16 Aug 2018
In 2013, Shezzy was just a cash-strapped student, working hard for his degree and had never even heard of “dropshipping”. Little did he know that a few years later, he would be running 5 eBay stores, selling thousands of items everyday. The spark? A conversation with a classmate at uni.
“I was just looking for ways to earn extra money on the side, I had a few hours after my work that I could spend to make a few extra bucks. Then one day, one of my classmates showed me the how dropshipping works, so I joined an online course and dived straight in!”
With just a $15 course, no research tools and some imagination, things seemed to be going surprisingly well for Shezzy.
“All I was doing was using my creativity and imagination to list products, and with not much competition in 2013 it was working very well at the time.”
In fact, with just a few hours on the side, he was soon making more than some full-time workers.
“I was earning in one week around £200-£300 (~$250-$400) and it was spectacular for me because I didn’t really have an entrepreneurial mindset, neither did I have a strategy to build a business, I was just doing it as a hobby with whatever time I had left.”
Soon however, some problems emerged.
“I had very little time. I was working, I had student debts and my life was a bit of a mess. At times I stopped listing for a few days, even months and it became an on and off thing for me.”
It wasn’t just the lack of time that hindered him, soon he also faced some challenges in his business that he struggled to deal with.
“In a way it was working but I was getting a few bad feedbacks and then it stopped working so much for me.”
With his undergraduate degree ending, Shezzy moved to Poland for a year and a half and decided to stop his dropshipping hobby. But when he got a job at a local company, he soon realizing how much he missed being his own boss.
“I was working in a company there for around a year and was a top performer but I missed the sense of entrepreneurship I used to have. So when I came back to Pakistan, I started thinking, maybe I should start dropshipping again.”
In 2016, Shezzy started building a new eBay store but noticed the environment had changed - a lot.
Compared to 2013, there was much more competition amongst sellers which meant methods that were getting him sales before were no longer working. He realized that to succeed he had to find new methods to find high profit items.
“I started dropshipping again around the time that Nahar was actually launching ZIK Analytics. He didn’t even know me at the time, I just found him on Skype and started speaking with him. From that day, I was always following the information he was sharing and getting to understand his methods.”
Armed with the information from the free webinars in the ZIK community, Shezzy started using market research to find items he could list and sell in his eBay store and discovered new dropshipping methods that helped him raise his average profit margins.
“One of the best methods to find items is by using the competitor research tool to track other sellers - it’s not something I’ve found anywhere else!”
In addition, Shezzy began using the “similar items” method (which you can read about here) and as his store continued to grow he decided to increase the value of the items he listed.
“For high profit items I look for higher prices. For example look for anything selling well in the last 7 or 30 days at $200, $300, $400, $500. I find that items with a higher sales value bring a higher profit.”
Still, he does caution that this could be risky for people that are just starting out.
“For beginners I wouldn’t recommend this strategy because you need to get the hang of the system, how everything works, how to respond to customers, how to deal with negative feedback and everything else - do it once you’re happy with your workflow because otherwise you could run into problems with refunds if you’re not a big seller.”
With new methods, new tools and even a mentor, Shezzy’s business began to grow rapidly.
But as with any business, there were still a lot of challenges he faced.
“I had all sorts of problems that you can’t even imagine. Every problem that has been on these platforms I’ve been through. I’ve been through suspensions, I’ve been through account closures, I’ve been through PayPal closures, I’ve been through Amazon account closures. All these problems are just part of being a seller.”
But whilst a lot of people might see this as a hassle, Shezzy believes it’s an opportunity, as the harder something is to achieve, the more profitable it will be.
“Just keep going, never stop, never give up on eBay, on Amazon, on PayPal, they’ll listen if you’re persistent and you show them you’re a professional at the same time.”
Surprisingly though, Shezzy thinks that his biggest problem wasn’t actually with the marketplaces.
“One of the biggest reasons I had some issues on eBay was because of the software I used - there was one in particular that always had problems with their systems and orders but as soon as I changed my platform, I started to work much much better. Now I try to use every software available on the market, whatever appears I just try it to see what’s going on.”
With the new methods bringing him high profits, Shezzy’s business continued to grow. But by 2017 Shezzy was spending so much time on his business that he wondered how he could continue to grow his business whilst regaining his time. Until finally it dawned on him.
“I just woke up and thought, I’m 1 Shezzy, but why can’t there be 100 Shezzy’s? I’d never had the idea that I could hire people that could work for me and create some business. But when I started hiring people, everything totally changed.”
At first, Shezzy hired lots of people and fired them if they weren’t performing but soon realized that this way of recruiting was causing problems for his business.
“There was a time when I was actually spending more money on virtual assistants then the money they were bringing in so I focussed on recruiting people with better skills”
Going against the normal advice to hire VA’s online, Shezzy found that the best way to hire people for his business was actually to advertise locally in Karachi.
“A lot of other people think about hiring people via Skype but for me it doesn’t work out. I find it hard to trust other people online so for me the better strategy was to hire people locally.”
As of 2018, this recruitment strategy has helped Shezzy employ 8 local hard-working employees, with ambitious plans to expand in the future.
Today Shezzy’s hard work has paid off. He has 5 different eBay stores each focussing on different markets, 2 of which generate more than $100,000 per month.
But despite the success, Shezzy is always on the lookout for new opportunities and changes in the market.
“I’m always exploring more strategies, it’s not like you can only rely on 1 strategy like just undercutting other people and list and list and list and list - it won’t work.”
Instead, Shezzy believes the way to keep growing is to keep trying new things.
“My #1 strategy is to have lots of strategies, like now I’m starting niche stores. Niche stores are very promising for the future - though for this you need to think about building a good brand, to help cross-sell similar items.”
“The right strategy all depends on your store, your feedback and your items.”
With the income from the store, and a team of motivated workers at his side, Shezzy now has the time to enjoy other passions in his life such as travel and technology.
“Now I can normally try to travel, find more entrepreneurial ventures and I’m looking at new technologies too. This is where I feel comfortable and I’m looking forward to connecting with people that create new technologies.”