Is it that the drop shipping business has gotten so competitive that there is more money in teaching people about it than the business itself, or were there other reasons?
But I can share why I decided to write this. I noticed that most, if not all of the information on drop shipping is bullshit. The topic is riddled with scammers looking to rip you off.
A few months ago I published a guest post about drop shipping on my company blog. It was written by my co-author. It was very well received... seemed there were people out there starving for good information on getting a drop shipping business up and running.
I bought every print and ebook on the subject, read most articles I found online on the topic, and quickly realized that we could probably write something way better. So we did. I hope! :P Anwyays, that's it... just published it today and can't wait to get feedback on how to improve it. Once we polish it up a bit, I plan on releasing an eBook so people can read it on their Kindles and what not. If you read it Kitcar, I hope you enjoy!
With that being said, there are a lot of nuances to picking a good niche (especially in drop shipping where the competition can be fierce and margins low) and to operating a drop shipping business (as it can get logistically complex). Those are some of the things we're trying to shed more light on in the guide.
1) To expand my professional network and opportunities
I just finished co-writing a book with Shopify on drop shipping, which is something I never would have had the opportunity to do without the blog. It's allowed me to build credibility and expand my network.
Additionally, the blog allows me to reach out to really interesting people when I otherwise wouldn't be able to. For example, I recently interviewed Gary Vaynerchuk - something I never would have been to do without leveraging eCommerceFuel.
2) To connect with other eCommerce entrepreneurs
I've had the chance to connect with hundreds of other eCommerce merchants and share strategies and tips. I eventually hope to build a really vibrant community for small eCommerce merchants (as I think that's lacking online), and this is helping me accomplish that.
3) To eventually diversify my income stream with something new
Like all entrepreneurs, I think the desire to try new things is strong - especially after you've been doing the same thing for a while. I saw the blog as a way to create another income source that leveraged the experience I have.
While one of my eventual goals is to make money from the blog, my first priority is to keep the content extremely high quality, genuine, authentic and USEFUL. I wanted to give away a ton of useful information before I asked for anything in return.
Take the eBook on my site, for example. I spent 2 weeks solid writing it and I give it away for free. If you download it and don't think it's one of the better free resources you've come across online just let me know and I'll send you $20 via PayPal for wasting your time. :-)
4) To dispel the the idea of "easy money" online
You asked why I'm teaching people to setup "copycat" business, and I'd argue I'm doing nothing of the sort. 80% of success with any kind of business involves the execution and strategy - and not picking the perfect niche or having some "secret" sauce.
If Alexis Ohanian released a killer guide to programming in Python that doesn't mean someone is going to be able to create a Reddit copycat... ...at least one that will successfully compete with them. Also, just because someone is sharing their knowledge and/or tactics doesn't mean that their original project is no longer viable. It simply means they're interested in sharing their experience.
If building a profitable drop shipping business was an easy 48-hour project, I'd be less likely to share so publicly - you're right! But just like any business, it takes a lot of hard work. The knowledge is important, but the legwork is really what makes it difficult to implement.
I completely understand your skepticism as the online business space is full of scams. But hopefully if you invest a few minutes reading our guide, and my blog (http://www.eCommerceFuel.com) you'll realize we're committed to publishing quality, useful content and not trying to rip people off.
Let me know if you have any questions - happy to answer them.
This guy loves to share and I think it helps him succeed by knowing that he has to share what he's doing. It's a confidence-success loop.
And you're right about 'copycat' - just because you know the process doesn't mean you have the same niche or drive. That's like saying teaching MBAs is teaching a bunch of copycat to all run the same businesses.
The more you share what you're doing, the more it will ultimately end up coming back to help you out. Just look at Nathan Barry: his transparency has undoubtedly helped - not hurt - his blog, sales and reputation. I think it's a great model, and am trying to do something similar.
Without reading the guide I would assume it doesn't tell you exactly which product you should sell and guarantees that you will be able to do a deal for someone to supply you that product. That is a large part of it, not really bigger though than any startup doing a key deal with another company.
From there you face many of the same challenges as any tech startup. Functioning and easy to use technology, effective and positive ROI marketing and great customer support.
My wife started an Instagram printing business (http://cheergram.com) a few months ago and it's going very well. All products are dropp-shipped from our partner lab so I know it can work.
I haven't finished the guide yet, but so far it looks really good.
If you have any specific questions or need quotes related to print/photo drop-shipping, let me know. I actually just got back from a big photo industry trade-show. Lots of interesting things going on.
You'll have sub-par formatting, and will have to combine the PDFs yourself though.
My wife and I develop a cattle management software called CattleMax and began operating two dropship e-commerce stores several years ago. Our stores help us offer customers a full solution (identification + weighing/measuring + management software) and also provide a nice supplement to our SaaS revenues.
Our first store, The Cattle Tags Store (CattleTags.com), sells cattle identification supplies including visual ear tags and RFID tags & readers. Our software is useless of the rancher hasn't identified his or her cattle, so good identification is important.
Our second store, The Cattle Scales Store (CattleScales.com), sells digital weigh scales designed for weighing livestock. It is a natural fit since our software can import weights from the scales and these scales also integrate with the RFID readers we sell at The Cattle Tags Store.
In the beginning, we were hesitant to create the stores but got through that hesitation by saying "OK we will try it out for a few months".
But I've been told that some postal services (e.g. NZ Post) are able to provide dropshipping like logistics for you.
e.g. You manufacture your product in China. The postal service will then manage logistics for you from factory to your customers.
Drop shipping is a fulfillment model where a merchant doesn't carry any inventory. Instead, they only purchase an item from a wholesaler when they receive an order from a customer. Then, they have that item shipped directly from the wholesale warehouse to the customer.
It allows a merchant to start a store without having to invest up-front in inventory, and without having to manage a warehouse.
It's like asking why affiliate marketing exists. It does and it's huge.
It's mentioned in the guide that wholesalers are often terrible at SEO and website design.
Hence the room in the market for niche retailers who dominate their own long tail keyword terms (SEO), offer a great sales experience (well designed site) who can identify products that are possible to resell profitably.
First paragraph after the introduction. I mean, this paragraph could probably be written in a gazillion different ways but to me this pretty much explains what Drop Shipping is..
Edit: It seems that this paragraph was added later. :)
"per-order drop hipping fee"
If you can find and work directly with your suppliers, that's preferable. Next best is going with a directory like World Wide Brands if you're struggling to find suppliers or need a solid brainstorming tool. Instead of serving as the go-between, they simply connect you directly to suppliers via their listings. Additionally, they'll have a larger selection of smaller niche suppliers which is where I see people have the most success with drop shipping. I've used WWB for years and they're a good source for legitimate wholesaler suppliers.
Full disclosure: I've been interviewed / posted on the DOBA-affiliated blog to promote eCommerceFuel.com as they have a well-known blog in the drop shipping space.
It would be nice if you can provide at least one supplier for any product you wish, this would give us fair idea about suppliers.
Just to give others some background, we started as a Shopify app a few years ago, so our whole platform is built around dropshipping (with Shopify). eCommHub helps with automating the inventory management and order processing, which can otherwise be quite manual and tedious. Some of our clients are automating as many as 5,000+ orders per DAY through Shopify using eCommHub.
Anyway, this truly is the ultimate guide on drop shipping, so congrats to Mark and Andrew for putting together such a great resource!
Here's our app listing if you're interested in checking out more:
http://apps.shopify.com/ecommhub or http://ecommhub.com