It's never easy to start at zero.
When you set up a brand new dropshipping business, you may very well find yourself in that kind of position.
You've done your research. You have products. You have a website. You have a marketing strategy.
But you need users. And that's really, really hard.
Ever tried to start a casual, “for fun” social media account from nothing, with zero followers? It's hard.
Getting a business going is even harder.
Once you're set up, you need to get the ball rolling.
You need to start bringing in customers, making sales, and getting your brand name out there.
In a recent dropshipping guide from Shopify, the authors break down five simple but powerful strategies you can use to “growth hack” your dropshipping business, getting the initial traction you need to start making sales and making a profit.
Here's what you can do.
Growing Your Dropshipping Business
Scaling your online store can be exciting, but there are a few things that you should keep in mind. The key point to remember is that scaling does not mean double the hours of work for more profits, but on the contrary, it implies being able to drive the sales number up even more with lesser time invested – through efficiency and allocating resources smartly.
While scaling the business does not necessarily mean to bring on more employees or contractors, it does seem like the most natural progression. It can be a challenging experience to trust others with your brand but once you do find the right people who match your own wavelength, it can be a rewarding step too.
Firstly, draw up a list of tasks that you can probably outsource and another that needs a more specific approach to them. This list will help you identify the tasks that are monotonous and do not necessarily require your direct input. You can re-direct your resources to working out better business strategies, creating and strengthen your relationship with your suppliers and work towards making better marketing decisions.
1. HIRE AN ASSISTANT
There are two ways you could go about this, depending on how location dependent you want or need to be. You could either hire someone you know and work together with everyday at a small office/coworking space or maybe even from home. The alternative to that is to hire a VA – commonly known as a Virtual Assistant.
The most attractive quality of hiring a VA is that the person does not even need to be on the same continent to be able to successfully do the job – as long as they have access to a laptop, phone and the internet, while speaking at least one of the languages that you conduct business in, you are good to go.
This means if you find that assistants/VAs in your vicinity are charging extortionist rates, you could outsource the work to someone else who is location independent, perhaps somewhere in Asia or Eastern Europe, who will do the same job at a much more reasonable price. A few responsibilities that can be given to the assistant, are:
- Social Medial Marketing and Management
- Customer Support and Services
- Graphic Design and Content Writing/Copywriting
- Maintaining the Website
- Managing the Inventory Orders
Create a process flow and outline of each job to ensure that anyone you hire can understand how your particular system works for your dropshipping business.
You can list potential openings for VAs on several different remote job sites and on groups for digital nomads. There is almost always someone who knows someone who might be perfect for the job. Most remote working/digital nomad communities are very helpful and often collaborate with each other. Just make sure that the job description is well written so that the person applying can have a comprehensive understanding of what the job entails – use the process flow you created for this part.
Check out these resources to hire virtual assistants:
There are several templates for job descriptions online but here is one that can be altered per your requirements:
We’re looking for a proactive virtual assistant to help run and manage [insert what you need help with here] at [insert your dropshipping business name here].
Your weekly tasks will include:
– [task one]
– [task two]
– [task three]
You should have in-depth knowledge of [enter skills here], be comfortable using software/s such as [insert tools here] and be fluent in English (verbal and written) [+ any other languages if required].
In the first line of your application, please tell us what your favorite hobby is. If you don’t respond to this request, we’ll assume that you haven’t read the job description and won’t consider you.
Looking forward to hearing from you!”
Such templates can be used for job listing websites, forums, social media and even for print.
In order to pick the right person as your VA, conduct a thorough interview over Skype and in person, if possible. Make sure that you have gone through their application and ensure that they have all the attributes required. Based on how much time you would have to train them, you can tell how well they would fit with your business. Shortlist at least 2-5 people so that you have some reliable back ups if your original candidate doesn’t cut it.
Training your chosen VA can be a two way knowledge highway. Not only are you teaching them, but can also stand to learn from their previous experiences, inside and outside the industry.
Supply tools to them (such as this guide) and other video material that is easily available, and then discuss how they can implement what they’ve learned. This material can also double as a refresher course in case they forget certain aspects of the job. Give constructive feedback on their work and praise them when they do a good job! It’s about creating lasting work relationships.
2. SCALING THROUGH MULTI-CHANNELS
As your business grows, it would make sense that you would want to sell through multiple channels, namely Amazon, eBay, Oberlo, Shopify, etc. so that you can access a larger market. The problem with this is that you may list the same product from the same supplier on two different sites and get two different customer orders. It’s well and fine if the product is in stock, however it may be problematic if that isn’t the case. Once backorders start piling up and shipments start getting delayed, customers often become unhappy.
This is in no way supposed to discourage anyone who wants to scale their online business through multiple channels, but rather serve as a reminder that it is important to strategically plan these things beforehand. A good way to handle this issue could be to get a virtual assistant as mentioned before and have an inventory management software at hand.
3. BUILDING YOUR OWN ONLINE DROPSHIPPING STORE
While using other online marketplaces can only get you so far, the key to truly growing and scaling your business is to have your own online store. Having your own store ensures but you have the most control over your customer experience and brand positioning. This also means that you will incur lower fees but gain higher profits.
There are several online store builders such as Shopify that can help create your web store – it comes with various different templates to choose from and all you have to do is add your products. To learn more about Shopify and the features and services they offer ecommerce entrepreneurs, check out our Shopify Review.
4. UTILIZING YOUR EMAIL LIST TO THE MAXIMUM
Building a good email list is all about having recipients who are highly targeted and constantly engaged. When you do have a strong email list it can end up being one of the single most important marketing assets that you own. Strong email lists are closely related to owning your own store (Shopify) instead of using a marketplace (Amazon, eBay or Etsy). With an email list you have direct access to your customers – you don’t have to hope that they’re online and scrolling down their newsfeeds to see your posts, you don’t have to pay to get your emails into their inboxes, and you don’t have to compete with other sellers in your emails. Emails are one of the most direct ways to engage with your audience.
Building an email list isn’t too complicated – All you have to do is get your site visitors to give their email to you – try a tool like Sumo that offers many different email capture strategies – and then send out email newsletters through a service such as Mailchimp.
5. MARKETING AND ADVERTISING
Merely increasing your marketing spend is not the best way to scale your dropshipping business. It’s not how much money you spend but how you spend your money that matters.
Allocating resources to pay per click advertising is a smarter move for the dropshipping business model. You can buy PPC ads on almost every social media platform possible – from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to Pinterest.
While PPC ads might seem straightforward, it can be tricky to know where to invest your money. You don’t want to be investing in the wrong kind of ads only to realise that they aren’t bringing in the traffic that you need or want. Like with everything else: Do your research, especially when it comes to marketing and advertising online.
These important growth strategies are exactly what you need to get a brand new dropshipping business off the ground, giving yourself a much-needed “jumpstart” to help speed up your growth.
You can find out more about growing your new business in the full Dropshipping 101 guide from A Better Lemonade Stand.