Sustainable businesses are hard

I’m on a bit of a tear with eCommerce stores. I keep checking out the different eCommerce subreddits and see all of these dropshipping sites going up and the site owners posting “I have traffic but no sales, what’s wrong with my site?”. People share quick fixes like blurry logos or that the images are too small. But the fundamental issue is that the site’s whole foundation is just unsustainable.

It’s Too Easy

The whole point of these dropshipping stores is to make a quick buck. People see these as a way to put in little time and investment, throw some manufactured products on a Shopify theme and the sales should just start rolling in. It’s just too easy. And that’s the problem.

I fell into that trap too. I saw all the success people claimed they were having and I even thought of setting up a store. But then I wondered what I’d even sell that people would want and just never got around to it.

So many people have built these stores because it’s so darn easy. If something is that easy, it’s not sustainable. The first few people in will make money but not for long. The latecomers will still think there’s a chance they can cash in on the trend, but they’re too late.

The Purpose of a Successful Business

Your business is there to make money. But, you also need to have an underlying value proposition that resonates with customers. There aren’t a thousand stores or sites selling plain white shirts, because there’s no reason customers need that many options for something so basic. The same goes for these cheap, overnight dropshipping sites.

Why would I want to buy products on your store that I can find on Amazon for the same price, that actually have reviews, and probably ship a lot faster?

People building these dropshipping sites are only focusing on the money part. They’re not focused on why a customer should come purchase from them. I went through the same thing setting up an attempt at an affiliate site a few years ago. Looking back now I realize that NOBODY should have gone to my site at all, there was no value in it for them.

That’s the problem with these new dropshipping sites, there is no value in shopping there. And that’s why no amount of tweaks to the theme or conversion optimization is going to fix them.

The Future of eCommerce

The future of the online selling space is going to be brands built around people, personalities and stories (which is already the case but it will only continue to grow). Another important factor is that many of the top stores are selling high quality products and focusing on just a few items. BombTech Golf clubs make really good clubs and that’s all they do. Allbirds makes really great wool shoes. Quip makes minimal, quality electric toothbrushes.

And those businesses are hard! They’re not something that can be built in a weekend. To really succeed you have to be willing to put in more time and effort than other people to make a quality product, build a brand, and market it.

Nobody wants to buy from your t-shirt store, there are so many of them. But a company like Ugmonk has done well selling shirts among other things because people like Jeff, the story, the quality of the products, and the designs. He’s the company. And people want to buy from people.

So don’t get discouraged if you’ve built a store and aren’t getting sales. If you’ve made a product and really believe in it, invest the time in telling people about it through video, having a story (a why behind the brand), and showing who is behind the company. You won’t be successful overnight, but most sustainable businesses don’t achieve success in a weekend.