It’s not always easy jumping into the eCommerce game, but dropshipping is the perfect way to get your toes wet. Although dropshipping is a little easier than fulfilling everything yourself, it’s not always sunshine and roses.
Dropshipping is a business, and that means you live and die by your efficiency. While you might have had time to fulfill orders on AliExpress when you were just starting out, that’s just not scalable. What was once a simple manual task now takes you hours of headache-induced time at the computer.
Spend less time on manual tasks, increase your profitability, and see fewer errors by automating your dropshipping business. This will not only give you your life back, but prevent dropshipping burnout and encourage healthier scaling.
Use technology to automate repetitive tasks for your business. Whether you choose just one app or use a combination, automation tools make your dropshipping business more profitable in less time.
Not sure how to start automating? We’ve broken down our 11 favorite tools by category to help you start automating at light speed.
The 11 best dropshipping tools of 2020
1. Email marketing
Email is a critical lifeline between you and your customers. But nobody has time to send individual emails to shoppers. That’s why transactional emails are ripe for automation—with the right tools, of course.
If you’re new to email automation, start small with a tool like MailChimp. It’s free for your first 2,000 subscribers, so it’s a perfect solution as you scale your business. MailChimp can help you write emails for:
- Welcome sequences
- Tracking information
- Customer feedback requests
- Customer anniversaries or reminders
… and a lot more. Best of all, it includes pre-built templates that save you more time. MailChimp might be a beginner’s tool, but it does have powerful automations for important dates, product retargeting, and a lot more.
However, MailChimp isn’t designed specifically for dropshipping or eCommerce. If you want an email automation tool designed for abandoned carts, we recommend Recapture Abandoned Carts.
Recapture is specifically designed to prevent abandoned carts for Shopify stores. And it works—the tool has recovered millions of dollars’ worth of sales. Its templates are automatically designed with best practices in mind, but the templates aren’t too rigid, either. There’s plenty of room to add your brand’s logos, colors, and any other customizations you need.
We also like Recapture because it stops sending abandoned cart emails once a customer actually makes a purchase. That prevents you from harassing customers with unnecessary touchpoints, preserving the relationship. While you could try a generalized email marketing tool for abandoned carts, our vote is with Recapture because of its specialized knowledge.
2. Task automation
The problem with automation is that it automates critical parts of your business separately. What do you do if you need Shopify to talk to Gmail, but that feature isn’t available natively?
Task automation and integrations are here to save your bacon. Feel free to use your favorite automation tools without worrying. The right integration tools will make your applications talk to each other without the hassle.
Try a freebie like If This, Then That (IFTTT) to connect different applications to start. You can only connect two applications with one connection through IFTTT, but it’s a great free tool for simple connections. Just be sure to check your connections often; this free tool is known for occasional bugs.
If you want something more advanced and reliable, try Zapier. This is a paid subscription, but it has advanced features that connect two or more applications without breaking a sweat.
For example, if you want to get a text every time a customer places an order, Zapier can do that. It can even automate tasks, like email marketing list segmentation and customer feedback collection, that IFTTT just can’t touch.
Shopify Flow gives Shopify store owners a lot of structure and help managing not only your different applications, but your to-do list. For example, it can automatically create a customer support ticket if you get a bad review, organize customers by LTV, or fire off a win-back email sequence for at-risk customers. Shopify Flow is a form of automation and integration that’s structured in an easy interface that makes it a breeze to manage your dropshipping operation.
3. Customer service
As a dropshipper, you’re probably selling the same products as some of your competitors. What, then, is your selling point? How are you different from the other guys if you sell the same stuff?
Customer service is key. First of all, competitors can’t copy your approach to customer service. Plus, great customer service endears you to customers, ensuring continued brand loyalty and reorders. Although good customer service tools cost money, you’ll easily recoup the cost in repeat orders, word of mouth marketing, and brand loyalty.
ChatBot’s LiveChat uses AI to give your shoppers the immediate answers they expect. This not only increases your response rate, but it will even reduce the number of support tickets and emails clogging your inbox.
Tidio is another powerful AI chatbot that gives visitors an automated welcome message and pre-chat survey. Most chatbots are equipped to answer simple customer questions about shipping, tracking information, or sales. If a customer has a more in-depth question, your AI chatbot can refer them to a live representative. While chatbots can’t answer every question, they can weed out the simple questions, referring only the more complex messages to your team and saving a ton of time.
However, you can only do so much with robots. Great customer service requires a human touch, too. Depending on your product, you might need help desk software to give customers the support they need.
Zendesk is an automation tool that connects each customer’s support ticket with a live representative. That means you can leverage a trained professional to improve the customer experience while decreasing the number of emails in your inbox. You pay by the agent, too, which means the cost scales with your business.
4. Product management
Order fulfillment, manufacturer relationships, tracking—product management takes up a huge amount of your time as a dropshipper. While you should keep an eye on your product management, several automated tools can help you save time on this critical part of dropshipping.
Oberlo is a great dropshipping tool if your eCommerce site is built on Shopify. It allows you to import product information from both AliExpress and Oberlo’s internal Supply Marketplace.
The big advantage is that Oberlo is free for beginners and offers an unlimited number of orders; the monthly payment options are pretty cheap, too. However, the downside is that you can’t use Oberlo if you aren’t on Shopify, or if you want to use a supplier that’s outside their network.
If you’re a WooCommerce or WordPress person, WooDropship is another great product management automation tool. In fact, you can control your entire WooCommerce store directly from the WooDropship dashboard or via its Chrome extension.
You’ll need to work exclusively with AliExpress to use WooDropship, though. This tool automatically populates product details and customer orders on AliExpress. Just pay for the order and you’re done—no need to enter any manual data.
But what happens if you don’t use AliExpress, Shopify, or other dropshipping platforms? In this situation, it’s best to work with an agnostic tool designed to work with any vendor, supplier, or dropshipping platform. Instead of handcuffing yourself to a solution because of your eCommerce platform, a tool like Spark Shipping gives you more freedom.
Spark Shipping is an end-to-end automation platform for dropshipping. We help with product management as well as inventory, order fulfillment, and even tracking updates from UPS or FedEx.
If you’re using multiple platforms or suppliers, don’t enter everything manually. Spark Shipping minimizes inconsistencies by normalizing your order information and sending your information in the correct format to each of your suppliers. This solution is ideal if you’re on big platforms, like Amazon or Magento, and need access to a diverse number of suppliers.
The bottom line
Dropshipping has a ton of moving parts and it’s not a gig for the faint of heart. The right tech stack can mean the difference between profitable, pain-free dropshipping and an operation that burns you out quickly.
Profitability can feel razor-thin in the eCommerce grind, so make the most of your time and save more money with automation. These 11 tools will save time, money, and sanity while you scale a dropshipping operation to win.