Dropshipping on Shopify is a popular way for ecommerce entrepreneurs to get started in the world of online selling. Dropshipping is a phrase that’s only getting more and more common in the world of ecommerce.
It requires minimal financial investment, is easy to operate and your spare bedroom or garage isn’t full of products that you’re urgently trying to sell – and if you’d like to know how to make money dropshipping with shopify, you’re in the right place.
But what exactly is dropshipping? Why should you use Shopify dropshipping specifically, and can it be used to build a long-term, scalable and successful ecommerce brand?
In this article we’ll discuss exactly that and:
• how shopify can be one of the best tools to help you establish a dropshipping business.
• Finding the best products to dropship and where to source them
• Long-term growth strategies for dropshippers to keep their customers happy.
But before we get into all that, let’s make sure you’re clear on exactly what dropshipping is.
What is dropshipping
Dropshipping is the process of selling a product online that you (the merchant) doesn’t physically have.
Your customer places an order in your online store and that order is sent to a third party provider for them to fulfil.
The product is sent directly from your supplier to your customer, without you ever having the product in your possession.
Pros & Cons of Dropshipping on Shopify
On paper, dropshipping looks fantastic. You create the webstore, find a product, work on marketing that product and watch the sales roll in.
But, like most things in life, it’s not that easy.
The conveniences of dropshipping favour the seller (you) and not your customer.
The dropshipping model is not perfect. In fact, it is inherently complex and has the potential to leave your customers frustrated and disappointed on more occasions that it satisfies them.
But, without scaring you too much, let’s take a look at handful of pros and cons of dropshipping.
• Easy for the seller as they don’t have to hold any inventory.
• Not holding a product means you can focus on other elements of the brand.
• Not necessarily a full-time job. Many dropshippers have their store as a side hustle, a great way to make a little extra income.
• Shopify makes dropshipping easy.
• Sourcing in-demand but readily available niche products from willing providers can be excruciating.
• Consumers want cheap products – cheap products are usually from Asia – slow postage times and of questionable quality.
• Dealing with returns can be difficult if your customer has to send a faulty purchase halfway around the world.
How Shopify can help dropshippers
Shopify is an ecommerce platform that allows a user to set up an online store. You add products, design the look for your store and your customers have a safe way to purchase and pay for your products.
Shopify and dropshipping are very popular ways for ecommerce entrepreneurs to get into the market..
Shopify integrates with many third-party product providers – companies that have the products that you want to dropship. Oberlo (a Shopify owned company) is a marketplace where dropshippers can easily source products they’d like to sell.
Sourcing product from Oberlo and dropshipping them from a Shopify webstore is simple – as we’ll discuss later.
There are hundreds of thousands of products available on Aliexpress. Just like Oberlo, dropshippers can make use of an app that seamlessly integrates with their Shopify store.
Many companies listed on Aliexpress are based in Asia – keep this in mind when establishing product delivery times.
Another option for dropshippers are ‘Print on Demand’ providers, or POD.
POD services will print a range of designs onto clothing, stationery or just about anything else. But they do so, only when the order is placed.
This means that you can sell t-shirts with whatever design you’d like, but the shirts are only made when the product is purchased.
Finding what to sell on Shopify
There’s nothing sexy about selling online, regardless of how sexy Shopify and other companies make it look. Sure, you can dropship vape supplies or something interesting, but you’ll go broke faster than a fat man who sat down too fast. overnight.
The market is flooded with people selling different versions of the same crap. Starting a dropshipping company is hard enough – starting a dropshipping company that sells products that are already easy to get is business suicide.
To find the best products to sell online, you need to think niche. Think small by finding a problem that:
• Solves a pain point
• Let’s a customer indulge
• Does not compete on price
• Is unrivaled in terms of quality.
I cannot stress this enough – there’s nothing sexy about selling online. If you believe that you can make $10,000 per week using Shopify to dropship power banks, you will soon part with all your money.
If you can calculate that there is money to be made drop shipping adult diapers to retirement homes, do that.
Off the top of my head, here are a few niche ideas that may very well be your next business:
• Industrial spec products for interior designers
• Foreign language books to expat teachers
• Toys for disabled children
• 3D printed guitar knobs
Search Facebook groups, forums, professional circles and any other medium where people talk about their problems. Find a product that solves those problems. Don’t sell an item because you have some kind of emotional attachment to selling it.
Facts and numbers will be your ally when finding a product to sell online, not your gut.
How to Find Suppliers for Dropshipping on Shopify
Once you’ve figured out what you’d like to sell, it’s now a matter of actually finding it.
For some dropshippers, this is the hardest and most time-consuming step in the entire process – so approach it with some patience.
Oberlo and Aliexpress are the two go-to places to find products to sell. Keep in mind, that they’re popular for a reason. Many people source products from these sites, so there’s every chance that someone may be selling your product already.
If AliExpress or Oberlo don’t have what you’re looking for, use Google. Basically ,you’re looking for a company that makes, or has in stock the product that you want to sell.
Search for “<product> manufacturer”
Also try ‘bulk seller’, ‘reseller’, distributor’, ‘warehouse’ and ‘supplier’.
This is a great situation where it pays not to judge a book by it’s cover. The kind of companies that you’re looking to work with won't be putting a lot of time into website design – they have other priorities.
What’s important to you, is that the staff are knowledgeable, they have a good support team and they’re not afraid to start getting involved with new technologies.
When you’ve found a provider that you’re interested in, get in contact with them and explain that you’d like to start dropshipping one or a few of their products.
They will not steal your idea. Chances are, these people have thousands of enquiries a day about becoming ‘the next big thing’. Your idea won’t be stolen.
Ask if dropshipping on shopify for product x is a possibility.
• If orders can be placed via email
• How orders are packaged
• If there’s a possibility to customise a product
• Is there a minimum purchase amount
• How are returns managed
The company you chose to work with will be the lifeblood of your brand. You need them more than they need you. Ask questions, get things in writing.
How to Set Up a Store for Dropshipping on Shopify
Setting up a store for dropshipping on Shopify to compliment your business is relatively straightforward and easy, as you can see in the following article: “The 2018 Ultimate Beginner's Guide: Shopify How To”
When setting up your Shopify store though, don’t overlook the power of emails. No, not just email marketing, but also email forwarding.
If your supplier doesn’t provide an app to integrate with your Shopify store, you’ll need to place orders manually.
Luckily enough, you can set up an email forwarding address. This has very little to do with Shopify, but rather your email provider.
Setting up a forwarding service means that every time someone places an order in your store, that same order email is forwarded to your supplier.
This is great, as it minimizes your work and automates the buying process. Work smarter, not harder!
If this is the first time that you’ve worked with Shopify, take your time picking a theme.
Once you have picked that theme, be sure to customise it and focus on design.
Nothing says cheap and untrustworthy like using a standard Shopify theme.
Launching & marketing your shopify store
Once your Shopify dropshipping store is set up, it’s time to launch.
But simply building a webstore does not mean you will make sales.
Ecommerce marketing is the next world for you to dive in to, and it is a hard, soul-destroying element of being an online store owner.
When you first launch, no one will know you, no one will trust you and therefore, no one will buy from you. This is a problem even the top shopify dropshipping stores
In the beginning, it’s crucial that you build this trust.
Here are a few ways to do just that, and spread your brand’s name in the process.
• Facebook ads are where it’s at, but they’re damn expensive.
• Influencer marketing – paying someone really popular to use and review your product
• Social proof – get images of real people using your product in real life. This is a drop-shippers best friend.
• SEO is more than just stuffing keywords into your webpage. Use it correctly.
• Start and regularly update a blog – not to sell your product, but give a behind-the scenes look at your brand. Also use your blog to show how your product solves problems.
You will make mistakes. Your supplier will send the wrong product and/or it’ll get damaged. To avoid this, create a return policy template and show it off all over your website.
Do not use stock photography, either. Dropshipping means that you never hold your product yourself. That’s great for you but it is no benefit to your customer. Using your distributors photography, or even worse, stock photography is a terrible idea. Don’t even think about using stock photography.
Get the products that you will be selling sent to you. This way, you can inspect the quality, see how long postage times are and also take your own photography. Quality product photography is another monster itself, one that will no doubt be covered later!
Shopify Dropshipping Apps
Shopify integrates with a huge range of apps that make it easy to drop ship.
Oberlo and Aliexpress Dropshipping is the most popular for sourcing physical products.
Both these apps let you connect with a manufacturer or distributor and automatically push orders through to them. This means that orders placed with you are simultaneously placed with your distributor. No need for you to do anything – the beauty of dropshipping at it’s finest!
In the POD (print on demand) world, GearLaunch, Printful, and Printify have their own apps that work flawlessly.
There is also a small handful of Shopify Dropshipping apps that let you automatically source products from pre-existing websites like eBay or Amazon.
By using a marketplace like this as your supplier, you can easily ‘stock’ a wider range of products – basically anything for sale on either website.
The problem arises when it comes to pricing your product. If you’re offering a product that’s already for sale on Amazon or eBay, why would someone by from you, and not who you buy it from?
Finer Points of Dropshipping on Shopify
So once your dropshipping business is up and running and you have a few sales and made a few customers happy, you’ll no doubt get itchy and want to grow.
Before broadening your range of products, work on becoming a master of your niche. Not only is this more sustainable in the long run, you will be looked to as the go-to resource in the industry.
Shopify is great with the amount of marketing apps that it integrates with. These apps can easily help you take care of social media marketing, Google adwords and other forms of traditional ecommerce marketing.
But the only way you will succeed in the long run is by being proactive. You cannot sit back and simply expect the sales to roll in.
You need to be proactive in your marketing.
Consider selling on marketplaces like Amazon, eBay or Etsy. Be warned though, both Amazon and Etsy are not big fans of dropshippers. Amazon loves it when you use their FBA services, and the Etsy marketplace focusses on small number, handmade items.
Once your first sales have arrived, it’s also worth implementing user reviews. As earlier mentioned, no one trusts your brand in the beginning, because no one knows you. When you get a few sales, consider implementing a user review/feedback app in your Shopify store.
This means that first-time buyers to your webstore can see that yes, you are a real brand and real people do buy from you!
How to be a Successful at Dropshipping on Shopify
What will make your Dropshipping with Shopify venture most profitable and rewarding?
By making it sustainable.
So many dropshipping idea die out overnight because the operators focus on themselves. They’re not innovators or entrepreneurs. They don’t do anything that adds value to the customer
And to make your dropshipping venture viable for the long term, that’s exactly what you must do.
Find a product that solves a pain point and offer it an accompanying value, in a way that no one else does.
Now that you know Shopify can help your drop shipping idea to get off the ground, it’s time to get out there and do it.
Before you do though, remember what you learned today:
• Find a product people want, not something you want to sell
• Offer value to your customer and put the customer first.
• Build trust and a relationship with your customer.
• Use Shopify, the industry-standard tool to do all this and more.
Do you prefer another provider over Shopify?
Let us know in the comments!