If you’re looking to get into e-commerce, you may have been hearing the term ‘drop surfing’ a lot.
Despite the confusing terminology, it’s a relatively simple technique to pick up. Users of drop surfing find it can be incredibly lucrative. But what is it?
Drop surfing takes its name because it’s an online selling method that to use successfully requires surfing the wave of pricing and products. Skill and time commitment are necessary. There’s also a fair amount of research involved to get started.
You can’t discuss drop surfing without mentioning drop shipping. The two are closely related, and any discussion of drop surfing has to begin with an understanding of drop shipping.
What is drop shipping?
Drop shipping is a popular form of e-commerce, as it allows you to start selling with minimum upfront costs. Essentially, drop shipping is selling on demand.
The seller lists a product for sale without having the inventory, then when the buyer chooses the product, the seller makes a purchase. The seller can buy at a lower price, sell on at a markup, and doesn’t have to worry about stock management.
What is drop surfing?
Drop surfing is similar to drop shipping, only it focuses on responding to the market and making changes.
Where a seller that’s drop shipping will try and build a relationship with the same supplier, a drop surfer will be looking for better pricing.
There are two types of drop surfing:
Drop surfing suppliers
Much like with drop shipping, when you drop surf suppliers you begin by having a product for sale without the inventory. The difference with drop surfing is that when someone makes an order, you shop around for the best deal.
Rather than sticking with one supplier, a drop surfer will always be changing to make the best profit possible. They need to know what kind of offers they can get.
There’s software available to make the process simple. To do this by yourself requires more of a time commitment. Before choosing a product to sell, create a list of suppliers offering the product.
When an order comes in, the list is studied to see who is currently offering the best price. This means the seller never has to worry about a lack of stock, or a supplier rising prices. When these issues occur, they move on to the next supplier. Done correctly, it can greatly increase profits.
Drop surfing products
This second version changes products rather than suppliers. If a seller wants to drop surf products, they have to stay on top of current trends - and be able to see them coming.
This type of drop surfer changes products often, moves on when something better comes along, and reacts to change. When doing this a seller has to be constantly on the look-out for new trends.
The seller will quickly jump on a rising trend, sell what they can, and look for the next. They may need to create multiple shops, to better fit a multitude of products.
There is software to track quick growing trends, but the seller needs to be savvy. There are risks involved, but when done right drop surfing products is a non-stop revenue stream.
Dropshipping vs drop surfing
Drop surfing is dropshipping with constant movement. You’ll often see drop surfing described as dropshipping + changing suppliers. A drop surfer is a dropshipper, but one who is always responding to changes in trends and pricing.
As you can see, they both rely on similar principles. Drop surfing can lead to a greater profit, especially over time, but it does require more effort.
Drop surfing is beginning to edge out dropshipping. If a seller is already dropshipping, then it isn’t difficult to make the change. Especially as they should already have the capital to purchase software to streamline the process.
What are the problems with drop surfing?
The main problems with drop surfing are the same faults of dropshipping. Without a constant inventory, you’re forced to rely on suppliers to remain in stock. While this is somewhat negated by drop surfing’s constant changing, it’s always a risk.
Similarly, while drop surfing can create a greater profit than dropshipping, the profit margins remain small. The price changes between suppliers may not always be large enough to negate the time spent looking.
One of the benefits of dropshipping is it doesn’t require much time commitment. Especially if you’re doing this as a side business, you don’t want to waste energy. With drop surfing, you need to be much more active: searching for suppliers, comparing prices, and tracking trends.
It’s also harder to build a brand. We mentioned above you may need to start different stores. This is because trends change, and not all trends work together. To drop surf products you have to be willing to sell whatever’s hot, regardless of whether it matches your branding.
How to start drop surfing?
The start-up costs of drop surfing are low, which is why so many are drawn to it. While you need to purchase an online store, this is cheap to do.
Somewhere like Shopify offers good prices. As you don’t have to buy inventory, once the shop is purchased that’s essentially the end of your expenses.
Then, you need to begin browsing the marketplace. Find what’s selling well, where it can be purchased, and what a good profit is. Once you’ve chosen your stock, you can begin listing it. Without having to make any initial purchases.
The products you drop surf are generally cheap, around $10, but should have a high turnover. Start by dropshipping, to build a better understanding of the marketplace. When you know what sells, which suppliers to use, and how to manage your orders, it’s easier to start drop surfing.
If you’re enthusiastic about drop surfing, the best way to go about it is to purchase drop surfing software. This will monitor suppliers for you, inform you of any price changes, and take the manual labor out of searching. While this increases start-up costs, it drastically lowers man-hours.