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Tutorial: How to Start a Successful Drop Shipping Business Using Shopify
Updated: 2022-05-24 / Article by: Timothy Shim
Website builders have become relatively commonplace today but Shopify is a fantastic choice for dropshipping. In simple terms we can summarize its advantage in three areas; it is simple to use, powerful, and dropshipping-friendly.
The graphic-user driven interface along with pre-built templates and blocks for site construction makes it usable to virtually anyone. There is no need to learn coding or design, you can simply move things wherever you want them to be.
Although at its core Shopify focuses on fast and easy site building, it has an extensive app store through which you can extend functionality. Features that you can add on span a wide gamut and covers everything a dropshipper will need – from merchandise sources to payments handling and shipping.
Here are the steps to start a Shopify dropshipping business:
The key to success in dropshipping is to find a profitable niche. Before you start building your site, do some research on what goods might be best for you to start with. To manage this, keyword research is important.
Google Keyword Planner
As a cheap (free) way of doing this, try to make use of Google Keyword Planner and test out the products you’re thinking of selling. This will give you an estimate of the level of interest in those products.
As an example of this, look at the image below;
Alternatively, you can make use of SEO tool like SEMrush – which reveal more accurate information
You can see from this search data what products have higher levels of interest than others. Experiment with these SEO tools to get a better idea of what might be able to sell better.
With this information, you can look for the dropshipping suppliers who offer the best price and reliable fulfillment process.
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1. Register for a Shopify Account
Registration of an account on Shopify is free. All you need is an email address to confirm your account with and you can sign on with them. No credit card or other payment method form is needed. Shopify offers all new users a 14-day trial on their system.
When doing your registration you will also need to provide a name along with your email address. This name will be used to generate your store URL during the free trial phase.
Once that’s done, Shopify will need your name and other details for the handling of payments. It’s a short form to fill so don’t worry too much about that.
Once you’ve completed the registration process, you’ll be brought to your store dashboard. From here you can start adding products to your site. This is where one of the highlights of Shopify for dropshipping comes in: Shopify Apps.
For new dropshippers, Shopify can be a one-stop resource. The first thing you’ll need to do is head over to Shopify Apps. First click on Apps and then select ‘Visit the Shopify App Store’. Once you’re there, do a search for ‘Oblero’.
Oberlo* is a dropshipping platform that will allow you to easily search for and add dropshipping products to your store. Once you’ve done the installation, you can explore the products on it.
We’re using Oblero in this example, but there are other dropshipping platforms on the Shopify app store that you can use as well such as Spocket and AliExpress.
* Note: Oberlo is no longer in business but there are plenty of other great dropshipping platforms around. For more information and options, you can check out our list of dropshipping suppliers.
3. Search for Products You Want
Using apps for your Shopify dropshipping business is as simple as if you were shopping on an eCommerce site yourself. First, choose the category that you wish to browse. Next, hover over the item you are interested in and click on ‘Add to import list’.
Once you’ve added all the items you want, click on ‘Import List’ on the navigation bar of the Oblero dashboard. From there, you can customize descriptions, categories, and other details.
4. Import Selected Products to Your Website
When you’re satisfied that things are as you want, select the check box on the top left side of the product box and then click on ‘Import to Store’. Repeat this for all the products you selected earlier.
5. Setting Up Your Shopify Store
Now that you’ve prepared all the products you want to sell, it’s time to set up your store. Think of your Shopify store as the face of your retail outlet. It’s how your visitors browse through the products you sell and select the items they wish to purchase.
To maximize your sales, your store needs to combine attractiveness with useability and speed. Don’t worry though, Shopify has pre-designed templates that you can use. If you like you can use them ‘as is’. If you prefer something more personal, you can customize the theme you choose.
Shopify theme customizations are dependent on what theme you choose. The segments available by default can be enabled or disabled, or you can even add new segments that you want. To customize these sections it’s just a matter of specifying parameters like what collection of products you wish to add to each section.
On the left navigation bar is a list of all the segments that are enabled in the theme by default. Clicking on any of those sections allows you to specify details such as what collection of products to show there, or even how many rows or columns to display.
If you want to disable any of those pre-set segments, just click on the eye icon and it will be hidden on your site. Right at the bottom of the left navigation bar is an option you can click on to add a new segment. Clicking on that will open an extensive menu of items you can choose from.
When you’re done, remember to click on the ‘Save’ icon, even if you don’t want to publish your store just yet.
Now that your products are selected and your store is set up, you need a means through which you can collect payments from your customers. Shopify works with a large number of payment processors so you have a wide range of choices.
To set up payments, click on the ‘Settings’ button on the bottom left corner of your dashboard. Next, select ‘Payment Providers’. By default, PayPal is the enabled method, so you can either customize your account details there or choose other payment processors by region.
Some payment processors such as MOLpay will require that you have an existing account with them in order to use them on your Shopify site. Even PayPal will require that you have a merchant account, but they will email you details of that later on.
Other Dropshipping Apps to Consider
When we first published this article, we used Oberlo as an example of a dropshipping app you can use. The platform went out of business and was removed from Shopify App today. But fret not – there are plenty of great dropshipping platforms that offer extensive product catalogs and features for dropshipping store owners. Below are three to check out:
SaleHoo is one of the more unique offerings on this list since it’s specially designed for dropshippers by a former dropshipper himself. It has its own marketplace of suppliers who support both dropshipping as well as wholesalers. Each of these are reviewed directly by SaleHoo’s own staff so they are more likely to be reliable than those on platforms which handle a massive number of retailers.
The SaleHoo platform works like a search engine, allowing you to quickly drill down general searches to specific categories and then products for you to choose from. You can also talk to suppliers directly through their site – a great way to get more information and build trust.
Spocket is a dropshipping app that works with suppliers around the world. It is better known in the US and EU regions though. The app is feature packed and gives dropshippers a wide range of products to choose from. You can also customize your product views beyond category and even specialize in niche areas such as high-discount items or more. Spocket users can also benefit from their 24/7 customer support services.
AliExpress claims to offer dropshippers profit margins of up to 2,000 percent. Although based in China, it has gone global and now ships around the world. Using their app on Shopify is immensely easy and opens access to their very wide range of products to your customers anywhere.
Key Features of AliExpress
Sell with multiple stores
Auto shipment tracking
Bundle products for sale
Choice of supplier
Shopify Plans & Pricing: How Much Does This Cost?
As you can tell by now, many of the things we’ve covered here are gratis and covered in the cost of your Shopify subscription. Apps like SaleHoo, Spocket, and AliExpress along with hundreds of others are free (although some come with charges).
Shopify itself comes at varying prices depending on the needs of your store. Realistically, many smaller dropshippers can likely get away with their Basic Shopify plan which costs $29 per month. If your store grows and you find yourself in need of more features, then it might be time to move upwards.
If these fees seem a bit high to you, they need to be taken in context to eCommerce sites. Many eCommerce sites can make a significant profit for their owners. One example is Ninjadark, which managed to reach a profit of over $250/mo within a year of launch. It was then sold for over $2,500 on Flippa (refer to the image we captured above).
The new owners then re-flipped it on Flippa, aiming for an even higher price at over $14,000. This is a great scenario that clearly demonstrates how websites can easily increase in value and the strength of the website resale market.
Even if your site isn't as quick as Ninjadark to scale towards success, sites like these are in demand. Even a low-volume site such as Oomaxi managed achieved a sale price of $600 despite its meager earnings.
Bottomline: Is Shopify Worth it for Dropshipping?
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In a word; YES. Shopify brings so much value to dropshippers that there really isn’t anything to wince about in their pricing structure. Remember, for the price you’re paying, you are getting everything you need to run an eCommerce business.
In addition to that, Shopify has simplified so many things that virtually anyone can use their system. As long as you have some idea about the products you want to sell and are willing to spend some time on research, it’s hard not to succeed on this excellent platform.
Timothy Shim is a writer, editor, and tech geek. Starting his career in the field of Information Technology, he rapidly found his way into print and has since worked with International, regional and domestic media titles including ComputerWorld, PC.com, Business Today, and The Asian Banker. His expertise lies in the field of technology from both consumer as well as enterprise points of view.