Having been involved in the dropshipping world of a couple of years now – on both sides of the coin – I know that one of the biggest challenges people have boils down to managing their dropshipping business.
“As soon as big-time sales started to come in I had roadblock after roadblock. It got so stressful that I started actively hoping I’d get less customers just so that I’d have time to manage my business.”
Nothing slams the breaks on this business faster than a supply chain that feels like its actively working against you. You can’t consistently deliver, you can’t keep products in stock, you never know what you’re QA is going to be from one order to another…
A messy supply chain bottoms out more businesses in this industry than anything else.
But it doesn’t have to be like that anymore.
Below I’m going to really deep dive into the nuts and bolts of better managing your drop shipping business. and I’ll show you the inside information most “gurus” won’t so that you can enjoy the kind of success that can change your life forever.
Here’ what we are going to cover:
- Finding your WHY behind your business
- The three essential building blocks for creating a seven-figure dropshipping empire and
- The actual tools being used RIGHT NOW to streamline your supply chain and systemize your business from top to bottom
Let’s dig right in!
Why You Want to Start A Business
A lot of people I’ve met in the entrepreneur world have almost this kind of superpower, never feeling fear or anxiety when trying something new and instead just jumping right in.
I don’t have that superpower!
Growing up, my parents were blue-collar workers doing everything they could to make life a little easier for my family. They emphasize how important was that I go to college and get a great job, but everything kind of changed when my parents lost their jobs when I was still in high school.
I was pushed into the workforce almost immediately, sink or swim, and really learned a lot about myself – especially my strengths and my weaknesses.
I started off with a job as a sales representative (making next to no money), job I didn’t love though I did appreciate the sales training I received along the way. I had been in a pretty long-term relationship during this stressful time, but that ended almost out of the clear blue sky – all because she felt that I wasn’t ever going to have a real future.
Instead of getting down in the dumps this only charged me up. I knew I had to make some big changes and that’s when I dove headfirst into the world of business.
I bought a bunch of vending machine, flooded my local market, and then got absolutely crushed by the competition.
I learned pretty quickly that I:
- Needed to better define my niche and my market and only that offer them their ideal solution
- That I needed to come up with much better value propositions that excited people to buy what I had for sale
- And that the world of business – even after failing – wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought at first
It wasn’t until I’d failed a couple of times – and learned that failure is okay (and maybe even necessary for success for most people – that I really started to succeed. I know that sounds a little counter intuitive, but it’s the truth!
Finding my WHY behind building a business was a huge piece of the puzzle. If I hadn’t failed and if my long-term girlfriend hadn’t left me I may never have found out why I wanted to build a business, and I just don’t think it’s possible to have any real success without this kind of clarity.
The Three Blocks to Build Your Dropshipping Business Foundation
While there are a lot of moving pieces in the dropshipping world, three building blocks stand head and shoulders above the rest of the pack:
- Customer Support
Notice that I didn’t mention the product you have to offer, the price you slap on your products, or any of the other commonly mentioned aspects of dropshipping so many other people get hung up on.
I can tell you right now that NOTHING matters as much as getting your marketing, your overall operations, and your customer service ready to rock and roll.
With these three pieces of the puzzle mastered you can sell pretty much anything to anyone – in any market or industry – and make more money than you ever thought possible.
Marketing is the MOST important and you can do in your business.
Nothing, absolutely NOTHING, happens in business until something gets sold. You could have the best product at the best possible price that could change someone’s world overnight – but if they don’t know that YOU have it for sale you won’t make any money at all.
Todd Brown has taught me so much about marketing (like so many others, I’m sure). He has a couple of real core marketing fundamentals that he preaches on a regular basis and they have helped grow my business more than anything else.
Leveraging Existing Desire
The biggest mistake people make in any business (especially in our business) is trying to create desire for something. Trying to get people excited about a product they’ve never heard of is next to impossible, incredibly expensive, and ridiculously time-consuming.
By first identifying what people ALREADY want (or at least the outcome they are interested in) we can then offer them something there already going to be excited about, something you’ll be eager to buy, and something that can help us make money on straightaway.
Prospects Don’t Want Products; They Want Outcomes
At the end of the day, our customers don’t really want to buy whatever it is we have to sell – they want whatever it is our products offer them.
Customers are looking to solve problems, to lead happier and healthier lives, and to improve in some way, shape, or form.
Our products are merely the conduit that makes these and goals and outcomes possible. Shift the focus of your marketing to this philosophy and you’ll start succeeding almost overnight.
Getting a handle on your dropshipping operations is another major piece of the puzzle you’ll want to get sorted ASAP.
Far too many people fly by the seat of their pants when it comes to how their business actually operates, treating each individual sale like a singular occurrence, and never really systemize and or optimizing their operation. This always causes a lot of confusion, frustration, and eliminate your ability to scale.
Here are some areas of your operations you’ll want to identify, systemize, and outsource/delegate ASAP to scale with lightning like speed.
1. Sourcing & Product Research
The major dropshipping marketplaces (like AliExpress and Oberlo) make it effortless to research new products you might be interested in selling your customers or your market, but also allow you to source these products – even at smaller scales for test runs – with next to zero extra effort whatsoever.
After you have found a real winner on these platforms, however, it’s not a bad idea to move to a more professional supplier or consistent manufacturer. This gives you a lot more control over the entire process from start to finish, but also opens up the door to much better prices, more consistent relationships, and (again) tremendous scale opportunities.
The photos you have of your products are going to be (most cases) the ONLY a way that your customers are able to see what it is you have to offer.
Not only should they be dynamite photos, but they also should be different and distinct from any others. Using stock photos for the same photos your competitors are using will inevitably draw a lot of less than ideal attention to your business.
Why it’s important to have your own photos
- Increase the landing page conversion
- Dramatically improves your credibility
- Helps you move more merchandise when the photos are attractive
Copywriting is the lifeblood of most dropshipping businesses, as even the prettiest pictures aren’t going to be able to paint a picture of WHY someone should purchase your merchandise from you as opposed to from any of your other competitors.
Custom copy can juice up your sales almost immediately. It’s not a bad idea to move forward with a professional copywriter that knows how to create sales pages that really sing. There’s a world of difference between bad copy, average copy, and great copy – and it might be the number one thing that helps build your bank account in a crowded and competitive marketplace.
- Increase landing page conversion rates
- Increases overall customer value
- Helps you build a long-term business and not just one-off campaigns
4. Quality Control
Everyone that has purchased a product online has a horror story about the thing they purchased being a far cry from what they were promised to begin with.
You need fantastic QC across the board with EVERY single order you place from your suppliers and manufacturers, just another reason to move forward with more professional operations with in-house QC just as soon as you are able to.
Fulfillment can be handled by yourself (you’ll have total control, but it’ll take A LOT of your time that could be better spent elsewhere), can be handled directly by your suppliers (easy to get started, can be inconsistent), or by a third party logistics organization (a little more expensive but offers a fantastic amount of control and consistency).
Finding the right fulfillment approach for your operation is going to boil down to your volume of sales, whether or not you can afford to have a third party logistics organization handle your fulfillment for you, or if your supplier can offer more consistent results as a “bonus” or doing business with them the first place.
It goes without saying that your customer support and customer service needs to be top-notch.
Customer service can make or break your success in as competitive an industry as dropshipping is today. Slip up even just a couple of times and social media will hear about it over and over again – and your reputation could be crippled permanently!
Fantastic customer service is something you have to offer consistently. The best way to streamline your customer service and to guarantee that it is always up to par is to:
- Document ALL of your processes (flowcharts and wireframes are a huge help)
- Create workflows for all of your CS representatives to use with every call/email/chat
- Clearly outline your expectations and how important your service is prioritized
- Respond as quickly as possible to all incoming requests, with priority flags for urgent issues
- Figure out and systemize how to handle problems and customer service issues before they pop up and always look for ways to improve
- Make returns and refunds as easy as possible
- Train up your Virtual Assistants (VAs) to handle the heavy lifting of CS work
The Tools Will Help on Your Business
1. Knowledge Base: Notion
Setting up a proper knowledge base – an accumulation of ALL of your company processes, frequently asked questions and answers, worksheets, flowcharts, and guidelines – and adding to it on a regular basis helps you to systemize your business from top to bottom so that you don’t have to be spending as much time in your business as you spend on your business.
New hires especially will appreciate a knowledge-based designed for them to dive right into. It helps them hit the ground running, but it also helps your more experienced employees build upon their skills and their training as well without having to get you or other top-level employees involved in the nitty-gritty.
You also want your core mission and values clearly outlined, guidelines for contractors and employees clearly explained, and any other technical information you might need “in-house” as part of your knowledge base.
This should very much be a “living document” that continues to grow, expand, and evolve over time.
2. Communication: Slack
Slack is an absolute powerhouse when it comes to communicating with your teams.
It’s hard to imagine there being a better tool out there than this which is why it’s the most popular communication tool for entrepreneurs and organizations around the world.
Setting up your Slack right out of the box can be a bit of an uphill battle at first.
It’s important that you create individual channels for every individual topic/area of your business (#Marketing, #Sales, #ProductDevelopment, #Fulfillment, etc.) straightaway.
After that you want to clearly define who should be involved in each individual Slack channel and then give those teams the ability to use the channel as best fits their workflow.
Make sure that everyone uses Slack, however, as it not only effortlessly records every conversation and documents all information necessary to get the job done right – but it also provides effortless integration with all kinds of other software options that can further extend your in-house communication set up.
At the end of the day, you want communication as streamlined as possible. It should also be very centralized. A tool like Slack (as well as tools like Skype, for example) can integrate tightly with your knowledge base to only improve your overall system efficiency throughout your business.
A lot of Chinese suppliers and manufacturers are comfortable using the WeChat platform as well. If you’re looking to optimize your workflow and build in some real efficiency you should look to use this tool to manage meeting notes, supplier details and communications, and more!
You can even implement WeChat with most knowledge base options out there, too.
3. Task Management: Asana
Project management should be broken down into manageable chunks that have active priorities, and a project management solution like this one makes managing hundreds and hundreds of tasks all at once – across hundreds and hundreds of projects (if necessary) – as simple and as straightforward as possible.
A tool like this helps us:
- Better manage our time and allocate resources in the right place
- Better track how we are building and growing our business
- Improve collaboration across all areas of the business, especially areas that might not be in regular communication or collaborative relationships otherwise
Asana also makes it easy for us to figure out where we should be focusing our energy and what we need to do RIGHT NOW to move things forward. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in your own head and overwhelmed with everything on your plate, but breaking things down like this makes it a lot easier to get the ball closer and closer to the goal.
At the end of the day, I hope you’re able to get a lot of value out of this article.
I tried to think of everything that has helped turn my financial future around and at the very least touch on how you might be able to implement the same kinds of tools, tips, tricks, and tactics in your own business.
If you have any questions whatsoever – or just want to give me a little bit of feedback about what I shared above – please don’t hesitate to shoot me a line when you get a chance.
I hope you have all the success in the world!