Dropshipping is something that anybody can do.
Many software developers have made sure of this, and there are tons of apps and platforms you can use to build your website and automate your processes even if you do not know how to code.
After watching a video or a dropshipping course, you may get tempted to build your store right away.
In my experience, this is where most dropshippers’ problems begin.
There are so many tools you need that it gets overwhelming.
And if you let this get into you, you will give up.
I do not want this to happen to you so I have prepared a dropshipping checklist of what you need to get your store started.
This should help you build a drop shipping business plan.
If you know what tools to use, you can look for software programs that provide these services, learn how to use them, and then weed out those that you do not like.
Once your checklist is fulfilled, you can finally begin building your dropshipping store.
After that, you can focus on your marketing efforts instead of ironing out the kinks of your website.
Here is our dropshipping checklist:
- Niche and Product
- Business Concept
- Web and Marketing Materials
- Store Platform
- Dropshipping Platform
- Social Media
- Payment Processor
There is more to this than meets the eye, so let us get started!
Niche and Product
What product are you going to sell? This is probably the hardest question that you have to answer as a dropshipper.
If you go to AliExpress, you will realize that there are millions of products here that you can buy and sell.
To help you get started, you have to understand your own passion.
There are many dropshippers who failed because they chased the money instead of letting the money chase them.
You need to think about a niche that you care about—something that you also know about.
If you love a specific niche, then you are highly qualified to be a person of authority in that niche.
As a seller, you will get inundated by customer inquiries.
One day, you will realize that the niche you selected is not the right one for you, and you will quit or start over again.
Choose a niche and the specific products that you are going to sell.
Do not even bother if there is a market for that product. There is a market for everything.
This is the first thing on your checklist. Make a decision and stick with it.
If you don’t, the most likely thing to happen is you will have shiny object syndrome, shifting from one niche to another until you never get anything substantial done.
The second item on the list is the business concept. How are you going to present your store?
What is the value proposition and what makes you different?
A business concept covers all ideas that represent your business once it is built.
Here are some of the things you need to finalize:
- Color scheme
- Target market
- Business name
Most amateur dropshippers just put together half-baked photos on their stores.
As a result, the stores look unprofessional. You need to have a standard color scheme so all your pages have uniformity.
Make your logo on your own or ask a professional to do it.
Your logo must represent your company’s soul or spirit, along with your name.
The logo alone should take you some time to create.
A logo is not just one symbol plastered with your name—it has to speak for itself and embody your business.
There are many designs and themes to choose from.
As you may have observed, there are stores out there where the face of models are everywhere, while some use cartoons or 3D animations to represent their brand.
Everything about your business concept must culminate into something that attracts your target market.
This is the only way you can make a store that is cohesive and attractive to the kind of people you want to sell your products to.
Web and Marketing Materials
Now that you have a niche and a business concept, the next thing to do is to prepare your materials.
You will need these materials once you start setting up your store.
The materials include the following:
- Blog posts
- Hero or banner designs
- Advertising materials
- Standard template for product photos
For your logo, make sure that you have it in a vector file.
With this type of file, you can increase and decrease the size of the image without affecting its resolution. Prepare your logo in different sizes that fit different social media platforms.
Heroes are the banners that you see in a home page.
These are the large images that tell a site visitor what a website is all about.
You also need hero banners for your social media accounts.
Prepare to write at least 20 blog posts. These blog posts must be helpful items that serve your market.
If you are putting up a fashion store, you may want to write about tips how to choose clothing, or how to take care of cashmere clothes.
You will not stop blogging. It is a free source of traffic for your store, and it is a lot better than investing in ads all the time.
There are several store platforms you can choose from. The two most popular are WooCommerce and Shopify.
You have to choose a platform that you are comfortable using, and I will help you understand the main difference between the two.
With Shopify, you can build a store from the Shopify platform and all you need is within the Shopify universe.
You just need to click some buttons to activate the functions you need, such as adding products, importing photos, creating a checkout process, or choosing a payment processor.
With WooCommerce, you need a web hosting provider, a CMS like WordPress, a payment processor plug-in (if you do not want to use PayPal), and a web-page builder like Elementor.
As you can see, WooCommerce is a lot more complicated than Shopify but WooCommerce is much more flexible and it is free.
Shopify, on the other hand, is a system that simplifies everything that you need to do to put up a store. Shopify costs at least $29 per month, but it does offer a 14-day free trial.
It also has a complete tutorial on how to launch Shopify store.
If you use WooCommerce, you would need to pay for the services of a web hosting provider, install WordPress, add the WooCommerce plug-in, and then build your store.
With Shopify, all you need to do is to choose a domain name, pay for it, choose a theme, and then start uploading products.
While you can dropship without a dropshipping platform, you will get overwhelmed with the amount of manual copy-pasting that you have to do between your supplier’s website to your store.
A dropshipping platform helps you choose products and automatically upload them to your store with just a click of a button. This is often referred to as “import”.
For example, you can use the following dropship supplier tools
These dropship supplier tools are companies that have apps.
You install these apps in your store. By the time this is done, you can go to the dashboard and select products, import them, or edit them if you want.
Another benefit of using a dropship supplier tool is that they filter out unreliable suppliers and manufacturers.
As a dropshipper, your success also depends of these partners. If they ship late, your customer is going to be unhappy.
The companies that offer dropship supplier tools weed out the bad suppliers from the backend.
You will only deal with reliable suppliers. On top of this, the tools also allow you to browse for products easily.
You can look for products that are located in a specific country, and products that ship to a specific country.
You no longer need to read each product description to find this out, let alone contact a supplier to get this information.
Next on our list is social media. Choose the appropriate social media channels where you want to market your products.
The top options are:
Focus only on two and nothing more. If possible, choose a social media platform that you can integrate with your store.
Once this choice is made, create a business account, and set up your social media profiles.
While Shopify and WooCommerce have built-in payment processors, there are cases when the payment processor cannot accept some types of credit card.
In some cases, they cannot accept payment from specific countries.
In this case, you need to add another one. If you are dropshipping to one country only, then this is not really a high priority.
Instead, you have to study carefully how much the payment processor charges you.
And that to what your e-commerce platform is going to charge you, and you will know how much money you are paying per order.
For payment processors like PayPal, you need to sign up for a business account to be able to get an API.
Without an API, you cannot integrate PayPal with your Shopify or WooCommerce store.
An auto-responder tool is an email capture tool and marketing tool.
You need this so you can start gathering the email addresses of your site visitors.
While Shopify and WooCommerce have built-in email capture tools, they do not work as auto-responders. Instead, they only capture the email and notify you that someone subscribed to your email list.
Here are some of the most popular auto-responder tools.
With an auto-responder tool, you will be able to create a sequence of emails that the tool will send to your subscribers at intervals you choose.
This is great so you do not have to send emails to each person who subscribes.
In short, your email marketing activities are automated. It takes only one set-up and you should be good to go.
Like other tools, you can get free version of this with limited capabilities, or pay a monthly fee to get the full features.
At first, the free versions should be enough.
By the time your subscribers grow, you should be earning money from your store already so you can upgrade to get more features.
Set your dropshipping checklist in order. Make sure you have done your due diligence before “checking” the item off your list.
More importantly, write it down on a notebook, or use a spreadsheet to help you organize your plan.
Study each tool that capture your attention, read reviews, watch video tutorials, identify the price, and weigh the pros and cons before committing to making a purchase.
If there are free tools, use them. Sign up for free trials and test them before buying them.
The last thing you want is a botched website because the tool is not compatible, or because it failed to deliver what it promised.