If you’re thinking about starting a dropshipping business or you’re already using this method to generate a profit but want to increase revenue by adding new product lines, this article will tell you everything you need to know about what makes a dropshipping product popular and how to source your chosen items.
What is dropshipping?
Dropshipping is a way of selling items online without keeping a stock inventory, instead using a third-party supplier to ships items direct to the customer on your behalf.
By using the dropshipping method, you can avoid paying for expensive warehouse space and can also opt out of the time-consuming sales management process (picking, packing, shipping and tracking items along with handling customer queries and returns).
In a nutshell, dropshipping allows you to avoid any contact with the goods you’re selling, being responsible only for selecting and marketing items.
With dropshipping it’s possible to launch a new ecommerce business or introduce a new product line to an existing one without investing thousands in stock upfront. You’ll have the freedom to test the market, changing your product selections if they’re not performing well without having to worry about unsold stock languishing in storage. You’ll also be able to jump on and off retail trends as they happen without worrying about surplus items once a hot item cools off.
How to start a dropshipping business
There are two major ways to operate a dropshipping business:
- Operating within the dropshipping program of a major eCommerce site like Amazon, eBay or Shopify.
- Working with a trusted supplier who ships out individual items direct from their stock and but sold through your own eCommerce website or social media advertising.
Amazon’s dropshipping program is known as Fulfilled By Amazon (FBA) and allows sellers to piggyback onto the site’s well-oiled, highly respected sales management process. Sellers must ship their product, in bulk, to one of Amazon’s warehouses in preparation for making sales and must pay a fee for each transaction that takes place through the program. In return, they’ll be free from the stress of dealing with order fulfillment and will be able to market their items on the world’s largest eCommerce site.
Each method has its own pros and cons which are discussed later in this article.
Finding a product niche for dropshipping
The success or failure of any dropshipping businesses hinges on choosing the right products to sell.
Trends will come and go, so while it’s tempting to ride on the coat-tails of the latest craze, you’ll need to offer a more diverse sales portfolio if you’re hoping to make a steady income from dropshipping in the long-term.
Product research is all-important in order to find items that are in high enough demand to generate a high volume of sales. You will also need to select products that can be sold for a healthy mark-up and for which there is low competition. Picking the most popular current items may seem like a winning strategy, but in a crowded market, product margins for smaller retailers will be squeezed ever tighter if competition is high.
What to look for when choosing dropshipping products
When thinking about which products to sell by your dropshipping business, it’s never a good idea to purchase items based solely on personal preference or a ‘gut feeling’ that a product will do well. The world of dropshipping is competitive and rapidly changing and in order to compete with established sellers, you’ll need to conduct thorough product research and analyse existing sales data to be in with the best chance of predicting a product’s potential performance. Guess work just won’t cut it if you want to rise above the competition.
Popular dropshipping items tend to be either impulse buys (the kind of item you wouldn’t make a special trip to the local shop to purchase individually, but might notice and pick up at the supermarket checkout while you’re waiting to pay for everyday items.)
Impulse buys are usually cheaply priced as most shoppers can afford to spend up to £40 without thinking too hard about whether the item represents good value or if they genuinely need it. For more expensive purchases, we tend to do more extensive research and to shop around for longer periods before making a decision.
Dropshipping products that sell well fall into two categories:
- Colourful, eye-catching, fun items like pocket money toys (slime and squishies have both trended in 2019).
- Useful items that solve an everyday problem for the consumer (neck mobile phone holders have proved popular in recent times as they offer an alternative to holding a phone to your ear for long periods – something many of us do that can cause painful medical issues).
As you will probably be promoting your dropshipping items through social media channels, it’s also important to remember that people don’t tend to buy boring, everyday household items through Facebook or Instagram ads. You’re looking for eye-catching, gimmicky and amusing products that provide a talking point and catch someone’s eye when they pop up in their feed. This type of item will also be shared via social media and your ad could even go viral if you find a way to tell a story with your product.
Fun items that also serve a practical use combine these two key areas and are almost guaranteed to be winners – think clear plastic shoe protectors that look funky but that also protect expensive footwear from rain damage or blow up travel cushions for your cat or dog.
Products may also be seasonal, for example, you’ll sell more of those shoe protectors during monsoon but very few during high summer.
You may also do better with unique products that aren’t easily available in local stores as people will use the internet to search for these items. If something is hard to get hold of at a bricks and mortar store but is also in high-demand, it’s an ideal dropshipping product.
An online search of the top ten most popular dropshipping products for 2019 will return mixed results, but you’ll find that all items listed have one or more of the following qualities: they’re inexpensive, problem solving, a novelty, unusual, eye-catching or exclusively sold online.
Examples of best-selling dropshipping items for 2019 include:
- Play slime
- Mobile phone neck holder
- Magnetic / wireless phone chargers
- Waterproof mobile phone cases
- Car phone holder
- Posture corrector
- Portable blender
- Spider nail gel (for customizing nail designs at home)
- Eyeshadow stamp
- Inflatable pet collar
How to research great dropshipping products
You can either do your own research by browsing top-selling products on popular eCommerce sites like Shopift and Ali Express for inspiration and helpful information or you can use a product research tool like Niche Scraper that analyses thousands of products each day to show which have the most dropshipping potential.
This type of software uses a simple search function to analyse millions of products in different marketplaces across the web, looking at current order volumes along with examining a product’s sales history and predicting future sales potential. This type of tool can help dropshipping sellers to jump on products that are about to trend rather than already trending and to drop a certain product or range that is starting to drop in popularity.
Tools like Niche Scraper can also be used to spy on top-performing Shopify sites in selected niches in order to find guaranteed winning products.
High-ticket and low-ticket items for dropshipping
The difference between high- and low-ticket items is simple: a low-ticket item is simply a low-priced product, like a pen or a mug, that won’t yield a huge profit margin for the seller. High ticket items like furniture sell at more expensive prices and have bigger returns (but bigger risks) for the retailer.
When dropshipping, it’s better to concentrate on the sale of low-ticket items as customers are much more likely to impulse purchase these products, meaning that your sales volumes and profits should be higher.
When making buying choices about high ticket items, buyers will need more time to reach a decision and much more support from you, meaning you’ll spend more time handling customer inquiries which may not necessarily result in sales. Customers also need to build trust with a retailer before spending large amounts of hard-earned cash and may prefer to visit a bricks and mortar store or showroom to physically handle a higher priced item before buying it.
Low ticket items carry a much lower risk for dropshippers are a more sensible choice, especially for a new seller.
Helpful tools, software and websites for dropshipping
Niche scraper is a powerful dropshipping and product research bot. Not only does it replace the need to do hours of manual research into products with hit and miss results, providing concrete sales data to help you make decisions, it also allows you to spy on competitors. The guess work is removed as you can view products that are guaranteed to sell well.
Google trends is a free service provided by Google that shows you the latest trending search topics, the total global search volumes for chosen terms and can reveal a lot of interesting untouched dropshipping niches if you’re prepared to do some digging around!
Camel Camel Camel is an Amazon price tracking website that alerts you to price drops for millions of products listed on the site. It was voted as the most popular price tracking tool amongst Lifehacker readers in 2019 and allows you to follow price changes in real time by using an RSS feed.
DS Comparison is a site that allows you to compare dropshipping software in order to decide which tools will best suit your individual needs.
Products to avoid when dropshipping
While researching the perfect items to sell using dropshipping, it’s easy to overlook products to be avoided at all costs.
Firstly, steer clear of any type of product that could provide difficult to advertise. Facebook, for instance, prohibit the ads that feature adult toys and e-cigarettes. Lack of opportunities to market your dropshipping product will, obviously, lead to fewer sales – so stick to family friendly goods!
It may seem obvious, but it’s all-important to steer clear of items that are expensive to buy wholesale as you’ll need to add a huge mark-up to make a decent profit. Remember to factor postage into your costs – a good rule of thumb is to steer clear of wholesale purchases over $15-$20.
It’s also best to avoid large, heavy or bulky items when dropshipping. Many dropshipping programs (including FBA) charge a fee based on shipping cost, meaning that larger items incur a heftier charge. As you’ll need to add shipping costs to the price of your item, it’s also sensible to choose small, light items on this basis to keep costs as low as possible for your customers.
Finally, while it’s important to choose a product niche when dropshipping, you should make sure that the items you sell within this market aren’t too unusual. As an example, stocking a range of brooches shaped like different breeds of dog will appeal to a wider market than selling only a Labrador or Chihuahua breed. You should also research the most popular dog breeds, as if only a handful of people have a certain type of dog, the chances of selling a high volume of related products are very low.