It used to be that if you wanted to open an online retail shop, you were expected to buy the merchandise upfront, house the inventory, and ship out the orders. Today, that process has seen dramatic changes with the rise of dropshipping, as many online sellers look for new ways to maximize their profits and their time.
Dropshipping, in the simplest terms, is when an online merchant sells items on behalf of suppliers, and then has the supplier ship the purchased goods directly to the consumer, rather than handle the product and order themselves. But having a website promoting products simply isn’t enough. Today, in a highly competitive global marketplace where the biggest, most profitable companies dabble in dropshipping, merchants need a data-driven, AI-powered toolkit.
Rachid “Rush” Wehbi, CEO of Sell the Trend, says data-powered AI
has taken the guesswork out of dropshipping.
“Dropshipping has actually been around for about 20 years but when I looked into it, I identified the biggest problem as, ‘What am I going to sell?’” said Rachid Wehbi, the founder and CEO of dropshipping platform Sell the Trend. “That’s when I started collecting data and creating a team to build a platform that shows you which products are most desirable and on the upswing for sales.”
Today, Sell the Trend is a top-performing dropshipping platform, with thousands of merchant subscribers using the app to inform their inventory strategy. The company experienced significant growth during the pandemic, with a 35% jump in subscribers in the first few months after government-mandated closures came into effect. Its popularity doesn’t appear to be waning. Recently, they also launched Sell the Trend SHOPS, allowing people to create their own dropshipping site within the app. Since launching SHOPS in May 2022, more than 5,000 stores were created on the platform in the first three months.
Wehbi, known as “Rush” in the Sell the Trend community, said there continues to be a growing appetite for starting an online business as people continue to have a taste of the flexibility that came with working from home.
“People have always wanted to be their own boss, to be able to do things from home, to stay with their families,” he said. “People want to feel the freedom of their own course in life.”
Before starting Sell the Trend in 2018, Rush was a Juno-winning music producer known for creating the theme song for the hit show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. He decided to shift gears and turn his attention to his other passions, computer science and entrepreneurship, particularly online commerce. After a few years of dabbling in various online commerce ventures, Rush started to explore data-informed dropshipping.
Today, that data allows vendors to see what products are gaining traction, which items have seen a decrease in sales and how many sellers are promoting the item on their sites.
Sell the Trend uses data to predict which products will be a hit for dropshippers
and which items have already reached their peak profitability.
Rush noted the benefit of having access to the data within the app, noting its accessibility and how simple it is to decipher. The platform was created so that everybody with an interest in e-commerce can wet their feet, despite their experience. Members are also given access to a library of free marketing tools, including videos that demonstrate how to create effective social media ads.
Robert B., a Canadian dropshipper, was able to find a hot-selling item and generate $36,000 in revenue in six weeks by using Sell the Trend’s analytics and trend-spotting tools
“Without that data, it’s all a shot in the dark. It’s not enough to be passionate about a product, it has to be in demand. It’s a numbers game and bad research can cost you a lot of money,” he said.
“It blew my mind when it was happening and even my family couldn’t believe it,” Robert continued. “I had tried e-commerce before and maybe I made a few hundred dollars but dropshipping through Sell the Trend made all the difference.”
Robert started HotDiggidyDog.ca, after his rescue dog Sassy passed away in 2020. Heartbroken and motivated to do something positive to help honour her memory, he started the online dog supply shop and donates a portion of its proceeds to Button Noses, a charitable organization that provides palliative care to rescue dogs. He says this new way of doing business online has given him a lucrative opportunity.
“Now it’s a side hustle and it’s become a passion,” Robert said. “This would be a nice way to transition into retirement. That’s what also inspired me and motivated me to try and do this.”
However, it’s not enough to sell a great, unique product. Trusting the validity of the site is key to convincing a consumer to complete a transaction.
Both Rush and Robert said they’ve been long-time users of PayPal and credit the brand’s reputation as a secure way to transact as a reason they’ve had success with their respective businesses.
“One of the biggest factors in e-commerce is trust. If they don’t trust you, they’ll scroll right past you,” Robert said. “Not only does PayPal create a sense of trust for the consumer, but they’re amazing in terms of dispute resolutions, seller and buyer protections and transaction security. It’s a great mechanism for identifying a problem and nipping it in the bud.”
Rush agreed and pointed to the fact that PayPal is not only the second-most-trusted brand globally after Google but is also the most used online payment service in the U.S. with an 83% user share.
“We needed to provide our merchants with PayPal as a payment option because of the level of trust the brand carries and the fact that it’s a preferred way to pay online,” Rush said. “When I first started dabbling with e-commerce, about 30% of my sales came through PayPal. Today it’s 50 to 60% so if you’re not going to integrate PayPal, you’re essentially leaving half of your business on the table.”
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