WHAT IS A PRIVATE BRANCH EXCHANGE (PBX) PHONE SYSTEM?

PBX (Private Branch Exchange) system allows an organization to manage incoming and outgoing phone calls, as well as internal communication similarly, as one provided by Precise Business Solutions do. A PBX is made up of both hardware and software that connects to communication devices such as telephone adapters, hubs, switches, routers, and telephone sets

 

Modern PBXs have a wealth of management features that make communication easy and more effective within organizations, boosting productivity. Their sizes and complexity vary, ranging from very expensive and complex large-scale corporate communication systems to basic plans that are hosted on the cloud for a low monthly fee. Simple home-based PBX systems offer basic features as an upgrade to existing traditional phone lines. 

 

The functions of a PBX can be very complex, but these are the essential features: 

  • Use of more than one telephone line in an organization
  • Management of outgoing and incoming calls
  • Splitting of one single phone line into several internal lines, which are identified through three- or four-digit numbers called extensions, and switching calls to the appropriate internal line
  • Internal phone communications
  • VoIP (voice over internet protocol) calling, which has a tremendous number of features and enhancements over traditional telephony, the most prominent being the cost savings 
  • Quality interface with customers through features such as call recording, voicemail, IVR (interactive voice response), etc. 
  • Automated responses, which automatically direct users to the most appropriate lines through voice menus

 

A PBX system allows all departments of an organization to be reached from a single phone number. This saves the company money because it requires only a single phone line.

PBXs changed a lot with the advent of IP telephony (VoIP). The newer IP-PBXes use the internet to channel calls. IP-PBxes are usually preferred because they offer a wealth of features. Except for old, already-installed-but-still-working PBXs and those chosen because they are inexpensive, PBX systems nowadays tend to be IP-PBXes. 

 

Today, you don’t have to invest in the hardware, software, installation, and maintenance of an in-house PBX, especially if you are running a small business and the cost of ownership would be greater than the benefits. Precise Business Solutions now offers hosted PBX service for a monthly fee that doesn’t require you to pay for hardware other than your telephone sets and router. These services are cloud-based and delivered via an internet connection. Hosted PBXes have some disadvantages — they’re more generic, with fewer options to tailor the system to your precise needs — but they are quite cheap and don’t require an upfront investment. 

The Best Reseller Hosting Plans

A deep dive review of the best reseller hosting plans for 2020

Our content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links in this post that we may earn a commission.

Website hosting comes in all different shapes and sizes. Every website in existence needs to be hosted somewhere, so this makes sense.

If you’re a developer or have a web development agency, all of your clients need to have a suitable web hosting service. You can build web hosting costs into your existing client packages with reseller hosting plans.

Reseller hosting is great because the barrier to entry is far less complex than starting your own web hosting company from scratch.

You won’t need to worry about the hardware, resources, or other expensive costs associated with managing servers and hosting facilities. It’s a smart way for developers and agencies to earn some extra money from their existing clients.

The Best Reseller Hosting Providers and Plans for 2020

Now that you’re ready to proceed with reseller hosting, it’s time to find a service provider and hosting plan that meets your needs.

Reseller hosting plans vary by price, features, and benefits. A local business planning to manage 10 websites won’t need the same plan as an agency managing 100 sites.

With that in mind, I’ve narrowed down the best reseller hosting plans for every scenario. If you want to be a reseller, there’s a plan for you on this list.

  • HostGator — Best cost-effective reseller plans.
  • SiteGround — Best for managing small sites.
  • InMotion Hosting — Best VPS plans for managing ecommerce sites.
  • A2 Hosting — Best for scaling small-to-medium-sized client lists.
  • GreenGeeks — Best for developers who prioritize eco-friendly hosting.
  • GoDaddy — Best for reselling more than just web hosting.

Read on to learn more about each of the top reseller hosting providers on my list to find the best option for you.

#1. HostGator

HostGator is an industry leader in the web hosting space. Like the rest of their web hosting services, HostGator’s reseller options are great. They offer three different reseller plans.

Hostgator Reseller Hosting Plans

As you can see, the price points for all three are within $5 of each other. But you need to understand that this is just a promotional rate for new customers.

The plans renew at $29.95, $41.95, and $59.95, respectively. But you can lock in this introductory rate for your first 36 months.

All reseller plans come with great benefits like:

  • Unlimited domains
  • Free SSL certificate
  • Private name servers
  • Email accounts
  • FTP accounts
  • MySQL accounts

The biggest difference in the packages is the disk space and bandwidth. So the plan you choose will depend on how many sites you plan to manage, and how much traffic and storage those websites need.

Fortunately, HostGator makes it easy for you to scale. If you start with the Aluminum or Copper plan, you can upgrade for free at any time.

All reseller plans come with free WHMCS billing software, which makes it easy for you to manage your clients.

You’ll also get WHM control panel for monitoring your server status, and setting limits for things like disk space and bandwidth for your clients.

If you’re already a reseller and want to switch providers, HostGator offers up to 80% off transfers and registrations.

HostGator guarantees a 99.9% uptime rate. So you won’t have to worry about your clients being upset with the performance of their website.

Another reason why I recommend HostGator for reseller hosting is because of their support.

They offer 24/7 customer service via phone and live chat. Automatic weekly backups and 24/7 server monitoring are standard as well. Plus, you’ll get a 45-day money-back guarantee, which is more than enough time to see if you’re satisfied with your plan.

Get up to 58% off at HostGator

#2. SiteGround

Siteground Reseller Hosting Plans

SiteGround is another big player in the web hosting industry. So it’s no surprise that they offer excellent reseller hosting plans.

Pricing for the SiteGround reseller program is a bit different from HostGator. They charge you based on how many accounts you’re managing.

You’ll get volume discounts for buying in bulk. So the more accounts you manage, the cheaper it is per account. Here’s how it works.

SiteGround sells “reseller credits.” Each credit is worth one year of hosting for a website.

  • $49 per credit if you buy 1-4 credits
  • $45 per credit if you buy 5-10 credits
  • $42 per credit if you buy 11+ credits

You need to buy a minimum of five credits to get started initially. Credits never expire, so you can use them to add or renew accounts at any time.

Let’s break those costs down even further to give you a better understanding of what you’re paying compared to other reseller plans. If you start with the minimum and buy 5 credits at $45 each, it’s going to cost you $225 per year.

That ends up being $18.75 per month. That’s just $3.75 per client, per month, assuming you have at leave five clients.

Each website hosted on your reseller plan will get 10 GB of disk space, and has the capacity to handle roughly 10,000 monthly visitors.

These specifications make SiteGround a top choice for resellers with clients that don’t have a ton of website traffic. If you’re a small agency and only have a handful of websites to manage, SiteGround’s credit pricing system makes it possible for you to become a reseller. Read more about their hosting services in my complete SiteGround review.

Learn More at SiteGround

#3. InMotion Hosting

Unlike other web hosting providers that offer three or four reseller hosting plans, InMotion Hosting has six!

So if you like to have options, it’s safe to say that InMotion has plenty. Here’s a breakdown of what each reseller plan offers.

InMotion Reseller Hosting Plans

The “R” packages are shared hosting plans, and the “VPS” packages are virtual private servers.

Things like disk space, monthly bandwidth, and dedicated IPs increase with each plan. Pricing for the InMotion Hosting reseller plans are as follows:

  • R-1000S — $15.39 per month (renews at $29.99)
  • R-2000S — $21.99 per month (renews at $39.99)
  • R-3000S — $30.24 per month (renews at $57.99)
  • VPS 1000 — $41.64 per month (renews at $54.99)
  • VPS 2000 — $62.84 per month (renews at $94.99)
  • VPS 3000 — $89.94 per month (renews at $164.99)

How does this compare to other hosting providers we’ve reviewed so far? Let’s take a look.

HostGator’s top package offers 140 GB of disk space and 1400 GB of bandwidth. The R-2000S and R-3000S from InMotion would be the closest plans to this. Both of these are at similar price points as well.

The biggest difference is that InMotion doesn’t stop there. Their top VPS plan has 260 GB of disk space and 6 TB of bandwidth per month.

Essentially, this means that InMotion’s reseller plans can handle more clients and more monthly traffic than the other options on our list. They offer beginner reseller plans like the R-1000S, advanced plans like the VPS 3000, and still, have four other plans in-between.

With a VPS reseller plan, you can even manage ecommerce websites. You’ll have root access as well to make custom changes to your server.

InMotion offers free billing software, free cPanel and WHM, free SSD drives, white label services, DDoS and malware protection, and server management features for select packages.

They also have a 90-day money-back guarantee, which is almost unheard of in the web hosting space.

Overall, InMotion Hosting has a reseller plan for everyone. But it’s definitely a top choice for resellers who are managing lots of clients. If you want to learn more about InMotion check out my full InMotion hosting review.

Get up to 48% off at InMotion

#4. A2 Hosting

A2 Hosting has a reputation for speed and reliability. Both of which are crucial in the web hosting industry.

Their reseller choices are great for those of you who want a quality service in a low-to-mid price range. Here’s an overview of A2’s reseller hosting plans.

A2 Reseller Hosting Plans

With plans starting as low as $9.80 per month, A2 Hosting is definitely cost-effective.

However, I would not recommend the Bronze package. It only has 30 GB of storage, which isn’t nearly enough if you’re planning to have more than a few clients. Plus, it’s their only plan that doesn’t come with Free WHMCS, which is crucial for client management.

You can buy the WHMCS add-on for $10 per month, but at that point, you might as well upgrade to a package that includes it for free.

While we’re on the subject, the free WHMCS starter package for the Silver, Gold, and Platinum plans is suitable for up to 250 clients. So you definitely have the opportunity to scale.

At a minimum, I’d recommend starting with the Gold plan. You get double the disk space (compared to Silver) for less than $10 more per month of the renewal rate. For me, that’s a no-brainer.

In my A2 hosting review research I found that A2 Hosting is committed to a 99.9% uptime rate. Their servers are up to 20 times faster than their competitors, and they have an amazing customer support system.

Get up to 51% off at A2 Hosting

#5. GreenGeeks

GreenGeeks isn’t as well known as some of the other hosting providers on our list. They’ve been in business for 11 years, and offer eco-friendly web hosting solutions.

Reseller hosting is a service that they specialize in. GreekGeeks has five different reseller plans, which are all very straightforward.

GreenGeeks Reseller Hosting Plans

Their packages can be purchased in quantities of 10 clients. The more clients you have, the more cost-effective it is per account.

If you fall somewhere in the middle of these tiers or have more than 50 clients, you can purchase additional accounts in bundles of 5.

The discounted pricing for additional accounts is:

  • Reseller 10 — $3.00 per account
  • Reseller 20 — $2.75 per account
  • Reseller 30 — $2.50 per account
  • Reseller 40 — $2.25 per account
  • Reseller 50 — $2.00 per account

For example, if you have the Reseller 50 plan and need to add 13 new accounts, it would cost you an additional $30 per month (you would have to buy 15 more accounts).

All GreenGeeks reseller plans come with great benefits like:

  • Unlimited web space
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • WHMCS licenses
  • White label services
  • Ecommerce capabilities
  • Free CDN integration
  • Nightly backups
  • 24/7 support

Plus, GreenGeeks uses renewable energy to power their hosting services. So it’s a great option for those of you who are conscious of the environment and want to market green web hosting to your clients.

This reseller service is made with developers in mind. You’ll get multiple PHP versions, MySQL databases, FTP accounts, support for Perl and Python, and access to the latest developer tools like WP-CLI, Git, Drush, and lots more.

All GreekGeeks reseller plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. It’s definitely nice to have that assurance to fall back on.

Learn More at GreenGeeks

#6. GoDaddy

<img class=”alignnone wp-image-44167 size-large” src=”https://quicksprout-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/godaddy-1024×388.png” alt=”GoDaddy Reseller Hosting Plans” srcset=”https://quicksprout-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/godaddy-1024×388.png 1024w, https://quicksprout-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/godaddy-300×114.png 300w, https://quicksprout-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/godaddy-768×291.png 768w” sizes=”(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px” />

GoDaddy is best known for its domain registrar services. But they’re also a reputable web hosting provider and have great options for reseller hosting.

They have four reseller plans to choose from.

Enhance

  • Starting at $39.99 per month
  • 2 CPUs
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • 90 GB of storage

Grow

  • Starting at $49.99 per month
  • 3 CPUs
  • 6 GB of RAM
  • 120 GB of storage

Expand

  • Starting at $64.99 per month
  • 4 CPUs
  • 8 GB of RAM
  • 150 GB of storage

Established

  • Starting at $89.99 per month
  • 4 CPUs
  • 16 GB of RAM
  • 240 GB of storage

To get the prices listed above, you need to commit to 36 months. Unlike other hosting providers, GoDaddy doesn’t advertise a more expensive renewal rate when your contract expires. Although they do have a disclaimer stating that renewal rates are subject to change. So I guess we’ll see what happens in three years.

All reseller plans include WHMCS and cPannel for up to 250 accounts. They offer unmetered bandwidth, free SSL certificate, and 24/7 customer support.

In addition to hosting services, you can also sell GoDaddy domains and other third-party products with the reseller plans listed above. Find out more about their other hosting services in my complete GoDaddy hosting review.

Learn More at GoDaddy

What is reseller hosting?

Some of you may not have any experience with reseller hosting. So before we go any further, I want to make sure that we’re on the same page.

In a nutshell, reseller hosting makes it possible for you to sell web hosting to other people.

It’s essentially white label website hosting. You buy the service from a larger hosting company, and then resell that service to your clients.

The reseller focuses on marketing and sales while leaving all of the heavy-lifting to the larger hosting service.

With reseller hosting, you set the hosting prices for your clients. As long as the provider gets their monthly rate, the sky is the limit for what you can charge. Since you’ll be paying wholesale rates to the hosting company, there’s an opportunity for you to make substantial profit margins.

It may sound confusing at first, but it’s really not that complicated. Here’s a simple visual representation of how reseller hosting works.

<img class=”alignnone size-large wp-image-44160″ src=”https://quicksprout-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/how_it_works-1024×532.png” alt=”How Reseller Hosting Plans Work” srcset=”https://quicksprout-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/how_it_works-1024×532.png 1024w, https://quicksprout-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/how_it_works-300×156.png 300w, https://quicksprout-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/how_it_works-768×399.png 768w, https://quicksprout-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/how_it_works.png 1586w” sizes=”(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px” />

If you pitch it correctly, your clients will love this option. You become a one-stop-shop for their website. You’re already handling things like development and design, so why not handle the hosting as well?

Who is reseller hosting for?

Reseller hosting is not for everyone. If you’re launching a website from scratch, or you’re just looking for a new web hosting provider, reseller hosting is not for you.

For the most part, reseller hosting is for web developers, web designers, and agencies.

However, if you’re an entrepreneur in the tech space, you might see an opportunity here to earn some extra money as a reseller.

For example, if you own a local computer shop, you could potentially start reselling hosting packages to customers in your community.

Whether you’re a solo developer, large enterprise, or anywhere in-between, reseller hosting is only suitable for you if you’re planning to manage at least 10 websites or more. Anything less than that won’t really be worth your time or effort.

Aside from the additional profits you can make from your current client packages, reseller hosting is a great way to retain your customers for the long term.

If you develop and design a website for someone, they won’t need your services forever. But if you can simultaneously manage their hosting service, then you’ll continue to get recurring income long after the development is complete.

Conclusion

Reseller hosting is a great way for developers, agencies, and entrepreneurs to earn recurring revenue with white label web hosting.

There are so many different reseller hosting providers and plans available on the market today. Rather than sifting through all of those options on your own, I took the time to research and identify the best choices.

That’s why I made sure to include a reseller hosting plan for as many different scenarios as possible in this guide. I’m confident you’ll find what you’re looking for on my list.

So which reseller hosting plan is the best? It depends on what you’re looking for.

Here is a quick summary of the best reseller hosting plans for 2020 so that you can choose the best option for your needs.

The Best Dropshipping Companies

Want to start a business selling products but not worry about shipping, storing inventory, or investing in that inventory upfront? Dropshipping — when you a product that’s shipped directly from the manufacturer to your customer — might be for you.

In this guide, I list and review the best dropshippers to help you get started.

The 17 best dropshipping companies, suppliers, databases, and tools

Once you have your Shopify account and your store set up, you’re ready to link up with a dropshipping partner and get selling. But, it can be hard to break into dropshipping because most dropshipping businesses don’t like to share their items or their suppliers. The thinking is: you’ll just replicate their shop and eat into their market.

I’m here to help with this list of 17 dropshippers, databases and suppliers — along with their pros and cons.

  1. Oberlo — Best Shopify plugin and directory

Oberlo

Visit Oberlo

Free Starter Plan
Basic Plan $30 per month
Pro Plan $80 per month
4.7 out of 5 stars

This plugin service works with Shopify stores. You’ll browse the Oberlo directory (which includes suppliers verified by Oberlo) to find inventory you’d like to sell in your store. You’ll be able to see how many pageviews, sales, and star-rankings each item and seller has. Once you make a sale, you’ll use Oberlo to order the item to be shipped to your customer. Oberlo has a forever-free Starter plan, but to unlock shipment tracking and order fulfillment monitoring, which I recommend, you’ll need to upgrade to the Basic plan at $30 per month. It’ll also raise your sales limit from 50 to 500. Once you crest 500, you’ll be in Pro territory, which is $80 per month and allows for multiple users as well. Oberlo has 4.7 out of 5 stars from 2,286 reviews in the Shopify app store.

  1. SaleHoo — Members-only database of 8,000+ suppliers

Salehoo

Visit Salehoo

60 Day Free Trial
Annual Plan $67 per year
Lifetime Plan $127 one time
9.6 out of 10 stars

A $67 yearly membership grants you access to this database of wholesalers and dropshippers. There are currently 8,000+ suppliers on the site, and they’re all screened by Salehoo before they’re added to the directory. There’s a 60-day free trial period, and the customer service gets high marks: 9.6 out of 10 with 247 reviews on TrustPilot.

  1. Spocket — A Shopify database app with good reviews

Spocket

Visit Spocket

Free Starter Plan
Pro Plan $49 per month
Empire Plan $99 per month
4.7 out of 5 stars

Spocket is a database app of dropship items that you can sort by country and simply upload into your Shopify store. Spocket makes it easy to find US and EU items that’ll ship within your country rather than from China, cutting down on slow ship speeds. The Basic plan (25 products with unlimited orders) is forever free, and upgrading to Pro is $49 per month for 250 products and branded invoicing. The Empire plan unlocks unlimited products for $99 per month. The app has 4.7 out of 5 stars from 1,226 reviews in the Shopify app store.

  1. Wholesale2B — Versatile supplier and dropshipping hub

Wholesale2B

Visit Wholesale2B

Browse for Free
Multiple Plan Options
$29.99 to $49.99 per month
DIY Plan $67 per year

You can do a lot of different things with Wholesale2b: sell its products on eBay, Amazon, on a Wholesale2B site, or your own WooCommerce / Shopify / Magento / BigCommerce site. Handle the orders yourself by becoming a registered reseller with each supplier or pay Wholesale2B a 3% fee to handle that for you.

  1. Inventory Source — Timesaving dropshipping automation tool

Inventory Source

Visit Inventory Source

Dropship Automation Solutions
Inventory $50 per month
Full Automation $150 per month
180+ Dropship Suppliers

An automation tool that allows you to either sync the suppliers products with your page (inventory automation) or to sync the entire customer purchase flow so that your orders are automatically placed with your supplier (full automation). Inventory automation is $50/month and full automation is $150/month.

  1. Worldwide Brands — Budget-friendly database

Worldwide Brands

Visit Worldwide Brands

Lifetime Plan $299
Direct Access to All Wholesalers
16+ Million Wholesale Products
BBB A+ Rated

For $299, you can get a lifetime subscription to this database of wholesalers and dropshippers.

  1. Dropified — Popular Shopify app for AliExpress

Dropified

Visit Dropified

14 Day Free Trial
Builder Plan $47 per month
Premier Plan $127 per month
4.8 out of 5 stars

This is another Shopify app for populating your store with items and automate your orders on AliExpress, including customer shipping address. However, there’s no Dropified marketplace, but rather a browser plugin that’ll let you pull from anywhere on the web. You can set up margin parameters and rules for changing the price points in your store. There’s a 14-day free trial; after that it’s $47 per month for the Builder plan, or $39 per month on the annual plan. The Premier plan, which costs $127 per month or $97 per month with annual billing, recently added a profit dashboard, Zapier integration, and an unlimited high-speed captcha solver. The app has 4.8 out of 5 stars from 104 reviews in the Shopify app store.

  1. AliExpress — China-based dropshipper with great user reviews

Ali Express

Visit AliExpress

Free To Join
100+ Million Products
Worldwide Delivery
Seller Feedback Reviews

AliExpress is a Alibaba’s online retailer. It’s based in China, but doesn’t sell products to anyone in mainland China. The site has lots of user reviews and analytics that are super useful during the product research phase.

  1. DHgate — 1M+ products, but check user reviews

DHgate

Visit DHgate

Free To Join
Products From Certified Sellers
Worldwide Delivery
Escrow Protection On All Orders

There are over a million Chinese suppliers on DHGate. Best practice for buying off DHgate: check user ratings and feedback. Just like you would when buying something off of eBay, be wary of anything that could be a knock-off or imitation, and be prepared for slow shipping and nuances like new-with-box items arriving with their boxes unassembled.

  1. Doba — 2M+ products with so-so profit margins

Doba

Visit Doba

14 Day Free Trial
Basic Plan $29 per month
Advanced Plan $69 per month
Pro Plan $249 per month

This 2 million product database doesn’t just bring a number of suppliers into one marketplace — you’ll also place your customer orders within Doda as well. That being said, it’s not cheap and we’ve read a number of negative reviews, many of which mention that the prices aren’t low enough to profit. Doba has a 14-day free trial, so you can log in and run the numbers to see if a membership (which starts at $29 per month) is right for you.

  1. Wholesale Central — Best free dropshipping directory

Wholesale Central

Visit Wholesale Central

No Membership Required
Free Directory of Suppliers
Free Directory of Trade Shows
Good Site For Research

This free directory lists suppliers you can work with individually to order products from. There’s nothing fancy about it — it’s like a phone book — but has useful information to use as you do your research.

  1. Sunrise Wholesale Merchandise — Some of the best shipping speeds

MegaGoodsSunrise Wholesale

Visit Sunrise Wholesale

7 Day Free Trial
$49 per month or $199 per year
Over 20,000 wholesale products
Ships to USA and Canada

A $99 yearly fee gets you access to Sunrise’s selection of goods. It’s a bit smaller than other databases, but the shipping times are pretty quick: typically 5–7 days. Packages arrive to your customers with a receipt from “Customer Service” that’s not branded.

  1. Megagoods — US-based dropshipping supplier

MegaGoods

Visit MegaGoods

30 Day Free Trial
$14.99 per month
$1.50 per order fee
Located in California

A California-based warehouse that will dropship your goods under your packaging and branding, typically in less time than it’d take to ship from an overseas supplier. Pro tip: check the added fees to make sure that your margins are good.

  1. Dropship News – Extensive online directory

<img class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-44430″ src=”https://quicksprout-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Dropship-News.png” alt=”Dropship News” />

Visit Dropship News

Online Directory of Suppliers
No Registration Required
Find US-Based Suppliers
Free Resources and Guides

This free online directory of suppliers is worth sifting through. We found some great US-based suppliers. Most of each supplier’s dropshipping information is on their profile, which saves you some clicking around.

  1. National Dropshippers — Difficult user interface and product search (not recommended)

You can give a try to see if there’s a product that’s only available here, but if you can find it elsewhere you’ll probably be better off going with the alternative. Products are hard to find and search for, and the returns and shipping policies aren’t favorable.

  1. Dropwow — Negatively reviewed Oberlo competitor (not recommended)

An app that’s reminiscent of Oberlo and Spocket, but with more negative reviews. The tool claims to automate your orders and help you locate dropshippers located in the US and elsewhere. However, with only 3.8 out of 5 stars from 121 reviewers on the Shopify app store, and a monthly subscription of $29 per month, I don’t recommend it.

  1. DropshipDirect.com — Currently in hiatus

This site makes some enticing claims: 100,000 items in its inventory, a SaaS-approach to data, and quick shipping from its Michigan warehouses. However, the sign-up form is in private mode and the company seems to be on a year-long hiatus. We’ll keep an eye on Dropship Direct and report back.

Why Dropship?

Dropshipping solves a bunch of problems: no cash needed upfront, no boxes piling up in your store room, garage, or let’s be honest, in your spare bedroom. You never even have to touch the product or be responsible for the packaging or shipping. That means no more trips to the Post Office, either. Your dropship partner takes care of all that.

Today world’s largest cab company, Uber, does not own a single cab. World’s largest accommodation company, Airbnb, does not own a single hotel. Similarly, lot of ecommerce companies don’t own any inventory and just operate as a marketplace. If you ever had a dream to start a eCommerce business this is the best time.” —Saba Mohebpour CEO of Spocket, as told to Thrive Global

Before I jump to the list of best dropshipping partners, some real business talk: the benefits of dropshipping are also its drawbacks. You don’t have the inventory in your warehouse, so you don’t have control of a customer ordering something that’s out of stock. There’s no shipping work on your end, so you can’t control the shipping speed, or the packaging.

Long ship times = canceled orders.
Weird packaging = bad reviews.

And, you still need some money up front to build your website, put in the sweat equity of making that business take off, and all the other steps you’ll need to take to start your business.

Like any business partnership, you need to do your research on who you’re working with, what it’s going to cost you, and what you’re expecting to get out of it before you get too involved. This review will help you pick dropshipping companies that’ll work for your business — no matter your niche.

What’s the best dropshipping company for me?

Trying to find the best dropshipping company all up is a little bit beside the point. It’s like asking for the best eBay seller or the best store on Etsy. The things that make dropshippers great are a lot of the same things that make an eBay or Etsy seller great: They’re communicative and have fast shipping. The product arrives as promised. It looks like the listing and it shows up in one piece in packaging that looks nice and not chewed up by an alligator.

Just like an eBay seller, the best dropshipper for you is the one selling what you’re interested in buying (and reselling). They will reliably, communicatively, and quickly ship the product you’re after at a price that’s profitable for you — it’s about finding your best.

Most dropshippers use a Shopify store and an automation app like Oberlo or Spocket. If you’re new to dropshipping, this is definitely the easiest way to get set up.

Why Shopify is the best way to start your dropshipping business

That means, you are basically setting up the equivalent to any ecommerce store. For ecommerce stores, the clear winner is Shopify. It’s been the frontrunner for a while. What’s most important about that for dropshipping is that the app store is super robust. Most stores use Shopify, so developers looking to make a high-quality app develop it for the Shopify app store.

So, if you haven’t already set up your Shopify store, that needs to go on your to-do list. We have a post that’ll walk you through the step-by-step process for setting up your Shopify store. It’s easy. There’s even a course in the Shopify Academy to learn how to start a dropshipping business with Shopify: Dropshipping 101.

I don’t recommend dropshipping with eBay

It’s compelling to set up shop with a marketplace — you don’t have to start a website, pay a subscription, etc. like you would with Shopify. But, I don’t recommend it. Unlike Shopify that’s super excited and helpful with new dropshipping businesses, eBay is growing more and more against them. Here are the sticking points for me:

  • Your store’s reputation is on the line — eBay is not forgiving and will downgrade accounts with reports of slow shipping
  • You’re probably not the only one selling that item
  • Your business case isn’t clear — why should someone buy that item from you, just another eBay store?
  • eBay has been cracking down on dropshippers and resellers, asking for proof of having the item in possession and freezing your store until you send in that proof. Proof could be a photo of your ID card with the item — not a photo of the item from a different listing. See this article from eSellerCafe.com for more on eBay Aggressively Banning Drop Shipping / Arbitrage Accounts.

If you do want to build your dropshipping business with eBay, I’d spend a few weeks or months in the seller forums to understand the specific risks and challenges of dropshipping on eBay.

How to start a dropshipping company

  1. Find items to sell

Find your niche.

There’s lots of chatter on the internet about finding your dropshipping niche, but this is just a trendy buzzword for product-market fit: are there people who want to buy your product? From you?

If not, you won’t have a successful business.

You’ll have the most success dropshipping a product if there’s an audience that wants to buy it and doesn’t have an easy way to access it. That’s where you come in.

Some ways to find your niche: brainstorm rabid fan groups or audiences with a common need or interest (dog lovers, anime fans, parents who love to dress up their kids in matching outfits, sailors, very tall people, people who love 90s throwback tees). These are purchase-ready populations looking to love and buy things that they’re interested in.

See what’s trending on Facebook.

Doing a quick search of a phrase like “Get yours here” or “Buy now” and look at the videos featuring items for sale that are getting traction. This can give you a sense of which products are interesting people on Facebook right now. Look for a high number of views in a short period of time, then search for the item at a dropship supplier like Oberlo or AliExpress. Consider the price-point of the item in the video and the assets you can create for it. Can you replicate — or improve on — the current trending video? If so, you may have an item worth dropshipping.

Don’t sell anything dangerous or copyrighted.

If you’re a beginner, don’t start with something that goes in or on a person’s body. If you do not know the quality and source of the ingredients, and something goes wrong, do you have coverage for that liability?

Also, if there’s a celebrity or character from a movie franchise on the item, it could get you in trouble. Steer clear of mice with big round ears.

Look at seller’s reviews and order a test product.

How long has the seller been selling? What feedback have they been getting. When you order a test product, does it meet your expectations? What do you need to tell your customers so they’ll be happy when they receive the product?

Consider dropshipping only some items.

Just because you’re dropshipping some things doesn’t mean you need to dropship everything. Perhaps it makes sense to use dropshipping for large, bulky, high-priced niche items.

Say, for example, you have an online store that sells nautical gear. You may want to personally store and ship some items, but dropship the anchors. For items like this, your customers may also be more accommodating to longer shipping times since it’s a large and more considered purchase. Same goes for home goods: perhaps you keep small items in stock, but dropship the couches. You can increase your inventory breadth very simply this way.

Go directly to a supplier and build a dropshipping relationship with them.

This is a killer plan: there’s guaranteed to be less competition. You’re basically creating a new audience for an under-marketed product that’s not getting seen by a ready-to-buy audience. If you use a database, every single other subscriber is using that same database.

  1. Nail the basics

Invest in a good domain name.

We buy all our domain names from Domain.com. (You can read our full review on the best domain registrars.)

Set up your website.

If you go with Shopify, you’ll be up in minutes. Lots of dropshippers recommend the Shopify Brooklyn theme with a good font choice. You can also use another ecommerce option. Here’s our review on the best ecommerce platforms, if you’re interested in exploring.

Get a professional logo.

You can get one for a reasonable price (and no design expertise) with 99Designs. See my post about how to get your first brand identity on a budget for more details and how to run a logo design contest.

Use a professional email address.

It should be a sensible start ([email protected], [email protected]) with your own domain name. I recommend getting G Suite for $5 a month per user. There’s nothing to trust about emailing a customer service that’s at yahoo.com or gmail.com.

Give your customer strong trust signals.

You can do this with high quality photos and unique item copy, a real and robust About Us page, and thoughtfully using things like discounted prices and pop-ups.

Ask yourself: Would I buy from this store? Would I feel comfortable suggesting it to a friend or family member? You’ll need some trust logos and some FAQs at minimum.

Set shipping time expectations.

Most dropshipped items aren’t going to get to the customer very quickly — and in world where Amazon Prime has set the standard at two days, that means dropshipments of 30 days feel extremely slow. If you don’t prepare your customers they’ll be very unhappy. We’ve seen very straightforward copy, like: All our items ship directly from our suppliers in China. Shipments are processed the day of your order and arrive in 25–30 days.

Make sure your orders go through.

Bundle credit card orders so your bank doesn’t cancel your numerous orders. Let your bank know what types of orders and in what quantities you’ll be placing, so they’re not flagged as fraudulent. There is no pain so rich as having to reorder orders you’ve placed. (You do have a business credit card, right?)

Prepare for returns and cancellations.

How will you deal with unhappy customers? What’s your return policy and how will you chargeback customer payments? Will returned items be shipped to you, or to your distributor? How will that work? Like with anything in business, it’s important to set it all up from day one like it’ll be a huge success.

Set aside money to pay taxes.

If you’re using Shopify as your payment gateway, once you get to a certain sales threshold, Shopify will automatically report your sales to the government. You’ll want to make sure you have money available to pay applicable taxes. We also recommend getting an accountant and a lawyer (we’ve heard good things about UpCounsel and LegalZoom) and setting up Quicken.

  1. Differentiate yourself

Make your store listings and ads unique.

Remember, if you can quickly and easily set up a dropshipping order for a specific product, it’s likely another store will be able to do the same. You will need to find an edge: why would someone order from you, or find your store selling the product, and not your competitor?

Take your own pictures. Write your own copy. Shoot unique social videos. Really put thought into how to best convey the product and why a person would want it: What problems does it solve? Can it make them feel joy?

Import user reviews.

If you’re using AliExpress, you can import the user reviews. No one likes being the first to buy something.

Consider offering free shipping.

Do all orders have free shipping or only when a certain order spend is hit? What threshold or minimum spend works best?

I do not recommend offering “Free products — you pay shipping.” Many customers would rather know the price up-front than go through a purchase flow that says $0 the whole way through and then slaps on a $15 shipping charge. It’s 2019 and the norm is free 2-day shipping with Prime. People are catching on and aren’t happy about it. Read more from The Daily Beast in Instagram Influencers Dupe Their Fans With ‘Free’ Products.

Market your store.

Make sure people know about your store. This can be through word of mouth, social media ads, viral memes, influencer programs, SEO, a newsletter. You’re going to need visitors to make sales.

  1. Iterate iterate iterate

Use ads to test and gather data.

We’re assuming that you’ll be buying ads. If you do, buy and use the data to test what’s working. What gets traction? Double down on it. What doesn’t? Trash it. This may lead you to changing your products, your ad style, your audience. Following the early traction means you head toward what’s working and away from what’s not.

Analyze your sales.

What’s selling well? What’s not selling at all? Is there any common theme in the items? Replicate what you can. Stop what’s not working.

Dropshipping vocabulary

Arbitrage – The simultaneous buying and selling of an item to take advantage of a difference in price for the same asset. Say there’s a board game for sale at Walmart for $20, but the lowest price on Amazon is $45. Arbitrage is listing the game for sale on Amazon and buying the Walmart game. For every sale you make on Amazon, you take advantage of a $25 price difference. If your arbitrage is online to online, with free shipping, the math suggests you could simply sell on one site, buy and ship from the other, and pocket all the profit. This does not take into account any hiccups: returns, merchandise not accurate, merchandise no longer in stock, price changes in either market, etc.

Dropshipping (DS) – The supply chain system in which a seller does not keep items in stock, but rather transfers orders directly to a manufacturer, supplier, or wholesaler who ships the item directly to the consumer.

Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) – Some sellers set a floor to how low you can advertise or display your product for sale. This is not the same as the price you can sell it for. So, the MAP price does not take into account coupon codes or sales, or other tricks like offering a gift card with a purchase, offering rebates, or doing things like showing an even lower price in the cart.

Dropshipping examples and press

You may have seen the posts we’ve seen — the ones about people starting dropshipping businesses and raking in the sales. We’re talking five-figures in a single day, six-figures every month. What is this magic sauce, we wonder.

The magic sauce is the same sauce as any other business: it’s a math equation based on margins. How big are your margins? How big is your customer base? What’s the conversion rate? How stiff is the competition?

Welcome to a little-known corner of the e-commerce world, where small entrepreneurs use social-media ads and hip virtual storefronts to entice people into buying products listed on online marketplaces such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s AliExpress.

The process often involves online storefronts transferring customer details to an AliExpress seller, which ships the goods directly to the customer; the storefront bills the customer. Called dropshipping, it is a twist on a fulfillment technique that major online retailers also use to send goods directly from their manufacturers to the customer.

The entrepreneur profits by charging a high markup, betting shoppers are unlikely to stumble upon the less-expensive goods on a marketplace site. AliExpress is the most popular such marketplace, but some entrepreneurs order from sellers on other marketplace sites like Amazon.

—“The Mystery of the $70 Hoodie That’s All Over Facebook,” Wall Street Journal

The mystery of the $70 hoodie is also not a mystery: it’s a one-time sale that’s not going to turn into repeat business. It’s a simple equation:

high price + low product quality + poor customer experience = repeat business

Dropshipping seemed cool because it made starting an eCommerce seem easy: I didn’t need to buy products in advance; I didn’t need to have space to hold them, and it didn’t require extra time and effort to ship the orders myself. Dropshipping does have disadvantages, but it really appealed to me, so I continued my online search.

There are numerous ready-to-use eCommerce platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce or Squarespace. Most of them start at around $20 per month, which seemed like a good deal for a first-time entrepreneur like myself.

It took me two days to set up the store the way that I wanted it to look. Shopify is totally non-programmer friendly. All you need to do is open an account, select a look for your store, and that’s it – you’re ready to sell.

When I set up my store, I had no definite idea of what I should sell. I wasn’t sure if I should pick a product I was passionate about or just a random product I was able to find in dropshipping databases like WholesaleDirect.com or the like.

“This Guy Made $12K In One Month While Working Full-Time,” Huffington Post

“This guy” is Justin Wong, and he made his business work by studying Instagram marketing, set up affiliate partnerships with influencers, and matched his product with his marketing technique. And, he’s not confused about the pros and cons of that marketing strategy: when the posts age on a influencers feed, his sales go down.

My name is Jacky Chou. With my partner, Albert Liu (albeliu on Reddit), we launched a home decor dropshipping site that went from negative 3k to 250k a month in 8 months at 30-40% margins. We’re both first generation Asian-Canadians who moved from Vancouver to Berlin to work in marketing.

We started our dropshipping store as a ‘practice what you preach’ case study, as we’re both working as digital marketing consultants (Albert as a freelance Facebook consultant and I’m a founder of an SEO agency, Indexsy).

— “We made 250k USD last month with our dropshipping side hustle. Oberlo / Shopify reached out to us to do a success story. AMA!,” Reddit

Further reading

 

The world of Search engine optimization

Digital Marketing agency is basically the agency which caters the needs of businesses to conduct their marketing operations in accordance to the latest trends. It can be said that there are many companies which are always in search of a digital marketing agency which can help them reach out more effectively to their target audience.

Another kind of agencies which are gaining a lot of importance are the SEO agency. The SEO agency provides various SEO services such as SEO marketing. SEO marketing basically means search engine optimization in such a way that the marketing needs are fulfilled. Over the recent years there has been a lot of growth in the demand of SEO marketing.

The SEO services which the SEO agency provides are the all updated and developed in such a way that they help in the profits being made by the client companies. There are proper companies called the SEO Company, which deal with all such matters. The SEO company industry has been making a lot of profits in the last few year as their demand is increasing day by day. These companies hire SEO experts, who give their valuable advices to the client companies and enable them to meet their targets.

It can be stated that there are many SEO pros in the world today, this is so as the field has gained a lot of popularity and has been able to produce meaningful results. There are a huge number of individuals who are interested in become SEO experts so that they can work in the said industry. Any Company before hiring a SEO company makes sure that it understands the SEO pros to yield the maximum benefits. Therefore, it can be said that in the age of technology it is vital for businesses to use the latest trends and techniques in order to survive.

 

The emergence of SEO

With the increasing popularity of Google and other similar kinds of search engines, the world has changed. These search engines have changed things for people belonging to all walks of life, for example a student can now complete his research assignments without going to the library as he can have the access to all the information he needs by a single click on this computer. Similarly, businesses can achieve their profit or sales goals by using the latest trends of marketing. The most important one being SEO marketing, for which they are required to hire a SEO agency or get in touch with a SEO company. The SEO agency or the SEO Company provides the client businesses the SEO services which they are looking for. The most popular SEO service these days is SEO marketing. Therefore, many of the SEO companies have SEO experts on their teams which have a lot of ideas for marketing. These SEO experts are familiar with all the SEO pros and can help their client businesses score a fortune. However, there are still many businesses which are unaware of the SEO pros.

It can be said that the culture of the Digital Marketing agency  or industry has changed for the better. The digial marketing agency in today`s world helps the businesses reach out to their customers in a better and unique way, which is easily accessible by the help of any of the electronic devices they own. The only requirement is to have an internet connection, that’s it! The custoemrs are loving it as well as they get to learn about new businesses and new prodcuts just by using the search engines and it also helps them to select the best products which are in accordance to their price range and quality requirenments.

What Is Marketing Automation? – The Definitive Guide

What Is Marketing Automation?

If you’re a marketer, you’ve probably heard of marketing automation. We’re going to bet though, that 90 percent of you have no clue what the term means. We don’t blame you — ‘marketing automation’ is a mouthful to say, and there probably should be a better way to describe the concept.

Let’s start by investigating the problem.

Marketing is the lifeblood of every brand-to-customer (or prospect) relationship. The field is also heavily integrated with sales. When companies first launch, they’re typically run by builders and sellers. Builders create the product, while sellers are out in the field forging 1:1 connections with potential customers.

The sales process is marketing in its most nascent stages.

As a company starts to grow, it’s impossible to maintain 1:1 relationships with everybody. At this point, it’s time to hire a marketing director who can build performance-driven, conversion-centric programs at scale.

Eventually, your company’s marketing program will get so big that you can’t — possibly — manage everything via Outlook, Word, and Excel spreadsheets. You could always hire a team of marketing specialists, but eventually, you’re going to start wasting cash on redundant tasks like emailing new customers, setting up social media-to-email programs, and emailing your users every time you post blog content.

That’s where marketing automation comes in.

Definitions of Marketing Automation

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Marketing automation is a tough concept to capture in just a few words. The best way to understand the concept is to survey the landscape. Here are the most descriptive and comprehensive definitions that we’ve found:

Marketing automation is a category of software that streamlines, automates, and measures marketing tasks and workflows so that companies like yours can increase operational efficiency and grow revenue faster. – Marketo

Marketing automation is the use of software to automate marketing processes such as customer segmentation, customer data integration, and campaign management. The use of marketing automation makes processes that would have otherwise been performed manually much more efficient, and makes new processes possible. Marketing automation is an integral component of customer relationship management. – SearchCRM

Marketing automation is the use of software and Web-based services to execute, manage and automate marketing tasks and processes. It replaces manual and repetitive marketing processes with purpose-built software and applications geared toward performance. – Techopedia

Marketing Automation a subset of customer relationship management (CRM) that focuses on the definition, scheduling, segmentation and tracking of marketing campaigns. The use of marketing automation makes processes that would otherwise have been performed manually much more efficient and makes new processes possible.- Marketing Automation Times

At its best, marketing automation is software and tactics that allow companies to buy and sell like Amazon – that is, to nurture prospects with highly personalized, useful content that helps convert prospects to customers and turn customers into delighted customers. This type of marketing automation typically generates significant new revenue for companies, and provides an excellent return on the investment required. – Hubspot

Separating Fact from Myth

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It’s common for marketers to talk about marketing automation and email marketing interchangeably. The fact is that email marketing is a component of marketing automation, but the two are far from the same thing.

Marketing automation combines disparate customer acquisition and retention channels to conform to conform to your company’s conversion funnel.

Yeah, that was kind of a mouthful.

Here is what we mean

Any company’s buy cycle will span multiple touch points. For instance, a customer may find your company through search. He may decide to ‘like’ your company’s Facebook page and then come back to your site to read a recently shared blog article. Your awesome blog content may convince him to become an email subscriber.

Conversion paths are unique. Imagine trying to chase down hundreds of them – it’s impossible. That’s where marketing automation comes in.

  • Fact: Marketing automation connects multiple touch points and marketing channels including social media, email marketing, and content marketing. One of the core goals of marketing automation is to nurture prospects for the long-term, which mean focusing on goals beyond direct sales.
  • Myth: Marketing automation is cold, inhuman, and impersonal. “Automation” is just another way of saying that we’re spamming people.
  • Fact: Marketing automation makes it easier to send personalized, 1:1 targeted messages. In other words, marketing automation makes communication stronger. When you automate your marketing, you can focus more heavily on the quality of your campaigns and messaging. Marketing automation gives your team the ability to add more personal touches to your campaign – by collecting data on a prospect’s interests and goals, you can custom-tailor future offers so that they are more relevate.In fact, marketing automation will empower your organization to do the following:
    1. Add dynamic content based on an individual’s specific user profile. For instance, you can send targeted offers based on website patterns.
    2. Categorize customers and prospects by common behaviors, interests, and demographic details. These will be dimensions for segmenting your customers.
    3. Develop optimal marketing patterns. Marketing automation can help your company test different variables like email send times, subject headings, and ideas for personalization.
    4. Integrate marketing channels to deliver a comprehensive, cross-platform user experience. Make sure that every touch point is carefully planned for optimal conversion optimization.
  • Myth: Marketing automation is spam.
  • Fact: No way. Marketing automation is one of the most user-friendly marketing channels out there because it’s tailored around personalized user experiences. You’re not blasting audiences with an advertising messages. Imagine instead that you’re nurturing leads and guiding prospects through the sales conversion funnel.

What Marketing Automation Looks Like

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What we want to express is that marketing automation is about software. Your goal is to grow your email list dramatically. A group of 5 people will be easy to manage, but 10? Not so much.

And many companies are dealing with lists of 10,000 or more. Sometimes 10 million. We’ll walk you through one example—a platform called Act-On.

Act-On is designed for:

  • Small businesses
  • With limited marketing resources
  • Who don’t have dedicated IT staff for dedicated database maintenance
  • Who need a cloud-based solution
  • Who need a flexible, tiered pricing structure with month-to-month agreements

Tip: Different marketing automation platforms are designed for different types of businesses. Act-On is just one solution. It’s critical that your business research marketing automation options—HubSpot, Act-On, GetResponse, Eloqua, MailChimp, and Marketo to figure out which one is the best fit.

Most of these companies have free-trial options, so take advantage of the opportunity to ‘try before you buy’ first hand.

These companies are all awesome in their own right­­—we’re not going to recommend any particular one to you. There is no one-size-fits all approach. You need to choose the solution with (1) the targeting features you need and (2) the analytics capabilities.

Other features to pay attention to: CRM integrations, import/export features of customer data, and the ability to implement your own customizations.

The platform comes with email, website visitor tracking, lead management, social media, CRM, reporting and analytics. A core value proposition is that business owners can execute their marketing from one place to (1) generate high quality leads and (2) transform those leads into sales.

Here is what users see when they log-in to the Act-On home screen:

Here is an example analytics dashboard where Act-On users can preview performance for all e-mail based campaigns.

Notice how Act-On simplifies performance by focusing on three key metrics:

  • Sent emails
  • Opens on email messages
  • Clickthroughs to the marketer’s website

Seasonality can affect the performance of a marketing automation campaign. Two variables that marketers need to watch are performance by day of the month and by day of the week. Understanding trends bay day can help you optimize the variables that we mentioned above­—open rates and click-through rates back to your website.

Marketing automation programs come with integrated A/B testing software so that you can run experiments and refine your messaging to connect with your target audience:

Organizations can also maintain controls over who is using the marketing automation software. Typical users will include members of sales, account management, and marketing teams. You can restrict who can send emails, who has access to reports, and who can maintain control over administrative settings.

To save time and maintain a cohesive brand image, you can use your marketing automation software to create templates, email signature, and message formats. This functionality allows users to establish 1:1 connections in less time—with templates, you only need to change the form fields for names and email addresses.

Marketing Automation Is More Than Just Software

We’ve spent a lot of time emphasizing the value of tactics, marketing channels, and software. Keep in mind, however, that marketing automation is something more. As we mentioned in the intro—we wrote this guide to bridge a gap in the marketing automation space.

We did a lot of research before we put this post together. We probably spent more time reading and testing than we did writing. Here’s what we learned:

The core thought leaders in marketing automation are the software companies themselves. This is okay—we think companies like HubSpot, Marketo (and others) are awesome.

We want to emphasize (and re-emphasize), however, that our guide is software-agnostic.

We definitely think that software is a core part of the marketing automation dialogue, so we’re going to keep talking about it. But we also recognize how important it is to emphasize the strategic dimensions of this marketing practice.

There are a lot of people out there who call themselves ‘experts’ in marketing automation. But they’re not experts in marketing automation. They’re exceptional at using software.

Marketing automation starts with understanding the difference between ‘strategies’ and ‘tactics.’

Strategies are creative—yet structured—marketing frameworks. These programs start with the big picture.

Marketers will then reverse engineer solutions based on goals.

Tactics involve the implementation of specific marketing techniques—for instance, whether or not you want your email subject headings to contain action verbs.

To succeed with marketing automation, you need a healthy mix of strategy and tactics.

We’ve talked about marketing automation a lot, huh? You’re probably wondering what it means. Here is an example from the Act-On Blog :

An Example

US Fleet Tracking achieves $30,000 revenue in Black Friday campaign

US Fleet Tracking is a provider of Internet-based GPS vehicle tracking and asset management. The company started using Act-On to expand its marketing reach into new customer segments. (using email coupled with a Salesforce integration across desktop and mobile users).

The company was also looking to unify its marketing automation and sales efforts across different functions.

The company decided to implement Act-On to better engage its customers.

The result?

25% of email recipients requested a call back. In total, the marketing automation campaign generated $30,000.

Here are the tools that the company used:

  • A real-time dashboard that provided insight into who received the campaign as well as engagement actions (across e-mail, website, form, and content engagement)
  • Capabilities to personalize messaging to specific client interest.
  • Reduction in cold calling.

US Fleet used marketing automation software to monitor qualified leads (on an individual basis). In one instance, US Fleet was alerted to responded to a potential customer. The result? A transaction valued at $8,500.

The Role of Inbound Marketing

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The term ‘inbound marketing’ is something that you’ll likely hear about in tandem with marketing automation.

The two go hand-in-hand, but what exactly does ‘inbound marketing’ mean, and what does it have to do with marketing automation?

The terms “inbound marketing” and “content marketing” are frequently used interchangeably. The two concepts have risen in popularity—in tandem—over the last decade.

Inbound marketing is a customer acquisition practice that is built on human-to-human relationships. HubSpot, a content marketing and automation platform, is one of the companies that is responsible for making this term popular.

The concept has been around since 2006 and is central to the digital age. In fact, HubSpot calls it “the most effective marketing method for doing business online.”

Instead of relying on outbound marketing methods of buying ads, buying email lists, and aggressively pushing audiences into become leads, inbound marketing is the practice of attracting users through quality content that pulls people toward your company and product naturally. By closely aligning your content and marketing materials with your customers’ interest, your brand is in a position to attract, delight, and engage customers over time.

As defined by Hubspot, here are the biggest forces behind inbound marketing:

  • Content Generation: Create targeted content that directly addresses your customers’ demands. That content should be extremely high-quality, entertaining, engaging, & shareable.
  • Conversion Funnel Targeting: Marketers should pay attention – and respect– the fact that people go through stages as they interact with your company. Each stage requires different marketing needs. A customer who is just learning about your company for the first time, for instance, may not respond well to an aggressive, ‘buy-now’ CTA.
  • Personalization: As you build out your inbound marketing and marketing automation strategy, you will learn more about your leads. This learning process will empower your company to re-invest that data into refining your marketing strategy. Marketing automation software will help you streamline this process and build 1:1 connections with hundreds of thousands—and even millions—of users.
  • Cross-channel: Multi-channel marketing strategies connect all touch points in the customer journey. It’s common for users to engage with your brands across channels – email, social, and content before deciding to engage in a sale. Analytics will be crucial to this framework, so make sure that you are well-acquainted with basic web analytics tools.
  • Integration: Your marketing and analytics software need to communicate effectively with each other. This integration will help ensure that your brand is delivering the right marketing messages to the right audiences at the right time in their journeys.
  • Attraction & Engagement: Traffic acquisition is only part of the marketing equation. Organizations need qualified, targeted traffic to be successful in their marketing. We want to attract audiences who will ultimately become happy, long-term customers (who will refer other customers).
  • Conversion & Progression Through The Funnel: Once you have visitors on your website, the next step is to convert them. At the very least, you should start collecting their email addresses. Once you start building an organic email list, you can start reaching out to your customers and prospects so that you can re-engage them through your content: ebooks, whitepapers, and tip sheets.
  • Closing: You’ve become a lead magnet, what comes next? Now, you need to seal the deal by triggering marketing messages that inspire users to take action. At this point of your marketing strategy, you need to transform leads into customers (and existing customers into repeat buyers). You should use techniques like lead scoring, lead nurturing, mapping the buying process, and classic sales tactics.

Marketing automation can help connect and simplify these seemingly disparate actions. Instead of reaching customers manually, you can use software to establish these 1:1 bonds.

Make sure that you’re maintaining your relationships with your customers for the long-haul. Focus on more than just acquisition – embrace the art of retention. It’s easy to feel like new user acquisition is the low hanging-fruit. Keep in mind, however, that growth from within is just as—if not more—important to your marketing process.

Content is the heart of inbound marketing. Here is some inspiration of tactics that connect content across marketing channels.

Shopify, one of the biggest platforms for powering ecommerce websites, launched an email-to-blog content campaign. Whenever the company publishes a new blog post, subscribers receive an email.

That’s not all. Shopify’s ’s blog posts are also distributed via social media:

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This cross-platform approach maximizes audience attention. It also creates a blog > email > social media feedback loop that facilitates engagement and sharing activity.

The catch? There is none. Shopify includes zero sales messaging with this process. Of course, the brand’s ultimate goal is to convert audiences into customers. But Shopify isn’t blasting an advertising message that says “convert now.”

Instead, the company is focused on nurturing brand-to-audience relationships. The idea resonates with HubSpot’s thought leadership that we presented earlier. Content is a marketing pillar. It’s trustworthy, value-driven, and compelling. Coupled with marketing automation software, content can amplify the success of your relationship-building efforts.

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Tip: Close the feedback loop by connecting your marketing channels together. When you send an email to distribute a blog post—don’t show the full text. Show a snippet, and link back to the original website.

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If there is a natural opportunity, ask readers to share your content via social media.

Marketing Automation Is Driven by Psychology

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After reading the previous section, you’re probably convinced about the relationship between marketing, sales, and technology. People live by their emotions, and they’re driven by incentives. “What’s in it for me” is the question that fuels commerce as we know it today.

What’s important to keep in mind is that there are two sides to any commerce equation. If both buyers and sellers are too focused on their own goals, the critical ‘connection’ moment will never happen. Stop talking about why you’re awesome, and start focusing on why your audiences should care. That’s when you’ll see conversion success.

Marketing automation should be—first and foremost—driven by value.

When people talk about marketing automation, they focus on topics like analytics and A/B testing—again, probably because software companies are leading the conversations.

But we’re going to emphasize another quality that isn’t covered as often—empathy.

Care about your customers. Send them marketing messages that inspire delight. Always be looking for opportunities to listen to feedback.

Stop thinking about “pushing” email blasts, and focus on ways to pull audiences close to your brand. Marketing automation means targeting the right users with the right message at the right time in their buying journeys.

The Golden Rule of Marketing

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At any moment, customers have one question running through their heads:

“What’s in it for me?”

Your marketing programs should answer this question directly. Sometimes, the answer will require multiple conversations. And span multiple marketing channels.

Let’s think with our shopper brains for a moment. You’re shopping online, add some items to your shopping cart, and go to check out. As you enter your billing address, you realize that you left your credit card in the kitchen. It’s midnight and you’re exhausted. You decide to put off your purchase until tomorrow. Then you totally forget. You’ve contributed to the phenomenon that online merchants call “shopping cart abandonment.”

Marketers, the world is working against you.

There are so many reasons why a transaction won’t happen, and these reasons are completely outside of your control. These forces of nature include direct (or indirect) competitors, shopper laziness, and mismatched timing.

Incentives can help you zight these external forces. Let’s go back to that example where you were shopping online but left your credit card in the kitchen. If you had a one-night-only 30% off coupon, would you have been more inclined to get up and walk to the other side of the house? If your shopping cart purchase was $20? Probably not. But if you were planning to spend $100 or more, the answer is likely to be a clear ‘you bet.’

As a customer acquisition strategy, Clarity emailed its subscriber base with the following refer-a-friend deal. Refer a friend, and get $20 to test out the platform for yourself. It’s a great way for Clarity to build its community while introducing new users to the product, for free. It’s also a sign that Clarity feels confident in its product.

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Incentives don’t have to be monetary. They can be white papers, guides, e-books, and free consultations. By providing resources up-front, you’ll give your customers a sneak peak into your thought process, value, intelligence, and quality.

These incentives are crucial to moving your customers through the conversion funnel.

Feedback Loops

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Marketing automation is built around feedback loops. With every action, there’s a consumer-driven reaction.

It is important to monitor these feedback loops with an objective eye. The reason? As a marketing, demand generation, or business development professional, you’re probably under immense pressure to sell. Even if you’re emailing a basic newsletter or content update, you never know how consumers will respond to your messaging.

Consumers are extremely sensitive and attuned to ‘salesiness.’ That’s why it’s so important to monitor your data—unsubscribe rates, spam complaints, open rates, and click-through rates—on email campaigns. Watch every customer service complaint. Listen to everything that your customers are telling you.

Here is an example reporting dashboard from a campaign in MailChimp:

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What you’ll learn is that abuse reports are the norm rather than the exception—it’s normal to have 1 for every few thousand emails that you send. Some consumers are sensitive to email marketing (due to years and years of abuse), and others aren’t always familiar with the opt-out process. It’s a genuine mistake — people sometimes confuse “abuse reports” with opt-out forms.

If you care about your customers (and your job as a marketer), you will feel a strong emotional component with your work. Abuse reports and opt-outs of your email list will sting.

A core first lesson to learn is not to take it personally. Hold on to your empathy, but let the data guide you.

It’s common for marketers to be at two sides of the spectrum—some are extra sensitive to their consumers’ needs, and some don’t care at all. You need to find a point in the middle and flex between being data-driven and emotionally driven. Let the data tell you “what,” but let your emotions guide you in helping determine “why” and “how.”

Some questions that you should always be thinking about with your marketing messaging:

  1. Am I contacting users too often? Am I being too aggressive? Metrics to watch: Unsubscribe rates, abuse complaints
  2. Are audiences finding my value proposition interesting? Metrics to watch: Click-through rates to your website, open rates
  3. Are users engaged? Metrics to watch: Responses to your emails; activities on your website
  4. Who are my most engaged segments? Metrics to watch: Response rates and engagement rates by segments

Marketing or Sales?

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Marketing automation is the solution to amplifying and streamlining 1:1 relationships at scale.

At times, you may feel like you’re walking the line between business development and marketing.

This is exactly where you want to be.

We call this process ‘marketing automation, but it is ultimately linked with the sales process. Think about it from a content creation perspective. It’s your sales team that has the window into what your audiences want. Marketing automation will give you amazing insight into the community that you’re trying to reach.

Marketing automation doesn’t stop with marketing. Which brings us to our next point…

Is it okay to sell with Marketing Automation?

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Absolutely! This is one of the biggest cognitive pain points related to marketing automation.

We frequently think “content, inbound, or bust.” The marketing community is polarized—on the one side of the spectrum are the pushy folks who are driving direct sales. On the other side? The content marketers who never, ever want to sell.

What you really need is a blend of both. We do want to emphasize a key point, however, before diving deeper into this guide.

Marketing automation isn’t black and white. There are some instances where you will want to aggressively sell. There are some instances where you won’t want to sell—pushing more than great content will drive your prospects away.

With every marketing automation decision, you’ll need to make a judgment call—and intuition won’t help. You’ll need to rely on a thorough understanding of the conversion funnel and what it means.

4 ways to grow your business with marketing automation

Tactic #1: Identify and target high profile leads

When you get leads from your website, how do you get them? Usually you’ll get them by email, and you’ll probably add them to a list with all of the other leads you get.

Although it might seem obvious that you should target your best leads, you’ll be shocked to find out how often marketers not only ignore them but ignore segmentation altogether.

For starters, you should segment your list to avoid sending the same message to your entire database. If you want really good engagement from your list, then segmentation is your key. But how should you segment? A pretty common way of segmenting is based upon lead demographics, interests, behaviors and lead source.

For example, if you run a business that provides marketing help to companies, then you could segment based upon where a lead opted into your sequence:

  • Newsletter
  • Webinar
  • Whitepaper
  • Video
  • Blog

Then you could look at a couple of other variables like:

  • Whether he or she is a total stranger, client or former client
  • And what your lead wants help with in his or her marketing
    • Reputation Management
    • Video Marketing
    • Corporate Branding Online
    • Becoming an expert
    • Content marketing
    • Blog marketing
    • SEO

Now, that’s a basic way to segment. If you want to target your high-profile leads, you need to identify them using the following six questions:

  • What is the biggest problem you are trying to solve?
  • What’s it worth to you to solve the problem?
  • What particular questions and concerns do you have about products like ours?
  • What other options do you have?
  • What do you need to believe about products like ours in order to buy?
  • What metrics do you use to measure success?

The questions will help you not only identify the ideal prospect for your product or service, but it will also help turn that prospect into a buyer. In other words, these questions will help you get the information you need to target your best prospects.

If you’re wondering how to ask these questions, one option is to present it as a survey on your website. Survey Monkey or KISSinsights both provide platforms to help you gather this kind of intelligence.

Once you’ve identified those high-profile leads, continue to nurture them with questions, betas and recommendations so that they are helping you craft your product to fit their needs perfectly.

Tactic #2: Improve conversion late in the funnel

One of the best ways to increase conversion is to create a very focused sales funnel. In other words, you limit your prospects’ choices by giving them the exact information they are looking for and guiding them to the action you want them to take.

Your sales funnel does not exist in a vacuum, so it’s easy for your prospect to get distracted and leave the sales funnel. Let’s say your prospect ended up on your landing page, subscribed to your email newsletter, responded to an appeal in one of the emails and is on the order page.

At this point your prospect is primed, so you have to give them exactly what they want. But in order to sweeten the deal, you need to heighten the value in order to get them to convert this late in the game. That could be a free trial or a percentage off.

Your prospect doesn’t need a bunch of options, so your funnel at this point should be restricted to one and only one choice so you can close the deal.

But why do some prospects opt out? They opt out typically for three reasons:

  • They get distracted by outside influences, like seeing something else online.
  • They don’t feel your product is the best value exchange.
  • They don’t understand what they need to do next. In other words, they don’t know how to proceed forward.

Because of this, your sales funnel should be simple. For example, if you look at Seth Godin’s email newsletter subscription page, you see how simple it is:

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When it comes to closing a sale while offering multiple options, you’d want to make the decision simple…or at least seem simple by highlighting the best option. Here’s how 37 Signals does it:

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From the example above, it’s real clear that whichever option you choose, it is based on a 30-day trial. 37 Signals, I’m sure, tested this and found they get their best conversion by emphasizing one of the more affordable options.

In the end, the key is to simplify the process, not make it more complex by cluttering it with unnecessary information.

Tactic #3: Get rid of poor leads fast

On the other hand, you need to monitor your leads to identify those that are dead or worthless. Sure, you probably love seeing a large list, but digging into your analytics will tell you another story. And it won’t be good.

Lots of people probably subscribed to your email list but don’t engage in any meaningful way. They are probably too lazy to unsubscribe, but they are still on your list. You need to get them out of there because when you purge your list, you actually increase the value of the entire list. You boost your deliverability rate and email reputation.

So, how do you go about purging your poor leads from your marketing system? Here are some ideas:

  • Remove or correct bad domains – sometimes leads share bad domain names. Sometimes this happens by accident, and other times people enter bad domain names on purpose. Regardless, identify them immediately and remove or correct them.
  • Remove distribution accounts – for example, ISPs look for emails sent to distribution lists, or large email groups, and consider them spam. Plus, emailing to such lists is bad business. It’s like sending a letter to the “Resident.”
  • Remove spam email addresses – some leads slip in with the word “spam” in the email address. Pull those as soon as possible as they can make you look bad to your ISP.
  • Remove inactive addresses – for example, if a lead hasn’t opened an email in three or six months, remove that lead.
  • Use data checkers at the point of signing up – these tools check for things like correct domain name, etc.

You can also purge leads based on these three criteria:

  1. Do they have the authority to buy?
  2. Do they have the budget to buy?
  3. When do they plan on buying?

The leads you want your salespeople to avoid are called NINAsThese are the leads that have No Influence, No Authority. These leads will waste your time and money! Let marketing nurture them.

Tactic #4: Reduce losing leads

Leakage is what occurs when good leads leave your sales funnel. With marketing automation you can easily plug the hole in the funnel that causes those leads to leave. But you have to find out where the leaks are occurring.

Your first step is to map out the life of a lead. Take it from cold to close, trying to identify those points in the funnel where the lead is falling off. Do you see a point where leads are pouring out? Or just trickling? Here are five ways to prevent leakage:

  • Lead scoring model – according to a Sirius Decisions report, about 80% of leads are not followed up on by sales, which is probably a result from the two departments not talking to each other. They should talk and figure out what is a qualified lead. When a lead reaches that score, then marketing passes that lead to sales.
  • Sales alerts – a good marketing automation system will also alert sales when a lead reaches a critical score so the right message can be sent.
  • Lead nurturing process for decision-makers – because 78% of business decision-makers aren’t talking to sales reps, you need to develop a process that gets sales to that lead with relevant, personalized and simple information that gives the lead what they want.
  • Monitor changes in leads – optimize your marketing automation to identify when a lead changes score. This means you pay attention to things like budget, the lead’s role in the organization and the need of the lead or their company. If they drop in score, the lead should be passed back to marketing. A good marketing system should automate this process as much as possible.
  • Result tracking and revision – successful marketing involves constant monitoring of results and tweaking of your process. You should spend as much time on metrics as you do on any other process. Where are bottlenecks in the process? Where does the process fizzle? Are you and sales on the same page with lead scoring?

Constant communication between marketing and sales and a highly optimized and automated marketing system should help you plug any holes you have in your sales funnel.

Conclusion

If you’ve ever fought with sales or management about certain advertising campaigns, then you know what a pain it can be to argue your point without correct data.

Just implementing a marketing automation program can change the course of your business.

But when you get it working in a tip-top shape, then delivering clear results is your best proof for making business decisions.

It’s hard to argue with good results!

The Best Dropshipping Companies

Want to start a business selling products but not worry about shipping, storing inventory, or investing in that inventory upfront? Dropshipping — when you a product that’s shipped directly from the manufacturer to your customer — might be for you.

In this guide, I list and review the best dropshippers to help you get started.

The 17 best dropshipping companies, suppliers, databases, and tools

Once you have your Shopify account and your store set up, you’re ready to link up with a dropshipping partner and get selling. But, it can be hard to break into dropshipping because most dropshipping businesses don’t like to share their items or their suppliers. The thinking is: you’ll just replicate their shop and eat into their market.

I’m here to help with this list of 17 dropshippers, databases and suppliers — along with their pros and cons.

  1. Oberlo — Best Shopify plugin and directory

Oberlo

Visit Oberlo

Free Starter Plan
Basic Plan $30 per month
Pro Plan $80 per month
4.7 out of 5 stars

This plugin service works with Shopify stores. You’ll browse the Oberlo directory (which includes suppliers verified by Oberlo) to find inventory you’d like to sell in your store. You’ll be able to see how many pageviews, sales, and star-rankings each item and seller has. Once you make a sale, you’ll use Oberlo to order the item to be shipped to your customer. Oberlo has a forever-free Starter plan, but to unlock shipment tracking and order fulfillment monitoring, which I recommend, you’ll need to upgrade to the Basic plan at $30 per month. It’ll also raise your sales limit from 50 to 500. Once you crest 500, you’ll be in Pro territory, which is $80 per month and allows for multiple users as well. Oberlo has 4.7 out of 5 stars from 2,286 reviews in the Shopify app store.

  1. SaleHoo — Members-only database of 8,000+ suppliers

Salehoo

Visit Salehoo

60 Day Free Trial
Annual Plan $67 per year
Lifetime Plan $127 one time
9.6 out of 10 stars

A $67 yearly membership grants you access to this database of wholesalers and dropshippers. There are currently 8,000+ suppliers on the site, and they’re all screened by Salehoo before they’re added to the directory. There’s a 60-day free trial period, and the customer service gets high marks: 9.6 out of 10 with 247 reviews on TrustPilot.

  1. Spocket — A Shopify database app with good reviews

Spocket

Visit Spocket

Free Starter Plan
Pro Plan $49 per month
Empire Plan $99 per month
4.7 out of 5 stars

Spocket is a database app of dropship items that you can sort by country and simply upload into your Shopify store. Spocket makes it easy to find US and EU items that’ll ship within your country rather than from China, cutting down on slow ship speeds. The Basic plan (25 products with unlimited orders) is forever free, and upgrading to Pro is $49 per month for 250 products and branded invoicing. The Empire plan unlocks unlimited products for $99 per month. The app has 4.7 out of 5 stars from 1,226 reviews in the Shopify app store.

  1. Wholesale2B — Versatile supplier and dropshipping hub

Wholesale2B

Visit Wholesale2B

Browse for Free
Multiple Plan Options
$29.99 to $49.99 per month
DIY Plan $67 per year

You can do a lot of different things with Wholesale2b: sell its products on eBay, Amazon, on a Wholesale2B site, or your own WooCommerce / Shopify / Magento / BigCommerce site. Handle the orders yourself by becoming a registered reseller with each supplier or pay Wholesale2B a 3% fee to handle that for you.

  1. Inventory Source — Timesaving dropshipping automation tool

Inventory Source

Visit Inventory Source

Dropship Automation Solutions
Inventory $50 per month
Full Automation $150 per month
180+ Dropship Suppliers

An automation tool that allows you to either sync the suppliers products with your page (inventory automation) or to sync the entire customer purchase flow so that your orders are automatically placed with your supplier (full automation). Inventory automation is $50/month and full automation is $150/month.

  1. Worldwide Brands — Budget-friendly database

Worldwide Brands

Visit Worldwide Brands

Lifetime Plan $299
Direct Access to All Wholesalers
16+ Million Wholesale Products
BBB A+ Rated

For $299, you can get a lifetime subscription to this database of wholesalers and dropshippers.

  1. Dropified — Popular Shopify app for AliExpress

Dropified

Visit Dropified

14 Day Free Trial
Builder Plan $47 per month
Premier Plan $127 per month
4.8 out of 5 stars

This is another Shopify app for populating your store with items and automate your orders on AliExpress, including customer shipping address. However, there’s no Dropified marketplace, but rather a browser plugin that’ll let you pull from anywhere on the web. You can set up margin parameters and rules for changing the price points in your store. There’s a 14-day free trial; after that it’s $47 per month for the Builder plan, or $39 per month on the annual plan. The Premier plan, which costs $127 per month or $97 per month with annual billing, recently added a profit dashboard, Zapier integration, and an unlimited high-speed captcha solver. The app has 4.8 out of 5 stars from 104 reviews in the Shopify app store.

  1. AliExpress — China-based dropshipper with great user reviews

Ali Express

Visit AliExpress

Free To Join
100+ Million Products
Worldwide Delivery
Seller Feedback Reviews

AliExpress is a Alibaba’s online retailer. It’s based in China, but doesn’t sell products to anyone in mainland China. The site has lots of user reviews and analytics that are super useful during the product research phase.

  1. DHgate — 1M+ products, but check user reviews

DHgate

Visit DHgate

Free To Join
Products From Certified Sellers
Worldwide Delivery
Escrow Protection On All Orders

There are over a million Chinese suppliers on DHGate. Best practice for buying off DHgate: check user ratings and feedback. Just like you would when buying something off of eBay, be wary of anything that could be a knock-off or imitation, and be prepared for slow shipping and nuances like new-with-box items arriving with their boxes unassembled.

  1. Doba — 2M+ products with so-so profit margins

Doba

Visit Doba

14 Day Free Trial
Basic Plan $29 per month
Advanced Plan $69 per month
Pro Plan $249 per month

This 2 million product database doesn’t just bring a number of suppliers into one marketplace — you’ll also place your customer orders within Doda as well. That being said, it’s not cheap and we’ve read a number of negative reviews, many of which mention that the prices aren’t low enough to profit. Doba has a 14-day free trial, so you can log in and run the numbers to see if a membership (which starts at $29 per month) is right for you.

  1. Wholesale Central — Best free dropshipping directory

Wholesale Central

Visit Wholesale Central

No Membership Required
Free Directory of Suppliers
Free Directory of Trade Shows
Good Site For Research

This free directory lists suppliers you can work with individually to order products from. There’s nothing fancy about it — it’s like a phone book — but has useful information to use as you do your research.

  1. Sunrise Wholesale Merchandise — Some of the best shipping speeds

Sunrise Wholesale

Visit Sunrise Wholesale

7 Day Free Trial
$49 per month or $199 per year
Over 20,000 wholesale products
Ships to USA and Canada

A $99 yearly fee gets you access to Sunrise’s selection of goods. It’s a bit smaller than other databases, but the shipping times are pretty quick: typically 5–7 days. Packages arrive to your customers with a receipt from “Customer Service” that’s not branded.

  1. Megagoods — US-based dropshipping supplier

MegaGoods

Visit MegaGoods

30 Day Free Trial
$14.99 per month
$1.50 per order fee
Located in California

A California-based warehouse that will dropship your goods under your packaging and branding, typically in less time than it’d take to ship from an overseas supplier. Pro tip: check the added fees to make sure that your margins are good.

  1. Dropship News – Extensive online directory

Dropship News

Visit Dropship News

Online Directory of Suppliers
No Registration Required
Find US-Based Suppliers
Free Resources and Guides

This free online directory of suppliers is worth sifting through. We found some great US-based suppliers. Most of each supplier’s dropshipping information is on their profile, which saves you some clicking around.

  1. National Dropshippers — Difficult user interface and product search (not recommended)

You can give a try to see if there’s a product that’s only available here, but if you can find it elsewhere you’ll probably be better off going with the alternative. Products are hard to find and search for, and the returns and shipping policies aren’t favorable.

  1. Dropwow — Negatively reviewed Oberlo competitor (not recommended)

An app that’s reminiscent of Oberlo and Spocket, but with more negative reviews. The tool claims to automate your orders and help you locate dropshippers located in the US and elsewhere. However, with only 3.8 out of 5 stars from 121 reviewers on the Shopify app store, and a monthly subscription of $29 per month, I don’t recommend it.

  1. DropshipDirect.com — Currently in hiatus

This site makes some enticing claims: 100,000 items in its inventory, a SaaS-approach to data, and quick shipping from its Michigan warehouses. However, the sign-up form is in private mode and the company seems to be on a year-long hiatus. We’ll keep an eye on Dropship Direct and report back.

Why Dropship?

Dropshipping solves a bunch of problems: no cash needed upfront, no boxes piling up in your store room, garage, or let’s be honest, in your spare bedroom. You never even have to touch the product or be responsible for the packaging or shipping. That means no more trips to the Post Office, either. Your dropship partner takes care of all that.

Today world’s largest cab company, Uber, does not own a single cab. World’s largest accommodation company, Airbnb, does not own a single hotel. Similarly, lot of ecommerce companies don’t own any inventory and just operate as a marketplace. If you ever had a dream to start a eCommerce business this is the best time.” —Saba Mohebpour CEO of Spocket, as told to Thrive Global

Before I jump to the list of best dropshipping partners, some real business talk: the benefits of dropshipping are also its drawbacks. You don’t have the inventory in your warehouse, so you don’t have control of a customer ordering something that’s out of stock. There’s no shipping work on your end, so you can’t control the shipping speed, or the packaging.

Long ship times = canceled orders.
Weird packaging = bad reviews.

And, you still need some money up front to build your website, put in the sweat equity of making that business take off, and all the other steps you’ll need to take to start your business.

Like any business partnership, you need to do your research on who you’re working with, what it’s going to cost you, and what you’re expecting to get out of it before you get too involved. This review will help you pick dropshipping companies that’ll work for your business — no matter your niche.

What’s the best dropshipping company for me?

Trying to find the best dropshipping company all up is a little bit beside the point. It’s like asking for the best eBay seller or the best store on Etsy. The things that make dropshippers great are a lot of the same things that make an eBay or Etsy seller great: They’re communicative and have fast shipping. The product arrives as promised. It looks like the listing and it shows up in one piece in packaging that looks nice and not chewed up by an alligator.

Just like an eBay seller, the best dropshipper for you is the one selling what you’re interested in buying (and reselling). They will reliably, communicatively, and quickly ship the product you’re after at a price that’s profitable for you — it’s about finding your best.

Most dropshippers use a Shopify store and an automation app like Oberlo or Spocket. If you’re new to dropshipping, this is definitely the easiest way to get set up.

Why Shopify is the best way to start your dropshipping business

That means, you are basically setting up the equivalent to any ecommerce store. For ecommerce stores, the clear winner is Shopify. It’s been the frontrunner for a while. What’s most important about that for dropshipping is that the app store is super robust. Most stores use Shopify, so developers looking to make a high-quality app develop it for the Shopify app store.

So, if you haven’t already set up your Shopify store, that needs to go on your to-do list. We have a post that’ll walk you through the step-by-step process for setting up your Shopify store. It’s easy. There’s even a course in the Shopify Academy to learn how to start a dropshipping business with Shopify: Dropshipping 101.

I don’t recommend dropshipping with eBay

It’s compelling to set up shop with a marketplace — you don’t have to start a website, pay a subscription, etc. like you would with Shopify. But, I don’t recommend it. Unlike Shopify that’s super excited and helpful with new dropshipping businesses, eBay is growing more and more against them. Here are the sticking points for me:

  • Your store’s reputation is on the line — eBay is not forgiving and will downgrade accounts with reports of slow shipping
  • You’re probably not the only one selling that item
  • Your business case isn’t clear — why should someone buy that item from you, just another eBay store?
  • eBay has been cracking down on dropshippers and resellers, asking for proof of having the item in possession and freezing your store until you send in that proof. Proof could be a photo of your ID card with the item — not a photo of the item from a different listing. See this article from eSellerCafe.com for more on eBay Aggressively Banning Drop Shipping / Arbitrage Accounts.

If you do want to build your dropshipping business with eBay, I’d spend a few weeks or months in the seller forums to understand the specific risks and challenges of dropshipping on eBay.

How to start a dropshipping company

  1. Find items to sell

Find your niche.

There’s lots of chatter on the internet about finding your dropshipping niche, but this is just a trendy buzzword for product-market fit: are there people who want to buy your product? From you?

If not, you won’t have a successful business.

You’ll have the most success dropshipping a product if there’s an audience that wants to buy it and doesn’t have an easy way to access it. That’s where you come in.

Some ways to find your niche: brainstorm rabid fan groups or audiences with a common need or interest (dog lovers, anime fans, parents who love to dress up their kids in matching outfits, sailors, very tall people, people who love 90s throwback tees). These are purchase-ready populations looking to love and buy things that they’re interested in.

See what’s trending on Facebook.

Doing a quick search of a phrase like “Get yours here” or “Buy now” and look at the videos featuring items for sale that are getting traction. This can give you a sense of which products are interesting people on Facebook right now. Look for a high number of views in a short period of time, then search for the item at a dropship supplier like Oberlo or AliExpress. Consider the price-point of the item in the video and the assets you can create for it. Can you replicate — or improve on — the current trending video? If so, you may have an item worth dropshipping.

Don’t sell anything dangerous or copyrighted.

If you’re a beginner, don’t start with something that goes in or on a person’s body. If you do not know the quality and source of the ingredients, and something goes wrong, do you have coverage for that liability?

Also, if there’s a celebrity or character from a movie franchise on the item, it could get you in trouble. Steer clear of mice with big round ears.

Look at seller’s reviews and order a test product.

How long has the seller been selling? What feedback have they been getting. When you order a test product, does it meet your expectations? What do you need to tell your customers so they’ll be happy when they receive the product?

Consider dropshipping only some items.

Just because you’re dropshipping some things doesn’t mean you need to dropship everything. Perhaps it makes sense to use dropshipping for large, bulky, high-priced niche items.

Say, for example, you have an online store that sells nautical gear. You may want to personally store and ship some items, but dropship the anchors. For items like this, your customers may also be more accommodating to longer shipping times since it’s a large and more considered purchase. Same goes for home goods: perhaps you keep small items in stock, but dropship the couches. You can increase your inventory breadth very simply this way.

Go directly to a supplier and build a dropshipping relationship with them.

This is a killer plan: there’s guaranteed to be less competition. You’re basically creating a new audience for an under-marketed product that’s not getting seen by a ready-to-buy audience. If you use a database, every single other subscriber is using that same database.

  1. Nail the basics

Invest in a good domain name.

We buy all our domain names from Domain.com. (You can read our full review on the best domain registrars.)

Set up your website.

If you go with Shopify, you’ll be up in minutes. Lots of dropshippers recommend the Shopify Brooklyn theme with a good font choice. You can also use another ecommerce option. Here’s our review on the best ecommerce platforms, if you’re interested in exploring.

Get a professional logo.

You can get one for a reasonable price (and no design expertise) with 99Designs. See my post about how to get your first brand identity on a budget for more details and how to run a logo design contest.

Use a professional email address.

It should be a sensible start ([email protected], [email protected]) with your own domain name. I recommend getting G Suite for $5 a month per user. There’s nothing to trust about emailing a customer service that’s at yahoo.com or gmail.com.

Give your customer strong trust signals.

You can do this with high quality photos and unique item copy, a real and robust About Us page, and thoughtfully using things like discounted prices and pop-ups.

Ask yourself: Would I buy from this store? Would I feel comfortable suggesting it to a friend or family member? You’ll need some trust logos and some FAQs at minimum.

Set shipping time expectations.

Most dropshipped items aren’t going to get to the customer very quickly — and in world where Amazon Prime has set the standard at two days, that means dropshipments of 30 days feel extremely slow. If you don’t prepare your customers they’ll be very unhappy. We’ve seen very straightforward copy, like: All our items ship directly from our suppliers in China. Shipments are processed the day of your order and arrive in 25–30 days.

Make sure your orders go through.

Bundle credit card orders so your bank doesn’t cancel your numerous orders. Let your bank know what types of orders and in what quantities you’ll be placing, so they’re not flagged as fraudulent. There is no pain so rich as having to reorder orders you’ve placed. (You do have a business credit card, right?)

Prepare for returns and cancellations.

How will you deal with unhappy customers? What’s your return policy and how will you chargeback customer payments? Will returned items be shipped to you, or to your distributor? How will that work? Like with anything in business, it’s important to set it all up from day one like it’ll be a huge success.

Set aside money to pay taxes.

If you’re using Shopify as your payment gateway, once you get to a certain sales threshold, Shopify will automatically report your sales to the government. You’ll want to make sure you have money available to pay applicable taxes. We also recommend getting an accountant and a lawyer (we’ve heard good things about UpCounsel and LegalZoom) and setting up Quicken.

  1. Differentiate yourself

Make your store listings and ads unique.

Remember, if you can quickly and easily set up a dropshipping order for a specific product, it’s likely another store will be able to do the same. You will need to find an edge: why would someone order from you, or find your store selling the product, and not your competitor?

Take your own pictures. Write your own copy. Shoot unique social videos. Really put thought into how to best convey the product and why a person would want it: What problems does it solve? Can it make them feel joy?

Import user reviews.

If you’re using AliExpress, you can import the user reviews. No one likes being the first to buy something.

Consider offering free shipping.

Do all orders have free shipping or only when a certain order spend is hit? What threshold or minimum spend works best?

I do not recommend offering “Free products — you pay shipping.” Many customers would rather know the price up-front than go through a purchase flow that says $0 the whole way through and then slaps on a $15 shipping charge. It’s 2019 and the norm is free 2-day shipping with Prime. People are catching on and aren’t happy about it. Read more from The Daily Beast in Instagram Influencers Dupe Their Fans With ‘Free’ Products.

Market your store.

Make sure people know about your store. This can be through word of mouth, social media ads, viral memes, influencer programs, SEO, a newsletter. You’re going to need visitors to make sales.

  1. Iterate iterate iterate

Use ads to test and gather data.

We’re assuming that you’ll be buying ads. If you do, buy and use the data to test what’s working. What gets traction? Double down on it. What doesn’t? Trash it. This may lead you to changing your products, your ad style, your audience. Following the early traction means you head toward what’s working and away from what’s not.

Analyze your sales.

What’s selling well? What’s not selling at all? Is there any common theme in the items? Replicate what you can. Stop what’s not working.

Dropshipping vocabulary

Arbitrage – The simultaneous buying and selling of an item to take advantage of a difference in price for the same asset. Say there’s a board game for sale at Walmart for $20, but the lowest price on Amazon is $45. Arbitrage is listing the game for sale on Amazon and buying the Walmart game. For every sale you make on Amazon, you take advantage of a $25 price difference. If your arbitrage is online to online, with free shipping, the math suggests you could simply sell on one site, buy and ship from the other, and pocket all the profit. This does not take into account any hiccups: returns, merchandise not accurate, merchandise no longer in stock, price changes in either market, etc.

Dropshipping (DS) – The supply chain system in which a seller does not keep items in stock, but rather transfers orders directly to a manufacturer, supplier, or wholesaler who ships the item directly to the consumer.

Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) – Some sellers set a floor to how low you can advertise or display your product for sale. This is not the same as the price you can sell it for. So, the MAP price does not take into account coupon codes or sales, or other tricks like offering a gift card with a purchase, offering rebates, or doing things like showing an even lower price in the cart.

Dropshipping examples and press

You may have seen the posts we’ve seen — the ones about people starting dropshipping businesses and raking in the sales. We’re talking five-figures in a single day, six-figures every month. What is this magic sauce, we wonder.

The magic sauce is the same sauce as any other business: it’s a math equation based on margins. How big are your margins? How big is your customer base? What’s the conversion rate? How stiff is the competition?

Welcome to a little-known corner of the e-commerce world, where small entrepreneurs use social-media ads and hip virtual storefronts to entice people into buying products listed on online marketplaces such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s AliExpress.

The process often involves online storefronts transferring customer details to an AliExpress seller, which ships the goods directly to the customer; the storefront bills the customer. Called dropshipping, it is a twist on a fulfillment technique that major online retailers also use to send goods directly from their manufacturers to the customer.

The entrepreneur profits by charging a high markup, betting shoppers are unlikely to stumble upon the less-expensive goods on a marketplace site. AliExpress is the most popular such marketplace, but some entrepreneurs order from sellers on other marketplace sites like Amazon.

—“The Mystery of the $70 Hoodie That’s All Over Facebook,” Wall Street Journal

The mystery of the $70 hoodie is also not a mystery: it’s a one-time sale that’s not going to turn into repeat business. It’s a simple equation:

high price + low product quality + poor customer experience = repeat business

Dropshipping seemed cool because it made starting an eCommerce seem easy: I didn’t need to buy products in advance; I didn’t need to have space to hold them, and it didn’t require extra time and effort to ship the orders myself. Dropshipping does have disadvantages, but it really appealed to me, so I continued my online search.

There are numerous ready-to-use eCommerce platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce or Squarespace. Most of them start at around $20 per month, which seemed like a good deal for a first-time entrepreneur like myself.

It took me two days to set up the store the way that I wanted it to look. Shopify is totally non-programmer friendly. All you need to do is open an account, select a look for your store, and that’s it – you’re ready to sell.

When I set up my store, I had no definite idea of what I should sell. I wasn’t sure if I should pick a product I was passionate about or just a random product I was able to find in dropshipping databases like WholesaleDirect.com or the like.

“This Guy Made $12K In One Month While Working Full-Time,” Huffington Post

“This guy” is Justin Wong, and he made his business work by studying Instagram marketing, set up affiliate partnerships with influencers, and matched his product with his marketing technique. And, he’s not confused about the pros and cons of that marketing strategy: when the posts age on a influencers feed, his sales go down.

My name is Jacky Chou. With my partner, Albert Liu (albeliu on Reddit), we launched a home decor dropshipping site that went from negative 3k to 250k a month in 8 months at 30-40% margins. We’re both first generation Asian-Canadians who moved from Vancouver to Berlin to work in marketing.

We started our dropshipping store as a ‘practice what you preach’ case study, as we’re both working as digital marketing consultants (Albert as a freelance Facebook consultant and I’m a founder of an SEO agency, Indexsy).

— “We made 250k USD last month with our dropshipping side hustle. Oberlo / Shopify reached out to us to do a success story. AMA!,” Reddit

Further reading

 

HOW THE SOLUTION PROVIDING COMPANY BOOSTS THE PRODUCTIVITY OF THE COMPANY

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Best Web Hosting Providers

Managed Hosting

Here’s how a normal host works:

  • After you sign up, you get a login.
  • The login takes you to cPanel. The cPanel is an app on your server that lets you manage it through a UI without needing to know how to code anything.
  • You configure your server however you want.
  • There’s a FTP option to upload files manually to your server.
  • There are also quick options for installing WordPress and other site software if you want.
  • You get full access and can do anything you want. It’s a “choose your own adventure.” Install WordPress, Drupal, Magento, or code your entire site by hand.

Most web hosts work like this.

There are also managed web hosts. These hosts customize the hosting environment and manage a lot more of it for you.

WP Engine is the best example, they’re a managed host for WordPress. Instead of getting a cPanel login that lets me do anything I want, WP Engine gives me a login to their custom interface that’s built to manage WordPress sites specifically.

When a web host is optimized exclusively for WordPress, three key things happen. First: It gets faster than pretty much any shared hosting provider can dream of. Everything can be tailored to making WordPress work its best, whether that’s optimizing website caching or tinkering with the command line tools. The host only needs to know how to support WordPress, as opposed to, say, Joomla and a Node server and some sort of custom-made site and on and on.

Second: Sites get more secure and stable. A managed WordPress host can build a system that predicts, accommodates, and patches all of WordPress’s vulnerabilities. That means fewer malicious attacks and less downtime.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly for small businesses: Admin and site maintenance get a lot easier. And that service is vital because managed WordPress hosting is significantly more expensive than shared web hosting services.

While I give up some flexibility from not having a basic web server like other hosts, a managed host takes care of a lot of ongoing tasks that I’d normally have to handle myself.

If you have a small business site, a normal host is fine. If you’re building a larger site, a managed host will save you a ton of time in the long run and is worth the extra cost.

Shared, Virtual Private Servers, Cloud, and Dedicated Hosting

Let’s start with definitions on the types of hosting your can buy.

Shared hosting means that you share space with a bunch of other sites on the same server. The advantage is that it’s a lot cheaper. The downside is that other sites can impact the performance of your site. If someone else gets a huge traffic spike, it could impact everybody on that server before the web host throttles their traffic.

Virtual private servers (VPS) also has multiple sites on the same server But these sites have dedicated space that’s managed by software. You get many of the benefits of having a dedicated server (you own IP address, less volatility in uptime, etc) without needing an entire server for just yourself. But the performance isn’t quite as good as having your own server to yourself.

Cloud hosting is similar to VPS but instead of having space on once server, you get space across multiple servers. Like VPS, it’s resilient to traffic spikes from other sites. If a site on your same server takes that server down, your host simply moves your site to another server. That’s why they call it “cloud” hosting.

It’s also extremely scalable for your own site. Adding more resources to your site is a breeze since your host only needs to increase the total server resources that you can consume at any given time. Because of these advantages, it does tend to be more expensive.

Dedicated hosting gives you a server just for you. No one else gets space on that server. You’ll also be in complete control and can configure that server however you want.

Which of these should you get? Here are some simple rules of thumb:

  • Small sites should be on shared hosting. Any impact from other sites on the same site will be minor. This is the best option for any site that does 50,000 visitors per month or less.
  • When you get over 50,00 visitors/month, move towards cloud hosting and then a dedicated host if you really need it. Don’t worry about a dedicated host until spending thousands of dollars per month on hosting sounds like a rounding error in your annual budget.

Ignore Free Web Hosting

For just about everyone, free hosting is not worth it.

Web hosting is not where you should save money. If you’re worried about the price of hosting, I’d say you need to worry about generating revenue and traffic before trying to save a few extra dollars cutting hosting costs.

A free host is only good for something like an event one-pager or an extremely small, extremely low-traffic site. If you are doing either of those things, you should still skip the free host route and jump straight to a free website builder that’ll let you link your site to a custom domain for free, like UCraft or Google Sites. They’re both very basic limited builders, but they are easier to get up and running than a free web host.

That being said, there are some great free and discount web hosting plans for nonprofits and educators. If that’s you and you want to know more, head over to my best free web hosts review. I go into lots of detail there.

Conclusion

Out of hundreds of web hosting companies I have narrowed it down to my top 9 picks for the best web hosts.

Whether you are searching for the cheapest price or the most robust services, or something in between, you can find the best web hosting for your needs from these top rated companies.

Compare the Best Web Hosting Companies

 

The changing trends of the business world

It has been observed that various businesses find it difficult in today`s world to reach out to their target market by the help of traditional marketing strategy alone. Although these strategies do still work, but their effectiveness is limited to a certain extent. This is due to the invasion and developments which have occurred in the world of technology recently. One of the major developments have been the emergence of the SEO agency and the SEO Company. These entities provide the businesses SEO services which include SEO marketing. These companies have SEO experts on onboard, who help the businesses to develop the kind of strategies which they need. First of all these SEO experts talk to their clients about the SEO pros, so that the businesses are aware of the benefits which they can attain by having the SEO services.

The SEO Company itself, is one of the most in demand companies in the world of internet today. The amount of SEO pros outnumber the SEO cons and hence, it is safe to open up a SEO company. Doing SEO marketing seems to the latest business norm. And it cannot be done correctly without having a SEO agency involved. It can be said that the SEO agency is a kind of a digital marketing agency. The only difference is that a digital market agency deals with various methodologies of digital marketing whereas, the SEO agency, focuses on the Search engine optimization type only.

Different companies deal with different search engines, the better ones work for multiple ones at the same time which gives the clients more options and platforms. It can also be stated that conducting marketing through the SEO is quite easier as compared to the old traditional marketing methods as it involves the use of lesser resources and time, yet yields better and more effective results.

 

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