot is going to leave your website, and you would certainly lose credibility points.
If you make a promise, you must keep that promise.
Customer service is a big deal. I spent 14 years in the BPO industry, and I know that customer satisfaction is what drives sales. Treat your customer right, and you will reduce the likelihood of failing.
5. You swallowed the blue pill
What is a blue pill?
A blue pill represents a person’s ignorance. If you choose to swallow this pill, you will fail. What is this pill? This pill is the lie that you were fed—that you can be a millionaire via dropshipping.
While there are those who succeeded in making this happen, take note that you are not like them. You have no idea what kind of skills these people, or how long hey have been in this industry. Just because making a website is easy does not mean succeeding is easy.
Dropshipping is a serious and difficult business. If you are in it because you think it is easy, get out now while it is early, or come to terms that earning hundreds of thousands of dollars a month is a slim possibility, especially if you are just starting out.
You will not succeed in dropshipping just because somebody sold you a course that has a proven system to win. It requires more work than that. If it were too easy, then everybody who does it should have succeeded by now.
There are many people who swallow this lie—that they can be millionaires so easily with dropshipping. It is possible, but not easy.
And if you believe in this lie, you will fail because you will get frustrated. You will feel that you were scammed and you will give up easily.
Before you succeed, you need a lot of skills, like marketing skills, customer service skills, SEO skills, driving traffic, customer service skills and so much more.
I need to tell you this: dropshipping is hard. It is lucrative and it can replace your income over time, but it is never easy. It is much easier to put up a store in a mall and sell to real people in a physical environment.
On the web, how will even people know that you exist? And if you advertise, how will they know that you are credible?
If you are not ready to do the hard work, and if you believe everything about dropshipping is easy, you will fail.
And oh, if there is anybody who claims that it is easy, stay away from these people.
Dropshipping is a real business, but you are making a mistake of you think this is a get-rich-quick scheme. It isn’t. It requires a lot of hard work just to get it off the ground. The real works starts once your website is up.
While setting it up is not that costly, the work required is labor-intensive, and you need to prepare to spend on your marketing efforts.
Dropshipping works, but only if you know what you are doing, and if you are committed to making it succeed. If you are going through any of these five failure points, take a step back and reflect on your actions.
Change your course and remedy the problems, and you will be on your way to your journey to success.
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