The Ultimate Guide for Beginners
What is dropshipping?
Dropshipping is a retail fulfillment model where a retailer doesn’t physically keep inventory for the products it sells. Instead, when a customer makes a purchase from the retailer, the retailer then purchases the product from a third-party who ships it directly to the customer. The retailer never handles or sees the actual product.
The dropship model is very similar to traditional retail models, except the retailer selling products does not hold or own any of the inventory. Retailers purchase inventory as orders come in from a third-party - typically a wholesaler or manufacturer - to ship and fulfill orders.
Low Startup Costs - The greatest advantage of the dropshipping model is that it does not require thousands of dollars in initial investment to get started. With low-cost platforms like Shopify that offer everything a retailer needs to sell online, virtually anyone can start a dropshipping business.
Expansive Product Selection - Due to the fact that you aren’t required to purchase an inventory upfront to dropship, you aren’t as limited in regards to what you can sell. If you’re able to find a supplier who stocks an item, you can likely list it for sale on your site.
Simple to Scale - In traditional business models, receiving 10 times as many sales requires 10 times as much effort on your part. By adopting the dropship model, the majority of the work and effort that comes with more sales is handled by your wholesaler or manufacturer since they actually fulfill orders for you.
Of course, there will still be work required on your end in regards to things like customer service, but overall the dropshipping business model scales relatively faster and easier than traditional retail models.
Shopify for Head ShopsWith so many e-commerce platforms to choose from, it can be difficult to select the right one for your business. The team at Smoke Drop has launched dropship businesses on every popular e-commerce platform, and we've come to the consensus that Shopify offers the greatest solution for anyone interested in dropshipping head shop products. Here's why:
- Low monthly cost
- Powerful, easy-to-use website builder
- Expansive app store
- Dedicated phone, email, & chat support team
- No coding required
- Multiple integrations
Shopify has three main plans for users. Ranging from $29/month to $299/month, each plan is designed with features that meet your needs. View their full pricing breakdown here.
What you get with Shopify
Shopify is an all-in-one package for most entrepreneurs interested in dropshipping. Shopify explains perfectly what they offer users:
"Shopify is a complete ecommerce solution that allows you to set up an online store to sell your goods. It lets you organize your products, customize your storefront, accept credit card payments, track and respond to orders — all with a few clicks of the mouse."
From building your website to analyzing customer data, Shopify provides all the tools necessary to build and scale a great dropshipping store.
Searching for suppliers should be one of the first steps you take in launching your head shop dropshipping business. While there are plenty of products you can dropship online, you’ll need to establish relationships with product suppliers and wholesalers first. Let’s explore what to look for when researching suppliers for your business.
What to look for
Dedicated support - You don’t want to face an order issue and have to deal with a supplier that is difficult to deal with, hard to reach, or altogether unresponsive. One of the first indicators to think about when looking for suppliers is the level of dedicated support they offer. Ask potential partners who their dedicated support representative is and what you can expect in regards to support.
Up-to-date technology - As you begin researching suppliers to work with, you’ll quickly notice that there are a plethora of suppliers out there who dropship, but many of them have outdated, antiquated websites.
Early on in your business this may not be an issue, but working with CSV files and emailing orders will quickly become too cumbersome as more and more sales come in.
Find suppliers who invest heavily in technology solutions that offer features such as automated fulfillment and real-time inventory updates. This will help streamline your business operations.
Efficient processes - Similar to dedicated support, great suppliers will have an organized system in place for every part of the fulfillment process to prevent order errors and mistakes. Not-so-great suppliers will often mess up orders with incorrect, damaged, or missing products.
Placing a few sample orders is the best way to get a sense for the supplier’s fulfillment capabilities. When placing sample orders, be sure to consider the following:
- How the order process is handled
- How long it takes items to ship out
- How quickly they send tracking information
- The quality of the packaging when the product arrives
Where to look
Contact manufacturers - While most manufacturers do not ship products directly to customers, many maintain a list of their wholesale distributors who may ship products directly to customers for you. This is one of the most efficient ways to find suppliers for your store. Once you have a list of wholesalers, reach out to them and inquire about setting up a dropship account.
Use Smoke Drop - https://apps.shopify.com/smoke-drop - Smoke Drop allows you to instantly and easily access thousands of head shop products from vetted vendors and suppliers. Add the products directly to your Shopify store, and ship orders directly to customers - in only a few clicks.
- Direct Shopify Integration
- 1-2 Day Shipping
- Automated Fulfillment
- Real-Time Inventory
- 2,000+ Head Shop Products
- More about Smoke Drop
- Be prepared to search extensively - The best wholesalers are often the worst at marketing. You won’t find the best wholesalers on the first page of results for a search like “wholesale suppliers for head shops.” Be ready to dive deep into search results. The perfect wholesaler might be on page #43 or #100.
- Use Modifiers - In the head shop industry specifically, wholesalers use a number of different words and phrases that essentially mean the same thing. As a result, you’ll want to try a variety of different search queries. Interchanging words like “supplier,” “vendor,” and “reseller” will help expand your results.
What to consider
Now, before you start adding products to your store that just look cool you’ll want to ensure they will be a good fit for your business model in the short and long-term. Let’s review a few different considerations to make when deciding whether or not to sell a product.
Wholesale Cost - This is the price you will pay the wholesaler when a customer places an order on your store. While the wholesale cost should be less than the price you sell the product for, you’ll still want to ensure the price point leaves enough room for you to make a profit after other expenses like advertising, promotions, etc.
Don’t be fooled by cheap, low-cost items. They seem appealing at first, but they typically offer the lowest profit margin when factoring in other costs.
MAP Pricing - Some wholesalers implement what’s known as a minimum advertised price (MAP) for their product catalog. This requires you to price your products at or above a certain level. This helps prevent price wars that can hurt your profit margin and ability to market the product.
If you find wholesalers who enforce a MAP policy, it’s a good sign that you’ll be able to compete effectively against competitors.
Marketing Potential - Any business idea needs to be marketable, and your products should be too. Before you even think about adding a product to your store, conduct research to get a feel for how the market currently views the product or similar ones.
Writing articles, engaging communities using the product, and doing free giveaways are some great ways to research market potential.
Is it really that easy to dropship head shop products?
No! While the dropship model does offer a low barrier to entry, like any business it will require an investment of time and effort to find success. Most entrepreneurs will experience failure on their first few attempts before landing on a concept that works. Others succeed on their first try.
There is no guarantee you’ll make money from this venture, but what makes dropshipping so appealing is the ability to be flexible with your business while testing and researching new strategies.
Spend time finding suppliers and products that fit your business idea. Some will argue that the head shop industry is oversaturated or that dropshipping is a dead business model, but with quality products, good supplier relations, and a strong marketing strategy, anyone can become a successful dropshipper.