If you’re an entrepreneur who wants to enter the ecommerce space but doesn’t have the resources to manage manufacturing, supply chains, and fulfilment, then drop shipping could be a great option for you.
As a drop shipper, you’re free from inventory management headaches. When your store sells an item, the order is sent to a third party (i.e., your supplier), who then ships it directly to the shopper. You don’t have to touch the product and you only pay for what you sell.
Starting a dropshipping website is surprisingly simple. Thanks to solutions like Shopify (which this guide will heavily focus on); it only takes a day or two to create a website, source products, and sell them to the world.
Don’t believe me? Keep reading.
In this guide, I’ll walk you through the step by step process of starting a Shopify dropshipping website. You’ll learn all about finding a niche, sourcing products for your market, and opening a virtual storefront. You’ll also see examples of dropshippers that are doing it right and you’ll glimpse the tools that they’re using to run their businesses.
Let’s dive in.
Table of Contents
- 1 How to start dropshipping
- 2 Building a Shopify dropshipping site [step-by-step guide]
- 2.1 Step 1: Create a Shopify account
- 2.2 Step 2: Add products
- 2.3 Step 3: Set up and design your store
- 2.4 Step 4: Add a domain
- 2.5 Step 5: Set up payments
- 2.6 Step 6: Explore Shopify dropshipping apps
- 2.7 Step 7: Select a paid plan for your Shopify dropshipping store
- 3 Shopify dropshipping success stories and website examples
- 4 Running a successful Shopify dropshipping business
Why choose Shopify for your dropshipping business?
While there are several ecommerce solutions out there that can power your dropshipping business, Shopify continues to be one of the most popular platforms for merchants. That’s because Shopify is:
Dropshipper-friendly – One of the best things about Shopify is the platform is friendly with solutions that are specifically made for dropshipping. One example is Oberlo, a dropshipping app that works exclusively with Shopify.
Packed with great features – Shopify offers a host of features that let you create an ecommerce business (not just a website). In addition to its online store builder, which enables you to design and set up your site, Shopify also has features to handle your sales, marketing, and payments.
Easy to use – Shopify is one of the most user-friendly solutions out there. It may be packed with features and functionalities, but it doesn’t get overwhelming. The company does an excellent job with guiding merchants on how to use its software.
Now that you have a better idea of the benefits of dropshipping with Shopify, let’s talk about how you can build your dropshipping business using the platform.
How to start dropshipping
Find your niche
The first step to building a dropshipping business is figuring out what you’re selling and who your target customers are. In other words, you need to find your niche.
There’s no shortage of advice on how to do this. Some people recommend turning to your passion and interests to figure out the right product to sell, while others say it’s best to look specifically for profitable and trendy niches to ensure that you actually make money.
My advice? Do both. Choose a niche that you’re genuinely interested in, but make sure that’s there is demand — and profit to be made — in that market.
That’s exactly what I did when I set up my dropshipping business. I did some research into merchandise demand, popularity, and profitability, but I focused my efforts on the areas that I was truly interested in.
For example, as someone who works out and does yoga, I decided to start my research in the health and fitness space to see what kinds of items I could sell. Below are the steps I took to find products and validate demand:
1. Do keyword research
Start off by making a list of product keywords in your potential markets. For example, since I was focused on the health and fitness market, I brainstormed relevant keywords that people would search for. Such keywords included terms like “athleisure,” “gym clothes,” leggings,” “workout clothes,” “yoga pants,” etc.
I entered these terms into Google’s Keyword Planner to get a better idea of how much search volume they’re getting, and I discovered that “leggings” and “yoga pants” are getting the most searches.
Do the something similar when you’re determining your niche. Kick things off by identifying possible markets (ideally using your own expertise and interests) then brainstorm keywords for those markets. Take the most popular keywords, and dig deeper to get more insights into their performance overtime.
That brings us to the next step…
2. Determine product trends
Getting keyword data is great, but you also need to combine that with trend data to figure out if an item is gaining popularity or if it’s on its way out. So, I turned to Google Trends and entered both keywords to figure out their search popularity over the last several years.
In both cases, the search trends seem to be going overtime, with leggings being particularly popular as of recent years. This gave me more confidence in the idea of dropshipping leggings.
Keep this step in mind when you’re looking for dropshipping ideas. Enter your keywords into Google trends to determine whether a product is trending up or down. If it’s the latter, then you may want to go back to the drawing board. If it’s the former, though, then you can move onto the next step, which is to determine profitability.
3. Figure out if your niche is profitable
Product popularity is certainly a good sign, but at the end of the day, you still want to make money. Before you launch your dropshipping business, run the numbers to gauge the profitability of an item.
Between the cost of doing business, shipping fees, marketing, not to mention the cut of your suppliers, running a profitable dropshipping business requires wide and healthy margins (i.e., 40% to 70% if not higher).
This means you want to look for low-cost products that you can sell at a premium.
At this stage, I did some research on the wholesale prices of leggings by running some searches on supplier websites like Oberlo and AliExpress. Based on what I saw, the prices for leggings range from around $4 to $11.
Now, I’m someone who purchases leggins several times a year, so I know that many brands sell them at much higher prices. Lululemon’s price range, for example, is from $98 to $148, while lower-end stores such as Target sold leggings at prices ranging from $10 to $21.
For my store, I decided that I could sell leggings for $25 or more, which depending on the cost would give me a gross profit of anywhere from $12.50 to $25.
This knowledge further validated my idea and solidified my decision to sell leggings on my Shopify store.
Try to follow a similar process when you’re validating your idea and determining profitability. Do your research on the costs and retail prices of your products. From there, calculate your profits using a tool like Shopify’s Gross Profit Margin Calculator.
Building a Shopify dropshipping site [step-by-step guide]
So, you already have a product or niche in mind and you’re ready to start building your Shopify store. To help you do this, here’s a detailed review of the steps you should take to get your dropshipping website up and running.
Step 1: Create a Shopify account
First things first, register an account with Shopify. Head to their website, and click “Get Started” to begin the process. When doing this, it’s best to have a store name in mind, because that’s one of the first things required to set up an account.
In my case, I decided to keep it simple and chose “The Leggings Central” for my store name.
From there, Shopify will ask a bit more information such as whether you’re already selling a product and what your physical address is. Once you’ve entered your details, you’ll be taken to your store’s backend.
The URL for your Shopify backend follows this format: YOUR-STORE-NAME.myshopify.com/admin. Shopify will send you an email with your store URL, so be sure to bookmark that page for easy access.
Step 2: Add products
Once you’ve set up your account, you’ll be taken to your Shopify dashboard. There are a number of things you can do at this point — you can choose to design your store, set up your domain, or add products, among other things.
My advice? Begin by adding products to your store. I recommend you start with this task for a number of reasons:
- It gets you into the process of store creation. When you’re dropshipping with Shopify, adding products can take minutes — literally. As you’ll find out below, setting up your items on Shopify can be done with a few mouse clicks, and the simplicity of the whole experience eases you into the process of creating your store and builds your momentum.
- It will make the design stage simpler (and more fun). It’s far easier to build a site around existing products versus starting from scratch. When it’s time to pick themes and templates, you won’t have to imagine what your store would look like with products in it, because you already took the time to add items to your shop.
Add products from Oberlo [or your dropshpping solution]
Thanks to Shopify’s acquisition of Oberlo*, adding products that you want to dropship is incredibly easy. Here’s how:
1. From your dashboard, click “Products” on the left-hand side.
2. Select “More actions” then click “Find more products to sell.”
3. You’ll then see Oberlo’s interface, where you can search for products and suppliers. Enter your products into the search bar. (In my case, I entered “leggings.”)
4. Go through the results, then select the items you want to add. You can do this by clicking the “Select product” button.
5. Then on the product page, you’ll see the supply and shipping cost, along with a pricing field in which you need to enter your retail price. Click “Add product” when you’re done, and Oberlo will add the item to your Shopify store.
6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 as needed.
*Oberlo is the default dropshipping app on Shopify, but you can always select a different solution through the Shopify marketplace.
Edit product details
When you’re done adding products from Oberlo, navigate back to the products backend of your Shopify store. You should now see all the items you’ve added from Oberlo.
One thing you can do at this stage is to go through each product and edit its item details. Some product titles (such as the example below) and descriptions are stuffed with keywords, and you need to modify these details for your shop. For best results, add some personality and copywriting flair to make the items more appealing.
You should also take this opportunity to add product tags. Tags can be used to label products so you can categorize them. For instance, if you’re selling apparel then your tags could include “summer,” “fall,” “tops,” “dresses,” etc. For my leggings store, I decided to use tags like “plain,” “printed,” “solid colors,” and “mesh.”
There are a couple of ways to add product tags. First is to do it individually for each product (see above). You could also add tags in bulk on your product list. Just select the items you want to tag, click the “Actions” dropdown, then click “Add tags.”
Set up your collections
Think of collections as product groups that allow your customers to find items according to their type, category, and more. Here are few examples of the types of collections you can create:
- Products on sale
- Product type (dresses, shirts, outerwear, etc.)
- Customer type (men, women, kids)
- Product color
For my store, I decided to keep things simple and have three main Collections: “Plain and Solid Colors,” “Printed Leggins,” and “Mesh.”
To add a collection, click on “Products” on your left-hand navigation and then click “Collections.” From there, click the “Create Collection” button, and you’ll arrive on a page on which you can enter the Collection name and add a description.
Collections can either be manual or automatic. Manual collections include only “only the products that you choose individually. Because of this, the collection always contains the same products unless you specifically add or remove products.” This collection type takes more effort to maintain, and it works best if you have a small, curated catalog.
Automated collections, use “selection conditions to automatically include matching products.” You can, for example, set up a collection so that it automatically includes products that have the “sale” tag. Or you can set it up in such a way that all products from a particular supplier ends up in that collection.
There’s no right or wrong way to create a collection, as this depends on your product types and store. In the case of my leggings store, I set things up so that products with the tags “prints,” “mesh,” and “plain” automatically had their respective collections.
Step 3: Set up and design your store
Once you’ve set up all your products, you can move on to designing your store. To get started, click “Online Store” on the left-hand sidebar of your Shopify backend. Depending on your budget, you can choose to opt for one of Shopify’s free themes or explore their marketplace.
Once you’ve selected a theme, go back to your Shopify backend and click “Customize.”
Customize the look and feel of your site
You’ll be taken to your theme designer, where you can edit the look and feel of your online store. To customize the elements of your site, click through the options on the left-hand toolbar of your theme builder and go from there.
The specifics of this stage will vary depending on your theme of choice. If your theme has a header (which it likely has) then you can upload a logo and customize its size and positioning on your site. If your theme has a slideshow, then you’ll need to add images for each slide.
Speaking of which, images play a big role in the design of your site. And like most things on the Shopify platform, adding images to your store is super easy. You can either upload them from your computer or select pictures from Burst, Shopify’s free stock photo tool. You can do everything — from searching for images to previewing how they appear on your site — right from your theme editor, so no need to navigate out of the page.
You can also customize more general theme settings, including the layout of your site, colors, typography, favicon, social media, and checkout page. Play around with different options and see what works best for you.
Once you’re happy with the look and feel of your website, click Save.
The next thing you need to do is to create pages for your site. These could include your:
- About page
- Contact page
- Shipping & Returns
To create a page, click the “Pages” link on the left-hand menu of your Shopify backend, then click “Add Page.”
From there, enter the title of the page you want to create along, with the copy to go with it. If you’re well-versed in SEO, you have the option to change the meta title, description, URL and handle, so you can specify exactly what you want search engines to see.
Once you’re happy with the page, hit Save.
Repeat this process for every page that you want to create.
Once your pages and collections are set up, you can move on to your navigation settings. At this stage, you’re going to specify which pages or collections would appear on your main menus.
Have a think about how you want people to navigate your website. What categories and information do you want them to find? For example, for my leggings store, I wanted people to easily find the different collections I had (i.e., plain colored leggings, printed leggings, and mesh). I also wanted customers to easily find my about page.
With that in mind, I decided to place my “About” page and collections on the main menu of my website.
I also decided that links to my site’s return policy and FAQs should be in the footer.
Follow a similar process for your store. Take time to figure out which pages or links should appear on your menu, and which ones to place on your footer. Once you have this mapped out, follow these steps to set up your site navigation.
1. Click “Navigation” on the left-hand menu of your backend.
2. Select the menu to which you want to add an item (i.e., link, page, collection, etc.)
3. On the menu page, Click “Add menu item.”
4. Enter a name for your item, then in the “Link” field, select the relevant item from the list of pages, collections, or products that you’ve already set up. (Note: this is the reason why you should set up all your products, collections, and pages prior to editing your navigation.)
So, if you want to add your About page to your menu, select “Pages,” then click your About page. Or, if you want to add a particular category or collection, click “Collections” then select the collection that you want to add.
Repeat this process as needed.
Edit your site’s general preferences
Now let’s talk about preferences. This is the section of your Shopify backend in which you can edit your site’s title and meta description. This is also where you can add your Google Analytics code as well as Facebook pixel.
You can find it by clicking the “Preferences” link on your left-hand menu.
Step 4: Add a domain
Got your store all set up? Great. At this point, you should consider adding a domain name. Without a proper domain set up, your store’s default URL is https://YOUR-STORE-NAME.myshopify.com/.
And while it’s technically possible to run your store without a custom URL, having your own domain name will help your store appear much more professional and appealing.
Fortunately, adding a domain is easy with Shopify. You can find your domain settings under “Online Store” on the left-hand menu of your Shopify backend. Once you’re on that page, you’re given three options on how to handle things:
1. Connect a third party domain to Shopify
If you already have an existing domain (i.e., through a provider like Bluehost, Hostgator, GoDaddy, etc.) you can connect it with Shopify so the system points your domain name to your Shopify store. This process will vary depending on your domain provider, so check with your vendor or visit Shopify’s help page on the topic.
2. Transfer a domain to Shopify
You can also transfer a domain to Shopify, in which case you will be able to manage, pay for, and renew your domain directly from the Shopify backend. Do note that Shopify and your domain provider may have guidelines on how to do this, so check with both platforms to ensure that you’re able to transfer your domain.
3. Purchase a new domain
Don’t have a domain yet? You can buy one through Shopify. Custom domain prices start at $11 USD per year.
Step 5: Set up payments
Next up is payments. You can find your site’s payment settings by clicking “Settings” on the left-hand menu, then clicking “Payment Providers.”
It looks like Shopify Payments and PayPal are enabled by default, but if you wanted to use other payment providers or accept other modes of payment (e.g., Amazon Pay, Bitcoin, Dwolla, Affirm etc.), you can set everything up on this page.
Also note that while Shopify Payments is enabled, Shopify will only be able to transfer funds to your bank account after you’ve completed your account set up and provided additional details. As for PayPal, the company will email you after you’ve made your first sale with instructions on how to set up a PayPal Merchant account.
Step 6: Explore Shopify dropshipping apps
If you made it this far, then congratulations! You now have a nearly working website for your Shopify dropshipping business!
Now, your site is a bit bare bones at the moment, so it’s highly recommended that you add some bells and whistles via the Shopify app store.
For the purposes of this guide, I’ll be focusing on the dropshipping apps that you can look into. Here are some recommendations.
I’ve mentioned Oberlo several times in this guide and for good reason: as a Shopify-owned dropshipping app, Oberlo’s integration with the platform is as easy and seamless as can be.
When you navigate to your “Products” menu and click “Find more products to sell,” Shopify automatically takes you to the Oberlo app.
- Easy import of dropship products straight to your Shopify store
- Order fulfillment is handled directly by Oberlo, so you never have to touch or manage inventory
- Get automatic updates of order quantities and pricing directly from suppliers
- Product customization features so you can modify product names, descriptions, and images
- Automated pricing features for setting up price rules and managing prices in bulk
- Shipment tracking so you can keep tabs on all orders
- Multiple user support so you can bring in a team to help you run your store
- Find existing products that you’re currently selling on Oberlo
Pricing : Free for those who have 500 or fewer products and get up to 50 orders per month; $29.99 per month for up to 10,000 products and 500 monthly orders; $79.90 per month for up to 30,000 orders and unlimited orders per month.
Printful is a dropshipping solution specifically made for businesses that operate on a print-on-demand model. If you’re selling original designs and artwork printed on merchandise like apparel, mugs, and posters, then Printful is the solution for you.
- No upfront monthly fees, and no inventory costs
- Automatic and seamless integration with Shopify, so all orders are sent directly to Printful for fulfillment
- Whitelabel service, and access to designers and photographers
- Easily create mockups with Printful’s mockup generator and mockup photos
- Product photography services, in which they take pro-grade photos that you can upload to your store
- Printful-owned warehouse and fulfillment facility so you can expect consistency with order quality and fulfillment
Pricing : Varies, depending on the product.
Modalyst is a Shopify dropshipping app that specializes in name brands. They have one of the largest selection of branded products, though you’ll also find niche and lesser-known suppliers in their marketplaces.
- Four main marketplaces, which include: Name Brands (Superga, Calvin Klein, Diesel, DSquared, Puma, Lacoste, Cavalli, Moschino, Dolce & Gabanna, etc.); Independent Brands (600+ niche vendors); Trendy, Affordable Products (merchandise that focuses on teens and young female customers); Low-Cost Goods (inexpensive drones, gear, apparel, homeware, etc.)
- Centralized supplier and product management you can stay on top of orders from one system
- Quickly add products from the Modalyst marketplace onto your store
- Item name and description editing and customization
- Continuous updates of merchandise pricing and inventory
- Certain suppliers offer free shipping
Spocket is great for dropshippers who want to source from global suppliers. This app allows you to purchase products from countries in the United States, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Spocket also boasts of having discounted merchandise, allowing you to sell at 30% to 60% margins.
- Over a million vetted products from global suppliers
- Items are shipped to customers in about 5-7 days, and local orders are shipped in 2-5 days
- One-click order fulfillment
- Spocket gives you access to discounted products so you can keep your margins at 30% or higher
- Your invoices can be customized with your logo and branding
- Real-time updates of stock levels
Spreadr allows you to showcase Amazon products on your Shopify store and earn commission for every completed order. Just add products from Amazon by using Spreadr’s import features, which pull items from Amazon to your Shopify store. Your customers can then click the link from your store, then complete the purchase from Amazon, which then fulfills the order
- Simple product import. All you need to do is paste the Amazon product URL onto your Spreadr dashboard, and the app will pull the product using Amazon’s API
- Amazon products are displayed on your site in such as way that the items follow your store’s look and feel
- You can edit and tailor the item name and description for your site
- Product images are stored on your Shopify website, so you can edit and resize as necessary
- Bulk import features so you can add items by the thousands
- Automatic inventory and pricing updates so you don’t end up selling something that’s no longer available
Pricing: $5 USD per month
If you’re interested in dropshipping fashion and beauty items, then Collective Fab could be a great option for you. A dropshipper located in Southern California, Collective Fab specializes in fashionable, edgy, and stylish young women’s fashion and beauty products that you can sell without any upfront investment.
- Catalog of more than 3,500 products with new items added daily to help you keep up with fashion trends
- Orders are shipped from Collective Fab’s facility in California directly to your customers with your own company details
- In-app live chat support from which you can send questions or concerns
- Quantity updates are sent every 4 hours so you can keep your stock levels updated
- Single and bulk product import features through CSV
Pricing: $29 USD per month
Prefer to dropship from AliExpress? Consider Aliexpress Dropshipping, a Shopify app that allows you to import products from Aliexpress so you can add them to your store. Order fulfillment can be done with a single click and notifying customers is quick and easy. The app also comes with an auto-updating system so your pricing and stock levels are always up to date.
- Search and import functionalities so you can find products within the app’s interface, and then import hundreds of items to your store
- Order fulfillment is a semi-automated process, which entails clicking the “Order Product” button within the app. Aliexpress Dropshipping will do the rest.
- Updates to prices are made daily
- The app has a Chrome extension so you can import items while browsing AliExpress
Pricing: $5 per month for up to 5,000 imports from AliExpress; $10 a month for up to 10,000 items imported from AliExpress, Alibaba, and other marketplaces; $20 per month for upto $20,000 imports from AliExpress, eBay, Amazon, Alibaba, and more.
Looking for other dropshipping apps for Shopify?
The apps above are some of the top-rated product sourcing apps from Shopify. There are many other applications in Shopify’s marketplace, so check them out if looking for additional dropshipping solutions.
Step 7: Select a paid plan for your Shopify dropshipping store
Shopify’s 14-day free trial allows you to explore most of the platforms features, and lets you do things like add products, design a store, install Shopify apps, and more. However, you won’t be able to sell products or services until you choose a paid monthly plan.
If you’re ready to open your site to the world and actually earn revenue, just click the “Select a Plan” button at the bottom of your dashboard and pick the plan that works best for you. Enter your credit card details on the next page and you’re good to go!
Shopify dropshipping success stories and website examples
Whether you’re just thinking about dropshipping or you already have a business up and running, it’s always inspiring to see what successful dropshippers are doing. Here’s a look at some Shopify dropshipping success stories to motivate your initiatives.
Printstant Replays is an online store that runs on Shopify and Printful, and it sells “classic sports plays on t-shirts and posters.” Printful caught up with shop owner Hunter Mize and interviewed him about his business.
According to him, Printstant Replays was born out of his interest in sports history. He built the business to help fans relive great sporting moments through prints and shirts.
Hunter said that he had always enjoyed using Shopify and found the interface and fulfillment process easy to use. He learned about Printful through a colleague, though at that time, the Printful app for Shopify app wasn’t available. So, he waited for the Shopify app to come out and connected it as soon as it launched
“The game-changer with Printful is this – I pay no expenses UNTIL I am paid for a product,” he shared. I was buying 10-15 posters, or 60-75 shirts at a time, then hoping to make up those costs over a long period of time. Now with Printful, I get paid $xx, then I pay $x for my product. I never am at a loss.”
Eliot Grey is a men’s boutique that features “the very best in classic accessories for The Man Of Distinction.” The store sells shoes, socks, ties, cufflinks, underwear, and more.
Ran Moore, the owner of Eliot Grey, shared his story with Oberlo, saying that he started the site in 2017, after suffering from a heart attack. He needed to find a way to earn money while working from home, and he started his ecommerce that same year by selling various men’s fashion products online.
He continued to explore products and said he came across a leather coat that perfectly captures the look of his shop. So, he added it to his store, invested the time to write a great product description, and then shared the product on a men’s Facebook Group.
“Next thing I know, I’m sitting at home and a notification popped up. I checked it and practically leaped from my chair in shock. I had made my first sale! It took me two weeks after opening to make my first sale,” he told Oberlo.
YellowTwig is a store that offers products designed to make people’s lives easier. According to Ashwini Ramanisankar, her first sale (that didn’t come from her family) came through from someone that she met a farmer’s market.
She said that she was already spending money on Facebook and AdWords, and was getting some traffic (but not sales).
“Getting out there and promoting it in person gave me credibility and helps people trust that it’s not a fake site,” she told Oberlo. “I also got a lot of feedback that made me go back and fix my navigation, so that helped the site work better. There’s really nothing like having a face to face conversation!”
Creative Action Network is “a community of artists and advocates making art with purpose.” They implement crowdsourced campaigns around particular causes and invite people to contribute with their own designs. The Creative Action Network then develops those designs into physical goods (like apparel and homeware), then sells the products online and in retailers from all over the US.
Creative Action Network uses Shopify and Printful to run their dropshipping business. Aaron Perry-Zucker, the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of the organization, told The Abundant Artist that they started out by printing posters on demand using printers in their studio. According to him, the process was tedious and hard to scale, and so they decided to try Printful.
Doing so allowed them to outsource and automate the order fulfillment side of their operations so they can scale. That decision paid dividends. Aaron said that their “numbers shot up ten-fold across the board.”
He also commended Printful’s customer support saying, “They’re a small team, which means you can always talk to someone and get a personalized solution versus working with a big, faceless company. They’re also a startup so they get what entrepreneurs and other start-up companies are going through.”
Running a successful Shopify dropshipping business
Starting a dropshipping business and running one successfully are completely different things. You can start and build a dropshipping website on Shopify in a few hours — literally. But consistently driving traffic and sales requires showing up every day for weeks (even months or longer) and doing the work.
Yes, dropshipping is relative hands-off because you won’t have to manage physical inventory, but certain tasks still require involvement from yourself or your team. Such tasks include:
Managing relationships with suppliers and dropship vendors
If you’re using solutions such as Oberlo and Modalyst, then you likely won’t have to deal with suppliers personally, since you can add products to your Shopify through the apps themselves.
In some cases though, direct communication with your vendors is necessary.
For instance, if you want your custom logo to be on the products that you’re selling, then you’ll need to facilitate that with your manufacturers. Or, if you’re not keen on using the default supplier stock image and want your vendor to take customized photos, then you’ll need to closely work with them to obtain the images you want.
Solutions such as Printful, for example, offer ecommerce photography services in which they print and photograph your products in their facility.
Figure out if vendor communication is required in your business, and be sure to stay on top of things by responding promptly and keeping communication channels open.
Dealing with returns
Product returns come with the territory of running an ecommerce business. Specific return policies may vary depending on the supplier and your dropshipping vendor. On Oberlo, for example, suppliers “generally do not accept returns” and refunds are issued in cases such as incorrect or damaged items, poor quality merchandise, missing orders, and expired delivery estimates.
Meanwhile, at Modalyst, retailers are required to provide a 14-day return policy, in which case you would need to message the supplier. As for who pays for the returned item, Modalyst says that “In cases where the customer simply wants to return a product without any legitimate issues with the product itself, you or your customer would be responsible for the return shipping fees. However, if the item you received was damaged or not matching the description on Modalyst, it is fair to request that the Supplier pay for the shipping fees.”
To figure out the best way to deal with returns, check with your dropshipping vendors and suppliers, then craft your return policy accordingly. Shopify has a free return policy generator that you can start with.
Just enter your company and website information and Shopify will generate a return policy for you.
Providing customer support
While the dropshipping business model allows you to outsource inventory management and fulfillment, you still need to deal with customer service yourself.
Be prepared to answer product questions, and make sure you’re ready to deal with order issues (e.g., damaged products, delayed shipments, unsatisfied shoppers, etc.).
You should, at the very least, have an email address that shoppers can use for their inquiries. Having a FAQ section, as well as channels like live chat and phone support can also help. And if you have a presence on social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, be sure to stay on top of comments and respond to direct messages promptly.
One of the advantages of dropshipping is that it takes stock control off your plate, so you can focus on marketing your business. In this section, we’re going to briefly discuss the most common marketing tactics in ecommerce:
Facebook advertising – No matter what you’re selling, there’s a good chance that your customers are on Facebook (or any of its properties). Facebook now has over 2 billion active users and there 1 billion monthly active users on Instagram. That’s a ton of people, so if you have the budget to do so, you can use Facebook’s advertiser solutions to get in front of your audience.
This is a very rich subject, so I’m not going to detail the ins and outs of Facebook and Instagram in this post. But if you’re looking to go down this route, a good place to start is Facebook’s advertising page for retail and ecommerce.
Google AdWords – As the go-to search engine for most consumers, Google’s advertising solutions enable you to reach people who are actively searching for your products.
You can place ads on search engine results pages by bidding on relevant keywords and creating ads to match the intent of the searcher. You could also set up a Google Shopping Campaign, which involves creating shopping ads that “show users a photo of your product, plus a title, price, store name, and more.”
For more info on how to run a successful Google AdWords campaign, check out their Merchant Center.
If you already have a Shopify store, consider heading to the Shopify marketplace for solutions specifically made for Google advertisers.
SEO – Another way to get in front of users who are actively searching for your merchandise? Search engine optimization. Just like with advertising, SEO is a rich and broad topic, and it’ll take more than a single post to do it justice.
But to give you a quick overview, optimizing your site for search requires entering the right header tags and creating content (product titles, descriptions, pages, blog posts) to make it easy to search engines (and users) to understand what your page is about.
Do note that this strategy can take time, and it usually takes several months of work to effectively rank in search engines. If you’re not an SEO pro, you’re better off hiring an ecommerce SEO consultant who can strategize and do the heavy lifting for you.
Influencer marketing – As mentioned in this in-depth guide on influencer marketing, influencers can be a big boon for ecommerce merchants. Working with individuals who have amassed numerous (and engaged) followers can put your products and brands in front of new audiences.
To be successful though, you need to identify the right social networks and influencers. From there, work on cultivating relationship with influencers through outreach, free samples, paid campaigns, and other tactics.
Learn more by reading the post, Influencer Marketing for Ecommerce: Beginners Guide to Finding, Vetting, and Working with Social Media Influencers.
Email marketing – Not everyone who lands on your site will make a purchase, which is why it’s important to capture visitor information. In doing so, you can reach out to them with news, updates, promotions.
Shopify makes email marketing a breeze. Most themes come with built-in features that can help you set up email campaigns with ease. There are also several Shopify apps for email marketing, so be sure to explore the marketplace to find the right solution for your shop.
Content marketing – When implemented correctly, content marketing can do wonders for your ecommerce business. It can help differentiate your brand, position your company as an authority in your space, and boost your SEO rankings.
Just like with search engine optimization, content marketing takes time. Depending on factors like content quality and quantity as well as the competition in your market, it usually takes months before you see results with this strategy.
If you want to implement content marketing, start by creating high-value resources that educate, inform, and entertain your target market. Figure out the topics, questions, and concerns that they have and come up with relevant articles, tools, and other content pieces to address those needs.
Starting a dropshipping business with Shopify is surprisingly easy, and requires very little upfront investment. Take a day or two to find a product and then create a site using Shopify’s easy-to-use platform. From there, experiment with different marketing methods and see which tactics successfully drive traffic and sales.
When all these steps are implemented correctly, you’ll be able to run a profitable dropshipping business in a matter of weeks or months.