Last month Amer told you about the beginning of his €300 dropshipping journey, the reception to this was incredible, and it is great to know so many people can relate to the struggle.
This has indeed been an eventful month. No, I haven’t yet made the six figures that the resident conmen on Youtube promised me, but the wheels are actually turning now.
This month I put a huge emphasis on social media, spent an hour a day either putting together an infographic on Photoshop or creating a blog. As mentioned in my previous post, spamming products doesn’t work on social media, and generally, I noticed it brings only competitors to your store to have a look.
I noticed the best engagement is when you bring value to the community, likes turn into clicks, and clicks turn into sales; just don’t force the agenda.
Genuine interaction works, speak to people. Landed a sale from someone who I commented on a post before on Instagram, she later turned into a customer. Point being this is no different from real life in the sense that only good things come from genuine dialogue.
Google Ads have consistently proven its worth to me, and the last month I have generated consistent sales from them. It plugs into Google Analytics beautifully, which has ecommerce tracking. This is then able to provide very valuable statistics such as average revenue per customer; this figure is great in knowing what a good price to bid for the CPC (Cost per click).
I learned that Google Ads keywords have something called a ‘Quality Score’, and it is based on a combination of your ad quality and your bidding score. This ultimately affects where your impression will rank on the page so kind of a big deal. (You can find more information about this here)
Currently bidding very low for my CPC, and I’ve trimmed off the fat with the poorer performing countries, the best ones were ones I would of never have anticipated without the help of Google Analytics. I am now doubling down on my spending per day, and it has indeed brought me double the sales.
Also tried a couple more small Facebook/Instagram ads at 10 euro a piece, the traffic was nice, CPC at 17 cents, but interactions were disappointing compared to Google Ads. If it isn’t broken, then I’m not fixing it, I’m staying put with Google Ads.
Between social media, organic traffic, and Google Ads, I had around anything between 50-70 people come per day, most were engaged in the site and kept my average session time between 2-3 mins. Social media was growing each day, and posts were slowly getting more and more interaction along with it.
Posted regular blogs on social media, and they led to consistent traffic. I included notifications to new blogs in my mailing list, they brought subs back, and one led to a sale. For me, this was a win, and it brought me to a new conclusion. I realized there is no winning solution to getting sales but rather a combination of everything, in my case blogs, social interaction, and newsletters.
I can’t talk about dropshipping without mentioning this.
With the virus biting down hard, I noticed that hand sanitizer was searched for on my store…like a lot, I would go as far as saying about 75% of my store’s traffic searched for it.
I dabbled with the idea of selling this. I decided against it because firstly it went against the store image and secondly it would take between 3-4 weeks for delivery. This would be a pretty lame thing to do when people are actually relying on it much sooner.
My company’s reputation is worth more to me, plus this would also make me part of the problem which I wouldn’t feel too good about. If you’re thinking about profiting from this crisis, then please take a look at articles like this one here.
Shipments are coming through just fine, I am staying clear of Epacket and strictly using AliExpress shipping from here on, it really is going from strength to strength. One of my customers got her order in less than 2 weeks; she complained a great deal from the start, so I’m grateful hers of all orders came when it did.
I am certainly coming to the point with some of my suppliers where I am just about done with AliExpress. A simple conversation can take weeks and still not bear any fruit, similar to the one below.
I sent products off to an influencer who was happy to shout out my stuff just for the free products.
The shipping here set a terrible impression, took 2 weeks for one to arrive, and the other a week later, she was unsurprisingly not in any mood to promote my items afterward. It made me think this is the same awful experience my customers are getting; something had to change here.
I have been on the fence with how to deal with this problem, and all dropshipping alternatives provide new and different problems. Dabbled with the idea of Spocket, but they seem to be very US centric, and shipping costs outside of there are simply not viable. They severely lacked EU suppliers, where 75% of my customers are.
I have also looked at Zendrop, both prices and delivery times are incredible, albeit still from China. The largest problem here was a lack of choice. I would not be able to replace even a third of my products moving here, which is incredibly disappointing considering they have 7-14 day delivery times internationally; in my opinion, this is incredible. This is a solution I would have seriously considered otherwise.
I have ultimately decided that dropshipping is great to get into ecommerce, but not (in my opinion) sustainable in gaining good long-term relationships with your customers.
I have been in contact with several suppliers from Alibaba, pitting them off against one another for my custom. The person I ended agreeing to do business with was light, and day against the one’s you deal with on Aliexpress, extremely courteous and accommodating.
Believe me, when you see the minimum order requirements on their pages, don’t let it put you off, message them. Not only is my supplier to be better quality, but cheaper and with branding. I am still waiting to clear a couple more 100 before I can put down the deposit, I shall use this time to source a reliable fulfillment center in the EU.
I figured out that a few competitors that I referred to as ‘titans’ in my previous post had followers that predominantly consisted of bots, you can usually tell by the comments section.
Most of them branded themselves so well, the typical white everything in their Instagram posts that makes everything look just perfect, but deep down, they were full of it. They had so many followers, but almost all of the comments on their posts were emojis, this normally suggests they paid for their followers; unfortunately, this is a thing by the way.
I ran a few checks on their traffic, they are established, they have numerous backlinks and influencers in their pockets, but their traffic was pretty lame considering. I took a boost of confidence with this knowing that if I can hold out a few more months and build a genuine social media presence, I may have a shot.
Noticed a competitor that started up a month ago that was an absolute carbon copy of mine, pictures, branding, wording, literally everything…word for word. This was no coincidence, was most likely ripped from a ‘review my store’ post I made a few months or so back.
It was not wise for them to follow me on Instagram; they kind of revealed their hand there. I took a small boost, knowing that they have discontinued their store. Most likely, their lack of imagination was their demise.
This month started off dire, it hurt pretty bad, to the point of contemplating cutting my losses and pulling the plug, even though I thought this many times before.
I want to blame the current issue for the slow month, but that would be too easy. But then again, people likely won’t care a great deal about eco-friendly products in the middle of a global pandemic.
I did the right thing, reached out to customers with outstanding orders, explained the current circumstance, and reassured them that I am committed to seeing this through. I even had a couple of responses saying that they understood.
Couple weeks into the month, things…just started to click. I cannot put my finger on what was different, I suspect it was the endless tweaking of my Google Ads finally being optimized, but it started to work. It started off as a small trickle of sales over the weekends, nothing all week. Then gradually it built up to this in a single day:
I am now way into a profit now on my initial investment.
I plugged in Seguno this month and was incredibly pleased with its flexibility, ease of use, and automations. Generated a sale from a cart abandonment mail, which I was chuffed to bits about. Yes, Shopify does this out of the box, but nowhere near as neat looking as Seguno does. They give the emails a very professional look.
Do not overlook the value of email marketing. I also used this to send out an email to customers explaining that we are trading as usual throughout the pandemic; however, orders will be delayed. A couple actually replied thanking me for being forthcoming and said I don’t have to worry about it.
My war chest has been bolstered this month, and I am ready to come out swinging the next couple of months. I have knocked competition off the top spot on Google, undercutting them on everything and pretty much laying down the gauntlet. If I wasn’t on their radar before, I certainly am now (I know this because they follow me now on Instagram)
I have within 2 months gone from being in total survival mode to one that turns a healthy profit. I am in a good place and am positive about the future of my business. There is so much room for improvement, and I plan to make it all happen very soon.
This was never going to be easy, but I took a great deal of positive energy from my good friends on Reddit, who enjoyed my story last month. Because of this, I continue to put in work, hammer down hard with social media, and blog frequently.
For me, this has become more than the business; this is more about me wanting to give the two-finger salute to all the naysayers who say this can’t be done. So while I was hanging on by my fingernails, I’m still here another month later, which is more than many last.
I would like to finish this piece with a quote that really resonated with me this month:
When you’re at the end of your rope. Tie a knot and hold on.Franklin D. Roosevelt
This article was written by Amer, a (wannabe) entrepreneur.