This month I launched my very first dropshipping business and it was a hell of a ride. Since December 10th, my dropshipping shop selling ergonomic office chairs is online!
It all started with validating the dropshipping idea and finding the right partner who'd ship quality products in my name. To sell the products delivered by the wholesaler, I needed to set up an online shop. This post will outline the process I've gone through to build my online shop. When you've finished reading, you'll know what things to consider when you're launching your online shop.
I found my wholesaler by accident when I requested becoming a member in an affiliate program. It turned out that the distributor is also offering dropshipping partnerships, which obviously is more profitable than promoting the same product as affiliate. So instead of launching a blog to promote affiliate products, I had to launch an online shop.
Selfhosting vs. Services
Launching an online shop can be done in various ways. I you want to have the full control about your shop and are a bit tech-savvy, you shuold consider to host your online shop on your own server.
You could launch an online store with WordPress, the same platform millions of people are using for blogging. There free extension WooCommerce is brilliant to create an online shop easily and with all necessary functionality. You can find more information about WooCommerce and how to use it here.
I'm not using WooCommerce though, I'm going with a pure online shop software called Magento. This software isn't as easy to use as WordPress but is highly customizable, comes with extensive shopping functions like saved shopping carts, multi-level product categories and attribute sets, and far more functions than WooCommerce.
This post is not about online shop software though, that would be a post on itself. This post is to be more general and thus I'm referring you to this comparison between WooCommerce and Magento.
WooCommerce and Magento are just two options you can use to host your shop on your own server. Others would be OpenCart or 3D Cart. Andrew Youdarian wrote a great article on launching an online shop.
Rather than hosting your shop on your own server, you can pay services like Shopify to build an online shop. It's easy to use and it's quite cheap to build an online shop with it.
In their tour you can see what kind of online shops you can build using their services. They come with pre-designed templates, state-of-the-art security, payment gateways and all functions you need to have when you're launching an online shop.
After all it's not important that you know all different ways to build an online shop. Don't get paralyzed by analysis, it's more important that you decide on one system and see if it works for you. We all have different skills and thus we all can handle different services.
When you're launching an online shop, you need to make sure that you are aware of the most common processes your business needs to fulfill.
- People will search for information about your products.
- People love to compare products.
- People love creating wishlists and to save their shopping carts "to come back later".
- People want to calculate shipping costs, taxes, discounts, etc. while viewing their shopping carts.
- People want to ship independent billing and shipping addresses.
- People want to review their latest orders and easily order them again from time to time (depends on your product).
- People want to pay with their favorite payment gateways.
- People want to be sure to get the product when they pay.
- People want to pay with trustworthy payment processors / payment gateways.
- People want to call hotlines when they have questions about your products.
- People want to have email forms to contact you.
- People want to have free returns without any stupid questions.
- People want to access information easily.
- People need to trust you before they buy from you.
- People hate to pay for shipping, especially since Amazon Prime.
- People hate to wait for items to be shipped.
- People want to track their items while being shipped.
- People want to return products for free.
- Some laws force store owners to pay for shipping of product returns.
Do you have processes and ways to handle those needs of your customers? Get those in place before you start your shop publicly, otherwise it'll cause nothing but headaches and not that freedom you are dreaming of.
Now you know about the most important processes you need to take care of when you're considering to start an online shop. It's not just about a nice look and feel and differentiating yourself from the competition. It's about giving your customer the best experience possible!