Are you thinking of starting a dropshipping store? Awesome! In this article, I'll list out the 10 most common dropshipping mistakes and how to avoid them. As someone who has figured these mistakes out the hard way, I'll try to list all possible errors, and hopefully, this way, you can avoid them yourself.
No business is perfect. Every business has its pros and cons, but due to these so-called “gurus”, dropshipping is one of the topics on the internet that is distorted and usually oversimplified, resulting in a monetary loss for new dropshippers.
There are mistakes that you don't even know you are making until it's too late. Some easy mistakes can be easily avoided if you learned to avoid them. Some mistakes are small, but some result in substantial monetary and time loss.
Now keep in mind almost all mistakes are avoidable, and I'll show you precisely how in this article.
1. Picking the Wrong Niche
If you know anyone in the dropshipping business who is even a little bit successful, chances are they failed at the first store due to picking the wrong niche.
There are many details to consider when you are “picking a niche” for your dropshipping store.
Let’s begin with the first one, picking a niche that is too broad.
Picking a niche that is too broad
Many new dropshippers like to go into a broad niche, thinking they will capture a big market. For instance, general stores that sell electronics and clothing in the same store.
Broad niches can work for Amazon and Walmart, but it will never work for small businesses such as yourself. Broad niches have a lot more downside than upsides such as:
Customers tend to have a high trust score with websites only selling Jewelry (a niche website) than a new website they just came across, which sells Jewelry and Gadgets. No one is going to trust that brand.
This will result in a lower conversion rate and will eventually run you out of business.
Most new dropshipping businesses start with advertising to get sales. It doesn't matter if you advertise on Facebook, Google, Pinterest, or Instagram. If you don't know your target audience, your ads will not perform.
Targeting an audience does get tricky for a broad/general niche store.
If you had a jewelry specific niche store for which you run ads mainly to people who show interest in jewelry, chances are they might purchase more from your store because the products are in the same niche.
Whereas if you have a general store and run ads for jewelry products, even if they land on your website, you might lose the sale because of the trust issue that you might be selling fake products because you are selling so many products in different niches.
If you're interested in learning more about this, then I suggest reading this article:
Considering you are a new dropshipper and probably don't have thousands of dollars to spend on marketing, a broad niche store can quickly eat up your budget, showing some to no results.
Of course, you can also go for free traffic methods, but these will also be harder when your niche is too broad.
Retargeting ads get tricky & expensive, and email campaigns won’t convert as same as a niche store; conversion rates are meager, all in all, resulting in increasing your expenditure and setting you up on a path to failure.
Choosing a specific niche vs. broad niche can impact your SEO in terms of how Google thinks about your website's authoritativeness and relevance.
It is tough to rank a general store compared to a niche store. A niche store will always have authority over a general store because of a lot of SEO impacting factors.
For example, a jewelry store can rank high for keywords related to the jewelry niche compared to a general store that sells 2-3 jewelry products alongside electronics and clothing.
If you are interested in increasing the organic traffic from your dropshipping, then check out this article:
Picking an out-dated niche
What I still see on public forums like Reddit is new dropshippers dropshipping stuff that was trending in 2017 like the Posture Corrector or a sticky iPhone case and then asking why they are getting low conversion rates and no sales.
As a new dropshipper, you have to avoid it. Now don't get me wrong saying it won't get any sales in 2023. It will. But looking at a long-term picture, your store will die out in months if you dropship out-dated products or niches.
This brings us on to our 3rd sub-point, picking the wrong niche.
Picking a wrong niche
Now there is no definition of a wrong niche. But we do have a list of 10 Dropshipping Niches to avoid as a beginner.
A niche, amongst other things, defines if your business will be successful or not. And for new dropshippers, it's always better to be safe than sorry later.
Many niches require after-sales services or even have a high return/refund rate.
I like to stick to a general rule, that is, to see the product/niche as a long-term business and see if I have an interest in it. Even if a business selling T-Shirts looks lucrative, if I have no interest in fashion or designing in general and don't know anything about it, I won't start a clothing store.
A niche is never right or wrong. Everyone is different, and so are the experiences. I always recommend going into niches that you already have a passion for or where you have some past experience.
Pro Tip: Try to choose a product that requires almost no after-sales service or does not have a high return/refund rate. For example, the Posture Corrector, a hot seller in 2017-2018, requires no after-sales service, nor do people often return it.
If you’re wondering now how to pick a niche for your dropshipping store, then I got two great articles for you that will help you pick the best niche for your dropshipping store.
The first one will help you with the research progress on how to find niches, and the second one will help you validate your niche idea if it could be a profitable niche or not.
- How to Find the Best Niche for Dropshipping? (7 Methods)
- How to Find out If a Dropshipping Niche Could Be Profitable in 2023?
2. Dropshipping Only Using AliExpress
We all know AliExpress is the go-to for a dropshipping business. Almost every dropshipper at some point uses AliExpress, but I would recommend against it.
As a new dropshipper, you will need fast shipping or reliable shipping for which Chinese AliExpress suppliers can't guarantee.
When I started my dropshipping business, everything was good until I began to get 5-10 orders a day. That's over 100 orders in 15 days. And usually, after 15 -20 days, customers start emailing you and asking, “Where is my order?”
Since I used AliExpress, I never knew where the order was. Even though we have a tracking number, you can’t exactly see the expected delivery date. AliExpress takes 15-30 days to deliver, and don't be shocked if it's delivered after two months because that's regular. You can find more information about this here.
This becomes a massive headache as time passes. Even though the package is in transit, many customers do and will file a chargeback, and it's no fun for anyone.
Tip: If you want to win your chargebacks, consider using Chargeflow. It's a company that uses AI to fight your chargebacks for you.
Chargeflow offers an industry-leading win rate, and you only pay when they successfully recover a chargeback, so it's worth checking out!
So I would highly recommend you finding a supplier that ships from a US Warehouse on AliExpress (meager chances) or going with a different service like CJ Dropshipping, Spocket, or SaleHoo. You can find the best free US dropshipping suppliers here.
I have personally used CJ Dropshipping in the past, and I still do. The shipping times for CJ are around 8-12 days, sometimes more. Still, tracking is very reliable.
The customer service is excellent as CJ directly sells the products to us, and there's no supplier involved.
No matter which service you chose to go with, try ordering some cheap samples and see how much time it takes to arrive to get an idea about the shipping times. This is also called purchasing a sample order.
You can also test the quality of the product and you can see how the packaging looks like.
The great thing about this is that you can use this sample product to create excellent product images and videos for your store and advertisements.
This mistake does not seem a big deal. But taking care of it at the early stages will ensure you have a robust supply chain from the start.
3. Not Optimizing Your Store
Your website is the only online presence you have. It is more than important that your website should be optimized in every way possible so that your customers have the best possible experience you have to offer.
If you take care of it now, then you don't have to worry about it in the future.
We won't fully dive into all possible optimizations for an ecommerce store. Still, I will list down the main three optimizations you need to have in place, no matter what.
If you want more tips on how to create the best dropshipping store, then check out this article below:
This is possibly going to be the first page your customer lands on through the advertisement or something like a Google search. It should convert a website visitor into a buyer.
A product page optimization consists of:
- More than one product image
- A proper product description that contains copywriting
- Customer reviews/testimonials
- Visually elegant
- Proper branding
- Consists of relevant keywords
Dropshipping stores usually have almost no brand awareness. Your customers don't know your brand or service, so converting visitors into buyers is probably the most crucial part. Doing the above optimizations can help you create a fantastic store.
If you’re interested in learning more branding tips, then I suggest reading this article here.
And for inspiration, check out our article with 10 product page examples!
Website speed plays a vital role in making sure your potential customers don't bounce off because of the long loading time. Your loading time is also essential for SEO as fast and responsive websites tend to rank higher than slow websites for obvious reasons.
If you are using Shopify, you can't do much in terms of speed, but you can do your part in making sure your website speed is as high as it can be.
Some of the speed optimizations you can do are:
- Use compressed images everywhere on your website. You can use image compressor apps like TinyIMG or Image Optimizer on Shopify.
- Do not use a slider layout; instead, go with a HERO layout.
- Use fast and responsive themes.
- Do not install too many apps at the same time.
- Setting up AMP pages
You should try to get your loading time under 3 seconds.
According to Google, 53% of people will leave if your website takes more than 3 seconds to load. That's more than half of your potential buyers, and the risk is not worth it.
This means that your website should look and perform great on mobile as well!
If you are using Shopify, and want to learn more about increasing your loading time, then check out this article I linked to below:
Ecommerce website structure
Not many new dropshippers focus on this, but this is one of the three most essential optimizations you have to do.
A great ecommerce website structure is not only good for SEO and speed, but it’s also beneficial for your customers.
I like to stick to a general rule to make sure no page on my website is more than three clicks away. Any page that is more than three clicks away is hard to find.
Ecommerce websites tend to have many pages compared to, for example, a blog, so having an ecommerce structure in place from the start is always a good idea.
Here's an example of how your website's structure could look like:
4. Upsells, Abandoned Carts, SMS & Email Marketing
This tip would be more helpful once you start receiving orders. Still, you have to be prepared to increase your customer lifetime value as much as possible.
For those who don’t know what customer lifetime value is, customer lifetime value (CLV) is the total amount of money; an average customer spends on your store over the lifetime of your relationship.
You can learn more about CLV in this article here. That article also covers how to calculate it correctly.
As a new dropshipper, you have to get as much value as possible from every customer to become profitable within the first month.
But many new dropshippers overlook this as they get too happy with the sales that they don't focus on increasing their customer lifetime value.
So, how to increase your customer lifetime value? Below you will find a few tips to get you started.
Upsells & Cross-sells
Upsells and cross-sells are giving your customers an option to upgrade or add-on to increase your revenue without the recurring cost of marketing.
There are a lot of apps I can suggest for upsells, but the best Shopify app for upselling I use is Candy Rack. It does cost $30 per month, but it's always worth the money because it usually earns more money than it costs.
Abandoned carts are customers leaving the website without completing the purchase. An average Shopify store has a 7% abandoned cart recovery rate.
That means for every 100 abandoned orders; you can recover seven orders free of cost, which is fantastic.
Now by default, Shopify has abandoned cart emails turned on, but they are not as convincing as a custom email. I highly recommend you change your abandoned cart email and add some personalizations or maybe a coupon code to give them the last push they need to complete the purchase.
If you're interested in learning more about how to recover abandoned carts on your dropshipping store, then check out this beginner's guide here.
Another great way to recover abandoned carts is SMS Marketing, which we will talk about below.
I recently started using SMS Bump, and I feel stupid thinking about how much money I left on the past table.
In the last 30 days, SMS marketing brought in $401.90 in revenue, with just $8.11 spent. That’s a 4,855.61% ROI. Awesome, right?
It blew my mind to see these numbers, but they keep getting better as you receive more orders.
SMS Bump not only allows you to send abandoned cart reminders, but you can also start a win-back campaign, you can do product upsells, you can ask for feedback, and much more.
It helps to keep customers in the loop and get the maximum order value possible.
Another great option that you can checkout is Cartloop. If you don’t want to invest before testing SMS marketing, Cartloop can help you do that as you will have a free plan option where you only pay if they recover abandoned carts for you.
You can check out this article here, from the co-founder of Cartloop, to learn more about recovering abandoned carts with SMS marketing.
Email marketing is something you should set up from the start. As a new dropshipping store, you need to keep your customers in the loop with your brand and store to increase your revenue over time without having to do paid marketing.
With email marketing, many new dropshippers act lazy. Still, email marketing is vital if you want your customers to return to your store because emails keep your customers informed and in the loop. It is one of the most cost-effective marketing channels you can have, and cutting costs is what a new dropshippers goal should be to maximize profits.
According to a study from Statista in 2017, 49% of customers like receiving promotional emails from their favorite brand every week, and that’s something you should consider before deciding on how many emails a week or month you want to start with for your dropshipping store.
If you're interested in learning more about email marketing, then you can check out this beginner's guide here.
5. Not Knowing Your Financials
Believe it or not, this is where most people make mistakes in this business.
Dropshipping, as you know, requires some financial stability since you pay upfront for ads. Still, at the start, you'll have PayPal holds, Shopify Payments chargebacks, disputes, and a ton of financial problems.
Keeping track of your finances is one of the most important things to do because it's easy to think you have the money. Still, when calculated precisely, it might be that you are losing money, which could have been saved if you knew you were losing money.
Short story, with my first successful store, Facebook ads were working well, and the sales numbers were high.
I spent most of my earnings on ads because they were bringing sales, so why not, right? After a month, I calculated my books, and it turned out for the 1st month, I went down $1000 or more with no profit.
The thing was that I had more than $25k in revenue. The numbers didn't make any sense, but now I've realized it's essential to stay up-to-date on your financials and regularly plan your moves according to that.
When starting a new store, plan your budgets accordingly and keep track of your books because they will provide you with an answer in the future on how you can cut unwanted spending and be profitable.
If you’re interested in learning more about the costs of running a dropshipping business, then I suggest checking out this article here.
6. Facebook Ad Policies
Facebook is the most critical part of dropshipping. Without ads, there's no way you can test products fast or start scaling your store.
But many newbies make mistakes with Facebook’s ad policies, which result in Facebook accounts getting banned. Many people even quit dropshipping because once you get a ban, it's tough to get unbanned.
Even if you get unbanned, there's always a chance that it will be banned in the future if you don't know about Facebook’s ad policies.
My personal Facebook ad account was banned in the past, undoubtedly because of the useless tips I received from ‘fake gurus.’ Due to that, I had to shut down the store! That’s definitely the worst possible thing that can happen to you.
I strongly recommend you go through Facebook’s ad policies and understand every point made there. It is straightforward to understand, and it will make sure your account doesn't get banned, enjoying a non-disruptive business.
There are also many products you can’t advertise on Facebook. If you are interested in finding out what they are, then check out these products that you should avoid dropshipping.
And if you're looking for the top mistakes people make when advertising with Facebook, then check out this article here.
7. Using Copyrighted Content
A dropshipping business itself depends on content from images to descriptions from other websites/sellers. Still, there's a considerable risk of copyright infringement if not done correctly.
New dropshippers often don't have a business registered. This leaves a huge window for people who like to threaten small businesses of copyright. And if you are infringing copyright and making a profit out of it, then consider yourself screwed.
Here are the best ways you can avoid this:
- If you're dropshipping with AliExpress, then don't forget to ask your supplier if you can use their product images and videos.
- Take photos/videos of the product yourself.
- Use free stock images available on Pexels, Unsplash, etc. (Like we did above)
And if possible, registering an LLC is also a great way to avoid having your assets attached to your business.
An LLC, if sued, is only limited to the LLC and not you. LLC costs $200-300 to register, and you should consider opening one after a month or so if you are successful and think you will do dropshipping in the long term.
But, in theory, if you are doing business, you should register as an entity. You can find more information about that here.
I don't need to explain how bad a copyright suit gets if you are found guilty. I've seen many new stores receive copyright notices, so precaution is always better than cure.
Plus, it also saves you from a ton of other legal stuff that you probably don't even know.
Keep in mind that this isn’t legal advice; please consult a lawyer in your own country.
8. Not Going Organic
You set-up your store, you created marketing campaigns, now what?
After starting your first store, it's safe to assume you will have some free time, and you can utilize this free time growing your store organically.
Now I know having a dropshipping business is very uncertain. Why would you waste your time on something that might close tomorrow, right?
Wrong. Dropshipping is an uncertain business but not to the point where you only rely on paid advertising to get sales.
Growing your brand organically on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google is as important as any other work you do in your store.
For example, Pinterest is the second-largest source of social traffic to Shopify stores. It is also one of the most accessible platforms to reach potential customers and increase brand awareness.
You can take full advantage of Pinterest by signing up as a business to create shoppable pins and get $100 free ad credit.
Pinterest is a great way to increase your traffic without any marketing or significant SEO efforts. Merely pinning your products daily and being active on Pinterest is enough to rank your pins and potentially increase visitors daily.
If you’re interested in learning more about Pinterest, then I suggest looking at this article here.
Facebook and Instagram are good too but don't expect sales from the start since these platforms are much more crowded. People often don't want to leave the platform and go to other websites. This means that Pinterest is the best option available for you to start, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try the different platforms.
Just don’t forget to be consistent. Once you start, don’t stop. Keep pushing forward!
Blogging goes about the same way. Blogging is not everyone's cup of tea, but if you can sum up 500-1000 words for your products or niche every week or 2, then go right ahead and start writing some stuff.
I suggest you watch some blogging videos to have some idea on writing, so it ranks on Google, or else it's just a waste of time. Now keep in mind this is not necessarily important but something you can do if you are serious enough.
If not, just start with Pinterest and other social media platforms as these are perfect to begin with. You can learn more about getting free traffic here.
New dropshippers tend not to experiment with products/ads copies because of a tight budget or fear of losing money.
A dropshipping business is one of the easiest businesses to start, but it is hard to succeed. Since not all dropshippers are expert marketers, you need to experiment with different products or ads.
An ad often does not convert for many reasons. It could be because the ad copy is not good enough or the image or video is not compelling enough.
Testing ads is the best way to find the right audience and a suitable ad copy. It might lose you money at the start. Still, once you find the audience's right set-up and ad copies, your ROAS will be significantly better than if you didn't experiment.
10. Buying Dropshipping Courses
Buying dropshipping courses is the worst decision you can make money-wise when starting a dropshipping business.
Almost all gurus failed at dropshipping and so started creating courses to make money.
There’s no hidden knowledge in any course that is not freely available on Youtube (or here, on Do Dropshipping)
If you do want a paid dropshipping course, then I suggest checking out Udemy. Courses there cost you about $12-$15 per course. (If they run a sale)
The great thing is that you can find tons of courses on Udemy on tons of different subjects. For example, digital marketing, design, copywriting, and much more.
You can also look at Skillshare, where you get a 2 months free premium subscription, which is more than enough to learn dropshipping and Facebook ads combined.
After that, it costs $8.73 per month, and you get access to all premium courses.
Another option is taking a look at these 17 free dropshipping courses.
We run Do Dropshipping to help people avoid these so-called “gurus” and try to guide you in the right direction.
If you're interested in learning more about these so-called “gurus” and why they are selling expensive courses, I suggest you read the article I linked to below:
Dropshipping Mistakes: Conclusion
So there you have it! Those are the 10 most common dropshipping beginner mistakes. These mistakes are the ones that I have made as a newbie and learned from them the hard way.
Gurus or other people, in general, have made a dropshipping business sound like anyone's cup of tea, but it isn't.
Running a dropshipping business is as hard as any other business, so try to start your new dropshipping business with an entrepreneurial mindset and don't expect it to be easy. It will get comfortable as you learn from your own mistakes and when you keep learning new skills.
If you're interested in learning more about the pros and cons of dropshipping, then check out this article here.
And if you have any questions or if you have any suggestions for this article, then let me know by commenting below or contacting me directly by pressing the “Contact Us” button at the top.
I will close this article off with an amazing quote that will hopefully get you inspired to do something today:
I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.
Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.Neil Gaiman
Getting Started with Dropshipping in 2023
So, are you ready to get started with dropshipping? Or maybe you have already started, but you’re looking to get some inspiration?
If so, then I suggest reading this complete Shopify dropshipping guide.
It’s a huge article, but it contains everything that you need to know to create your own Shopify dropshipping store in 2023. It’s like a dropshipping course, but then for free!
Reading this article will surely help you to get started and to stay motivated while beginning and continuing your dropshipping journey.
Just don’t forget that success takes time. Keep improving each and every day!
And here are the articles I suggest you read next:
- Dropshipping in 2023: Is It Still Worth It? (An Honest Look)
- Unique Dropshipping Store: 11 Amazing Tips to Create One
- 10 Ways to Advertise Your Dropshipping Store (No Facebook!)
- How to Find Winning Dropshipping Products? (Product Research Methods)