- Kamil Sattar started selling products online through a method called "dropshipping" in 2017.
- The term dropshipping refers to a type of fulfillment method, where the seller doesn't actually hold any inventory, and instead acts as an intermediary between the customer and the supplier.
- As online shopping has grown in popularity, the landscape of dropshipping has changed quickly. Sellers now have to operate stores at a higher standard of quality.
- Sattar, has already made $1.7 million in sales on Shopify this year, according to documentation emailed to Business Insider. He outlined his four major tips for getting into dropshipping in 2020.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
As a teenager, Kamil Sattar knew he wanted to work in business. But he dropped out of his college's business program during his second year when he realized, "I wasn't actually learning how to do business, I was learning how to work for someone else's business and make them money."
That wasn't what Sattar had envisioned. He decided his best route was to quit, get a job to build up his cash flow, and use that money to fund what he really wanted to do: launch his own business. While working stints in retail and personal shopping, Sattar kept coming across a new e-commerce venture called "dropshipping."
For the uninitiated, "dropshipping" is a term that describes a fulfillment method. It means the online seller doesn't actually hold any inventory in a warehouse, and essentially acts as a middleman between the customer and the product supplier.
In many cases, the sellers, or "dropshippers," who use this method, are finding products from suppliers that customers have never heard of. Dropshippers use wholesale marketplaces like AliExpress, which is owned by Alibaba, China's largest e-commerce site. AliExpress sells every category of goods, from apparel to luggage to yoga mats, for shockingly cheap prices — and identify products they think will be of interest to consumers. Once they find a product, they advertise it to consumers on platforms like Facebook and Instagram with high-quality photos and video, and then if a customer bites, they handle getting the product from the supplier to the customer.
The internet is full of dropshippers claiming they make tons of money in their spare time through this e-commerce method. Sattar was intrigued and decided to start up his own shop in 2017. Fast-forward to today and Sattar has already moved $1.7 million worth of products through dropshipping this year. These sales were made on the e-commerce platform Shopify, according to documentation emailed to Business Insider. Sattar shared his tips for getting into dropshipping in 2020, outlined below.
Focus on selling one product and making it look professional
When Sattar started dropshipping in 2017, consumers were willing to buy products from websites that looked less-than-professional, he said. But consumers have grown savvier in recent years as more shoppers have shifted to buying online. Now a scammy website causes shoppers to close the tab.
"Dropshipping standards have risen dramatically in terms of what your website should look like," Sattar said.
That's why Sattar thinks the best route in 2020 is focusing on selling one product and creating a website that legitimizes the product in the eyes of the consumer. Sattar went so far as to recommend a seller create a name for the product, and make the URL and branding for the Shopify store reflect that name, so the entire site looks branded as if the seller owns the product, even though they don't — a supplier like AliExpress owns it. (Sattar said you should seek approval from suppliers before doing this.)
For making a product website, Sattar recommends using Shopify, an e-commerce platform that makes setting up a professional-looking online store very user-friendly. Similar to designing a website with a platform like Squarespace, Shopify has set templates for setting up an online store that sellers can't deviate from much, but Sattar said for 70% of dropshippers, Shopify is the best solution.
Use third-party vendors to simplify processes
To really grow and scale an e-commerce business, Sattar said it's essential to invest in apps and vendors that simplify parts of the dropshipping process. Shopify is just one example of a platform that makes setting up an online store easier, and a Shopify subscription starts at $29.99 per month. Shopify also owns a company called Oberlo that automatically links a seller's AliExpress products to your Shopify page.
Then there are plugins like Loox, an app that automatically imports product reviews from AliExpress into your Shopify store, so that sellers can easily show consumers reviews of the product. Or Tidio Livechat, which enables sellers to have automated customer service chat boxes available on their product pages.
Sattar also uses apps that automatically send texts or emails to potential customers about their abandoned carts, apps that automatically attach tracking numbers to every order, and apps that help him easily edit product videos and photos to overlay text and music to look professional. For most of these vendors, Sattar pays a monthly subscription fee, though some offer free options. But the cost of these vendors are worth it to Sattar as they allow him to move more product and reach more customers.
Don't trust paid courses
On Sattar's website, he sells dropshipping-related swag that has swagger, like this "dripping in dropshipping money" shirt. But he's also critical of dropshippers who can't back up their claims. One shirt has an emphatic message: "f-ck your paid course." What he's referring to is a massive trend within the dropshipping world: dropshippers charging money for video courses on how to break into dropshipping. Sattar says to beware.
"A lot of people that make videos about dropshipping don't really actually do dropshipping, they just sell courses to make money," he said.
Sattar said these dropshipping YouTube personalities are often making more money off their paid courses than they are off of dropshipping, so they're not actually good at the thing they claim to be teaching about.
"It's a lot easier to sell a course than it is to do dropshipping," Sattar said.
That's why Sattar puts all his content online for free. Then, if people are really interested in learning from him, he offers paid 30-day dropshipping bootcamp mentorship, which involves 1:1 coaching on how to kickstart a dropshipping business. Sattar said he feels the mentorship is more valuable than a paid course because it's not passive, he works closely with three mentees per month to help them get their businesses off the ground.
The time is right — Q4 is going to be huge this year
A quick google of "dropshipping" will surface questions from hopeful e-commerce gurus wondering: is dropshipping dead? Online shoppers have gotten savvier in recent years as well as come to expect faster shipping and better customer experience, which means dropshippers have had to step up their operations. While some have said this change has killed the business, Sattar says that the death of dropshipping is "bullsh-t."
"Everybody's going to be shopping online for Black Friday," Sattar said. Additionally, he thinks people are more vulnerable to make impulse buys to find some source of joy as the country enters into a winter where the coronavirus is still with us.
"When people buy things online they get endorphins that make them feel better," Sattar said.
Because of that, Sattar predicts that consumers will be ready to buy deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year, even though unemployment is high and the US economy is "more miserable" than Mexico and Russia's.
"E-commerce sellers are going to take advantage of people who are at home in buying moods."
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