With an increasing shift in the number of online shoppers worldwide – the best time to enter into eCommerce is right now & the Covid-19 pandemic has also further necessitated this shift.
The dropshipping business model often comes as an easy & lucrative way to step into eCommerce Entrepreneurship. (not actually easy though)
Dropshipping is an online retail fulfillment method wherein the sellers (drop shippers) don’t have to manufacture any product, purchase any inventory or take care of the product delivery.
This means you just have to find a product (and its supplier), set up a store & start sending traffic to it to generate sales.
According to GrandViewResearch, the global dropshipping market size was valued at USD 102.2 billion in 2018 and is expected to register a CAGR of 28.8% from 2019 to 2025.
The dropshipping market figures will continue to rise with the increasing number of users who prefer to shop online – thereby driving the demand for dropshipping business model. Another factor that drives the dropshipping market is the growth of cross-border eCommerce trade.
The beauty of dropshipping is that you can start selling from & to anywhere in the World – you don’t have to be a citizen of that country itself where you are selling
In this article, I am going to cover some basic dropshipping tips & how you can start dropshipping products in the USA from India (or any other country in the world) – when you are not an American citizen yourself.
Why You Should Not Drop Ship in India?
The growth of eCommerce volumes in India is attracting many players & budding entrepreneurs across the globe.
While the online market in India, the second-most populous country in the world, has a huge scope of growth & experimentation, is still not matured & there are many setbacks to consider before entering into the Indian eCommerce market
1. High Return Rates
High return rates are a common but challenging problem for every eCommerce business out there. Talking specifically about Indian consumers – they return many of the merchandise they purchase online.
Unfortunately, the return rate of eCommerce in the Indian market has increased to 50% in past years. Amazon also once stated that they experience the highest product return rate in India, as compared to other countries.
If you’re dropshipping to the Indian consumers, a high return rate will be one of the biggest obstacles for your business to overcome – exceptions for those who are players in this game.
2. COD is the most preferred payment method in India
Your dropshipping business is less likely to scale if you accept cash on delivery from customers, until or unless you have pretty big budget .
This is pretty understandable – you will get no payment from the customer until they receive the order, but, you must have to pay your supplier in advance to get that order delivered.
Imagine how this blocked cash flow can worsen your situation if more & more orders are placed with “COD” as preferred payment method.
You will end up with no money, which means, you cannot accept new sales & you cannot reinvest your money in advertisement campaigns.
It would become really hard to bootstrap if you don’t have a decent amount in your bank & a good credit limit.
3. High Transaction Failure Rate
The rising transaction failure rates in India is also a challenge to consider.
According to the National Payments Corporation of India, the transaction failure rate in September 2020 stands at 3% for ten of the top 30 banks in India.
Ecommerce & other companies in India that are using Indian payment gateways are losing out on business – because many times, customers don’t reattempt payment once a transaction fails.
That means, if you manage to get customers that prefer paying online, chances are you will lose some of them too.
Dropshipping in the USA from India: A Step-By-Step Plan
Dropshipping business is global. You don’t need to be in that country itself where you want to sell – you can sell in the USA from India, Australia, or anywhere.
But, remember that not every country will react the same to your products – so it’s good to target countries that are best to sell.
And so, the United States leads here – the largest consumer market in the World, with a whopping eCommerce spend of $709.78 billion in 2020.
Before getting started, below are some ultimate tools to help you throughout your dropshipping journey:
- GoogleTrends: Google Trends is a powerful tool that provides data around the popularity of various search terms, topics, etc. You can use Google Trends in dropshipping to analyze keywords popularity, niche trends, product popularity, etc.
- Google Keywords Planner: Free tool for keywords research:
- Amazon Best Seller: You can visit the Amazon bestseller page to browse various product categories, analyze competition & much more
- UberSuggest: Free Keywords Research tool
- Facebook Ads Library: With the Facebook ads library, you can search for various pages on Facebook to see if they are running any active advertisement campaigns. As a drop shipper, you can use this tool to spy on competitor ad copies.
- Canva: Free & easy to use the graphic designing tool. You can use Canva to create featured images, social media creatives & more.,
Choose Your Niche & Find Your Products
The journey starts with finding your niche & products – It’s worth investing time here as your product(s) will be a huge contributor to your dropshipping success.
There can be many approaches to product research.
Basically what you have to do is become resourceful & drill down the internet. There are many resources & websites from where you can get niche ideas & best-selling products.
Below are some sources where you can roam around & explore various categories & products:
- Facebook Videos – You can find products here that are already performing well & you can sell them too
- Facebook Groups
- Google – search for various hobbies, niches, read articles, check small eCommerce websites
Think of product(s) that can be sold at enough margins to make you profitable – consider your operations & ad expenses; remember that scaling is also hard & low margin profits can land you in a mess.
Below are some ways you can determine if a niche is profitable:
- Check Keywords search volume for your product
- Check the number of orders placed already for the product
- Check reviews of consumers & how they feel about the products
Since you want to dropship in the USA, it’s important that you choose product supplier(s) that are based in the US itself or nearby countries, so that does they do not hurt the average shipping time (5-10 days).
Choose Your Dropshipping Goals
Goal setting is important & viable for success – be it for your dropshipping store or any other business! Setting your dropshipping goals will give you something to affirm & work hard.
Unquestionably getting more sales is the aim of every single dropship store out there, but, to sustain long in the eCommerce game, you’ll have to consider different aspects, approaches & techniques to make the most out of every click you get.
In order to make a practical plan for your dropshipping store, you first need some goals to think of.
Below are some areas where you can set goals for your dropship business:
- Traffic – Try to increase & scale your traffic week-o-week or set a monthly target
- Subscriber list (Email)
- Consumer reviews – Encourage customers to leave reviews about your product/store
- Social Media Following
Have A Decent Budget – Advertisement & Operation Costs Aren’t Cheap
Just because dropshipping is the easiest & low-cost business model to start, does not mean it’s easy to make profits.
There are some tools & subscriptions that you need throughout your journey to stay ahead of the competition & make the most out of your efforts.
In addition to the basic Shopify plan ($29/month), Some paid features like “Abandoned cart recover” & product sourcing apps (Spocket, Oberlo) are crucial to getting success with your store.
On top of that, you will need daily traffic to get sales & organic traffic is not gonna work out as per your plans, especially if you are a beginner – so expect a daily budget of around $20 – $50 as a beginner.
Many times, Facebook ads can get cheap, but it needs optimization, & since your target country (United States) has rich audience, the clicks will cost you more, keep this in mind.
One more thing to consider when dropshipping internationally is the currency conversion losses – when you transact or withdraw funds as per your needs. Expect around 6-8% monthly cost here.
Over time, you will learn many paid marketing channels like Influencer marketing & experimenting with them would require some budget, so you will also need a bit of budget allocation here.
$500 – $1000 is an ideal budget to start with if you ask me.
Setup Your Online Store with Shopify: Step-By-Step Guide to Follow
When it comes to building your drop shipping store, Shopify is the best eCommerce stores building tool out there.
Shopify is an all-in-one eCommerce store building platform that comes with ultimate features like:
- Store creation
- Payments Gateway integration
- Inventory Management
- Store Analytics
- Orders Management
- Marketing Tools
- Abandoned Checkout
- Billing & Invoicing
- Subscriptions, Discounts etc
& much more..
The basic Shopify plan would cost you $29/month, similar to that of hosting if you go with WooCommerce with WordPress (but this path is not recommended for beginners because there will a little more technical work you’d need to manage & the basic features may not align well with your eCommerce goals – thus, more research in integrating basic eCom plugins)
With Shopify, you don’t need to manage technical aspects of a website such as installing CMS (WordPress), Security, Caching, etc
Rest assured mate! The money you spend on Shopify is worth it 😉
You can follow along with me step by step so that you have something at the end of this article – that will push you further to getting started as soon as possible.
Let’s get started – the drop shipping journey will be Awesome 😎
Step 1: Register yourself with Shopify
Click here to get started with Shopify. Enter your email address & click on start free trial.
Once you click, Shopify will ask you for your store password & store name (you can change this later, don’t worry)
Step 2: Design Your Store
Designing your store with Shopify is easy.
Shopify comes with around 7 -10 free templates & 50+ paid templates to get you started with.
Once you are done selecting a theme, click on “Customize” from the same theme page (Online Store -> Themes)
This will take you to the theme editor dashboard from where you can edit the look & feel of your dropshipping store.
Step 3: Install Dropshipping Products Sourcing App
Products quality & delivery time are cruical to your dropshipping success.
Since you want to drop ship to the US, it is recommended to choose local suppliers from the US itself for faster delivery time.
As a beginner, you should use Spocket, which is the #1 recommendation by many drop shippers because of two key benefits: quality products & acceptable delivery time (7 – 14 Days)
While other apps are sourcing most of their products from AliExpress, which has a longer product delivery time & it mostly has poor quality products, Spocket stands out by onboarding US & EU suppliers – putting an end to both.
- Fast Shipping US & European Quality Products
- Branded Invoicing: Some suppliers on Spocket allows you to add your own brand logo & customize invoice – helps in branding
- 24/7 Support for drop shippers
To install Spocket or any other apps to your Shopify store, go to apps in the left navigation menu & click on “Shop for apps”
This is the app marketplace from where you can search & install Spocket or any other apps.
Once you add Spocket, you’ll be able to browse products from their marketplace & import them to your store with a single click.
Step 4: Edit & Optimize Product Pages
If your product page is not optimized for conversions, it does not matter if you are doing good at sending traffic, because most of it might not convert.
Users who click on the ads are potentials, but why are they abandoning? Because your product page is not able to convinve
“The paramount goal for your product pages should be to build user confidence by providing all the information necessary for a purchasing decision and making the process as intuitive & straightforward as possible.”Rosara Joseph, a Content Strategist at VentureWeb
1. Your Product Name
First things first – do some keyword research & include at least one keyword that people might search to find your product.
This would help you improve the discoverability of your product on search engines & other internet channels.
Also, keep the product title minimalistic, if you product has variations, doesn’t include all of them in title, just mention the number of variations.
Ex – “Avenger Case for iPhone (3 Prints)” looks better than “Avenger Case for iPhone Print 1/ Print 2/ Print 3”
A few other things you can do to optimize your product title
- An ideal product title length is 75 – 100 characters
- Capitalize your product titles
- You can also use a separator to make your product easier to understand (- / : )
- You can also include your store name in the product title
2. Optimize Product Appearance
Your product appearance can make or break your sales. It is one of the single most element of your product page that needs special attention.
Use high-resolution & zoomable images, clicked from different angles so that users can experience the overall feel of your product visually.
If your product has many variants, don’t just mention the variant types, but also upload & link images for each variant individually.
If you are hell serious about your dropshipping business, I would recommend you ordering a sample of the product(s) you want to sell – so you can publish exclusive photographs of your products, plus, videos for marketing & advertising. It also helps you verify & test the product quality before you start selling it on your dropship store.
One more focus area while optimizing your dropship store (product appearance) is using consistent visual style (like background) for images, or at least, be consistent with the featured image, that is used as thumbnail in the homepage. See the screenshot below for example, their background is consistent.
3. Optimize Description
Your good product description communicates necessary product information – like features & benefits, the problem(s) it solves, why it’s worth buying – that helps users make buying decisions.
While most shoppers rely on product photos, the product description fills the leftover space to convince users to buy your product.
4. Add Some Reviews or Social Proof
Displaying star ratings and reviews about your products increases your conversion rate. You can use Shopify apps to embed reviews on your product page.
Or you can embed social proof screenshots from reviews on social media or from any other user-generated platform.
Below are some key benefits of having reviews about your product(s) or store:
- Trigger decision making in buyers mind & drive more sales
- Build trust
- Improved SEO
5. Offer Free & Fast Shipping
According to a 2019 survey report by Walker Sand (1600+ frequent online shoppers in the US), 9 out of 10 participants stated free shipping is the number one reason that makes them shop more often.
Does it makes sense to offer free & fast shipping if you’re dropshipping, especially in the United States?
6. Put Urgency & Scarcity to improve conversions
There are many factors contributing to a good conversion rate, urgency & scarcity are two of them.
Urgency is making buyer(s) feel like they need to act quickly, while, scarcity is indicating a short supply of product so users who are interested can grab the deal quickly.
Doing so makes a visitor more like to buy the product then & there, because of the fear of missing out. This way, creating scarcity & urgency can improve conversion rates significantly.
Step 5: Set Up Basic Pages
The next thing we will do is to create basic pages for our Store. You can add pages as per your store preference; the basic pages I would suggest you to create first are:
- About Us
- Contact Us
- Frequently Asked Questions
To add a page to your Shopify store, go to “Online Store -> Pages” from the left navigation menu inside your Shopify dashboard.
Click on add page.
From here, you can then create a new page by adding title & page content. You can also edit the search engine preview content of your page from the “Edit Website SEO” as shown below
Step 5: Set Up Important Pages
Since you are dropshipping in the US, I would recommend you create all of these important pages to avoid any legal issues:
- Refund Policy
- Terms of Service
- Shipping Policy
From the Shopify admin panel, click on settings at the bottom left & choose Legal
From this screen, click on “Create from template” as shown below:
This will paste a typical content for required pages that you need to edit wherever required, as shown below:
Repeat this process for all the pages & save.
Step 6: Set Up Payments Gateway Provider
Setting a smooth payment gateway to your dropship store is essential & when you are dropshipping to the USA from India (or anywhere), PayPal is the best payment gateway solution to go with.
PayPal is one of the most popular payment gateway with over 220 million active users globally, and it takes less than 1 day to integrate PayPal on your Shopify store.
Please note that PayPal comes with a min fees of between 1.9% – 3.4% of all transactions, which is pretty acceptable as all other payment gateway providers also will charge you with some fees.
Below are some PayPal benefits:
- Integration & activation is easy
- Supports 100+ currencies
- High security
- 24 * 7 Support
- Funds withdrawal process is fast & smooth
TO setup PayPal with your Shopify store, first you need to sign up with PayPal, create an account & link you bank account with them.
Once you’re done with the above steps, head over to your Shopify store & click on Setting in the left navigation at the bottom, then click on “Payments“
From the next page, you will be able to setup & integrate your PayPal (or other payment provider) to your Shopify store.
Stick with supplier(s) within the USA
As you know, the dropshipping supplier doesn’t have to be locally from that county where you are selling. By that mean, dropshipping to the USA can be done with suppliers from anywhere in the world.
As a beginner, you might be thinking of sourcing products from AliExpress – which has registered suppliers from China – that means, the products will be shipped from China to the United States.
This is okay. But there are many setbacks to consider.
Choosing foreign suppliers like AliExpress can attract unhappy customers because of cheap quality products & long delivery times.
It can take a very long time for your product to reach customers – drop shippers who have used Ali Express complaint that the delivery time is often too long – two to four weeks.
Products quality is another concern as majority of the suppliers in AliExpress manufacture cheap quality products.
Another thing to remember is that if you’re dropshipping products (from outside the US) above $800 in the US, then your customers can be hit with import taxes – that means, your customers have to pay again to the govt officials to get their package.
This surprising extra charge can make your consumer angry & they will never shop again from you.
Set Up Social Media Pages
Social media is a viable digital world for almost every business out there. According to a CMO Survey report, there are 23.3% of companies seeing quantitative results (measurable results) in their business using social media.
When you are dropshipping, your store’s social media presence would also count for building store authencity & trust among new visitors.
Having an effective social media strategy for your dropshipping store in place would significantly help you achieve the goals you’ve set.
Below are some platforms where your dropshipping business needs presence:
- Facebook – Create a Facebook Page here
- Instagram – Create an Instagram Business page here
- Pinterest – Create Pinterest Business Account here – Pinterest can really work well for many niches if you’re targeting American consumers, you would need to experiment & figure out if it works for you as well.
You can definitely try other platforms like Twitter or LinkedIn if that suits your dropship niche.
Set Up Your Marketing Plan
Once you have your store up & ready on Shopify, invest considerable time in analyzing your goals & craft a practical to achieve them.
Like I already shared you should have a decent budget to start with – explore different paid marketing channels & see what works best for you.
Below are some paid marketing channels to get traffic to your dropship store:
- Facebook Advertisement
- Instagram Ads
- Influencer Marketing
- Google Adwords Pay Per Click (Search Engine Marketing)
- Explore other marketing channels like Tik Tok
Mastering something new takes time – start today to get your dropship store live in the next few days & see how things will happen.
Once you start experimenting, you will learn from the failures & figure out on your own that what works best & what to do next.
It unlikely that you will succeed with your first product or first marketing campaign – just keep on testing & experimenting until you get something that works.
I hope the above tutorial helped you understand how you can dropship in the USA & if you’ve followed me along the article, you would have your staging store ready.
Should you have any questions, please feel free to ask me in the comments below?