Have you been considering getting into dropshipping as a strategy for monetizing online?
Dropshipping is great as a low barrier to entry ecommerce method. It doesn’t require a huge financial outlay as you don’t need to purchase and store inventory. However, you still need to be prepared to make dropshipping a success.
As with any online selling, you first need a platform from which to sell. Importantly, you also need an audience for that platform. In fact, having a solid platform and online profile ready to embark on dropshipping will prove to be crucial as you seek dropshipping partners.
One thing to remember about dropshipping is that successful sellers develop great relationships with their partners. It’s important to examine your business through the lens of potential suppliers to get an idea of how they might perceive you.
Are you ready? Here are some of our tips for would-be dropshippers:
The first question is, how do you know you’re ready for dropshipping? Many people get online with the hopes of monetizing as soon as possible, but you need to do some groundwork first. If you hope to form agreements with good suppliers, it’s important to show that your business is ready to take on the responsibilities of dropshipping.
Here are some signs you’re ready:
Having an audience for your chosen platform (whether that be your blog, social channels, podcast, or something else) is a key requirement if you want to monetize. You need to have a steady audience so that you have enough unique views to convert to sales.
How big of an audience do you need? That’s a great question, and one for which the answer tends to vary depending on who you ask. Ten thousand unique views per month is often stated as a minimum to garner the interests of advertisers on websites. In the social media landscape, Hootsuite points out that some Instagram influencers have as few as 5000 followers, but they suggest you aim for a minimum of 10,000.
One of the keys to drumming up a large, regular audience is consistency. Whatever it is that you’re doing content-wise, post or create on a consistent basis so that you keep a steady audience coming back. One-hit-wonder posts are unlikely to get you the audience numbers you need coming back.
Are you personally ready to monetize? Do you have systems in place and the time to commit to creating on a consistent schedule? Many online initiatives start out as a side hustle for fun and were never intended to be much more than that. The shift to managing suppliers, consistent content, and financials requires extra commitment you need to be prepared to give.
An aspect of dropshipping that makes it unique is that while you don’t fulfill product orders, your business is still the “face” for those products. That means customers place orders through your platform and as far as they’re concerned, you are the supplier - they don’t know that someone else is sending out the order in the background.
This means that you have to be prepared to own that relationship. If there are any issues, you’re the one customers will contact and expect a resolution from. You need to have a plan to manage customer service and be prepared to offer a reasonable level of service to keep up a good business reputation.
There are many different suppliers out there who are prepared to look at dropshipping with reputable vendors. In fact, one thing Mothership exists for is to help build custom dropshipping networks that benefit both the supplier and the vendor.
Finding your own, top quality suppliers gives you the opportunity to stand out from other businesses. Those that use dropshipping marketplaces tend to all end up looking the same and selling the same things. On the other hand, when you establish your own strong relationships with suppliers, you can offer something unique.
One thing to always remember is that good suppliers will be discerning in who they want to work with. You’ve got to be able to sell yourself as the perfect partner for them and remember that they’re considering their own branding and reputation, too.
Here are some traits that suppliers may look for in a dropshipping partner:
One important factor for suppliers is that your target audience is a good match for the target audience for their products. They’ll be interested in your audience size, as well as who it is that you target.
It’s worth doing your homework to find suppliers who have a similar target audience to your own. They may be interested in aspects such as what you do to bring in that audience and whether you have a sustainable strategy to keep up your audience. For example, how do you aim to grow?
How engaged is your audience? Do you have any projections for potential order volume? There are many suppliers who are only interested in working with vendors with certain order volume potential. This may be a factor they will look at in determining whether they want to work with you.
Your branding, including your mission, values, voice, and reputation will be an influencing factor for most suppliers. They are concerned with their own branding and reputation, and want vendors who help enhance them.
This makes sense from your own perspective too. You should look for suppliers who are a good fit for your own brand and reputation. You don’t want to be in a situation where issues with a supplier impact your own brand.
From your audience’s perspective, it’s about consistency. The partners you work with should easily fit with your brand so that you tell a consistent story. Orders should be confirmed, sent and delivered consistently too.
It can be helpful if you work on your branding ahead of looking for partners. What are your mission and values? How do you express your voice? How will you develop a good reputation with your audience, earning their trust?
In the end, suppliers want to have positive, fruitful relationships too. Like anyone else, they don’t want to work with difficult people or anyone who will involve a lot of extra work for them, without enough reward for doing so.
Factors such as how communicative and personable you are may come into the equation. They may look for someone who seems confident and who has a plan for success. They may look for someone who has a good “why” for choosing to work with them.
On the practical side of your relationship with suppliers, there's the question of how logistics will be handled. How will your customers place orders? How will the supplier receive those orders? How and when will they get paid?
Suppliers may be interested to know that you have systems and processes in place to make this side of the business as easy as possible. Expensive, complicated technology integrations can be off-putting to suppliers who don’t want to spend a whole lot of extra time or money on making a dropshipping relationship work.
If you’re hoping to break into dropshipping as a monetization method online, it’s important to work on your online profile first and make sure you’re ready to get into selling. You’ll need the right platform, an audience, and to be prepared to commit to a consistent schedule of content and customer service.
Getting prepared will also help you to attract good suppliers. The best suppliers tend to be picky about who they work with and will look for businesses that already come to them well prepared. Factors such as your target audience, branding, reputation, and your systems and processes can also play a role.
Need a no-developer solution for building a custom dropshipping network? Mothership is a simple solution for vendors and suppliers. To learn more and schedule your free demo, click here.