We know that there are a number of sellers using inkFrog who count drop-shipping as an important component of their business model—and that at any given time, new sellers are considering entering e-commerce via drop-shipping.
Drop-shipping is a constantly moving target, however—particularly with the speed at which e-commerce is evolving today and the number of new entrants who are always looking to give drop-shipping a go.
Here are five timely tips for those looking to start drop-shipping in 2019.
Competing on price is no longer a winning strategy for most drop-shippers. Instead, try competing on value—the value of the entire experience that you provide. (Image: © gustavofrazao / Fotolia)
1. Basically forget about competing on price.
Not so long ago, drop-shipping direct from China was a key strategy that sellers used to undercut domestic competitors on price. Long shipping times and worse customer service were offset by direct import pricing that was significantly less expensive, enabling both high margins and happy shoppers.
Those days are over.
The China wholesale supply chain is now firmly in place for sellers of virtually every size, meaning that drop-shippers are now competing not against sellers that pay much more for their inventory, but sellers that pay less—and can often deliver faster thanks to on-shore inventory.
If you're looking for drop-shipping product(s) that will enable you to undercut the market with a reasonable margin, you're going to look for a very long time—and if you discover one, other sellers will soon jump in and undercut you, destroying any margin you had.
2. Instead, compete on aspiration, lifestyle, personalization, and marketing.
Take a look at our previous post on e-commerce trends and note the mention of personalization.
For drop-shippers, this advice counts double. You can still earn the sale as a drop-shipper, but you'll have to offer something other than lower prices. In most cases, this something will be an appealing "bigger picture" that it's your job to assemble:
Want customers at any price? Delight them with who you are, what you do, and the pleasure that you take in serving them. Preferably on social media. (Image: © Photographee.eu / Fotolia)
One-stop shopping for shoppers that fit a particular profile and have particular interest(s)
Aspirational marketing and branding that speaks to lifestyle and personal identity
Convenience and ease—both in finding your products and in completing the purchase
Anything else you can do to build trust and excitement
The last bullet point matters and is really what we're talking about with our next two tips.
3. Build your brand and audience relationships on social media.
As a drop-shipper, you're probably small—a one- or two-person operation. You're less well-positioned to buy and warehouse in quantity or to compete on price, but as a sole (or small band of) decision maker(s), you're better-positioned to nurture a brand and speak directly to your audience.
In the era of social media, this is no small thing.
Don't think of your business as the collection of products that you sell. Your business is your brand and your voice; the products are a part of your offering, but not all of it.
Begin to build and nurture an audience by reaching them on YouTube and other social media channels. Nurture a relationship with them. Show your work and invite them to see and understand your business—and the fact that you want to serve them.
This personal relationship is more than able to pay off in trust, loyalty, and sales.
4. Focus on making your shipping policies passable.
Shipping times are becoming more and more important in e-commerce, with larger retailers and marketplaces now angling to reach same-day delivery and "economy" 5-7 business day methods now seen as "slow."
Paying customers waiting a month or more for products stuck in shipping yards? They're not going to be repeat customers. Find products and suppliers that can get reach your customers in less than seven business days if you want to compete. (Image: © Idanupong / Fotolia)
So where does this place you if you're offering 28-40 day delivery from overseas? Directly in the crosshairs of shopper impatience. When shoppers could save 50 percent or more by waiting a month, some would. With the lower margins of today's market, unsuccessful sellers ask shoppers to pay nearly as much, or in some cases more, to wait months instead of hours.
That's not a winning proposition.
You're rarely, if ever, going to be able to compete directly on shipping policies with sellers that have on-shore inventory. But what you can do is work harder to hide some of drop-shipping's dirty laundry. Go through your product and provider list and:
Eliminate or consider backgrounding any instances of extended shipping times, focusing instead on those that can be fulfilled via air in domestic "economy shipping" delivery windows of a week or so, where at least you'll be in the ballpark
Eliminate shipping costs to the buyer by labeling everything as free shipping, then marking up prices as needed, relying on the strategies above—instead of price—to generate sales
Again, as a drop-shipper, you're never going to win on shipping overall, but there are steps that you can take to at least avoid losing entirely on shipping, and 2019 is the year to take them.
5. Make customer service a top priority.
In the days when price was the key benefit to drop-shipping, customer service was also seen as a bit of an afterthought. After all, consumers came to drop-shippers to save, and part of what they were willing to sacrifice was a smooth experience.
If you're sensing a pattern here, it's because there is one. Those days are gone.
Do your best to take joy in customer service—these are your customers, after all—and to bear the costs and delays yourself, rather than pass them on in each individual case. You'll be rewarded with loyalty, word of mouth, and repeat sales. (Image: © zinkevych / Fotolia)
With Amazon in particular providing stellar customer-centric service at stellar prices—and eBay trying hard to follow in Amazon's footsteps—customers have come to expect an online buying experience that challenges the in-store buying experience for convenience, trust, and safety.
No-questions returns for weeks after the sale
Immediate refunds or exchanges without restocking fees
The ability to reach someone right now, as they type or call, to address concerns and solve problems
A pleasant and cheerful interaction throughout all of these things
Our advice? Provide these things with confidence. Yes, it's more painful for a drop-shipper up front. No, you're probably not going to build a sustainable drop-shipping business in 2019 by skimping on them.
Grit your teeth and eat the costs in time and dollars.
Remember that you're no longer focusing on pure price competition, and you will have to adopt the other strategies discussed here to make these kinds of costs bearable for your business. Do it and consider the change to be an investment in the viability and profitability of your future.
You Can Do It!
Yes, drop-shipping is changing. No, it's not the same low-touch, set-it-and-forget it business model that it once was. It's hard work.
But those who say that drop-shipping is dead are wrong. It isn't—instead, drop-shipping is growing up. It's not an also-ran any longer; it's an established retail business model—requiring you to provide all of the things that an established retail business provides:
A clear target audience
A story about why people should buy your product(s) and do so from you
Quality, convenience, and value (which, note well, is not the same thing as price)
Good customer service
The flexibility to grow and adapt to changes in the retail landscape
If you're able to find a way to do these things as a drop-shipper, you'll thrive in 2019—and beyond.
E-Commerce has been around for more than twenty years now, yet it's impossible to get the feeling that the really big changes to the way the world buys and sells are just getting started over the last several years.
What do you need to do in 2019 to keep even with—or pull ahead of—your toughest competition? Here are five trends we're seeing in research circles and around social media that show the way to success.
In the coming year:
1. Mobile Will Continue to Grow
Mobile commerce continues to grow at more or less the same rate that it has done in recent years, with nearly half of all e-commerce orders now coming from handheld devices of one kind or another. This growth will continue in 2019.
Any remaining resistance to mobile shopping is disappearing. Shoppers are buying wherever they happen to be. (Image: © Christian Müller / Fotolia)
What can you do?
Make sure that you're making mobile-friendly content and web pages
Use mobile-friendly templates from inkFrog for your eBay listings
Keep content concise for mobile screens, where length descriptions can seem overwhelming
Test your Shopify or primary website using mobile devices and make any needed adjustments
2. Personalization Will Drive an Increasing Share of Sales
Shoppers are becoming more and more accustomed to the convenience offered by the personalization that major marketplaces and web platforms are delivering. Rather than having to hunt for what to buy, they expect useful product suggestions. Rather than having to express preferences, they expect to be learned about.
What can you do?
Use the cross-promotion space in inkFrog templates to show related products
Take time to organize your store(s) by category or theme, to help shoppers find their preferences
Increase your investment and time spent in turning sales data into data about and lists of customers
Message customers of particular "types" with newsletters promoting things that match their interests
Polish up your seller ratings and keep them polished. Shoppers are showing less and less tolerance for any customer service headaches. (Image: © Vasily Merkushev / Fotolia)
3. Customer Service Will Become a Key Decision Factor
Time is increasingly up for sellers that would prefer to think of customer service as secondary to "making sales" online. The major marketplaces and platforms have boosted expectations and customers are increasingly reporting that public customer service data plays into their buying decisions.
What can you do?
Strive to perfect and maintain feedback scores on marketplaces at almost any cost
Make sure that your returns policies everywhere match the level of service provided by Amazon
Renew your focus on rapid customer service responses, or hire extra help for speed
Go the extra mile to delight customers with problems, for great referrals and social buzz
4. Rapid Delivery Will Increase in Importance
Time has also run out on sellers that are delivering products slowly. Large companies at the leading edge of e-commerce are now fighting hard to achieve same-day delivery to most markets. Most smaller sellers can't compete with same-day, but even next day or two-day is better than the tired old 7-14 days or longer of "mail order" fame.
What can you do?
Forget about economy for non-oversized items; figure priority services into your standard pricing
Offer economy services as a cost-saving option and position it as a discount, as Amazon does
Keep track of which carriers have performed well for you in on-time delivery and stick with them
Get labels printed as close to order time as you can, since shoppers are now keyed into delays
It's time to get out there and talk about your products on YouTube—shoppers are rewarding sellers for doing so. (Image: © Diego Cervo / Fotolia)
5. Social Video Will Turn Competitors Into Winners
More and more shoppers are expressing the desire to see products in video rather than merely in images, since video presentation often gives a better sense of product quality and properties. Some of the best small-to-mid-sized sellers are now narrating or even appearing in their own product videos and earning thousands of followers.
What can you do?
Creating brief product videos whenever eBay and Amazon don't
Consider creating a YouTube channel to discuss the products you'd most like to move
Use these videos to gush about and show off the product
Appear yourself or use your own voice to show that "real people" are behind your business
E-Commerce is Getting Interesting
Twenty years ago, e-commerce was just a slightly different wrinkle on the catalog shopping days of old.
Shoppers browsed for the products they wanted while sitting in their living rooms, made a decision based on one or two fuzzy pictures, waited weeks for products to arrive, and expected headaches if anything went wrong with a "mail order" transaction.
In 2019, things are different. Shoppers are buying wherever they happen to be and expect relevant suggestions to save them time along with high-fidelity ways to really explore possible purchase. When they do make a purchase, they're increasingly expecting it to arrive within a day or two, if not within hours—and if something goes wrong, they expect the problem to be resolved immediately.
This is all a tall order, but it's also an opportunity—sellers that are able to deliver with earn loyal shoppers that are opening their wallets for remote purchases more than ever before in history.
So get busy and win 2019!
Posted on November 29, 2018
What's coming in e-commerce during the coming year, and how can you capitalize on it? Read on to find out.
Let's face it, photo editing isn't everyone's forte—yet getting photos right is a key part of being able to present products well and turn them into sales.
We've previously covered the inkFrog image editor as an overview, but we thought it might be useful to provide some visual illustrations to help users that aren't familiar with common photo editing terms.
Here are some examples of what each of the most commonly-used inkFrog photo editing tools actually does.
Our Original Image
Let's start with a basic product image. In real life, we'd set out to get the camera's exposure, white balance, and other basic settings a bit more bang-on than this before taking the photos—but for illustration purposes, this image will do just fine.
Here we go!
The Editor View
Immediately after opening the editor, you'll see the image you've opted to edit along with a toolbar that leads to the other features we'll be talking about below.
From left to right, the options available to you in the default view are:
Because the "Filter" option leads to a number of additional tools, we're going to start by illustrating the others first, starting with "Resize."
Use the "RESIZE" tool to change the size of your image. Note that this may not change the size at which eBay displays your image, but it will change the amount of information that your image contains, for example to enable faster loading.
Use the "CROP" tool to remove edges of your image that are unnecessary. Think of it as a way of "trimming" your image.
Note the availability of a number of common sets of image dimensions across the top row. Click on any of these to automatically trim your image to a particular rectangular shape.
Use the "TRANSFORM" tool to flip or rotate your image. The two circled arrow icons will rotate your image by 90 degrees in either direction. The two other buttons flip your image horizontally or vertically.
Use the slider to rotate your image arbitrarily to any angle.
Use the "DRAW" tool to draw freehand on your image, for example to call out or circle important things for shoppers to notice.
Use the "TEXT" tool to add typed text to your image. Remember not to use this to add contact information for your business, as this runs against eBay rules and can result in suspension.
Use the "SHAPES" tool to add pre-defined shapes to your image. Click on a shape icon to add the shape, then click on the shape in your image to resize it or drag it to a new position.
Use the "STICKERS" tool to add stickers to your image from a very large pre-defined set of clip art and emoticons.
Filter (18 Additional Tools)
Clicking on "Filter" opens a new menu containing 18 additional tools that affect your image's colors, brightness, sharpness, or other visual characteristics. Here are illustrations of how each of them affects your images, along with a brief explanation in each case.
|FILTER → GRAYSCALE|
Use the "Grayscale" tool to remove all color information from your image, rendering it only in shades of gray.
|FILTER → BLACK & WHITE|
Use the "Black & White" tool to reduce your image to a true black and white image—only two colors, black and white, no shades of gray.
|FILTER → SHARPEN|
Use the "Sharpen" tool to automatically sharpen the edges of objects in your image, to enhance clarity and visibility.
|FILTER → INVERT|
Use the "Invert" tool to invert the colors in your image, producing a "negative" of the original image.
|FILTER → VINTAGE|
Use the "Vintage" tool to simulate an old, yellowed, faded photograph (or old, yellowed, faded goods).
|FILTER → POLAROID|
Use the "Polaroid" tool to imitate the exposure and color characteristics of Polaroid camera film.
|FILTER → KODACHROME|
Use the "Kodachrome" tool to imitate the exposure and color characteristics of Kodachrome camera film.
|FILTER → TECHNICOLOR|
Use the "Technicolor" tool to significantly enhance the intensity of all the colors in your image.
|FILTER → BROWNIE|
Use the "Brownie" tool to shift all of the colors in your image slightly, toward a dim brown color.
|FILTER → SEPIA|
Use the "Sepia" tool to simulate the look of a sepia-colored vintage film print.
|FILTER → REMOVE|
Use the "Remove" tool to remove areas of a particular color from your image. First, select the color you'd like to remove. Then, move the slider right and left depending on how much of these color areas you'd like to remove.
|FILTER → BRIGHTNESS|
Use the "Brightness" tool to make your image either lighter or darker.
|FILTER → GAMMA|
Use the "Gamma" tool to change the brightness of all the red, green, and blue primary colors in your image. Move each slider to indicate more or less of each color.
This tool is helpful for removing color casts, if you can keep the primary colors and how they interact in mind. For example, to remove a purple color cast, set the red and blue sliders slightly lower than the green slider, since red and blue make purple (and it's purple you'd like to remove).
|FILTER → NOISE|
Use the "Noise" tool to add noise (similar to film grain) to your image for a gritty look.
|FILTER → PIXELATE|
Use the "Pixelate" tool to lower the amount of detail in your image, replacing groups of pixels with larger single-color blocks, for a "digital" or "classic video game" look.
|FILTER → BLUR|
Use the "Blur" tool to blur the sharp edges in your image for a much softer look.
|FILTER → EMBOSS|
Use the "Emboss" tool to simulate slight three-dimensional raised edges in your image around every transition between two colors.
|FILTER → BLEND|
Use the "Blend" tool to add either a weak or a strong color cast to your image.
Lots of Tools to Improve Your Images
Whew! That's a lot of tools available to you in inkFrog's built-in image editor, all of which can be used to enhance the appearance of your images. As you use the editor, keep the following points in mind:
You can use more than one or even all of the tools together on the same image
When using the tools in the "FILTER" area, clicking on a tool "adds" the filter to your image (changes its appearance)
The effects of many filters can be combined for a more complex final result
To remove the effects of a filter that you've already added, click the "X" icon on the filter button
When you're done making changes to your image, click "Save" to save your changes
Now you've seen how each of the image tools in inkFrog's image editor works. In a future post, we'll take you through the process of editing a single picture using multiple tools, to go from "iffy picture" to "great picture" in the end.
But for now, review the tools in this post and explore the editor tool and what it can do to help you improve your photos quickly, and without having to leave inkFrog!
Posted on November 29, 2018
Need some examples with real images to show you how to use the inkFrog image editor? Here you go.
Simply Wholesale uses inkFrog to connect Amazon to eBay for them and help them sell thousands of products:
"We have been selling on ebay since 2011 and we started using inkFrog since 2015.
inkFrog has automated all our processes and made it easier to list products on eBay and make changes very fast if we have to which has led to an increase in revenue for us. Their customer service is really great and never had any issues with them"
- Samantha @ Simply Wholesale
Simply Wholesale has thousands of active eBay listings:
You can visit Simply Wholesale here:
Posted on November 27, 2018
Simply Wholesale uses inkFrog to manage their listings faster and sell more on eBay
Against Breast Cancer uses inkFrog to easily synchronize their eBay and Amazon inventory through a central location by using inkFrog to connect Amazon to eBay for them:
"We have been selling donated items on eBay as part of our fundraising since January 2017. Due to the popularity of the initiative, we needed to look for ways of streamlining and speeding up the listing process. We found inkFrog in April 2017, integrating it with our online shop for our branded merchandise.
inkFrog has allowed us to have confidence in the stock control of our branded merchandise as it is integrated to our online shop and also our Amazon store. Additionally and just as importantly inkFrog has allowed us to automate feedback on eBay and the listing tool is much quicker. The master template feature is extremely useful in helping us to stay on brand as much as possible on eBay too.
As we rely on our valued volunteers to add listings to eBay, inkFrog has been very refreshing in regards to it's usability. Other platforms are difficult to use and sometimes even harder to train other people on. We have found that our volunteers have been confident using inkFrog from the first time they are shown the listing tool. This saves us invaluable time and keeps us free to focus on what we are here for: to raise funds for vital research into the secondary spread of breast cancer, the main cause of breast cancer related deaths."
- Bryony Jones
Against Breast Cancer has hundreds of active eBay listings and donates their profits towards fighting breast cancer:
You can visit Against Breast Cancer here:
Posted on November 27, 2018
British charity Against Breast Cancer uses inkFrog to synchronize their inventory between Amazon and eBay
iBuyz uses inkFrog to streamline the eBay listing process:
"I started selling on eBay as a business (as opposed to just as a hobby) in 2009. I started a formal business called iBuyz Liquidation, Inc. in Feb. 2009. inkFrog quickly became our preferred method for hosting images, templates, and managing listings.... including doing the listings.
inkFrog has streamlined the listing process. It allows us to have, host and utilize a few iBuyz templates to be available for use at at time. It allows us to cost effectively host images and have access to these images whether we used the images 2 days ago..... or going back 2 years ago..... they are there for us!
inkFrog has allowed us to easily monitor information about our listings.... we use it to see and calculate statistics such as # of watchers...... # of sales..... time that the listing has been out there, etc. With this information we make decisions on what the edit, what to Relist, what the Sell Similar and more. We also use tools from within inkFrog Open to populate listings that we've created on other platforms, like a Shopify website directly into eBay. This app allows us to seamlessly use the photos, titles, descriptions, pricing information, shipping weights and more right from one platform to another (i.e. eBay) with just a few clicks on a mouse!"
- Daniel Riley
iBuyz has hundreds of active eBay listings and over 84,000 positive reviews on eBay:
You can visit iBuyz here:
Posted on November 27, 2018
iBuyz uses inkFrog to efficiently list thousands of products on eBay, read their story!
Many inkFrog sellers have stores on multiple platforms—for example, a store on eBay, a store on Shopify, and a store on Amazon.com.
If this is you, ask yourself whether you've done what you can to brand your stores similarly across each marketplace or platform. Though at first glance branding consistency across all of your stores might seem like a ticky-tack issue, it's not a hard thing to accomplish.
eBay gives basic store subscribers two images and a text area to customize. Use them!
Why Consistent Branding Matters
Here are just a few of the reasons why consistent branding across each of your storefronts can benefit you:
Gift cards and marketplace loyalty. More and more shoppers are ending up with gift cards in their wallet, and eBay and Amazon gift cards can only be used on eBay and Amazon. Consistent branding enables a shopper to easily locate you on another platform and buy your products, whether the reason is gift cards or simple marketplace loyalty.
Authority, trust, and brand-building. Having stores on each major shopping platform, branded in similar ways, shows that your business is well-established and has a reality that goes beyond your merely being present on eBay, or on Amazon. This increases shopper trust, which can increase sales while enhancing the value of your brand.
With a basic Amazon store you get one image and a text area—but it can be enough!
More contact options and better customer service. Shoppers' ability to contact sellers varies from marketplace to marketplace, but there's no doubt that in some cases (say, on eBay) it's limited. When shoppers can find and identify you elsewhere, you can offer them more contact options—like a phone number or direct email.
Profit from marketplace promotions. From time to time, each marketplace runs promotions that offer significant discounts to shoppers, driving sales without affecting sellers' bottom lines. Being present and identifiable on multiple marketplaces means that shoppers can follow the discounts and buy from you on any marketplace—enabling you to benefit from these promotions.
On Shopify you have more control—but remember to echo your eBay and Amazon branding.
Repeat sales. By being present and clearly recognizable on multiple marketplaces, you're more likely to earn repeat sales from buyers as they navigate all of these factors—gift cards, promotions, convenience factors, and their own evolving preferences. If shoppers can find you wherever they happen to be shopping, you won't lose them as their shopping needs or preferences change.
It Only Takes a Few Minutes
Look at the examples above and consider—there are only two images used. Together, they took just a few minutes to assemble. It took just a few more minutes longer to insert them into an eBay storefront, an Amazon storefront, and a Shopify storefront.
If you're still muddling along with storefronts that use default or missing images or templates, you're missing a chance—every time a shopper visits you—to build your brand and the future of your business.
If that's you, take a few minutes today to bring your storefronts into sync!
Posted on November 27, 2018
There are real benefits that accrue to sellers who take the time to brand their eBay, Amazon, and Shopify stores in the same way.
Poetry in Power uses inkFrog to easily manage their eBay and Amazon inventory through a central location by using inkFrog to connect Amazon to eBay for them:
"I've been selling since 1999.
inkFrog helps in at least two important ways: 1. managing drafts of listings; 2. preventing oversells.
Drafting listings for collectible books and antiques requires that the seller provide accurate and complete data for discerning collectors. inkFrog allows me to correct information or add details that collectors want.
Also, inkFrog has great photo management so that my books look great and collectors have the best perspective on my inventory as they make their decisions.
The inkFrog system helps me manage both eBay and Amazon marketplaces with one fully editable system. Keying on my store's SKU, inkFrog keeps me from re-listing an item that I've already sold. That's absolutely critical when selling one of a kind items.
Here’s the thing….people want to answer a simple question these days: "If I put in the time to learn, will it be worth it to me in the end?"
That was the question with the inkFrog Open launch, and I can say with confidence that yes, it was worth it."
- Andrew R Foster
Poetry in Power has over 22,000 active eBay listings:
You can visit Poetry in Power here:
Posted on November 23, 2018
Poetry in Power uses inkFrog to easily manage their eBay and Amazon inventory through a central location by using inkFrog to connect Amazon to eBay for them
iPowerResale uses inkFrog to streamline their listing and product updates on eBay:
"We have been selling on eBay for nearly 20 years!
We started using inkFrog about 3 years ago - it made it much more possible to streamline listings and update product."
- Christina Prins
iPowerResale sells hundreds of computer accessories:
You can visit iPowerResale here:
Posted on November 20, 2018
inkFrog Streamlines Listings and Updates for iPowerResale
GSMemorabilia uses inkFrog automatically list and sync Shopify inventory onto eBay:
"inkFrog helps keep my inventory in sync between eBay and GSMemorabilia.com that and it allows me to display a user friendly template on my GSMemorabilia eBay store to allow people to easily shop for autographed sports memorabilia"
- Ben Beeri
GSMemorabilia sells a large variety of sports memborabilia:
You can visit GSMemorabilia here:
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