Over the past few decades, dropshipping has emerged as one of the most profitable and beginner-friendly e-commerce business models. Digital platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce have made the technical side of running an online store more accessible than ever before. However, despite how easy it now is to set up a website, the marketing aspects of running an online business are still confusing to many entrepreneurs. People now feel confident in building stores, but they aren’t quite sure what to build. Dropshipping stores can be categorized between three main options: a general store, a niche store, and a one product store. Our article today will take a deeper look at each option, and educate you on how they compare.
While it is now easier than ever to build online stores, this has contributed to an influx of poorly designed websites. Online consumers have more options than ever before, and stores are facing massive amounts of competition. You are not only competing with small, individually-run websites but also giant marketplaces such as Amazon and Etsy. In order to survive in this competitive landscape, you need to have a clear idea of what your website is looking to accomplish, and what your visitors have come to expect.
Each of the three types of online stores you can choose to run will have different advantages and disadvantages. You should definitely be aware of these before you invest your time and money.
This article will define each type of store, present you with the pros and cons, and give you an idea of what skill sets and resources each one may require.
Without further ado, we will begin by examining general stores.
General stores are dropshipping stores that sell across multiple categories. These categories can be completely unrelated to each other, and that is what makes the store ‘general’. A perfect example of a general store is Bloem. When you visit their website, you will notice that they sell hundreds of products spread across different categories. They have wellness products, beauty products, home accessories, clothing, and even tech accessories. Their brand isn’t specifically tied to any one type of product and has no branded items.
Advantages of a General Store:
- You can sell to a wider audience since you are selling many different products. There’s something for everybody.
General stores are more stable than a one product store since your eggs are split between multiple baskets (product categories).
- You can test multiple niches and products at the same time, and discover where your long-term focus should be.
- You can stay open forever since you can always change your products and niches over time.
- Market research isn’t very necessary. Your traffic will show you what products they like or don’t like.
- You have a massive selection of products to choose from, and it’s easy to source them.
- General stores are fairly quick and easy to set up if the product titles and descriptions are already edited.
- There is a lot of opportunity for cross-selling (offering items related to what the visitor has put in their cart).
Disadvantages of a General Store:
- Although you cater to everyone, your customers might feel as though you are too generic.
- Competition is intense. You’re also competing with marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy, and other stores that can be found online or in-person.
- General stores are difficult to brand since they lack a clear focus. This means you will always be selling other people’s products.
- SEO is very difficult due to a lack of focus. You likely won’t be able to able to rank in Google for any keywords or garner much organic search traffic.
- It’s difficult to work with social media influencers since there are so many unrelated products to promote. Are you a wellness store? Tech store? No one can tell.
- People are incentivized to price-shop since you are selling other brands. And, since you are just dropshipping, there might be cheaper sales channels available.
- Visitors without much intention of purchasing will consume your resources such as your marketing budget, server bandwidth, etc.
- There’s a lot of products to manage. You’re working with more suppliers, and you need to keep an eye on the inventory levels, price changes, and more.
- It’s difficult to build a structured marketing plan because you cater to so many niches and offer so many products.
- Conversion rates are lower since visitors are more likely to browse or price-shop.
- Product-related tasks (such as editing descriptions, photos, alt text) can be overwhelming due to the number of products you carry.
- Customer service can be difficult since your expertise is spread thin across so many items.
A General Store is Best Suited For:
- People who have little experience with dropshipping or e-commerce.
- Those who do not have much of a marketing budget to start with.
- Entrepreneurs who have a comparatively low appetite for risk.
- People who don’t have much experience with web development.
Niche stores are dropshopping stores where all the products are related to a certain subject, otherwise known as a niche. These are a middle-of-the-road option and are more focused than a general store, but more general than a one product store. One of my favorite examples of a niche store is JustDuaIt. They are a Canadian store that sells Muslim-Canadian clothing and jewelry. Although their products are clearly not meant for everyone, their ability to focus on a specific group of people is what has made them so popular with their customers. While they choose to produce their own branded products, you can easily curate a dropshipping store from existing products using the same principles.
Advantages of a Niche Store:
- You can position yourself as the go-to brand for a specific audience or niche.
- You’ll have more authority and credibility than general stores.
- You’ll have a better idea of who to target in your marketing efforts.
- You can potentially rank for keywords in search engines related to your niche.
- They are easier to manage than general stores since they have fewer products, fewer suppliers, and fewer inventory levels to monitor.
- You have a clear range of products that you can offer (and boundaries) while staying in line with your niche. This helps keep you from getting distracted.
- You can work with social media influencers.
- They are easier to brand than general stores since there is a common theme between the products.
- Upselling and cross-selling are easy since your products are related to each other.
- Generally, niche stores have higher conversion rates than general stores since visitors are less incentivized to shop around for better prices.
- It’s easier to build a social media audience than a general store since you can post both lifestyle and product content.
- General stores have no theme, so this is harder.
- You can build out a blog to cover topics related to your niche. General stores can’t do this since they have low authority.
- You can change your product offerings over time as long as you stay within your niche, which will help you adapt to changing consumer preferences.
Disadvantages of a Niche Store:
- They require a medium amount of market research.
- You’re more reliant on a smaller amount of people since you no longer cater to everyone.
- Can have a medium or high level of competition, depending on your niche.
- You can’t test multiple niches since you need to commit to one from the start.
- Customers may already have a go-to brand in the space and be unwilling to change to yours.
- Requires more branding and customization than a general store (to help your niche be reflected throughout the website).
A Niche Store is Best Suited For:
- People who have a bit of experience with market research and entrepreneurship.
- Dropshippers who have a small/medium marketing budget to start with.
- Entrepreneurs who don’t mind a bit of risk.
- Those with a bit of experience in web development.
One Product Store
A one product store is set up to focus on selling a single product. The product that your store is built around is referred to as your ‘flagship’ product. You can still offer variations (e.g. colors, sizes) but the product line is generally quite small. A good example of a one product store is PalmPress. They offer a handheld coffee press, and accessories to go with it. Usually, a one product store is set up so that the front landing page acts as a miniature sales funnel. The top shows you some high-quality pictures and videos of the product. There is plenty of social proof from publications (i.e. magazines/blogs) and testimonials. There are instructional videos. And, lastly, the highly visible frequently asked questions (FAQs) are designed to help customers overcome any objections.
Advantages of a One Product Store:
- Your target market is very defined. You know who your audience is, why they would want your product, and when they would be most likely to purchase it.
- Generally, one product stores have the highest conversion rates since all of your traffic is due to that one product. The visitors have qualified themselves as being interested.
- Branding all of your products is quite simple (and some would say necessary).
- There’s a feeling of scarcity since visitors are unlikely to be able to find the same product (in the same way) somewhere else.
- You might receive some media attention since your product is unique (or perceived as unique).
- It’s easy to work with social media influencers.
- Your customer service level will be maximized since you only have to answer questions about a single product.
- You can up-sell for the premium version, higher quantities (if disposable), or attachments & accessories.
- Ranking for certain keywords through SEO is about as easy as it’s going to get.
- You can be an authority on the subject since it is all that you do.
- There’s less information to analyze since all of your data and metrics will be connected to a single product
- You can build a social media audience around your product’s biggest fans and your brand’s initiatives.
Disadvantages of a One Product Store:
- Not ideal for dropshipping since customers would like to see your brand name on the products.
- A single product will have a higher chance of failure.
- A one product store is not flexible. You can’t change much about your product offerings once it is set up.
- A high level of market research is required to select a winning product worth investing in.
- You’re more reliant on the small number of suppliers that you partner with (and may need contracts in place).
- Highly susceptible to fluctuations in market demand.
- May require a lot of ad optimization to find effective ad-sets and audience demographics through digital marketing.
- You aren’t able to test multiple niches or products. You’re fully committed to a single product right from the jump.
- You’ll need to invest in higher-level web development and product photography since the one product will receive all of the attention.
A One Product Store is Best Suited For:
- Those who have some experience in dropshipping, e-commerce, and market research.
- Entrepreneurs who are starting with a decent-sized marketing budget.
- People who enjoy risk, and don’t mind being “all in” on one product.
- Dropshippers who have an intermediate level of skill in web development. Or, who don’t mind spending some money to hire someone who does.
As you can see, there are some important distinctions between a general store, a niche store, and a one product store. If you are going to be successful with dropshipping, you will need to know which of these you are looking to build prior to starting it. You will also need a reliable system of sourcing products.
If you are building a one product store, then we recommend you set up an arrangement with a supplier directly. This will help keep your costs low, and you can possibly set up a system for private labelling (i.e. putting your brand name on the product).
However, if you are thinking about opening a general or niche store, then you will likely want to use a dropshipping network instead. These applications allow you to fill your store with products from suppliers that have already agreed to dropship, meaning you can get set up in a matter of hours. The best dropshipping network for beginners and intermediates is DropCommerce. DropCommerce has over 23,000 products from over 350 suppliers in a bunch of different categories. Best of all, every single supplier is located in North America, so you never have to worry about cheap products taking forever to ship from overseas.
This is what the DropCommerce dashboard looks like.
Right now, DropCommerce is offering a 14-day free trial ($39 value!) so you can browse their selection of products and see if it’s the right fit for your project. There’s no credit card required and absolutely no risk. Come sign up for DropCommerce today, and find out why over 8000 stores trust DropCommerce for their product sourcing needs!
About the author
Zennen is a content marketer for DropCommerce. When he isn’t travelling to escape the Canadian winter, he is usually reading, writing, and working on projects.