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Dropshipping for Students – Starting a Business from College
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Aleksandra -
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Chief of Content Marketing
Aleksandra teaches marketing and management at various levels in High School. She writes about marketing, the economics and logistics of the dropshipping business and ecommerce in general.
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Chief of Content Marketing
17 minutes

Dropshipping for students is a good business idea because you don’t need a physical store or much capital. When a customer places an order at your online store, your dropshipping supplier will deliver the product to the customer.

The customer will pay you for the product when they place an order. The supplier handles the storage and shipping. Your expenses are less than what you would pay if you had to handle this on your own.

You make money by charging customers more for products than what you pay your supplier. Dropshippers tend to earn about 20 to 30% of the profit from each sale. 

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Learn About Dropshipping Business

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In the university environment, students actively acquire new knowledge, among which the concept of dropshipping has become popular.

Dropshipping for students is an effective business model that enables entrepreneurs to sell goods without having them in stock, instead receiving them directly from the supplier to the customer.

With dropshipping education, students gain valuable experience in marketing classes or through additional courses.

At times, students require assistance from professionals to better understand the complexities of the dropshipping business.

Hence, they can utilize online services for more dropshipping education. So, helpful blogs, and videos are always available and they can also check problem solution essay examples for additional help. These resources hold the key in gaining more knowledge and being successful.

Moreover, learning about dropshipping requires some research. It is very important for the success of your business to find the right products and the right supplier.

As a college student you may want to find products you know your college community would like to buy.

You will also need to research your competitors to see what they are doing and what you can do better.

Doing all this research can take considerable time and effort. Hence, you will need to learn how to manage your time and you may have to rely on some outside help if you want to keep up with your academic responsibilities.

However, let me give you my ways of dropshipping, which is more than enough to start dropshipping for students.  

👉 Learn How To Start A Business With No Ideas + Top Picks For 2024.

Find The Right Niche

Next in our dropshipping education guide is the niche. A niche caters to a group of people within a specific market segment. In dropshipping for students, it is important to find a niche that isn’t saturated but still has enough demand for you to be successful.

Finding the right niche helps you to target your efforts so you can reach the right audience with the right products.

Carving out a really specific niche can help to set your business apart. There are a number of tools you can use to find out how much demand there is for specific products. 

  • Meta Audience Insights helps you to find trends and niche markets. 
  • Google Keyword Planner allows you to type in a keyword or phrase and find out how many people search for it each month. 
  • Google Trends is helpful for getting detailed insights such as search trends over time.  
  • Studying online marketplaces like Amazon can also help you to identify best-selling products. The Amazon Movers and Shakers page may give you some good ideas. 

Here”s how I do it.

Firstly, I use Google Trends to check on product demand and interest over time. Hence, I use the keyword to check it out. So, let’s try this for my next business idea about dropshipping candles.

Next, I dig deeper. So, I use Semrush to check on products’ keyword difficulty. So, if the keyword difficulty is low, so it is the competition. 👇

Lastly, I use product research tools like Minea to check on products’ sales, profitability, customer engagement, costs, suppliers, etc.

Top tip: Shoppers appear to be less price-sensitive when shopping for accessories than for original products. This means your profit margins will be higher as you can put a good markup on products. For example, mountain bikers may spend a fortune on lightweight accessories to reduce frame weight. 

Competitor Research

Competitor research can help you to validate your ideas. You can see whether there’s a gap in the market and whether it’s worth getting into a certain niche or not. Check what ads your competition is running.

You may see that a competitor is running a poor ad and know that you can do a better job. Find item prices on their websites and check whether you can make a better sales funnel than them.

Do you have upsell or cross-sell ideas that they aren’t implementing? You may have a supplier that offers better quality items than them or maybe you can organize shorter shipping times than them. 

As an example, I utilize SpyFu to gather information about my competitors.

This tool enables me to effortlessly monitor the performance of specific keywords and promptly discern my online rivals.

Furthermore, it streamlines the process of examining PPC campaigns and furnishes comprehensive details about the backlinks employed by competitors. 👇

Moreover, ShopHunter also stands as a robust tool for tracking competitor sales and conducting product research.

It empowers you to glean valuable insights into your rivals’ stores, aiding you in making well-informed decisions for your dropshipping business. 👇

And, I must say, I am amazed by ImortYeti. This tool goes even deeper. Hence, I can check on my competitor’s suppliers for free, and see with whom they actually do business.

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Find a Reliable Supplier 

Success dropshipping for students will depend a great deal on your supplier. Learning about dropshipping is a continuous process, especially the part where you need to find suppliers.

It is important to find a reliable supplier who can offer you quality products at reasonable prices.

Wholesale suppliers you may want to find out more about include Alibaba, Oberlo, AliExpress, or SaleHoo.

Oberlo is the leading platform with a market share of 31.5%. It’s ideal to find a number of suppliers you would like to work with and message them because they won’t all message you back. 

However, I personally use Dropshipping.com supplier directory. Dropshipping.com boasts an extensive supplier directory comprising 2000+ dropshipping suppliers. 👇

You have the flexibility to categorize suppliers according to various criteria, including category, niche, or filters such as shipping costs, location, and product costs. Not only that, but you also get valuable information about each supplier and their product costs, MOQs, processing times, etc.

However, if you want to choose wisley while learning about dropshipping for students, here’s what to pay attention to:

1. Product quality  

Ordering product samples from a supplier will carry a cost but it’s worthwhile to check the quality of the products. A product should work for its intended purpose, have no dents or other flaws, and have proper packaging. It is better to sell a single product of high quality than many inferior products.

If the product quality is good, you can go on to find out more about other details. For example, you may want to find out if a supplier does any custom branding. 

2. Shipping standards

The time it takes from when a customer places an order to when a product gets to them is very important. You will be competing with many other companies with good shipping times.

Customers want to receive their products in as quick a time as possible. Make sure you choose a supplier with a reasonable shipping timeframe and make sure that shipments are ensured. 

3. Location of the warehouse

It’s helpful to choose a supplier with a warehouse located in the same country as the destination of the order. For example, it doesn’t help to have your products in a warehouse in China if your customers are in the U.S. Many suppliers do have warehouses located in the U.S.

4. Prices

As a dropshipper, you will have to compete against many other retailers and a key factor in gaining customers is the prices you offer. Suppliers’ prices and any discounts they offer could influence your choice.  

5. Minimum orders and return policies

You will need to find out about a supplier’s minimum order quantities and return policies. You need to prepare for situations such as when a supplier sends the wrong item or an item is broken.

An item could also get lost in transit or go to the wrong address. You are liable for this in the eyes of the customer. If you have a supplier that isn’t willing to accept returns or give refunds, this will have to come out of your pocket.   

Build Your Online Store

What business category is dropshipping? It is an e-commerce, retail model. Dropshipping for students means that you will need an online store.

You can build your online store easily with the step-by-step instructions that a platform like Shopify provides.

Shopify is an all-in-one solution to help you start, run, and grow your online store. Shopify sellers are likely to have more than 700 million buyers in 2024. It has 4.8 million live online stores as of January 2024.

Moreover, featuring a user-friendly interface, a diverse array of visually appealing themes (available in both paid and free options), and customizable features, Shopify provides a streamlined experience for store creation and modification. 👇

The drag-and-drop editor facilitates easy design adjustments. Additionally, Shopify seamlessly integrates with dropshipping apps, automating various aspects of the supply chain process.

Dropshipping education from experts says that You only have a few seconds to grab the attention of viewers who visit your store. You can choose a free theme that suits your niche and customize it.

💡 Tip: Learn How To Set Up Your First Store On Shopify [No.1 Beginners Guide].

However, keep in mind that your store should look clean and uncluttered. It’s important to focus attention on your landing page funnels as these are what will actually drive product sales.

You want to give visitors a great experience as they scroll through testimonials, see product features, and more.

👉 Check out the 15 Most Successful Shopify Dropshipping Store Examples.

Your images should help a customer to picture how they can use a product.   

Market Your Online Store

There are two ways you can market – organically or with paid ads. Organic marketing will always take longer but you can reduce the risks of using too much capital on ads.

Hence, you can also consider starting a blog to drive traffic to your store.

Organic marketing involves creating engaging content that will resonate with your target audience. Moreover, working together with social media influencers can help to drive traffic to your store.

Dropshipping stores with at least one social media account usually generate 32% higher revenue

Also, an effective way to market your online store is on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest

Furthermore, if you run paid ads you can accelerate the growth of your online store and track the results.

You may be scared to use paid advertising because you have to spend money but you shouldn’t be. However, driving sales often comes down to effectively driving highly targeted paid ads. 

For example, Facebook ads are great for targeting audience, based on numerous factors like demographics, interest, platforms they use, and more. 👇

Provide Excellent Customer Service

When it comes to dropshipping for students education, this one is as important as it can be and holds a key place in our dropshipping education guide.

When learning about dropshipping, always keep in mind that providing excellent customer service can help you to make a name for your dropshipping business.

You shouldn’t let more than 24 hours pass before you respond to customers. Not all customers are difficult but they can become so when you ignore them.

The quality of your service will depend on many different factors. This will include the quality of your products and the kind of shopping experience you provide.  

  • A detailed FAQ page can ensure you set clear expectations for customers. This page can inform them about shipping times, return and refund policies, etc. 
  • Providing customers with a series of short videos can help to inform your customers about the buying process and your policies.
  • Using tools such as FAQs and chatbots can help you to give customers quick, consistent answers.   

You should provide timely updates to your customers regarding the status of their orders. Honesty and transparency if there are issues like shipping delays can help to reduce any frustration and confusion. Try to resolve any issues and complaints quickly and effectively.   

So, here’s my advice for dropshipping students.

For example, if you have no idea about what to include in your FAQ section, you can ask ChatGPT for help using good prompts. Check this out. 👇

Furthermore, Tidio is a great tool for chatbots. It  can help you easily communicate with visitors and answer all of their questions. 

Also, it enables you to craft a personalized eCommerce chatbot starting from the ground up, or alternatively, you can opt for one of the numerous ready-made chatbot templates. 👇

Plus, it integrates your chats over various channels like Facebook, Instagram, What’s up, email, etc.

Ask For Customer Feedback

Potential customers want to read positive reviews before they buy your products. You can ask customers to rate and review your products after they receive their orders. Reviews and testimonials provide social proof of your trustworthiness.

Incentivizing customers to leave reviews can help. This may be anything from a small discount to a free sample or loyalty points. Hence, good reviews will help you to attract new customers. 

In fact, customer reviews can even make or break your dropshipping business because customers listen to other customers.

Let’s put it this way- when I go to marketplaces like Amazon, and I’m looking to buy something specific, my first thing is to look at the pictures and read about the product.

Then, I always make sure to check what other people have said about it in the customer reviews. Those reviews are really important because they tell you what other buyers liked or didn’t like. Yep, I go right to that part!

Your own customers do the same thing – they want to know what others think before they buy something.

Here’s an idea. You can encourage customers to leave feedback, and than use it as testimonial ads. For example, I am amazed by Startup Institute get use of that. Thus, they make these customer testimonials look like “love letters”. 👇

Monitor And Optimize

It’s vital to continually monitor the performance of your store. A dropshipping university will usually cover a wide range of different subjects, including how to monitor and optimize the performance of your online store.

You can improve performance if you keep making adjustments based on data insights.

This will help you to optimize your sales funnels, product videos, and more. If you want to scale your dropshipping business, you will need to constantly find and test new products.      

Challenges You May Encounter   

Today there’s too much competition for you to just pick a generic niche and automatically start generating sales. Dropshipping for students requires lot of hard work to overcome the competition-specific challenges.

If you don’t have the right products you will find it very difficult to get sales. You have to ask yourself whether a product is genuinely solving a problem. If you’re not making sales, it could be that you don’t have a good enough product. 

When learning how to become a dropshipper you will have to do a lot of testing. Learning how to set up and run your own store can be challenging. You will have to test different elements to find what works best

For example, let’s consider an example of A/B testing for your dropshipping products:

Scenario: You are running an online store and want to optimize the product page for a specific item you sell. The product in question is a smartwatch.

A/B Test Hypothesis: You want to test whether changing the product description on the product page will impact the conversion rate.

A/B Test Setup:

  1. Control Group (A): Keep the original product description that you’ve been using.
  2. Variation Group (B): Create a new product description with different wording, highlighting additional features, and perhaps adding customer testimonials.

Metrics to Measure:

  • Conversion Rate: The percentage of visitors who make a purchase.

Implementation:

  1. Duration: Run the A/B test for a set period, such as two weeks, to ensure a representative sample of your audience.
  2. Traffic Split: Randomly direct 50% of your product page traffic to the original (A) and 50% to the variation (B).

Analysis: After the test period, compare the conversion rates of the control group (A) and the variation group (B). If there’s a significant difference in favor of one variant, you can conclude that the changes made to the product description influenced the conversion rate.

Example Results:

  • Control Group (A): Conversion Rate = 3%
  • Variation Group (B): Conversion Rate = 5%

In this scenario, the new product description in Group B led to a higher conversion rate. Therefore, you might consider updating the product description on your live site based on the positive results from the A/B test.

Remember, A/B testing is an iterative process, and you can continue experimenting with different elements like images, pricing, or call-to-action buttons to optimize your dropshipping product pages further.

Furthermore,  you don’t have full control over storage and shipping. So, working with suppliers can be a challenge and good communication with them is essential.  

However, for these purpose I use all-in-one ecommerce platforms as AutoDS where I can track every aspect of my dropshipping business, including, inventory, orders, tracking, shipping, etc. 👇

Deciding on the right prices for your products is another challenge. Hence, competition is high and high competition leads to a reduction in profit margins.

If you set your prices too low your profit margins may not be high enough for you to be successful. If your prices are too high, it may deter buyers who can find a similar product elsewhere at a lower cost. 

Building Trust And Loyalty

If you want your online dropshipping store to be successful over the long term, you need to gain the trust and loyalty of your customers.

It helps if you create a strong brand identity that resonates with them. Providing them with value-added services, such as discounts, coupons, and rewards can encourage their loyalty. 

For example, using the 60 Seconds App, you have the ability to establish predetermined discounts, creating a space for eager customers with a strong intent to purchase. 👇

You maintain complete control as you decide the limits within which customers can set prices and discounts for your products. Additionally, you can seamlessly integrate this app as a plugin into your website.

👉 Learn about Branded Dropshipping: Best Tactics For Building A Strong Brand?

Also, communication with your customers through engaging with them on social media or through email newsletters helps to build your relationship with them.

For example, I am using Firepush, which is amazing tool for sending email newsletter. Moreover, Firepush is an excellent email automation system designed for both marketing and transactional emails. 👇

With it, you can effortlessly send updates about payments, orders, and deliveries.

Learning about dropshipping involves finding ways to reward customers who make referrals or buy from you over and over.

As you get to know them better, you have the information to start personalizing your communication with them. 

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Conclusion

As a student, you can start a dropshipping business without taking too many risks. You don’t need too much capital or a physical store in dropshipping for students. With the right products and a reliable supplier, you have every chance of being successful.

You will also need to work on your relationship with your customers and make sure you provide them with great service. If you offer quality products at a reasonable price, and your customers feel valued, you have the foundation for a successful business.

About the Author

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Aleksandra Miteva
Aleksandra teaches marketing and management at various levels in High School. She writes about marketing, the economics and logistics of the dropshipping business and ecommerce in general.