Kamil Sattar got into dropshipping in 2017, and let’s just say he wasn’t exactly an overnight success. In the first year, the self-taught entrepreneur lost a few thousand dollars, trying to sell too many products and running too many ads. He almost quit dropshipping completely, but by the next year, he was able to turn his business around and bring in more than $1 million in revenue.
These days, Kamil is better known as The Ecom King on YouTube, where he makes videos teaching aspiring entrepreneurs how to make money through dropshipping and other online businesses. His goal in life is to help others achieve the same success.
Kamil sat down with Shopify’s Benjamin Gottlieb for a live interview about how beginners can get started with dropshipping, find the right products and suppliers, and go viral on TikTok.
Seasonal store vs. niche store
For aspiring dropshippers, the first hurdle is often deciding what type of online store to start. Kamil recommends beginners start either with a seasonal store or niche store.
A niche store might be a better long-term play, especially if you choose to sell something related to your passion. You’ll know the products better, be able to market them better, and know your customers better because you are one.
On the other hand, you could create a seasonal store aimed at helping people find gifts for the winter holidays. The audience is bigger and so is the potential for sales. Kamil says customizable products, kids toys and tech accessories often make good products for seasonal stores. He also suggests searching TikTok for popular products.
Using TikTok for organic marketing
Kamil doesn’t only use TikTok for research, but also for organic marketing. He says there’s still opportunity for small creators to get discovered and go viral on the platform.
“What works on TikTok is a video that doesn't even look like an ad,” Kamil says. “So it needs to either be user generated content, point of view content, and it also needs to be between 10 and 30 seconds.”
Kamil recommends using viral sounds, voiceovers, and fast-paced editing to mimic the style of other TikTok videos. TikTok also gives new accounts an advantage in the algorithm, so the first 30 days are key to building an audience. Start creating and banking videos so you can post 3-5 videos per day for 30 days to take advantage of the boost in the first month of your account.
Finding good suppliers
AliExpress, a Chinese supplier owned by Alibaba, is perhaps the most well-known supply, but Kamil encourages people to go beyond AliExpress to other suppliers like USA Drop, Spocket, Hyper SKU, and others to find one that’ll meet your needs.
Is the product in your warehouse? That’s the most important question you should ask a potential supply.
“Because if they do have it in their warehouse, that's gonna cut 10 days out of the shipping straight away,” Kamil explains. He warns beginners to avoid suppliers that are actually just middlemen.
Starting a dropshipping business with less than $500
If you're gonna go down the viral TikTok method, which is just you ordering the products to your house and creating content and uploading it consistently, you can start that business model with drop shipping for around $300 to $500 max that you don't.
The main attraction of dropshipping is that you don’t have to put in a lot of upfront investment for inventory. Often, you’ll just need to pay for your Shopify website and start creating a few TikTok videos.
“I do believe the best opportunity right now in drop shipping is the TikTok Organic Method,” Kamil says. “The profit margins are between 40% to 60%, and you just can't argue with those numbers.”
If you want to go the traditional digital advertising route and buy Facebook, Google and Instagram ads, you’ll probably need around $2,000 to $3,000 to get started.
Also, selling high ticket items will also require a bigger initial investment. Advertising platforms are bidding platforms, and Kamil says the bids for customers are often higher if your product is more expensive.
How to avoid legal issues
Kamil has one big piece of advice: “Do not sell products that are copyrighted. So if it's got Marvel on it, if it's got any big brand like Coca-Cola in it, stay away from it.”
When you are finding a supplier, ask them if they have the license to sell the specific product to help avoid any trademark issuers. As far as content creation, make your own content and do not try to use someone else’s music or videos. Because laws vary in different countries and states, the best thing to do is consult a local lawyer if you have questions.
Using print-on-demand to diversify
One way to uplevel your dropshipping business is to offer print-on-demand services. Print-on-demand allows customers to customize a product, either by putting words or images on top of a product they’re buying from your store. Kamil says print-on-demand can be a great way to cut down on risk compared to buying inventory with the printing, and it’ll help diversify your revenue streams.
Take a listen to Kamil’s full interview on Shopify Masters to learn how he navigates supplier issues, shipping, and other dropshipping challenges.