How to Start Dropshipping on Shopify

Shopify dropshipping woman receiving phone call

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Shopify dropshipping is a great way for an ecommerce beginner to find their footing and sell products online without investing massive amounts of money into inventory or storage space.

Shopify is one of the best platforms for dropshipping. It offers a wealth of apps, is very easy to use, and is a great ecommerce platform overall, with multichannel selling and loads of templates and customisation options available.

Any business just starting out can use dropshipping as a low-risk entry point into the world of ecommerce, as it doesn’t require too much investment in initial inventory or storage facilities. Let’s have a look at how you can start dropshipping on Shopify.

Dropshipping recap

Dropshippers basically act as a go-between for customers and distributors. With dropshipping, you list products on your site, and when they’re purchased by a customer, a distributor sends them to the customer’s address. So instead of owning inventory, you simply buy it from a supplier every time a customer makes a purchase. The best dropshipping suppliers out there make this process quicker by making communication with suppliers easier.

What is Shopify?

Not only is Shopify one of the top ecommerce platforms for dropshipping, but it’s also one of the best on the market in general. In fact, Shopify scored the highest in our recent assessment of the best ecommerce platforms, mostly due to its great sales features, stellar customer service resources, and very positive customer feedback.

We’ll get to discussing dropshipping below, but first, what specifically makes Shopify such a giant in the ecommerce world? Let’s have a look at three of its biggest perks.

Multichannel selling

A great way to maximise profits, multichannel selling allows you to sell your products on multiple platforms. For example, with Shopify, you can sell your products through social media platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, or other shopping sites like Amazon or eBay. It’s not hard to see how this would bolster your profit margins with a minimal amount of extra work.

Customization and templates

As subjective as it may sound, your site’s visual impact is a crucial part of attracting and capturing potential customers. And with the amount of customization and themes on offer for Shopify users, you can really make your store your own and ensure that customers will recognise your brand. It’s this flexibility that makes it one of the best ecommerce platforms for small businesses.

Large app store

Finally, on the topic of customisation, there are plenty of Shopify dropshipping apps on offer. While some of these come at a cost, they provide a huge amount of tools and features that allow you to greatly enhance both your own experience and that of your customers.

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Why Should I Use Shopify for Dropshipping?

These features all sound great when applied to any ecommerce business model, but what about Shopify lends itself to dropshipping specifically?

Ease of Use

Firstly, since dropshipping is often a first step for online sellers, it’s a safe assumption that a lot of dropshippers aren’t going to be instant ecommerce wizards. Shopify is so easy to use, however, that even the greenest rookie will be able to get to grips with it in a matter of hours. And if you are struggling to wrap your head around it, the support lines on offer have scored very well in our research (4.4/5), meaning help is easily accessible.

App Store

Another great reason to use Shopify is its dropshipping apps. DSers (for AliExpress) or Spocket have their own apps that integrate into any Shopify store, removing the need to log in and out of accounts on separate platforms.

If you’re worried about the viability of dropshipping, it’s reassuring to note that just 21% of Canadians say they miss the shopping experience when they shop online. That means the vast majority of shoppers are just as happy to buy online as they are in person.

Free Shipping

Finally, Shopify gives you the option to easily turn on free shipping for any of your products. Free shipping is one of the most enticing draws that any online store can have. Obviously, since you’re not the one shipping the product, you’ll have to make up the cost – but the appeal of free shipping may pull in enough customers to make it more than worth it.

Shopify dropshipping parcel packaging
If you don't want to deal with packaging and parcel tape, dropshipping will take all that extra trouble off your hands.

How to Use Shopify for Dropshipping

So what are the steps you need to take in order to use Shopify to run a dropshipping business? We’ll start from the very beginning, but if you’re already set up on Shopify, feel free to skip to step two. And if you already know what you’re selling, jump down to step three!

1. Start your Shopify store

We’re really starting from square one here, but you obviously can’t start dropshipping on Shopify without an active Shopify account. Starting a Shopify account is easy, with the most basic plan costing $38 per month. And with a 14-day free trial, you can make sure you like the look of it before fully diving in. If you like, you can check out our best website builders guide for more ideas on setting up your first ever website.

2. Decide on your inventory

If you’re particularly passionate about your product, you may have completed this step before even starting your business. However, there are some products that are better suited to dropshipping than others. Since the profit margins with dropshipping are slim, you’ll want to list cheaper products that sell often rather than big-ticket items that might only get you a sale or two every week.

The most popular dropshipping items are toothbrushes, face masks, and yoga mats. The common theme here is easily disposable/loseable items that people may even buy in bulk. However, another effective approach is to find a niche that other stores aren’t filling, and capitalize on that. You’d obviously have to conduct a fair amount of market research to find out what this niche would be – but if you nailed it, you’d be in the money.

3. Contact a dropshipping supplier

There are loads of dropshipping suppliers out there, and they’re all looking to do business with you! Keeping in mind the inventory you’re looking to sell, track down a distributor that offers what you’re looking for. Google is your friend here, but you can also search “dropshipping” on the Shopify App Store in order to find a bunch of dropshipping attachments (plus user reviews for each one). After that, it’s just a matter of contacting them.

Some of the more popular dropshipping suppliers are Sprocket and DSers but there are loads of other options if these don’t offer what you’re looking for.

As far as time goes, it shouldn’t take too long to be fully operational, especially if you’re using your chosen distributor’s Shopify app. The exact functionality of the app will depend on the distributor, but after setting it up, you should be able to select inventory and list it on your site for purchase in a day or two.

Of course, if you’ve got great organisational skills, nothing is stopping you from forging relationships with multiple distributors (although, some are better for Shopify usage than others). As long as the correct orders, payments, and customer information are going to the right dropshipping distributor, you’ll be able to optimize your sales and reach.

4. Start making money!

Dropshipping is a perfect example of passive income, so once it’s all set up on your site, you can sit back and relax as the money starts to trickle in. Depending on what you’re selling, the profit margins on dropshipping can be very thin, as while there are barely any overhead costs, you are essentially being paid a finder’s fee for connecting the customer and distributor. However, this does mean that the money you do make is your own – and will be a nice bit of extra income that can also cover site maintenance.

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What Costs are Involved in Setting up Shopify Dropshipping?

The main upfront cost will be your Shopify subscription, which can be just $38 (paying annually for the Basic Shopify plan). Shopify has a wealth of dropshipping apps and attachments that can help anyone looking to start dropshipping as quickly – or as cautiously – as possible.

Find out more about Shopify pricing plans in our full guide. On top of that, there’s your inventory purchase costs, although you won’t have to pay for storage so that’s a major bonus. If you want a fancier website, then you can hire a web designer to customize your webstore the way you want it.

Next Steps

While Shopify is far from the only platform you can use to operate a dropshipping-based ecommerce business, it’s still a great way to dip your toes into the world of dropshipping. If you’re even slightly interested, it’s worth visiting Shopify’s page on dropshipping to see what they offer.

Whether you’re using dropshipping to supplement your own stock, or basing your entire business model around it, Shopify will be more than equipped to handle any of your requirements when it comes to dropshipping, or even any other ecommerce needs that arise when running an online business.

Why waste time? Start dropshipping with Shopify today
Written by:
Sabrina Dougall
Sabrina is a business journalist whose career began in news reporting. She has a master's in Investigative Journalism from City University London, and her work has appeared in The Times, The Daily Express, Money Saving Expert, Camden New Journal, Global Trade Review, and Computer Business Review. She specializes in writing about SEO (search engine optimization). Having run her own small business, Sabrina knows first-hand how critical digital marketing is to building a client base and local reputation.
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A head shot of Natasha Willett - a blonde woman in a work shirt with a blue background
For over 9 years Natasha has worked as a mixed method researcher working across a range of sectors from insurance and policy development, to business services and software. As a member of the Market Research Society, Natasha is an advocate for high ethical, commercial and methodological best practices.