While the holiday shopping season may currently have retailers rejoicing, there is no doubt that the retail industry remains volatile. USA Today notes that the surge in holiday sales may be more indicative of pervasive seasonal sales and deep discounts than an overall upward trend:
Despite record sales through Black Friday weekend, Retail Metrics President Ken Perkins says the year’s biggest shopping weekend was preceded by a dry spell.
“Black Friday itself was a success,” he says. “The numbers were particularly strong, but the rest of November there was a bit of a lull.”
Fluctuations in the present day economy may precipitate a need for even enthusiastic shoppers to remain conservative in their purchases, yet keeping inventory fresh is a must for store owners – a lack of new products often leads to a drop off in recurring visits to your site, as customers may feel that they’ve already “seen” everything. As Retail Revolution points out, new items are of great interest to the majority of customers (57-81% polled), yet it is a smaller elite number (3-7%) that tends to buy the product immediately.
Having a healthy number of non-purchasing visitors who are spending time on your navigating through various pages can bolster your website’s search engine rankings, but constantly paying for an influx of fresh inventory is a costly proposition. For online retailers who are looking to increase and diversify their inventory without incurring additional expenses, drop shipping may be the answer.
What is Drop Shipping?
Drop shipping is a supply chain management (SCM) approach that utilizes external vendors and/or warehouses to ship products directly to the customer. This system enables the small business owner to avoid buying unsold stock, paying for a product only once a customer has actually purchased it. Drop shipping also alleviates the time and company resources spent fulfilling orders on location. While this may sound complex, incorporating drop shipped products is as easy as adding any in-house item to your site.
Drop shipping is not a get rich quick scheme; rather, it is a way to effectively run a retail-like business without the heavy capital investment or warehouse/storage commitment that purchasing and carrying products generally entails. Many essentials of operating a retail business remain the same: you’ll need to focus on creating a user friendly site, marketing and promoting your e-boutique, establish strong and consistent branding, maintain solid customer relations and service and provide a generally positive shopping experience.
Perhaps you already have a website with a shopping cart and are looking to add products or services from external vendors. Conversely, you may have found in researching ecommerce solutions for your new business that desirable ecommerce panels that offer drop shipping features are few and far between. Whatever the case may be, incorporating the drop ship function into your site needn’t be daunting.
The Dropstream plugin allows you to maintain your pre-existing ecommerce software while seamlessly integrating drop shipping capabilities. The backend panel that your staff is accustomed to managing and the shopping cart and checkout process that your customers have come to know and trust remain the same, but your inventory possibilities have grown exponentially.
Once a customer places an order for a drop ship vendor’s product and payment is verified, the supplying vendor will be automatically notified by the Dropstream system. Shipment status and tracking information of any and all packages will be maintained in your store’s ecommerce system, and the customer will continue to enjoy a single site shopping experience.
About Dropstream/Falconer Development
Dropstream is one of the most recent technologies created by consulting and development firm Falconer Development. Launched by experienced software engineer and consultant Karl Falconer, Falconer Development specializes in creating systems that automate and simplify otherwise complex and manual business processes. Guided by the core philosophy that technology should enable companies to streamline their daily operations, Falconer Development is particularly dedicated to helping small businesses grow, increase efficiency and become more profitable.
This is just the first in our series of informational blog posts. Please check back often, as we will continue to cover ecommerce and drop shipping related topics. Subscribe to our blog or newsletter (on the right) for updates.
[Photo credit: LadyDragonflyCC -See through my eyes!]