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Automated Dropship

The Future of eCommerce: Exploring Automated Dropshipping

By
Rosie Greaves

Anyone who runs a dropshipping business knows you can easily spend hours sourcing reliable suppliers, fulfilling orders, dealing with shipping queries, etc. 

So, if you want to spend more time growing your business and less on feeling overwhelmed with the operational stuff, keep reading because we're exploring one such solution: 

Automated dropshipping

With the right tools at your fingertips, you can easily streamline laborious tasks, saving yourself tons of time and stress.

Sound good? Great! Let's take a closer look: 

What Is Automated Dropshipping?

But first, what is automated dropshipping? 

In a nutshell, 'automated dropshipping' refers to, yes, you guessed it - automating repetitive dropshipping-related tasks. 

For example, rather than manually:

  • Accepting orders
  • Forwarding orders to your supplier
  • Fulfilling the order
  • Managing stock
  • Email marketing

...and more. Automated dropshipping relies on a combination of technology and trusted third parties to handle these kinds of tasks for you.

Needless to say, different solutions can automate different aspects of your dropshipping business for you. 

For example, if you're looking to automate order fulfillment, Spocket is a go-to. Alternatively, if you're after email marketing automation, you might consider Klaviyo or Smile.io for streamlining customer-loyalty-related tasks.

Choosing the Right Automated Dropshipping Platform

Now we're all on the same page, let's discuss some tips for picking the right platforms to help you harness dropshipping automation to the fullest: 

Research

For the purposes of this blog post, we're assuming you've already picked a niche for your dropshipping store. If not, you might find Spocket guide to choosing the perfect niche for your store handy. 

All that to say, keep your store's niche at the forefront of your mind when researching potential platforms. This is especially important when subscribing to dropshipping supplier directories boasting automated fulfillment. 

You'll want to work with suppliers with an excellent reputation for producing and shipping products relevant to your niche. For example, does the platform rate/rank its suppliers? If it does, it's wise to see how suppliers in your niche fare.  

On a similar note, does the platform make it easy to filter dropshipping products in high demand that can potentially turn a profit for your store? The same goes for suppliers offering fast shipping.

It's also worth determining whether the platform's suppliers are carefully vetted. Unsurprisingly, working with a network that does will save you tons of time and aggravation in the long run!

That said, even if a dropshipping supplier directory vigorously vets its suppliers, it's still worth ordering sample products. This is the best and most reliable way to check for quality, delivery times, packaging, etc. It also gives you a first-hand experience of what your customers may encounter from that supplier. 

The bottom line: Double-check that ordering product samples is even possible before committing to a provider. 

Lastly, it's also worth checking whether the platform works with suppliers located in the same country as your customers. This goes a long way to reducing shipping times.  

Start a Conversation

Building on the importance of doing your research, contacting the platforms you're considering is wise. I.e., ask them about their services to double-check they offer everything your business needs before parting with your hard-earned cash. 

For example, a good question for automated dropshipping order fulfillment providers is whether their suppliers demand high minimum order quantities. For many solopreneurs, this isn't a feasible option, so it's best to find this out from the get-go to cross that provider off your shortlist. 

In addition to clarifying the scope of their services, chatting with potential software providers is a good way to test their response times and the helpfulness of their support agents. Both are (usually) good indicators of how they'll react to issues (should they occur) later down the road.  

What Does Their Website Look Like?

This may seem obvious but look around their website. Some platforms have pretty old-school sites (particularly dropshipping supplier directories). This could indicate they're not ahead of the curve where things like user experience and other trends are concerned, which could trickle down to the quality of service you receive. Of course, this isn't always the case, but it's worth bearing in mind nonetheless. 

Integrations

When considering a new piece of software, it's imperative it integrates with your existing tech stack - and automated dropshipping platforms are no exception. 

So, look for a platform that integrates with the solutions you're already using/planning to use - for example, your chosen eCommerce platform. Shopify? BigCommerce? WooCommerce? 

Or are you considering selling via online marketplaces like Amazon or eBay? 

Whatever your preference, ensure all your sales channels, apps, and platforms will harmoniously sync together.  

Dashboard

An easy-to-use dashboard and interface are paramount when picking a platform to automate dropshipping order fulfillment. 

After all, you'll be using this platform to do a fair amount, for example:

  • Sourcing high-quality products from multiple suppliers
  • Uploading products to sell on your eCommerce store
  • Initiating supplier communications
  • Tracking orders and shipping status

...and more. 

As such, the easier it is to navigate the software, the better. Of course, the same goes for any other automated dropshipping platform you're considering (marketing, customer service, sales, etc.)

Success Stories

Here are some examples of entrepreneurs succeeding with automated dropshipping:

Marc Chapon

Marc Chapon quit his full-time job and ventured into the world of dropshipping. He partnered with Spocket to source US and EU-based suppliers selling dog-focused products. 

Marc researched his niche using Google Trends, chose Shopify as his website builder, wrote his own product descriptions, created a marketing plan, and began trading. Marc’s tenacity and attention to detail resulted in him making $178,492 in just three months. 

Erin Rafferty 

Erin Rafferty rejected the standard 9-5 life and launched her first eCommerce dropshipping business selling women’s clothes. Within the first three weeks, she had made four times her rent. 

She went on to open a baby clothing store and a separate store selling pet products because, as a mother and a pet owner, she felt she understood these niches well.

She partnered with Spocket and Shopify and went from zero orders to making $114,000 per month. 

Lessons Learned

In both the above examples, there are recurring themes surrounding 'lessons learned' and 'best practices':

  • Find your niche
  • Stay consistent
  • Do your research - use Google Trends, scour YouTube, Facebook groups, courses, etc.
  • Although dropshipping involves zero investment in inventory, it’s wise to set aside some budget to pay for a website builder, run social media ads, and subscribe to a reliable dropshipping supplier directory. 

Best Practices

  • Use apps that boost your business. For example, Erin uses SaveMySales SMS/MMS marketing to promote her Shopify stores. 
  • When it comes to social media ads, Marc advises 'test[ing] out the audiences that you are displaying your ads to' - and paying particular attention to your audience's 'gender and interests' - to see who your ads most resonate with. Once you have that information, you'll be better positioned to optimize your ads for maximum conversions. 
  • Marc also suggests retargeting abandoned carts using email and Facebook ads. This can be pretty effective for re-engaging potential customers. 

Advantages of Automated Dropshipping

Now, let's condense some of what we've learned by exploring the key advantages of the automated dropshipping business model:

Save Time and Boost Efficiency

Automated dropshipping (compared to handling all your dropshipping-related tasks manually) not only saves time but also reduces the risk of human error. 

For example, instead of manually forwarding the right customer orders to the correct dropshipping suppliers, technology does this for you. This goes a long way to eradicating miscommunications resulting in delayed or incorrect orders. 

Improved Customer Experience

Building on the above example, when orders are automatically forwarded to the correct dropshipping suppliers, there's no delay in kickstarting the fulfillment process. This should result in customers receiving their orders faster, improving your shoppers' experience and thereby the quality of your customer reviews. 

Scalability and Business Growth

By automating tasks that would otherwise eat into your precious time and energy, you give yourself the space to scale and grow your business. I.e., you can focus your efforts on optimizing your marketing, customer experience, and customer service to ensure maximum growth. 

Automated Order Tracking

For peace of mind, it’s vital customers know where their order is and when they should expect it. This is where providing automated, real-time order tracking comes into its own.

Not only should your customers receive automated tracking information, but it's also vital for you to possess such information. That way, you can stay ahead of any potential delays and address them quickly. 

The Challenges of Automated Dropshipping (And the Solutions!)

In the interest of balance, let's take a quick peek at some of the challenges associated with automated dropshipping (don't worry, we'll provide the solutions, too!):

Technical Knowledge

To automate your dropshipping business, you'll need a basic understanding of how the software works. 

The solution: If you're not overly confident in your technical expertise, it's all the more essential to double-check that the software you're considering is easy to use and boasts excellent customer service.

Reliance on a Third Party

If something goes amiss with your third-party supplier, you have little control over how and when those issues are resolved. 

Solution: Be prepared by finding out what procedures the platform has in place if something goes wrong. For example, if it's a marketing app you're looking into, what's its uptime? What will the company do if bugs occur, etc.? Alternatively, if it's an automated dropshipping fulfillment service, find out what the fulfillment success rates of their suppliers are. Ask how they handle delayed deliveries, etc. 

Future Trends

Before wrapping up this blog post, we would be remiss not to acknowledge that the automated dropshipping industry is continually evolving. As such, it's wise to familiarise yourself with future trends:

For starters, the value of the dropshipping market is expected to increase to a staggering $476.1 billion by 2026! So, there’s clearly profit to be made. In fact, it's predicted that dropshippers make an average 20-30% profit from each sale. 

However, to enjoy a slice of that pie and compete in a crowded marketplace, you'll need to stay abreast of emerging technologies and trends. 

For example:

  • Artificial Intelligence: Entrepreneurs can increasingly rely on AI to streamline tasks like writing product descriptions, website copy, social media ads, etc. There are also plenty of AI-fuelled tools that can help with graphic design, market research, customer service, etc. 
  • Robots: Dropshipping suppliers may be able to utilize robots to sort products and package them ready for shipping. If done efficiently, this could reduce fulfillment turnaround times, meaning customers could receive their orders quicker. 
  • Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR):  You may find that more and more competitors offer their customers an increasingly immersive and interactive shopping experience with VR and AR. For example, furniture dropshippers could use this technology to help shoppers visualize pieces in their own space.

Our Final Thoughts on Automated Dropshipping

The benefits of entrepreneurs embracing automation to streamline their dropshipping venture are clear: It’s time-saving, which can free up your schedule to focus on growing your business. 

Not only that, but it can also reduce the likelihood of human error.  

Best of all, you can automate all kinds of monotonous tasks: order processing, inventory control, pricing products, tracking updates, marketing, and much more! 

So, there you have it - that's all from us! 

Are you ready to embrace automation? Learn more about how Spocket can help you automate your order fulfillment today by signing up for our free 14-day trial!

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Rosie Greaves

Rosie Greaves is a professional content strategist specializing in all things digital marketing, B2B, and lifestyle. In addition to Spocket, you can find her published on Reader's Digest, E-commerce Platforms, and Judicious Inc. Check out her website Blog with Rosie for more information.


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