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The rise in e-commerce startups, led by giants such as Amazon and AliExpress, has introduced a completely new business model for selling goods called dropshipping. Dropshipping typically involves a seller outsourcing the procurement of goods to a third-party supplier, also known as a 3PL Logistics provider. The supplier himself works with different manufacturers to acquire their products, store them in a warehouse, and ship them to customers when an order is placed.
Dropshipping is quickly becoming a very popular e-commerce business model for entrepreneurs. The reasons highlighted for this growing trend include the ease of starting a dropshipping business using online platforms from any location and reduced overhead costs. That being said, dropshipping has some limitations that arise from the high competition in the market, low margins, and the potential to be overwhelmed by a large number of orders and inventory items.
Dropshipping is a global phenomenon that is taking the world of e-commerce by storm. However, in this guide, we will stick to how you can successfully start your dropshipping business in South Korea, and ship Korean products to and from any location in the world.
What is so Special About Dropshipping in Korea?
As we already mentioned, dropshipping is becoming popular around the world, and Asian countries are no exception. The East Asian region, which has countries like South Korea, Japan, and China, is a hotbed for e-commerce startups. It also happens to be one of the world’s largest markets for online shopping.
Countries in this region are big players in the e-commerce game, what with so many other countries relying on them to ship goods from manufacturers to their customers in other parts of the world.
Despite the size of the Asian market, it can still be considered an emerging market since there is a lot of room to build your own dropshipping business in a place like Korea – a staggering 92-billion-dollar e-commerce sector – and make a profit if you make smart decisions.
Today, Korea is also teeming with internet-savvy shoppers and a big list of dropship suppliers working to ship different products all over the world. It’s also no secret that the country has a strong manufacturing sector. We usually think of Korea as an electronic gadget haven or heavy industry leader with brands like Samsung, LG, Hyundai, and Kia. But the country has several other popular industries and goods for export, which are highly demanded by local and overseas consumers alike.
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Start Dropshipping Business Step-by-Step
Businesses that adopt a dropshipping strategy benefit from low risk, low investment, a wide product selection, as well as low order fulfillment costs. These simple steps will give you an idea of how to start your own dropshipping business so that you can reap these advantages and more.
Find Product Ideas
The first step in starting any dropshipping business is to look for the right product to sell. This step is also called ‘product hunting’. Having a good idea of what product will sell saves you both time and money. It also ensures that you will be able to make the highest return on your investment without having to deal with the problems of inventories sitting in a warehouse or low returns.
You can hunt for products from different channels such as online retailers, social media communities and e-stores, and even the local community in your neighborhood (friends, and retail stores). It takes time to gather the right ideas, and there will be some trial-and-error involved, but it is absolutely worth it in the long run. A list of 5-10 ideas is recommended.
Select Your Product
After you have gathered your product ideas, narrow down your options by considering the price range and market trends. You can use search engines for trending data on relevant keywords to gauge user interest over time for specific locations.
A comparative analysis of each item you have listed down will give you an idea of which product is in higher demand. We recommend you start with the product that is trending higher in your location of interest.
Find a Local Supplier
Once you have homed in the product you think is right for selling online, you should look for suppliers next. This can be done in two ways.
The first is to contact the manufacturer directly. This may require some work on your part, but it will give you the lowest price. The alternative option for suppliers is wholesale distributors. These are typically found on larger portals like Alibaba, but different countries may have many local options.
Multiple suppliers for your product are a good sign as it means you can negotiate on pricing and there are many options for you in case one supplier is out of stock.
Negotiate with the Supplier
Suppliers will have varying terms and conditions for taking orders, managing inventory, and shipping. You need to carefully choose what works for you. Some suppliers require bulk orders, meaning you have to pay a larger cost upfront. Some suppliers will ask you to bear the cost of returns, which increases your costs in case of failed orders.
A typical negotiation process starts with a request for a quotation (RFQ). Sending and negotiating with suppliers through multiple RFQs also helps you get a good deal and prices. After all, wouldn’t you want a good margin on their most hot-selling items?
If you sorted all the earlier steps, the next step is simple. Find a dropshipping service and get to business. Some services will also deliver right to your doorstep.
If you are looking for a reliable dropshipping service in Korea from overseas, you can easily create an account with shipping providers such as Delivered Korea which offers consolidated orders and fulfillment services for items from multiple stores.
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Dropshipping Processes that Cater to Your Needs
When choosing a dropshipper, you need to decide the way you work with suppliers. One way is to order directly from any supplier of your own choice in Korea, giving you direct control of your ordering process. This is great if you have a simple order process for a small set of items that can be delivered quickly.
For items that have a complex order process, you can ask dropshippers to negotiate on your behalf. This is a good option if you are operating from overseas and prefer to outsource your supply chain management to local experts to handle your shipments.
Asking dropshippers to negotiate for you is also ideal for items that have many SKUs or a high degree of order customization. Some dropshippers offer both options for your dropshipping process.
Korean Product Ideas for Dropshipping
While we have covered the most important steps here to start a dropshipping business in Korea from overseas, we think this guide would not be complete without a few product recommendations for the Korean market.
Check out these product ideas to kick-start your very own Korean online shopping business.
Skincare Products and Make-up
With a large population that spans junior high school students all the way to senior citizens, beauty products in Korea are in high demand. There’s something for everyone, whether man or woman, young and not so young. Korean manufacturers offer a wide range of products in this sector, from make-up to lotions to hair care and moisturizers.
Korean products are also of high quality, making them perfect for catering to customers in other countries. Some well-known skincare products include bamboo eye matte cream, lemon-flavored peels (exfoliators), sleeping masks, and branded purifying water (which is a multifunctional cleanser). Most of these products are positioned as skin treatments that help to keep the skin fresh, hydrated, and glowing.
These beauty product manufacturers also supply make-up, which is immensely popular in the country. You might want to consider brands like Amore Pacific, Elorian, MISSHA, Moonshot, and Kaja, to name a few.
K-Pop and Manwha
The rising popularity of modern Korean culture, led by brands like BTS, has led shoppers from all around the globe to go into a frenzy for Korean merchandise. Korean pop stars are revered like idols by fans from all over the world.
K-pop merchandise like music albums, clothing, accessories (key chains and watches, for example), posters, and phone cases are hot items to sell. There is also a sizeable demand for Korean manga – called manhwa – among fans of Korean media. You can make a safe bet on dropshipping these items to your customers, no matter where you live in the world.
There are many bookstores like Yes24, Bandi & Luni’s, Aladin, and Youngpoong Bookstore, where you can buy all sorts of K-pop and manhwa items.
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You can start your online dropshipping business easily by creating an account and registering with Delivered Korea, which is one of the most trusted dropshipping service providers in South Korea. With the right guide and the help of our dropshipping specialists, you can quickly find trending e-commerce products at Korean online shopping malls and conveniently dropship items with our package forwarding and warehousing services.
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