drop shipping introduction

How to start a small drop shipping site

Looking for a great home based startup idea to provide a secondary income (or primary, if it goes well)? Combine an eCommerce website with drop shipping facilities to lower costs and start earning from day one.

Drop shipping is a technique used by many home based and small business owners to fulfil orders and deliver products without having to handle warehousing, packaging and transport.

Instead, a drop shipping company takes care of this aspect of the business (often delivering directly from the factory), allowing you to focus on marketing and growing the store.

This article shows why drop shipping is such a powerful tool to help eCommerce startups make money, and how to get started quickly and easily.

How drop shipping works

Drop shipping is a simple process:

  1. Create a relationship with a drop shipper
  2. Sell products online
  3. Transfer orders to the drop shipper
  4. Drop shipper fulfills the order
  5. Repeat steps 2 - 4

Advantages of drop shipping

Drop shipping is a fantastic technique to use to launch a new business because it requires very little capital outlay.

Traditional businesses need to buy and store stock before it can be sold. This is a great expense - especially for small or home business startups.

Drop shipping avoids this problem entirely by allowing merchants to accept payment from their eCommerce store before placing an order with the drop shipping service and paying for it.

This means that instead of working off a deficit, eCommerce stores that use drop shippers only ever pay for stock that has already been sold.

In addition, drop shippers can fulfill orders far more cost effectively than an individual startup because they have warehouse, transport, packaging and delivery infrastructure and processes in place already.

Drop shipping serves to lower the cost of fulfilling orders, which leaves a greater share of the profit in your hands.

Disadvantages of drop shipping

Any time your business has to rely on a third party service, you are at the mercy of their performance. It is important to ensure that you only work with trusted and reputable drop shipping services because:

  • suppliers of poor quality products can harm your business reputation
  • unreliable distributors can lead to delays, leaving customers dissatisfied

How to start an online store

Starting an online store, and in particular, a drop shipping eCommerce store, requires vision backed by research and followed by persistent and consistent sales and marketing.

Fortunately, there are some great tools and services out there that will make your life a lot easier.

Unfortunately, these same tools also make it easier for the competition to get started. This is why it is so important to come up with a great idea and/or brand, and research it properly before approaching a drop shipper and building a store.

Idea & brand

Before you can begin selling stuff online it is important to understand your target market, why you will be differentiated from the competition, and what will make people buy from you. These are not necessarily trivial questions, and a lot of work must go into building a great business plan.

An idea is only worthwhile if you are passionate about it, and are confident that it has the potential to make money.

Read How to start a business for an in-depth look at creating a new business.

Select a drop shipper

There are a few well-established, high quality drop-shipping services that you can combine with one of the world's best shopping cart software products or online eCommerce website builders.

Shopify now offers comprehensive facilities to help manage and streamline a dropshipping eCommerce store.

Decide on the best one for you based on which one has the service terms, and the products and brands you need. WorldWideBrands is one of the biggest and best.

It's worthwhile to note that it is possible to use WorldWideBrands as a warehousing and distribution agent that stores and manages your own inventory. This has the advantage that you control stock, so it is less likely that new orders will be placed on back-order leading to delays. This also makes it possible to get bulk order or wholesale discounts.

Build an eCommerce website

Building an eCommerce store is easy with today's top shopping cart software and eCommerce website builders. While some drop shipping services also offer a website building facility, I recommend that you use an independent eCommerce website builder so that you:

  • are not tied to one distributor
  • enjoy greater speed, power, flexibility, and SEO
  • have greater control

Check out our list of the top eCommerce website builders at Which Web platform has the best SEO?. Many of the hosted eCommerce site builders mentioned in that list offer a free trial, and serious packages to suit businesses of all sizes, so shop around til you find the one that is perfect for you.

Once you have picked an eCommerce website, I recommend reading the following articles and resources to learn more about SEO and marketing:

Do you use drop shipping as part of the supply chain? Has drop shipping helped drive growth in the startup phase? What problems have you experienced with drop shippers?

Share your drop shipping and eCommerce tips, advice and experiences in the comments or join me on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ to continue the conversation.

home business ideas to make money fast

Finding a way to make money quickly is really not as good as finding a way to earn a stable income in the long term - get rich quick schemes tend to be a waste of time and effort (except for the people selling the scheme).

At least that was the point of my argument with a friend the other day. They ended up betting that I couldn't come up with at least one idea that would start generating cash within 24 hours.

In the words of Barney, "Challenge accepted!"

University business startup competitions. Pic by tableatny

Starting a business can be a daunting task - often made all the more difficult by a small advertising/marketing budget and an insufficient network of contacts to help get things off the ground.

It's a good thing then that there is always one fantastic, free strategy to generate some high-quality buzz and exposure for your startup that will not only put your idea in front of plenty of the "right" people, but also, potentially, lead to some much-needed funds, influential connections, and media coverage.

I'm talking about university business competitions.

Gap in the market startups. Photo by Robert S. Donovan

Being an entrepreneur is one of the best vocations in the world because it encourages you to view everything as an opportunity for innovation. And, once you have an idea, you have to challenge it. Break it down. Make it better. Throw it away. Start again. Fail. Fail. Fail. Until you succeed.

Whatever you can imagine, you can do. Provided you have the drive and determination to see it through.

Small business ideas by students. Pib by Melissa Petrie

Universities and colleges across the U.S. are brimming with new business ideas from student entrepreneurs that can be a fantastic source of inspiration for every aspiring entrepreneur, from school right the way through to retirees looking to start their own business.

We want to shine a light on the creativity and innovation being demonstrated at universities across the nation by students with a passion for entrepreneurship and sharing new ideas.

The best part?

How to earn a passive income online. Pic by John Haler

The Web is arguably the best medium from which to earn a passive income because content, software and online services can persistently drive traffic and revenue for years at a time.

In other words - build once; earn indefinitely.

The downside is that because there is this great potential to make money, a lot of people are trying it. And, with a lot of people, comes a lot of competition that makes starting out tricky. One thing's for sure; if you're not prepared to put in work upfront, forget about earning a passive income online.