Tips for Dropshipping Success

Dropshipping has great potential as a business startup, despite intense competition in the North American sector. More and more consumers do their shopping online, and expect prompt delivery of their orders. Done right, and built with patience and creativity, a dropshipping enterprise can provide steady growth and returns.

Contemplating, or already developing, a new dropship store? Consider some of these basic and essential strategies for ensuring that it hits the ground running, and stays productive for years to come:

Find Your Niche

You can’t be a generalist in this business, or you’ll find yourself in direct competition with the likes of Amazon. So the more specialization, the better. Find your niche and be the best shipper of that specialized product out there. Over time, your dropship enterprise will become synonymous with your specialty. Niche marketing also has some distinct advantages.

Get Creative with Digital Marketing and Branding

We all know the importance of marketing when building a business. Expect to spend the bulk of your time working on your digital marketing assets and strategies in the first year of business.

Your website is your most important calling card and at the heart of any dropshipping business. It needs to be appealing, legible and functional, and that may take some time to get right. Not only does it need to streamline ordering and delivery processes, but your site should also provide content that’s designed to engage and inform. And throughout, attention to SEO can ensure that search engines lead customers directly to you. Check out resources like Moz or the blog SEOBook for more tips about SEO. Increased traffic will inevitably lead to increased sales if you are organized enough to convert those extra views.

Try to embrace the attitude that you are selling solutions rather than a product. That can mean sharing information and insights with customers or offering unexpected surprises that don’t cost a lot but create delight and buzz. Delivering some of these added value elements through your website makes sense.

One great strategy is to use video marketing to engage site visitors and potential customers. It’s not difficult to create a short how-to video that explains your product using a bare-bones lighting kit and free video editing software.

You can also have fun with branding when you’re delivering services for a niche or specialized market. For example, using shipping labels like zebra and Dymo labels allows for personalization and indicates a degree of professionalism that customers find reassuring. If you’re convinced of the quality of the specialized products you are shipping, warranties and guarantees are a terrific way to add value that customers will really appreciate.

This leads to the strongest added value of all: excellent customer service.

Customer Service is Everything

Today’s consumer is especially well equipped for sharing stories about great, and not so great, service. The prevalence of social media platforms has increased the stakes for customer service. If a customer has an unhappy experience, they are very likely to tell their contacts and connections about it, publicly and in terms that may be derogatory to your brand. You must be prepared to be quickly responsive to customer queries and requests, fix things quickly when they go wrong, and be upfront, transparent and accountable when it comes to engaging with clients. Word of mouth is a powerful mechanism and keeping customers happy is still one of the best ways to build a business.

Streamline IT Functions

Anyone who runs an online business needs to practice optimization around each and every function. That could include working with a cloud storage provider, or fine-tuning logistics so that they may be conducted in an optimal way. And that old chestnut – everything that can be, must be cost-effective. Outsourcing IT to an experienced provider like Wavestone US (one of the top global IT & Business Advisory firms) may make sense until you are able to grow your team. It can be invaluable for streamlining operations and maximizing the potential for growth in an economical manner while you put your efforts into branding, marketing, and customer satisfaction. Working with IT experts can yield a treasure trove of innovative strategies and solutions for online companies in the process of establishing a solid foundation.

There’s lots you can do to raise the odds of your drop-ship business becoming a smashing success in due course. But it’s important to manage expectations about immediate results. It takes time to build any business and one based on dropshipping is no exception.

Expect things to be quiet for 6 months to a year as you build out your website, develop branding and grow a client base. It will be challenging at first, but persist, offer excellent service for specialized products – word will get around.

Saif Abbas is a writer, part-time entrepreneur and digital marketing consultant that has worked with Fortune 500 brands and top startups across the globe. He is also a regular contributor to media outlets, including Huffington Post, Drift, Forbes, Ahref, Moz, Search Engine Land, and others.