How to build a drop-shipping website in 30 days
When I decided to try my hand at dropshipping I did what I always do – Research and read everything I can find.
There is an incredible amount of information online, and a lot of it is conflicting which makes it hard to tell what is right or not.
So, I decided to focus on the ones that are (or claim to be) successful. After all if something works well why change it?
We can always refine the process later on, but at the start we are just learning it pays to follow exactly what the teacher tells us. Then review and adjust after.
It was interesting to find that though the steps themselves were consistent with everyone, the order of the steps were not.
So I looked at all the steps and put them in an order that made the most logical sense to me:
- Choose a niche
- Validate/Market Research
- Choose a store name and purchase a domain
- Research suppliers and get approved
- Choose your initial products
- Build your store
- Create a store logo
- Choose the layout/theme
- Import the products
- Add product descriptions and pricing
- Create social media business pages
- Test your store
- Market the store
I decided to give myself a month to get the store up and running and get my first sale.
Getting one sale in the first month is my validation that my niche and marketing works. Considering I am running three websites and working full time at the moment, I may be pushing myself too hard! But I find when I give myself strict deadlines, I tend to be more productive and successful overall.
Step 1: Choose a Niche
You want to take some time with this, but not too much. It really shouldn’t take you more than a couple of days to come up with a short list of possible niches.
There are two types of niches you could go for… on trend right now or steady.
Going for a popular niche can be successful in the short term, but it will die out as fast as the next trend starts. To be successful however, you need to be able to see the trends before they start, and you need the time to get trend sites up within days instead of a month. Plus, you need to compete with the hundreds of others who jumped on the niche as soon as it started.
What you want is a niche with a steady ongoing demand and a decent price point.
Here are some things to consider:
- Write at least 10 ideas down, they can be specific products or market areas
- Can’t be too cheap (you still need to make a profit), but also not so expensive that people won’t buy it
- Ideally not something that is too similar to a popular brand’s product or has strong brand loyalty
The reason I say 10 ideas is because you don’t want to overwhelm yourself with choices. If you come up with more than great! There is no limit to how many dropship stores you choose to create.
I read guides that said limit yourself to 3, and others that said come up with 50. But I found 10 easy to come up with and manage, and once I started thinking about it, I started seeing inspiration everywhere I went!
Step 2: Market Research
It is time to review each niche idea and see if there is a market for them.
We need to see if there is a demand for them, and if that demand will convert to sales for you.
When researching you want to check stores such as Amazon, eBay, Etsy and Google Shopping. Look at social media and how many #hashtags and posts there are.
You also want to use a very handy tool by Google called Google Trends. It is most effective when you are looking at specific keywords (Dark Chocolate v. Chocolate).
One of the things to consider with your niche, is the variety of products available under it. A niche could be as simple as silk clothing.
What you need to do from there is narrow down silk clothing, and see what specific items of clothing are popular, how many suppliers are there and where are those suppliers located… if the only suppliers are located in Asia but your ideal customer is in USA or Australia, you will have potential problems with long shipping times.
Look for suppliers that are local or have fast turnaround times. Most customers are prepared to wait a couple of weeks, but any longer and you are going to find yourself faced with complaints and requests for refunds.
Step 3: Domain & Store Names
This is the time to choose your store name and domain name. Ideally they will be the exact same, however there will be times that won’t be possible.
I’ve put this here because finding the right name is really important. You want something that is easy to remember, fits within your niche and doesn’t have too much competition with similar sounding store names.
Your store name will form part of its identity and will carry over to the theme. Plus, you will need a domain and store name when you register with a supplier.
When you register the domain, create your basic professional email addresses at the same time. (admin@, support@ etc)
Step 4: Choose Your Suppliers
There are three main supplier networks to consider when you start. There are a lot more out there, but these are the most well-known and easy to integrate with your Shopify store.
The biggest differentiator between the three is that Oberlo sources mainly from China.
Modalyst and Spocket source mainly from EU and US.
You need to consider quality of the products, price point and shipping times for all of them. Personally, I will only choose suppliers based in Australia, US and EU because of quality concerns and shipping times. This is a personal choice however, and whatever you choose is completely up to you and the niche you select.
Register with your chosen supplier and review their products to create your initial stock list (about 10 items).
Why such a small list? When you start small it allows you to get your images and descriptions right, your marketing correct, and show your customers that you are taking the time to curate the products that represent your store. Once you have the 10 items displayed exactly as you want them, go ahead and keep uploading.
Step 5: Build Your Store
If you are experienced in setting up blogs or websites, then no doubt you will be able to fly through this step and have a store set up in a matter of hours. For everyone else though, give yourself a few days to get it right.
I’m going to use Shopify as my example eCommerce platform as it is the easiest one for beginners to start with.
Shopify make it very easy to set up a layout and import products, however long term you will find it restrictive. But that is a different topic for another blog post!
So what do you need to do?
- Sign up for Shopify
- Choose a store name and link your domain
- Choose a layout (no need to pay for a premium, the free ones are still very professional looking)
- Put in your logo and store description
- Add your privacy page, contact us, shipping and returns page
- Upload your initial products
- Upload images (your supplier page will have professional product photos you can use)
- Add the product description
- Make your store public. Shopify have a password that you need to unlock to make your storefront public.
You will be amazed by how professional your store will look regardless of how much of a beginner you are.
Step 6: Set up Social Media Business Pages
What is important here is that not all social media channels are equal.
It goes without saying that Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest are the three you need to focus on. Facebook is a bit tougher to crack, but you can’t leverage Instagram’s ‘buy’ feature without a Facebook business page.
Just start by setting up your accounts, make sure they are linked and that the accounts are ‘business’ accounts, not personal.
If you have never set up a Facebook business page, then you need to be aware that it is only possible to create a business ‘page’ under your existing personal account. You can hide that you are associated with it through the admin settings though. Unfortunately, Facebook removed the ability to create separate business pages a few years ago (to reduce fake accounts).
You can then link your website to your social media channels.
Step 7: Test Your Store
Go through your store and test it. Make sure all the links work. Buy a product from your store to not just test the checkout process, but also to test the supplier and quality of product.
Check images, spelling, layout. Make any adjustments you feel necessary.
You don’t need to buy the most expensive product in your store, just get one item per supplier to make sure you know exactly what your future customers are getting.
Then every time you add additional products from different suppliers, check them as well.
Step 8: Market Your Store for Conversions & Sales
It is time to set up a Google Analytics account to track traffic. And create advertising for Google, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.
There are a few ways to go about creating your advertising funnels, and I will go through them in another blog post to make it easier to refer back to when you are ready.
I am going to say though that this is the part where it is worth investing some money into, you don’t need to spend too much.
Depending on your niche and target audience, you can use Facebook Advertising, Google Shopping, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter and even Reddit or Snapchat.
You can also add blog posts to your store to help use SEO to boost Google rankings and drive traffic to your store. These can be as simple as ‘how to guide’ or ‘what’s news’ – it just needs to be relevant to what you are selling.
Dropshipping is not a get-rich-quick scheme, it takes time to set up, and research to make sure you are picking products that people want to buy.
So take your time at the beginning to get your process right. There is no limit to the number of stores you can set up, and over time the entire process will become much faster (because practice makes perfect!).
There is a lot more you can add to this as well, from sales funnels to eBay and Amazon storefronts and more. There really is no limit to how many ways you can promote your store and products. Each method has its pros and cons (and costs) which I will explore in depth in future blogs.
Once you have your first store perfect, and you are getting regular sales and traffic you can focus on setting up your next store.