Dropshipping has been a hot business model for a few years now. But is it worth your time in 2024?
Or is it a waste of time to start a dropshipping business today?
In our opinion, dropshipping is not a waste of time in 2024. It's still a great way to start an online business without much startup capital and potentially start earning money in the short term. Even if your store turns out to be unsuccessful, you will still learn various skills that you can apply later in your career or life.
In this article, we'll explore the pros and cons of dropshipping and help you decide if it's the right business model for you.
What is dropshipping?
Let's quickly go over the basics; what is dropshipping?
Dropshipping is a business model where you sell products without carrying any inventory. When a customer places an order, you contact the dropshipping supplier, who will ship the product directly to the customer’s door.
Tip: If dropshipping is a new term for you, be careful of what you hear about it from people selling dropshipping courses. Sometimes, these 'gurus' don't tell you the whole story.
The pros of dropshipping
When looking at the dropship business model, it may seem like an excellent way to start an online business. And from some perspectives, that is true!
Let's check out the pros of dropshipping:
1. Quickly test products without buying in bulk
First of all, you can purchase your products one by one. This means that you only pay for products once you get an order for them on your online store! Isn't that nice?
If the product generates few sales, you can quickly move on to new products without being stuck with any leftover stock in a warehouse or your home.
2. Low startup costs in comparison to retail stores
This pro is a great continuation of the one above.
Look, it's really cheap to start a dropshipping store:
- You don't have to invest in inventory.
- You don't have to pay any warehouse fees.
- You don't need a physical storefront.
If you don't have that high of a budget, this must sound amazing, right?
3. You don't have to produce, store, and send the products
Another great thing about dropshipping is that your dropshipping supplier handles everything! Think about the shipping, storing, and manufacturing of the product.
This means that the main thing you have to take care of is the marketing of the product, while your dropshipping supplier handles the rest. Awesome, right?
But of course, that has a disadvantage as well; you can't see the product, so there could be issues with the product quality. (More about that below.)
4. Learn useful skills
As I said above, dropshipping is just a fulfillment method.
The rest of ecommerce doesn’t change. You’ll still be learning skills like:
- Digital marketing
- Conversion optimization
- Social media management
And, of course, much more! (More on that later.)
These skills will come in handy, even if you decide not to continue with your dropshipping store.
5. You can open a dropshipping store really fast
Many people are starting with dropshipping because it’s so easy to open a dropshipping store and start selling that same day.
You can open a Shopify store in a few minutes and set everything up in maybe a few hours!
Of course, it’s better to take your time building your dropshipping store to make it unique compared to all the other dropshippers who open their stores in a few hours!
If you’re interested in learning how to be unique, we suggest reading this article.
6. Highly scalable
With dropshipping, you can sell to the whole world if you want to.
Remember, your supplier takes care of the shipping, and most suppliers ship to many countries worldwide!
Besides, if your store is successful, you can always turn it into a brand!
If you're interested in learning more about this, we suggest checking the articles below:
- 7+ Amazing Tips to Brand your Dropshipping Store
- Dropshipping Branding: What Is It & Why Should You Care?
These pros may be a lot to take in, so here's an infographic of the advantages of dropshipping:
Tip: Looking for an all-in-one article about everything you should know about dropshipping? If so, check out our dropshipping guide!
The cons of dropshipping
Now that we covered all pros of dropshipping, let's continue with the cons.
Yes, most people who talk about dropshipping don't mention these.
However, we like to be transparent, so let's go!
1. Almost no control
The first con of dropshipping has to do with a lack of control.
When you dropship a product, you essentially give up all control over the shipping process. You have no way to ensure that the product will be shipped on time or that it will be packaged correctly.
This can lead to customers receiving damaged goods or not receiving their orders at all.
In addition, if there are any problems with the product, you will likely be the last person to know, as you will not be involved in the manufacturing or quality control process.
2. Sometimes you can’t combine products for an order
If a customer orders multiple products and you have multiple dropshipping suppliers for these different products, then you can’t combine these products into one package.
This means that your customers will receive multiple packages and might complain after the first package that their order is incomplete.
And not only that, but you will also pay shipping fees multiple times!
3. Potential quality control issues
Most dropshippers start selling a product without seeing it in real life.
If you never see the product, then there could be issues with the product quality, and you will never know it until it’s too late!
4. Stock shortages
Stock shortages can be another problem when dropshipping.
Dropshippers typically rely on a single supplier for their inventory. If that supplier runs out of stock, the dropshipper is left empty-handed.
This can lead to angry customers and lost sales. In some cases, it may even be necessary to cancel orders!
5. Less profit
The hidden 'cost' of dropshipping is the lack of bulk pricing.
You will likely pay more for each product because you buy them individually, leading to a lower profit margin.
6. Refunds can be complicated
If you picked the right dropshipping supplier, then the chances of this happening are smaller, but they're still present.
Since you aren't in control of the inventory, you will have to rely on the supplier to handle any returns. This can often be a slow and complicated process, frustrating customers and damaging your store's reputation.
7. Customer service can be difficult
If your customer has a question and you can't answer it, you must discuss it with your dropshipping supplier first. This might take some time!
8. A lot of competition
Though competition is often seen as a good thing. However, in the world of dropshipping, it can be a severe drawback.
When too many businesses sell the same or similar products, it becomes difficult to stand out from the crowd.
This can start price wars on the product themselves or bidding wars on marketing platforms. As a result, profit margins quickly erode, making it difficult to make a profit.
Here's an overview of all cons of dropshipping:
Tip: Remember, there's a solution to every problem! If you want to know how to deal with these cons, check out this article.
How much time do you need to start a successful dropshipping store?
Dropshipping is a great way to start an ecommerce business with little up-front investment, and it’s relatively easy to get started.
There are a few things you need to do to start a successful dropshipping store.
For instance, our complete dropshipping checklist features 23 steps to start a dropshipping store.
Among them are things like:
- Finding a niche and good suppliers. You can’t just sell anything and expect to succeed. You need to find a niche that fits you and reliable suppliers who can provide high-quality products at a reasonable price.
- Setting up your store. This includes creating attractive product pages and writing compelling copy. Again, this takes time and effort, but it’s necessary to start generating sales.
So, how much time do you need to start a successful dropshipping store?
Ultimately, it depends on your own experience and efforts. However, if you’re willing to put in the work, you can expect to see results within a few months!
What skills do you learn from dropshipping?
Of course, not everyone succeeds in starting a successful dropshipping store.
You may put in a lot of time and effort but quit in the end after not getting the results you've hoped for.
Shopify says that top dropshippers estimate that 10% to 20% of dropshipping businesses succeed. And that's still a pretty optimistic estimate, in our opinion.
In fact, most people fail with dropshipping because of these 12 reasons.
However, you didn't waste your time completely, even if you quit dropshipping before seeing any success. That's because you acquired a wide range of skills that you can apply to other areas of your life!
Let's check out four important ones!
For your dropshipping store to be successful, you’ll need to master some basic marketing skills.
This includes everything from creating catchy product descriptions to launching targeted social media ads. Fortunately, plenty of online resources can teach you the ins and outs of effective marketing strategies.
Dropshipping stores require constant attention and care, especially in the early stages.
From communicating with suppliers to promoting your store, there are a lot of moving parts that need to be managed effectively!
Because you’ll be dealing directly with customers, providing excellent customer service is essential for dropshippers.
You’ll need to respond quickly to questions and concerns and always ensure that the customer is happy with their purchase.
Once you've done the marketing part, a.k.a. getting visitors to your store, you must now convince them to buy your products.
Together with marketing, this is one of the most important (and challenging) aspects of running a dropshipping business. You’ll need to learn how to optimize your conversion rate and close sales effectively.
3 Alternatives to dropshipping (& their pros and cons)
If you're worried about dropshipping being a waste of time in 2024, you may be interested in some dropshipping alternatives.
Maybe they will be a better fit for you!
1. Print on demand
Print on demand is a business model that's most similar to dropshipping but also has some differences.
Print on demand is a fulfillment model allowing sellers to design product graphics. Once a seller receives an order, a supplier 'prints' the designed graphics on the item and ships it to the customer.
Here are the pros and cons of POD vs. dropshipping:
2. Partnering with private agents
A private agent is an alternative to a dropshipping supplier. It’s someone who sources your desired product by finding the best supplier for it. Then, they ensure that the product is stored, packed, and quickly shipped to your customers once orders start rolling in!
Here are the pros and cons of partnering with a private agent:
|High-quality products for a lower price
|Some agents require a minimum number of orders per day.
|Faster shipping times
|A fully automated order processing system isn't always present.
|Trustworthiness is more of an issue.
|Help with branding your store
|Consistent product pricing
3. White labeling (or private labeling)
Let's take a look at the pros and cons of white labeling:
|Increased perceived value
|Not as easy to start
|The competition is less of a worry
|The products are more expensive
|Increased customer loyalty
|The products may require a minimum order quantity
Tip: If you're looking for dropshipping alternatives that have even less to do with dropshipping than the above three, take a look at this article!
Before we go to the conclusion, we’ve created a quick summary of this article for you, so you can easily remember it:
- Dropshipping is a great business model as it's relatively easy to start and requires low startup costs. However, it also comes with issues related to a lack of control, the quality of the products, and high competition.
- If you're willing to put in the effort and time, you may become successful with dropshipping within a few months. But remember, it's not a 'get rich quick' scheme!
- Even if you didn't succeed with dropshipping, you didn't completely waste your time. You've learned a lot of valuable skills, including marketing, time management, and customer service.
Now that we've told you more about dropshipping, let's answer the central question: Is dropshipping worth your time in 2024?
If you're looking for a low-risk and low-cost way to start an online store, then dropshipping is definitely worth your time. It's a great way to test different products and see what works without investing much money upfront.
So ultimately, whether dropshipping is a waste of time in 2024 comes down to your own goals and preferences.
Dropshipping can be a great way to generate income and learn new skills if you're willing to put in the work. But if you're looking for something passive and guaranteed to generate a profit, we suggest looking further.
Have a great rest of your day!
Want to learn more about dropshipping?
Ready to move your dropshipping store to the next level? Check out the articles below:
- The 5 Best Ecommerce Platforms for Dropshipping in 2024
- How to Choose What to Dropship: Finding the Right Products
- Finding Your Ideal Dropshipping Target Audience (2024 Guide)
Plus, don’t forget to check out our in-depth guide on how to start dropshipping here!