There is a lot of information out there about the benefits of dropshipping. It is a great business model for online retailers of all sizes to increase the variety of products they offer shoppers without taking on inventory risk and added expense. Of course, with every good thing there are always drawbacks. With dropshipping, you give up some control when it comes to the customer experience.
To help you improve the customer experience, we have put together a list of the five most common dropshipping mistakes, and how to fix them – or avoid them all together.
1. Not Picking a Niche
Many dropshippers fall into the pitfall of offering too wide a selection of products because the nature of dropshipping makes it easy to do so. While it is great to have a variety of offerings for customers, you don’t want it to be so large that you can’t identify the niche you are trying to fill. Without a focused marketing strategy and target audience, it will be hard and expensive to attract new customers.
Solution: Research the niche you are interested in, develop a brand around that niche, and then stay true to it. By choosing a specific product category to sell, you are able to market more specifically and establish yourself as an expert about the products you sell. This not only creates trust with customers, but it will also increases your bottom line.
2. Not Having a Business Plan
It’s easy to get carried away with all the products you can offer with dropshipping. It makes it even easier to get started selling online with user-friendly platforms and marketplaces that take minutes to get set up. Unfortunately, the ease with which you get products out there can also be a downfall – especially when you don’t have a strategy in place for your business. What may seem like a great way to get started, may fizzle out quickly, or not take off at all.
Solution: Do your research before launching your dropshipping business, don’t start willy-nilly – have a plan for your products, suppliers, and business operations that you can stick to.
3. Not Aligning Your Current Business Strategy with Dropshipping
Some ecommerce retailers find themselves in trouble when they try to add dropshipping to their current business operations. Dropshipping is an excellent way to expand your inventory without much added expense, but not making sure that it fits in with your current business strategy can cause issues. For example, if your current marketing strategy relies heavily on branding and customization, you’ll find that it’s difficult and sometimes impossible to do so when dropshipping because you don’t touch your products or packaging.
Solution: Consider the ways that dropshipping will affect the experience for your customers and weigh those differences carefully, seeing if there are alternative ways to create that same experience. To continue with the above scenario, if you are no longer able to include branding with your packaging, consider the possibility of using email marketing, follow-up messaging, or some other type of customer engagement to take its place.
4. Not Providing Customer Support After the Sale
Because dropshipping takes the order fulfillment, packaging, and shipping out of your hands, it’s easy to get into the mindset that your interactions with your customers is complete as soon as they make their purchases. However, you have to continue to pay attention to customer service and support even after the sale – especially when dropshipping. It’s not uncommon for suppliers to make mistakes, run out of stock, or have delays in shipping. How you deal with your customers in those situations can make or break your level of customer satisfaction and be detrimental to your online reputation. They don’t know (or care) that you use a supplier to fulfill your orders, they just want their purchases delivered on time – or sooner.
Solution: Handle all customer service issues promptly. Don’t blame a third party for whatever has gone wrong, instead let your customer know how you will fix it. Additionally, make an effort to keep in touch with your customers after the sale. You can do this by sending thank-you emails with special discounts or deals, or by targeting them in your marketing efforts.
5. Not Using the Right Suppliers
There are a lot of great suppliers for you to partner with in your dropshipping business. There are also a lot of not-so-great suppliers out there. Choosing the right companies to fulfill your customers’ orders is absolutely essential to the success of your business, but knowing where to look for one can be difficult.
Solution: Do your research when looking for suppliers – read reviews of different suppliers and peruse websites. Try to contact other sellers to find out who their suppliers are and whether they are satisfied with them. Make sure that you are able to contact your suppliers by phone and that you get to talk to a real person to resolve any issues that come up. And, most importantly, don’t continue to work with suppliers who have given you reason to doubt them. There are plenty out there to choose from, you don’t have to stick with one that doesn’t live up to expectations.
All the above pitfalls can be avoided or managed if you plan, review, and adjust the operations for your dropshipping business. While it does take diligence to ensure your customers’ satisfaction, dropshipping is a viable and valuable way to make a living in the ecommerce world.