Drop Shipping 101 - Best eCommerce Platforms for Drop Shipping
Hey guys, Trevor here with eCommerce Paradise.
I'm in a hotel room right now in San Diego, California. My wife and I are out here visiting on vacation right now. It's mid-August, and we're enjoying the heck out of it. It's scorching here in Southern California and might notice that I have a pretty gnarly sunburn on my forehead because yesterday I was out in the sun at Venice Beach, and I got burnt to a crisp.
I want to talk to you guys about the best eCommerce platforms to start your dropship in business with. This is an important concept to understand what eCommerce platform you should start with.
I understand the different types and why each one has its benefits, and why you should use different platforms to sell different products.
I'm going to go a little bit into depth on each one here.
To start, I'd like to talk to you about two different types of platforms. One is a marketplace sales channel; you can think about eBay or Amazon. The other one is your eCommerce site, like Shopify.
These are eCommerce store builders where they don't actually drive traffic to your listings. They just allow you to create a website, and then you have to drive your traffic to them. Each one has its own benefits and drawbacks, using a marketplace like eBay or Amazon. Obviously, you don't control the website and the layout or anything like that, which makes it easier when you start because you don't have to think about web design. You don't have to put up the website yourself. All you have to do is add the product listings. This includes adding pictures, descriptions, specifications, unique sales copy, and price. Amazon and eBay will do all the conversion rate optimization stuff.
They'll do all the web design stuff or drive traffic to your listings with product listing ads, with other forms of paid advertising, with organic traffic, even with SEO. In exchange, they ask for a big hefty fee whenever you make a sale. eBay is right around nine percent for the eBay fee, plus another three percent for the PayPal merchant processor fee. Amazon is a flat 15 percent because they take care of the Amazon listing fee and the merchant card processing. So if you're not familiar with merchant card processing, it's the way the company that exchanges the credit card information and charges the card to pay you out. It's called the emersion card processor.
Another version of these types of marketplaces would be etsy.com. Etsy is a place where you can sell your homemade goods and merchandise. Etsy is great. If you have a woodworking business where you like to build, custom pens, or something like that, sell them online. Etsy is an excellent place to do that because people go on Etsy to buy stuff like that. And they're willing to pay premium to get handmade stuff. Stuff that is not made in a factory which is reproduced multiple times. It depends on what you're trying to sell online as to which platform works best for you. I've had lots of success on eBay and Amazon.
I'd like to tell you about an eBay alternative that I really like. It's called ecrater.com. A cool thing about eCrater is that it's free to list, free to start, and asks for only three percent fee when it sells, plus the merchant processing fee. Instead of using eBay with about 12 percent after everything send monthly about six percent. So it costs about half as much as eBay and Viki Bay. They drive traffic to your listings.
Just like eBay, eCrater has a marketplace. And just like eBay, they do all the website design and conversion rate optimization for you. So everything else being equal, they're actually very similar sites. One difference is that eBay has a lot more traffic and a lot more user base than eCrater, so listing on eBay will more likely get you a sale. But consider this. If you're trying to sell a very competitive product with a lot of other people trying to sell it on eBay, it's going to be harder to stick out from the crowd on eBay. So on eCrater, it's less likely other people are going to be selling it. So you probably have an easier time sticking out from the crowd in their marketplace. And they do have some people that use it.
When I first got started with my business, I used eCrater because it was free. At that time, there was no three percent fee besides the fee for the merchant card. You didn't have to know about anything about website design.
I definitely recommend ecrater.com, if you have zero web design experience and just want to sell something online, I recommend using a marketplace channel.
The key to long term success is to build an asset with your business. And yes, you can sell your eBay store, but it's not going to be as profitable or as worth as much money as selling your own website.
Starting your own eCommerce store is kind of the baseline behind dropshipping. Many people sell on eBay and Amazon only, they have to pay the fees all the time, and they don't own the marketplace. They don't own the store. So if you want to build a business for the long term and have it be really sustainable, consider starting your own eCommerce store.
We'll talk more about the benefits of that right now. So basically, you're not competing solely on price anymore because you're not being compared to the million other vendors at the same time. And you're also able to drive additional traffic sources to your listings. Beyond that, eBay drives traffic to include referral traffic. It could include people that save your website and bookmark their browsers as direct traffic. It could include organic search. And that is outside the organic stuff that eBay does.
One of the greatest things about having your own eCommerce business, of course, is that you own the customer's information. If you sell on eBay or Amazon, they own the customer's information. They keep the customer and remarket to that customer so that they can market other products from other sellers to that customer or even their own. And on your eCommerce store, you get to own that customer's information. So whether you remarket to them or not, you have to, using an email marketing platform. It's very cost-effective to do marketing via email. And you can also remarket to them via paid advertising through social media.
You can also implement the changes for your market wants fairly quickly. Suppose you were to build a Facebook page or have any mail list and want to send them a question to ask them what they want, and they're saying they want a product like this or like that. In that case, you can actually put that into your store and then pitch that to them in an email or on a Facebook group or Facebook page post. And more likely than not, you actually get a lot of sales because you directly get feedback from your market that you're at your advertising.
The last thing, is that you get to target your specific buyer. And that's awesome because the key here is to understand who your target market is. Amazon is not going to give you that information. So you really don't know who's buying from you. But with your own eCommerce store, you can collect a lot of great information, especially using Facebook and collect information like age, gender, and interests. If you have some market and want to know what else that they might be interested in, upsell them.
Facebook audience insights are a great place to go if you already have that pixel on your website. Facebook pixel is really easy to put on your website once you start an ad account. I'll probably making a separate video on that.
After a few weeks of doing that, you can add lots of traffic going to your website. Of course, you'll be able to look at that and see what other interests that same target market has. You can do all this with your own eCommerce site. You can't do that with Amazon, eBay, or other channels, because they keep that information. They do all the website stuff.
Honestly, as you're starting out, it doesn't matter much to keep the customer's information as it does to make some money so that you can grow your business. So I recommend starting with a sales channel as well as your website at the same time. And with dropship, it's usually pretty easy to do that. It just takes a little bit of time, and you can list the same product on eBay or Amazon as you can on your own website using the same resources, pictures, videos, and product descriptions.
Now, of course, there's a lot more to that. And I'll get more into depth in later videos about how to optimize your eBay, Amazon, and your own Shopify website product listings for making actual sales. But for now, I want you to understand that it's good to have your website, plus a sales channel, to bolster sales in the short term and to create a sustainable long term brand and business.
My favorite eCommerce platform now is Shopify. I've been using Shopify for the last two years. I switched over from ucommerce and WordPress with my hosting provider, GoDaddy.com, to using Shopify exclusively just because of the ease of use. Shopify is a website builder platform that does not directly drive traffic to your website but provides you with a well-built website and easy to build a website to drive traffic through paid advertising, video, social media, or other methods you want to use. And it's more likely to convert because your website is going to run fast. Shopify has been known to have the fastest website of all the eCommerce store builders and has one of the best checkout platforms, checkout funnel.
Ucommerce and WordPress don't make the checkout experience exclusive. Like if you go to Amazon and go to their checkout process, they have their logo at the top and have a little information on each page, then you click checkout.
On Shopify, it's very similar. You get to put your logo at the top and the product information. There is also the customer's email address and shipping, payment method, then they checkout. It's a very clean checkout process. I really like Shopify for that.
Beyond that, Shopify has tons of free themes that are gorgeous. They're way beyond whatever you could get for free with WordPress. More along the line of all the premium themes that you'd get for that. And the cool thing about their themes is that they're really easy to setup. It's super simple. Just upload a few products and a banner image. You can also design the navigation menus quickly. Within a few hours, you can have a really perfect one product website up and ready to sell and start driving traffic.
Shopify also has pay premium themes that offer more advanced features. If you want to do a large store with multiple product categories, with mega menus that offer pictures inside them and stuff like that, Shopify is also a great platform to go with for that.
One of my favorite things about Shopify is that they offer customer support. If you use WordPress, you don't get customer support. You have to go through their forums and ask questions from other members and see if you can get help from the community.
Shopify also has a community, but they also have a direct phone number chat, live chat, and email that you can shoot emails to, call, or live chat within 24/7. If you ever have any hang-ups or you just don't know how to do a navigation, you can just call them. And someone would answer your calls and guide you through the process. And they're really nice people. They do like to take care of people. I really appreciate Shopify's support. They have some of the best support there as far as coding goes.
Shopify goes on a liquid code, so it's a bit different than WordPress, which uses HTML. They have a whole thing on their website on what liquid code is and how to use it. And it actually is pretty simple. You just have to get to learn to use it a little bit if you want to make the customization sphere website. Now, you don't necessarily have to know liquid code to make customizations to your website.
You can use a platform like Fiverr.com to find web developers for super cheap in India or other parts of the world where they know the liquid theme and liquid code, and they'll be able to update your theme to however you want them to. I had a problem where my reviews weren't showing up on mobile and for a long time, and I realized people were clicking. I looked at my analytics thing, and people were clicking the reviews, and they couldn't find it, and it wasn't showing up on the mobile. So I asked the developer to make the review shelf mobile, and they did. And it had a much higher conversion rate because people like to see those reviews. It really helps with social proof, and it helps because people trust reviews more than they trust the product descriptions. I know it's 80 percent of my traffic is from mobile devices now. So making that one little change made a huge difference to our conversion rate. And it was just a five-dollar fix because Shopify is a very simple codebase to work with.
Shopify has grown a lot over the years. They now offer the basic package for unlimited products. It used to be limited before, but now it's unlimited. You can even get a free trial setup. So it's really like totally free to get started, see how it is, feel it around, and see what you like about it. But again, you have to understand that Shopify does not drive traffic to your website. They do not have a marketplace. They're solely focused on the website building platform. So you have to learn how to drive traffic to your website. And that's key.
Getting back to Shopify. They have three different pricing plans, actually, multiple now because they have a lot of different sales channels. The basic package starts at about twenty-nine dollars to have your own website. You can sell on Facebook. I think it's like 10 or 15 bucks now. You can sell just on your Facebook store, which is kind of cool if you have a clothing brand or something, and it's very Facebook-centric to start that way. And you can even sell eCommerce just through your Facebook store and send people there. But once you grow beyond a certain amount of sales, you can lower your merchant processing fees a little bit and upgrade to their eighty dollar a month plan, which includes advance reporting. And then if you grow way crazy, an upgrade to three hundred dollars a month plan and do all this other stuff.
Guys, start out simple.
I've heard a complaint that Shopify is for 30 bucks a month. It seems a lot, but you don't realize that with free website builders like WordPress, you still have to pay for your hosting. They do not cover your SSL security certificate. Shopify does cover that on every single page on your website. Not just the checkout page, but every single page on your website, which is incredibly important these days for ranking, SEO, for Google.
Google does not want to make a website where the home page is not SSL secure. Shopify secures every single page on your website with SSL included in the monthly hosting package, whereas WordPress does not cause it's just a free. You have to pay for an SSL certificate, install yourself, which is quite a process. So if you don't know how to do that, you might have to hire a developer who costs money. It doesn't end there. Suppose you want to have a full, robust eCommerce platform with all the functionality of a true eCommerce site. In that case, you're going to have to pay hundreds of dollars extra because we've seen the company that operates UCommerce sells all their premium plugins and enhancements to the UCommerce platform for a premium fee. The price is somewhere between thirty to three hundred dollars each.
I've spent hundreds of dollars on the past website, thinking that I am still saving money, but it wasn't in the long run. It was a huge headache because I had to manage the hosting even though GoDaddy hosted it. They didn't help me because I was the one that was responsible for that. If my website went down because some of the code got messed up, I had to hire a developer to go into the hosting and fix whatever file it was or remove the plug. And that was messed up.
By the way, WordPress is notorious for plugin issues. And that was a headache and a hassle. I would even have days when I would start getting calls from customers asking me "What's going on with the website. I want to place an order. It isn't working." What about all the people that didn't call?
I've never had that problem with Shopify since I started using it. They have not crashed once on me. It's pretty crazy.
Like I said, SSL is included, and they manage the hosting. They have a team around the world working around the clock to manage your website and keep it running. You're not going to have to upgrade your hosting for any reason, even if you send tons and tons of traffic to it. So it's definitely worth the small thirty dollars a month fee to have this hosting planet that has it all in one box.
To add to that, Shopify also has plugins. Shopify has an app store where you can buy apps, and a lot of them are actually free. I mean, Shopify out of the box is already completely functional. Still, there are a lot of really cool apps to add on to Shopify, especially apps that could help you drive traffic, help you with email marketing, social media marketing apps to help your store with conversion rate optimization. And I have a separate video on all the Shopify apps that I use and highly recommend to professional eCommerce sellers, sellers that want to do five-figure sales months, and increase their sales using the right apps. Now, a lot of them are paid but they don't cost that much.
Currently, my hosting plan with the hosting package, the advanced report hosting package, and the apps is actually one hundred and sixty-seven dollars a month. Sometimes, it goes even higher because I want to optimize my store further. But you have to understand that our store is making a lot of money. So if you want to make a lot of money in eCommerce, you're going to have to shell out more money for hosting.
Now, suppose you want to like research further. In that case, you'll find out that these big eCommerce businesses like Amazon and Walmart shell out thousands, maybe even tens of thousands of dollars every month for hosting and apps and all these different integrations they have to do to keep their store running smoothly. So having this Shopify fee of one hundred and sixty-seven dollars a month is actually a very, very low.
For hosting, I've been told that it's amazingly low by big eCommerce companies interested in acquiring my business. As someone who's starting, I think it's a very good platform to start with.
It's the best platform you can possibly choose today. And I think that you'll find that it's actually very easy to work with. In fact, it's quite a bit even easier than eBay and Amazon to work because it's going to be your own website. You get to work on your own rules. You don't have to play by somebody else's rules.
If you want to work with me on setting up a Web site, I am a partner with Shopify, and I build Websites. So contact me, firstname.lastname@example.org, and I can set you up with an unlimited free trial. It's good up to your first 50 orders or until you want to set up a custom domain. And with that, I'll be able to help you through the website design process and personal coaching. There is a fee for that. But I think that if you're just getting started with eCommerce, you'll really appreciate my services and help you build a website because it's really good to have a mentor when you're starting out a business, especially an online business, where it's so confusing, especially someone who's failed and succeeded in many different types of eCommerce in the past.
If you're interested, email me or check out Shopify on your own and dig around a little bit if you're a DIY kind of person.
So I've talked a lot about using marketplaces like eBay and Amazon. I've talked a lot about Shopify because it is my favorite platform. I talked about some of the big differences I like using Shopify versus using your own hosting.
Now, I'd like to dig a little bit into just a couple more examples.
I want to give you guys some examples of eCommerce websites that are successful out there today. I did a bit of digging and found a bunch of eCommerce websites built using a high-ticket drop shipping method. Some are: https://www.standingdesksupply.com/, https://babylovinghome.com/, and https://www.kitchenislandsusa.com/.
I want you guys to go check them out if you've never built out a website before. I want you to understand a couple of things about niche selection through here. I think you should understand a little bit more about niche selection before you just dove right to building an eCommerce site.
So each of those websites has one specific niche of products that they are targeting. And that's key.
You can't just start Amazon.com all over again. You're not going to be able to do a big general store, especially not when you're starting out and just learning eCommerce. You have to focus on one specific product category.
My suggestion is a niche down at least two to three different times. So if you want to start at the general HomeGoods category, you might go down to a living room furniture, and then you might go down couches, and you could do a store just based on couches. And you could include different couch styles like corner couches, and love seats. You would have a few different categories of couches. And that's all you would sell. Have all sorts of content about the couches. Create a whole brand name around couches.
That's the kind of start that I'm talking about doing, because, number one, the project size is quite a bit smaller. And number two, you're going to be helping people a lot better. You going to be the expert in your niche. They'll see it as the authority figure, and you're more likely to sell to them and be able to break into that niche rather than trying to use the Amazon.
Last but not least, I'd like to cover a couple more eCommerce store platforms, because you may have heard of them. And I want to give my feedback as I have used them in the past and let you know what I think about them.
So one of the last ones that I'll talk about is bigcommerce.com. BigCommerce is very popular, mainly because it's such a robust eCommerce platform. You can do pretty much anything with BigCommerce and you don't need to add on any apps or plugins to it. It's all built into one. Now, for someone starting now, just getting into eCommerce, you might not be prepared for that. You might be overwhelmed by the amount of things that you can do with BigCommerce.
And yes, you could just ignore all these things. But you may get information overload, and option overload. So that's why I like Shopify because it is very simple. It's perfect for beginners.
BigCommerce is perfect for businesses, especially if you're a small business owner and a physical storefront, who wants to move online. Your products require a lot of customizations or have a lot of different options. BigCommerce is great to go with because it's already built to have those features specifically for your products and your store. It's a beautiful layout. They have lots of great things, and I really do enjoy building a store in it. But I felt like it was just way too much, way too many options for me. And I really didn't need all the different options that it offered. So I went to Shopify again just because of the simplicity, the ease of use.
Now you can build out Shopify more. You can install apps that include add-ons and other features. BigCommerce has that already built-in. So if you are a small business and plan on selling products that are customizable and have lots of options, consider BigCommerce.
The last website builder I've used is volusion.com, and I'll talk about it a little bit. When I started with Volusion, I realized that there were a lot of other online shops that had actually been using Volusion that I wasn't aware of. It's an older eCommerce platform. A lot of people have used it. And like Shopify, it's all built-in. It's a managed hosting service, so you pay them monthly, and they'll manage the hosting for you. They provide the SSL certificate. They provide a website builder. All you have to do is get in there, build the website yourself. Build it by using the built-out theme, customize the theme, basically add the products, add the content, and drive traffic. Volusion is pretty good, and they have some really new looking themes, and you can make a really good store through Volution and start making lots of sales.
Now, the only thing about Volusion, is I didn't like that it is a bit old school, and its back end doesn't have the same nice looking back end and ease of use that Shopify has. It's still a little bit confusing there, but if you don't mind that, it's a really good platform to use. But again, I recommend Shopify over Volusion just because it looks nice. They're constantly updating it. They have better support, and way bigger theme and app ecosystem than Volusion does. I definitely recommend Shopify over them. However, Volusion is great. If you already considered using them or if you already are using them. I wouldn't recommend switching unless you really want to and have to.
Now, just to finish this off, the free website builder that you can use if you really don't have any money to start up with is a sales channel. You can choose eBay, eCrater or Amazon for free. There's no cost to start up with them. If you want to make some quick money and not start paying for the hosting fees that will cost more money, get set up with Amazon, eBay, and eCrater. Find a supplier and start listing your products there and then sign up for a Shopify store.
And again, that's the thing with this eCommerce stuff in general. It's that you have to parlay your earnings into future investments in yourself. You have to be constantly building your business, just like how Jeff Bezos at Amazon does year over year, quarter after quarter. He's always reinvesting in the business to build out different avenues of income because he realizes that with reinvestment comes bigger earnings, and it comes market domination. And you can really take over marketplaces when you keep reinvesting your earnings into better content, better SEO, better paid advertising channels, and finding more suppliers and stuff like that.
I really hope you enjoyed this. I know it's really long, but I hope you really took a lot out of it today.
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If you want to take me up on the eCommerce coaching deal. Just email me at Trevor@ecommerceparadise.com, and I'll get back to you since I can.
That's it, guys. And we'll see you next time.
eCommerce Paradise was created by Trevor Fenner of Seattle, Washington in 2015 to help you, the entrepreneur, to start and scale your own eCommerce business selling high-ticket products online with the drop shipping fulfillment method so you can make more profit per sale, have a sustainable and evergreen online business, get started with very little upfront investment, and live a location independent lifestyle. Trevor owns multiple 7-figure High-Ticket Drop Shipping eCommerce stores and is a digital nomad, traveling the world while working remotely with the help of his team of over 10 virtual assistants from around the world. Trevor is currently located in Bali, Indonesia. Trevor is also a passionate skateboarder, surfer, scuba diver, photographer, environmentalist, outdoorsman, fitness and tattoo enthusiast.
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