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1. What is branded dropshipping?

What is branded dropshipping? How to get started in 2024

Updated Jan 15 2024

Thanks to built-in advantages like scalability, low startup costs, and minimal overhead, the global dropshipping services market was valued at just under $226 billion in 2022. Experts expect it to achieve a compound annual growth rate of 23.4% through 2030. However, the industry's sheer size makes it difficult for dropship suppliers with similar (if not identical) products to stand out. 

Branded dropshipping stores are a popular way for online retailers to differentiate themselves from competitors through brand recognition. But many dropshipping stores source their products overseas, making them vulnerable to supply chain snarls that can balloon prices, delay deliveries, and frustrate customers.

Gelato does branded dropshipping differently. Their hyper-local production and delivery model eases price pressure and lets branded dropshipping stores focus on marketing and scalability instead of worrying about order fulfillment.

Main takeaways from this article:

  • Selling products from a branded dropshipping store is a great way to help your brand stand out in a crowded industry.

  • You can take concrete steps to increase the chances of your branded dropshipping store becoming profitable.

  • A print on demand supplier with a local production and delivery model lets you focus on growing your branded dropshipping store.

What is branded dropshipping?

branded dropshipping

Branded dropshipping allows an online store to associate their unique brand identity with products sold by a third-party company. In the branded dropshipping business model, the supplier uses custom packaging, private labeling, and even custom products to create a cohesive brand experience for the online retailer's customers.

Eight steps to a successful branded dropshipping business

While no two paths to dropshipping success are exactly alike, you can take a few concrete steps to help give your store the best chance to quickly start selling custom products and building a base of loyal customers.

1. Choose your product line

product line

Figuring out what products to sell is one of the most important decisions when setting up your branded dropshipping store. Completing initial market research to get your bearings in the industry is critical. Start by browsing businesses and brands on platforms like Amazon and Etsy, then check out a Shopify store or two. 

Identifying competitors

While there’s no foolproof way to identify a dropshipping business, some telltale signs include extended shipping times, limited customization options, and consistently low inventory. During your research, you may repeatedly come across the same products - this is another indicator of a dropshipping business.

Surveying the landscape

Once you’ve identified your competition, note what they’re selling. Ask yourself: 

  • Does anything specific stand out about their designs? 

  • How can your products stand out? 

  • What are people saying about them on social media? If they have a page, is anyone engaging with their content?

Choosing your products

Make sure you consider profitable, in-demand dropshipping products. Some of our top product category choices for 2024 include:

2. Choose a niche

The most successful ecommerce stores carve out a well-defined niche for themselves.  List your interests and passions to help align your niche with something that inspires you. 

The right niche alignment lends authenticity to your brand’s voice and helps your own products resonate with your specific target audience and market. It will also make it easier to formulate a unique selling proposition (USP) for your own products.

Discover what’s trending

Complete another round of more informed, in-depth market research to identify underserved niche markets. Check out hashtags on platforms like Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Is anything related to your potential niche trending? What are the best-selling products on Amazon for your niche?

Use Google Trends to validate your research. It will analyze your queries and serve up stats on search volume, regional popularity, and related terms to help you confirm what your potential customers want. 

Return to your competitors’ online stores. Are they on top of the trends - or is there a market gap you can exploit?

Identify your target market

Your in-depth market research will provide critical insight into your potential customers' needs, preferences, pain points, and more. Use this information to refine your target audience and craft detailed buyer personas for your branded products.

Stay focused on finance

While finding a niche aligned with something you’re passionate about is essential, remember that you’re here to make money. Is your niche narrow enough to cut out most competitors but broad enough to help you generate a profit? Will you be able to fulfill your brand promise and product branding goals in a way that’s appealing to your target market?

3. Build a brand identity

brand identity

Once you’ve identified your niche and target audience, it’s time to think about how you’ll differentiate your own dropshipping brand from other dropshipping businesses. Develop a brand story that outlines your history, goals, and values and aligns them with customer pain points. Show how your own brand is the solution to their problems to help customers form an emotional connection with your online store.

Use your story to inspire a unique brand name that’s memorable, relevant to your niche, and easily spelled. Then, create a simple, instantly-recognizable logo that aligns with your own brand image. Emphasize readability with your font choices and color scheme, especially since your logo will appear on various branded packaging and products.

Your logo should also complement the brand voice you plan to use when interacting with customers and followers across channels. Are you buttoned-up and professional, chill, or disruptive and mischievous?

If you feel like you’re at a loss for logo ideas, hire a graphic designer to help you out. A well-developed brand story can help them create the ideal logo for your branded dropshipping store. If possible, don’t skimp on this investment: your logo is the face of your dropshipping store.

4. Select a dropshipping service

dropshipping service

Now, it’s time to choose your dropshipping partner. Research white-label or private-label suppliers to see who might be a good fit. 

Consider the following:

  • Product collection: Does your dropshipping service offer a wide variety of products for your online store? Do their products fit your brand voice and identity?

  • Product Quality: What kind of materials does your dropshipper use? 

  • Shipping: Where will your branded products be produced? How will shipping costs affect your pricing strategy and profit margins?

  • Pricing Strategy: Will your ecommerce store still have healthy profit margins after employing this dropshipper?

  • Customization: How easy is putting your designs and brand logo on products and packaging?

  • Customer Service: Will they help you resolve issues quickly to keep your customers happy?

Partnering with Gelato makes your business smarter, faster, and greener. We do branded dropshipping differently: our hyper-local production and delivery model enables more than 85% of products to be made locally. This benefits the communities where these products are produced and helps control delivery times, costs, and carbon emissions. Orders are created and delivered by a network of local production partners and entrepreneurs. 

Fulfillment is automatic, so you won’t need to manage inventory or make up-front investments.

5. Choose a platform for selling

selling platform

Locking down your brand image is a big step toward choosing the right channel (or combination of channels) for selling your branded products. There are a few common sales channels and platforms, each with its advantages and disadvantages:

  • Running your own website is the right path if you want total control over your store’s design and functionality; however, you’ll need technical skills and strong marketing strategies to make it work. 

  • Selling on an ecommerce marketplace such as Amazon, eBay, or Etsy gives you instant access to a broad audience of potential customers, but limited customization options make it difficult for your brand to stand out amongst the fierce competition. You’ll also have to pay hosting and transaction fees. 

  • Using an ecommerce platform like Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce lets you customize your store’s layout and design to align with your brand identity and eliminate some of the technical lift associated with running a custom website. However, setting up and maintaining your store requires technical expertise. You’ll also be responsible for protecting customers’ data.

Make sure also to consider where your target customers shop the most. Is a Shopify or Etsy store more aligned with your target audience and brand identity?

Consider customization possibilities, associated fees, and whether integrations are available for your dropshipping service. Gelato offers native integrations with Etsy, Shopify, WooCommerce, Wix, Squarespace, and BigCommerce.

6. Add products to your dropshipping store

adding products to store

Capturing high-resolution, professional images for your store is one of the most important things you can do to sell your branded products - so hire a professional if you need to. If you don’t have samples available, upload a vector image or PNG of your logo to Gelato+ to see how your logo looks on hundreds of mockups.

Your product descriptions should be no less impressive. Compelling, search-optimized product descriptions and titles include relevant keywords about the features and benefits of your branded products, their production materials, dimensions, and more. They also consider your target market's buying habits, preferences, and needs.

7. Showcase your brand identity

brand identity

If you’re running your dropshipping business on your own website, you’ll need to procure a domain name that aligns with your brand name and is easy to remember, type, and share. Ensure your site and storefront match your brand identity, with your logo and color scheme incorporated meaningfully. Create an aesthetically pleasing layout that naturally guides users toward shopping options. 

If you’ve opted to open your store on an ecommerce platform, you may not have access to many customization options. Still, it’s essential to pull whatever levers you can, so make sure your product descriptions match your brand messaging and tone. Opt for branded product packaging and private labeling to reinforce your brand name, and consider customized thank-you notes with discounts for loyal customers.

8. Market your store

store marketing

Leverage your social media accounts on Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, and Twitter to show off your products and start selling. Landing the right influencer collab can drive massive traffic to your business, but a steady mix of genuine, organic content and paid ads that strongly represent your brand voice will help you avoid seeming too sales-y.

Whether through your site, ecommerce business, or social media platforms, get engaged followers to sign up for emails, then send out updates on discounts, promotions, and new products or designs. Make sure emails are consistent with your brand from a design and messaging perspective.

High-quality branded dropshipping with Gelato


Starting a profitable branded dropshipping business doesn’t happen overnight, but following the steps above will prime you to hit the ground running.

Partnering with Gelato to create your own branded dropshipping store using print on demand services lets you rest easy about product quality. Gelato has the world’s largest network for production on demand - 130+ local production partners in 32 countries - enabling localized production of your on-demand products at a global scale. 

Taking the worry out of production and fulfillment lets you focus on marketing efforts scaling your businesses quickly, and reaching new markets faster - all while reducing waste, costs, and carbon emissions. It's a win-win for businesses, brand owners, and the planet.

Learn how easy it can be to establish a profitable branded dropshipping store with Gelato today.

Branded dropshipping FAQs

Is it legal to dropship branded products?

Rest assured that branded dropshipping is legal – unless you use a brand for which you don’t hold the copyright. Doing so can result in significant legal trouble, so carefully research specific laws around this business model in your area. 

Is branded dropshipping better?

Standard dropshipping stores selling generic products must differentiate themselves based on price, resulting in a margin-crushing race to the bottom just to sell products.

Dropshipping branded products leverages brand values and identity to build customer loyalty. Branded products often command higher prices because customers perceive branded items as higher quality, reducing the profit margin impact of custom packaging and product labels.

How much do branded dropshippers make?

The answer is a definitive “it depends.” After overhead, dropshipping branded products can generate thousands of dollars in sales (or more!) per month, while others may only make a few hundred bucks each month. 

Your earnings will correlate directly to your time and effort spent managing and marketing your online store. If you treat your branded dropshipping store like a side hustle, you’ll probably make side-hustle money. If you put in the time and effort to scale your online business successfully, you may start seeing big profits much sooner.

Other key profitability factors include your chosen niche, product quality, and pricing.


Next steps

Start selling products with Gelato