Can you launch and run a successful online business in India? What do you need to do to make it happen? Today, we’re talking to Ankit, a 21 year old online entrepreneur who kindly agreed to share his first-hand experience – so, welcome our guest!
Disclaimer: all the success stories published in AliDropship blog are the results of interviews conducted in the written form. Even though the editors may make some minor changes to the grammar, spelling, and/or punctuation, the respondents’ writing styles, views, opinions, stores screenshots and personal photos are left unchanged.
Hi, please, introduce yourself!
Hi, I’m Ankit Patra, a Bachelor in Computer Science, and an owner of an online business in India. I run 3 dropshipping stores mostly targeted at the buyers from the United States.
Why did you decide to launch an online business in India?
Frankly, it all started when I was looking for sources of income to become more independent in college. It is very normal and customary for Indian students to be in college and still be totally dependent on their parents for their tuition and literally all of their expenses. I was no different but, I dared to think beyond just to at least pay for that meal on my own, you see it’s simple…I didn’t want to be dependent.
What motivated you to try AliExpress dropshipping model for your business?
Freedom. Isn’t that the reason why everyone enters into the online space in general? Well, the dropshipping model was the most welcoming with tons of content online and a lot of guides (not courses) available which made the initial process a breeze and I could literally search for any of the topics and there’s always more than 10 results to help me out with my problem. That gave me confidence as a newbie that okay, I can do this and there will always be people who can help me out.
How did your online business in India begin?
For my first store, I went with simple WordPress hosting and WooCommerce – I felt Shopify was too expensive. I used AliDropship Woo plugin to get this store going and with its help, my first store got off the ground.
I didn’t have much experience, though, and AliExpress was my first platform to experiment with. Maybe that is the reason for my initial failure, but trust me, I learned a lot from my failures to reach where I have reached today.
I have worked for months without success and testing tons of products only to be met with my fair share of failure. But I am a pretty disciplined individual and take my work seriously, so I kept going.
How did it all change? Do you remember the first sale made from your store?
Yes, I do remember the first sale: it was on the 9th of December, 2019. I just started running my ads and chi-ching! I got a sale for $29.95 (including shipping) for only $5 in ad spend and that was the motivation I needed. Frankly, I was elated and I am sure anyone would be. I am not very expressive with emotions but I won’t lie that I let that tear drop down when I saw my first sale.
It was only the month of August, 2019 when I entered into the whole dropshipping scenario. Day in and day out, I had been researching and testing products and already spent $1,000 with no returns or so I thought. I kept watching 4-6 hours of YouTube everyday and implementing whatever I learned in the Facebook ads and store. So, it took me about 4 months of rigorous testing and $1,000 to get my first success. For some it might happen sooner or later, but, I guess I got the right amount of time to hone myself to be able to run a proper business and I am glad it took me 4 months.
How does your online business perform now?
Here’s a performance screenshot I want to share:
So, you see nothing goes to waste, you just have to stay till the end, which I did and at the age of 21 I currently have a net worth of $50,000 and no liabilities.
How did you get the right idea for your online business?
To find a winning niche, I did research with the help of Google Trends. Also, checking out popular Facebook videos turned out to be really helpful to see what users want and expect to get.
While choosing the right products to add to my stores, I analyzed the AliExpress stats. Both the product and the supplier must have an average rating of 4.8 stars or more to make me interested. I keep adding new products to my stores from time to time: after an initial check, I test them with Facebook ads. To set the new prices, I usually multiply the original price by 2 – or even by 5 if it’s a low-ticket item.
How do you promote your online store?
I use Facebook and Instagram ads only, didn’t even try any other channels. Getting the right audience for my products is one of the most difficult challenges, so I test out several creatives and copies and do A/B testing to discover the best performing ads. Also, I test several interests at once to determine the best audience for my ads. On average, it costs me around $5,000/month to promote all my 3 stores.
What can you say about your business management?
It takes me around 2-3 hours every day to manage my stores. The most time-consuming task apart from ads testing is product research and product pages editing.
Sometimes, customer service can also be tricky. Usually, about 1% of customers are very difficult to deal with, so I try to keep enough margin to give out refunds. I just price my products as such that for every 100 orders I have at least enough money to maintain my 2x margin even after refunding 5 of them. But buyers are different, of course: my biggest order was for $518 without even a $1 discount. Probably, that guy thought that the price was too low…IDK
What about the legal side of running an online business in India?
Well, I registered my business officially. It’s not really difficult. You must be over 18 years of age, have a government issued ID, and have a rented place with proper lease agreement. Simple and no fuss!
How has your life changed?
Speaking of my daily life, nothing much has changed. But, I have been able to get that dream machine 16″ MacBook Pro and my dream Sony headphones. Just the best combination to get my work done. I don’t want any liabilities or whatsoever and want to invest this money in my future business ventures. You see, in the future, I plan to start my own advertising and marketing agency. I have a long long way to go and be much more successful.
What do your friends and family think about your business?
They couldn’t have been happier. As an Indian family, my family couldn’t believe that I had acquired this much wealth just over the period of 6-7 months. Just to give you a broad picture, in India an entry level software engineer at say Facebook earns only $17,000 base salary in a year. So considering that I had almost earned 4 times of that in just a few months…that was a big feat.
What can you advise our readers – those who already run their stores and those who didn’t start the business yet?
I would like to tell all of the folks out there, to never give in and just keep going on. I know you must have heard this from everyone. But, trust me you never know when you will get your first taste of success and frankly it won’t come if you are just waiting for something magical to happen. You have to work hard and put the money where your mouth is (Facebook ads and any apps).
Remember, in dropshipping time is of essence. Imagine you are trying to advertise a product which recently went out of trend: you would hardly be successful! So, my advice is: invest money wherever necessary, and don’t try to do everything on your own. Not good at building stores? Pay for it if you can and save your time for other things… don’t break your head over petty things, you can’t be a master at everything so let others – specialists, apps, subscriptions – do their work for the money you paid.
We are beyond grateful to Ankit for his kind and detailed feedback! His experience proves that launching an online business in India is totally worth it – and hopefully, it will encourage you, our dear readers, to make your first steps in dropshipping, too.