In this article, I’ll run you through 7 important factors most beginners ignore and the best dropshipping stores all have in common, and guide you through implementing them into your store!
Dropshipping has evolved in recent years. What worked back in 2016 may not necessarily work today due to one important reason… Competition!!
The popularity of dropshipping has exploded which means you need to do something a little different to stand out from the crowd. There simply isn’t enough room for everyone who starts a dropshipping business to have success.
The very best dropshippers need to innovate and think outside the box when it comes to their websites.
I have no statistics to back me up, but I’m guessing the majority of dropshipping stores fail and the majority of people attempting dropshipping fail.
So what are the best and most successful stores doing differently from the average newcomer starting a Shopify store filled with a bunch of AliExpress products?
1. They Don’t Look Like a Dropshipping Store
The problem with dropshipping is it has a poor reputation. This is due to the fact that many people who enter the dropshipping industry are in it to make a quick dollar, no matter the consequences. They sell cheap inferior products, provide long shipping times and poor customer service with no consideration for a long-term business.
Because of this you ideally want to create a dropshipping store that appears like a regular online retail store. Many consumers know how to identify a dropshipping store and will check for details such as an address, phone number and business email prior to making a purchase.
This matches their store and sounds like a professional business. Instead, imagine if their email was [email protected]. Anyone who has seen that would be thinking “is this site legit?”.
Many companies offer business emails for around $5 a month. A better option I use is to use Bluehost which is a hosting service. You can have up to 5 business emails as part of their service and if you click this link you can pay as little as $2.95 a month with their current offer.
When it comes to adding a phone number to your store, you have a few options:
- Simply use your own phone number if you’re comfortable doing so
- You can use a virtual answering service such as Ruby or ReceptionHQ
- Get a free virtual number. With this you can then either get an additional sim if your phone can take multiple sims or buy a cheap burner phone to receive the calls.
A phone number is far more important if you’re selling high-quality or high-ticket items. If you’re selling $15 phone cases then a phone number is preferred but not essential.
The next addition the best dropshipping stores provide is an actual physical business address. I know what you’re thinking, you don’t want to put your home address on your dropshipping store. I get it, I wouldn’t do that either. Don’t worry you have a few options:
- You can use a virtual office. These vary in price depending on the types of service you require but they are generally from around $10 a month.
- A PO Box is another option. It won’t exactly give you a physical address but it will provide your business with some trust.
- The last option is a little sneaky. Google an office building you want to be located. See what their office building numbers go up to and just put your address as the next number. It won’t really exist but if someone Googles it, it’ll look like you’re located at that office building.
Making these changes will have a huge impact on the overall trust and professionalism of your store.
Check out my article on the most profitable Shopify stores to see what is possible.
2. They Customize their Products
Dropshipping is an amazing business model which is why it draws a lot of people to it and why it has become so competitive. The problem is if you’re dropshipping from AliExpress, as soon as you start making some sales you’ll have some competition.
Copycats will see your order count ticking over and realize there’s money to be made with your product. You’ll see new stores pop up overnight selling the same product as you. That’s the problem with AliExpress, everyone has access to the same products making it hard to gain any advantages over your competitors.
The best dropshipping stores deal with manufacturers in China to make alterations and improvements to their products. This allows their products to stand out and differentiate them from the rest of the crowd.
Each time they make a bulk order from their supplier or manufacturer they may make different changes. The changes they make will differ depending on the type of products, here’s a few examples of the types of changes they’ll make:
- Improved battery life
- Improved materials
- Change of or extra colors/designs
- Add the stores logo
- Extra features
Many manufacturers won’t produce products until orders are made so all these changes are possible.
Depending on the language barrier between the Chinese supplier and the merchant, it can be difficult to communicate specific changes. You’ll find many Chinese suppliers who claim to be able to speak English are simply using a language translator app.
It’s a far better option to deal with a Chinese dropshipping agent who can also speak English and is able to relay the information accurately to the manufacturer.
The best dropshipping websites are also smart enough to make deals with their manufacturer to give them exclusive rights to their product. If they’re doing large enough volume the manufacturers will be happy with this. This cuts out all other competitors for their exact product design.
3. They Appear Like the Original Creator
It doesn’t matter how amazing a product is, if customers don’t trust a store they won’t buy from that store. One great way of creating trust is to give the impression to the customer that the store they are buying from is the original creator of the products.
The best dropshipping sites have deliberately themed and branded their store in this way. The store and the products appear much more trustworthy and legitimate which increases the product’s perceived value.
Obviously, these stores are simply dropshipping, so how do they give this impression to their customers?
1. They give the products really unique names. By giving the products these unique names it appears as though it is a specialized product and their store is the original brand.
Check out the store below, they are simply selling drink bottles. But they’ve named their store Halo Bottle, all their products have Halo on them and they’ve even given each color a unique name.
They appear like they are the original creator of the Halo drink bottle. If they tried selling one of these drink bottles in a general store but called it a “green water bottle” they couldn’t sell them for half that price.
Another big advantage of giving products unique names is people can’t price check the same product. If you Google “Halo Vesper Drink Bottle” no other stores will be selling the same one, making their water bottle appear specialized.
2. They theme their store to match the products. If their selling products of a specific look they’ll design their store to have a similar look. If the products are blue and yellow then the site will be blue and yellow.
They want the store to have the same feel as the products so the customer feels as though the store and the products were designed together. From the colors to the fonts to the content, it all needs to match the niche they are selling. If you need some inspiration for your own niche store, I suggest you read my article on niche store examples to give you some ideas.
3. Their content is designed in a way that the reader believes they planned and created these products in mind from the start.
Check out a section of the eCommerce store Blend Jet. Their content talks about the story behind Blend Jet and how it was founded. They mention how there was a need in the market for a portable blender that could make clump-free smoothies.
Shoppers would read this and the perceived view would be that they created this blender because there was a market for it.
Their content is designed in a way that the reader believes they planned and created these products in mind from the start. When the truth is they were more than likely looking for a product to make them a lot of money and simply stumbled upon this blender.
4. They Add Social Proof
Have you ever seen that restaurant or that cafe that is always packed or always has a lineup? You instantly assume the food must be delicious, even though you’ve never tasted it. That’s social proof.
People use social proof as a way of validating how good something is, without any real evidence it’s any good. A consumer’s thought is “Someone else is doing it, it must be good”. This is especially important with an online store as consumers need to trust a store before they’re willing to hand over their credit card details.
All the best dropshipping stores use social proof in their stores. But what do they do to implement social proof?
Reviews are the number 1 way of adding social proof to eCommerce stores. According to this Forbes article, 84% of online shoppers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Even as a brand new site many dropshippers upload the reviews for the product from AliExpress onto their sites.
Similar to reviews, testimonials are another way of adding social proof. Testimonials are essentially positive reviews that are showcased on a website. Testimonials are especially important on dropshipping stores that have products that require some proof they work as advertised.
For example, check out this store Lettuce Grow, a store selling vertical vegetable stands. Customers need to feel confident that the product does what the website is claiming and testimonials do this effectively. If you had a dropshipping store selling something requiring less proof like plush toys or sunglasses, testimonials are far less required.
Social Proof Notifications
You know those annoying little notifications that pop up in the corner of your screen claiming somebody from some city just purchased a product from the store you’re looking at? That’s a social proof notification.
Basically, the store you’re currently browsing at is letting you know that they’re in demand so you better buy from us. The goal of the little notification is to provide the consumer with trust and to create a bit of urgency and scarcity to compel you to pull the trigger and make a purchase.
Personally, I find them a little spammy and kind of annoying, but they do work depending on what you’re selling. I would never use them on a branded store or a high ticket store when you’re trying to portray a more high-end or luxury feel.
If you plan to use these notifications, I’d recommend using Fomo Social Proof. They have a free version that allows up to 1,000 notifications a month.
5. They Create Custom Videos
The best stores create really unique and creative videos showcasing their store in a way that connects and relates to their audience.
So many beginners will use the same videos to promote their products that AliExpress uses. Big mistake. So many people are already using these videos and you’ll never stand out from the crowd using the same resources as everyone else.
An example of a store that nailed its video is finalstraw.com. It explains what the product is, what it does, its benefits, its benefits to the environment and most of all it’s funny and entertaining.
Another store that has created amazing videos and images is Articture. They’ve created stunning and sleek videos for each of their products. They appear to be a dropshipping store but have the perception of a luxury furniture store with premium prices.
6. They Stop Dropshipping
The best dropshipping stores actually stop dropshipping many of their products at some point. Dropshipping is the ideal business model, you be the middleman between the consumer and the supplier. The problem can be profit margins aren’t always high as you are expecting a supplier to ship individual products on your behalf instead of buying the products in bulk at wholesale prices.
Many dropshippers will purchase their most popular products in bulk and have them shipped to a fulfillment center (3PL) who will then ship each product individually. This often means high margins for the dropshipper and faster shipping for the customer.
This is a great way for the best dropshipping websites to gain an advantage over their competitors. They can essentially provide a better buying experience and undercut their competitors as they are paying less for the product.
This is one of the biggest advantages of a one-product dropshipping store. You only need to purchase a single product in bulk which minimizes the risk. Compare this to having a niche store with 100 products. This is why many stores only buy their popular products in bulk and dropship the rest.
Ben Francis founder of Gymshark started off dropshipping apparel and supplements. As time went on and the business began to grow, he stopped dropshipping and transitioned into designing and manufacturing. Gymshark is now worth $1.3 billion.
This is one of the many examples of a dropshipping store that simply used dropshipping as a stepping stone to expand its eCommerce business.
7. They Brand their Dropshipping Store
If you’ve been researching dropshipping, you may have come across the term “branded dropshipping”. This is a term dropshippers have coined which refers to finding a profitable product or products and building a brand around them.
All the best dropshipping stores you’ll find online have implemented branding into their store. This doesn’t mean you simply create a logo and have it added to your products and you have a brand.
For some examples, I suggest you check out my article The Best Branded Dropshipping Store Examples!
The very best dropshippers create a store based around a very specific niche and a very specific audience in mind. They then design a store with their audience in mind so the store feels as though it is specially designed for them.
I stumbled upon this eCommerce store recently, Beef Cake Swimwear. We all know those fun, imperfect and beefy (slightly annoying) people who are also loud and proud of it. This store is designed for that very specific audience in mind.
You need to have an audience in mind when creating an eCommerce store. With the amount of choice consumers have online, you need to provide the best possible shopping experience.
If you plan on branding your store, I would stay away from building a general store. Branding is not as effective when your target audience is everyone. I have some examples of general stores that are still successful without branding.
The hardest part of starting a dropshipping business is you have few advantages over your competitors when you first start.
Generally, you’ll have access to the same products, the same suppliers, the same prices, the same ad platforms and the list goes on. This can make it tough in a competitive space like dropshipping.
This is why it’s so important to gain little advantages where you can. The best way you can do this is to look at the most successful dropshipping stores and ask yourself what they’re doing differently?
- How are they driving traffic?
- How have they branded their store?
- Which social media platforms are they mostly using and why?
- Which ad platforms are they using the most and why?
- Are they shipping from China or domestically?
- Where are they sourcing their products from?
- How are they formulating their ads?
It’s as simple as seeing what is working and not only copying aspects of their success but improving upon them.