Jessica: Successful dropshippers are going to reveal some of their biggest dropshipping failures. If you’ve ever felt like you were taking two steps forward and one step back, you’re not alone. It might be hard to believe that successful dropshippers fail when all you see on Instagram are expensive cars, mansions, and trips to Thailand.
But don’t be fooled, all successful dropshippers have made huge mistakes along the way. What distinguishes them from the rest of the dropshippers out there is their perseverance. They make mistakes, learn and jump back in. Ready for the pros?
Today, you’ll hear some six-figure dropshippers talk about their biggest dropshipping failures and what they learned. Before I pass it over to them though, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about dropshipping.
Dropshipping is one of the easiest ways to start an online business. Instead of buying tons of inventory for your online store, you only order products when you get sales. Your supplier ships your orders for you, so you can sell all over the world. But being a successful dropshipper requires constant learning. Okay, storytime, let’s hear from the dropshippers.
1. Dropshipping Failures With Products
Aubrey: I think one of our biggest dropshipping failures was not ordering test products before we sold something, we didn’t do it often, but the few times we’ve done it, it didn’t work out well for us.
Jeffrey: My biggest dropshipping fail is trying to sell products that I like, compared to products that people want. That’s going to be the biggest failure that I made because it’s going to prevent you from making sales. Even though you like the products that you’re offering, people might not resonate with it, and what’s most important to get sales is to offer products that people want. I would choose products that I liked and that didn’t work well, so I transitioned to selling products that people want instead.
2. Bookkeeping Oversight
Yuliya: Our biggest dropshipping fail was flying blindly for the first six months of the business and not knowing how much money we were making, and just like roughly calculating our profit in our minds and just being like, “We think we’re making money.” And then we look in our bank accounts and we’re like, “What? Where is it?”
Mike: “Where is that money?”
Yuliya: And we were just like spending so much on ads and really trying to spend our way out of the problem until we basically could not afford to go on, and we were like… I remember in the park, just sitting there and saying like, “Any sane person would quit right now because we’re like hustling 24/7. We think we’re making money but we’re not, we don’t know what to do.”
We were trying the best that we can to manually figure out our expenses and profit, but it wasn’t making sense. And we were literally just trying the same things over and over and over again, and nothing was working until we really started figuring out our numbers properly.
We got a really good app that helped us and we started trying different strategies, and we made it work with like our backs pinned against the wall. We were like, “We love our lifestyle, we love working from our laptop anywhere and working together.” And we just made it happen. So I wish this was a fail that we learned a lot quicker because it was a very slow, painful fail…
Mike: Very long six months.
Yuliya: Of like confusion.
Mike: Yeah, but then it all just kind of clicked at once, we saw where we were just bleeding money from and we saw a massive opportunity.
Mike: Which was the best part, because you realize, “Oh, I’m doing something wrong.” So that means there is a chance to change and there’s a way to make things right.
Yuliya: Totally, and like honestly, I feel looking back so grateful that we failed while we were like flying blindly because if we had scaled like that, it would have been the worst thing that happened because scaling only amplifies what already is and we were already going down.
So we would have just dug ourselves into a lot of debt, so thank God that it happened when it did. Because once we really figured everything out, we were able to scale massively and profitably, which is like the most important thing, like there’s scaling and there’s profit and profit’s number one, so.
Mike: Profit first.
Yuliya: Profit first, that’s right.
3. Supplier Issues
Tim: The biggest dropshipping fail was actually my first three stores, I believe. So when I started with dropshipping, I actually believed that I invented dropshipping. I didn’t do Oberlo dropshipping back then. I had a private labeling supplier in Germany.
And I thought, “Okay, they can offer me the products and I only have to do the marketing.” And then, unfortunately, they tricked me and after a certain amount of sales, they asked for purchasing products in bulk, and I never saw any of the products, so I lost quite some money.
So yeah, I had to learn it the hard way. I continued because I knew the dropshipping model works, it was only the supplier who tricked me, which didn’t work. So I only had to figure out a great supplier and then everything would work again. The funny thing was that it was a German supplier and not an AliExpress supplier, and actually, I had a very good experience with AliExpress suppliers.
4. The General vs Niche Conundrum
Harry: So my biggest dropshipping fail is probably my first store that I ever got up and running. It was a very niche store, it was selling nail products, really small nail products, completely pink website, and it just didn’t have… I was really boxed in with the products that I could sell.
So I spent kind of like $800 on adverts, I only got one sale, but it validated that Shopify works and the whole dropshipping system works. However, I couldn’t test other products that I was seeing to seem as… As deemed as winning products. So that was kind of my first store, I shut that one down, started up a general store, and started to get my initial sales through that.
So what I learned from that is if I was just getting up and running with things I’d always go down the route of a general store, so that I’m not limited to the products that I can test, rather than being boxed into a niche store and only selling a certain kind of product, and I also kinda found my winning products on a general store, I was then able to get better and better at finding those kinds of products and in scaling them further.
5. Dropshipping Failures With Marketing Budgets
Ryan: Yeah, so this was actually in the summer of 2017, my biggest dropshipping fail was just spending a lot of money on Facebook ads and not realizing that I was losing money every single day. I just wasn’t looking at the data correctly. Some of the key points you need to look at in Facebook is, number one, your cost per purchase.
If your cost per purchase is way over the amount you’re selling the product for, you’re obviously losing money. So you need to make sure that your cost per purchase is under that and you’re adding in obviously, the cost of goods to that as well. So that’s what I wasn’t keeping track of. I was very, very emotionally attached to this product.
That summer, it was these new snorkel masks that came around, they were like full face snorkel masks, that I just started seeing everywhere when I was traveling, and so I was like, “These are good products to sell.” Back then, I also wasn’t using my marketing strategy of creating videos, so I was only using the basic photo that AliExpress had, which I’m sure other dropshippers were using too.
Ultimately, I was just losing at this game and I’d spent probably about five grand over three months, thinking that I was making money, but I wasn’t. And I didn’t think I was making money, I knew I was losing money, I just was very, very hopeful that one day these ad sets would pick up and they never did. And so I should have learned from my mistake early on, killed the ad sets and just moved on to a new product, but I didn’t and because of that, I lost quite a bit of money, so don’t do that.
So the lesson and the moral of that story is don’t be emotionally attached to any product. I know there are a lot of products out there and I even have this now, where I’m like, “Oh my God, this thing is going to sell like crazy.” And I’ll launch ads and it doesn’t, and you just gotta be okay with that and know that that’s part of this game. Dropshipping, I like to think of it as a game. So it’s just part of the game, the product doesn’t work, it’s okay, move on to the next one and stop wasting your money trying to get this thing to work.
Jessica: Now I want to hear from you, have you made any of these dropshipping failures? What were some of your biggest dropshipping failures and how did you learn from them? Leave a comment and let me know, I’ll chime in with my thoughts. Until next time, learn often, market better and sell more.