Getting your dropshipping business up and running requires much less work than you’d think, and it has tremendous benefits – not being accountable to other people, receiving all the rewards for your endeavors, and the ability to choose where you’ll work from. However, a lot of people think negatively when they think of starting an online business. They either think there’s not enough time, given their 9-5 daily jobs. Others believe it requires much more money to start this kind of venture and fail at the beginning. Some aren’t even confident in their abilities, which are otherwise easy to learn and don’t require advanced programming skills.
These are all excuses to not start dropshipping, but most people don’t know how easy it is to run an e-commerce business. Running an online dropshipping business doesn’t require that much time. As a matter of fact, you’ll spend the majority of your time at the ‘setup’ stage. Once you’ve mastered how to do it, you can jumpstart a fully functioning online business within 24 hours.
Considering that dropshipping doesn’t require to actually have stock, you won’t need a lot of cash to take care of the extra expenses of running a warehouse. Focus on getting capital for the startup, which will include a website, hosting domain name, and other relevant things. And if you look around for the best prices for any of these setup options, you can easily get providers offering great deals and offers for any dropshipper.
When it comes to skills, you will need to know enough, and it is not hard to acquire this skill. A majority of hosting companies will give you a package deal that will come with a domain name and a website builder, with complete directions on how you can do it yourself. Meaning that you do not need to have computer programming and coding knowledge, and if your business is going to be in products that can be easily blogged about, then you can go for a free WordPress website.
In order to start your business, you must have one major thing.
A web store
Having a web store will allow you to sell products online. For dropshipping, it’s the functioning aspect of the whole business operation. It’s like a brick & mortar store to your customers, where they will view your products and place their orders. What goes on behind the scenes doesn’t matter to them, as long as they can buy quality products at affordable prices. Therefore, a web store should be made user-friendly so that your customers can easily browse through and check out as many items as possible. It should also look attractive to the human eye, and welcoming. In the past, only people with strong programming and designing skills could build websites. Even today, you could still build any website if you’re skilled in programming so that you can have its complete ownership. However, for most of us, there are other easier alternatives to creating a web store. Nowadays, there exist automatic processes through which one can build a website. One of them is WordPress, one of the simplest ways to get started with an online store. You can build a WordPress website by following the next few steps.
Setting up a business’ domain name and a place to host the data
Your prospective customers will most easily find you and your online business via your domain name. It also ensures the integrity and legitimacy of your brand. The Internet Protocol (IP) is responsible for addressing your online requests, not the domain name. Meaning that your web server will require a Domain Name System (DNS) to route your online requests to the IP address. The correct domain name would, therefore, enable you to be reached by your customers.
Take a look at this example:
Domain name: google.com
The most important part of the domain name: Google
Popular extensions include .com, .org, .net for both businesses and organizations. Other popular extensions are ones specific to countries, for example .us for the United States, .au for Australia, .za for South Africa, etc.
As much as free hosting and low-level domain names are easy to get, they can cause some issues. In order to get good visibility online, make sure to choose the perfect domain name and a good hosting provider to store your data without interruptions.
When it comes to the domain name, always choose one as similar to your business as possible. For example, if you’re selling timber, use any domain names related to timber, wood, include your state in it, or even your own first or last name. Also, make sure it’s not too long because people don’t have to spend a minute trying to type the whole domain name. Make sure it has a ring to it because off-site marketing is very important and people will start hearing about your business and easily find it via search engines. Most importantly, don’t make it sound like a joke. Make sure it’s a serious name for the business because people need to take it seriously, even if it’s kids toys they’re buying. The name can’t be taken from another company – it has to be available. A majority of web hosting service providers will search for its availability on your behalf.
For most companies, the leading choice of an extension will be .com. After all, it’s among the most popular extensions. Nonetheless, if you are relying on word-of-mouth to market your online business, then there is a high likelihood that people will just search for the name that has referred to them. You can go around this by using a cheaper alternative such as .net and select a name that will easily connect with it to create a memorable company name. For example, in the URL safebet.net, the domain name connects flawlessly with the extension, .net, because of the rhyme and flow of the words ‘bet’ and ‘net’. This allows the extension to be part of the name quite smoothly, making it memorable to your customers to share it with other potential buyers.
Another good idea is to register your company with more than one extension. This is to ensure there are no competitors who’d from your success by actually registering the same domain name as yours, just with a different extension. For example, if you register your company as cheapphonecovers.com, ensure that you also register cheapphonecovers.net and cheapphonecovers.info so that you can also secure these other extensions from your competition. Domain names are not expensive. In fact, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so make sure to grow your business without experiencing the challenges of high competition. And by the way, you don’t need to upload content to the other secured extensions. You just need to buy them and park them so that you can protect them from being used by other people. This is also advisable for businesses with domain names with commonly misspelled words.
After you’ve chosen your domain name, you also need to choose a favorable web hosting service. This is because the domain name only serves the purpose of a signpost – it only directs visitors to the servers that are ‘hosting’ your website. This server, therefore, needs to efficiently and effectively run what is required for your website to work smoothly. This is the most costly aspect of getting your dropshipping business off the ground. However, it doesn’t have to be. Shop around for great deals using some basic rules.
Try finding a company with a good reputation. They are usually rated high by their users. Also, make sure the company supports WordPress-based sites and ask what control panel (background settings) they use so that you can easily navigate through some of the more difficult stuff. Finally, ask where their servers are based by testing their customer service. This will tell you much about the level of user care and get you insights about whether or not the store will load fast in the countries you prefer to sell it.
Once this is done, you can proceed with the next step in the setup process.
Time to install WordPress
As mentioned before, WordPress is one of the simplest website creation tools because it doesn’t require advanced programming skills. Therefore, it allows you to put your focus on content creation for your website. This is why you’ll find WordPress to be widely used by so many people, ranging from celebrities to bloggers, news outlets, and even some of the largest companies from around the world. Seeing as it is a free tool, it can be used to create any type of website. Millions of websites are created using this platform, so it’s highly recommended to begin with it.
WordPress is also advantageous for your online store because it comes with APIs and built-in user management and security functionalities. This enables you to build your own application using these readily available features. Consequently, you can easily set up a unique, user-friendly website. As previously stated, choose a host that supports cPanel or DirectAdmin backend. cPanel is the most popular and easiest backend to use. It offers more features and plugins than DirectAdmin, giving you more alternatives when you are setting up your website. Also, these features are divided into categories, making it easy to find the specific category you’re looking for.
When you register for your web hosting services, your hosting company will send you an email with full instructions for the installation of WordPress. In these instructions, cPanel provides a link labeled ‘Install WordPress in 1 Click’ while DirectAdmin provides a link labeled ‘Installatron Applications Installer.’ Once you click on either of these links, you’ll receive instructions to install WordPress on your screen.
How to Install and Configure WordPress Themes
One great advantage of WordPress is that it gives you the option to customize the look of your website using basic themes to suit your needs. To this end, you are required to choose one that will attract and captivate your prospective customers then install it. This theme will come as a template that will be uploaded on top of WordPress. It can be free, or you could pay for it with extra options. Either way, choose the one that suits your needs.
There are way too many themes to choose from; therefore, you should browse through these thousands of options before settling for the most appropriate one. You can’t just choose the first one that you come across thinking that it will work for your business. When it comes to making this choice, consider these two factors:
A webstore needs a theme that will make its products stand out. Avoid themes that have too many colors, have layouts that aren’t easy to understand, or have flashy animations. Such features would take away the attention from the products that you’re trying to sell. Therefore, go for a simple and neat theme that will make your products stand out on your website and not fall into the background, coming second to distracting features.
A responsive theme is one that will modify its design to fit different devices and screen sizes. And considering that in the current technological era most people are accessing websites using smartphones and other handheld devices like tablets, a theme should be able to automatically adjust itself to fit the screens and sizes of these devices so as to give customers easy and enjoyable user experience. An unresponsive theme will most likely turn off your customers, causing them to opt for competitors’ stores that have responsive websites.
Additionally, the theme you choose should have a connection with what you want to sell (or it should at least not be in contrast with what you want to sell). For instance, you can’t install a snow theme if you are going to sell beachwear. Also, a blue or green theme can go with just about any product that you want to sell. Thus, after choosing your theme, customize it to match your personal needs..
How to Install an e-commerce plugin
While WordPress doesn’t come with a webstore functionality, it does allow you to install plugins that achieve the same purpose. Choose a plugin that’s most appropriate for your functionality needs, install it on WordPress and activate it for use. One of the most favorable and simplest plugins to use is WooCommerce. However, you have to make sure that it is compatible with your theme.
This plugin will need to be configured with the basic information about your store. These are the major changes that will need to be configured:
Pages play a very crucial role in directing your page visitors to the exact place they’re searching for. These eight pages are the most popular for web stores – they enhance the navigation experience for page visitors:
As the name suggests, this page ‘welcomes’ your potential buyers to your store, and gives them a brief introduction of your business, which includes crucial information that you want them to know about your business or products.
About Us page
This page usually includes personable information that is meant to convince your potential customers to choose you over your competitors. It contains proof of why you are the best bet.
Contact Us page
As the name suggests, this is where your potential customers will come to ‘contact’ you with their inquiries. This page usually includes a contact form, an email address, and even a phone number (with the hours when you can be reached).
New Products page
This page showcases your new products, allowing your potential and existing customers to view what’s new and if it suits their needs. It is also an avenue through which you can create repeat business because customers may keep coming back to your page just to see what’s new and if they can buy it.
Top Products page
Top products are the most popular among your customers. Therefore, you should list these products on this page because they are the most likely to attract new customers. They also have the best reviews which will convince both potential and existing customers to come back and buy from this category.
This page should be used to announce the promotions that you want to run or are already running and how your customers can participate in them.
This page legally makes your customers aware of how their personal data is being used and being protected.
Terms and Conditions page
This page includes the rules and guidelines that your customers must agree upon before making their purchases. It is a legal contract that, for a webstore, will often cover shipping terms, payment terms, and other crucial information.
Don’t feel limited by these pages. You can customize your webstore to include more pages that will suit your needs and enhance your customers’ shopping experience. These pages may include news or additional information for particular products.
Make sure that all the pages you set up are configured properly, otherwise, they will not work.
Taxation depends on the country in which you are based. However, you will still need clear stipulations for which (if any) taxes are being charged.
Getting customers is great. However, this will all be in vain if they are not able to pay for their purchases – that is if customers are paying directly to you for their shipped products, not to the suppliers. Therefore, ensure that the payment settings are well configured to enable a seamless payment process.
Your customers should be aware of what payments they will be expected to make for shipping upon completing their purchases. Therefore, you should ensure that your web store provides all the information they will need to estimate your costs and any other additional shipping charges. The settings should be well configured so that your customers are charged exactly what’s required, not more or and not less.
How to Populate Your Products
We have gone through all the major steps for setting up a webstore: having a domain name and a hosting package, and creating a fully functional WordPress website. Now let’s talk about how to add the products that you want to sell.
To add products to your website, create a clear and precise product title. This title must name your product. Next, create a clear, detailed and simple product description, then clearly label your product categories. These categories will include the type of product, type of shipping, product code, price, and any other common information that customers usually look out for. Categories simplify the shopping experience. Therefore, each category will be simple, neat and well organized. For products that fall into multiple categories, add them into those multiple categories so that they can be found easily.
Showcasing your products also plays an important role in your webstore because people only buy what they have seen. Therefore, make sure to source for images from your suppliers and share them on the webstore. However, use only major images, do not bombard your customers with too many images. It will be easier for them to make a choice when they are presented with fewer images than when they have too many for them to make a choice. And as much as visual presentation plays a huge role in a buyer’s decision making, remember that a full product description plays an even more important role because it will tell them how to use the products and why the products are a perfect fit for their needs.
In summary, all it takes to get your dropshipping e-commerce store off the ground is a registered domain name and hosting package, WordPress and a fitting theme, well-configured web pages, then adding products to your webstore. Now you’re ready to start your business.
The next chapter is going to detail for you how to choose the right products. Don’t fail to read it. It’s a very important step in setting up your online business.