Dropshipping is a super hot topic on any search engine and people all over the world are building online stores at neck break speeds to start an online businesses. It is no different when it comes to dropshipping in South Africa but as always we are trailing behind of the rest of the world, and it is ok.
We are a growing e-commerce economy and new shoppers join the online world every day in South Africa, so this should make you excited to start an online store but to be more specific an online dropshipping store.
South Africa is still a fairly new to the concept but business is business does not matter the concept. It will still take the same amount of investment (time, money and effort) to get your dropshipping business of the ground than it would any other business. I have a dropshipping store/s in South Africa and feel that you need to pay extra attention to your client services. (Later more on this)
If you can handle clients and after sale service is your game then listen up, I will tell you exactly what and where you can go to get started with dropshipping in South Africa.
How to start dropshipping in South Africa
What is dropshipping?
Dropshipping in its simplest form is when you sell someone else’s product for a profit without dealing with inventory and shipping.
The image above illustrates a client shopping from your store, you send the order to the supplier and the supplier completes the order and sends it out to your client.
This is the basic explanation of dropshipping and it is straightforward to understand. However, we are going to discuss in detail the good, bad and off-course the ugly about dropshipping in South Africa that few “gurus” aren’t talking about.
So, why try dropshipping
Well, the answer is simple. It takes minimum financial investment from your side to get a dropshipping business of the ground and what’s even more appealing is that you don’t need any inventory of any products what so ever.
You also don’t have to deal with shipping companies, packaging and all the elements that follows the fulfilment of goods.
No wonder peoples all over the world are flocking to the idea of starting a drop-shipping business. This is just a natural response of being a human being and making money online but in the end, some will make a lot of money and some will fail miserably.
+ It can be super profitable if you line up all your stars!
Many of the followers of this blog and my YouTube channel know I’m a pretty much of a straight shooter and I always like to tell people what are the cons and pros about a specific topic and this post is no different.
Dropshipping in South Africa doesn’t come without it’s own set of problems.
So let’s look at a couple of hard truths one should take care of before starting a dropshipping business.
6 Hard truths about dropshipping in South Africa
1. Insufficent Supply of goods
Because we live in South Afica and businesses are only warming up now to the idea of dropshipping we don’t have a lot going for us when it comes to a wide variety of products to sell.
Sure, we have Dropstore that opened up their doors to make it possible for any person to easily find products to sell. The downside of using Dropstore is that when you do find a particular product you want to sell the quantity are most likely going to be low and that makes it difficult to build a brand or scale.
This however is not a fault of Dropstore, they are just a marketplace for suppliers. The fault lies with the supply.
And I wish suppliers can realize the true potential of this business and how it can skyrocket their business in to the next realm.
So, if you are a supplier of any products and reading this article. Please sign up with Dropstore and add your products with enough quantities so dropshippers like us can sell your products effectively.
2. Shipping times
Yes, shipping can make or break your online store before it even made its first sale. You as a dropshipper must understand clients don’t want to wait forever when it comes to ordering goods online.
Most of the shipping done by suppliers are most likely going to give you a lead time of 1 – 3 days and shipping can take another 5 -7 days!
This can lead to 10 days before a product can reach your client. This is difficult to be competitive especially when it comes to competing with large companies like Takealot with a short shipping time of only 2 – 5 days.
But, there is a workaround. We live in South Africa and most people will understand shipping conditions are not ideal. The main thing here is to make your clients aware about shipping times on your product pages.
This will help with the amount of unhappy clients accustomed to shorter delivery times.
3. No control over supply/shipping
In any normal e-commerce circumstances where you are the seller and take care of shipping the goods, you set the shipping times, product quality and return policies.
In the dropshipping business world you are at the mere mercy of the supplier and that can be quite frustrating at best.
My advice here is when you start dropshipping in South Africa is to call your supplier and ask them the following (This is also what I do) –
- What is the quantities
- Shipping times
- Product quality
- Return policy
- Money back
This will help you formulate a return policy on your store. Once again, helping to minimize the frustration of clients.
4. Bad client service
It is all too easy to suck at client service especially when running a dropshipping business. I mean, why care about the product or the annoying customer. It is not your products! This mentality is exactly where dropshipping gets its bad rep from.
Dropshippers just don’t give a damn when it comes to clients and resolving problems. This is the wrong way at looking the business model, if you take care of your clients first, your store will automatically do better.
Are you in it for a quick buck? No, you are in it to make money for the long term. So, come on man, do your part and make client service a priority.
5. Building a brand
Yes, the key to successful online stores are the ones that can establish a brand people love, follow and trust. With dropshipping in South Africa and anywhere in the world it is difficult to build a brand around someone else’s products.
It also can be perplexing especially when a client order goods from store A and receives packaging with store B labeling and logos.
Confusing for most.
In the end, you should focus on building trust with your clients because if clients trust you, they remember the buying experience and great service and not so much the labeling on the packaging.
6. Easy come, easy go
This is especially true for dropshipping and what I mean this is, when you put minimum finances and time in to something only to make some quick sales your store will most fail terribly.
Trust me on this, been there, done that, got the stores to prove it.
If you are going to start a dropshipping business in South Africa, please put your heart and soul in to it. Treat it like a real business and the favour will return.
Ok, so how do you start a dropshipping in South Africa?
Let’s look at the steps you are going to need to start a dropshipping business in South Africa.
In the time of writing this article it’s been raining all over South Africa like mad and with a lot of rain comes Mosquitos. So, I want to do some research on solutions for people to get rid of Mosquitos.
So, first head over to Google trends and type Mosquito Killer in the search box and choose South Africa as my location.
As you can see in the image below the trend was running on 100% and now going down. This is an indication that fewer people are looking for the product online.
Does this mean I missed the trend? Well, in theory for the rest of South Africa, but not all provinces.
Next, I can see the interest in provinces in South Africa and the interest is really high in Kwazulu-Natal.
When you click on Kwazulu-Natal it will show you the trend is about to rise to a 100 again.
Why is this important you ask? Well, if you are planning to run ads to your store you can target people living in Kwazulu-Natal.
Easy right? You are Welcome.
Next you want to head over to Google Keyword Planner. This is a free tool you can use to look up all the search volume in South Africa and the difficulty to rank for specific keywords.
As the image below indicates the search volume for the keyword “Mosquito Killer” is between 1000 and 10 000 searches a month. This is also a great indicator that people are actively searching for a solution.
The keyword difficulty is quite high so the chances of your store ranking for the product is very low.
So, what does tell me? You need to focus on different methods attracting buying customers to your store. Google will not help you here or at least not in your first year.
Then, it is time to find a winning product for your store. I am going to use Dropstore to find a product.
In Dropstore, you can find products to potentially sell to the targeted area.
The product sells for a recommended price at R235.00 and my cost is R171.75. This leaves me with a profit of R63.25.
Now, you need to do your due diligence around the product like, what are your competitors sell it for and product reviews.
This is where Takealot can help you a ton. You can simply look up the product in Takealot, check the price and read some reviews.
You can tell, Takealot sells the same product for R239.00 so win there but let’s look at an even more important metric, reviews.
As you can see in the image below people are not very satisfied with the product.
This tells you, you are going to sit with a high possibility of many unhappy clients with the product.
Does this means you can’t sell it? No, the reviews are negative, but it is only two of them.
It is going to be hard forming a decision based on such a small metric.
The idea I was trying to put across is to what look out for.
This is the exact method I used to find winning products for dropshipping in South Africa.
Just rinse and repeat until you find a product that meets all the requirements.
How do you find dropshipping suppliers in South Africa?
As you have might notice, I talk and use Dropstore quite often in this blog post. That’s because they make it easy to find suppliers and products to sell. You can also look at the follow suppliers
- Third Wave Distrubutors
- Skin Clays
- Renegade Gamers
- Mens Republic
- The Scents
- Planet 54
- Neat Freak
- Cosmetic pets
- Marijuana SA
The above mentioned list will be enough for most to start with but if you don’t find what you are looking for then do a quick search for the product you are looking for and reach out to the supplier and ask if they are willing to partner with you.
Simple as that. That is how I managed to get hold of Skin Clays.
Start an online store to sell your goods.
A no-brainer here is to use Shopify for a solution to sell your goods online. Shopify is ridiculously easy to set up and your store will be up and running in no time. If you are going with the Dropstore route as a supplier, you can import all your products straight from the marketplace to your store.
Quick and easy.
The only downside with Shopify is the monthly fee. This will scare off most people as it requires a financial investment.
Prices start at R450 a month.
The upside from this, you can start a free 14 day trial period with them. This will allow you to get your store up and running and ready to sell in no time.
Here is in depth video on how to start a Shopify dropshipping video in South Africa.
Second, you can use WordPress and WooCommerce to set up a store for a lot less than Shopify, but it is a bit of learning curve for beginners. Once again, Dropstore supply a plugin for your store to easily import products in a couple of easy steps.
I build all my online stores using WooCommerce and love it. I make use of a page builder called Brizy. Simple and beginner-friendly.
The page builder, however, comes with a once off purchase of R750.00
Thirdly, you can use Ecwid. Similar to Shopify. It is cloud-based with great templates and easy to set up in minutes.
The best thing about Ecwid, it’s free to use up to 10 products and perfect for beginners with a limited budget should go for this solution.
The downside with Ecwid, you have to add products manually to your store as there are currently no options for importing products.
Nonetheless, great platform to start.
Dstore, is a solution for beginners to set up a store using the help of Droptore. Excellent all round solution for anyone with limited knowledge and need help getting their stores up and running.
As a bonus, you can import all your product from Dropstore.
Dstore starts at R99 with a do-it-yourself option. An important note here to mention is you will also need an account with Dropstore to import goods starting at R99.
Another solution is just to buy your own complete ready-to-sell store from Dstore starting at R3999.
In the end, you are going have to build a store to sell your goods online. There is no way around this.
How are you going to get paid?
It is no secret, we have a bunch online payment gateways you can use in South Africa but the one I can recommend and use myself is Payfast.
Super simple to apply and to integrate with store of choice.
If integrating a payment gateway to your store seems a little intimidating to you, don’t worry.
I’ve got you covered as well.
How much do I need to start dropshipping in South Africa
This is a valid question and the answer is, it depends. It depends who are you going to use as a supplier and selling platform.
But for interest’s sake to the question let’s break it down each platform.
Shopify – Will set you back R450 a month (depending on the exchange)
If you choose to go with a different supplier than Dropstore, you can save R99 a month.
Woocommerce – It is actually free to use, but you need hosting and I can recommend starting with Domains.co.za for this. A cheap hosting package starts a R89 a month.
Page builders like Brizy will cost R750 once-off to unlock the Woocommerce functions.
Ecwid – It’s free! Yeah! Only for 10 products, but it should be enough to get you started and if you want to upgrade to more products it will set you back R226.00
Note, all prices are directly connected to Rand/Dollar exchange.
This should you give you an idea what to budget for. If you are planning to go with paid advertising, this should be a different budget all together.
How do you promote your products?
Another great question and critical one. With no feet to your store you will simply make no sales.
You have to reverse your way of thinking here a bit and figure out who are you going to target and then find a product to sell to that target audience
This is going to be your greatest obstacle. But there are ways to overcome this by attempting certain methods.
Let’s look a few options.
Paid – Ads, have the potential to reach your targeted customers in a click of a button. You can make use of Facebook and Google Ads do this. It is a great strategy to get sales on your store.
It is however not cheap and please do some research how to use each platform perfectly otherwise you are just going to waste money.
Organic – If you are already a type of online fundy, you will know that nothing is as sweet as organic traffic from Google. Optimize your product pages and store in such a way suing SEO techniques.
This will allow your store to show in organic search results.
You have to be patient with this one. It takes time to rank in Google. This method should be your long-term approach to marketing strategies.
Content Marketing is another great way to promote your products and store. You can focus on blog posts and YouTube product review videos.
They work amazingly well as people are consistently looking for more info regarding products they wish to purchase.
Go all out with your product links, whatsapp friends and email.
The most important part here is to get the word out about your store.
You can also follow my YouTube channel. I post weekly videos regarding this topic.
Wrapping it up.
Dropshipping in South Africa can be a great way to earn great money from a product you don’t even own. The key is to treat your dropshipping business like a real business.
Finding the right product is key and prompting it to the right audience is a challenge you will have to figure out.
And lastly, please don’t let your customer support suffer. You need to be on top of things to make your new dropshipping business work.
Now, go out and make some money
Affiliate Disclaimer: In this or most of my post I recommend products or services via links or and banners. If any of these links end up in a sale I get a small commision at no extra cost to you.
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