Over the last few months, I’ve been doing a lot of research and writing about how to make money online in South Africa. One of the most popular ways to get started generating money on the internet is dropshipping…
…So many people are looking for ways to generate cash online and dropshipping is a very attractive option.
So, before I get into the ins-and-outs of dropshipping in South Africa, let’s answer one of the most common questions that gets asked about dropshipping in South Africa…
Is dropshipping profitable in South Africa?
South Africa is very different from the rest of the world when it comes to eCommerce and what works in the United States, for example, doesn’t necessarily work here…
…So can you make money with dropshipping in South Africa?
The short answer is yes, dropshipping is profitable in South Africa. That statement does however come with a caveat. Just like any business, there are many factors that will determine whether you are successful or not and a dropshipping business in South Africa is no different.
Many budding online entrepreneurs use dropshipping as their entry into the world of online business.
Many however think that simply opening a dropshipping store is going to guarantee their success.
In reality, a dropshipping business is just like any other business (both off and online) that requires work to make it successful. You also need great products to make your South African dropshipping business successful.
In this post I am going to dig into what makes a dropshipping business in South Africa profitable, but before I do that, let’s take a step back…
Does Dropshipping work in South Africa? (And What Is It?)
Before you can build a profitable dropshipping business in South Africa, let’s make sure we’re on the same page with what dropshipping is and how it works in practice in South Africa.
Dropshipping does work in South Africa. It is a form of eCommerce or selling physical products online where you as the dropshipper don’t physically hold the goods. The dropshipper creates an online store and sells products from a third-party supplier. The dropshipper simply handles the transaction and passes the order on to the supplier, who then delivers and fulfills the order.
I’m sure you can understand by this explanation why dropshipping is such an attractive business model.
As a dropshipper, you don’t need to invest in the stock, you don’t need to pay for warehousing of that stock and you also don’t have to worry about the logistics of delivery.
(If you’re wondering if dropshipping is legal, then you may find this article on how to not get into trouble dropshipping helpful)
Having said that, there are quite a few nuances to selling products online and even though you don’t have to buy the stock to sell, there are costs involved in starting a dropshipping business in South Africa.
Let’s take a look now into how to start dropshipping in South Africa…
How to start a dropshipping business in South Africa
There are many ways to start dropshipping business in South Africa, but in a nutshell this is how to start a dropshipping business in South Africa:
- Research a market or niche
- Find products to sell
- Create an eCommerce website to sell those products on
- Link a payment gateway to your website (In order to take payments)
- Send potential clients to your website
- Analyze & optimize your results
Let’s explore each of these in a bit more detail:
Researching your dropshipping niche
This is probably the most important step in starting your dropshipping business in South Africa. knowing exactly who you want to serve and what products you are going to sell them will go a long way to ensuring your success as a South African dropshipper.
The best piece of advice I was ever given about building online businesses was niching down as far as possible. So instead of trying to be all things for all people, find a specific group of people that you can serve better than anyone else is currently serving them on the internet.
I have written an extensive post on coming up with ideas for your online business and how to validate your ideas before you get started. You can read that post here.
Find dropshipping suppliers and products to sell
This is normally the first step that people start at when starting their dropshipping business. but it is very important to research the niche first
Once you’ve researched the niche that will dictate what products will be best to sell in your drop shipping business.
Once you decided on what products you want to sell you will need to find suppliers you are able to ship those products to your customers on your behalf.
Finding suppliers for dropshipping business in South Africa is one of the hardest things to do. The good news is there are more and more dropshipping suppliers coming online in South Africa that you are able to partner with.
A platform like Dropstore is a great alternative to dealing with individual suppliers.
Dropstore has sourced many South Africans suppliers who are able to provide you with products then you can sell from your dropshipping business. (You can click on the image below to learn more about Dropstore)
Create an online store to sell your products
Once you have researched your niche and found products and suppliers, you will need to build yourself an online store.
There are various ways to build your online store and various platforms to do it on, but two of the easiest are Woommerce and Shopify. (I’ve written this post on how to sell online in South Africa that you may find useful)
For someone who doesn’t have any technical ability when it comes to building websites, Shopify is probably the route to go. Shopify does, however, charge a fair bit to use their platform which could eat into your dropshipping margins.
The second option is building a WordPress website and using Woocommerce to sell your products.
Using Woocommerce will work out cheaper but there is a fairly steep learning curve and you may require a few premium plugins to make your website work the way you would like it to work.
I’ve created a step by step tutorial on how to create a WordPress website that you can use to build your dropshipping store.
If you’re looking for the simplest, fastest way to start selling right away, then consider getting a ready built website from D Store. (You can simply click on the image below if you’d like to get up and running in the next few days.)
Link a payment gateway to your dropshipping store
The next step to building a successful & profitable dropshipping business in South Africa is to set up a way to take payments online.
One of the easiest and most popular payment gateways is Payfast. Payfast integrates directly with both Shopify and Woocommerce which makes it simple to take payments online for your dropshipping business in South Africa.
If you are selling outside the borders of South Africa you will need a payment gateway that can handle international payments. The easiest to set up is PayPal, but there are other options like Stripe or 2Checkout.
If you’re looking for a payment gateway, I’ve written this extensive article on the best payment gateways in South Africa (And the cheapest). I compare the multiple payment gateways that are available to drop shippers and other eCommerce & online businesses in South Africa. You can read all about them here.
Send potential customers to your dropshipping store
For most dropshipping businesses in South Africa, this is where the real challenge lies. Getting targeted traffic to your website will determine whether or not your dropshipping business in South Africa is profitable or not.
It is also for this reason that I researching and choosing the correct niche for your dropshipping business is vital.
If you’ve done the research correctly and found products your potential customers want at the right price, then driving traffic is not that hard.
There are two ways to find customers for you dropshipping business.
The first and fastest is by using paid advertising. With platforms like Facebook and Google at our disposal it has never been easier to reach your potential customers if you are willing to pay for that traffic.
Running ads that are targeted to your niche can yield great results. (If you’re interested in learning more then have a look at this article about how much it costs to advertise on Facebook in South Africa)
The second way to drive traffic is organically. Using proven search engine optimization (SEO) strategies is also a fantastic way to serve your niche and find potential customers.
One way to do this is to optimize your individual product pages so that they drive organic traffic when someone searches for your product.
Another great way to drive organic traffic to your dropshipping store is to use a traditional content marketing strategy.
By writing blog posts, creating youtube videos or podcasts that create value for your potential customer you are able to then put your products in front of the right people.
Analyze and optimize your results
This final step is an ever evolving process. You need to think of yourself and your dropshipping store as a living laboratory. Just as a scientist would test different processes and document whether they worked or not, you need to do the same for your dropshipping business.
In order to create a profitable dropshipping business in South Africa you need to be continually testing and tweaking and taking note of what works and what doesn’t. The goal is to do more of what works over time and less of what doesn’t.
It is also important to remember that the online landscape is constantly changing. Something that works today might not necessarily keep working tomorrow. New products are always coming onto the market as are new competitors so it is vital that you stay nimble as a dropshipper and keep up to date with those changes.
In conclusion, dropshipping is a great entry point into the world of eCommerce in South Africa. It is going to take work and an investment of both time and money as the business owner but there is no better time than now to start building a profitable dropshipping business in South Africa.
This is just a general overview of how to start a profitable dropshipping business in South Africa. In future posts, I will be digging into dropshipping in more detail in the coming weeks and moths.
I’ll also be showing you exactly how to build a dropshipping business in South Africa in various video tutorials that I’ll be uploading to my YouTube channel.