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How to get started with private label dropshipping in 5 steps

private label dropshipping

If you're thinking about starting an eCommerce business or beefing up your product catalog but aren’t sure where to start, private label dropshipping could be the perfect option for you.

Known as an inexpensive way to sell your own branded products, private label dropshipping can open up a world of possibilities for your business. Keep reading to learn the basics of this business model, plus tips for setting yourself up for success when building a business.

What is private label dropshipping?

Dropshipping, in a nutshell, is a retail business model in which a third-party supplier handles manufacturing, storage, and fulfillment for you. You’re simply responsible for making the sale. Once an order comes in, you forward the order details to your supplier, who then ships the product directly to your customer. If you're a business dropshipping to another business, then you're involved in B2B dropshipping.

Private label dropshipping takes this concept a step further by allowing you to customize and brand products with your own logo, colors, and more. It might also be referred to as branded dropshipping.

Under this model, you still reap the benefits of dropshipping, but get the added advantage of selling products that are unique to your brand.

Examples of products that are well-suited for private label dropshipping include:

  • Popular consumer items, like water bottles and smartphone cases

  • Handcrafted and artisanal products, like candles, jewelry, and soap

  • Personalized gifts, like mugs and t-shirts with custom designs or messages

  • Customized/unique items, like skateboards, hand-painted surfboards, and custom-built bird feeders

  • Pet supplies, like toys, food, treats, and accessories (pet dropshipping is a popular category in particular)

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How to get started with private label dropshipping

The beauty of dropshipping is that you don't need a lot of capital or resources to start. However, if you want to build a brand that consumers love, you need to be strategic about the products you choose and the suppliers you work with. Here are a few tips for getting started.

01. Create your brand identity

Developing your brand identity should be your first step in setting up your business. Aside from creating products that are nice to look at, you’ll want to make sure that your private labeled items match your overall brand aesthetic.

Get familiar with the elements of a strong eCommerce branding strategy (see our guide on what is eCommerce). These elements go far beyond the visual aspects of your brand and include your values, mission, and other factors that inspire your aesthetic.

It’s also worth noting that product branding is different from corporate branding. The former becomes more relevant if you’re looking to distinguish a certain set of products from the rest of your catalog.

From here, take the time to establish branding guidelines, complete with details like brand colors, fonts, imagery, proper logo usage, and more. If you don’t yet have a logo, use Wix’s free logo maker for inspiration. Or, tap a professional designer from the Wix Marketplace for help.

private label dropshipping guide, create a logo

02. Choose a popular or niche product type

Start your research by studying the best dropshipping products to sell. Popular items include t-shirts, hats, and water bottles—products that are easy to customize and rarely fall out of demand (though dropshipping gives you the flexibility to test trendy products more easily than usual).

By researching popular products, you can start to dissect the market and identify potential business opportunities. Hone in on a niche product that you think will resonate with your target audience. Niche products are not only great for keeping your messaging tight and well-targeted, but they also lend to more unique products to remember your brand by.

03. Carefully vet your suppliers

When you are learning how to start a business, you discover how crucial it is to research your suppliers. Given how much responsibility you place into your supplier’s hands, it’s important to vet your dropshippers thoroughly. Among the many questions you should ask, make sure to ask candidates:

  • What are your average processing and delivery times?

  • What kind of packaging do you use?

  • Do you require a minimum order quantity?

  • How do you handle returns and refunds?

  • What happens if a shipment gets lost or is defective?

  • What are the product specs (size, material, variations, etc.)?

Always ask for a sample, and test the overall experience from your customer’s point of view. Did your supplier deliver on their promises in terms of quality and delivery speed? Is the packaging up to snuff with your standards? You may even want to order multiple samples to ensure that quality is consistent.

There are various print on demand companies and dropshipping marketplaces that can help you locate suppliers with private label services.

You can additionally reach out directly to a manufacturer and ask if they're open to private label dropshipping. For example, Ella B. Candles offers a white label program, enabling sellers to customize their candles using a variety of scents, sizes, and designs.

how-to guide to private label service

04. Set up your store

Once you've identified the products you want to sell, it's time to set up your eCommerce store.

Wix provides everything you need to get started including custom-designed themes, a secure checkout system, built-in marketing tools, and much more. The platform also integrates with many dropshipping and print-on-demand platforms, so you can easily connect your online store to the products you've sourced.

Learn more about Wix for eCommerce and explore eCommerce website templates.

As you build out your store, make sure to:

  • Keep your branding consistent across all of your site pages

  • Write unique product descriptions for your products, as opposed to simply copy-and-pasting descriptions that your suppliers provide

  • Tell a strong brand story that builds an emotional connection with your products

  • Offer a variety of payment options via Wix Payments 

05. Test and iterate

Finally, private label dropshipping allows you to test out new product ideas and to measure customer response before investing in a full inventory. You have more freedom to try various product types and designs without the risk of developing a completely new product on your own.

Ask for feedback. Measure customer satisfaction. As you gather feedback, use it to refine and improve your products.

Additionally, consider ways to expand the reach of your products, such as selling on multiple sales channels (think: Amazon or eBay) and promoting your products through ads or email marketing. It’s possible for buyers on one channel to gravitate towards your product more than buyers on another—or for you to tap into a new market through your product.

Not to mention that sometimes, all it takes is a simple tweak to your pricing, messaging, or targeting to move the needle.

Benefits of private label versus standard dropshipping

Private labeling allows you to differentiate yourself from the competition. Together with dropshipping, it gives you the opportunity to test product ideas and measure customer response before fully investing in a new item or category. Other benefits include:

  • Higher profit margins: Set your own pricing without having to compete directly with retailers who have access to the same exact products and suppliers as you. You can charge more for your items, since the customizations you create are only available at your store.

  • Full control over your brand image: Elevate your brand through your product design, features, and logo. (This is your chance to create a “Nike Swoosh” moment.)

  • Lower overheads: Dropshipping requires less upfront investment than other types of business manufacturing. This makes it easier to get started with a new business idea or special (think: custom or seasonal) products through an existing store.

  • Scale quickly: Add new items, variations, or entire product lines faster and more frequently. As with any dropshipping model, private label dropshipping means you don’t need additional storage for new inventory and don’t have to hire additional staff to process orders.

Don’t just build a product—build a brand

With careful research and planning, private label dropshipping can be an effective way to build a successful brand. Just remember to take your time, identify the right products and suppliers, and put in the effort to create buzz around your products.

Private label dropshipping FAQ

Why private label dropshipping instead of regular dropshipping?

Private label dropshipping is a business model where you create your own brand for the products you sell. This gives you more control over the products you sell, and it allows you to build a stronger brand identity.

Regular dropshipping is a business model where you sell products that are already created by other brands. This means that you have less control over the products you sell, and it can be more difficult to build a strong brand identity.

Is it hard to get into the dropshipping business?

How profitable is dropshipping?

Other dropshipping ideas and products to consider

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