One of the questions I get asked a lot these days, is 'James, should I buy a DropShipping store from a marketplace that someone else has made?'. And that got me thinking.
You have to start from scratch with importing products, finding images, creating the product descriptions and even making the overall site look good.
Some readers have messaged me asking if purchasing a pre-built store from marketplaces like Flippa or even the Shopify Marketplace is a good idea and I wanted to say why I believe it can actually be dangerous.
Now these are stores that someone else has created, themselves and are not custom built stores, that have been built for you (there is a difference!)
How True Are The Stats
These days, this kind of thing is not such a problem, as a lot of sites ensure that you verify the total amount sold, profit/loss and number of visitors before they can post up, but you can still be caught out.
People who have looked at buying from other websites or marketplace that I won't mention, have been caught out in the past and ended up with a site that receives little to no traffic or the number of items sold/profit is a lot lower than advertised.
Do You Actually Own The Site?
If you are purchasing ready built stores on places such as Shopify or BigCommerce, you don't actually own it.
You may own the domain that you have pushed people too, you may own the products, but you don't own the store.
If you read the terms and conditions, most note that the platform owner retains the right to do whatever they see fit, including closing down or modifying your store.
Supplier Issues - I Speak From Experience
This one sucks.
I actually purchased a store, long before I knew about custom build DropShipping stores.
After I purchased the store, and it's listings, content and images, I started to fulfil orders. Lucky for me the site had some traffic and even had a small social media account (more on that in a second..).
After around 2 or 3 weeks, the suppliers contacted me and told me they could no longer fulfil the orders and they no longer wanted to DropShip.
It took nearly 2 weeks of searching and testing to find new suppliers using Salehoo as my finding tool to get the store back up and running. The problem was that the new suppliers charged more and the quality I found out, was a bit crap.
Are The Products Researched And Profitable?
Many people will create and then try to sell any kind of DropShipping website.
The people behind these have not actually thought about how well the products might sell, the margins, the current trends or even if they are something people care about.
Using a few of the ones found on the Shopify Exchange, it is clear a few have been created, just because someone thought they might be good and haven't spent much time researching.
Anyone can throw up a store and fill it with products, they could even hazard a guess and say that something fitness related could sell, but what specifically within that LARGE niche is worth selling?
What Is Your Competition Like?
Straight off the bat of that, is if the seller, or the company creating your site actually know the niche and the competitors.
There is little point in buying a site that specialises in Garlic Presses, if there are 10 very well built websites all selling high quality garlic presses. It becomes harder to appear in rankings and may mean you end up giving up with your site after only a few weeks or months.
You want places that actually research and see how competitive niches are, you don't really get the chance with marketplaces or people who sell stores that are built in only a few days.
Are The Stores SEO Optimized?
Platforms such as Shopify, do provide you with a semi good level of SEO optimisation, they help with alt text for images, or the correct headers and breadcrumbs, but some sites do not.
Building your store on WordPress or WooCommerce can be a challenge at times, and many people will throw up a store on one of those and then hope for the best.
Without the proper SEO optimisation or even keyword research (Why are people finding your store, what are they searching for etc) these stores can be penalised by Google or Bing and end up never showing up for certain keywords, this is turn will lose you money.
Do You Own Any Social Media Accounts Associated?
As I mentioned above, this has stung me in the past as well.
If you purchase a ready built store, or even a custom built store from less reputable store builders, one of two things could happen.
1. They don't provide you with social media accounts, as such you have to go create your own, link them back to the store and then build them out
2. They do provide you with the social media accounts, but then decide to hijack them a few weeks later or even a few hours later! Yep. That happened.
Is The Whole Thing Automated
If you are buying a site from the Shopify marketplace, then most of the time these sites will use a plugin called Orbelo.
This plugin will allow you to semi quickly add a product too a store, and then order it when someone has purchased it.
Websites that are being sold on Flippa, or are built using other services, do not have this.
They require you to bulk upload your products via CSV or other horrendous data loads.. CHECK with the seller how they have loaded products in the past.
Also check with how they actually process orders, do you have to speak to a supplier via email and then order, as with sites such as Doba actually require you too buy from their website and then manually process the order on your own. Watch out for that.
Why Buying A Custom Store Makes More Sense
Now, buying a custom store, and a pre built store are two different things.
There are companies out there that do offer custom built DropShipping stores, and they don't have to cost an arm and a leg and eliminate a lot of the issues above.
The plugin and stores are built on the WordPress platform, which eliminates the annoying monthly fees that places such as Shopify charge.
AliDropShip do sell stand alone versions of their plugins (this works for WordPress and Woocomerce, with pre built themes, but they also offer a custom build store service).
AliDropShip custom stores offer their buyers;
SEO Friendly Domain Name (.com)
Having a domain name that fits in well with your niche, and looks good in the eyes of the big search engines is key.
AliDropShip know what they are looking for, and know high demand niches that provide long term potential.
Custom Designed For You
You will be given your own custom logo, icons, banners and head images that are inline with your stores look and feel.
As AliDropShip uses the WordPress platform, mobile ready is pretty much done for you. The guys optomise and tweak the themes and your store to ensure it's compatible in this modern age.
Full use of Google Analytics
You will have full control over how well your site is performing with up to date stats on traffic, bounce rate, conversion and the traffic sources, as well as everything else GA provides.
The AliDropShip plugin installed and ready to go
The AliDrop Ship plugin is key, and provides you with the ability to automate your selling, importing and searching for new products, quickly and easily. You can complete orders with just a few clicks of a button! Check out the review to find out more.
Products set up and ready to sell
Your store will come with products all set up and optimised.
Basic - 50 Products ready to sell complete with images, headings, descriptions and pricing
Advanced - 100 Products ready to sell complete with images, headings, descriptions and pricing
Ultimate- 200 Products ready to sell complete with images, headings, descriptions and pricing
These products are based upon your niche store, and are identified as high selling or in demand products.
Payment gateway set up
AliDropship supports PayPal and other companies such as Stipe and PayU. These are set up and ready to go.
AliExpress cashback set up
For those who have read the review, will know you can earn up to 12% cashback on the purchases for your store. That means you are increasing your profit margin, without having to do anything extra.
Social Media Accounts Set up
The basic package comes with a Facebook page set up and ready to go, where as Advanced provides you with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and G+. With the Ultimate offering all that plus a YouTube channel.
All these pages provide your site with social proof as well as providing good signals to increase your rankings!
On-site SEO sorted
These custom built stores come ready optimised, with the correct site pages, meta data and even Google indexing as well as social bookmarking to help increase your natural SEO ranking.
With the Ultimate package, you are also provided with a home page article, that is optimised too your keywords and niche to again pull your site up the rankings quickly!
Promo video and social media tools (Ultimate Package)
For those who are looking at spending a bit more on their custom stores and want to get a head start.
AliDropShip also offer a promo video and social media promo tool.
They will work with you to create the promo video, to let people know about you, your site and the products you sell!
You will also get access too their auto poster, that instantly pushes your products onto Twitter and Instagram, helping you to promote your business and grow your following.
That's All Folks
As you can see, purchasing ready built stores from marketplaces can be a little tricky and sometimes bite you back in the ass.
If you are looking to expand your product store and want to find reliable suppliers to help you grow your DropShipping store, I would recommend checking out Salehoo.
James started The Online Student as a typical blog telling people about his struggles and woes with DropShipping, Amazon FBA and even Affiliate marketing. He then decided that blogging about it all would give people the skills, knowledge and apps to get up and running (while making a little extra on the side). After a few months he realised it was quite lucrative and decided to work his ass off making it a bit more than just a hobby!