Having run (and still running) several e-commerce businesses with a main focus on dropshipping, “Today Me” wishes I could go back in time and tell “Younger Me” a lot of things about what it takes to run a successful business and what I wish I had known when I first started out.

What I wish I had known before I started selling things online
What I wish I had known before I started selling things online

So, since I can’t go back in time (yet), I’ll tell YOU What I Wish I Knew Before I Started E-Commerce. Hopefully, this will help you learn faster than I did.

Let’s get started…

When I first started, I was so full of energy and hope.

When I bought my domain name and started looking for products to sell that would make me good money, I felt a huge rush of endorphins. Everything was so exciting.

I still remember when I first asked for samples of a product.

They were such a mess.

Then order some from a different source. Made for cheap.

Then ordering some more.

Then even more.

Anyway, it took me a while to find good stuff, but once I did, I was off to the races!

All I had to do was set up my shop. And design it. Add all the information about the product and upload the photos.

And take more pictures, because the ones the supplier sent were terrible. And rewrite the descriptions, which were awful.

Then you have to figure out how to make the trolley work. And to figure out how to get the correct shipping costs. After all, there’s nothing worse than selling your first 20 products and then realising you underestimated the shipping costs by a lot… and lost a lot of money you couldn’t afford to lose.

Then you have to figure out which boxes to use to mail your products.

Oh, yes, I forgot to mention that I had to store inventory in half of my bedroom and most of my garage. My wife really liked that.

So, back to the boxes: make sure you get the right sizes, or you’ll end up with a big stack of unusable boxes taking up space in your garage that you don’t have.

Really, there are a lot of boring things you have to do and take care of every day.

How long it would take me to fill orders.

At first, it was so exciting to see the orders come in. I’d print the orders and shipping labels, then make the shipping boxes, put the products in them, and tape them shut. Then go to the post office with all the boxes.

It was really fun.

To start.

Then, as I started selling more, I had to order bigger shipments of products, as well as more shipping boxes, paper, ink, and sellotape…

…and going to the post office more.

Then I ran out of stock faster than I thought I would, and I had to wait a few weeks for new shipments to arrive.

Even though this seems like a good problem to have, it hurt my cash flow because I had to try to order new stock early enough so that it would arrive just before I ran out. If they were too late, I would have to turn off my ads so I wouldn’t get too far behind and have to make my customers wait too long, which would make them angry.

But the timing was never right, so I’d either have too many products in my house because they came too soon, or I’d have to wait a few weeks for the next shipment and lose money because I had to take down my ads.

This is an expensive way to run a business.

It also takes a lot of time to store, pick, pack, and ship all of your own products, which is time that could be spent growing the business.

Dealing with the real thing

I don’t know if I can say this enough: figuring out where to store inventory is a big deal. It was taking over my whole house bit by bit. I looked into storage facilities, but they weren’t useful because I still had to put all the orders together somewhere, which I couldn’t do in a storage facility.

I also looked into special warehouses that would store, pick, pack, and ship everything, but the fees added up quickly and ate up the profits.

The costs of shipping and fulfilling an order

So, I could either store everything at my house and pick, pack, and ship it myself, which would have cost me the least, or I could pay a lot of money to have a warehouse store, pick, pack, and ship everything for me.

Not only that, but the costs of getting my products from China to the U.S. and then to my customers quickly added up.

When sending packages to customers, I had to figure out the cost based on the size, weight, and shipping zone of each box. When I made a mistake with shipping, it ate up any money I could have made faster than you’d think.

How to Handle Shipping Times and Delays

Then you have to think about how long it will take to ship.

You try to ship an order so that it arrives just before your stock runs out, but it never seems to work out that way. Ever.

And then everything goes well.

It doesn’t take into account:

  • delays in ports for ships
  • being stopped at borders
  • products are going to the wrong place
  • cargo ships are held up by weather
  • dishonest sellers who want more money to give you your goods
  • …and a lot more.
  • People call it “the slow boat to China” for a reason (or in this case, the slow boat FROM China).

To keep up with everything is almost a full-time job.

Taking Care of Customers

Then there are problems with customer service.

Many times, they couldn’t get the products they ordered on time because the shop ran out of stock and the next shipment didn’t arrive on time.

Sometimes the product was broken and had to be sent back and refunded.

But it was all the little things that added up and took the most time, like when I didn’t get email receipts or tracking numbers and had to look for them and answer a million emails with the information people needed.

All of these things took up large amounts of time every day.

Because people buy more around the holidays, they have to work more.

From the point of view of my e-commerce business, I LOVE the holidays!

I also really dislike them.

Maybe hate is too strong a word, but the holidays were hard.

This is why.

The number of sales during the holidays was great! I’d go through the stock quickly, and I’d also order new shipments faster than usual.

That was really cool!

But there were also a lot of orders to pick, pack, and ship, which added up to a lot of hours. I would pack orders all day and all night.

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I would skip family dinner and holiday activities.

That doesn’t even count the growing number of customer service problems, such as lost orders, lost receipts, lost tracking numbers, and so on.

After a while, I stopped being able to enjoy the holidays, so I started to dread them. It wasn’t worth the money.

Don’t try to do it all on your own.

But I did anyway. I didn’t have enough money to pay people to help me. At least, I told myself that. I would sometimes get help from family and friends, but that only works for so long before you drive them away, especially if you become stressed out and not fun to be around.

How much time I would actually spend doing things over and over.
This. This whole lot.

A million emails about tracking links, problems with orders, product returns, and unhappy customers, calling to find my own shipments, arguing with suppliers over the same things over and over, making shipping boxes, printing labels, taping the boxes, and running to the post office.

I would have to worry about things like sales tax and such.
Taxes. They’re a lot of fun!


Keep all of your receipts and make good notes about what you buy and why. Write down your mileage and business lunches and trips in great detail.

Talk to a CPA who knows what your business is about. Pay your taxes by the date they are due in your state or area to avoid getting fined.

Then put them all away for a while.

So fun.

Everything should be programmed.

This is the most important thing I’d tell anyone who wants to get into e-commerce.

Start dropshipping…

…and get Dropship Corporation to do almost everything for you.

“You kids these days have it so easy when it comes to running an eCom business,” I say in my best grandpa voice.
And it’s true, you do.

  • My life changed when I switched to dropshipping.
  • No more boxes of inventory taking over my house, garage, and bedrooms (and a much happier wife!)…
  • No more putting together shipping boxes…
  • No more printing, taping box stuffing…
  • No more multiple trips to the post office every day…
  • No more shipping delays clogging up my sales pipeline…
  • No more putting money out of pocket to buy stock first…
  • No need to send receipts or tracking numbers anymore…

You won’t have to solve a million captchas when you place an order anymore…

I no longer have to be miserable during the holidays because I have to work…

I never used the drop-shipping method…

Now I can spend my days looking for new hot products, promoting the ones I already have, and growing my business.

I can now work ON my business instead of working IN it.

I now have a business, which is different from just having another job.

My Ultimate Advice
If you want to be successful in e-commerce and don’t want to go through all the headaches, heartaches, lost time, and lost money that I did, take my advice.

Drop shipping is what to do.

Then use Dropship Corporation to do it for you.