Shopify dropshipping is clearly a hot business — if you are like me, you are bombarded with videos, courses, and advertisements about how to dropship on Shopify.
While there are plenty of get rich quick schemes about Shopify dropshipping, that does not mean that there is not real opportunity here.
So don’t ignore the potential benefits of adding dropshipping to your Shopify store — but do realize that there will be some research, work, and creative thinking required to succeed.
This post will detail how to dropship on Shopify and cover the best dropshipping apps and products to grow your store in an easy and effective way.
What is Shopify Dropshipping?
Dropshipping is pretty simple to define. Dropshipping is the art of selling products on your own store that you don’t have on hand or stored in your warehouse.
When orders come in you route them to the supplier and they promptly (we hope!) ship the item to your customer.
The obvious advantages here are you can profit without first having to make an investment into inventory and also don’t have to pack and ship items.
You supply the storefront and marketing with the rest done by others. It almost sounds too good to be true!
The power of dropshipping is that you can add items to flesh out your store within minutes. Dropshipping on Shopify can also be a great way to experiment to find products your audience is interested in purchasing.
How to Start Dropshipping with Shopify
There are several good Shopify applications available to assist with Shopify dropshipping.
First let’s discuss the 800 pound gorilla in the Shopify dropshipping space — Oberlo.
What is Oberlo?
Oberlo helps you connect your Shopify store to the suppliers that stock various products and that will ship them to your customers once you receive orders.
The Oberlo Shopify application makes it easy to import listings from AliExpress directly into your Shopify store. The app also integrates these listings with the vendors so sales processing can be less time consuming.
Getting Started with Oberlo in Shopify
First you need to install the Shopify Oberlo app.
After installing the Oberlo app you will have to go through some Oberlo setup to get things rolling.
After creating your Oberlo password, you will be presented with the next step.
This setup is a bit confusing as it does nothing actually. This is just a simple reminder that you have to find products and then import them into your store. That is how Oberlo works.
So just check that first box and then click on the explore products button.
After clicking that button we can finally get into Oberlo and see this list of products.
So let’s search for “record cleaner brush.”
I get a long list of results to choose from.
Narrowing Down your Oberlo Shopify Product Choices
Which ones should I pick? Well I know enough about record cleaning to know that I want to sell a wide carbon fiber brush. Some of the brushes listed here are not even appropriate. They look more like makeup brushes and are nothing any record collector would typically want to use.
Do You Want to Ship from China?
I am not very excited about telling customers that they have to wait a month or more for product delivery. I know AliExpress has a ship from United States option, so I am going to use that in my searches.
Strangely I do not see this in the filters anywhere inside the Oberlo app.
That is an annoying flaw.
So strangely to do things the right way Oberlo make me exit their app and go directly to AliExpress.
So let’s go there and I will show you my method for narrowing down product choices.
Narrow Down by Shipping Location
At the top of your page on AliExpress you can just pick to see items shipping from the United States. This way customers can get items much quicker instead of waiting several weeks for packages from Turkey or China.
I am pleased to see I still have some record brush choices left to pick from and now will apply another important filter.
I only want to deal with known reliable (and thus highly rated) merchants.
You would think that you could use the 4 star and above filter to do this. But I have found that weirdly this filter often filters out sellers with more than 4 star ratings. Maybe that is just a temporary bug with AliExpress?
So instead I just change ordering to order by number of orders. Now I will see the record cleaning brushes from the US in order by the ones most ordered.
This will give me my top choices.
The first product at only $3.96 looks good, let’s click on it and see what the charge for US shipping is.
Wow $10.53 shipping is pretty hefty!
So I will now review the others to see if there is a lower priced solution in total due to lower shipping rates.
Keep in mind that your cost will be the product cost + the shipping cost.
I found one with a higher cost but much lower shipping cost at about half the overall total cost. So it pays to check out all of your results — as there is little consistency in how merchants price shipping.
So now that we found the best version of the product, simply copy the URL of that item from your browser so we can import it via Oberlo.
Importing Products to Shopify With Oberlo
Go to your Oberlo home page and on the left click on import list.
Now you have a choice to enter by URL which is how I am going to do this import.
You should see Oberlo quickly import the item and now you can edit the product details such as title, tags, description, images and everything else needed to make it ready for your Shopify store.
Once you have everything set you can finish and click the import to store button and the item will import to your Shopify store.
Now let’s go over some final steps.
Setting a Good Price for Your Dropship Products
I want my Shopify store to be competitive with Amazon.
So I don’t want one or two month long shipping from China when Amazon ships in a day or two.
This also means I need to price the product competitively.
I like to search on Amazon to locate the clear Amazon product leader that compares to my Shopify dropshipping product. I will review the competing Amazon product for pricing, copywriting, and features.
So I will price my item at $13.95 with free shipping. With my per item cost with shipping of $7.49 I have close to a 100% profit per item.
So I even would have some budget to place some Facebook or Google product ads for this record brush.
It also would be smart to set this up as a recommended add-on product for buyers of record albums.
One other wrinkle to point out here on the product page of the imported product is that Oberlo still brings over the shipping from China variation of the product.
So go into variants on the bottom of your imported product and make sure you just keep the United States variant if you don’t want super lengthy shipping times for customers.
And just like that — my HiFi Accessories category has been born!
Oberlo Helps with Shopify Dropshipping Sales Processing
When you sell your drop shipped items Oberlo also helps simplify the process.
Sadly it is not fully automated — there is still required manual work needed to process orders as they come.
Oberlo does have a thorough guide to fulfilling dropshipping orders by the way.
Also note if you plan to sell a lot of dropshipped items, you need a paid Oberlo plan to have access to bulk ordering. Without that you can only process one order at a time.
How Much Does Oberlo Cost?
Currently Oberlo has a free Starter plan, a $29.90 per month Basic plan, and a $79.90 per month Pro plan.
Oberlo Alternatives for Shopify
Many alternatives to Oberlo have sprung up recently. Let’s cover a few of the more interesting different Shopify dropshipping services.
Spocket’s main value proposition is a marketplace of suppliers in the US and Europe to get around the slow shipping from China issue.
This sounds great, but I wonder if I can find products that make sense in my store?
Searching for Shopify Dropshipping Products with Spocket
Installing Spocket was easy enough and after that you can view the app and are greeted with this.
Now let me see if I can find any products here for my niche.
Sadly the previous product search of “record cleaner brush” with Spocket contains nothing relevant. These are nothing like what I want to sell on my Shopify store.
Let’s try a more likely to be successful search for “headphones“. This found a good bit of results and I found a nice looking set of over-the-ear Bluetooth headphones I may want to sell.
However these headphones seem expensive and led me to search for the same product on Amazon.
What I found proved that this Spocket offering is overpriced. I could buy this from Amazon retail at about half the price of a supposed wholesale listing.
Always research your dropshipping products to make sure you are not getting ripped off.
The overall functionality here is almost exactly like Oberlo. You can find products, import them, and process your orders.
They have a free trial but no long term free plans.
Main Differences Between Spocket & Oberlo
Spocket has less selection, makes finding products shipping from US or Europe easier, and does not have a free plan option.
Orders look to be much more automated which is a huge plus compared to the manual efforts required from Oberlo & AliExpress.
If your niche is in the fashion, jewelry or other niches that Spocket supports well — it looks like a solid option.
After adding the Dropified app you must pick a plan. Note both are free for the first 14 days.
Next you are given some goals to process through to learn about how Dropified works.
I am not thrilled about having to use a Chrome extension as I don’t use Chrome. But maybe you do, so let’s give it a try.
I decided to try eBay as a product source since this is unique functionality from Dropified. What is interesting is that I have a lot of records for sale on eBay that I wish to export to my Shopify store.
So I may revisit this app later personally for that use case.
But let’s stick with our previous example of “record cleaner brush“.
Being that eBay is a retail marketplace, we should not be surprised that items are more expensive here.
However this could be a very useful tool if you want to easily sell your own items from eBay on Shopify or if you wanted to sell some unique products not easily found on sites like AliExpress or other wholesale marketplaces.
When you find a product you like you can use the extension to pull up an export window and set product details to add your Shopify dropshipping product.
Dropified looks like one to watch for me as they aren’t just cloning Oberlo. I see some unique wrinkles in their service that I don’t see the others doing:
- eBay product exporting
- Easily create unique bundle products of multiple dropshipping products (even from different vendors)
- Profit statistics dashboard
Other Thoughts, Tips, & Tricks for Shopify Dropshippers
As we roundup I wanted to mention a few other details that I never found a spot to cover previously in this post.
Importing Product Reviews
Hopefully you are picking great products that are already proven. For social proof it typically makes sense to import product reviews for the product. Oberlo and Dropified both support that.
I don’t believe Spocket does due to the nature of them working with their own supplier network and not just connecting to wholesale marketplaces like the others.
Don’t Forget to Consider Shipping
Shipping products from China can take a month or longer. So consider whether that will work for your customers and the products you want to sell. Many dropshipping services are working to make it easier to get suppliers from the USA now.
Also don’t forget to pay close attention to shipping costs of the products. You are going to have to pay those on your dropshipping orders.
Product Testing & Photography
If you have some products that are showing promise, consider buying a sample to test the product and learn about it.
This way you can write more meaningful and educated copy and also have the opportunity to do your own product photography.
This should help separate you from the rest of the completion. And there is a lot of it with dropshipping since these Shopify apps all make it so easy.
Do note that this is Wayfair’s entire business model! They sell the same stuff as Overstock.com (and other sellers) but create more engaging product copy and take better pictures.
They are (at the time of writing this) a $25B market cap public company built on a foundation of dropshipping.
If Wayfair can use dropshipping to create a business that valuable, you now must realize there is potential for those willing to experiment and be creative with dropshipping on Shopify.
* Please note we may include affiliate links in some posts. But only for products we use personally and have deep faith in.