Dropshipping is a popular business model that enables entrepreneurs to sell products without owning inventory.

It has been gaining popularity lately, and many people want to get in on the action.

However, beware of some products! In this article, I will go over 13 products you should avoid when dropshipping in order to maintain a healthy and profitable dropshipping business.

But first, let’s go over the question most beginners have, what exactly is dropshipping?

What is dropshipping?

If you’re completely new to dropshipping, then this part is for you! Let’s go over what dropshipping is:

Dropshipping is a business model where you sell products on your online store without keeping them in stock. Once you get an order, you forward it to your dropshipping supplier, who will ship the product directly to your customer.

For the visual learners, this is how it will look like then:

The dropship model - Infographic

The big thing that you should remember now is that dropshipping is just a fulfillment method.

If you’re not sure what a fulfillment method is, then let me explain it real quick to you.

A fulfillment method is the method you use to fulfill your orders. There are three main ecommerce fulfillment methods:

  • In-house order fulfillment. For example, you store the stock in your house and send the orders from there as well.
  • Third-party fulfillment (or 3PL). This company will handle everything for you, from receiving your inventory from your manufacturer to restocking returned products.
  • Dropshipping. With this fulfillment method, your dropshipping supplier will handle everything for you. (Producing the products, shipping, storing, etc.)

So what does that mean for you?

That it doesn’t matter what way you send your orders; the basics of ecommerce don’t change.

It doesn’t matter if you’re dropshipping or buying in bulk by using a 3PL, you will still need an online store.

Yes, a few things are different if you’re dropshipping. For example, if you’re dropshipping from China, then you will have to make sure that you make the long shipping times clear for your customers.

But you don’t need to learn dropshipping specific things; you can learn ecommerce in general!

For example, instead of reading dropshipping specific Facebook Ads articles, read an ecommerce in general Facebook Ads guide.

Now that you understand the basics of dropshipping let’s begin with the products you should avoid dropshipping!

One thing to keep in mind: If you’re still interested in selling any of these products, you can still do that in most cases, but don’t forget to find a good dropshipping supplier. (More information about that here)

And to do your research carefully (for example, doing research about what insurance you should take in case something goes wrong).

1. Big products

One of the biggest reasons dropshipping from China is so popular is because of ePacket.

But in order to use ePacket, you need to know that your package has some limitations. Like a maximum length and weight.

The maximum length of an ePacket package can only be 60 cm, and the total of the length, height, and thickness of the package cannot be more than 90 cm.

Also, the package cannot weigh more than 2 kg.

This article about ePacket will give you more information about how to use it correctly for your business.

Note: Due to Covid-19, this has changed a lot. You can learn more about the current state of dropshipping with ePacket in this article here.

You should still be careful of big products, but now you’re most likely going to ship via a different shipping method.

Even if you’re not dropshipping from China, big products could still be a problem for you.

For example, heavier items will probably cost extra in shipping fees, and it will be harder to manage them.

It’s much easier to load a tiny bracelet in the delivery truck than a 10 kg statue of a teddy bear! This could result in product damages.

Source

One thing to note is that big products could be collapsible. This means that a big product comes folded so it can easily fit into the ePacket requirements. For example, a plush teddy bear, not a statue of a teddy bear!

2. Products that you can’t advertise on Facebook

Some products that are better to be avoided when dropshipping are the products that you can’t advertise on Facebook.

However, if you really want to dropship any of these products (like adult products), you have to find a different platform to advertise with. Just don’t forget to read the rules of that advertising platform.

These are the products that you cannot currently advertise on Facebook:

  • Unregulated supplements
  • Adult products
  • Third-Party infringements
  • Surveillance equipment
  • Counterfeit products
  • Health products: “Before-and-After”
  • Controversial products
  • Weapons
  • Tobacco products
  • Drugs and drug-related products

If you want to learn more about these products and about Facebook’s ad review process, I suggest reading this article from Oberlo.

You could also look at the Advertising Policies from Facebook.

3. Counterfeit and copyrighted products

You have probably seen this one already in the list of products that you cannot advertise on Facebook.

Copyrighted products are products that have been copied from a brand. Like this one from AliExpress:

Products to avoid dropshipping: Counterfeit and copyrighted products
Source (Offline)

Not being able to advertise these products on Facebook is not the only reason you shouldn’t add these products to your dropshipping store.

Another reason is that people can get disappointed in you and your store if they expect the product to be real, in this case from Nike, only to then later find out that the product was a counterfeit.

The reviews on AliExpress from the example above

Plus, you’re likely to get into legal troubles if these companies find out that you have been selling counterfeits of their products.

Of course, there is one exception, and that is if you get a license from that company to officially sell these products.

For more information about this, check out this article here!

4. Watches

A lot of people choose the watch niche when they start with dropshipping.

I personally suggest you stay away from this niche. Unless you have the proper experience to deal with all the competition that’s inside this niche.

Also, a lot of people link these watch stores with “scam stores.” You can find out more about this here.

This is because most people who start dropshipping start with the free plus shipping method. And guess what kind of products they will most likely add?

free plus shipping offer example watches in instagram story

Exactly, watches!

If you’re interested in seeing more reasons why I suggest you don’t start dropshipping watches, then you can read this article here.

5. Potentially dangerous products

This is a big one to avoid in your dropshipping store. Dangerous products, like knives.

Not only because you can’t advertise it on Facebook (weapons), but also because what do you think happens when a customs officer finds out there is a knife in the package?

Products to avoid dropshipping: Potentially dangerous products
Source

Every country has its own laws for what you can and can’t import into that country. It’s best to research these restrictions on what you can import. If you’re not sure about a product, don’t dropship it!

And if you’re not sure yet to which country you’re going to sell (so you can check their laws), then take a look at this article here with plenty of examples to get you started.

6. Fragile products

If you’re dropshipping from China, then the product delivery takes some time before the product gets delivered.

There is a big chance that during this time, the package will get some external impact. For example, when it’s loaded on the delivery truck.

No one likes receiving broken items… Do you?

This is why products that are made of or contain something like glass are risky. These products have a high chance of breaking.

Products to avoid dropshipping: Fragile products
Source

If you still want to dropship or want to try dropshipping these products, I suggest talking to your supplier.

Find out how they protect the product, what kind of packaging materials are they using and so on.

Also, read the reviews to see what other people are thinking about their purchase. Did they receive a broken product or not?

7. Clothing and shoes

This goes for all the products that need sizing.

Source

A lot of people return these kinds of products because they ordered the wrong size or they ordered the right size, but the product is in Asian sizing and didn’t know that.

Or worse, they order a lot of different sizes to then return the ones that don’t fit.

So, if you’re not ready to deal with these kinds of returns, I suggest not picking any products yet that have different sizes available.

8. Electronic products

If you’re dropshipping, you can’t see the products before they go to your customers.

This means that you and your customer can’t be 100% sure that the product is in perfect working order.

This is hard for when you’re dropshipping electronic products because a lot can go wrong with these kinds of products.

Products to avoid dropshipping: electronic products
Source

Here are some examples of electronic products you should avoid:

  • Products with batteries
  • Razors
  • Cellphones
  • Security Cameras

You, as the dropshipper, are liable. If something goes wrong with the product, you need to deal with the returns.

Also, you could be liable if your customer gets injured by your product.

This is why it’s better to sell relevant accessories and spare parts than electronic products.

If you want to know more about this, I suggest searching about this topic, or ask a lawyer. Here is some more information about this topic:

Plus, you can check out this part of this article, which will go over tips on what kind of insurance you should buy.

9. Mainstream products

Mainstream products are products that can be found and bought almost anywhere.

I wrote a great explanation about this in a different article:

One of the biggest reasons people will still buy from you is if the product is worth the wait.

Let me explain.

Would you wait for 2-4 weeks for a sandwich maker that you can also buy in the store next door?

I don’t think so…

But what if it’s a special sandwich maker that you’ve never seen before, and it is also in your favorite color? Would you care if it says you might need to wait for 2-4 weeks before it’s in your house?

Source: AliExpress Long Shipping Times

You need to find unique products that cannot be easily found in a physical store.

So, don’t try to sell any day products like toilet paper without having a unique factor.

Source

Toilet paper that changes color? “Wow, I’ve never seen that before… I will buy it!”

Of course, you could still decide to sell mainstream products, but give your visitors a reason to buy from you. Give them a reason to wait longer than if they would have bought it at a store next door, maybe even cheaper.

10. Healthcare

Like you saw above, Facebook bans ads that show before and after results in the ad picture or video.

In the image below, you will find some examples that Facebook has got on what is forbidden and what not.

I also advise against any consumables for safety reasons. Something like weight loss pills or vitamins.

If you really want to sell any of these products, please do your research carefully; know what you’re selling.

Also, some countries have laws in place about what you can sell.

11. Safety equipment

This is a big one as well. Let’s start off with some examples of products that fall into this category:

  • Helmets
  • Mouth Guards
  • Shoulder & Knee pads

Alright. Let’s take for example if someone buys a helmet from you.

What do you think happens when that person gets into an accident and your helmet doesn’t hold up and just completely breaks?

If something happens to that person, you will most likely get sued for having a faulty product.

Products to avoid dropshipping: Safety equipment
Source

That’s why I suggest you stay away from these products. Unless, of course, you did your research, and you’re 100% sure about the product you’re about to sell.

For more tips on how not to get sued when dropshipping, check out this great article here!

12. Cosmetics

If you want to start a cosmetics niche dropshipping store, I suggest starting with selling stuff that’s related to cosmetics, for example, makeup brushes.

Products to avoid dropshipping: Cosmetics
Source

Because you don’t know anything about the cosmetics that will go on your customer’s faces, like foundations, eye shadows or lipsticks, a lot could go wrong; for example, your customer could end up with an allergic reaction or a skin irritation after using your product because their skin might be allergic to an ingredient that you didn’t even know was inside the product.

It’s basically the same as with the safety equipment. I don’t suggest selling it unless you know exactly what the product is made of.

13. Waterproof products

And the last product you should avoid with dropshipping are waterproof products.

Most of the time you don’t know if the product is even waterproof, and if so, how far or how long it can go officially underwater.

What could end up happening is that your customer tests the product underwater. Then after that, the product is broken.

Products to avoid dropshipping: Waterproof products
Source

Or even worse if it breaks something else from your customer. For example, if you sell a waterproof phone case and it turns out to be not that waterproof. What do you think is going to happen when your customer finds out that their phone has just been ruined?

Conclusion

There you have it! 13 products you should avoid dropshipping in 2021!

I hope you have learned something from this list, and I hope that you will carefully do your research if you decide to dropship any of these products.

Hopefully, you’re not scared now to start or continue your dropshipping journey!

But if you are, then maybe these awesome dropshipping store examples will make you calm again!

Or you can take a look at these 13 safe dropshipping products to get some inspiration on what you do can start dropshipping.

If you have any questions or if you have any suggestions for this list, let me know by commenting below or contacting me directly by pressing the “Contact Us” button at the top!

Getting started with dropshipping in 2021

Learn how to get started with your dropshipping store in 2021

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, I suggest reading my 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 2021. It’s like a dropshipping course, but for free!

Reading this article will 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!

Shopify Dropshipping Complete Guide 2021: Create Your Store!

Here are the articles I suggest you read next:

Also, if you want to get started with Shopify, then you can click here to get a free 14-day trial!

Author

My name is Richard, and I created Do Dropshipping after I saw so many paid dropshipping courses popping up. The goal of Do Dropshipping is to put these “gurus” out of business by giving everyone access to the information that they need to start their own dropshipping business today. No more paid dropshipping courses!

15 Comments

  1. Sfiso Masilela Reply

    THank you, this really opened my eyes, I wanted to sell like a dice camera that records in secret, now i realize it’s not worth selling anymore. But my question is, what if you sell a necklace and it causes the skin of the customer to irritate or become redish due to its material content? is it safe to sell necklace?

    • Hi!
      Thank you for your comment! That’s definitely a good question. I never dropshipped jewelry so I’m not entirely sure if this will become a problem for you or not.
      I’m sorry, but I can’t help you further with this one! Hopefully, someone sees your comment and knows the answer!

      Otherwise, I do suggest contacting someone in your country that knows the law around these kinds of problems. Another option is to contact a company that offers liable insurance to see if they know more!

      Good luck with your dropshipping store!

  2. You’re right, clothing for the fact that sizing can be a pain is a good one for newbies to avoid but also perfect for someone who wants to build a long-term business with plenty of content and products to expand to. Especially in women’s clothing. Any newbie who is willing to go through the growing pains and sizing issues can stand to benefit long-term.

    For example, me. I visited the top 30 women’s fashion sites and noted down their UK sizing from size 4 through to 18 and their respective bust/waist/hips. I then added each measurement up for each size (4 throught to 18) and divided by 30 to get a true average amongst the biggest brands. The majority were fairly similar. I then converted UK sizes to all other country sizes.

    So now based on the measurements from a piece of clothing I find elsewhere like Aliexpress, I can ignore the Asian sizing on the sizing they give me and use the measurements I have and stick them within the averages I worked out. So anyone shopping will pick the size their used to picking on other popular sites and the measurements will match up.

    It’ll also help with customer service because I can speak to customers and ask them where else they shop and help them choose a size since I have a document with the sizing from all other online stores.

    This does take extra effort and it took me days of head scratching and working out to complete but it makes things easier going forward.

    It is recommended you stay away from this niche and even more so the women’s trendy fashion niche if you’re not willing to go the extra mile to work out these details first or you will get a lot of returns.

    I want my customer to love what they ordered, plus their satisfaction is a huge meaning within the name of our logo so it would be very contradicting to our brand name if we didn’t put the customer first above all else.

    Jason.

    • Hi Jason, thank you for your great comment!
      This is some great advice for people that do want to start in the clothing niche or want to dropship products that require sizing.

      Good luck with everything you’re doing/going to do!

    • Hi Jason!

      I am actually setting a shopify store to dropship women’s intimates and loungewear clothing, a niche I chose because of the popularity of lounge clothing and because intimates have been top sellers online for the last few years. I know I’ll have issues and growing pains, but I appreciate your tip on calculating sizes, that was super helpful! Up until now, I’ve been trying to only import products that include a size chart, but after reading your comment here, I’m realizing that I need to take care of that step for my customers, so they don’t have to try and figure out what size to order. Thanks again!

    • I can relate to this and possibly need a bit of help. I’m about to start dropshipping strapless bras, but when I asked about conversion sizes from the typical Asian ones to European sizes, the seller did not reply? It’s a good product but now I am confused as what to do.

      • I’m not Jason, but did you think about switching to a different supplier if he or she doesn’t reply to you?

        Let me put it this way, what do you think is going to happen when you’re selling his (or her) products and your customers start asking questions? In this example, you don’t know the answer, so what do you do? You contact your supplier, only your supplier won’t reply to you.

        For me, that sounds like something you don’t want to do! I suggest taking a look at this article here.

        Good luck with everything!
        – Richard

  3. Hello sir
    Do u think selling stuff related to sleep is a good niche ? Like pillows cushions travel pillows etc…?

    • Hi Hala, that’s a good question, but unfortunately, I’m not sure. You don’t hear that niche often though (which could also be a great sign for not much competition yet).
      I suggest reading this article of mine here to learn more about how to see if a niche is worth selling in. I think it will help you further!

      Good luck with everything, and let me know if you got any more questions!

  4. Hi Richard. I am a single mother to 4 and I am trying to learn more about Dropshipping. I am planning to open up an online store so I can earn extra money while working at home. I am in fact into research to further learn about the process and how to avoid failing. I thought that if it goes well, maybe I can start having my own website. I knew that selling online does not require one to have big amount of money to start their business, I even have a friend who started earning without having to spend a single penny. However this somehow complicates to what I have found out whilst I did further research. I am just wond’ring if you can recommend legit wholesalers who won’t require bulk order of each items and ask for membership fee. Please?

  5. Thanks for your your article. It is quite educating.

    My question is to Jason (hoping you can help me reach him to help out).
    I would love him to help me understand the sizing technique he used to made a headway. It is a niche am interested in.

    Thanks.
    With love from Nigeria.

    • Hi Ostin,

      Thank you for your comment!

      I’m sorry, but I made the mistake to not reach out to Jason earlier, and I can’t seem to get in touch with him anymore, but I’ll let you know if he replies!
      Or maybe he will reply to your comment here 😊

      Good luck with your store, and let me know if you ever got any questions!
      – Richard

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