Running a successful dropshipping business during these unprecedented times calls for strategic business decisions that guarantee sustainability. The economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the brick-and-mortar retail sphere has been severe, and the e-commerce industry hasn’t been spared either. It has caused significant supply-chain disruptions, mainly in the form of delayed shipments and a decrease in demand for most consumer products.
But, there’s good news. According to Quantum Metric, e-commerce presence grew by 52% with a conversion rate growth of 8% in 2020. Furthermore, coronavirus movement restrictions and social distancing guidelines, have forced more people to do shopping online, which you can leverage to get a wider reach. In this post, we will explore how to drop shippers can adapt and position themselves for success during and after Covid-19.
Change your niche
Since the start of the pandemic, we have seen a number of products whose demand/orders have greatly reduced and those that have significantly increased. This makes it imperative that you find the right niche with a near-constant demand and high return on investment.
Although there’s a ban on selling of personal protective equipment (PPE), there are several niches that you can enter that will have quantifiable demand during and after the pandemic. Market trends show an increase in online sales of fitness equipment, groceries, and home supplies like cleaning equipment.
Furthermore, many organizations have embraced telecommuting and working remotely. This has created an increase in demand for computer accessories like webcams and home entertainment gadgets like speakers. You can see more niches below.
You can also explore other product niches with high sales volumes like:
- Men’s clothing and accessories –products such as sunglasses, sling shoulder bags, and denim jackets have seen a comeback from the 1980s.
- Board and Video Games – Ceaco, a prominent American Jigsaw puzzle company, saw sales grow by more than 300% in March compared to the same month last year. This was also witnessed with their online sales.
- Home and kitchen equipment – with everyone spending most of their time indoors, the kitchen area is getting busy. Products like ceramic dinner plates and blenders are generating traffic to eCommerce sites.
- Women’s fashion and accessories –Women are more likely than men to buy on impulse when they see something they like. Items like dangle earrings and vintage waist belts and oversized sweaters have seen a remarkable increase in demand.
- Phone accessories – Products such as selfie light rings that make people look near perfect on their cellphones, phone holder bands, and phone cases are always in demand with every latest release. Your focus should be on better materials like silicone and leather as such items carry higher profit margins.
Maximize e-mail marketing
With restrictions and a decrease in e-commerce advertising online and on some social platforms like Facebook during the pandemic, E-mail marketing is an excellent tool for building customer retention and generating repeat sales.
Through e-mail marketing, you can educate your customers on current sales promotions and available products that suite their preferences. Additionally, e-mail marketing offers an avenue to send personalized and transactional content to your customers directly, bypassing any marketing restrictions that you may be facing.
With data from Statista reporting that 85% of adult users in the US hold active e-mail accounts, e-mail marketing is one tool that has great reach. You can build or grow your database to a sizable e-mail list by offering an incentive to customers. Some of the incentives include;
- Compelling content – You can offer to send subscribers valuable content and insights right from your blog or website directly to them. You can send content such as Industry news and product releases and updates.
- Discounted orders – You can offer discounts on products when clients sign up to your e-mail lists. This will also act as an extra incentive for your customers to finalize their sales in the checkout process.
- Free shipping upgrade – You can offer a free shipping upgrade to customers who purchase products above a set price or a quantifiable number of products.
Expand to new territories
Dropshipping business lets you avoid the challenges of holding physical inventory, so you can expand to new territories with a higher demand for your products. Using dropship platforms like Wholesale2b, which can help you with shipping in regions like the USA and Canada, you can move to new territories with ease.
Note: A little research may be needed to understand the market better and regulations to the new territory you wish to penetrate. The study can focus on a few things like:
- Tax regulations
- Is there a demand for your products in the targeted territory?
- Which local players will give you tough competition?
- Quality assurance, especially if you are dealing in goods with a short life span.
Change the target audience
Changing your target audience can help boost up your sales. Different market places have different audiences that are more active and carry higher purchasing power. Take Nintendo, for instance. The company changed its target audience to avoid competing in a crowded market and eventually saw over 100 million consoles sold globally. By targeting new audiences with customized marketing to suit their demographic and offering products that meet their needs, you’ll get more conversions through your sales funnel.
You can target a new audience by changing;
- Your advertisement – the way you advertise your product should resonate with your new target audience. If you are to target teenagers, then ideally, your adverts should be trendy and fun with your main media channel being social media.
- Your logo – The colors and design of your logo should also be in line with your new target audience. For an older audience, you should be looking at colors and designs that convey serenity and consider reaching out to them mediums like e-mail marketing.
- Your packaging – Packaging is what makes the first impression when customers receive your product. The way you package your product subconsciously sends out a message to people, and you want it to resonate with your audience.
- Your brand communication – Different brands communicate differently to the public, depending on their audience. You can do this through the tone of your voice, typography, and graphics displayed over your website and social media channels.
Implement SEO and write blog posts
Learn to make the most of your current situation. Movement restrictions may be bad, but they probably mean you may have a little more spare time than usual. You can use this time to implement SEO best practices for your website. SEO is a long-term strategy that can organically channel multiple visitors to your site, saving you a great deal on Ad spend.
- Optimize your Blog. Including a blog on your website and writing optimized web posts will not only connect people to your brand and establish your business as an industry leader but will also develop relationships which ultimately leads to higher conversion rates.
- Be sure to also optimize your page speed and mobile responsiveness. A slag in these two aspects will significantly affect your conversion and increase bounce rates. According to research by Google, 53% of mobile users leave a site that takes longer than three seconds to load. By shrinking your site images and using cache, you can decrease page load time, thus improving your user experience, gradually leading to more conversion rates.
Manage your cash flow
Cash flow management can either make or break a business. During economic downturns, it helps to manage your resources to ensure sustainability. With limited cash to move around, consider things like:
- Cutting expenses. When the going is good, we tend to accumulate expenses that we can actually survive without. Cross-examine your costs and look for subscriptions that you can do without for a couple of month’s normalcy resumes. This will free up cash that you can use for necessities like annual licensing that may be due. Stringent cash flow management isn’t fun, but it’s a must if you want to keep your business alive.
- Selling off inventory. Due to the reduced sales volume, you may find yourself holding inventory. To free up cash to be able to buy other faster-moving products, you can look into options such as discounting and bundling low-demand items with high-demand to boost your sales.
- Plan ahead. Planning for upcoming expenses lets you make smart financial decisions that will keep everyone, such as employees and suppliers, happy for the smooth running of your business. It’s recommended to look through 6-12months months of expenses as some may need a 30-day notice in case of cancellation. You also want to ensure operational costs such as annual licenses and subscriptions don’t get you off guard.
Look for alternative suppliers.
Considering the effects of the pandemic on Chinese manufacturing, you should consider looking for alternative suppliers for your products. China is the most preferred with its low cost of products offered due to low production costs, but recent events have proven you shouldn’t rely on it entirely. Other suppliers might mean a low margin profit for you, but they will at least keep your customers happy. You could source from countries such as India and look alternative delivery channels to your clients.
Keep in touch with your suppliers and customers.
Building and maintaining relationships is an essential aspect of every business, especially in times of uncertainty. Staying in touch and effectively communicating with your suppliers and customers will keep you in the loop about changes in shipping or delayed deliveries.
An online survey by Influence central found that customers reacted positively to brands that offered after-sales service and changes to help customers during the pandemic. Being honest and having great after-sales service for your customers will go a long way in maintaining and building your business.
Lastly, prepare for delays.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought to a halt movement of non-essential goods worldwide to give way to the transportation of crucial PPE items and medical supplies needed by the frontline health workers.
Although most countries have now opened up their borders and are accepting international flights, carriers are faced with increased demand, which has subsequently led to an increase in shipping fees and limited cargo space. With additional safety measures, transportation routes closed, and production facilities remaining in lockdown for months, expect additional shipping delays especially depending on the destination country such as those ordering for commodities to the US from China.
The bottom line is that as a drop shipper, you cannot sit around and wait for the COVID-19 situation to elapse. Whether you are a newbie or old-timer, it’s always a good idea to implement new techniques and do research on other aspects of your business.
Use this time to improve your skills and stay informed with what is happening on the global market with reliable and credible information. You can also stay abreast of current dropshipping trends and best practices through our blog.