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Dropshipping mistakes: What products you should NEVER dropship from China?

Dropshipping mistakes: What products you should NEVER dropship from China
June 28, 2021
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Here, you will learn what products to avoid if you want to dropship from China.

After being in eCommerce for some time and doing dropshipping, people learn of the types of products to avoid in the business.

There are certain products that you should avoid if you are dropshipping from China. All the products mentioned below can still be sold if you decide to go against this advice. You will have an opportunity to find out about them, without having to learn from your own mistakes. 

Type 1: Clothing

To start, Chinese sizes are never the same as US sizes. They are always smaller. About 2-3 times smaller. For example, a Chinese Extra Large size could be a US Extra Small. The difference is absolutely mind-blowing. That is because Chinese people are small on average. Therefore, the sizes will be completely off.

You may think that some Chinese companies state US sizing. However, most of the time it is unfortunately still off.

Therefore, selling clothing from China is complicated. It will result in lots of returns and exchanges due to items not fitting correctly.

Most customers choose to shop at a local store or Amazon with a higher level of convenience. There they can get the garment piece, get it shipped to their house and try it on in a matter of days. And if they don’t like it, sending the order back is as simple as it gets. With a chance of free returns too.

With ordering from China, this is not possible. It’s going to be time-consuming for the customer to send it back. And then wait extra to get shipped the right size. 

It’s just really not feasible, especially on a larger scale of production. Constantly having to return items is just not going to work out.

Now, even if the clothes from China do fit, they don’t look the same as the picture. Oftentimes that is the case. Color may be a little different. When the customer actually gets the product, it might not be the nice vibrant color they hoped for. Or it might simply not fit as well as it did on the model on the website.

how the clothes fit online vs in real life
There are tons of funny pictures on the internet, demonstrating how the clothes fit online vs in real life

The quality of the garments usually falls behind too. For example, they might have loose seams or prints coming off in the washing machine. The clothes’ color may fade, and the print may crack. Then you will have to deal with customers’ complaints.

It is a headache to sell clothing if you dropship from China. Now, if you are doing print on demand, which is completely different, then no need to worry about selling clothing. 

On the other hand, clothing accessories (such as socks, hats, scarves) on the other hand are okay! They are generally one size.

Type 2: Copyright & Trademarked Products

Copyrighted products are those that are owned by a company or brand. For example, brands you may recognize are Harry Potter, Star Wars, or Fortnite. 

If you sell these types of products, you run the risk of getting a C&D. A cease and desist is an order or request to stop suspicious or illegal activities from the company. So basically, the company will send you a letter or, in most cases, a formal email to one of your contacts. They will ask you to stop, and if you choose not to, legal actions will take place.

Companies can also complain against Shopify. Then Shopify can simply take your product offline.

Facebook can ban your ad account as well. If you are selling copyrighted products, the company may find out and complain to Facebook. Then FB gets your account banned.

What can also happen is your merchant payment gateway can refuse to work with you. Because most of the time selling any Copyrighted products is against their Terms and Conditions agreement. Especially without any sort of license. If they use online payment methods like Stripe or Paypal then they can refuse to work with you. And subsequently, close your account.

Worst case scenario you could end up sued with a lawsuit. It doesn’t happen very often, because it’s generally not worth the hassle for companies. Then you would just take your product offline at the C&D stage. If you like playing with fire and ignore all the warnings,  you could end up in court.

Everything Harry Potter is well protected with multiple trademarks that are owned by Warner Brothers Entertainment
Everything Harry Potter is well protected with multiple trademarks that are owned by Warner Brothers Entertainment

You can sell Copyrighted products but they have to be sourced from a licensed supplier. Do your research. Most of the time those suppliers are not from China. If you do find one, you will need to sign a contract agreement.

Type 3: Low-Margin Products

Very low-margin products may be easier to sell, but you will not be able to scale them. You will find it harder to remain profitable once you start to increase your budgets.

You might end up in a trap where you would want to sell cheap products. Let’s say, your price is $9.99. However, as your Cost per Purchase will increase, it will simply eat up that little margin.

Refer to the How to Price your Products article. You would want to aim for a minimum of $15-20 gross profit.

Gross Profit formula
Here’s a formula that you can use to calculate your Gross Profit

Now, what to do if you already have low-margin products? 

The answer is to use them as upsells and backend email offers. Use your $9.99 product as something you send out to your email list. That way you will increase your average order value and customer’s lifetime value. Your customers then will purchase more low-ticket products.

If you are testing low-margin products then use them as a bundle. Get the customer to buy more than 1 per order. Your goal is going to have to be to get them to buy a minimum of 2.

Type 4: Non-Unique General B.S.

Try to avoid products that can just be found anywhere. Like at your customer’s local Walmart store. An example of such a product would be nail clippers.

Products that have no uniqueness, quirkiness, or wow factor will likely fail no matter how great your ads are. Nobody really wants to see an ad for a nail clipper, right? Because at the end of the day your customers can just head down to the local Walmart store and buy a pair. So don’t try to sell things that are not unique. It doesn’t make sense.

People are impulse buyers. And we are doing interruption marketing. No one wants to be sold general rubbish they can pick up from anywhere.

Type 5: Very Expensive Electrical Items.

If you are dropshipping from China, then you might get issues with expensive electrical items. That is, in the price range of $50 and above.  

No one wants to wait a long time if they are paying $80-200 for a product. 

The product could arrive damaged or with faults, leaving you out of pocket and having to sort out the issue with your supplier. 

On top of that, you will still have to pay that $50 if the customer disputes or has any sort of queries or requests a chargeback. Regardless, you will still be stuck with paying the $50 to the supplier.

If you do sell these kinds of products, then vet your supplier. For example, buy one product yourself to test. So when you are scaling or getting that initial sale, buy a sample yourself. Send it to your house. Mess around and play with it. Give it a week’s time and see how it holds. Put it through its paces and really test the product as a customer would.

Most importantly, get a guarantee or warranty from the supplier for any faults that may arise. That way, if a customer of yours complains, the supplier will have to send an extra part or an extra product.

It is better to find a local supplier for these products. For example, Amazon or eBay. That way, customers will get their purchases quicker. And you can easily send them returns.

Now, you know about 5 types of products you should avoid dropshipping from China. After each one, there are recommendations if you do decide to dropship them. Want to know how to price your products to make money in dropshipping? Learn here. Good luck on your journey!