2020 has been rough. If you've just started dropshipping, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If not, these are my dropshipping problems in 2020. No discouragement, just my trials and tribulations.
A dropshipping business is when a website sells a product that it does not produce or hold inventory for. Instead, when buyers make a purchase on the seller's website, the seller turns around and makes the order with a dropshipping supplier. The dropshipping supplier then blind ships the product directly to the customer as if it came from the seller's website. Usually this means that the customer will receive the product without any supplier branding or information. The customer is none the wiser.
First, I signed up for Shopify to create my store and modified the aesthetics to my liking. Simultaneously, I was developing business contacts with suppliers in China to sell their products on my store that fit my niche. (You can find suppliers for any niche on Alibaba or Aliexpress.) I also tried hiring a graphics artist on Fiverr to create my logo and product artwork, however, this was a waste of time and money.
DISCLAIMER: I'm by no means an expert. I quickly learned how to use Shopify, Google Ads, Facebook Ads. I got reacquainted with using Photoshop and Illustrator. Finally, I also had to learn how to write ad copy that was SEO friendly. Typically, each item is its own specialty or job. If you're just starting out with little to no budget, you'll have to do everything yourself. Luckily, there are tons of guides out there with step by step information on getting started.
In January, I started ramping up my marketing budget. I increased spending on Google Ads and Facebook Ads. This drove a lot of traffic to my site yet I was not converting much. At the time, my focus was on getting my brand out there and adding new products to my site every day. Sales weren't too important yet because Chinese New Year was fast approaching.
Chinese New Year is probably the most important holiday in China. Most businesses completely shut down for 2 weeks or even up to a month. Anyone who's worked with a Chinese supplier knows that they need to prepare weeks prior for business continuity or deal with delays in shipping in handling.
Two weeks after Chinese New Year when most businesses were set to return to full function, [due to COVID-19] some Provinces in China decided it was best to extend the holiday and keep businesses closed. During this time, suppliers responded to communications days or weeks later and orders were not immediately shipped out.
As a new dropshipping business, this was a nightmare. Experts in dropshipping suggested pausing stores and halting advertisements. For the entire month of February, my store was at a standstill.
The world is faced with a pandemic. Supplier factories were closed or were operating at a fraction of their potential. Communications were slow or nonexistent altogether. Even if you were able to place an order with an operating supplier, the shipping times were terrible.
Dropshipping from China typically comes via ePacket. A Chinese shipping service that allows packages to reach destinations around the world at a very low cost or no cost to the dropshipping store. With ePacket, packages from China are shipped in the extra space of passenger airlines and not commercial shipping flights. This is how ePackets is able to keep shipping cost so low.
Low prices meant slow delivery. Even prior to the pandemic, ePacket was slow to reach its destination. Typically, it can take anywhere from 3-10 weeks to reach certain countries.
Slow got even slower. With the current pandemic, many passenger flights have been canceled as countries lock down international travel. This extended ePacket ship times to a few extra weeks.
Imagine ordering something and receiving it 3+ months later. Yea, me neither.
I'm unsure of the future of my dropshipping store. I believe that this pandemic will most likely wipe out beginners and/or small stores who face the same issues. It's hard to operate an eCommerce when your supplier isn't responding in a timely manner or shipping within an acceptable time frame.
Unless you are doing huge volumes or have a personal supplier contact, small piece orders will take much longer than usual to get to your customers. You can address this by letting the customer know of the extended delays or you'll most likely face a chargeback.
Hopefully when the world returns to normal, I can then consider the next steps for my store.
I'm not trying to discourage anyone from attempting to start a dropshipping business by any means. This blog entry is just to go over the current issues I'm having as a new dropshipper.
Read about why I started this blog.