Category Archives for "Drop Shipping"
Returns and refunds are part of drop shipping and you should make sure that you are complying with the distance selling laws in the country you are selling in. For example, the European laws dictate that we must allow customers 14 days to change their mind. Which means that even if there is nothing wrong with the item, the customer has the right to return it for a refund (providing the item is in the exact same condition they received it in) within 14 days.
Does this increase returns? Not in my experience. It’s simply a matter of providing great customer service and keeping your customers on side!
You can keep returns to a minimum by following the below guidelines:
Always try to answer customer emails within 24 hours on business days. If you are expecting to be without an Internet connection or unavailable for more than 24 hours during business days, set up an automated response in your email account to let customers know that it might take a little longer than usual to get a reply.
Set up an automatic email response to go out every time a customer sends an email to you. It should say something like…
“Thank you for your message. We will get back to you as soon as possible”
Avoid selling items that have higher than average return rates. For example, clothing and footwear because these items are often returned as the wrong size. Be careful with electronics because of possible faults.
How to Deal with Returns if you Drop Ship in a Country that You Do Not Reside in
If you drop ship in the country you live in, then dealing with returns is simple because you can use your own address as the return address. You can then forward the returns to the drop shipper as and when necessary.
However, what if – for example – you live in France and you want to drop ship in the US.
Firstly you should carefully check the returns policy of the drop ship supplier you want to use. If you’re not 100% clear, drop them an email or give them a call to get clarity. Some suppliers will accept returns directly, but many will not. It’s not the supplier’s responsibility to deal with anything customer related, so if they DO accept returns directly, it’s a bonus! Normally you will need to deal with the return from the customer and if the item is faulty, return it to the supplier.
If you end up selling high volumes of items from a drop ship supplier, sometimes they will be happy to provide you with a custom solution for returns. When you are new however, you won’t get any special treatment.
Secondly, there are dozens (in fact probably 100’s) of companies in the US who will accept parcels for you and then forward them on to another address in the US (or worldwide). Obviously, this is not ideal because you can’t inspect the item before it gets sent back to the drop ship supplier. However, some companies also offer inspecting and photographing of the parcel contents.
Simply do a Google search for ‘parcel forwarding service US’
If you want to sell in the US and you live in another country, you should not let this obstacle prevent you. Nowadays there are solutions to almost everything when it comes to selling physical products online!
What about returned items that were purchased from China?
It depends on the value of the items. Low-value items (items that are worth less than the cost of shipping back to China) should be written off a business expense.
Higher value items should be returned to the Chinese supplier for a refund – but only if they are in some way faulty.
There will always be some items that you need to write off a business expense. It these items are still useable, you can keep them for personal use.
To conclude – everybody gets some refunds and returns but you should be able to keep them below 3% – 4%.
Recent surveys have shown that 83% of us will read at least one review before making a purchase.
Reviews are social proof and we live in a time when social proof is given more importance than almost anything else when it comes to deciding what to spend our money on.
Many shoppers will ignore products with no reviews if those products are displayed alongside products with reviews. Even a single positive review can boost sales by over 500%.
However, on average only about 1 in 50 customers will post a review. So what if you’re selling from your own store and don’t have a lot of customers (yet), or if you’ve only just launched your store? How do you start getting social proof?
It’s actually a lot easier than you might think 🙂 The reason only 1 in 50 shoppers leaves a review is not because they don’t want to. It’s because they don’t even think about it. It’s not important to them. It’s our job to make them think about it and give them a reason to do it!
When selling from your own store you can employ strategies that you couldn’t employ if you were selling on Amazon, eBay, or any of the other big online marketplaces.
In fact, there are things you can do to get as many as 1 in 2 of your customers to post a review about the product they purchased and/or, their experience with your business. So, even if your store is only getting 10 sales a week, you could turn around 5 of those into reviews.
Step 1 – Install a loyalty points app/plugin on your store.
Step 2 – Install a product reviews app/plugin on your store.
If you are using Shopify or WordPress, there are plenty of these types of apps and plugins available. Many are free or have a free trial so that you can try them out to see if you like them.
Step 3 – Create an email scheduled to go out to your customers about 2 weeks after the order was placed. You can adjust the time period based on your store’s shipping and delivery policies. Be sure to allow enough time for the customer to receive and use the product.
Email subject line:
‘Get 100 rewards points for reviewing your purchase of xyx’ (where xyz is the product they purchased)
Hi (first name)
Thank you for your purchase. We hope you love it. Would you consider posting an online review to help other buyers?
It only takes 2 minutes, but we know you are probably very busy, that’s why we want to reward you for your time.
(store name) will add 100 rewards points to your account, which you can redeem against any future purchases.
(link here for the customer to post a review)
Thank you in advance for your review and for being a preferred customer.
The second method, which can be used in conjunction with the first, is to place inserts inside the product packaging. This might be difficult if you’re drop shipping, but if you’re shipping the orders out yourself, it’s easy to do it.
You can have A5 or A6 inserts printed up very cheaply. Simply do the same as in email method. Ask for a review in return for reward points.
By the way, I’ve used 100 rewards points as an example. It could be less or more than that.
The third method is a variation on the above two methods. Do the same as above, but instead of rewards points, give the customer free entry into a prize draw where the prize is a gift card/voucher for your store. You could run a draw every quarter for example.
Okay so what else can we do to ask our customers for reviews? One of the problems with emails is that not everyone reads them – as we know!
We want to get the message out in as many ways as possible and one of the best ways is via your store Facebook page (you do have a FB page for your store, right? If not, you should seriously consider creating one).
You can create regular posts requesting reviews and use similar or the same methods as already described.
As time goes on and your sales, customers and reviews build up, you probably won’t need to do anything except for sending out a standard email asking the customer to leave a review. In fact, if you only do that and nothing else, you will still double the number of reviews you get compared to if you do nothing at all.
In the beginning though, when you need extra help to get your store sales volume up, use the strategies described in this post to build your reviews and social proof as quickly as possible 🙂
Even in today’s competitive market, new e-commerce stores are launching and turning into enormous successes. The opportunity is there to create a fantastic lifestyle, so it’s not surprising that many entrepreneurs are attracted to the idea of running their own online store.
But, for every one that succeeds, there are probably another 10 that are doomed right from the start. First impressions make or break a brand new store, so it’s vital to get it right.
Let’s look at the reasons why so many stores are doomed to fail before they even get their first customer, and what can be done to fix things.
One of the biggest reasons of all is untrustworthiness.
Shoppers are always concerned for the safety of their card details and personal details. A site will look untrustworthy if there is no proper contact information.
To fix this add a ‘Get Help’ page to your menu where you can include your store’s contact details (a contact form alone is not enough). Use a ‘chat’ plugin or a Facebook messenger plugin so that visitors know they can contact you easily. It’s vital to have a physical address on your site as well. The main message is: don’t be anonymous or give the impression that you are ‘hiding’. It’s also a good idea to add a ‘secure checkout’ icon.
The domain name you choose for your store also has an impact on trustworthiness. You can buy sub-level domains for $1 or less, but you won’t be doing your store any favors. Stick to top-level domains. Dot com or the country extension of the country your store is operating in.
Another reason is lack of information regarding shipping, delivery times and returns.
To fix this one add a ‘Delivery & Returns’ page to the footer menu. Even better, in addition to the footer page, add an FAQ page to the main menu and include your delivery and returns information on that page too.
Blurry and distorted images
This one should be obvious, but I’ve seen it many times. Images should be clear and high resolution. This applies to all images on the site – the header image, product page images, thumbnails and any other images. If using a slider, take the time to find images that actually fit the slider dimensions otherwise they will display as stretched or squashed.
Spelling mistakes and typos
Wording does not need to be perfect by any means, but if there are obvious typos and spelling mistakes, your store will not come across as credible. Take the time to proof-read your content, or use a spell checker (remember, spell checkers do not always pick up homophones – words that sound alike but are spelt differently and have different meanings – such as there and their.)
Pricing is something that should be checked out even before making the decision to sell whatever it is you plan to sell. You do not need to be the cheapest and in fact, you should never try to be, but if you can’t price a product reasonably (based on the prices being charged by other stores), then it’s better not to sell that product at all.
A big part of making a good first impression is the aesthetics of your website. Not everyone is naturally creative or has an eye for aesthetics, but we don’t need to be. We can model the layouts and colour schemes of other successful stores. If in doubt about your ability to create a store that looks good and has a ‘professional’ look about it, simply start checking out popular stores and try to mimic their colours and layout as much as possible.
Not enough content
By this, I don’t mean not enough products offered for sale. A store can be hugely successful with just one product. I’m talking about the pages on your site, the sidebar (if you have one), the footer, the header. It’s always a good idea to have an ‘About’ page with some information about your store, what you sell, who you are. A ‘Get Help’ page goes a long way to make a visitor feel confident. If the main menu looks a bit bare, add your categories to make it look ‘busier’.
If the header has huge white or empty spaces, try to fill it up a bit or change the header. Use plugins or apps to add more detail to your site. For example, a ‘free shipping’ or ‘latest deals’ plugin.
With a bit of thought and effort, you can make you new store look much more content-rich than it actually is!
Sometimes the stuff that sells well, is not the stuff we would automatically think of. Here are a few niches that are really hot right now – as of summer 2017.
Mermaids – everything mermaids – jewelry, t-shirts, toys, mugs, blankets, tote bags. This is going crazy at the moment. Seriously, there are even groups for people who want to discuss whether or not mermaids are real, groups for reporting mermaid sightings, and other groups that you probably don’t want to know about! The main thing is that mermaid themed products are selling like mad and since mermaids have been ‘around’ for centuries, this is a fad that may well stick around for a while.
Unicorns – same as above. Unicorn themed stuff has come into fashion again and although it’s not as hot as mermaids, there are still a lot of opportunities here.
Owls – owls have always been popular, but they have become even more popular over the past year or so. Wall art, jewelry, soft toys, mugs and tote-bags, ornaments and more.
Wall Decor/Art for KIDS/BABIES rooms – think stickers, canvases, murals. This is a great opportunity because wall art, especially the stick-on kind, is very cheap to buy wholesale. I’ve stressed kids and babies rooms because this is the type of wall art that sells the best.
Wooden Watches – Not a huge niche, but still big enough if you can find a supply of really nice looking wooden watches at a good price.
Bonsai Tree Seeds (not sure of the implications of importing these) – very, very popular right now and probably will remain so. You can get seeds for almost any bonsai you can imagine and on AliExpress these are very cheap with lots of good feedback from buyers. You would definitely need to find out about the implications of importing these into your own country.
Coloured Vegetable Seeds (same as above regarding importing) – think purple and yellow carrots for example. These coloured veggies are being sold in grocery shops all over the place now. It’s not just veggies either. Coloured flower seeds are also really hot. If you’ve not seen them, these are multicoloured, or vividly coloured flowers and plants. Again, very cheap on AliExpress.
Melamine’Magic’Cleaning Sponges – cleans everything using only water. I remember several years back ‘magic cloths’ were hot. Magic sponges do the same thing. In other words, they clean almost anything, from upholstery to ovens, without using any detergent. These sponges are selling a lot right now and this is another product that can be sourced very cheaply on AliExpress.
Messenger Bags – for men and women. Messenger bags are simply cross-body bags that come in various shapes, sizes, materials and designs. The most profit is to be had from selling mid-priced bags at around the $40 – $70 range. These bags are really ‘in’ at the moment, for both women AND men.
Protecting your personal privacy online is ultra-important, especially if the physical address you do business from is also your home address. You absolutely do not want to display your home address on your website, nor should you display your personal phone number either. The reasons for this should be obvious 🙂
However, if you do have an address on your website, it increases trust and this is especially true if you have an e-commerce store. As well as this, if you have a list of email subscribers, the can-spam laws dictate that you must have an address at the bottom of any correspondence that you send to your list.
So what’s the solution?
A dedicated mailing address in a country of your choice.
But this is expensive, right?
It can be, yes, but only if you expect to be getting a lot of mail to that address. In practice, you will probably get no mail at all because you won’t be using the address for that purpose. You will be using it only to gain credibility on your website and to comply with can-spam laws when sending emails.
I recently came across a great little service called Clevver Mail. The basic plan (which is probably all you will need) only costs around $1 a month and in fact, it’s completely free for the first 6 months. They currently have real addresses in 12 countries and can choose your address when you register.
So now you can get yourself a real address (not a PO box!), in a country of your choice and it won’t cost you a penny for 6 months 🙂
One of the biggest challenges when starting a new online store is deciding what to sell. How do you know if a product will sell well or not? Nobody likes to waste time because after all, time is money!
What if you had a way to spy on 1000’s of stores. See their top-selling products, which Shopify theme they’re using, which Shopify apps they’ve installed. And what if you could filter through 200K stores to spy on certain niches and categories. There IS a program that can do all of this and much more…
If you happen to be one of my drop shipping students, you will know that I’m not a big advocate of drop shipping from AliExpress, but at the same time, I realise that many of you want to do it anyway 🙂 So, for those of you who want to drop ship from AliExpress, you will also get access to the Inspector tool, which uncovers the best selling products on AliExpress. Even if you are not using AliExpress, and even if you are not drop shipping, you can still use this tool to discover which types of products are really hot right now!
Earlier today I got some really interesting drop shipping questions from one of my new students and decided to post them here for the benefit of anyone considering drop shipping. I’ve not named the student for privacy reasons because these questions were posted inside the course Q & A area, but here are his exact questions, along with my answers:
1) Which e-commerce websites rely on the dropshipping model?( I’m asking because I’d like to see some online stores best practices which I can use as a model)
“Lots of them! Even big online stores like Zappos, but you would never know simply by looking at the website. Here’s another autoanything.com. I LOVE the look of that store! Blinds.com was built entirely on drop shipping and made the owners very, very wealthy. In fact, they sold the store for something like $50 million.”
2) What are some failure points for beginning dropshippers? What are some reasons that people getting into dropshipping give up?
“Good question. Cutting corners is one reason. You can’t succeed if you don’t put in the effort to create a store that visitors would want to buy from. Tenacity is another reason, but this is no different to any kind of business. You’ve got to stick with it. Resourcefulness is another. That’s not to be confused with ‘resources’ because you could have two different people, one with $10,000 to start his business and the other with $100. The person with $100 could easily be the one to succeed, while the person with $10,000 fails. Resourcefulness is more about using what’s available to you in order to overcome challenges and find solutions to problems. We all have the Internet and we all have a brain. We can use these things to solve problems and move forward.”
3) What are some reasons that online drop shipping stores fail?
“There are many and some are listed above. Other reasons would apply to any online store, not just drop shipping. Not enough traffic is one, and in which case you just need to work on getting traffic. Poor quality products, poor customer service. Again, these things apply to any online store. I suppose the one thing that’s really different is that we are not in control of the orders being shipped out. This means that whenever you start with a new supplier, you need to be watchful. If you start getting multiple inquiries from customers about orders being late, that sort of thing, then you need to try and fix this with the supplier and if you can’t, ditch the supplier and find a replacement.”
This is a really valid question. I can almost guarantee that if you are thinking about setting up an online store, then you have at very least some niggling doubts about whether or not it’s possible to compete.
For most people, Amazon is the big beast and the one they feel most ‘afraid’ of. After all, Amazon have huge resources. They can launch in a new market and afford to run at a loss in that market for years if they want to.
How can you, as a new small business with limited financial resources, even hope to compete with giants like Amazon?
You can, but not in the way that usually springs to mind first. Price.
In fact, you should never even attempt to compete on price with stores like Amazon because you will lose almost every time.
However, you can compete in other ways, and these other ways are generating billions of dollars in e-commerce revenue for the ‘little guy’.
Think about it this way; If it were impossible for a new e-commerce store to succeed, then why are there still many, many new stores going from zero to $10’s of $1000’s in revenue a month within a relatively short space of time?
You can succeed, but only by choosing a specific niche and making your mark on that niche.
By making yourself an ‘authority’ in that niche. By providing value on your website – over and above the products you sell. This means you need to create content such as blog posts, articles, and anything else that will give value to your store visitors.
Let me give you an example:
Let’s say your store sells golfing equipment. Instead of just selling golf supplies, you could also provide a wealth of information on your store. Such as tips and guides on how to improve your golf, tips for complete golfing novices, best places to learn how to golf…
You could also have a live chat app running on your store. Even if you only have it running for a couple of hours a day, you will convert a lot of visitors into buyers that way.
There are tons of different ways to make your store stand out.
The main point here is that price is not everything and it’s certainly not the only factor in a customer’s buying decision. If it was the only factor, there would be no retail industry. It would be a constant ‘race to the bottom’ to sell at the lowest price and the whole thing would just collapse!
So yes, there is still plenty of opportunity out there for anyone with the motivation and determination to succeed with a new online store 🙂
Want to know a quick and easy way to turn more of your store visitors into buyers?
Add a simple animated video to one of your pages.
You could do this on any page, but it’s really effective on the ‘About Us’ page or the ‘Delivery Information’ page.
So what should your video be about?
If it’s on the ‘About Us’page, you could create a short video to inform visitors about your company/product line/customer service. If it’s on the ‘Delivery Info’ page, you could create one that explains your delivery times/policies, along with information about returns and refunds.
Here are some ‘Do’s’ and ‘Don’t’s’ for your video:
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