Why You Should Always Test New Dropshipping Products

Dropshipping exploded in popularity in the wake of the 2020 pandemic. In 2020 alone, eCommerce accounted for 16.1% of all retail sales. With more customers shopping online, it’s easy to assume dropshipping is doing really well. 

The thing is, you can’t sell just any product and expect it to turn you into an overnight millionaire. Your products have to fill customers’ needs; otherwise, they’ll look right past your store and shop from your competitors. 

Yes, dropshipping is a simple way to get an eCommerce operation up and running quickly without the high costs. Even though you rely on your supplier for much of your operations, you’re still in charge of what the business sells. 

If you want any kind of longevity (and we’re betting that you do), you have to verify the products you’re selling. It’s easy to become too hands-off with dropshipping, and that complacency leads to disastrous missteps. You’ve got to make sure everything in your supply chain is top-notch to build a brand, compete with other dropshippers, and create a business that thrives in the long term. 

The benefits of testing your products 

Don’t rush into selling new products. Even if there’s pressure to be the first on the market with the hottest new product, you have to approach products thoughtfully. 

Yes, product testing costs you money. But if we’re being honest, it’s the best money you’ll spend on your business. Testing is essential if you’re going to go all-in on a product. Careful product testing will protect your business in 3 ways. 

1 - Save time and money

If your products aren’t selling, you’re probably burning through cash—not to mention all of the time and resources you spend marketing a product. Dropshippers can never assume a product will sell well just because we “think” it’s a good product. Chances are, an unvalidated product will cause you to waste a lot of time and money and put your business in the red. 

Good products sell themselves. That frees up your time to focus on the more important parts of your business while the sales roll in. Instead of pouring cash into a money pit, validate your products to protect your budget.

a woman comparing dropshipping products

2 - Meet customer expectations

As a business owner, you need to prove your product idea is viable and that people will pay money for it. It’s not enough to simply add a product to your Shopify store to see what happens: you’ve got to sell products that solve your customers’ problems. 

Early product testing helps you clarify your target audience. These are the people who will find your solution the most useful; they’re the buyers who are most likely to purchase more products and refer their network to your products, too. 

 

Testing your products helps you put your ideas out there and figure out what sticks. Don’t take things personally if shoppers don’t choose your idea; dropshipping isn’t here to serve your ego. Ultimately, dropshipping is about selling products that solve real problems—product testing helps you do just that. 

3 - Prove your supplier’s quality

Dropshipping is great because you can rely on your supplier to store, ship, and fulfill orders. Because you’re so dependent on a supplier, you need a way to prove they’re worth their salt. 

Product testing helps you weed out the subpar suppliers so you work with someone excellent from the start. After all, a supplier’s products might look fine online, but once you see them in person, you might realize their products are junk. 

Product testing helps you verify a supplier’s claims before you start selling their products. If you’re having a hard time choosing between multiple suppliers, test their products to vet their quality. Without product testing, you risk partnering with a bad supplier who can singlehandedly destroy your business overnight. 

a warehouse where a supplier stores dropshipped items

5 best practices to test new products as a dropshipper

Drosphippers should always test products before selling them to customers. If you aren’t sure how to test your products, don’t sweat it. Follow these 5 best practices to validate your products without wasting time or money. 

1 - Collect feedback from real shoppers

You can conduct surface-level audience research through Google Trends and other tools, but the best way to know if your product will sell is to listen to your customers.

That means: 

  • Checking your analytics: Do you have past engagement data on previous products? Website, eCommerce platform, and social media analytics can help you learn a lot about a product’s potential. For example, are a lot of shoppers searching for “red shoes” on your site? That means there’s a genuine interest in that type of product.
  • Inviting a small group of customers to test a product: Think of this as a focus group. Offer the new product for free in exchange for their honest feedback. You can ask customers which features they like (or hate) the most as well as how much they think the product is worth. This helps you work with your supplier on features people actually love and price the product appropriately. 
  • Taking preorders: Preorders help you prove your concept before you spend thousands on orders from your supplier. The number of people on a waitlist demonstrates the demand for a product. If numbers are low, it means you either need to market better or choose a different product. 

Yes, collecting shopper feedback takes time and a little money, but when hundreds of thousands of dollars are on the line, you owe it to your business to validate every product idea with your audience.

2 - Do a soft launch with your MVP

Your MVP, or your minimum viable product, is the simplest possible version of your product. If you’re working with the supplier on a white label product, this is a critical way to test the market early without pumping tons of money into a bad product. 

Do a “soft launch” selling your MVP to a select group of shoppers. The key is to offer only a limited number of these products so you keep your order quantities (and bills) smaller. This means you’re able to collect feedback and iterate more quickly.

executives meet at a table to discuss their dropshipping marketing strategy

3 - Write a solid marketing plan

Don’t sell a new product without a marketing strategy. After all, marketing dollars are precious these days, and you don’t want to promote your new product to the wrong audience. 

How are you going to get eyeballs on your new product? Are you capable of marketing it yourself? Or do you need to invest in influencers, affiliates, or paid ads to get the ball rolling? 

It’s all sunshine and rainbows until it’s time to promote your product, so make sure you have a solid strategy for not just the product, but the launch itself. 

4 - Compare yourself to the competition

What is everyone else selling right now? How does your product idea compare? 

It’s not necessarily a bad thing if other people are selling the same product; that’s common in the dropshipping space. But how are your competitors positioning the product for their audience? Where are they promoting the product? How are they promoting it? 

Before you even think of selling a product, do a little digging to see how other dropshippers are marketing it. If they’re having a tough time or the product requires a lot of marketing dollars to sell, it might not be a profitable choice for your business. 

5 - Test your suppliers

In theory, you can start dropshipping without ever seeing your products in person. But that would be a huge mistake. Always get your hands on the product so you can evaluate its quality.

Always test your suppliers’ products before selling them in your own store. No matter who you use, you should be able to request product samples from a supplier. Be sure to order from several suppliers so you can compare their responsiveness, shipping, and product quality to find the best option for your shoppers. 

warehouse employees search through a dropshipping supplier warehouse

The bottom line

Was your product test a success? Great!

Go forth and sell your validated product idea.

Always confirm your product ideas before going all-in. 

Sure, your supplier holds a lot of control over your business, but you have ultimate control over which products you sell.

Test products to confirm that customers want them and that your supplier can fulfill the orders successfully.

These 5 best practices will help you design products that people will actually want to buy, creating a more resilient and predictable income for your dropshipping operation.