Dropshipping has exploded in popularity. eCommerce accounts for more than 16.1% of all retail sales, and more customers are shopping online than ever before. So if you’re considering starting a dropshipping store of your own, you stand a good chance of succeeding.
Here’s what you need to understand: you can’t sell just any dropshipping product and expect it to turn you into an overnight millionaire.
Your products have to fulfill your customers’ needs and desires specifically. If not, they’ll look right past your dropshipping store and support your competitors.
Dropshipping is a simple way to get an eCommerce operation up and running quickly without high costs. Even though you rely on your supplier for much of your operations, you’re still in control of what your business sells.
If you want any kind of longevity—and we’re betting that you do—you have to verify the quality of what you’re selling by testing products before starting your dropshipping business.
You’ve got to make sure everything in your supply chain is top-notch to build a brand, compete with other dropshipping businesses, and create long-term growth opportunities.
In this article, we’ll discuss how you can test dropshipping products to ensure they’re exactly the kind of items you want to sell.
We’d advise you not to rush into selling new products. Even if there’s pressure to be the first on the market with the hottest trending item, you must approach what you sell thoughtfully if you want them to be a winning product.
Although product testing costs money, it’s the best investment you can make in your business.
Testing products is essential if you’re aiming for eCommerce success. Careful product testing will protect your business in three main ways.
If your products aren’t selling, you’re probably burning through cash—not to mention all the time and resources you spent marketing a product.
Dropshippers should never assume a product will sell well just because they think it’s a good product.
Chances are, a low-quality product you haven’t tested will waste time and money and potentially put your business in the red.
Winning products sell themselves. This frees up your time to focus on the more important parts of your business while the sales roll in.
Test multiple products to protect your budget instead of pouring cash into a bottomless pit.
As a business owner, you need to prove your product idea is viable and that potential customers will pay good money for it.
It’s not enough to simply add a product to your Shopify store to test the waters. You’ve got to sell products that solve your customers’ problems or speak to their desires.
The product testing process helps you define your target audience, an essential part of your business strategy.
These people will find your solution the most useful. They’re the buyers who will most likely purchase more products from you and spread the word about your brand within their network—and there’s nothing quite like a bit of word-of-mouth marketing to elevate your business.
Thorough testing helps you get your ideas out there and determine if you will sell profitable products.
Also, don’t take it personally if shoppers don’t choose your idea. Ultimately, dropshipping is about selling products that solve real problems—and product testing helps you do just that.
Dropshipping is great because you can rely on your supplier to store, ship, and fulfill orders.
As you’re so dependent on a dropshipping supplier, you need a way to prove they’re worth their weight in gold before you partner with them.
Product testing helps you weed out any subpar suppliers so you work with excellent businesses from the start.
After all, a supplier’s products might look fine online, but once you see and test them in person, you might realize their quality just isn’t what you’re looking for.
Product testing helps you verify a supplier’s claims before you start selling their products.
If you’re having a hard time choosing between multiple suppliers, you can use the methods we’ll discuss shortly to test their products to vet their quality.
Without product testing, you risk partnering with a bad supplier who can play a significant role in the downfall of your online store.
As we mentioned above, dropshippers should always test products before selling them to customers.
If you aren’t sure how to test your products, follow these five best practices to validate your products without wasting time or money.
You can conduct surface-level audience research by using Google Trends and other tools, but the best way to know if your product will sell is to listen to your potential customers.
Do you have past engagement data on previous products?
Website, eCommerce platform, and social media analytics can help you learn a lot about a product’s potential.
For example, are a lot of shoppers searching for ‘red shoes’ on your site? That means there’s a genuine interest in that type of product.
If there’s already a demand for red shoes, you know which dropshipping products to start testing and stocking.
Think of this as a focus group. Offer your desired audience the new product for free in exchange for honest feedback.
You can ask customers which features they like (or dislike) the most, as well as how much they think the product is worth.
This helps you to source products people actually love and price them appropriately.
💡 Working with Your Testers
There are two crucial steps to follow when working with your small focus group:
Preorders help you prove your concept before you spend thousands on orders from your supplier.
The number of people on a waitlist demonstrates the demand for a product.
If numbers are low, it means you either need to market better or choose a different product.
Identify retailers who are selling similar products to what you’re hoping to stock and find them on social media. Next, look for posts that specifically promote the products you want to sell.
Analyze the engagement on these posts and determine if they’re getting negative or positive comments.
This is a way to test products and determine if they’ll be successful without having to buy anything yourself.
Collecting shopper feedback takes time and a little money, but when hundreds of thousands of dollars are on the line, you owe it to your business to validate every product idea with your audience.
Your minimum viable product (MVP) is the simplest possible version of your product. If you’re working with the supplier on a white-label product, this is an essential way to test the market early without investing money into a bad product.
Do a soft launch selling your MVP to a select group of shoppers.
The key is to offer only a limited number of these products so you keep your order quantities—and costs—at a minimum.
This means you’re able to collect feedback and iterate faster.
Using the same channels you would in your marketing strategy, you can test products and use the results to make informed decisions about what you’re going to stock in your dropshipping store.
Some marketing tactics dropshippers can use to test their products include:
This is an inexpensive and efficient way to test products with a real audience. Simply create a newsletter and send it to your existing subscribers.
Monitor your email marketing platform analytics to see what your click-through rate (CTR) is and how many sales you get on the product.
Even if you don’t make sales, if your analytics show that there is a genuine interest in your product, you’ve got a winner.
Another way to test your products is through a page post engagement (PPE) ad on Facebook.
By using engagement as your campaign objective, Facebook will show your ad to the target audience you set up.
If the audience likes your product, you can expect to see good engagement on the ad through likes, shares, and comments on the post.
PPE ads are typically a lot cheaper than a conversion campaign, so this is a relatively affordable way to test products.
By setting up a Facebook or Instagram page—which is free to do—you can start posting about the dropshipping products you’re testing and gauge the responses.
💡 Start with Your Target Audience in Mind
The most valuable information you can get from any digital channel is how your target audience reacts to the products you’re interested in stocking in your online store.
For this reason, everything you post to social media, and even the graphics you use in your PPE ads, should be appealing to the target audience your products are aimed at.
What are other store owners selling right now? How does your product idea compare?
It’s a good idea to spend some time identifying your competitors and analyzing what they’re selling and how people are responding to these products.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing if other people are selling the same product as you. In fact, it’s quite common in the dropshipping space. But having competitors helps you test your product before you even advertise it on your storefront.
Take a look at how your competitors position the product for their audience. Where are they promoting the product? How are they promoting it?
Before you consider selling a product, this part of the testing phase involves doing a little digging to see how other dropshippers are selling it.
Check their reviews and see if there are any complaints about quality or issues with certain features.
If they’re having a tough time or the product requires a lot of marketing dollars to sell, it might not be a profitable choice for your business.
In theory, you can start dropshipping without ever seeing your products in person. But that would be a huge mistake. Always get your hands on the product to evaluate its quality.
You can ask suppliers to send you a small test order so you can see and experience the products yourself.
Test orders usually come at quite a small fee as suppliers are keen to get you to try out their products in the hopes that you’ll start ordering from them.
Always test your suppliers’ products before selling them in your own eCommerce store.
💡 See Products through the Eyes of Your Customers
When you’re testing products from various suppliers, be sure to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What problems do they have? What trends do they follow? Will this product answer those needs and desires?
You should remain objective when testing products and remember it’s not about what you like, it’s what your target audience likes.
Regardless of the supplier you choose, you should be able to request product samples from them.
Be sure to order from several suppliers so you can compare their responsiveness, shipping, and product quality to find the best option for your shoppers.
These five best practices will help you identify products that people will actually want to buy, creating a more resilient and predictable income for your dropshipping business. Always confirm your product ideas before going all-in.
If you’re new to dropshipping or if you’d like to take your online business to the next level, you need Spark Shipping.
From product integration, intelligent order routing, tracking updates, and synchronized inventory, our intuitive solution lets you completely automate your dropshipping business. This saves you time and hassle and is an investment in the longevity of your business.
Our solution is compatible with platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, Amazon, eBay, and many more. So, there’s nothing stopping you from automating your eCommerce business and turning your dropshipping into mega bucks.
Visit our website to learn more about our solution for dropshippers, and book a demo to see Spark Shipping in action for yourself.