In today’s episode of the eCommerce Lifestyle Podcast, Anton talks about his least favorite part of Dropshipping.
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Hello, everybody, Anton Kraly here. Welcome back to the eCommerce Lifestyle Podcast. If you're new here, this is our show that is designed to help e-commerce store owners to increase their revenue, automate their operations, and become the authority in their niche. In today's episode, we're going to be talking about my least favorite part of drop shipping. Something that I have really hated doing ever since I transitioned from importing to drop shipping, but something that is 100% necessary if you're going to be in this business model and something that pains a lot of people that are building, growing, and starting new drop shipping stores. So specifically what I'm going to be talking about is product uploads.
Now, for anybody that's new, maybe for some reason you're listening to this and you're not a member of my coaching program over at Drop Ship Lifestyle, first of all, you should be. Just go to dropshiplifestyle.com, click e-commerce courses and you can get enrolled. But this is what happens when you find a new supplier, you reach out, you get approved to sell their products, you become an authorized retailer and they send you their product information for you to upload on your store.
Now, sometimes this can be super easy. They might send you a CSV, which is basically just a Excel sheet with all of their product information, and maybe they have 10 or 20 products, and their CSV is formatted in a way that you can easily just import it to your Shopify store and maybe the whole process takes you 20, 30 minutes. That's best case scenario. But what happens very often on every store, especially because we sell for so many brands on each store, is we will get approved with different brands, they'll send us their product information, and maybe it will be an Excel sheet but it will be an Excel sheet that has 3000 different products on it that is not formatted correctly for Shopify. Or even worse, maybe they'll send us access to a dealer portal on their website where it has product information for 3000 products, but it's not in an Excel format, CSV format that can easily be imported to Shopify.
Now, the reason this is something that I hate is because it's something that takes a ton of time to go from what some suppliers provide you with to what Shopify needs to be uploaded to make it as smooth as possible.
Now, of course, if you had, let's just keep using 3000 products from one brand for example, you could just go one by one and manually go into your Shopify admin, click add new product, copy and paste over the information, click save, do the next product, the next product, the next product. The thing is, if you do it that way, we're talking about tens of hours, maybe a hundred hours plus, for those 3000 products. So the other thing that you might want to do is get all the product information into a CSV file and make sure it's formatted correctly. That way you can click upload once, you can import all of those products via CSV into your Shopify store and then be good to go. But even that method, just sometimes reformatting or creating from scratch a CSV file, can, again, take hours or tens of hours. So what a lot of people want to do is just simply outsource that.
Let's just picture this is you right now. You're a member of my coaching program, Drop Ship Lifestyle. You're working your way through the Drop Ship Blueprint in module four, you get approved with a supplier. They say, "Yep, let's do this. You're approved." They give you, again, this product catalog with 3000 products, and now you're sitting there like, "This is going to take me forever before I can move forward." So natural thought being everything I teach at Drop Ship Lifestyle is about outsourcing and automating your drop shipping stores, people think, "Okay, I'll just hire somebody to do this for me." Now, typically, if somebody asks me if they should do that, I do say no because this is a place where a lot of errors can happen and a lot of errors that can cost you money. With that being said, in this episode, I will give you some tips should you choose to outsource it. And when I say outsource it, I don't mean have a business partner do it or have someone you trust on your team. I mean, literally if you're going to upwork.com or onlinejobs.ph and hiring someone on a contract basis, that'll do it for you. So in that scenario, somebody that you've never worked with before, somebody that you have no idea what to expect from them doing this job for you. But before I do that, I want to talk about what can possibly go wrong and why I typically don't recommend outsourcing this.
The first, and this is probably the biggest, is data mismatches. So when you're working with a large amount of products and you're editing them in a CSV format, again, I'm going to keep using CSV because that's how the files are saved, but it really is just an Excel sheet where every single row represents a different product and every column represents a different attribute. So for example, maybe row A is product 123, and column one is skew number, column two is price, column three is description, column four is product image and so on and so on and so on. So that's what I mean when I'm talking about CSVs.
Now, when somebody is working with a large database, meaning a lot of rows and a lot of columns, some things that can go wrong as they're creating this or editing it is those mismatches, or are those mismatches I should say. So for example, the images, it's possible somebody makes a mistake and on row, let's just say 80 out of 3000, things get out of sync. And now you have 2,900 products where the images don't match the product, or the price doesn't match the product, or the description doesn't match the product, or the skew doesn't match the product. It really doesn't matter which column it is, but I've seen this before.
I'm saying this because this has happened to me early on where people will upload hundreds or thousands of products thinking everything is great, thinking, "I'm good. I just saved so much time," and then finding themselves in a situation where their prices are all off or the images are all off. That just leads to lots of problems with customers buying things at wrong prices, customers seeing inaccurate photos, customers reading descriptions for one product when they're on another product page. So these are the things that can go wrong. And if you outsource it to somebody you've never worked with before, you really have no way of knowing unless you're checking almost every single product, which I almost recommend, but we'll talk about that in just a minute.
I should also mention, of course, if you're doing this yourself, you can make the same mistakes as somebody that you outsource the project to. I'll just say personally, I trust myself more to double and triple check the work rather than a contract freelancer that came on just for the one job.
So that leads us to, are you still wanting to outsource this knowing that there could be huge issues? Again, for some people I get it, you're going to want to, especially if you're in a niche where you find, let's just say, 50 suppliers and the average amount of products they have is a thousand. That's a lot of work. It's a lot of time. So again, I understand where everybody's coming from when they want to outsource this. So let me give you some tips to do it.
The first is something I'm typically against whenever it comes to hiring, but in this case it's necessary, and that is micro-managing. Again, I don't even like that word, but this is an area where you need to micromanage because there's so much at stake. Again, running ads to products with incorrect prices or incorrect photos or no descriptions or broken descriptions. So you really do, still, even if you outsource this, need to put in a fair amount of time to be micromanaging and overseeing all the work.
Now, when it comes to how to hire for this, the easiest way you're going to have somebody possibly make mistakes or mess it up is if you just post a job, say you want somebody to upload your products, not give them much direction and say, "Okay, here's the products. Please upload them to my site." Because then they don't really even know what they're doing. They need to figure out a system for themselves and it leads to a lot much more room for error. So what I recommend, if you're going to outsource this, first is do this, go to Google Docs, free, make a Google doc and make one for each of your suppliers that you need products uploaded for. So if you have suppliers one through 50, make a Google Doc called Product Uploads Supplier One, make another Google Doc, Product Uploads Supplier Two and so on and so on for each supplier you want to outsource for.
The second thing I recommend is that you do go the CSV route, meaning that you don't try to hire somebody to upload products one by one. You hire them to use the CSV template that Shopify provides. So what I'll do also is put a link in this podcast description where you can download their template to see what the columns should be titled and what information you need in there. So that's the second tip, go the CSV route. Don't have somebody do it product by product, because in that case, if you had 3000 products, you're still looking at a hundred hours probably or hundreds of hours.
So the next thing that I recommend is don't hire before you start to do the work yourself. So for each individual supplier, you want to use a screen recorder. I personally use and recommend loom.com. L-O-O-M.com. They have a free plan, which is fine. What that allows you to do is record your screen and your microphone as you're doing different things, so you can record anything. But in this example, you would use that screen recorder, it would record your microphone, it could record your webcam if you want it to, and it would record your screen. And in this recording, what you want to do is do at least the first 10 products from, let's say supplier one, and have them put into the CSV and show how you're doing it. Show what the process looks like to take what you have already from your supplier and turn it into something that is going to work when it's uploaded to Shopify. So again, loom.com, record your screen, adding at least the first 10 products to the CSV.
Now, the next thing you want to do is, after this recording is over, is go to Shopify, in your Shopify admin, and import the CSV with those first 10 products just to make sure you didn't make any mistakes and to make sure everything works as it should, again, to make sure the format that you have in this project document is actually working with Shopify. That's just for you to make sure there's no errors and you're not going to hire somebody to repeat something that already has errors.
Now, the next thing you want to do is go back to that Google Doc specific to this supplier and how you upload products for them. And when you use the tool I'm talking about, loom.com, they give you a URL that when anybody clicks it, they can watch that screen recording you just recorded. So in that project doc, paste the link for the video showing how it's done, paste the link for wherever you can access the product information from your supplier, and then put step-by-step instructions explaining exactly what you did in the video you recorded. So maybe, "Step one, I accessed the products suppliers at this link. Step two, I used this Shopify template." Again, I'll link that up below in this podcast description. "Step three, I formatted the original product data to meet this new criteria, and here's how I did it," however you did it. "Step four, I went to Shopify and I imported it and everything just worked." Whatever it is, but whatever you do in that video, assuming it works and it's what you want, the person you're outsourcing to do to actually do, then post those step-by-step instructions in that doc.
Now, once you do this, you can use a website like upwork.com or onlinejobs.ph, which I use and recommend. And what you can do is once you hire somebody, you're sharing this project document with them so they're seeing exactly how to do it. They're watching you do it for the first 10 products, they're seeing how it works, and they're able to start implementing what you just did.
Now, few behind the scenes tips here. One is, as you take these first 10 products and format them to the CSV standard, make sure you're tracking how long it actually takes you. That way you know how long this project should take when you hire somebody for the job so you can have an estimate and make sure whoever you're hiring is up to speed. They're not too slow. They're not wasting time. They're proficient. They should be able to do it in the time it took you or better.
Now, the next thing that's really important here is as the person you hire is creating these CSVs for you for specific brands, don't have them go and just upload them by themselves. Have them send them over in chunks. So maybe products zero to 100, products 100 to 200. And in those CSVs, what you need to do, this is where the micro-managing comes in, is check a lot of them to make sure the data matches up. If it is a spreadsheet they send you of, let's just say 100 different products for supplier one, go through and check, maybe product one, product, 11, product 21, 31 every 10 or so, and make sure all the data is correct. The right skew number, the right product name, the right description, the right images, make sure everything is where it should be and there is no data mismatches.
And then what's cool with Shopify is when you're importing products, you can import these, whatever you want hundred at a time. So they finished the first hundred, okay, great, import that. Second hundred, you checked it out, you micromanaged it, it all looks good, upload that and so on and so on. So don't think when it comes to outsourcing product uploads that it really is just hands off, you're not going to do anything. You definitely still should be involved in a big way. You need to really double and triple check work because you don't want to get yourself in trouble with those data mismatches. Still, even with this, we don't outsource it. We have our team members do it because they've been with us for a long time and we trust them. But even with that, getting a new supplier with thousands of products, while it's exciting and it makes a lot of money in the long run, my least favorite part of drop shipping still is having those products all uploaded, making everything is done correctly because it is a tedious task. But it needs to be done.
So that's going to do it for this episode, guys. I do hope it helps. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to go over to ecommercelifestyle.com and you'll see a contact form on there. You can ask me anything. And if it's a good question, maybe I'll answer it in a future podcast. And as always, if you got value from this episode, I would really appreciate it if you can go over to Apple podcasts and leave a review. I will link how to do that in this podcast description. And if you're listening to this and for some reason you are not a member of my coaching program, you should go to dropshipwebinar.com. I will link that up in the description. There, you get a free training from me, plus a special offer on the Drop Ship Blueprint. So again, that's dropshipwebinar.com. So thank you everybody. I appreciate you. And I will talk to you on Thursday in a new episode of the eCommerce Lifestyle Podcast. See, everybody.