Following on from Monday's drop shipping guide I did some research to find drop shipping companies and services. Not as easy as it sounds because the UK is lagging way behind the USA in the drop shipping marketplace.
The way to approach building a drop shipping business is to find products or niches where the current product suppliers lack a marketing edge because that's going to be your job.
If you don't have any internet marketing skills, diving into building a site in the hope that you'll make money is most likely to fail. Drop shipping is effectively an extension of affiliate marketing, and you need to be able to offer something different to be successful. It's not easy considering the number of people that think they can give it a shot and give up the day job.
One area where it is possible to put an advantage to work is by using a cloud-based website builder. In my research for this article, I came across several Magento websites that will have easily cost 10k+ to develop, and they have expensive maintenance costs. By using a next generation eCommerce website builder, you can drastically reduce the initial outlay and maintenance costs of building your drop shipping website.
The goal is to market your chosen product better than any existing provider is doing it. Don't create a website and fill it with a product just because you can. You'll be underestimating the amount of work that goes into maintaining a website presence. It is very labour intensive.
You can use this Chrome app Wappalyser to view what technology a website uses.
Here's a list of drop shipping ideas to give you some inspiration:
I spoke to both UK companies about their drop shipping options, and they agreed that there is room for massive improvement in this area. Shopwired says they have considered making an alternative to Oberlo, but that would mean duplicating development effort to achieve the same result and for a much smaller UK audience.
What's needed is an App that can integrate and pull together all your Ebay and Amazon listings and keep track of your Facebook and other social media campaigns as well as utilise a drop shipping directory. That's quite a task list and a job for a startup.
Meantime we are waiting for Oberlo to open up its doors to other eCommerce platforms. Or for other competitors to enter the marketplace. For new UK drop shippers, there is no quicker way to get started in the business than by using a combination of Shopify and Oberlo.
However, before you go rushing off to build your Shopify drop shipping store, there are several things you need to know about Oberlo and AliExpress which is the marketplace with which Oberlo interfaces.
Things To Know About AliExpress
1. AliExpress is a massive online retailer owned by Alibaba Group Holding, a Chinese eCommerce company that provides consumer to consumer, business to consumer and business to business sales via web portals. It allows small businesses based in China to sell to customers all over the world via the AliExpress website.
2. Low prices often but not always mean poor quality or inferior goods. Production costs in China are far cheaper than most of the rest of the world so buying directly from a manufacturer can mean significant savings. However fraudulent and counterfeit goods proliferate due to poor control over trademarks.
3. Delivery times can range from 7 days to three weeks, so you'll have to balance up whether a customer will wait longer for a product at a lower price or whether offering faster delivery and dealing directly with manufacturers or suppliers is a better option.
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UKLocalWholesalers.com is a directory of UK Wholesalers who pay a fee to be listed on the site. Browsing the listings is free for users. Most wholesalers have minimum order fees of £100.
Some of these wholesalers specialise in drop shipping and provide data feeds and images, but most do not. If you know exactly what niche you are going to be working in, then you might find some useful sources here.
Esources.co.uk is another wholesale trade directory with over 395,000 listings of which 171,000 claim to be drop shippers. However, in reality, a fraction of that total will be truly geared up for drop shipping.
Ideally, you'll know your niche before starting to look through the listings because you could easily spend a couple of weeks browsing! There is a separate drop shipping section so start there. If you want to view many listings, you'll need to pay the £20 registration fee.
Duplay specialises in kids and garden toys. They have a great range of bouncy castles as well as electric cars, bikes, garden trampolines and waterslides. They offer both affiliate and dropshipping partner programmes.
To open a drop shipping account, you fill in the registration forms, and you'll get access to the trade account website where you place your orders. You take the order and process the customer payment on your eCommerce site and then log in to the Duplay trade website to place the same order again to be delivered to the customer. This will work well until you start getting a lot of orders!
Building a mailing list out of children's birthdays has to be one of the best business tactics ever! Every year their birthday comes around, and every year you'll be there to prime them up a few weeks beforehand with birthday party ideas like a bouncy castle.
The beauty of this would be integrating a form into your site which asks for the child's age. Once you have this, you can hit them up with offers for the rest of their life!
Do you know how much a bouncy castle costs to rent? It's normally close to £100 so build a website that captures traffic for these search keywords and then offer them a longer term solution by buying one outright.
Wholesalers who develop friendly easy to use websites are few and far between, but I came across this excellent site wholesaling children's furniture, toys and accessories. In the esources directory, it says they are a drop shipper, but on the website, there is no mention of it, so you'll need to contact them directly to get the details.
One of your biggest tasks as an eCommerce store owner is going to be writing product descriptions and sourcing images for your products. If you find a wholesaler that has already done that for you, then it will save you a lot of time.
A note on companies offering turn-key websites:
As you research your drop shipping market, you may come across companies proposing to build you a turn key website complete with everything you need to operate a drop shipping business from day one. These types of website are worthless and nowhere near worth the £399 fee they want to charge you for them. In many cases, they are website design companies who have turned their hand to drop shipping and offer turn-key websites as a sideline.
If you purchase a subscription to a cloud-based eCommerce website builder, then it doesn't matter how many times you change the store name or add different products, and you won't have to pay the up front fee that many of them are charging.
Continuing the toy theme here's a nicely done drop shipping opportunity for kids toys, musical instruments, puzzles, table games and much more. What caught my eye was the great range of electric cars which were on display at tigristoys.co.uk.
Facebook advertising has opened up eCommerce to a massive new audience, and many of them are impulse buyers.
Fad products like charcoal teeth whitening are all the rage at the moment, and there will always be a market for conventional beauty products like facial masks, day creams, night creams and oils.
In my research, I started to find that better and better opportunities presented themselves the further down the Google search results you go. Is this because drop shipping companies are not very good at promoting themselves?
Oberlo may be the easiest way to start a store, but it's not the best way to find an opportunity. So don't be fooled into thinking that going down the Shopify/Oberlo route is always going to be the best option.