How to choose products to dropship
This post was last updated on February 9, 2023.
One of the best ways for newcomers to get into eCommerce is through dropshipping. Dropshipping simplifies and streamlines the order fulfillment process for merchants, with suppliers handling storage, packaging and shipment of your store orders.
eCommerce dropshipping is even easier these days. Platforms, such as Modalyst, provide the marketplace and management tools necessary to pull it off.
Getting dropshipping to work for your business still requires a lot of effort. To stand out in this growing marketplace, you may need to put an extra emphasis on marketing and promotional efforts. To get the attention of potential shoppers, it’s a good idea to venture into more niche products, and steer away from markets overcrowded with merchants.
Making a living off dropshipping products requires you to do your research and learn how to choose products to dropship. Knowing what you’re up against will help you make the right decisions, whether you are starting out or looking to expand your business.
4 things to consider before you start dropshipping:
01. How to Decide What to Sell
The biggest question for anyone learning how to start a business or an online store is what products to sell. And with good reason, there is definitely a lot to take in to consideration.
Keep price points and profit margins in mind
The leading guideline in retail is profitability. When looking into potential products, think your profit margin. Often cheaper items will have a very slim profit margin, but they may be sold in large quantities. The opposite is true for pricier products.
Expensive products also involve higher costs. As the price tag goes up, so does the need to pay extra attention to customer support. Shoppers are more hesitant to purchase pricier items, making trust and professionalism critical. Marketing costs per item also tend to go up for higher range products.
Try to figure out how much you might be able to sell, and how much profit could be made on a single product. You may find that selling just a few expensive gadgets a month may be more profitable than selling hundreds of funny keychains.
Invest in repeat business
A good place to start, is thinking of products that people buy over and over again. Building up a repeat customer base is a great way to create a reliable income.
These are products we all know, but often take for granted. Prime examples include hygiene products, party supplies and food products. Get creative with it and find an industry which will provide repeat business.
Sell what you love
The products you’ll end up selling in your online store will become part of your daily experience. With that in mind, look to yourself for inspiration. Industries you’re passionate about and products you like will keep you positively engaged with your business.
Additionally, by selling products you’re interested in, you can become a reliable source of information for potential customers. If no one knows more than you about a certain product, use it to your advantage!
Take note of trends
Unless you’re a true retail guru, it’s pretty difficult to know what will sell and what won’t. To get an accurate understanding of the market, keep an eye out on social media. Look at what products are trending, what people are Tweeting about and what’s blowing up on TikTok.
Gaining insight through social media is invaluable. Those with a keen eye for business will be able to predict the next big thing and beat the crowds to it.
Consider how shipping may affect the product
Dropshipping is a global game. It’s crucial to make sure the products you sell make it to their destination in one, undented, unchipped and unwarped piece. For a newer business, even a single bad review can do irreparable damage.
Look into niche products
Niche products are especially recommended for those trying to break into eCommerce. Focusing on specialized products for a specific crowd can help gain traction, without having to compete with larger established businesses.
Products with a smaller customer base often have more passionate followings. By selling these products you can really become a hit with a specific crowd, simply by being aware of what they really want.
Know your local markets
What may be considered a low-end product in the U.S., may be too pricy for a developing market.
That doesn’t mean you should invest strictly in developed countries. In fact, the opposite is often true. Developing markets tend to be less saturated and usually have lower operational expenses, such as on marketing.
Wherever you choose to dropship, keep in mind the local economy and trends. Research is the key to success.
Product categories to avoid
There are endless possibilities for what products to dropship, but not all of them are right for a new or small business.
It’s all about the size of the market in relation to the amount of competition. Trying to break into an industry with well established brands is extremely difficult.
Some products are so classic and that their markets are oversaturated. Trying to break into these industries is usually not a worthwhile endeavor for a newer dropshipping business.
These products include some of the most obvious choices. Clothing, for example, may sound like good business. Everyone needs clothes, right? But selling fashion items can get tricky. Most products will only hold relevance for a small slice of the market, according to gender, size and personal taste, requiring you to carry a large product line.
Jewelry suffers similar problems. The variety is huge, so finding exactly the right customer for your products isn’t simple.
Additional products to be wary of include electronics and books. Most electronic gear will require technical support and be subject to regional constraints. While books may be easier to handle, they are dependent on region. The sheer variety of options can overwhelm a smaller retailer.
02. Dropshipping Platforms
Dropshipping removes the need to manage storage and inventory. But in order to pull it off effectively you need trustworthy suppliers. In a global online retail market, this may sound harder than it actually is.
Platforms like Modalyst have you covered on this front. They allow you to find products to sell through your store, connect with dropshipping suppliers and automate the day to day processes of product sourcing and shipping fulfillments.
These platforms are especially useful for newer or smaller eCommerce businesses. You can get started by browsing through millions of available products. The variety can be overwhelming, so it’s best to go through the process of figuring out what’s right for your eCommerce store.
If you’re still brainstorming product ideas, you can use these large marketplaces to scout for the type of product you’re after. Many platforms will break it down into name brands, indie brands and currently trending items.
At their core, dropshipping platforms are there to connect merchants with suppliers. Suppliers are vetted and must adhere to the platform’s rules, ensuring minimal complications when it comes to actually delivering goods to the customers.
Modalyst can fully integrate with eCommerce platforms. Connecting the two lets you to automatically upload photos, descriptions and prices for your product pages.
03. Dropshipping Tips and Best Practices
Pricing has a major impact
The first thing shoppers look at once they find a product they want is the price tag. The price can say a lot about a product, and it’s important to keep that in mind.
Lower prices mean lower quality. This is true on both ends, for shoppers browsing your store, and for merchants browsing potential products to carry. Selling a $10 watch or a $500 watch is an entirely different business.
There’s a lot of variability in eCommerce and merchants should experiment with different price ranges and how much they choose to markup products. For instance, ABLS found the pricing sweet spot to be $75-$150. Products in this range can provide a great profit margin with manageable quantities.
Good suppliers are key
One of the biggest concerns potential dropshippers have is the reliability of suppliers. At the end of the day, when a customer purchases a product from your store, you are responsible. Any shipping delays, mislabeled products or unfulfilled orders will require your attention and customer service.
Before setting up a work relationship with a new supplier, check out their reviews and response rates. If you can, try to find other merchants working with the same supplier and see if they have encountered any problems.
Best practice for any business is to maintain a close relationship with wholesalers.This will give you a better understanding of your supplier’s business, as well as foster a sense of commitment for both sides.
Carry a variety of products
Putting all your eggs in one basket is never a good idea.
Succeeding with one specific product is possible, but very unlikely. To ensure a steady stream of business, carrying a mix of products, at different price ranges, can be very helpful. Eventually, your catalog can be cut down to the best performing products.
Similar to other B2C businesses, an eCommerce business should define its buyer personas. These are “molds” of the shoppers you’re trying to attract. Use personas to your advantage when building your product catalog. Coming up with a strategic mix of items that will suit one specific persona can ensure that type of shopper will choose your brand.
04. Trending Products to Dropship
Need a little inspiration? Here are some trending products to kick off your brainstorming:
Men’s hygiene products are a rapidly growing industry, much like facial hair itself.
These products are mostly made of essential oils and vitamins, making them relatively inexpensive to produce.
Facial hair products are geared towards younger, fashionable males. This is a great industry to utilize influencer marketing. Much of your target audience is found on social media, many of which would love to partner up with a cool brand.
Plus, as a consumable item, beard oil makes a great product for repeat business.
Solar Charger and Adapters
Solar energy is big business. But it is no longer reserved for powering homes or cars. More and more, people are looking to harness the sun for smaller things.
Tap into this trend with solar chargers and adapters. Easily dropshipped at a relatively low price point, solar power can really boost your online sales.
Enamel pins are an efficient way to tap into the large pool of spontaneous purchases online shoppers make.
These little fashion statements come in endless designs, letting shoppers showcase what they love most.
Their huge variety and small dimensions make them great gifts as well. The cheap price tag comes with a large conversion rate. They’re also small and easily shipped.
Puppy Care Products
Pet care products are a great niche to specialize in. Satisfied customers are bound to return and there is a very wide variety of products you can carry.
Though these products are easily and cheaply produced, they tend to be seen as high-end. This means they are widely available for dropshipping with relatively high markups.
Pampering your furry family member is no longer taboo. These days, everyone uses specialty pet care products.
Drones definitely sound like luxury items. But in fact, basic drone cameras can be found for as low as $100.
With really high-quality cameras, these drones make amazing gifts. The price point on these products does position many of them a bit above the sweet spot. But seeing as the technology still maintains its high-end perception and hasn’t fully blown up with the majority of people, the timing is just right.
Do Your Own Research
Deciding which products to sell requires you to factor in many details. Every business is different and the hottest trending products may not be the answer to yours.
The key to finding what works best for your business is by doing your own research. Look into and experiment with every aspect of the dropshipping chain, from product trends and pricing tactics to local markets and suppliers.
How to choose products to dropship FAQ
What products are most successful to dropship?
There are many different products that can be successful with dropshipping. Some of the most popular product categories include clothing and accessories, electronics, home and garden, pet supplies and health and beauty.
Can I dropship any product?
Not all products are suitable for dropshipping. Some products are difficult to ship, or they have high shipping costs. Other products may be subject to copyright or trademark restrictions, which means that you may not be able to dropship them without permission from the copyright or trademark holder.
Can you dropship any brand you want?
No, not all brands allow dropshipping. Some brands have strict policies against dropshipping, and they may take legal action against you if you dropship their products without their permission.
What is the most profitable dropshipping niche?
The most profitable dropshipping niche is the one that you are most passionate about and that you have the most knowledge about. If you are passionate about a particular niche, you will be more likely to do the research necessary to find successful products and to market those products effectively. You will also be more likely to provide excellent customer service, which is essential for any successful dropshipping business.
Head of Product, Wix eCommerce
Tamar has spent over a decade in product leadership with dynamic B2C companies, and is an established innovator in the field of eCommerce. As the head of product for Wix eCommerce, Tamar builds the tools that enable over 700k online stores worldwide.