You have to avoid making these 11 rookie dropshipping mistakes if you want to see success in 2020.
Dropshipping competition is as high as it can be.
The eCommerce sphere as a whole has a failure rate of about 80%.
That means that 2 out of 10 websites are successful.
Surely, you can never know the exact percentage of failures in the digital environment but the harsh reality is that the vast majority of dropshipping sites or any new businesses collapse within a year.
Do you know what the dropshipping business model is all about? If not, you can learn about it in my article: What Is The Dropshipping Business Model.
The proof of that is the avalanche of dead links around the World Wide Web.
If you follow any other dropshipping blogs you can notice that dropshipping store examples of a year ago are most likely dead links by now.
It used to be a thriving general store, but is currently down due to extremely poor customer support.
I’m not fond of analysis paralysis but it is important to learn from your dropshipping mistakes. And even better it is to learn from mistakes by others and save yourself time, frustration, and wasted money.
For this purpose, I have compiled a list of mistakes that me and other people from the web have made. In 2020 it’s harder than ever to succeed in dropshipping even though the e-commerce space is booming.
Therefore it is very important to eliminate the amount of mistakes you make, if you want to be part of the 20% that succeed.
Do you want to be part of the 20%? Well, then let’s get to it!
1. Expecting overnight results
Now, I know what you’re thinking…
“I’m in here for the long run!”
“I obviously know that it isn’t easy. Trial and error, baby! As long as it takes!”
I’m sure by know you’re left jaded by all those gurus on YouTube flashing lambos and luxury villas.
If you’re not, then sorry to have to break it to ya, but you won’t be getting that shiny lambo for a while still.
It is absolutely normal to feel discouraged.
Check here if you want some tips on how to tackle discouragement.
It is absolutely okay to want your store to succeed right off the bat.
And some people do exactly that.
This guy from Reddit took only a few days to start seeing consistent profit.
Surely, it’s not really possible to measure “consistency” with just a few days of observation. But I’d take it as a very good sign. We also don’t know anything about his product.
This other Reddit user took as long as 4 months to start making consistent sales, but he emphasizes that he was making a brand.
Making a brand takes much more upfront effort and time, financial investments. However, the benefits of a brand are much higher than of a makeshift trend store.
Brands are also favored by the Google SEO and will rank higher on Google’s search results. Resulting in free traffic!
Notice how the Reddit user also mentions “everyone has their method”? That’s very important. We’ll address this later in the article.
We all come from unique backgrounds with different sets of experiences.
We live in different countries, environments, cultures.
You shouldn’t compare your journey with anyone else, but strive to become better each day.
Jealousy is the thief of joy and productivity.
Comparing your sales or absence of sales with someone more successful will do nothing for you.
It’s disheartening to keep failing, but remember this iceberg.
Yes, it’s extra cheesy.
But you don’t know the full story of everyone else’s journey. They might have been struggling for years before getting where they’re at today.
As the famous words of Robert Kiyosaki go:
“Mind your own Business.”Robert Kiyosaki, “Rich Dad Poor Dad”
2. Not following the Pareto principle, wasting time
Understand the Pareto principle.
We spend a lot of time thinking about the things we could/should/would do instead of actually doing them.
I mean, we’re not robots, right? The things that we’re scared of may be the things getting us the most results, but we don’t do them. Why? Because we’re scared, doubtful, perhaps unmotivated.
The Pareto principle in dropshipping applies in a way that 20% of our efforts bring us 80% of sales/results.
I talked about the “money cow” in my dropshipping business model article.
Imagine we have 5 stores, but out of them there’s only one specific store that we’re not necessarily overly passionate about that is bringing us 80% of all profits.
But you can worry about that once you’re adequately advanced to have 5 whole stores.
As a beginner, there is an information overload.
What do you do as a dropshipping beginner? Check YouTube, blogs, courses. Worry about things that shouldn’t be worried about until you’re making sales.
You think about taxes, licenses, hiring VAs, building incredible websites, knowing everything about everything.
Look, I get it!
I also did the same thing, and also doing it now. It’s a personal reminder I have to tell myself.
Focus. On. Things. That. Bring. Results.
I’m a design geek, so I always want to know my website is looking fine as heck.
While that is important. While taxes, and legal stuff are all very much important.
Nothing matters until you’re starting to get consistent sales. Until you satisfy yourself that the product meets the demand.
My mother is an accountant, so she worries about numbers. Profits. Revenues. Processes. Legal fees. Taxes. Yadda yadda. Worries so much that she’s too frozen to start eventually. Because everything seems too risky.
Don’t go that far. If you want to be successful!
Keep yourself accountable by making a “to do” list and tracking your progress day by day. Take action!
3. Underestimating marketing costs
Dropshipping is relatively cheap to start, but marketing is one hell of a cost.
A bunch of YouTube dropshipping channels (not all of them are bad bad Lambo lovers) use expensive Shopify add-ons, purchase Shopify store templates, or pay monthly product scouting fees.
Don’t do it! Try to save all of your money for marketing costs.
There are clever ways to make websites look super clean and branded without the need to pay hundreds on add-ons.
You also don’t need dropshipping courses either, they’re mostly the same un-updated drivel over and over.
Oberlo is offering a dropshipping course free of charge for a limited time. It’s still free as of now (28/09/2020).
It shows you the ropes and is a great starting point if you prefer video education.
To understand the dramatic costs of marketing you can read this success story on Oberlo. Jacky and Albert generated nearly 700k USD revenue from a home decor dropshipping store.
Now, revenue isn’t the whole story. It’s not profit.
This is their Facebook Ads Manager. Nearly 600k USD in revenue, and 213k USD is pure Facebook marketing costs.
Therefore, while the 600k sounds all nice and dandy, it’s down to 400k once we take marketing into consideration. Come Shopify and product fees, and the number decreases even more.
Sure, Facebook is not the only way to advertise your products and is kinda tricky for a beginner to get right.
But my point is that dropshipping is a marketing game. And you gotta know where your budget has to go toward.
4. Making crappy stores
Now you’re thinking: “but hold on, didn’t you tell us we’re investing too much time into building our stores?”
Yes! But website design is still an important aspect of your business.
Think about it, your website is your business location. This is like a restaurant for a food business, or retail shop for clothes business. You want it to look clean, neat, organized, and overall presentable.
Check here for tips and live examples on how to make your site visually pleasing.
What you really want to avoid is your website looking like this.
Yep, it’s horrid.
Simplicity is key. Stick to high quality images, consistent layouts, and colors. Maximum 2 different fonts – for headings and body, and 2 accent colors.
And I know it sounds simple, but website design is hard to nail down sometimes. That’s why people study Website Design to do it right.
If you don’t want to make your store, head to Fiverr to outsource it cheaply. But make sure to do your research first, and contact many sellers out there! Get your money’s worth!
5. Picking the wrong product
You can get yourself into heaps of trouble if you choose a product you’re not even licensed to sell.
A bunch of copyrighted or branded products cannot be sold by you unless you want to get copyright struck.
AliExpress is full of these products. Selling counterfeit goods or designer items is almost like a culture thing in China. These things sell well, but don’t be tempted to do it yourself.
There’s also a bunch of items like:
- Dangerous, sharp
- Safety gear
You should refrain from selling all of these items. The reason why is that Facebook is very strict with its ads. It doesn’t allow most of these products to be advertised on the platform. That will cause scalability issues on your behalf.
Another reason is high shipping fees for big and bulky products, and potential court cases if some cosmetics item causes bodily harm.
Check this list of 13 products that should be avoided at all times when dropshipping.
6. Trying to create demand instead of leveraging existing interest
When you’re researching dropshipping for the first time, the most common thing that is word vomited onto your face is “BE UNIQUE”.
That doesn’t mean you have to do something no one has ever done before.
It’s perfectly fine to do things that have already been done before. In fact, that’s the whole point of dropshipping! That’s what will allow you to succeed.
Pick a viral product, or something that has a “wow” factor, model the store based on your 5 best-selling competitors, try to out-do them, fix their flaws, and offer a compelling marketing advantage. Maybe an upsell or “buy more for less” kinda deal.
I get that it’s hard to tell yourself to chill down with all the fancy Shopify add-ons. But believe me when I say that less is more when it comes to dropshipping.
7. Not putting enough thought into product delivery
Great customer support is key.
Many people have already been scammed by Facebook ads far too many times. The interest in dropshipping is growing as fast as skepticism toward it.
A fellow dropshipper Emma Reid who was featured on Oberlo once recently posted a feedback survey of her customers who ordered from the store but nearly didn’t.
The responses were almost all identical – everyone had problems with rubbish Facebook purchases, scammed etc.
You have to start thinking about your store from the customers’ perspective. Ask yourself if you’d buy from your store. If you’d only maybe buy it. Get feedback from friends and family.
Another important thing to think about is shipping times. How can you improve them? Alternative sourcing options?
You should contact the supplier before dropshipping with it. Establish a relationship.
It’s really hard to have any quality control done with dropshipping. That’s why you’re advised to create a brand and move away from suppliers such as AliExpress ASAP.
If you want to stay in this game for the long run, you have to continually research about how to improve the processes, make your customer happy, reduce shipping times, improve product quality, make shipping more efficient – deliver orders in the same package.
It’s important to start thinking about the logistics since the start.
You have to want your customer to be excited about your products.
8. Focusing on too many products at once
Selling fewer products is a proven and tested approach to dropshipping.
You shouldn’t underestimate the amount of time product creation takes. Finding, listing, branding multiple products takes a huge chunk of your time.
This branded store HeySilkySkin sells one product only with one possible upsell and generates hundreds of thousands of dollars per month.
You have to learn how to sell one product to be able to sell a lot.
Moreover, people are distrustful of spammy general stores that list a bunch of unrelated trendy products in hopes that they’d sell. As I’ve mentioned multiple times already – people get scammed on the internet. Nowadays, they want to establish trust before buying.
If you sell 1-3 niche products, you present yourself as an expert in a specific niche or product.
Imagine you want to sell lava lamps. Then make a store related to some lava lamp design and sell multiple different colors.
Selling fewer products means targeting will be easier and more filtered.
If you sold everything, then who’d you market it to? Who would be your audience?
9. Blindly following gurus’ advice instead of trying to understand the process
Here we come back to the point that the fellow Redditer made – find what works for you!
Many gurus will use words like “this is the only way” or “do this to generate xxx” or “you will not see success without this <insert some stupid Shopify ad-on>”.
Often times gurus are part of affiliate programs that pay them very generously for the products/services they advertise. Therefore, they use very convincing words in order to get you use their services, so they could get that percentage of the sale.
Have an open mind! Don’t trust one source blindly.
Research multiple different channels to find out how to make something work.
There’s a bunch of tutorials online telling you how to do this and that. They’re beginner content because it’s easy to make and doesn’t reveal any real techniques.
Don’t trust everything you see. Take it with a pinch of salt. Question things.
Yes, it gets really tiring at times. There’s so many things to know. But being inquisitive will pay you back tenfold once you get the hang of it.
You really only learn by doing, and doing is always harder and more confusing than learning ever has been. It’s uncomfortable, but you gotta be in the grind to win it!
“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”Richard Branson
10. Being afraid to spend money
Not many speak about this, but letting go of the monetary desires and the fear that comes with spending money is a big step in this journey.
“An important distinction is that rich people buy luxuries last, while the poor and middle class tend to buy luxuries first.”Robert Kiyosaki, “Rich Dad Poor Dad”
I keep preaching this book, but honestly people, go read it.
If you need a last push of motivation to start this or any business, this book may just be it.
People usually don’t even flinch at the thought of spending thousands for university education, hundreds for nice dinner meals, clothes, new Apple phones, cars, houses etc.
Somehow all of these seem like absolute necessities.
However, once it comes to starting a business, the budget disappears somewhere.
People are afraid to invest.
Because of risk and uncertainty.
When you buy a pair of shoes, you know they’re gonna be here with you until you walk them in or rip them to shreds.
When you buy an Apple phone, you know it’ll be your loyal servant until you decide to smash it to the concrete. By accident, of course.
Business doesn’t have that security, you can’t visualize it. That’s what makes it scary.
Personally, I don’t feel the fear of spending money on business. But I also don’t live in America and my salary is not sky high, which makes saving up harder.
But I can gladly give up many luxuries in life, because they’re not assets. The goal is to live below your means.
And a way to get into this mindset is by having passion, and desire to succeed. It’s hard to do that without a good support system, so reading motivation books or joining Reddit communities may serve as a good first step.
11. Giving up too early
The pinnacle of all dropshipping mistakes ever is giving up too early!
This one goes without saying for about anything in life.
It’s so easy to get discouraged, and even easier to quit. Because instead of having to flex your brain muscles to do some problem-solving, you can instead release them and say “dropshipping is dead”.
The brain is like a muscle. It takes effort to exercise it and come up with ideas when you can just zone out, grab some popcorn, Netflix, and chill, and call it a day.
All of that is totally normal. Especially in year 2020.
I personally have 10 doubts creeping in on me with every idea that I get. And have to fight them off every time.
It’s hard to continue with dropshipping when there’s so many obstacles, when you don’t see any progress, or when you’re budget is nearing 0.
You don’t need to stop though!
There’s ways to dropship for FREE.
You have to keep an open mind and be creative.
Find a way to move forward. Save money if necessary. Use the free time for education and idea generation.
There is always room for progress if you choose to continue.
If you choose to give up, then there’s no room for anything anymore. It’s like death. You won’t see any success and won’t see any failure.
And there’s always a chance of success if you don’t give up.
Check these Oberlo featured success stories for dropshipping ideas and inspiration.