How To Manage An Online Store: 3 Rules For Dropshippers
Have you ever wondered what to expect from your brand new dropshipping life? Handling daily operations in AliDropship’s self-owned stores that have a multi-billion dollar annual turnover, I am happy to share my typical day and tell a bunch of little secrets how to manage an online store!
How to manage an online store: the basics
When you run a dropshipping store, it’s easy to fall into the trap of being active 24/7 – like, you know, checking your inbox as soon as you are awake, handling an order return in the middle of a family dinner, staying super late do to some stuff in the store, etc. Mobile technologies make it possible to work flexibly from any place and at any time, indeed. Unfortunately, some people think it means they should be managing an online store all day round to cover as many tasks as possible.
Rule #1 is to organize your day in a way that lets you have enough free time that is NOT dedicated to your business at all. Remember that you don’t run this business to make yourself exhausted and burnout; quite the opposite, you launched your store to make money in an easy and enjoying way, right?
First things first
My working day starts with checking my inbox.
When I look at my emails, I concentrate on the following types of letters:
- Changes to orders
It happens a lot: a person places an order, pays for it, and then says – ‘hey, look, I changed my mind, I still want this T-shirt, but in a different color. And a different size, too. And oh, can you also add a pair of sunglasses to my order?’…
It might seem tricky at first, but you get used to it soon. It’s really important to discover these letters in time. If you haven’t transferred the order to your AliExpress supplier yet, you can easily make the necessary changes. And even if the order was already processed, it’s no big deal. You still can fix it by contacting the supplier directly and describing the query if you act immediately.
- Refund letters
It’s not uncommon for buyers to change their minds completely. For whatever reason, they may feel that they don’t want the item anymore, and cancel the whole order. Why not? They have the right to.
Alternatively, a refund letter can come from a customer who is tired from waiting for the delivery and thinks that the package is lost, or from a buyer who is not happy with the quality of an already received order.
In any case, these letters require my close attention and a careful work that always starts with contacting the original seller on AliExpress.
- Payment confirmations
Oh, here comes the most interesting part.
I check the tiniest details of all the PayPal and Stripe payments because, you know, stuff happens.
The thing is, payments made with the help of credit cards can sometimes turn out to be a fraud attempt. This is why I perform very careful check to make sure that:
- My buyer’s name (the name of the addressee) is the same as the name of the card holder
- The country of delivery is the same as the country of the card holder’s residence
- There were not more than 3 payment attempts made from different credit cards
What if the payment was successfully processed but personal details don’t match? In this case, I email this customer and ask to send their ID to make sure this purchase was legitimate. But what if there were attempts to use several different cards to process the payment and all of them were declined? I normally cancel the order because this purchasing behavior is typical for fraudsters.
Given that I run over 20 dropshipping stores, I have to do tons of work with sorting all these emails out. On average, it takes me about 4 hours per day to go through all of the letters and to take the necessary action.
And here I’m talking about a normal ordinary day when I only have to process about 50-60 orders. When it’s pre-holidays time, the amount of purchases goes up like crazy and the workload obviously gets heavier. That’s the thing you need to consider when you get your store prepared for any holiday season.
How to manage an online store: the core
As a dropshipping store manager, I have this really curious element of my daily routine. To be more specific, it’s all about checking the customers’ mailing details before transferring them to the relevant AliExpress seller.
During this part of the day, I:
- Check the spelling of the addressee’s name and surname
You won’t believe this, but yes, people make spelling mistakes in their own names and surnames.
Fun fact: you won’t even notice it if your customer is a foreigner and you have no idea about the most common names in this country.
This is why it’s important to have some knowledge about your target audience, or at least do a little online research and check the spelling of unfamiliar names.
Obviously, this is not the only thing that can get mixed up 🙂
- Check the ZIP code
Obviously, I can’t possibly know any person’s ZIP code, but there are cases when I’m 100% sure that the details are incorrect.
Some people just leave this field blank.
Some people write their phone number in this field.
How do I know it’s a phone number or just a wrong combination? I try to learn the ZIP code formats for the regions where my customers come from. If I know, for example, that this area should have a ZIP code that looks like SW1A 1NH (7 digits, 2 numbers, 5 letters), but the provided code is something like 644053 (6 digits, 6 numbers, 0 letters), it’s evident that there is a mistake.
- Check the ‘Additional Details’ field
For some reason, some people use this field instead of the right one, and write their address here. I don’t exactly know why would anyone do this, but it doesn’t actually matter – I take a careful look at this field anyway.
Rule #2 is to pay attention. If anything seems questionable to me, I simply write an email to the customer and ask him or her to confirm the shipping details, or to submit them once again.
This time-consuming, but simple procedure is essential. If I blindly submit incorrect shipping details to an AliExpress seller, it will most likely result in delivery troubles.
How to manage an online store: the bottom line
After I sort out all the emails for today, I go ahead with the core part of managing an online store: orders processing.
As you can guess, this procedure doesn’t take much time because the plugin does it all automatically. All I need to do is click the ‘Place Order’ button, and basically, that’s it. The system does all the rest. After the supplier sends me the tracking ID, the plugin automatically grabs this data and connects it to the order details.
After this, I only need to change the order status to ‘Shipped’, and the client will automatically receive the email notification about the successful shipment and the tracking ID. Given the amount of work I need to do manually every day, this is a huge time saver, obviously.
If you want to boost your store performance, it is absolutely a must to track every kind of statistical data you can gather.
Once a week, I calculate the net profit: overall revenue minus advertising expenses minus the cost of ordered items.
Plus, I provide my colleagues with the data on our buyers’ purchasing behavior. For example, I can see the customers’ country of origin. What’s more, I surely can tell what are the best selling items in a given period of time. These details are valuable for our Internet marketing specialists because such data influences the product policy, the ads targeting, the amount of money spent on promotion, etc. I am not directly involved in the creation of promotional strategies; still, I can sometimes give a piece of advice to marketers when it comes to one specific store we run. This store is all about a highly specific fan niche, and I’m actually a fan of it myself. Therefore, I know which communication tricks and product offerings can work well there.
Managing an online store: dropshipping takeaways
In my experience, the most important thing about how to manage an online store is sticking to a healthy work-life balance.
The best solution is to work ONLY within a specified period of time that is convenient for you. Never sacrifice your personal life for the business’ benefit!
Lots of tricks can be used to minimise the time you’re spending. For example, I have pre-written email templates for almost every occasion. Additionally, I use AliDropship’s automated solutions that help me get enough time to sort out various queries that appear because of the human factor.
Plus, your dropshipping life is much easier when you are an expert in your niche.
Rule #3 is to dedicate your store to something you know well. The more experienced you are in this particular field, the easier it is for you to predict what will work best for your customers.
This passion is what motivates you to keep going and to grow your business, and I wish you the best of luck with your awesome dropshipping stores!