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The flaw in all drop shipping courses is the issue of how to automate your drop shipping business to ensure you can continue with the lifestyle you want to achieve. Courses such as Drop Ship Lifestyle, Store Coach and Profitable Online Store don’t go into enough detail on how to automate your drop shipping business.
If you can master the art of automated drop shipping business you don’t need a thousand dollar course.
Let’s say your working with a supplier who sells hammocks and they provided you with a excel file of 200 SKU’s (unique product id’s). Would you have any idea what to do next? Most people don’t and they think they can simply import this into Shopify or Bigcommerce and start promoting.
99% of suppliers will provide a daily or weekly inventory in a file that Shopify won’t recognize, or if they do recognize it the columns won’t match up to the ones in your file. You may end up working with a supplier that doesn’t even offer a supplier inventory file, sites like Aliexpress or other Chinese drop shippers for example – so you’ll have to manually list each product one by one – Absolute time waster.
If you did manage to work out a way to import your products using the built in importer or spent two months manually listing products you will quickly find the supplier is now out of stock on a large number of SKU’s you’ve added to your site. Now what do you do? Update your site to match the supplier right?
If you answered yes to the last question you’ll find yourself playing an endless game of changing your stock status. Now what happens if the supplier raises or lowers the price? Your going to have to either find a way to get your supplier stock list updated regularly and imported or add pricing updates to your game of stock status.
If you haven’t started your own drop shipping business yet your probably thinking this isn’t a big issue. Wait until you create your site and start adding products to your store before making any conclusions.
Before giving up on your dream drop ship business. There are a few options I’ll share with you for automating drop shipping business online.
Supplier Stock List
The stock list, inventory list or source file as you’ll hear from various suppliers is the easiest way to start automating your business. If your supplier is really helpful then you can provide the sample Shopify, Bigcommerce or Opencart inventory list and ask your supplier to create you a custom file that matches up with the same columns as those platforms.
For example I will use Shopify an example (I use them for my stores). If they won’t do this, keep reading but the next section will be much more valuable for you.
Here is an example of what your Shopify columns would look like in a .csv file. Click here to download from Shopify.
For further information on setting up your csv file to match Shopify you can checkout the full user documentation.
Once your supplier has provided a stock list that matches Shopify you can easily import this using the free Shopify importer.
Without going into too much detail here you can checkout how to this here.
Now your products are imported, your probably wondering, OK Rhys how do you automate this process so when my supplier changes the price of the product does my store get updated? Your going to need to ensure your supplier sends you an updated stock list daily or weekly. This will show the inventory count of all products.
Next install the following application, Stock Sync – $5 a month (upto 5,000 Sku’s) from the Shopfiy App Store.
Stock Sync works by allowing you to upload your daily stock file into the app and by using the SKU will compare the inventory field and compare that value with whatever is in your Shopify inventory. If the value has changed then Stock Sync will change the inventory to reflect in your store. Cool right?
But that’s not all, the really cool feature is that you can setup Stock Sync to pluck your stock list from many different platforms automatically. For example I setup a Stock Sync mailbox and told my supplier to email the daily stock list to this email address.
Using Stock Sync they automatically come into the mailbox, download the stock list and re-upload this into my Shopify store and update the inventory values automatically. Other options include Dropbox, Google Drive and FTP options.
Boooom! Now you have an automated inventory system that will update products inventory instantly so you never oversell products. Should products have zero inventory they will automatically be hidden from your store, or you can change this to have them display as ‘Sold Out.’
If your supplier lists more products you can update Shopify by uploading another stock list without overwriting existing products.
Supplier Won’t Provide Custom Stock File
If your supplier won’t provide this then I would ask them why not or if they are prepared to provide a custom stock file for you for a fee. For example I would offer them $500 for a custom feed and see what they say, if they decline and you still really want to work with them then here’s the next step.
Web scraping is when you setup a script or a ‘bot’ to scrape the content from a supplier directory or rearrange an existing stock file into a new one. For a small setup fee and monthly fee many companies will scrape supplier products and place them in a .CSV file for you. The best company I recommend using is Grepsr.
Grepsr allows you to source data from the web (i.e. supplier directory) and then quickly scrape and collate this into readable and easy to use files, databases or web applications.
You can get started for $99 per site and then $50 a month for 50,000 records scraped.
Back to our hammock example, you would provide them with your suppliers website and then they will create a crawler that will find all the content on the site. They will then automatically scrape all the content such as photos, descriptions, titles, inventory count and much more.
Lets say you have 250 products in your store. You can get Grepsr to scrape the supplier once a day and then upload these into Shopify using Stock Sync.
Here’s what happened when I used Grepsr to work on a project for a site that offered a really poor stock list, I created my own using the web listings instead. This report is emailed once a day (over 26,000 products, so I’m on a bigger plan) but I only add products with inventory of 2+ to avoid selling products that may be out of stock during that day.
And here’s an example of the data contained in that report.
I then upload this using Stock Sync which will update the inventory. Once a week I will manually upload the scraped data above which will look for new products and upload them into Shopify without overwriting existing products. This is the only manual work required, aside from placing orders with the drop shipper.
Hire A Developer
If web scraping isn’t an option and it’s likely many suppliers won’t have their products listed on their website or directory then you have one other option. Head over to freelancer sites such as Upwork, Freelancer and OnlineJobs.ph and find a developer that will convert a traditional supplier list into a Shopify, Bigcommerce etc stock file.
Once the original products have been uploaded to Shopify, you can use Stock Sync above to update the inventory values, thus making your drop shipping store fully automated.
Before I discovered Grepsr I did this using Upwork and it cost me $150 which was around 10 hours work.
Supplier Won’t Provide Any Stock Files
If your supplier won’t provide any stock files but they do provide listings on their website, such as TMart, Aliexpress, SammyDress or Amazon then your going to have to explore other options. I’ve spent years researching off-the-shelve solutions to no avail until recently.
With this cloud based platform you can load products into your store with 1-click using a Google Chrome plugin and Shopify stores. They offer a ton of different stores and marketplaces which you can use to integrate with the app and instantly add products with photos, descriptions and tags to your store.
For example, you install the app, visit Aliexpress and find a product you like and click the magic button, and the product will be added to your Shopify store.
If Aliexpress isn’t what your looking for then the following stores will work too.
Pricing starts at $9 per month (14 day free trial for all) with support for AliExpress & Alibaba with the fully fledged version costing $47 a month for all working stores, unlimited products and automatic order fulfillment. For example you can automatically purchase Aliexpress orders through Shopify without leaving. Tracking numbers will automatically show up in the app too.
The part that I really like with Get Shopified App is that you can get product availability and price change alerts on the $47/month plan. So when a product is sold out or the price changes you will get an email and you can then update Shopify accordinly. To make this truely automated you could hire a virtual assistance to handle this process.
I’ve been using GetShopifiedApp on my Shopify stores for the last few months and it definitely saves a lot of time adding new products from sites which offer no stock list.
Automate Drop Shipping Business
There you have some of the best ways to automate your drop shipping business once you’ve found a suitable supplier. If your struggling to find suppliers then I recommend you checkout Salehoo and for starting a drop shipping business and learning the ropes, be sure to checkout Store Coach. If you have any queries or questions on automating your drop shipping business please contact me below.