Welcome to the 2023 Guide to Building a Shopify Dropshipping Business from Scratch! If you’re looking to get started in the world of e-commerce and are considering dropshipping as an option, this guide is for you. But first, let’s define what dropshipping is and how it works.
Table of Contents
What is Shopify Dropshipping?
Shopify Dropshipping is a eCommerce fulfillment* technique in which the things sold are not kept in stock by the retailer. When a shop gets orders, it buys them from a third-party supplier, who ships them straight to the buyer.
This allows the merchant to never actually handle or hold the inventory they are selling.
*eCommerce Fulfillment Process
*Fulfillment in eCommerce is processing online purchases. It involves receiving, processing, and delivering customer orders, ensuring products are picked, packed, and shipped accurately and efficiently.
Order fulfillment is the process of completing an order for a customer.
- Taking orders from customers
- Processing payments, and
- Shipping products to buyers’ doorstep
Steps to start dropshipping on Shopify:
1. A customer places an order on your Shopify store
2. You purchase from your supplier
3. The item goes straight from your supplier to your customer
4. You keep track of orders, payments and shipping status
Two Major Benefits When Dropshipping on Shopify
1* Need No Physical Store or Inventory
One of the benefits of using the dropshipping model is that it doesn’t require a physical store or inventory. This means you will run your business from anywhere without worrying about storing or handling products.
2* Suppliers Hold and Ship the Products to Clients
Another advantage of dropshipping is that the supplier handles products’ storage, packing, and shipping. You won’t have to worry about the details, freeing up your time to concentrate on marketing and expanding your business.
How to Start Dropshipping on Shopify Step-by-Step
Now that you have a basic understanding of what dropshipping is and how it works, let’s dive into the steps to start a successful Shopify dropshipping business. To start, follow six major steps:
- Find a niche
- Research trends
- Look for gaps in the market
- Consider your interests and expertise
- Check out competitors
- Define your target audience
1. Find a Niche
To start a Shopify dropshipping business, the first step is to find a niche. A niche is a specific product or group of products that you will be selling.
It’s important to choose a niche that is in demand but not oversaturated with the competition.
Not sure how to find niche products? Follow these steps:
Look for products that are popular or in high demand right now. Google Analytics can also be used to inspect how well your website is doing and come up with methods to improve it.
3. Research dropshipping suppliers
Researching dropshipping suppliers when starting on Shopify ensures product quality and reliable delivery.
- Quality Assurance: You can verify the product’s quality, reducing the chances of customer dissatisfaction.
- Reliable Delivery: Proper research ensures your suppliers have efficient delivery systems, minimizing late or lost orders.
- Cost-effectiveness: Comparing suppliers helps you find affordable yet high-quality products, maximizing profits.
- Niche Specialization: Specialized suppliers offer unique products, giving you a competitive edge.
- Branding Options: Some suppliers provide custom packaging, enriching the customer experience and promoting your brand.
Research suppliers on platforms like Alibaba, AliExpress, or CJ Dropshipping. Consider product quality, shipping time, cost, and customer service. Verify supplier reliability by reading reviews, checking order fulfillment history, and communicating directly to gauge their responsiveness. Check out our article: How to Easily Find Best-Sellers on AliExpress.
4. Consider your interests and expertise
If you have a particular hobby or interest, you may be able to find niche products related to that topic.
Or, if you have expertise in a certain area, identify products that could be useful to others in that field.
5. Check out competitors
Look at what other sellers in your niche are offering and see if you can find any gaps or areas where you could differentiate your products.
Do not rush through a process. If you want to outrank competitors, perform a thorough analysis using these three methods:
- Competitive Analysis: Analyze competitors’ strengths and weaknesses to understand their strategies and market position. Identify opportunities to stand out.
- Conduct online Surveys: Conduct surveys and research to gather data on customer preferences and competitor offerings. Refine your approach based on gathered insights.
- Monitoring Online Presence: Track competitors’ websites, social media, and customer interactions for marketing intelligence. Stay updated with industry trends and craft effective responses.
Check for positive and negative reviews on competitors’ websites and review platforms (Google Business Profile, Trust Pilot, Yelp, etc.). Learn from negative comments, and create a strategy based on positive ones. Reviews are a gold mine you should pay special attention to. Customers will tell you what they want.
Use reviews to write excellent product descriptions. Address concerns in advance. Lower the decision risk.
Remember: researching competitors is the most important step when starting a dropshipping business.
6. Define Your Target Audience
Once you have chosen a niche, the next step is to define your target audience.
In e-commerce, defining your target audience means identifying the specific group of people most likely to buy from your online store. Understanding their preferences and needs helps you
- choose the right products,
- create a website that appeals to them,
- write engaging content in a language and tone specific to that group,
- choose marketing tactics with the highest chances of success,
- be active on social platforms where they are.
The most important aspect of a good marketing strategy consists of the selection and analysis of a target market.
Your target market will determine where you advertise, what products you offer, and how you present them. To identify your target audience, think about who your ideal customer is and what they might be looking for.
Make sure to consider factors such as age, gender, location and interests. You can also use tools like Google Analytics or Facebook Insights to find data about your existing customers.
Answering the following questions will help you define your target audience:
- Who benefits the most from the product?
Think about the people who need or want your product and make sure to tailor your messaging towards them.
- What makes the product different from the competitors’ products?
Having a good product differentiation strategy is essential in creating a competitive advantage. Consider what makes your product unique and how you can bring that out in the messaging.
- Who is discovering the products?
Pay close attention to studying and understanding your customer’s buying journey. This will help you reach them and engage with them better.
- How are they discovering them?
Knowing where your potential customers are coming from will help you reach more of them. For example, if most of your customers come from Instagram, you can focus on creating content specifically for this platform.
Shopify Dropshipping For Beginners: Boost Your Store with Apps
Shopify apps are add-ons or plugins* that extend the functionality of a Shopify online store. They are designed to enhance the store’s features and provide additional tools and capabilities.
Add-ons, or plugins, extensions, or apps, are special tools or accessories to upgrade or enhance something you already have.
For example, think of your online store as your basic computer. If you want it to have better customer support, you can add an app for that. If you want to make it easier for people to find products, you can add an app for better search and navigation. Add-ons help improve your online store’s performance and make it more useful for you and your customers. You don’t need previous technical or programming knowledge to install and use apps.
Why do you need Shopify apps?
- Improve customer experience: Apps can offer better navigation, search, and filtering options, making it easier for customers to find products.
- Increase sales: Apps can provide upselling, cross-selling, and abandoned cart recovery features, boosting conversions.
- Automate processes: Apps can help with order fulfillment, inventory management, and customer support, saving time and effort.
- Marketing and SEO: Apps can assist with email marketing, social media integration, and search engine optimization, helping you reach a wider audience.
- Analytics and reporting: Apps can provide valuable insights into Shopify store’s performance, allowing you to make data-driven decisions.
Five popular Shopify apps are:
- Oberlo: Simplifies dropshipping by finding and importing products from suppliers.
- Bold Upsell: Increases average order value by suggesting relevant upsells and cross-sells.
- Privy: Boosts conversions with customizable pop-ups and email marketing tools.
- Yotpo: Facilitates customer reviews and user-generated content to build trust.
- SEO Manager: Helps optimize the store for search engines to improve visibility.
Some Shopify apps offer free plans with limited features, while others have free and paid plans with more advanced features available for a fee. Always check the pricing and features of each app to choose the one that best fits your needs and budget. Since my last update, popularity, and app offerings might have changed, so I recommend visiting the Shopify App Store for the most up-to-date information.
Each app has different features and pricing plans, so it’s important to research and choose the best fit for your needs.
Step-by-step to Start a Shopify Dropshipping Store
Once you have chosen a dropshipping app, it’s time to set up your Shopify store.
How To Dropship On Shopify With No Money
Follow the next eight steps to start dropshipping on Shopify with no money.
- Create Shopify account
- Connect dropshipping app to Shopify store
- Add products
- Design Shopify store
- Set up payment methods
- Select Shopify plan
- Launch your store
Step 1: Create a Shopify account
Creating a Shopify account is the first step in setting up your dropshipping store. This can be done easily and quickly, with minimal hassle by clicking the “Start Free Trial” button on the Shopify homepage.
Next you will need to fill out your account details. Once you have done this, enter your email address and choose a password to access your store.
Step 2: Connect dropshipping app to Shopify store
Once your Shopify store is set up, you can connect it to the dropshipping app you have chosen. This will allow you to sync products from the app into your store. Start with free apps. Later, when money starts pouring, you can purchase more advanced tools.
Step 3: Add dropshipping products
Click on “Products” in the Shopify dashboard and then select “Add product”. From here you can either search for products from the dropshipping app or manually add them to your store.
When adding Shopify dropshipping products, it’s important to:
1. Write your product descriptions
This is your chance to highlight the features and benefits of the product and convince customers to make a purchase.
If you want your products to rank high on Google, invest time (and money) to write detailed SEO product descriptions, and add numerous images.
Since 2022, product reviews have been one of the most important ranking factors on Google. Don’t forget to add a field for reviews. Additionally, consider installing the Shopify app to boost product reviews.
Connect an eCommerce order tracking app to your Shopify dropshipping store. Find an app that has a review collection feature.
2. Let customers know about delivery times
Make sure to communicate the expected delivery time for each product in your store.
3. Use an order-tracking app
An order-tracking app like TrackMage keep track of orders and notify customers of their delivery status.
To add TrackMage, click on the “Browse dropshipping apps” button on the Shopify app store to access the TrackMage app.
Select TrackMage and click “Add App” to add the app to your store.
Click on “Install App” to begin syncing products from the app to your store.
Sign in or click on the “Sign Up Here” button to create an account with TrackMage.
Once your account is set up, your store will be connected and ready to start tracking your first 100 orders for free!
5. Offer free shipping
Many customers are more likely to purchase if they don’t have to pay for shipping. Consider offering free shipping as an incentive to buy.
6. Price products appropriately
It’s important to balance pricing your products competitively and making a profit. Make sure to do market research and adopt the most suitable product pricing strategy.
Here are some tips for pricing your products:
- Consider your profit margin
Determine how much profit you want to make on each product and use that to inform your pricing.
- Research your competitors
Look at what similar products are being sold for by other sellers and use that information to help you determine your prices.
- Don’t price too low
While it’s tempting to offer low prices to attract customers, pricing your products too low can make it difficult to turn a profit.
- Offer discounts and promotions
You can use discounts and promotions to encourage sales and stand out from your competitors. Just make sure to account for these discounts in your pricing strategy.
- Add products to your store with Dsers
Dsers is a popular dropshipping app that allows you to easily import products from suppliers and list them on your store.
Step 4: Design Shopify Store
Make sure to choose a visually appealing theme and layout for your store. You want to create a professional and trustworthy image for your business. Do this for all the pages you need on your Shopify store.
Step 5: Set up payment methods.
There are several Shopify payment methods you can use to accept payments from your customers. Choose from credit card, bank transfer and other payment options. Make sure to select the most suitable option for your store.
Set up a payment method by going to Settings > Payments in your Shopify admin. Enter the necessary information to complete your setup. If you need help with setting up payments, contact Shopify support!
Go over the store settings, policies, and rules. Make sure to set up your store policies, such as return and refund policies, and make them visible to customers.
Step 7: Select a Shopify plan
Shopify offers several pricing plans, depending on the features and support you need. Consider your business needs and choose the plan that is right for you.
Click on the Pick a plan button to choose a plan.
Pro tip: Start with the cheapest plan, and upgrade later, when you make profit.
Step 8: Start Dropshipping With Shopify
Once you have completed all of the steps above, it’s time to launch your store and start selling!
When you start dropshipping on Shopify, your next step should be optimizing your online store. Focus on curating high-quality product images and descriptions that sell. Invest time in SEO to make your store more visible to potential customers.
Leverage social media platforms for targeted marketing campaigns.
Create and share content on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, or LinkedIn, tailored to the interests of your specific audience.
- Identify Your Target Audience: Understand who your potential customers are in terms of demographics, interests, online behavior, etc.
- Platform Selection: Choose the right platform where your audience spends most of their time. For example, Instagram and Pinterest are great for visually appealing products, while LinkedIn is more suitable for professional and B2B products.
- Content Creation: Create engaging content that resonates with your audience (product photos, videos, success and behind-the-scenes stories, educational content, etc.)
- Engagement: Respond to comments and messages, create interactive content like polls or quizzes, and encourage user-generated content. The goal is to build a relationship with your audience.
- Analytics and Optimization: Use the platforms’ analytics tools to track and measure the effectiveness of your campaigns. Use this data to tweak and improve your strategies.
Remember, social media marketing is about selling and creating relationships with potential customers, enhancing brand visibility, and fostering a community around your brand.
Never engage on more than two platforms if you do it yourself. It’s better to be regular on two platforms than to spread thin on all.
Do not choose a platform relying on your preferences. If your buyers are Gen X and Baby Boomers, focus on Facebook.
If you target Millennials, Twitter and TikTok are the best places to start.
After you start dropshipping on Shopify with no money, celebrate each dollar you earn. When drops become rainfall, do not neglect your store, no matter how well it performs. Continuously analyze your store’s performance and customer feedback to make necessary improvements. Additionally, stay updated on dropshipping trends and innovations for continual business growth.
Market your dropshipping store
What’s the use of having a great store if no one knows about it? Here are six marketing strategies to help you market your dropshipping store.
How To Start A Successful Shopify Dropshipping Store
To start a successful Shopify dropshipping store, focus all your marketing efforts on the right audience.
Start by creating buyer personas.
Creating buyer personas involves understanding who your customers are, what they need, and how your products will satisfy the needs. Here are five steps to create effective buyer personas for your Shopify dropshipping store:
- Research Your Market: Understand your industry, the existing competition, and the type of customers they cater to. Use tools like Google Trends, Keyword Planner, or industry-specific reports to gain insights.
- Identify Customer Demographics: Document important demographic information such as age, location, gender, income level, etc. Shopify’s in-built analytics, Google Analytics, or social media analytics can provide such data.
- Understand Customer Behavior: Determine your customers’ buying behavior, preferences, and pain points. What kind of products are they looking for? When and how do they prefer to shop? Surveys, feedback, and customer reviews can provide valuable insights.
- Determine Customer Goals and Challenges: What are your customers trying to achieve, and what obstacles are they facing? The aim is to understand how your product can solve their problems or help them meet their goals.
- Create Persona Profiles: Combine all the collected information to create detailed buyer personas. Each persona should include demographic information, behaviors, goals, and challenges.
Remember, buyer personas are the foundation for your marketing, sales, and product development strategies. Tailor your efforts to defined personas, and you’ll conduct effective marketing campaigns for a highly successful dropshipping business.
Create 3-5 buyer personas – no more, no less. Later, when you grow the business, you’ll add more.
Give each persona a name. Use names to remind you of the real person who represents the group best. When you create product descriptions, content on social media, and email marketing campaigns, talk to people you have in mind.
Even better, put photographs in front of you while creating content. Talk to them and always emphasize the benefits you provide and the problems you solve.
All your efforts must be customer-centric, not me-centric.
SEO is a Must for a Successful Online Store
Another important aspect of marketing your dropshipping store is search engine optimization (SEO). SEO better positions your website on search engine result pages, driving more web traffic to your store and business.
Many factors contribute to your website’s SEO, including:
- The quality and relevance of your content
- The structure of your website, and
- The use of keywords
To improve your SEO, start by doing the following:
Perform keyword research to find out the search terms your targeted audience uses to find products like yours.
Incorporate chosen keywords into your website and content in a natural and relevant way.
Use tools like Google Analytics to check how well your website is doing and come up with methods to improve it.
SEO is for Google and other search engines. It is not a magic wand to bring sales. SEO is a prerequisite for Google to understand your content. Without it, Google will not rank you properly.
Use Email marketing to nurture an existing audience
Email marketing is another effective strategy for marketing Shopify dropshipping store.
To start email marketing, you need to get email addresses from your customers and potential customers. You can do this by offering a newsletter sign-up form on your website or running a contest or giveaway that requires email opt-ins.
Once you have a list of email addresses, you can start sending out newsletters or marketing emails on a regular basis. One way to get the most out of your email marketing is to make your emails personal and relevant to your audience.
Use Content Marketing
Content marketing is another important aspect of marketing your dropshipping store. Content marketing is the process of creating and sharing content to build an audience and drive traffic to your website.
There are many different types of content you can create for your dropshipping store, including:
- Blog posts
- Social media posts
The key is to create valuable and relevant content for your target audience. Doing that helps establish your store as a thought leader in your industry.
Choose the right influencer for marketing
Influencer marketing is a popular and effective way to reach new audiences and promote your dropshipping store. An influencer is a person who has a large following on social media and is considered an authority in their industry.
By partnering with an influencer, you can tap into their audience base and reach potential customers who may not have heard of your store before.
To choose the right influencer, start by identifying the type of influencer that aligns with your brand and target audience.
For example, suppose you’re selling fashion products. In that case, you may want to work with a fashion blogger or Instagram influencer with a large fashion industry following.
Once you’ve identified potential influencers, reach out to them and see if they’re interested in partnership. Offer them sales commissions or send them products to review and feature on their social media channels.
Google AdWords and Facebook Ads
Paid ads are another way to promote your dropshipping store and reach a wider audience. Google AdWords and Facebook Ads are popular platforms for running paid ad campaigns. With the help of these platforms, you have the power to precisely target particular demographics and interests.
When you’re ready to launch your paid advertising journey, it begins with setting a budget and deciding on the type of ads that best suit your needs. You have several options when selecting ad formats – such as:
- Search ads
- Display ads
- And video ads
Once you’ve launched your ad campaign, monitor its performance and fine-tune it to get the most out of your ads. Optimizing them will yield the highest return on investment!
3 Pro Tips (that nobody told you before) on How to Start Successful Dropshipping on Shopify
- Do not use ads when you start dropshipping. Focus your efforts (and money) on creating excellent SEO product descriptions, professional images, and engaging content on your website and social media. Why? Ads might bring visitors to your online store, but if your content is not top-notch, if prices are too low or high, if your images are blurry, taken with mobile phones, people won’t buy. Secondly, ads burn money 3-5 times faster than you predict.
- Hire a professional for digital marketing and SEO campaigns. Find experienced freelancers to help you boost your business. Why? Unless you know how to promote your brand, improve design, perform SEO, and utilize social media, you won’t succeed.
- Starting a dropshipping is only that – a start. As your business grows, you must grow also. Keep learning, publishing, engaging, and monitoring competitors. Never neglect any aspect of your business. If you can’t keep the pace, hire help. Why? Many successful dropshipping stores disappeared after a year or two because their owners burned out.
Starting dropshipping on Shopify is an excellent way to start an eCommerce business and make money online.
Starting a dropshipping business on Shopify offers multiple benefits, making it an excellent choice for anyone looking to venture into eCommerce:
- Ease of Use: Shopify is known for its user-friendly interface, making it easy for beginners to set up and manage their stores. Even without technical knowledge, one can create a professional-looking store within hours.
- Low Startup Costs: You don’t need to invest in inventory upfront, significantly reducing the financial risk and initial costs. You only purchase the product from the supplier when a customer orders.
- Integration with Dropshipping Platforms: Shopify integrates seamlessly with Oberlo, Spocket, and AliExpress. These platforms offer thousands of products from various suppliers, simplifying product selection.
- Global Accessibility: Dropshipping on Shopify allows selling to customers worldwide, helping you expand your reach and customer base.
- Comprehensive Tools and Features: Shopify provides robust tools for inventory management, payment processing, and shipping. It also includes SEO features, marketing tools, and detailed analytics to help grow your business.
However, success depends on factors like choosing the right products, creating buyer personas, effective marketing, providing excellent customer service, and continuously optimizing your store based on customer feedback and analytics.
With the right combination of marketing tactics, you will build a successful dropshipping business in no time!