Entry # 9: Be a Digital Entrepreneur!
Its been a while since I posted something on this site as I become busy with the topic that I am about to share. Like all of the other things I shared in this site, I went through the process and did not just mere read or lifted from other books or sites the things I shared here. So as mentioned in my last post, I will be sharing with you my experiences of doing dropshipping.
On the internet right now, you can find a sizable number of people doing e-commerce. I cannot personally blame them for E-commerce is a fast-growing industry. By 2021, the eCommerce global market is expected to reach $5 trillion-plus the fact that the number of people going online is also growing. Here in the Philippines, e-commerce may not be as mature in comparison to Malaysia but the forecast is that, it is expected to grow into double digits plus add to the fact that the Philippines has a digital population of more than 67 million people which makes the country an attractive market.
Given this scenario so I joined the bandwagon and adopted the dropshipping business model for ShopViviLulu. If someone asks me on how to go about in starting a drop shipping business, I would then simplify it into five steps;
1. Choose a niche
2. Create a website
3. Find suppliers
4. Add products to your site
5. Come up with a marketing strategy
Finding a niche will not cost you anything as it only requires to do some market research and there is a lot of information available on the internet. The bulk of the work is on creating the website. Fortunately, being married to an all-around IT guy makes this requirement less challenging. As for those who are not lucky as I am, we can offer you our services through our company Virtual Andes I.T. Solutions (doing a shameless promotion here :-)!
We made use of Wordpress as our Content Management System and used AliDropship as our plug-in. Having AliDropship made looking for suppliers and uploading products on our website a breeze. To promote the website, we tapped on the different social media platforms and made use of Social Rabbit as an additional plug-in. It took us a week to say that the website is ready to go live. My husband and I initially identified that the first market that we will tap is Russia as Amazon and eBay are not that big there and online players are fragmented. We thought that we may have a better chance to compete there. So we ran a Facebook ad assuming that it is popular there not knowing that the popular social media network is VK (VKontakte). Facebook just comes in as the third placer as the second biggest social media network there is OK.ru (Odnoklassniki). So upon knowing this, I opened a VK account and started running ads there. I was happy that we were started getting engagement but my happiness is just short-lived as I have difficulties in engaging with potential customers due to the language barrier. We again assume that most will be engaging with us in English which was not the case. So we decided to change the marketing strategy and try our luck in the US market despite how intense the competition is. We ran a Facebook ad and we did receive engagement its just that we usually receive the inquiries at those times we are sleeping. The different time zones from where we are, was working at our disadvantage. We did add Tidio as an additional plug-in as our chatbot that will answer customers' inquiries but we have observed that American customers want immediate answers and they find it frustrating not to be attended by a real-life customer-service. Afraid that we might end up being viewed as an online store with poor customer service, we decided to shift our strategy with our home country. We just made this decision just a week ago so we are hoping with the past mistakes that we did, hopefully, it was leading us to the correct one.
Going through all of these realizations and experiences inspired me to share more not only through this website but I have intended to conduct previews on how to become a digital entrepreneur to those who are interested. I am planning to run the previews in my husband's hometown, Iligan City and see how will it progress. I hope that more Filipinos will become entrepreneurs. I already psyched myself up that this may take some time as it was ingrained to most of us to study hard so that we will get "good jobs". Unlike with the Chinese, which I have witnessed while I was teaching in China, kids were taught at a very young age to do business.
I see drop shipping as a very good source of additional income plus the investment requirement is not that big as compared to having a physical store. It is a business that provides flexibility as you can manage it wherever you are and you can do it from home giving you more time to be with your family. But then again just like any other business, to make it successful requires hard work, commitment, ingenuity, resourcefulness, originality and the ability to adapt to the changing market.
Good luck to us!