As a teenager, Kamil Sattar knew he wanted to work in business. But he dropped out of his college’s business program during his second year when he said he realized, “I wasn’t actually learning how to do business. I was learning how to work for someone else’s business and make them money.”
That wasn’t what Sattar had envisioned. He decided his best route was to quit, get a job to build up his cash flow, and use that money to fund what he really wanted to do: launch his own business. While working stints in retail and personal shopping, Sattar kept coming across a new e-commerce venture called drop shipping.
For the uninitiated, drop shipping describes a fulfillment method. It means the online seller doesn’t hold any inventory in a warehouse and essentially acts as a middleman between the customer and the product supplier.
In many cases, the sellers, or drop shippers, who use this method, are finding products from suppliers that customers have never heard of.
Drop shippers use wholesale marketplaces like AliExpress, which is owned by Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce site. AliExpress sells every category of goods, from apparel to luggage and yoga mats, for shockingly cheap prices. Drop shippers then identify products they think will be of interest to consumers. Once they find a product, they advertise it on platforms like Facebook and Instagram with high-quality photos and video, and if a customer bites, they handle getting the product from the supplier to the customer.
The internet is full of drop shippers who say they make tons of money in their spare time through this e-commerce method. Sattar was intrigued and decided to start up his own shop in 2017. Fast-forward to today, and Sattar has already moved $1.7 million worth of products through drop shipping this year. These sales were made on the e-commerce platform Shopify, according to documentation emailed to Business Insider. Sattar shared his tips for getting into drop shipping in 2020.
Focus on selling one product and making it look professional
When Sattar started drop shipping in 2017, consumers were willing to buy products from websites that looked less than professional, he said. But consumers have grown savvier in recent years as more shoppers have shifted to buying online. Now a scammy website causes shoppers to close the tab.
“Drop-shipping standards have risen dramatically in terms of what your website should look like,” Sattar said.
That’s why Sattar thinks the best route in 2020 is focusing on selling one product and creating a website that legitimizes the product in the eyes of the consumer. Sattar went so far as to recommend a seller create a name for the product and make the URL and branding for the Shopify store reflect that name, so the entire site looks branded as if the seller owns the product, even though they don’t — a supplier like AliExpress owns it. (Sattar said you should seek approval from suppliers before doing this.)
For making a product website, Sattar recommends using Shopify, an e-commerce platform that makes setting up a professional-looking online store very user-friendly. Similar to designing a website with a platform like Squarespace, Shopify has templates for setting up an online store that sellers can’t deviate from much, but Sattar said for 70% of drop shippers, Shopify is the best solution.
Use 3rd-party vendors to simplify processes
To really grow and scale an e-commerce business, Sattar says it’s essential to invest in apps and vendors that simplify parts of the drop-shipping process. Shopify is just one example of a platform that makes setting up an online store easier, and a Shopify subscription starts at $30 per month. Shopify also owns a company called Oberlo that automatically links a seller’s AliExpress products to your Shopify page.
Then there are plugins like Loox, an app that automatically imports product reviews from AliExpress into your Shopify store so that sellers can easily show customer reviews of the product. Tidio Live Chat, another app, enables sellers to have automated customer-service chat boxes available on their product pages.
Sattar also uses apps that automatically send texts or emails to prospective customers about their abandoned carts, apps that automatically attach tracking numbers to every order, and apps that help him easily edit product videos and photos to overlay text and music to look professional. For most of these services, Sattar pays a monthly subscription fee, though some offer free options. But the cost of these vendors are worth it to Sattar, as they allow him to move more product and reach more customers.
Don’t trust paid courses
On Sattar’s website, he sells drop-shipping-related swag, like this “dripping in dropshipping money” shirt. But he’s also critical of drop shippers who can’t back up their claims. One shirt has an emphatic message: “F— your paid course.” What he’s referring to is a massive trend within the drop-shipping world: people charging money for video courses on how to break into the space. Sattar says to beware.
“A lot of people that make videos about dropshipping don’t really actually do drop shipping. They just sell courses to make money,” he said.
Sattar said these drop-shipping YouTube personalities often make more money off their paid courses than off drop shipping, so they’re not good at the thing they claim to be teaching about.
“It’s a lot easier to sell a course than it is to do drop shipping,” Sattar said.
That’s why Sattar puts up all of his content online for free. He does, however, offer a dropshipping bootcamp for a fee.
The time is right — Sattar says Q4 is going to be huge this year
A quick Google search of “drop shipping” will surface questions from hopeful e-commerce gurus wondering: Is drop shipping dead? Online shoppers have gotten savvier in recent years and come to expect faster shipping and better customer experience, which means drop shippers have had to step up their operations. While some have said this change has killed the business, Sattar says that the death of drop shipping is “bulls—.”
“Everybody’s going to be shopping online for Black Friday,” Sattar said. Additionally, he thinks people are more vulnerable to make impulse buys to find some source of joy as the country enters into a winter where the coronavirus is still with us.
“When people buy things online, they get endorphins that make them feel better,” Sattar said.
Because of that, Sattar predicted consumers would be ready to buy deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year, even though unemployment is high and the US economy is “more miserable” than Mexico’s and Russia’s.
“E-commerce sellers are going to take advantage of people who are at home in buying moods,” he said.