3-Year Entrepreneurial Journey: Otto Shares His Dropshipping Progress!
What can happen to a dropshipping business over the course of time? Today, we’re talking to Otto – a dropshipping store owner who gave us an interview 2 years ago. Let’s see what’s happened to him and his business since then!
Disclaimer: all the success stories published in AliDropship blog are the results of interviews conducted in the written form. Even though the editors may make some minor changes to the grammar, spelling, and/or punctuation, the respondents’ writing styles, views, opinions, stores screenshots and personal photos are left unchanged.
Hi! Please, introduce yourself to our readers who don’t know anything about your entrepreneurial journey yet.
Hi, my name is Otto and I live in the Baltic states.
I run my stores as a one-man-company from home. I’ve been into dropshipping for almost 3 years by now and still love working for myself. I have a bachelor’s degree in business and had previous experience in eCommerce from my previous job before starting.
I like fitness, traveling, but I have also been spending time with computer a lot since I was a teenager.
How has your life changed since the first interview you gave us?
Life has changed a lot, I feel more confident about being able to provide myself with the income. I’ve been through the ups and downs in these 3 years but I still see opportunities and want to test new things.
I am financially in better shape then I was when I had a job working for somebody else. Compared to my first “understanding” of dropshipping business after reading Yaros’s threads, the business seemed a bit harder at first. But over time, when you learn new things, it gets better. And when you start to see results, you can say that yes – it met my expectations and exceeded them.
Which solutions do you use now to power your dropshipping business?
I run my stores on original AliDropship plugin (not WOO) and use most of the add-ons available. Also, I moved my hosting to AliDropship a while ago. AliDropship plugin is great and takes away a lot of manual work.
Also – Social Rabbit. I use it on all my stores!
How many stores do you have now? What is their performance?
I have 4 stores, from which 2 are not active. These 2 inactive shops were only made for testing the niches out. After realizing the results are not good, I haven’t done anything more with them.
From the 2 active ones, one shop is doing great and providing most of the income, while the other is making a little on the side.
Here are the results for this year for the best shop:
In your experience, what’s the best strategy of choosing products and suppliers for your business?
I always start with searching for the niche term wording and looking at best selling products.
If an item has a lot of orders and rating is 4.4+, I add it to the store. That’s the start.
After this, when orders start coming in, I check which suppliers I am mostly buying from. If there is any shop that I am buying a lot from, I try to get their Skype/Wechat/WhatsApp and discuss how to get discounts, etc. Then, I start adding more products to my store from that specific supplier.
It’s a good thing to ask the sellers from time to time – “Hey, which are the recent best selling/new items in your store?”
Which pricing strategy works best for you?
Product price + shipping price (ePacket to USA) x 2-2.5.
I actually set prices manually. It might be a waste of time, but I like doing it.
How do you promote your stores and research your target audience?
I mostly advertise on Instagram: there, I make shoutouts and spend a lot on them. I search people by hashtags or just names.
On Facebook, I do retargeting thanks to the Facebook Business addon. A great thing about Facebook is that you have even more options to target your audience precisely. On average, I spend around $2,000 on advertising per month.
Do you research your competitors?
I do. I look up what they sell, how they promote, how engaged is their audience and so on. It’s always good to generate your own (hopefully better) ideas out of competition.
I think I just advertise enough to get audience from them and provide good customer service to keep them and let the word spread.
Do you have any funny/sad customer stories?
There’s been many interesting stories, here is one of them.
A customer ordered for ~200$ and later she informed me that she didn’t intend to order one of the 3 items in the order. But she did a chargeback for the whole order and she won. So I lost the whole 200$ (100$ in product cost for me). I told her to cancel the chargeback to which she replied she will. She didn’t.
But after a few months, out of nowhere, she contacted me again and paid me back for the two items she actually wanted and returned the item she didn’t want 🙂
Did you have any legal/customs/tax/payment issues during your entrepreneurial journey?
I did not have a credit card payment option for my company until the last few days because none of the providers accepted me. Now I do and it motivates me to open new stores.
Regarding tax or legal issues – no. I have an accountant for doing the yearly report.
What are the most important things you’ve learned over the course of your entrepreneurial journey?
The shop never gets totally ready. The job never gets fully completed. There is no vacation in your mind.
But you just have to comply with the stress and set your own pace and goals. Always keep improving!
If you could have started the business all over again, what would you made differently?
I would perhaps have worked even harder in the beginning. It’s so easy to fall in the ‘cozy’ zone.
What are your plans for the future?
I am thinking about opening new stores and trying out new strategies without such a big ad budget.