How To Launch A Drop Ship/eCommerce Website
One of my favorite ways to make extra money is with a drop ship website. But the products, hosting, site design, credit card processing, shipping: it all sounds complicated and confusing. But if you follow this 4 step guide, you can get your drop ship/eCommerce store running in less than 1 week.
If you’re ready to get it rolling, then sign up for a Shopify website. Shopify automates the ecommerce experience with easy site-design, and turn-key merchant services, so that you can get right to selling and shipping.
Step 1: Find Your Product
That’s right. Before you sign up with Shopify, before you start designing your site, and before you purchase your domain, you need to know what product you’ll want to sell. This is going to be a difficult decision. Because you want to find a product that:
- Has low competition
- Has a drop ship supplier
- Has nice margins (about 20%)
So what products satisfy those 3 qualifiers? You’ll have to do some market research. You can do some free market research with Google Trends and Google’s Keyword Research. Google Trends will let you know which keywords are trending. And Google’s Keyword Research will give you an idea on how competitive specific keywords are. It will also give you insight on their cost-per-click, incase you were considering Google Adwords.
But ultimately, the best formula is a product with alot of search results, but with low competition. And this is why I sell crickets online, and other critters through my drop ship website, because of their low competition, but high search results.
But finding a drop ship supplier is a different story. There’s not one perfect way to find one. But here are some tips:
- Search Google: After deciding on a product, do a Google query for “(product name) drop shipper.” This may or may not deliver some solid leads. But be advised, you may need to travel to the 4th or 5th page of the results. Often, drop shippers don’t keep their drop ship services up to date, and may not rank as highly.
- Contact the Manufacturer: If a Google search yields zero results, contact a manufacturer of the product you want to sell. They may have a drop ship program in place. If they don’t, you could ask if they know where you could start, or who you could ask for drop shipping services.
- Check Out My Curated Drop Shipper List: Now, these may not be the best options available. So don’t use this as a one-stop-shop for suppliers. I still recommend doing your own research. Because you may find someone that can drop ship a better product for a better price. But here’s the list:
- Have some Business Credentials: Now, some drop ship suppliers may be so far off the radar, that they don’t bother asking for any business credentials. But, then there are some drop ship suppliers that will ask for your EIN (employer identification number), business address, and credit history. So, after you find your retailer, review their prerequisites, and make sure you have your ducks in a row before you contact them. Getting an EIN isn’t a bad idea, and you can get that straightened out here.
And if you follow these basic tips and guidelines, you should be able to discover a highly searched product, with low competition.
Step 2: Brand It!
So you found your product. But you’re not an inventor, so it’s probably just a commodity product ; a product that’s being sold by other online retailers (pogo sticks, jeans, tshirts, hats, etc). So you’ll need to come up with some branding to try and give your product some style and personality.
Name Your Store
Don’t rush into this. A name can increase your revenue exponentially. Here’s something Inc. Magazine wrote about the subject. But if people like saying the name of your company, then you’re more inclined to get backlinks, referrals, and repeat business.
But keep in mind that you’ll want your domain to reflect the name of your store. So, while you’re brain storming, keep checking to see if your dream name is an available domain. When I conjured up the Critter Depot for my drop ship store, I had to tack on The as an article so I could get the right domain. So always keep in mind, that you need to turn your store name into a domain.
But brain storm some creative copy, and make sure the domain’s availability, because it could make the difference for your success.
Design A Logo
No, I don’t want you do design your logo with your paltry seizure-like scribbles. But what you can do is sketch a very rough copy of what you’d like the logo to possibly resemble. Then, reach out to LogoNerds for a professional design for only $27. I’ve used them many times, and have been satisfied every time.
- LogoNerds: I have used LogoNerds in the past, and am very satisfied with the results they’ve delivered. They can create a unique, brand new logo for as little as $27, with unlimited revisions. Or you could even bump up the service to get a mascot tossed in there as well. But hands down, LogoNerds is my preferred logo designer.
And when you get your logo back, you’ll have more than the logo. You’ll have your color scheme, and theme, all embedded in that logo. And that theme and color scheme is something you’ll want to distribute throughout your website.
Step 3: Sign up with Shopify – pick your domain, site theme, and start designing
So you did your due diligence. You got your product figured out, you picked out a great store name, and you just received your awesome logo from LogoNerds. So now it’s time to set up your Shopify store. I receive a commission if you sign up through this link. So if you’re ready to sign up, please sign up through my Shopify link to help support my blog.
One reason why I like Shopify is they give you a free 2 week trial period without any upfront costs. But if you’re a little more bold, and you’re ready to take the plunge, then you’ll need to pick your Shopify plan:
As you can see in the screen shot, you have 3 plans to choose from, each one varying in features, and merchant expenses. Most likely, you’ll start with the basic Shopify plan. It’s what I used to launch The Critter Depot, and it’s fulfilling all my needs for a store that generates about $1200 in monthly revenue.
Welcome to Your New eCommerce Store:
To demonstrate what the process, I started a free 2 week trial. I have no intentions of moving forward with this trial, but I just wanted to show you the steps that are involved. Here’s the welcome screen for the back end of your store:
And here’s what your default store front looks like:
It’s nothing glamorous. It’s missing style, character, and personality; everything that you’re store is going to need to represent your store front. And another thing to notice is the default domain that comes with your Shopify store:
There is no way you can promote this type of domain. So, your next step should be to purchase a domain.
Purchase Your Domain
First, you’ll need to click on the Online Store button on the left hand side. Then you’ll need to select the Domains from the new menu that pops up:
Once you get to this page, you’ll be prompted to buy a new domain. At this point you’ll want to make the commitment and purchase a domain for 1 year for $13.
Now, you can also purchase a domain through other hosting services, like Blue Host, but then you’ll have to go through the hassle of pointing your domain from Blue Host to Shopify. So save yourself the technical hassle and just purchase it through Shopify.
One of Shopify’s other great features are the nice, responsive, modern themes that you can choose from. And, they have over 20 free themes to choose from. When I was hunting a theme, I was looking for one that I could put all my products on the front page. And I ended up using the Simple Theme.
But here’s how you change your site’s theme:
- Click on the Online Store button on the left hand side.
- Then, click on the Theme button that drops down on the new menu on the left hand side.
- Then, go to the upper right hand corner, and click the Visit Theme Store
From here you’ll be prompted to Shopify’s customized store themes. You can select from over 20 free themes, or you can choose a more customized theme for a fee.
But once you select your theme, you’ll need to click the Install Theme button:
From here you’ll then need to click the Publish as My Store’s Theme button:
Your new theme will then download. You’ll see a download bar, and watch the download take place. And when it’s done, you’ll get a notice. And then you’ll need to click the Go To Your Theme Manager button.
And then you’ll be redirected to your Theme page in your back end:
As you can see in the picture, the new theme has been uploaded to the store. But you’re still not done. When you click the blue button in the upper right hand corner that says Customize Theme, you’ll be redirected to the settings where you can alter the color, and make other modifications.
The Nitty Gritty
So your signed up, you have a domain, and you have your theme uploaded. That’s the simple part.
Now you have to upload your products, figure out your pricing, write original content, set up your images, and get your blog set up. This is going to be the time-consuming part, especially if you have a lot of products. But the best thing you can do is take your time, and just chip away at it. It will feel frustrating, and you may want to abandon the project. But trust me. In a year from now, you’ll be wishing that you kept your website going. Because time is the main ingredient for all success.
But here are some key pages you’ll want to consider:
- Shipping info: What’s the shipping policy? When do you ship, and how long can the customer expect to get their product.
- Return Policy: what’s the return policy?
- About Me: what’s your story? Customer’s like to know a good story behind what they’re buying. So if you don’t have a good story. But one together.
And depending on your product, there are many other pages you should consider. So browse around your competitor’s websites, and see what they’re doing that you think is successful. And do your best to replicate that success.
step 4: Advertise
So your store is ready. Your products are priced out, and ready to be sold by the thousands. But no one’s coming to your site. Which is to be expected. Just because you kick out a website doesn’t mean it’s going to reach headline news over night. You need to get it in front of the drooling faces of people who are dying for your product. And here’s how you do that.
- Set up your Google Analytics: I know, i know. Another account that you have to set up and monitor. But Google Analytics is an important one. It will let you know how many visitors you are getting to your site, and it will let you know which pages are performing the best. So if Product A is getting more attention than Product B, then you should be pushing Product A more. And Shopify has made it very easy to get your website linked with your Analytics account. Just follow these easy steps.
- Set up Google’s Webmaster Tools: This is how you submit your website into Google’s database. And not only that, but you can keep a close eye on the health of your website. So it’s important that you don’t skip this step.
- Learn SEO: Search Engine Optimization – This is how you get your website to rank on the first page of Google’s search results, organically. Now, this will take months, or even a year before you start getting good results. But once you get those results, it will be dividends. Here’s a great article on how to maximize your SEO.
- Paid-Per-Click Ads: Google Adwords is the most popular way to get your website at the top of Google’s search results. With this, you can in front of hundreds or thousands of potential customers. Bing Ads are becoming a little more popular, as Bing is starting to gain a little bit of traction. You also might be able to get some lower click rates on specific keywords.
- Social Media.
- Facebook – This is the most popular Social Media network. If you don’t do paid advertising with them, you should atleast have a Facebook page for your store.
- Twitter – Twitter is popular too, but I don’t use it. Some people swear by it. But I don’t.
- Google+ – I do use Google+ because I suspect Google may favor their own social media rankings in their serach results. This is totally theoretical, without any substance to back it up. But I still think it might be true.
- Pinterest – This appears to be the hot social media outlet right now. I know a lot of bloggers saying their store is gaining a good chunk of their visitors from this platform.
- LinkedIn – LinkedIn is much more professional than the other social media sites. But, so are its users. So if you’re selling a product marketed towards business owners and managers, then LinkedIn may be a good place for your website to hand out.
Overall, that’s the 4-step process to earning your first sale. Now, there are many avenues to success. So there is no need to take this advice word for word. Share some of your tips or strategies in the comments below, and to help out the fellow Drop Shippers earn some sales. And incase you need some motivation, here’s some sweet beats from those Brooklyn boys that should help get your heart pumping: