Common Drop Shipping Problems and Their SolutionsLast Updated:
No matter how prepared you are to run a drop shipping business, something is bound to go off track. It could happen the instant you open your business, or even years into your operation when you least expect it. Before you panic, read on.
Here are some commonly encountered drop shipping issues and their corresponding fixes. Hopefully this article will serve as guidance, to give you a hand and help you come up with ideas when the time comes for you to face similar scenarios efficiently.
Problem: Lack of Exposure
When it comes to drop shipping, it is quite a challenge to push brand awareness for your store; especially since you aren’t the source of the products, and transactions are short-lived for each passing customer. In addition to that, if you are just starting out in the business, you may not have enough funds to afford fees for advertisements and other paid marketing spaces.
Solution: Boost Your Presence
Even without a marketing budget, your potential advertising space is not restricted to just your online store. There are other platforms on the Internet that you can make use of to attract customers and entice them check out your offers. How can you make your store better known, and extend its reach to a larger part of the population?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Wikipedia defines SEO as the process of affecting the ranking of a specific website in a web search engine’s results. There are certain steps that you can take to coax your website into higher position on the list of search results. Generally, there are four elements in play when you utilize the said steps: content, performance, authority, and user experience.
Websites with organized and strategic content, competent website performance, and user-friendly navigation trump others that are not so savvy. Also, having other websites publish links within their pages that all direct to your site works; it’s tantamount to an “upvote” in a search engine’s eyes, and it is to your advantage. You may want to get in touch with bloggers, reviewers, and other individuals in order to take advantage of that tactic.
If you want to look for tools to give your site a boost, check out our take on the best SEO tools that you can find in the market. Some of them offer a free version, so you can improve your site ranking without spending a single penny.
Social Media Interaction
The boom of social media has certainly changed and improved almost every aspect of our lives. Because it offers lightning-fast communication and information dissemination with virtually no cost–unless, of course, you choose to pay for ads–it is one of the most effective and efficient ways to raise people’s awareness of your business. Facebook and Twitter alone are surefire ways to be able to connect with customers. With interesting and relevant posts, you can have followers flocking to your pages–and, in turn, your store–in no time. Content quality is the key in social media, so be sure to let your creative juices flow.
Presence of Branding in Packages
Some drop ship suppliers allow labels and branding of their partnered stores to be printed in the product packaging. They can offer this option for a minimal fee, or even readily include this feature when you sign up for a membership. This may be a minor detail, but it can still help customers recognize and remember your store name the next time they need to purchase a certain product online.
Problem: Numerous Competition
Starting a drop shipping business is a viable option for anyone, no matter what previous field of work or educational attainment or specialty they have.
Given the ease of starting and managing a store with a drop ship partner, hundreds–if not thousands–have already set-up their shop and started their respective ventures long ago; not to mention the newcomers that are yet to open theirs.
Solution: Get Creative and Hands-On
With the sheer number of competitors that you will have online, your store can be easily trampled by more established names and larger entities. What steps can you take to ensure that your store will be alive and bustling with customers in the face of this challenge?
Outstanding Customer Service
Despite essentially being a middleman between the customer and the product source, you can still provide a pleasant experience to your customers. Just by organizing your website and making the transaction process a breeze, you already maximize convenience for your customers. Making your contact numbers and addresses highly visible for customers and ensuring that each and every concern is answered at the soonest possible time will also make them feel that they are attended to and cared for, and that they are important to you and your business. This can be your advantage over other stores that make no effort once an order has been processed.
And here’s the thing: store and customer interaction does not always end once the order has been delivered. Store owners must always keep that in mind! After-sale service is equally important and can even make or break a customer’s impression of your store. Remember, you are the point person in the customer’s eyes, when it comes to any problems that they may experience with the product. Providing reliable customer service even after a transaction has been closed will be highly appreciated and will encourage positive feedback–possibly even recurring customers. Think of it as extra brownie points, or going that extra mile.
Having uncommon products in your shelves can also attract a number of customers who are looking for something new and unique. Of course, this requires research and paying attention to what’s popular and not readily available to your local customer base yet. Niche products don’t stay niche for long; they gradually become more and more available. This strategy isn’t new, and online entrepreneurs definitely take advantage of this. The trick is to be ahead of the game.
Vapes, nootropics, artisanal food, and paleo bars are just a few examples of these niche items. Offering them to your customers will give them the option to try out something new, and may just attract the repeat buyers.
Extensive Marketing Efforts
As with any other business, marketing tactics can help liven up the activity in your online store. This can be broken down into two components: advertising and promotions. The former has already been discussed above as part of the solution to lack of exposure.
Promotions are especially helpful when it comes to increasing your store’s competitive edge, as they give more value to your customer’s money. They encourages people to buy from you, rather than spending the very same amount elsewhere. Promotions come in the form of discount codes, coupons, product bundles, seasonal product sales, contests, and others. Do these right and customers will realize that buying from a competitor will result in them getting less items. Better for them, better for you, and overall better for your store’s increasing reputation.
Problem: Inventory Discrepancies
Despite your drop shipper’s best efforts to keep their inventory in sync with your store, there will be incidents that will test this. When an item shows up as available in your virtual shelves, but it isn’t in real life, what happens?
You can be frustrated, but you can’t really place the blame on the supplier–especially since in the customer’s eyes, the transaction happened within your store. You are ultimately responsible for internal matters.
Solution: Increase Time and Effort Efficiency
This is one of the most common issues that you will face when you are running a store–in fact, it might be the first you encounter. Let’s see what you can do to prevent and remedy the situation.
Drop Ship Automation Software
Drop shipping automation software basically does the job of syncing the vendor’s inventory with your store. While your partner drop shipping company should have a similar tool to offer, it’s doubly more reassuring to know that you have another system working to ensure that there are no discrepancies. Moreover, these programs usually come with a bunch of other useful features, like: automatic order sending, vendor inventory consolidation, and product information uploads and updates. Overall, it just makes your life that much easier.
Constant Supplier Communication
Periodically checking in and corresponding regarding the availablility of stocks of in-demand products with your supplier can help verify the accuracy of items reflected in your store. You can also tag items as low in stock if you get the information that the product quantity is limited and may run out within a few days.
Practicing continuous communication with your partner drop shipper will really help, as you will be rid of unpleasant surprises and mishaps, because you are directly getting the information from their team.
Immediate Customer Notification
If all else fails and a customer happens to order an item that should not have been tagged as available, do the right thing: let the customer know ASAP. When they’re in on the information, it’s easier to manage possible fixes. Should any other problem arise with the order’s delivery, it is highly advisable that you personally contact them through phone or email to inform them of the unfortunate circumstance and offer a solution or compensation.
You can also try for bonus points by sourcing the product through another supplier. While this may cost you a little more, it will definitely soften the blow of the error on the customer’s end. Proper communication with the customer is vital in this scenario, and can be the deciding factor that changes someone from being intent on not coming back to your store to patiently understanding the situation.
And there you have it: A handful of drop shipping problems and their possible solutions. Do keep in mind that these are just some of the common issues encountered by entrepreneurs in managing their business, though. And while there are other issues that you may encounter, these are the ones that you will likely experience based on our research. If you do face a unique problem, you can share it with others and you may find solutions from the drop shipping community.