This is the ultimate guide to turning your dropshipping store into a brand in 2021.
And let me be clear:
This is NOT your average “Branded dropshipping in 2021” guide.
In this post, you’re going to learn new strategies to turning a dropshipping store into a REAL brand.
This means we’ll be looking into:
- Custom (AliExpress) packaging options
- How to put your logo on (AliExpress) products
- Private labeling and white labeling options
- And much more
What this guide will not cover is how to get started with dropshipping in 2021, for that we have a separate beginner-friendly guide out there.
So if you’re excited to learn more about how to truly start a dropshipping brand in 2021, you’ll love this updated guide.
- Chapter 1 — What Is Branded Dropshipping?
- Chapter 2 — How To Private Label Your Dropshipping Products
- Chapter 3 — How To Get Custom Packaging For Dropshipping
- Chapter 4 — How To Build Your Dropshipping Brand
What Is Branded (Private Label) Dropshipping?
Your average dropshipping store sells products like this:
In packages like this:
But what if I told you you could sell products like this:
In packages like this:
Now you may be thinking: that looks expensive…
And you’d be half right there. To turn your dropshipping store into a branded dropshipping store, you’ll have to pay a bit more.
But paying more to get a branded product in branded packaging, is well worth the premium price.
4 Reasons Why Branded Dropshipping Beats AliExpress Dropshipping
✅ #1 Branded dropshipping works in the long term
We all know your average dropshipping store focusses on winning products only.
And when the competition gets stiff (which happens fairly quickly) you have to stop your ads and move on to the next product.
This whole proces of doing your product research over and over again only to benefit for a month or two, gets very tiring.
No wonder so many people switch over to selling courses. 😉
While it works, it’s not sustainable or future proof.
When you focus on branded dropshipping on the other hand, you’re future-proofing your online store.
Let’s look at the example of Blendjet.
This is a successful white label brand that turned a winning dropshipping product, into their own brand.
As you can see, their blender can easily be found on AliExpress but without the logo.
This is the case for all products found on AliExpress and Alibaba, you can put your logo on them and I will teach you how to do so later on.
While most drop shippers focus on quick profits with attractive Facebook Ads, Blendjet thought about the long term and created a brand.
They no longer have to do continuous product research and can instead focus on scaling their brand even more.
✅ #2 Branding helps you stand out in a saturated market
There is a lot of competition in dropshipping. Whenever a new winning product pops up (and they do all the time) hundreds of dropshippers hop on it like little kids in a candy shop.
These dropshippers all target the same audience and thus a product quickly gets saturated.
But what if you could be this guy:
…in a room full of these guys:
That’s right, simply having a logo on a product, makes you stand out in a saturated market.
Why would anyone opt for a sketchy looking store when they can purchase from a real brand?
✅ #3 You can become the authority in a niche
We say things like “let me google that” and ask questions like “pass me a kleenex” please.
Products like ‘Google’ and ‘Kleenex’ have dominated their respective markets and become the absolute authority in them.
You can do the same thing once you turn a regular dropshipping product in a private label brand.
✅ #4 You can charge more
Dropshipping is often based on low-pricing tactics to beat the competition.
This results in very low profit margins and drop shippers have to focus on expensive Facebook campaigns to target as many people as possible.
It’s essentially a quantity over quality approach.
Drive in as many customers as possible and convince them with your low prices.
But when you have sell private label products, you can actually charge a premium.
Customers will gladly pay more for a brand because brands come with extra expectations:
- Customers believe branded products are higher quality
- Customers believe branded products are safer
- Customers believe branded products are trust worthy
If you aren’t convinced yet, you should read this article about why people chose brands.
When To Switch Over To Branded Dropshipping
Now you may be left thinking “When is the perfect time to private label my products?”
Ideally you would switch over right away, right? But that means going in blind.
While research is important and should never be skipped, you cannot truly know if a product will work within a certain market, until you try it out yourself.
That’s why dropshipping is so powerful. You can test out any product, within any niche, without having to take serious risks.
That’s why it’s recommended to test out a product first through conventional dropshipping and if it proven successful, you can private label that product.
Caution: branded dropshipping is not the solution to your problems if you aren’t making sales.
If you cannot run successful dropshipping ads using AliExpress products, you will struggle just as much (maybe even more) attempting to create your own brand.
Branded Dropshipping: How To Private Label Your Dropshipping Products
The goal for many of us, is to put our logo on the dropshipping products we sell.
Imaging adding your brand logo to your winning AliExpress product, sounds great right?
Well this is possible thanks to a process called private labeling.
There are a couple of ways we can get started with private label dropshipping.
Private Labeling Using Alibaba And 3PL
In this process, you are asking an Alibaba manufacturer to create private label products for you.
There are many suppliers on Alibaba that provide such a service and you can easily search for them.
To do this, head on over to Alibaba.com and use the following search query:
- [Your product] + Private Label
You should find a whole bunch of suppliers using this query.
Contact some of the most promising ones and inquire private labeling the product.
They will give you a quote and an MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity) that you will have to comply with.
This means that you will have to purchase a bulk amount of products (for example 100 pieces) before they will consider private labeling your product.
You will also need to provide them with a logo that you want printed on their products.
And lastly, they’ll need an address to ship this product to.
As this is Alibaba and not AliExpress, they don’t dropship individual products.
That’s where 3PL or third-party logistics comes into play.
These companies are essentially fulfillment services that will drop ship the products for you.
So let’s recap:
- You contact an Alibaba supplier and ask them to private label your products
- They provide you with a private labeling rate and MOQ
- You give them the logo you want printed on your products
- They ship the private label products to your 3PL fulfillment center
- The 3PL service will drop ship products for you
Examples of US-based third party logistic services are:
Advantages of Alibaba + 3PL:
- Alibaba has a wide range of products, most of the products found on AliExpress can also be found on Alibaba, at an even cheaper price as you’re buying them in bulk.
- You can use third-party logistics services in the United States to provide fast 3-day shipping to your clients, what a gamechanger!
Disadvantages of Alibaba + 3PL:
- You are essentially stepping away from the dropshipping model by using a 3PL service
- Upfront risks as you’re buying in bulk
- You need to manage your stock levels
Private Labeling Using A Dropshipping Agent
A dropshipping agent (also called a sourcing agent) is basically someone who is fulfilling your orders from China.
They are known to find the best products at the cheapest price and ship them directly from China to your clients.
They are your contact in China that know the ins and outs of sourcing.
And they can help you with private labeling as well!
Advantages of using a dropshipping agent
- One person is in charge of everything, this lifts a lot of the weight from your shoulders so you don’t have to worry about contacting suppliers, shipping, inventory levels and so on.
Disadvantages of using a dropshipping agent
- Most dropshipping agents are located in China. While they will fulfill orders as quickly as possible and use the fastest shipping lines, it will still likely take at least 1-2 weeks for the orders to arrive from China.
Learn more about dropshipping agents in China.
Private Labeling Using A Dropshipping Service
Some premium dropshipping services provide private labeling options to their customers.
Examples of such services are:
In order to qualify for private labeling, you will have to comply with their MOQs (Minimum Order Quantity) which are around 50-200 depending on the service and your request.
Branded Dropshipping: How To Get Custom Packaging
Dropshipping products arrive in the classic white bag with a Chinese label on it.
This is fine for testing out products, but for building a long-term brand this is a big no-no.
In this part of the guide, we’ll look at custom packaging and how you can get it for your dropshipping brand.
How to get custom packaging using AliExpress
Some AliExpress suppliers can help you out with custom packaging.
To find such AliExpress seller, simply contact a bunch of suppliers selling your product asking about their custom packaging rates.
Many AliExpress sellers ship products from their own warehouse or home and they won’t mind adding custom packaging to your orders, as long as you pay them for it.
You can have them handle everything for you or you can ship custom packaging labels to their address.
For example, you can buy custom packaging from a service like Packhelp and ship them directly to your AliExpress suppliers’ address.
How to get custom packaging using a dropshipping agent
Just like they can handle private labeling for you, dropshipping agents can also help you out with custom packaging.
Just like with AliExpress, you can ask them to get custom packaging options made for you, or you can order them from an external source and ship it to their address.
Learn more about dropshipping agents in China.
How to get custom packaging using a dropshipping service
Some premium dropshipping services provide custom packaging options to their customers.
Examples of such services are:
In order to qualify for custom packaging, you will have to comply with their MOQs (Minimum Order Quantity) which are around 50-200 depending on the service and your request.
How To Build Your Dropshipping Brand
Think Of A Brand Name
This is the intimidating first part of branding your business: finding an appropriate name!
A good brand name has the following characteristics:
Ideally it would also be available as a .com domain.
…And you want to make sure you are allowed to use it.
There are a whole bunch of online tools that can help you out with the creation of your brand name.
My favorite is leandomainsearch.
This free tool will show you a whole bunch of results for every keyword you enter.
It’s the same tool I used to find the name for this blog: ecomphox!
Some other tools that could help you are:
Create A Brand Logo
A dropshipping brand should have a logo that captures their branding perfectly.
The logo should contain your brand name, fit your brand colors and be simple in design.
Don’t go for a busy logo as this can quickly look unprofessional and since your logo will be displayed on both the packaging and label of your branded products, that won’t be a good look.
Ideally, you would opt for a professional to create a logo for you but if you’re on a budget there are a bunch of free online tools you can use to create a logo for your brand.
Pick A Brand Color Scheme
Every brand has a color scheme, so should yours.
You should have a color scheme that both fits your niche and looks well for your theme, logo and products.
If you’re unsure which colors fit your niche, Google is your friend.
Once you know what kind of colors you want, you can use a tool like Adobe Color to create the ideal color scheme for your brand.
Establish Your Brand On Social Media
One of the big advantages of starting a dropshipping brand is that you can really leverage social media.
Most dropshippers don’t really pay attention to social media because they are focussing on short term profits.
When you create your own brand, you can benefit a lot from establishing a presence on social media.
You can use social media to build your brand awareness, generate extra sales and develop relationships with your customers.
Think of it: most dropshippers use Facebook Advertising to generate sales for their business.
This allows them to target millions of people. These people will engage with your content.
If they like what you post, they will follow you and they might even share it!
But once their product dies and they move on to the next one, this engagement (that they paid for) is lost.
And they have to start over again.
As a brand, every time you pay for ads, you are not just generating sales, you are also increasing your follower base.
That’s why so many brands focus on advertising campaigns not dedicated to generating sales but instead to increase social media engagement.
Pick A Social Media Network That Fits Your Audience
There are hundreds of social media platforms out there, obviously, you don’t want to post to all of them.
You should aim to dedicate most of your attention to 1 or 2 social media networks so you can really focus on quality of quantity.
To find the best social media platform for your business, you’ll have to know where your average customer spends most of their time.
Instagram and Facebook are generally safe bets but some businesses have a dedicated customer base on platforms like Twitter and TikTok.
Create Content Specifically For Social Media
One of the most common mistake brands make on social media is that they simply don’t create content for it.
You’ll see Instagram brand pages cluttered with just product photos and Facebook pages that only post when they upload a new product or launch another sale.
This is not social media marketing, that’s simply spam.
No one wants to follow brands like that, much less engage with their content.
A real social media brand has a large mixture of posts.
For example look at beardbrand.
Does this beard-grooming brand upload only product images? Hell no.
They have a healthy mixture of:
- User-engagement posts
- Educational content
- Influencer posts
- Customer reposts
Don’t let this mislead you though, their posts are still focussed around their product but in a much better way.
By creating educational videos, they are giving free grooming tips to their following.
People appreciate that! That’s content that gets shared. But they are also sneakily promoting their product and increasing its exposure.
That’s how social media marketing works!
You have to give in order to receive.
Use Social Media Influencers As Brand Ambassadors
Years ago, a new brand could spend tens of thousands of dollars to have a celebrity like Leonardo DiCaprio promote their products in a commercial.
Investments like that are worth it because people love buying the products that influencers use.
A new brand could instantly put them on the map simply by hiring a celebrity to become their public face.
You can do the exact same thing, by leveraging social media influencers.
And social media is literally full of those.
But unlike with Leo, you don’t have to shell out tens of thousands of dollars and spend days trying to get in touch with his agent.
You can just DM influencers and ask them about their rates!
Influencers LOVE doing paid promotions and they really do work.
On top of generating extra sales, you are increasing your exposure and expanding the trust in your brand.
Don’t have a lot of cash? No worries! You can start small and hire micro-influencers to promote your products.
Some micro-influencers (less than 50K followers) will even promote your products for free as long as they like the product and you give it to them.
More on how you can leverage influencers in our Instagram Dropshipping Guide.
Now It’s Your Turn
That’s about everything you need to know to get started with branded dropshipping in 2021.
Are you going to switch over from conventional dropshipping this year?
Let me know what your plan is in 2021 by leaving a comment below.