Vittorio d’Onofrio he is 22 years old, he lives in the north of Sardinia, in a beautiful place but that “you have to see it in summer, otherwise you are sad”. Four years ago he invented a job that hardly existed in Italy, he started doing it and now he makes a living from it. And he lives very well.
D’Onofrio is what is called a drop shipper: simplifying (a lot), buying and reselling items online. And given that dropshipping is making a lot of noise today, on the Internet, on social networks, among young and very young people, and that it appears to be a safe and relatively simple path to success and wealth, after writing about it (here) we thought to ask him how it works, what are the risks, what are the tricks to do it and things to look out for. Also to understand if it really is as simple as it seems. Which is definitely not: “From social media, you get that perception, but you need a lot of commitment and a lot of sacrifice.”
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How did you start dropshipping?
“After graduating as a technical-industrial expert, the path I had ahead of me was one: study economics at university and follow in my father’s footsteps. But I didn’t really like: I wanted something different and above all, I wanted to find a job that didn’t require me to always do the same things all day and every day. It was 2018, I looked around and noticed that people were starting to talk about dropshipping online: in the United States, there were guys my age who they bought things on AliExpress and then resold them on eBay, perhaps with a mark-up of 200%. And so I decided to try, to monetize my passion for economics and technology”.
Was it easy to start?
“Not that much: I asked my parents for a year to see if I could do it, explaining to them that I wanted to start my own business but without asking them for money. a partner who helped me with the initial investmenta little over a thousand euros to pay Shopify (to create the online store, editor’s note) and launch the first marketing campaigns”.
Need a VAT number, did you already have it?
“No, because at the time the rules were very different, more flexible: the market was emerging and was little known in Italy and no one knew how to fix it. From now on, this would no longer be possible, and this is an important thing to underline: without a VAT number, this work cannot be done”.
Are you saying that because it is used to pay taxes?
“Obviously for that, but also for another reason: today there are two tax regimes that must be registered, they are called IOSS and OSS (the Revenue Agency explains them here, editor’s note), are distinguished according to whether the imported goods are sold or not. If you do not register, the goods do not travel, remain blocked at customs or in any case are not delivered to the customer. Rendering the purpose of the activity useless”.
Is there a legal way to dropship without a VAT number?
“There is one, and we use it with some of our collaborators: they rely on that of my company (which is called Web Agency Plus, editor’s note), sell through us with withholding tax and the activity appears as occasional work. Obviously we keep part of the profits to offer this service”.
You said collaborators, but did you mean students of your course?
“Yes and no: unlike other workers in this sector, we don’t have a real curriculum, but I created what I like to call an academy, where we try to train people who want to join in this field, starting by explaining to them that it is not a walk in the park and that not everything is easy. Some I keep with me to kind of sell together.”
How many students do you have?
“About 600, including a hundred who work with the withholding tax formula: they have take online courses from e-commerce formula and if necessary they are assisted by me and 4 tutors”.
Some practical advice: for suppliers, which platform to choose?
“The sites you rely on are fundamental to simplifying your work, and therefore also your life: for example, there are some where the sending must be done manually after the order and others that start it automatically, by taking the necessary money from a prepaid wallet. My advice is to avoid AliExpresswhich is a platform for consumers not businesses and from which it is next to impossible to get invoices for what you buy, and instead focus on sites such as CJ Drop Shipping Where Yakkyofy, who notably has the option of paying for the goods on delivery. Which in Italy is reassuring”.
And to set up the site, what tools to use?
“The beauty of this job is also to be free, not to have to be always online, in front of the computer, to manage orders and solve problems. So, it is better to choose platforms that allow you to simplify life: I would give up Amazon, both because it is more complicated to leave and because they tend to pay after 3-4 weeks, which reduces cash flow, which is fundamental for this company. It would be better to have your own site, but for starters they are fine WooCommercethe section of WordPress dedicated to ecommerce, or Shopifywhich is really easy to use and with only 5 euros per month allows you to have a well-made site, with many templates to choose from and also integration with social networks and WhatsApp”.
But how much can you expect to earn?
“If you think you’re going to start and immediately charge $5,000 a day, you’re getting off on the wrong foot: that’s not how it works and those aren’t the results you can reasonably expect. The first thing to understand is that it’s not just about buying something here, reselling it there for double the price and profit: you need an entrepreneur’s mentality, you have to be attentive to everything, understand the income and expenses that each product will generate and generate, be well balanced. And be in compliance from a regulatory point of view. That’s what I mean when I say “it takes a lot of effort and a lot of sacrifice”, and I explain it to the people who work with meto those who are taking their first steps, to those who listen to my lessons and to collaborators”.
Ok, but how much do you earn?
“I charge around 100,000 euros a month, some months more and some a little less. The important thing is that I have a margin of about 40%, well above the average of those who do dropshipping. I can do this for various reasons: I have kept advertising costs to a minimum, I use almost all Italian suppliers, which has definitely reduced shipping costs, and I allow the Cash on delivery, which on the one hand makes people more willing to spend and on the other hand prevents me from leaving a share of my income to PayPal or credit card networks. It might be a few cents per order, but put together it’s money going.”
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Do you have many employees?
“None, because the people who work most closely with me they prefer to be subject to VAT and are paid on performance: tutors according to the hours they spend with students, salespeople according to sales. They earn more than if they had a fixed monthly salary. »
In short: you are like Aranzulla…
“Maybe. In fact, I will be hiring shortly, because I am about to open another business, still in this area, where I will need permanent and continuous help. But it’s okay for now.”