Table of Contents
- 1 How did I get into dropshipping?
- 2 Pick a dropshipping niche that works for you.
- 3 Effectively communicate with dropshipping providers
- 4 Instead of selling on marketplaces, start your dropshipping store
- 5 Create a sales-oriented storefront
- 6 Product description
- 7 Select payment gateways that suit your dropshipping business
- 8 Don’t use influencer marketing if you are on a tight budget
- 9 Use Facebook ads to attract new clients.
- 10 Targeting strategy and demographics
- 11 So, what is the story’s moral?
- 12 How did I come up with my final product?
Mary, a young Colorado girl, began dropshipping in February 2020, full of desire and passion. She was fresh to the industry, but it didn’t stop her from learning and achieving. Her performance was nothing less than outstanding.
Mary made $126,927 from her dropshipping business from February to June 2020, in just 4 months. Her dropshipping business generated roughly 40 orders every day, each worth about $1000.
Those figures are impressive, but don’t let them fool you into thinking the path will be simple. Let’s look at the insider to see what she’s done and how she’s managed to make $126,927.
Maryshares.medium.com originally published this dropshipping case study.
Hi. I’m Mary, and I’m 27 years old. As you might be thinking right now, I didn’t graduate from the so-called dropshipping courses and had no idea how to get money quickly. Because I couldn’t leave my house due to the country’s lockdowns, I had no choice but to look for another employment, one that would allow me to work from home.
How did I get into dropshipping?
I studied everything I knew about dropshipping on the internet back then. I joined practically every Facebook and Reddit e-commerce/dropshipping group, but they were not as helpful as I had hoped. Fortunately, I came across several useful articles on experienced sellers’ blogs, in which they detailed the entire process. I analyzed the stories, distilled the most significant lessons, and put them into practice in my way. Along the way, I altered them to my circumstances, which resulted in the numbers you see above.
I still haven’t caught up with the respectable vendors from whom I’ve learned my lessons; they’re a step ahead of me. However, because I abide by the slogan “the more we share, the more we have,” I’d want to share my modest expertise with you all.
The following seven steps sum up my journey to today’s accomplishment. First, I hope that my dropshipping case study today was useful and that it has sufficiently inspired some of you to start over and be your boss using dropshipping.
Also, I never waited until it seemed like the moment was right: dropshipping is all about hard effort, not waiting. So, if any of you are thinking about starting your own company, DO IT NOW or never.
Now, let’s get started!
Pick a dropshipping niche that works for you.
When I originally started, I chose the niche of “women bags” because I thought it would be simple to penetrate and successful soon. It was, however, a catastrophic error.
Big players have always dominated the niche, and I’ve never had a chance to fight with them. Furthermore, I was unaware of the most recent fashion trend and had no particular interest in the industry.
Of course, I didn’t succeed. But that didn’t stop me from starting afresh, this time with a niche industry that has always piqued my interest and continues to do so today: cats.
You might be asking why I went with that particular niche. Here are my responses:
I’m the only child in my family, and I’ve known the family cats since I was a tiny child. We adopted a cat named White while I was in high school, and he has been with me ever since.
My mother allowed White to move in with me when I moved and studied away from home because we were so close. Since then, we’ve welcomed three more kittens into my tiny flat, making me the young mother of four kittens who must care for them all on my own.
It’s something I’m familiar with.
My target customers are exactly who I am. There may be a few distinctions between us, but they are minor because we all adore cats. We spend our days stalking cat Instagram accounts, joining cat enthusiast groups on social media, talking about cats, and laughing at cat jokes.
So, in this portion, my advice is to do it, but do it in a way you enjoy. Choose a niche that you enjoy, and you’ll have the motivation to get started and succeed.
“If you do what you love, money will come.”
If you’re still not sure about your decision, look for evidence to back it up. Conduct some internal research to see what others have done and how you might improve on it. Consider the following scenario:
- Use search engine tools such as Google to look up main keywords.
- Keep an eye on the niche’s big players (website, Instagram, Facebook pages)
- Perform market research on the niche’s revenue and profit margin during the last three years.
Effectively communicate with dropshipping providers
Suppliers are the go-to option for folks who do not produce their goods. They’ll assist you in sourcing things, as well as packing and shipping them directly to your clients. All you have to do now is sell your products, and your suppliers will take care of the rest. On the other hand, suppliers do not come to you; you must go out and locate them.
AliExpress is a terrible idea.
I started sourcing from AliExpress initially, but it didn’t take long for me to understand that the suppliers on AliExpress provide poor descriptions and photographs. Not only that, but their products were available on hundreds of other websites, negating any advantage I might have had over other dealers.
Another decision I had to make was where my supplier would be located, and I elected to rely on US-based suppliers rather than Chinese-based ones. While I may receive a better deal from Chinese companies, shipments from China may be delayed because to the outbreak.
4 criteria for selecting suppliers
Before approaching organizations that I felt would be a good fit for my early-stage dropshipping firm, I conducted a lot of research. In those businesses, I was looking for:
- Return and refund policies must be absolutely obvious, simple, and advantageous to me.
- The needed minimum order quantity must be acceptable to me.
- At the very least, the product quality, photos, and descriptions must be clear and well-written.
- They didn’t get a lot of bad feedback.
- Use caution while contacting vendors.
Following my due diligence, I discovered a few names that appeared promising.
Even though we share the same language, communicating with US suppliers via email may be a pain. You should contact them by contacting and speaking with one of their agents directly. That was the most efficient method for me.
There was eventually just one supplier with whom I could form cooperation.
Fortunately, we are still working together, as are two other providers I found along the way that meet my requirements.
Instead of selling on marketplaces, start your dropshipping store
It cannot be easy to locate a buyer for your items.
Fortunately, I made the right decision back then when I chose to open my own ShopBase business. Why do you think that is?
The products I sold had a very low-profit margin. So if I sold them on Amazon or eBay, I’d have to split the small profit with them.
Rather, I decided to sell on my website. My budget was small at the time (just $3000), so I had to cut corners everywhere I could. I chose ShopBase because it provided a 14-day free trial, free marketing tools, and a storefront template.
I’m not a computer expert, so I’m always weighed down by technical tasks, but I was astonished at how quickly I could develop a ready-to-sell webshop with ShopBase.
Due to its well-known diversified app framework, I also explored Shopify, but the subscription cost was too exorbitant for me to pay. In addition, many of the apps are also paid apps, which raises the price even more.
Create a sales-oriented storefront
As I previously stated, ShopBase’s dropshipping storefront was already well-optimized for selling. But, as a perfectionist, I wanted more than simply a well-optimized storefront: I wanted it to reflect my personality.
However, I had no notion what a perfect storefront looked like back then. I tried to display as many products as possible on the home page, hoping that visitors visiting the site would notice what they needed right away in the list. No one did. My storefront was a shambles.
Fortunately, I was aware of the issue and determined that I required professional assistance.
I put the URL of my website to dropshipping groups/forums and asked if anyone could offer me some feedback on how it looked. On the ShopBase community, I did the same thing. Above all, I looked at how prominent firms that sell cat/pet products ordered their pages on their websites. Finally, I developed a method for constructing a nice storefront for myself by incorporating what I’d learnt.
The homepage is significant since it provides visitors with their initial impression of your business. As a result, it must be relevant to your industry, professional, and impress audiences at first glance.
The first is the main photo, which is the first thing visitors to your website will view. I took a long time deciding on the photo that would appear on the homepage. I ultimately chose a photo of my four adorable Scottish cats that my good buddy, Adam, a professional photographer, had assisted me in shooting and retouching.
The slogan comes next. It must be short, catchy, and simple to remember.
Brand name and logo
It’s difficult to come up with a brand name that works, just like it’s difficult to come up with a tagline that works. So after failing to find anything that satisfied me, I decided to enlist the assistance of a program called Namelix. I also received a free pre-made graphic for the brand name I choose.
The tool used three factors to come up with a brand name for me:
Brand keywords: cat + shop + buddies
Name length: I chose a medium with 6-12 letters.
Style of name: I went with a brandable name, which is the most popular option.
The program provided me with many brand names, each with its font, size, and color. I finally decided on CATBUDDIE, which has a four-color logo. I believe its ideal: short, straightforward, and simple to remember.
If Neelix does not have the logo you want, consider using fiverr.com. You may hire a professional designer to create a logo that meets your needs for only $5.
Finally, whoer.com is another tool for brand name generating that I have found to be pretty useful.
I used to dropship handbags, as I indicated earlier. I spent a lot of time developing ‘king’ material, particularly for product descriptions, because I was certain that fancy descriptions would lead to sales.
When I transitioned to the cat product category, however, that strategy didn’t work. It took me a long time to discover that cat product descriptions didn’t have to be fancy. Instead, get right to the point, keeping it short and sweet:
What are the most important aspects of the product, and how will they help customers?
In addition, I spent money on product photography. I tried to show off my products with eye-catching, high-resolution images from various perspectives, as well as videos whenever available.
“A thousand words are worth a thousand photos, and a thousand pictures are worth a thousand videos.”
Select payment gateways that suit your dropshipping business
You can get paid using various payment methods, but the two most prevalent are PayPal and Stripe.
I began by working with both of them. In general, getting a Stripe account took me longer and required more effort than getting a PayPal account. Stripe, on the other hand, is far more user-friendly.
PayPal once held my money for six months because it was the Christmas season, and the total transaction amount had increased. I got my entire money back 6 months later, but it was such a difficult time, and my dropshipping business was on the verge of failing.
Stripe, unlike PayPal, only holds money for three months, allowing small businesses like mine to keep their cash flow and get started.
My recommendation is to use both payment gateways at the same time. This will considerably reduce the chances of one of those gateways failing.
Don’t use influencer marketing if you are on a tight budget
Product niche, payment gateway, and traffic are the three most important things to get a dropshipping website up and operating, and I completely agree with him. It’s time to concentrate on website traffic.
First, I looked at significant companies in the animal product category and noticed that they all used influencer marketing to great effect, so I sought to emulate them.
(By the way, if any of you are wondering how to locate major players in your niche, I use Google.)
Those vendors frequently had an online store and an Instagram account. In addition, they pushed influencer marketing by providing a free code for influencers (one of whom had over 5K Instagram followers) to distribute to their followers.
They shared the products on Instagram, tagged the brand, and gave their followers a free voucher. The influencer was rewarded after a buyer used those codes to purchase things on the eCommerce site.
I did precisely what they did: I contacted ten influencers (I located by looking at the brands’ Instagram tag section), gave them free coupons, and waited.
After a half-month of influencer marketing, my revenue had hit $2,000, but the expenditure had surpassed that. The strategy worked, and I rapidly made my first sales, but there wasn’t much left on the table. The expense of marketing was so enormous that it reduced my profit margins. I concluded that influencer marketing worked best for big brands with a lot of cash, not for me.
To summarise, following the leaders is a fantastic strategy to advance.
However, before you follow in their footsteps, you need to take a step back and consider whether such a strategy is appropriate for your company. For example, if your brand-new firm is too dissimilar to theirs, you may want to avoid adopting their activities.
I asked again on Facebook groups/eCommerce forums about “how to efficiently attract traffic for a tiny dropshipping business,” and I finally got my answer:
Use Facebook ads to attract new clients.
I wish I had known about these before I started utilizing Facebook advertisements to drive traffic and sales to my website:
Keep an open mind. I used to make a lot of assumptions instead of checking them. Don’t dismiss an idea because it’s simple, strange, or out of the ordinary.
EVERYTHING MUST BE TESTED!
Make your list specific. Create a list of your customers/subscribers’ contact information. You can quickly upload your list and run ads that target these people using Facebook Custom Audiences.
Patience is required. Ads aren’t going to transform into sales right away. It requires both time and money. To continue to track your ad’s performance and tweak your ad layout until you’ve found the perfect audience.
Conversions are the campaign’s goal.
Setting the goal is the first stage in running a Facebook marketing campaign.
At first, I couldn’t tell the difference between the two target options: traffic and conversions. So, rather haphazardly, I chose the latter as my goal. It was only now that I realized I had made the right decision.
Why? One might enquire.
The reason for this is because Facebook’s algorithm is incredibly intelligent. If you choose conversions as your goal, Facebook will only show ads to people who have purchased something through the site. Customers are far more likely to buy your promoted items as a result of this.
If your goal is to boost visitors, the platform will target individuals who actively like, share, and comment on earlier pieces, regardless of whether or not they bought anything (which, in my experience, they usually don’t).
My recommendation is to make conversions the primary goal of your campaign. And I mean all of the time.
Targeting strategy and demographics
I performed a lot of research into who my ideal consumer may be. Then I created adverts like this:
Locations: I selected persons in four countries that I considered wealthy above average: my home country (the United States), the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.
Age range: 18 to 65 years old. Even though every one of any age can buy my products, only persons over the age of 18 can pay with a credit card. As a result, I made that my lower bound.
Gender: Instead of all, I chose women because women prefer online shopping to men and are thus more likely to purchase my products.
Because my budget was limited, I had to choose my target group carefully to ensure that every dollar spent on advertising was well spent. In a week, I would usually test three or four ad setups. I switched the advertising to target all genders in all countries worldwide once any of them proved practical and scalable.
The number of people interested in cats in general if I targeted them would be vast — around 59 million. However, because the parameters were too broad, it would be a waste of advertising. As a result, I selected to target people in the four countries that I targeted who are interested in the four most popular and most petted cat breeds (American Shorthair cat, Maine Coon cat, Persian cat, and Siamese cat) (see above). By doing so, I reduced the number of targeted viewers to 3 million, allowing my ads to be considerably more effective.
I focused on mobile devices because that’s how most users access Facebook. So I chose Feeds and Stories advertisements for both Facebook and Instagram.
Copy for advertisements
Below was my very first ad set, which I believed would be too short, too plain, and too bland to grab the attention of any Facebook users. However, amazingly, it did eventually result in a significant amount of sales for me.
So, what is the story’s moral?
It is, and you must test again. You never know which had set will succeed and which will fail. So keep testing and testing until you find the one that delivers the greatest results.
Furthermore, it took me months of trial and error to understand that ad copy does not belong and is complicated. According to studies, it takes an average Facebook user only 2 seconds to determine whether or not to click on an ad. It means that unless ad viewers understand why they should buy your goods within those two seconds, your ad will be ignored.
So, the proper question is: what can you do to help the audience understand your argument more quickly? Would that include amusing words and icons, a discount, an offer, or something else entirely?
My personal experience has taught me that promotion comes first. The larger the discount, the easier it is to draw attention.
You can’t run flash sales all of the time, though, or you’ll spend your money faster than you can say “advertisement.” As a result, your capstone sentence is the second most significant factor. Your ad copy should start with something relatable to your target audience, such as a popular remark.
Free shipping for clients is another attention-grabber, even if it means raising the price of the products slightly to cover the higher cost.
Last but not least, and most crucially, do not include a clickable product link. You don’t want to put up ineffective ads that prevent customers from seeing your stuff.
Overall, it costs me $20 per day to operate a CBO campaign. I tried three distinct ad sets in three days, each geared toward a different target. After that, I decided to scale the ones that made the highest revenue and discontinued the others.
Many of you will undoubtedly ask the same question I had back then: “Should you establish a bid cap for your ad?” – well, it is debatable. So go ahead and bid if wealthy investors back your company and you can afford to spend $1,000 a day on ads. Otherwise, bidding isn’t required just yet.
How did I come up with my final product?
My initial investment in my dropshipping business was around $3,000 in cash. It wasn’t a huge sum of money, but it was still a significant chunk of my hard-earned money. You might need more or less to get into the industry I’m in right now, but if someone says you it’s not that expensive, they’re probably lying.
In my case, it is unquestionably more expensive. I was fortunate not to go bankrupt. Cash continued to flow in and out, and today’s earnings would undoubtedly be spent the next day. It’s a never-ending cycle of earning and spending, and I needed to figure out where I should invest my money so that it doesn’t go to waste.
I’ve already discussed everything about my previous experience in this post. That being said, I’d like to make one more point on the most important aspect of my dropshipping business: customer service.
Don’t be afraid to pursue your dreams. But, if you want to be like me, you must take urgent action. Find your specialty, conduct market research, create a website, and sell internationally. Don’t be scared to make mistakes; I’ve made much more than I can count. What is important is what you do after you’ve fallen.