How to increase sales by adding personalization to your dropshipping business
Dropshipping is a method of fulfillment where stores don't stock the product they are selling. This allows many entrepreneurs to start their own business with low risk and without investing money in expensive equipment, storage, or inventory.
Dropshipping is nothing new, for decades stores have been buying items from a third party and have them delivered directly to the customer. And as more stores adopt this trend, the market becomes more and more competitive. Let's put it this way, if everyone is selling the same products (just branded differently), you can either differentiate from others through price or service. Since drop shippers essentially sell someone else's product, the third parties set the price, so there is not a lot of room for differentiation there. Shipping is also handled by the third party, so that part of the service won't be a differentiator either.
But what if you can actually differentiate through your product?
Print on Demand
With print on demand (POD) services such as Printful, Printify, Custom Cat, and many more, it's super easy to apply your own designs on standard products, and offer them without having to worry about order fulfillment. They print your order, pack it, and ship everything directly to your customer under your brand.
This is awesome, stores can apply their own designs to products such as t-shirts, tote bags, phone cases, even face masks. And thanks to the growth of eCommerce and the increasing popularity of services like this, shoppers are veering away from cookie-cutter, store-bought items, and enjoying the hunt for unique products.
However, this eventually leads to another form of saturation, with hundreds of niche stores selling similar products, and no idea where to choose from. This is where personalization comes in, the new ace up stores sleeves that’ll help you set apart from this new crowd.
Personalization on demand
Nowadays people want to stand out. And if it’s possible, they want their purchases to come with a sense of exclusivity and uniqueness. This is the perfect setup for product customization. You can sell custom products at a higher price, and it’s one that customers are willing to pay.
And it's not all about the money. Customization options also enhance customers' experience and increase their loyalty and engagement, which leads to happier customers that will come back for more.
So think of personalization not only in terms of increasing sales but also as an opportunity for your customers to interact with your brand and bond with it. The data you collect from personalization is a great source of inspiration on how you can further expand your catalog and build your brand image — your customers are literally telling you what kind of designs they want.
This all sounds great, but how can you add personalization to your dropshipping business, without interfering with the fulfillment process or breaking the bank?
How to do it
If you already have a print on demand supplier for your store, then what you need to do is make sure customers can add that extra personalization to your designs. There are several ways you can do this, depending on how simple or complex your personalization will be, the alternatives you can have.
If your personalization will consist of simple elements such as adding a name or basic color options you can add a text field for customers to type or a dropdown for the color options. Then, after your customer submits the order you can manually create their custom orders based on their submissions.
You don't have to invest a single cent in personalization.
You are limited to adding simple options with a bit of code (and you need someone that knows how to code them).
Your customers won't know how their personalization will look like until it arrives.
Manually processing the custom orders takes a lot of time. You'll need to recreate the customer's order into a print file and send it to your POD supplier. So if you receive multiple orders you won't be able to process them on time.
If your products have some more options, or if you want to skip having to code the options yourself you can always turn to options apps available for platforms such as Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce.
Similar to manual personalization, your customers will be able to choose their options and after they buy, you'll manually create their personalization based on their choices.
You can add more complex options to your product. This is great if you have multiple options for your personalization and you want to group them into categories and such.
You don't need to code, most apps are plug and play, so you'll be able to configure the options without any technical knowledge.
Your customers won't know how their personalization will look like until it arrives. The more complex the options are, the more troublesome this becomes since customers will have to guess a lot.
Again, you'll have to process orders manually. And as with the previous point, the more complex the personalization is, the more time it will take to manually recreate that for production.
If you want to provide a more engaging personalization experience this is the way to go. No matter if your products have a few or several options, personalization apps let your customers see a live preview of whatever they are customizing. What's more, is that they often translate whatever the customer personalized into a ready to print file, that can be sent to POD suppliers automatically saving you lots of time.
Your customers will see a live preview of their personalization, so they'll know exactly what they'll get
You'll receive a print file with every order. Some apps such as Customily can connect directly with your POD supplier, making the process of fulfilling an order super efficient.
You can add any sort of options to your product, from simple to highly complex.
You don't need to code, most apps are plug and play.
They have a monthly cost, so if you are just starting it might not meet your budget. However, given the time it saves you from manually processing every order, they pay off almost immediately.
Some apps can be a bit complicated to use, so make sure you choose an app that has a simple layout for your customers. Otherwise, you may end up scaring away your customers with too many bells and whistles. It’s a good idea to offer them a template to work with — facing a blank canvas may be too overwhelming.
If you are already in the POD business, it is a small step you need to take to jump into personalization, and the benefits could be huge. And if you are not, what are you waiting for? From boosting sales, since people are willing to pay over 20% for something personalized, to increasing your customer loyalty, since they get to co-design with you and engage more with your brand, personalization is the future of eCommerce.
And remember, you don't need to go full-on personalized right away. You can always start by adding something simple to your products, like monogramming, and build up your personalization from there. So, if you'd like to give personalization a go, you can always reach out to us to see how one of your products will look like with personalization for free.