And no, not dropshipping – I’ll tell you why now.
I would argue that this is one of the easiest ways you can make money online. It can start as a simple side hustle. And it can grow to overtake your primary income.
Yet most people won’t do it.
Because it’s not sexy.
And it takes time to set up.
Lots of time.
But don’t let this discourage you!
If you’re prepared to put in the work, you could find yourself with a real business that makes several hundred or even several thousand dollars per week.
Good old fashioned ecommerce. Buy products at a wholesale rate in bulk. You create and maintain an online store. You market it and find customers. And you sell those products at a profit.
Buying and selling physical goods. It’s not rocket science.
The trade of products for money. It’s one of the oldest industries in the book. Except, online now.
And the fact that you can do it online is what makes this so much easier to start and get into.
Because you don’t have to lease out expensive retail space. Sign long-term leases. Or even buy warehouses full of stock.
And no, I’m not talking about dropshipping. I know it’s all the rage at the moment, especially with Amazon having just launched in Australia and those hotshot guys from the US (in particular) targeting us with their Facebook ads on how to make money selling products you don’t even own.
If you want to do ecommerce using drop shipping method – power to you!
Six months ago I started an ecommerce business for my wife as a side hustle because she wanted to have something she can do working from home, around and in between caring for our young toddler. And I wanted to do it to ‘eat my own dog food’ (as that gross saying goes) – because building ecommerce sites is what I do for clients every day – why not do one for ourselves?! Together we learnt a lot. I’m going to share with you our experiences.
And here’s why we chose not to go down the dropshipping route and instead chose to buy and hold some stock.
Why we didn’t choose the dropshipping model:
You can do real quality control
We started an online store selling wooden essential oil boxes. We added diffusers, glass roller bottles and carry cases to the mix. After spending tens of hours researching and finding some good suppliers, we hit the buy now button. Ordering a few boxes and a few products from each to get an idea of the quality. Some were good quality and build. Some were bad, cheap quality using inferior wood (even simply MDF with a pine veneer – not what we saw in the description, pictures – and not the versions we wanted to sell). Some were good quality but the way they wrapped and posted them out to us meant they came damaged – some more than others. Some were repairable and others were a complete write-off.
And had we just gone ahead and started a dropshipping store we wouldn’t have known. Until our customers received the products and emailed back in with complaints.
We wanted to start a brand here.
A business with a fanbase.
And ultimately a high lifetime value per customer.
Can you do this with dropshipping? Yeah, I’m sure you can! But we were 100% in control of the quality of products our customers received after they clicked the checkout now button on our website. Because we checked and packed each and every item.
Control over dispatch times and shipping
Depending on who and where you buy your products from, did you know that some dropshippers are also dropshippers? Yes, read that again. 🙂
Even some of them are selling products they don’t have in stock right now.
Which is why it can take up to 5 days for some suppliers to despatch your order!
Add to that another 7-21 days. And you’ve got yourself classic eBay delivery times of up to a month wait.
Sure, you can counteract that with clear messaging on your website informing customers that orders can take between 2 and 4 weeks to arrive.
But that’s not what we wanted to do. We wanted the average customer to receive their products in about a week. And that meant three things:
- We had to have the stock in hand, locally
- We had to pack and post out the products by the next day (morning)
- We had to choose the best postage partner/network (ps, it’s a combination of Australia Post and Sendle)
And that’s it! We rarely, rarely ever get complaints about missing orders or people having to wait more than a week to a week and a half.
And our customers are happy and return to buy more!
It’s all about your brand
Branding is more than just a logo. But that’s super important too. But let’s think about branding from a visual perspective as well as a holistic practice.
The last thing we wanted was:
- Packages arriving on our customers’ doorsteps damaged and broken
- Packages with multiple stickers that scream “I just came from China directly to you”
- Packages taking weeks or over a month to arrive
- Our brand style and visuals nowhere to be seen
I realise that you could find a dropshipper to package, brand and send out your orders with your branding and to meet your requirements… but it still doesn’t solve the first 3 of 4 points above.
Holding our own stock here locally means that we can package it neatly, safely and use the exact colour boxes and wrapping we want. Plus we can easily include a business card and a handwritten thank you note. And we can easily choose to surprise customers with a free product or free upgraded express postage!
And all of these things, from a good looking website that functions well, right through to the way you pack and send out your products, the way in which you communicate and keep your customers up to date and delight them – that is your brand.
The more you can control when doing ecommerce, the better. The less you leave to chance.
The investment is a little greater. And the work more involved.
But the potential gains and real business value that you’re creating can easily outweigh the extra steps involved.
And when all of your customers are happy and over the moon about your products and online store, they’ll tell their friends and be back for more.