Dropshipping can be a cheap and relatively easy way to start a business in the UK. It’s a retail sales model where you make the sale and the manufacturer or supplier mails out the goods directly to the customer.
You don’t hold stock and your overheads are low. But on the flip side, profit margins can be tight and you have little control over presentation and delivery. Drop shippers often work with multiple suppliers so it can also be complicated to manage all of those relationships and the bureaucracy around importing and shipping from different countries.
Dropshipping UK – how to succeed
1. Find a niche
To succeed in dropshipping in the UK you need to have a marketing edge. If your only edge is low price you won’t last long. Successful drop shippers add value. For example, if you are already established as the ‘go to’ place for sci-fi movie reviews, then adding a shop with movie-related goods could be a smart move. People will buy from you because they already value the quality of your reviews; they will assume that your selection of gifts will be similarly informed.
You can also start a value-added business around a product range where you are able to add value through information, advice, or smart curation. As the dropshipping UK industry develops it’s also possible to have unique products designed for individual orders through services like Printful.
2. Do product research
You want to identify products that are growing in popularity. You can check trends globally and locally using the Google Trends tool. Look for product terms that are rising in popularity wherever you are selling. Amazon product research is also useful – using the ‘best sellers by category’ lists, drill down into niche products to identify hidden gems.
When you get a short list, check out how competitors are selling. Is there much added value? Is there scope to curate or envelope the products around advice and know-how? Those are the sweet spots to look out for.
3. Create your shop front
However, you can also set up drop-shipped sales by adding a shop function to a standard website or even making sales directly from Facebook or platforms like eBay and Amazon. You can build your own stylish and functional dropshipping website using a simple website builder like Wix.
4. Find your suppliers
There are a number of established marketplaces and tools for dropshipping suppliers. Those are a good place to start, especially if you are new to dropshipping.
If you have a Shopify site you can use their Oberlo app which includes verified suppliers and links to marketplaces like Aliexpress.
Spocket is a more flexible dropshipping supply platform, which you can add to any type of website, including Shopify and Wix. It lists thousands of premium US or EU products and is committed to fast delivery. You can order product samples with no upfront fees before making an order.
If you’re searching for suppliers within the UK, Avasam is a dropshipping platform that connects sellers with verified suppliers, automates processes, and connects to sales channels including Shopify, BigCommerce, Amazon and eBay.
Directories like Worldwide Brands and Wholesale Central also pre-screen suppliers, although you may need to pay a subscription fee to use those services.
If you are targeting a particular niche then Google is your friend. Search and see if there are any specialist drop shippers in your space. It can also be worth contacting manufacturers directly either to see if they would consider providing a dropshipping service or if they can provide you with their top suppliers who could provide that service.
You will want to agree to clear terms with your dropshipping partner and make sure that you have an agreement in place that includes all of your expectations, including payment format and terms.
5. Test the service
Your reputation is on the line with any back-office drop shipper. So check out the reliability of the supplier with some test orders. Things to check include: the ease and speed of the ordering process, delivery time, packaging and presentation.
6. Customer service
As far as the customer is concerned they are doing business with you. That’s good news as this is another space where you can stand out from your competitors. Put yourself in the customers’ shoes and consider how you can improve their retail experience with you. An easy win is to make sure that you have detailed product information, pictures, and buyer reviews where possible.
See if you can work with suppliers to include some element of your own branding in the package. Spocket for example enables you to get your brand into the box with your own branded invoice.
You can also build loyalty and repeat sales by inviting customers to sign up for special offers and updates on new products using an email marketing tool like GetResponse.
Reviews are critical to customer trust and sales these days. If you’re using one of the main sales platforms like Shopify, then a review function is built-in. If selling through your own website, then it is well worth thinking about adding an independent review function through a service like Trustpilot or Feefo.
You can also provide FAQs and if at all possible be available to deal with customer questions and respond promptly to any problems. In a competitive retail marketplace, if you look after customers you make coming back to your online shop an easy decision for them.
Dropshipping UK is not an easy way to make big profits, but you can increase your odds by targeted marketing, branding for a clear niche, and providing fabulous customer service.
Remember: you will have to do the usual business setup as well. See our guide 7 simple steps to setting up your business today.