10 Risky Products To Avoid Dropshipping In 2023
Dropshipping is great, but did you know that selling certain kinds of items on your store can be very risky?
Not all products are made equal, especially for this business model. While there are thousands of winning products you can choose from and start selling right now, there are those that you should not dropship at all — because the risks simply outweigh the benefits.
In this article, we’re going to discuss the importance of picking the right niche and how you can avoid dropshipping these risky products to make sure you are setting yourself up for success.
We’ll also go over some specific criteria to consider before starting an online store that sells any products, as well as how you can build a successful online shop around risky products (if you really really want to sell them, legally and effectively, despite the numerous challenges).
Ready? Let’s go!
How Does Dropshipping Work?
Dropshipping is a business model in which a retailer (often an online store) sells products to customers without physically storing or handling the products. Instead, the retailer sources the products from a third-party supplier, who then ships the products directly to the customer.
In a typical dropshipping setup, the retailer lists the products on their website or online store, often at a markup from the supplier’s wholesale price. When a customer places an order, the retailer passes the order information to the supplier, who then ships the product directly to the customer. The retailer never handles the product directly, but instead earns a profit on the difference between the wholesale price and the retail price.
Dropshipping can be an attractive business model in 2023, because it requires minimal upfront investment and allows online retailers to offer a wide variety of products without the need for storage or inventory management.
However, it also comes with risks, including potential shipping delays, quality control issues and difficulties with customer service. To be honest, it’s very easy to fail as new dropshipper if you don’t know about the 13 most common beginner mistakes and how to avoid them!
In a nutshell though, successful dropshippers typically have strong relationships with reliable suppliers and invest heavily (time, effort, patience and money) into marketing and customer support to differentiate themselves from competitors.
After all, you need to stand out and get noticed, right?
When it comes to the products themselves, however, not all of them are suitable for dropshipping. Some can be outright disastrous for your business!
That’s why in this article, we will share with ten common types of products that you should avoid dropshipping.
But first, let’s talk about…
Picking The Right Niche & Suppliers
The best way to start your dropshipping business is to find a niche that is not too competitive, too risky or one with too little demand/market. Primarily, it should be one that has a large number of potential customers in not just the current day and age, but the coming years as well.
Picking the right niche is crucial to success. We’ve already discussed about what makes a winning niche for dropshipping, and even top 10 most profitable niches for you.
But this article isn’t about that, it’s about what to avoid.
Risky dropshipping products are those that have a high risk factor associated with them, for example counterfeit items or low-quality items. The only good thing about these risky products is that they give you an advantage over other competitors in your market, because they are much less likely to be sold by other retailers in your industry.
But think about it, is it really worth it? Will you even be able to build a lasting business on bad products…?
Of course the general risk involved in dropshipping anything is that items may be counterfeit, low-quality, or they may not have been tested by the manufacturer before being sold to your customers (that’s why you should check and scrutinize your suppliers very thoroughly).
If there are several negative reviews on a product review site, it would be best to avoid purchasing this product because your customer base will most likely be unhappy with your purchase. You should make sure that you buy from reputable suppliers, because they will ensure that their products are of high quality.
But selling certain kinds of products on purpose or on negligence is another thing though.
Doing it deliberately is a bad idea folks, it won’t last. Keep a thorough lookout, because here are top 10 risky dropshipping products you should avoid selling on your online store:
1. Fragile Items
Dropshipping fragile items, such as glassware or certain electronics can be a recipe for disaster. These items are easily breakable during transit, which can lead to unhappy customers and costly returns.
One road bump, and your customer gets shards of sharp broken glass in their package instead of that beautiful nightlamp they ordered.
2. Low Quality Products
This goes without saying, but if you’re offering low-quality or knockoff products; then prepare to have your business reputation be damaged sooner ot later. Customers are likely to return them, leading to a high return rate and negative reviews.
Negative reviews lead to bad word of mouth, and that leads to the death of a business. Don’t be stingy on double-checking and providing quality!
3. Oversized Items
Avoid dropshipping products that are large or bulky, as they can be expensive to ship and some carriers may not even accept oversized packages. Unless you have the dedicated resources to handle and ship heavy items carefully, it’s best to avoid selling oversized products at all (looking at you, giant plushie sellers).
Oversized products are most commonly not shipped through regular packages and means.
4. Perishable Goods
Unless you have a reliable and fast shipping method, dropshipping perishable items such as food or flowers can be risky. If you’re going that route, try an Ubereats or Postmates business model instead.
The last thing you want is customers receiving spoiled or damaged products, leading to negative reviews on your page, site, etc. and the much-dreaded refunds.
5. Customized Products
This is a rather controversial one. Dropshipping customized items, such as personalized clothing or engraved jewelry can be… tricky, to say the least.
It’s difficult to ensure that the final product meets the customer’s expectations, and mistakes can lead to costly returns and dissatisfied customers. Print On Demand is a famous example of customized goods dropshipping, but mock up pictures can be misleading (colors, size, print quality, washing, lastingness, etc. are all common issues with this model).
You don’t have to avoid this entirely, but we recommend not making it a starting point for your entrepreneurial journey.
6. Heavy or hazardous Substances
Enough said? Some products such as batteries or chemicals can be pretty hazardous, so shipping them may require special packaging and handling (maybe even permits ane authorization depending on your country, state or city).
Particularly heavy items may also incur additional shipping charges, so please avoid dropshipping products like tyre wheels, hydraulic presses or chemicals for local school libraries.
7. Stuff with legal restrictions
Firearms, weapons, alcohol, medicine, tobacco and anything similar may have some serious legal restrictions on their sale and shipping. Unless you have the necessary licenses and permits, dropshipping these products can lead to legal issues and reputational damage.
Not to mention, you can’t run ads for these products on social media, so you’ll have to simply rely on organic reach. That honestly doesn’t sound too well for long-term growth…
8. Stuff with long shipping times
Customers these days be less willing to wait for an extended period for their products to arrive, leading to negative reviews and poor customer satisfaction.
Dropshipping products that take too long of a time to ship can hurt your business. At most, customers with wait for a week or two. Any more than that, and they’ll start getting frustrated and impatient!
9. Products with a high return rate
Some products like clothing or shoes have a high return rate due to issues such as sizing, fitting, color, feel and quality. Avoid dropshipping these products as they can be pretty risky, leading to increased return costs and unhappy customers.
Even if your sizes are perfect and you’ve provided everything from detailed charts and measurements on your site; customers may still place wrong size orders and then ask for refunds or replacements.
10. Seasonal Products
While selling seasonal items such as Halloween costumes or Christmas decorations can be good during those special months, selling them year-round can be challenging. You may have to store the inventory for an extended period, which can be costly and risky, or wait the entire year just to make a profit.
Hey, if you make enough in a few months enough for the entire year thanks to these products, then go right ahead! If not, then it’s time to look at products that you can sell year-round, or on hype days such as black Friday.
And that’s it! Those are 10 Products you’re better of not dropshipping in 2023. Rules and regulations have gotten very tough online, so it’s a good idea to stick to family-friendly products that can be advertised and sold with minimal risks involved.
Here’s what you should consider…
Criteria to Consider Before Starting an Online Store Selling Any Products
Before you start an online store, there are a few things that you need to consider. You should know the risks and rewards of the product niche that you are going to sell. You should also consider your target market, which is where you will be selling your products. It is crucial to know what they want and what their needs are before starting your business.
There are 3 key criteria that every online store must stay loyal to:
1. A High-Quality Product
A high-quality product is one that meets or exceeds customer expectations, and performs its intended function effectively, efficiently and reliably. Here are some characteristics of a high-quality product:
- Durability: The product is strong and can withstand regular use without breaking or deteriorating quickly.
- Functionality: The product performs its intended function effectively and efficiently, without any major flaws or issues.
- Aesthetics: The product has an appealing design that is aesthetically pleasing to the customer.
- Reliability: It is reliable and consistent in its performance, without frequent breakdowns or malfunctions.
- Safety: It is safe to use, and any potential risks or hazards have been addressed through appropriate safety measures.
- Materials: The product is made of high-quality materials that are appropriate for its intended use and that will hold up well over time.
- Ease of use: It is easy to use, with clear instructions and intuitive design.
- Customer service: The product is backed by strong customer service built around it, with responsive and helpful support available to address any issues that may arise.
In a nutshell, a high-quality product is one that is designed and manufactured with the customer’s needs and expectations in mind, and that delivers on its promises in terms of performance, durability, and customer support. Avoid dropshipping risky products that do not fit atleast 7/10 of the above quality check criteria.
2. A Low Price Point
Product affordability is an important factor when selling online for several reasons:
- Increases accessibility: When products are affordable, they become accessible to a wider range of customers who may not have otherwise been able to purchase them. This can lead to increased sales and revenue for online sellers.
- Competitiveness: In the online marketplace, customers have a wide range of options when it comes to purchasing products. When sellers offer affordable products, they become more competitive and are better able to attract and retain customers.
- Customer satisfaction: Affordable products can lead to increased customer satisfaction, as customers feel that they are getting good value for their money. Satisfied customers are more likely to leave positive reviews and recommend the seller to others.
- Repeat business: When customers are satisfied with their purchase, they are more likely to return to the seller for future purchases. Affordable products can help to build a loyal customer base and increase the likelihood of repeat business.
- Brand reputation: Offering affordable products can help to build a positive brand reputation for the seller, as customers perceive them as offering good value for money. This can lead to increased brand awareness and customer loyalty over time.
Affordability is an important factor for online sellers who want to remain competitive, attract a wider range of customers, and build a long-term positive brand reputation. By offering affordable products, sellers can increase sales, customer satisfaction and loyalty, ultimately leading to long-term success.
3. A Strong Marketing Strategy
Last but not least, a strong marketing strategy is essential for selling products online because it helps to increase brand awareness, attract new customers and ultimately drive sales. A strong marketing strategy is essential for online sellers who want to be successful in selling products online. By increasing visibility, building brand awareness, differentiating from competitors, driving traffic, and building customer relationships, a strong marketing strategy can help to drive sales and ultimately lead to long-term success.
Here are some specific ways that a strong marketing strategy can help you in selling products online (once again, avoid dropshipping products that don’t fit atleast 7/10 of the factors listed below):
- Increases visibility: By developing a comprehensive marketing strategy, online sellers can increase their visibility and reach a wider audience. This can include tactics such as search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, email marketing and online advertising.
- Builds brand awareness: A strong marketing strategy can help to build brand awareness and recognition, making it more likely that customers will remember the seller and return for future purchases.
- Differentiates from competitors: In a crowded online marketplace, it’s important to differentiate yourself from competitors. A strong marketing strategy can help to highlight the seller’s unique value proposition and communicate why their products are better or different than the competition.
- Drives traffic: A well-executed marketing strategy can help to drive traffic to the seller’s website or online store, increasing the likelihood of making sales. This can include tactics such as targeted advertising, social media campaigns, and email marketing.
- Builds customer relationships: A strong marketing strategy can help to build strong customer relationships by engaging with them, providing helpful content and offering personalized experiences. This can lead to increased loyalty and repeat business over time.
Steps to Build a Successful Online Shop around Risky Products
So you’ve checked out our list but still refuse to avoid selling risky dropshipping products. Be warned: there are serious challenges to your ambitions. While there are of course Ecommerce businesses out there that successfully ship large or fragile products (furniture, spare parts, glassware, etc.) they do so mainly by having their own shipment team that knows how to handle their product, or special partnerships/contracts with logistics brands with full protocols and insurance.
As a dropshipper, diving into that stuff can be time consuming, confusing and costly (especially if you’re just starting out); hence why we puy these types of products on this list.
Regardless, here are some steps you can follow to increase your chances of success if you decide to go down this route anyways (or later down the line):
- Research the product: Conduct thorough research on the product you plan to sell, including its potential risks, legal requirements and market demand. Take your target country and it’s laws into account. Ensure that the product you choose is legal and complies with relevant regulations.
- Find reliable suppliers: Choose a reliable supplier with a good reputation and positive reviews. Make sure that the supplier is licensed to sell the product and can provide you with any necessary certifications and documents.
- Provide accurate and clear product information: Be transparent and provide accurate and clear information about the product, including any potential risks and safety instructions. This will help you gain the trust of your customers and reduce the risk of legal issues.
- Build a strong brand: Develop a strong brand that resonates with your target market. Create a professional-looking website and social media presence, and invest in branding and marketing to build trust and credibility.
- Provide excellent customer service: Provide excellent customer service, respond promptly to customer inquiries and concerns, and handle returns and refunds professionally (with adequate policies in place). This will help you build a loyal customer base and amass positive reviews.
- Use social media to promote your products: Use social media platforms to promote your products and reach your target market. While you may not be able to run ads for products like tobacco or vape, you can always build a community around it (Facebook page, Instagram page, events, physical stores, etc.) Collaborate with influencers and run social media ads (where possible) to increase visibility and drive traffic to your online store. Use SEO keywords on your website to help it rank among product searches, or even try selling on Amazon.
- Offer discounts and promotions: Offer discounts and promotions to incentivize customers to buy from you. This can help you generate sales and build a loyal customer base that keeps coming back.
- Stay up-to-date with regulations: Stay up-to-date with relevant regulations and legal requirements for selling your product. This will help you avoid legal issues and ensure compliance with the law, as they keep changing and adapting every now and then.
By following these steps, you may not have to avoid dropshipping risky products anymore. Remember that success takes time, effort and patience, so stay committed to your goals and keep pushing forward.
And there you have it! We’ve listed the most common product types that you shouldn’t sell on your online store in 2023, as well as how you can tackle around the risks if you’re very ambitious regardless of the challenges. M
Here’s one of the key takeaways: The more you give, the more you get. If you make it about the customers, the customers will make it about you in return. As long as they’re happy and satisfied; your business will prosper. Remember that creativity and flexibility are soft skills you’ll need to exercise yourself. These develop within you only by doing, so don’t stress out if a thing or two doesn’t go as well as planned.
And now that you know how what risky products to avoid dropshipping in 2023 and how to tackle the risks around them, here’s a little special surprise to automate your store as much as possible, giving you all the time and freedom in the world to enjoy with friends, family and everything you love to do.
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Summary: 10 Risky Products To Avoid Dropshipping In 2023
Product Type #1: Fragile Items
Product Type #2: Low Quality Products
Product Type #3: Oversized Items
Product Type #4: Perishable Goods
Product Type #5: Customized Products
Product Type #6: Heavy or hazardous Substances
Product Type #7: Stuff with legal restrictions
Product Type #8: Stuff with long shipping times
Product Type #9: Products with a high return rate