How (and Why!) to Start Your Online Store with Dropshipping
Have you ever considered starting an online boutique? If you’ve got great style, a love for the latest trends, and an entrepreneurial spirit, the idea of having your very own fashion-focused business probably sounds incredibly appealing. Less appealing, however, are the challenges that come with managing your own inventory. Expensive overhead, order minimums, shipping and logistics…suddenly your online business is bringing more headaches than happiness. If you’ve thought about starting an online store but shy away from the challenges of inventory, dropshipping may be the perfect solution!
What Is Dropshipping?
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of dropshipping, we’ll start with the basics. Dropshipping is a method of supply chain management in which you, as a retailer, rely on a manufacturer or wholesaler to produce your merchandise, store it in their warehouse, and ship it when you make a sale. As the seller, you make money based on the price difference between the wholesale cost of each item and your retail price. Your dropshipping partner handles behind-the-scenes aspects of the business—like production, warehousing, and shipping—while you handle customer-facing elements like website creation, marketing, and customer service.
How Can You Get Started?
If you’re interested in creating your own online store with a dropshipping model, these basic steps will help you get started:
1. Find Your Niche: The first thing your online store needs is a specific and consistent fashion perspective. If you’re a fashionista with an established following on social media, you’ll want to offer clothes that match the look your followers have come to love. If you’re new to the world of fashion, it’s best to start with a narrow, carefully crafted assortment that supports a particular style. Do you love a romantic and bohemian look? Sleek club wear? Sporty basics? Whatever your niche, go all-in with branding and products that reflect your distinctive style outlook.
2. Build Your Online Storefront: Once you’ve decided on the type of clothing you’ll sell, it’s time to create how you’ll sell it. A website is the most straightforward: simply purchase your domain name, and then set up an ecommerce site—lots of businesses use Shopify—with a design that reflects your style niche. At the same time, you’ll want to establish social media accounts for your business and link them back to your new site. If you don’t want to go the website route, you could set up an amazon sellers account, etsy store, or sell from Facebook Marketplace.
3. Find Your Dropshipping Partners: Once your store is ready to go, it’s time to find the perfect products! You’ll want to partner with dropshippers who carry clothes that match your style, ship to the places where your customer base lives, and handle the shipping logistics for each order. Interested in working with Wholesale Fashion Square as a dropshipper? Find out all the details of our dropshipping program here.
4. Invest in Marketing: You’ve created your online store, you’ve stocked it with fantastic fashion—now it’s time to spread the word! Stay active on those social media accounts you established in step two, and consider investing some advertising dollars in paid search, social ads, or influencer marketing to reach a wider audience and start making sales.
What Are the Benefits of Dropshipping?
It’s certainly possible to have a successful online store without dropshipping partners, but dropshipping is a great option for building a thriving retail business with minimal stress. Here are some of the major benefits of a dropship model:
Minimize Inventory Expenses: Inventory is a major financial commitment when starting an online store, and it can be an incredibly risky investment! Trends change quickly, and it’s tough to predict which items will get the strongest customer response, especially when you’re a brand-new business. Dropshipping helps you avoid forking over a lot of cash for inventory because the items you’re offering for sale are held by your dropshipping partner until one of your customers makes a purchase. This also means you don’t have to manage inventory, stress about unsold product at the end of each season, or pay for a space to store all those items before they’re shipped to your customers.
Avoid Shipping Headaches: Speaking of shipping, it can be one of the biggest challenges you encounter as an online retailer. It takes a lot of time and energy to get packages out the door! A dropshipping partner sends each order directly to the customer, so you can spend more time on marketing and merchandising and less time at the post office.
Test New Products: If you eventually decide to invest in your own inventory for best-selling products, dropshipping can still be a great way to test the waters when you want to introduce new styles. You can always offer a mix of dropshipped products and merchandise fulfilled from your own inventory. When you’re planning to expand your collection or dip your toes into something different, work with a dropshipping partner to test out your ideas before you commit to inventory of your own.
Have you ever thought about starting your own online store? Share your questions and ideas about dropshipping in the comments!