Is dropshipping dead?
This question has been popping up on my Facebook, Instagram, and other feeds ever since I first started dropshipping back in 2017.
I imagine — it didn’t start in 2017 either, it probably started all the way back in 2010 when the term ‘dropshipping’ first came to be known.
Basically, in the entrepreneurial world, for those of us who are new, if a business model exists, some will pronounce it dead or question whether or not it is.
This is not just the case for dropshipping.
Any business model out there — think blogging, affiliate marketing, Amazon FBA and so on — if it exists, you will find articles, videos, and social media posts of people pronouncing it dead and others questioning if and when it will be dead.
The term ‘dropshipping is dead’ exists for one big reason.
Online ‘entrepreneurs’ like to make excuses.
If something doesn’t work out after a couple of months, they presume it dead.
By doing so, they don’t have to admit failure because the business model is dead.
That’s primarily how phrases like that come to be.
They will then continue — in frustration — to post this under every video, article and social media post they can find in order to get validation from others in the scene who have had similar unsatisfactory experiences with dropshipping.
In reality, dropshipping is not dead at all.
These entrepreneurs, (I tend to call them wantrepreneurs) have barely scraped the bottom of everything that makes dropshipping a business model.
In most cases, they have simply bought a course, or watched a youtube video, spent some money on Facebook Ads and when that didn’t turn them into an overnight millionaire, they started ousting the business model.
When I first started writing about dropshipping on a small blog located to readers in my home country, I received many requests from entrepreneurs to help me with their dropshipping store.
They would either hire me to built one for them, or they would ask me for advice.
Whatever the case may be, after helping them or fulfilling a service — I would often receive a follow-up message just a couple of weeks/months later.
These messages most often read something like this:
“I have spent … on facebook ads but I haven’t made a sale yet”.
In one specific case, it was a guy who had been extremely exciting about making money from dropshipping.
He had a cushy job that made a decent living but he wanted more, he wanted a money making machine.
And he assumed I was going to give him that. For just a couple hundred dollars.
I kept telling him that I’m only providing a webdesign service, that he would need to be the one to market his products and drive in customers.
He was a good client, very kind, respectful and he seemed very excited.
But what I was missing from him was a drive.
It didn’t seem like Tom (fictional name) wanted to do research on how to become successful with dropshipping.
He just wanted to do it.
A couple weeks after I finished delivery of his store, he messaged me.
‘Hey Dean … It’s been a while now. I have yet to make a sale. I don’t think this is working out. How do I cancel my store …?’
Basically, after just a couple of weeks, he decided to call quits because his store hadn’t made him rich overnight.
As I still had access to his store dashboard through my Shopify Partner account, I decided to take a look and see where it went wrong.
Upon checking his analytics I saw that he had about 0 – 5 visitors a day ever since the store launched.
This is when I realized he never ever tried to advertise his store or product.
Tom didn’t set up Facebook Ads. He didn’t even have a Facebook Page set up.
There was no Instagram account as I had so repeatedly advised he’d set up.
Weeks after the initial launch of his store, Tom had put in absolutely zero effort to promote it.
That’s when it dawned on me.
Tom thought he could launch a store and that visitors would shop up automatically.
Out of nowhere, he would gain traffic and thus — sales.
After explaining that he hasn’t tried to drive traffic and can’t make sales without doing so, he offered to pay me to run his Facebook Ad campaigns.
For his own good, I turned his offer down.
I knew Tom wasn’t built for online entrepreneurship.
He had presumed dropshipping dead, way before he even started.
Is Dropshipping Dead in 2021?
As you should be able to tell by the tone of this article, no. Dropshipping is not dead — far from it.
Dropshipping in 2021, is more profitable than it has ever been before.
But you don’t have to take my word for it — just look at the figures.
eCommerce is BOOMING.
According to emarketer.com US e-commerce sales online will reach $794.50 billion this year.
That’s 32.4% more than last year.
While this is largely due to the pandemic closing physical stores and keeping people quarantined, this growth is here to stay.
According to Cindy Liu, senior forecasting analyst at Insider Intelligence.
“There will be some lasting impacts from the pandemic that will fundamentally change how people shop”Cindy Liu — Senior forecasting analyst, Insider Intelligence
Thanks to the coronavirus, people have gotten used to the many benefits that come with buying online.
“Ecommerce sales will reach 14.4% of all US retail spending this year and 19.2% by 2024.“eMarketer.com
As the market is increasing rapidly, it baffles me that anyone would proclaim that dropshipping is dead.
Now I hear some of you thinking that these are statistics for eCommerce, not dropshipping.
True. But dropshipping IS eCommerce.
The bigger the online shopping audience becomes, the bigger the reach you have with your dropshipping store.
Is AliExpress Dropshipping Dying?
Now, this is where it gets interesting.
The first part of this article has primarily been targeting dropshipping as a business-model.
Something that I never see dying.
Because dropshipping equals eCommerce.
And people will always shop online, better yet — the numbers are increasing massively as I illustrated earlier.
However, AliExpress dropshipping is what most people wrongly consider dropshipping to be.
Dropshipping is way more than just AliExpress.
The business model of shipping products from AliExpress directly to customers might start dying off slowly.
But this is only because more and more AliExpress alternatives are joining the space.
AliExpress products are characterized as cheap, low-quality and the delivery times are long.
Thus, there is a lot of improvement to be made.
Hence why many drop shippers have started looking for alternative options.
And of course, as economics 101 taught us, as the demand increases, the supply increases with it.
Every year, more and more new dropshipping suppliers are popping up everywhere.
While dropshipping used to be limited to AliExpress and some private suppliers you could find through dropshipping directories like SaleHoo — presently dropshippers have a vast number of options.
Companies like Modalyst and Spocket offer alternatives to AliExpress dropshipping.
Sites like CJdropshipping have become popular amongst drop shippers as an alternative to AliExpress that offers the same exact products with better customer service and faster shipping.
But also Print on Demand dropshipping — something I cover a lot on this blog — has become more and more popular as more and more suppliers start popping up.
As the options for dropshipping begin to increase, more and more drop shippers will start turning away from AliExpress.
Not because dropshipping is dying. But because the alternatives will simply become better and better.
Faster shipping, higher quality products, more branding options, you name it.
So yes. AliExpress dropshipping is dying, but it’s not for the reasons you may suspect.
Why Dropshipping Might Not Be For You
By now, it should be pretty clear to you, that dropshipping is not dead or dying.
Now you may be wondering whether the dropshipping model is right for you.
So I will dedicate this portion of the article to helping you with this question.
I’d like to start with this — if you believe just like Tom did, that dropshipping is easy and customers will just enter your store out of nowhere, then dropshipping is definitely not for you.
If you plan on dedicating a couple months towards a store and quit when it doesn’t work out, dropshipping is also not for you.
I’m being brutally honest here.
If you think I made any money after a couple of months in the dropshipping space, you are absolutely wrong.
I lost way more money than I made in my first couple of months.
It takes trial and error to get there.
There are so many mistakes you first need to experience and learn from before you can ever be successful at dropshipping.
And this, btw, is not limited to dropshipping.
I have noticed the same in each and every online business model I have tried out.
Here’s how I’ve experienced online business:
- You do your research
- You start your project (e.g. your first dropshipping store)
- You fail.
- You learn why you failed
- You do more research
- You start a new project (e.g. second store)
- You fail again but for a different reason
- You learn what you did wrong this time
- You do more research
This pattern goes on until eventually, you have mastered the business model.
Until finally, you have learned exactly what made your previous attempts fail.
What I’m trying to illustrate here, is that you have to fail in order to succeed.
This is the case for dropshipping and this is the case for everything else in live, not just business.
If you’re someone who can accept that and accept that you will dedicate time, money, sweat and tears towards a single project — only then is dropshipping for you.
That’s the brutal truth.
If you know that you can’t handle failure and that you easily quit once something doesn’t work out, you should not even attempt it.
While dropshipping is easy to get started with, due to low risk, it is not an easy business model.
Don’t be yet another salty commenter who claims dropshipping is dead before they have tried or after they have failed.
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