Reading through your post, I thought you made a very interesting point "I'm beginning to question whether my impatience is getting to me or if this business model I'm pursuing is becoming obsolete"
Is it becoming obsolete, no, I don't personally think so. Is it evolving, most definitely!
I think many people see dropshipping the way it used to be, the way it was many years ago, but it's a vastly different animal now. I think it's a method that still has its market, so I'll outline where I see the key advantages to using a dropshipping model.
1. Market Research - You can't beat it, here you can list a diverse range of products on multi seller platforms like eBay to test the market and when I say test the market, I don't mean running a 7 day auction. That's not testing the market, that's garbage. To gauge how a product works in any market environment, you need firm data that you can review.
3 months absolute bare minimum, 6 months is a lot better and depending on the product, 12 months can be perfect for data collection to identify seasonal factors that impact on the sales.
Now I know when I say something like 12 months, most people run for the hills because most are looking for the golden egg, the quick cash flow, but this is a business, treat it like a business if you want long term success and you increase your chances of that long term success. Treat it like a cash cow and the only thing you increase is your chances of crashing and burning.
2. Website - Do I see platforms like eBay as being the perfect place for dropshipping, no I don't personally. Yes, there are a few of ways that you can make a business out of dropshipping on large multi seller platforms and I'll cover those next, but I see eBay like platforms as little more than marketing platforms.
Long term online success for me means having your own website and I think the quicker you establish that, the better. Having that in place now means you can start using eBay like platforms as sales funnels. You've got a few options in developing a marketing strategy like this.
You can set up a newsletter, ensuring that you send out a monthly email to your subscribers with as much marketing about your own website as possible. To attract subscribers, throw in some special offers like 10% off your next purchase and so on. Set-up some loss-leaders to drive traffic to your listing. A loss-leader is a product listed at cost or below cost for the purpose of marketing. To make the most out of loss-leader marketing, I suggest getting really smart with your listing. You want to harvest as many inquiries as you possibly can to make the most from the loss-leader strategy.
Once you have customers buying from your own website that you may have lured there with special offers through your newsletter, don't stop it there. Now you have them, you need to keep them, the moment you take them for granted, they're gone again. So keep those special offers coming on a monthly basis.
Make it fun, develop some competitions to keep your customers engaged with your site and always keep your stock fresh. Another area where dropshipping is great, ensuring you have new listings rolling through, new offers every month to keep it fresh.
For example, if it's product that comes in multiple sizes or multiple colours, the key word here is multiple. If you have a product like that, then you simply list one option, but include in your listings all of the other options also available. So when someone wants one of the other options, they have to email you and once you have that email, you have a marketing target you can drive to your own site.
The trick here is to not miss an opportunity to market your own site through other multi seller platforms, you want customers on your site, not buying from you on the other platform where you are losing money through fees.
OK, so you want to dropship through multi seller platforms, then here are my tips.
Bundling - general/get-a-competitive-edge-on-ebay-t16381.html
Slow Markets - You want to stay away from fast moving markets, go for multiple slower moving markets.
Consumable Products - Selling consumables means you have the opportunity to get repeat business and that can be bread and butter stuff!
Volume Listing - More listings increase sales opportunities. You still have to tick all the boxes and watch out for listing fees, but it's a strategy that many use and when used correctly, can be effective.