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6 Mistakes Dropshippers Make When Starting Out

Chris Porteous
Chris Porteous

Your e-commerce store is only as good as its shipping.

Dropshipping is already a sizable industry, and because there are so many people in the marketplace, one wrong step could spell disaster for a newcomer.

AmeriCommerce estimates that retail e-commerce businesses account for as much as $220 million in revenue annually. Dropshipping has the potential to be a major edge for online sellers for several reasons, from reducing overhead to shorter shipping and fulfillment times for orders. These benefits can only be realized with proper implementation of the factors that contribute to successful dropshipping.

The sad reality is that many new e-commerce entrepreneurs are either ignoring these basic steps or completely unaware of them because they seem trivial. To increase your chances of success in an e-commerce venture, don't make these mistakes.

Mistake #1: Betting all your chips on one supplier

Having a unified supplier is a benefit in several cases: There's only one point of contact, and all products are shipped directly from that one location to your customers. However, the situation of a supplier running out of stock or being unable to meet demand does arise on occasion. Researching and keeping in contact with a secondary or backup vendor is a necessity.

This assumes that the primary vendor you're engaged with doesn't require you to only deal with them. Pay attention to the contract you sign with your supplier for any predatory clauses like this before signing it. They could be the reason your e-commerce business sinks or floats.

Mistake #2: Getting the wrong supplier for the job

The choices for suppliers are myriad in the world of dropshipping. You need to make several decisions before you choose one. Do you prefer products made locally or shipped from overseas? What are the overhead costs and the inherent benefits and drawbacks of each? There's a long checklist you ought to go through before settling on a supplier. Shopify notes that the steps in selecting a supplier vary by industry and the type of product you intend to sell. The best way to choose a supplier or suppliers is to check out any existing reviews of their service to gauge their sustainability and dependability.

Mistake #3: Not letting customers track products

Customers of any self-respecting e-commerce store expect a certain level of tracking for their products. The E-commerce Digest mentions that most customers prefer knowing where their packages are when they're being shipped. Constant communication with customers is a necessity in the dropshipping arena; customers have come to expect it as part of the e-commerce service. Tracking does more than add transparency to your business – it also gives your customers peace of mind. It's much nicer for a buyer to know their product is on its way and where it is in its journey than simply hope the package will show up in around two weeks.

Mistake #4: Charging surprise fees for shipping

According to Marketing Land, about 90% of shoppers point to free shipping as their No. 1 reason for shopping online. One of the hardest things to reconcile for buyers is the additional shipping cost tacked on to a particular item. Shipping costs should be clear upfront so that buyers aren't surprised by an additional cost that may send them over budget. To ease this process, you may want to consider including a shipping calculator on your checkout pages or somewhere within your e-commerce store. If you get a lot of orders, a single flat rate may suffice.

Mistake #5: Depending on a single store

Setting up an initial niche is a big task in itself for an entrepreneur, but once you have that niche, the job isn't nearly over. To develop a consistent and effective income, you'll want to have a handful of businesses, each dedicated to its niche market. The research to set up these stores and provide products for them may take time, but not nearly as much as the initial niche development, since you already know what you're doing and looking to achieve. Diversifying business allows you to manage your risk a lot better, according to HuffPost. You can also research dropsurfing and create a dropsurfing store to give you more options and income streams.

Mistake #6: Not having a clear return policy

CNBC stated in a report that return rates from online stores often go over 30%. Returns are inevitable, so a store that is dedicated to its customer base should have a streamlined and easy-to-use return system. A clearly outlined return policy is also a necessity, not only to keep your customers satisfied but to avoid running afoul of the law. Returns make you perform a balancing act between your supplier and the goodwill of your customers – an act that many entrepreneurs fail to achieve, neglecting one side or the other.

Staying ahead of the curve

E-commerce is a rapidly growing field that won't slow down anytime soon. Burgeoning e-commerce businesses are all competing in the same space, albeit in different niches. To stand out and make your brand recognizable, you must sort out the basic building blocks of e-commerce, from your customer interaction to your supplier availability and reliability. These things can make or break your business. Being aware of the mistakes that plague new entrepreneurs is only the first step. Making sure you don't fall into those pits yourself will take a lot of effort, but you'll find yourself well ahead of most competitors.

Image Credit: Sean Locke Photography / Shutterstock
Chris Porteous
Chris Porteous Member
I'm a serial entrepreneur and owner of three internet ventures, including My SEO Sucks. A contributor to ZeroHedge,, Forbes,, and dozens of other media outlets, I believe in SEO as a product. I developed a proprietary technology fueling the #1 rankings of My SEO Sucks clients. In guest speaking ventures across North American, I advocate for organic search traffic as the backbone of any comprehensive digital marketing strategy.