Dropshipping is the quickest and easiest way to start an ecommerce business in South Africa. But is it the best approach for you? Let’s find out.
What Is Dropshipping?
Dropshipping is a retail model that allows you the owner to market and sell products to consumers without having to maintain an inventory of goods. Instead, when a customer orders a product, you arrange for a third party to ship it directly to them. You collect the retail price, pay the third party to fulfill and ship the order, and keep the difference.
How To Orginze A Dropshipping Business In South Africa
Before you develop your online storefront, you should have a clear idea of what you’ll be selling, and to whom. You won’t be competing directly with AliExpress, so it’s best to choose one of two approaches: selling internationally sourced products to the South African market, or selling international products to customers in other countries.
Each of these approaches has its strengths and weaknesses.
Selling to the South African Market
Regardless of which approach you choose, you’ll need to learn about the market you target: not just the customers who will drive your sales, but the customs laws governing delivery of your products. If you’re selling internationally sourced products to the South African market, you’ll already know quite a bit about those things, and can easily learn the rest.
On the other hand, you’ll need to be keenly aware of any quirks affecting your supply chain. These can be a bit more difficult to anticipate when your suppliers are based outside of South Africa. Some AliExpress sellers, for example, cannot deliver items to the RSA; others can deliver only within long timeframes or at high prices. Arranging payment can be tricky, too, so be sure to research all the options (PayPal isn’t the only one) before you choose a payment system for your site.
Selling to the International Market
Your dropshipping business isn’t bound by geography: you can live in South Africa and sell Japanese products to Canadian students with no problem. This allows you great freedom when choosing the products you sell. Dropshipping has much to do with order fulfillment, but it’s also about marketing; selling to the international market allows you to choose a collection of products that sets your store apart from the rest. You may also benefit from a more helpful array of shipping and payment options.
At the same time, you’re giving up the things that make selling to the South African market so appealing. You’ll need to stay abreast of the laws governing shipment to every country from which you get an order, including laws banning the sale of certain items. You’re lucky enough to speak English, but if you want to sell to markets in which English is not widely spoken, you’ll need to invest time and a bit of money into localizing your online storefront for other languages. This may only be worth the trouble after you have thoroughly researched your target market, which is less easily done than when you are selling to South African customers.Whichever approach you choose, you won’t be the first to build a successful business around dropshipping. Good luck, and we’ll see you online!