10 Steps to Starting a Dropshipping Store on Shopify Online – The Complete Guide
What is dropshipping?
Dropshipping is one of the popular online business ideas where you can sell physical products without having the actual items with you.
This process is also known as retail fulfillment – you connect with a third party responsible for storing products so that you ship and deliver them to your customers.
Dropshipping is the ideal and popular business model for many online entrepreneurs. When there is a demand from customers, store owners only need to contact the supplier. The order will be shipped by the supplier to the customers directly.
A dropshipping store is easy to set up and easy to manage when you have the right platform and it doesn’t require a huge amount of upfront investment either.
One of the best platforms for starting a dropshipping store is Shopify.
Why start a Shopify dropshipping store?
When you start dropshipping with Shopify, you’ll never need to worry about issues with the delivery and warehousing process. You just select a specific amount of products to meet your customers’ requirements.
You can choose products from popular marketplaces like Oberlo and AliExpress to quickly add them to your store.
By successfully building a Dropshipping store, you won’t have to worry about your products selling out because a third party—ideal for selling the resource online—will take care of them.
How to start a dropshipping store on Shopify
In this guide, you’ll learn how to implement the retail fulfillment method by creating a dropshipping store with Shopify.
Before we get into the process of creating your first dropshipping store, you need to do an important set of tasks to determine the profitability and success of your store.
Step #1: Identify a profitable niche
You simply cannot pick products to sell at random in hopes of turning a profit. To maximize the performance of your consignment store, you need to define a niche for your store before you proceed to create it.
By researching the best possible selling product based on various factors, you can ensure that you make a sale and turn your initial efforts into passive income for years to come!
When it comes to figuring out the best niche for your dropshipping store, below are some best practices to consider:
Sell products that cost between $1-20 – When selling using dropshipping, you need to consider the overhead costs you need to spend as you create the order for products from suppliers using a third party. Therefore, selling products at such a minimum level allows you to make maximum profits – you can put the piece price 60% higher than the wholesale price. Not to mention, you can keep losses to a minimum because the capital is not high, to begin with.
Targeting upper-middle class customers – You want to appease an audience that not only has spending power but also has disposable income. The middle class with an annual income of less than $100,000 is the ideal target market. They will be more willing to spend on a premium product that they need and want.
Sell the product without well-known brands – It will be difficult to penetrate a market with a brand that dominates sales. To get the most out of your store, you need to sell a product without a well-known brand dominating the market. Doing so allows you to have a fighting chance to earn money from your store.
Tools to help you define your product niche
The above factors are just an overview of the things you need to consider when choosing the right product.
At this point, you want to justify your choice by researching keyword difficulty and competitor analysis. Below are additional tools you can use to validate the particular product you want to sell.
Google Keyword Planner
Google is the search engine people use.
For sites that rank at the top of the search results for their respective keywords, they not only get a lot of traffic but possibly conversions as well. So, you need to take advantage of the data provided by Google using its Keyword Planner tool.
For the purpose of researching niche products, this tool will help you find keyword ideas that you should sell and ultimately rank for your store.
When you are logged in, you will get access to an overview of the keyword’s search volume. As a website owner, you want to find the most frequently searched keywords across the internet. By choosing such keywords, you can increase your chances of being found by your customers, assuming you rank for your chosen keywords.
To use Keyword Planner, click on “Sign in to AdWords” on the homepage. You also need a Google account to use the tool.
After logging in, click on “Find new keywords using a phrase, website, or category.”
Once clicked, you can enter a product that you are interested in selling.
For this purpose, suppose I want to find watches to sell in my shop. So, I can write “wrist watches” on the product or service bar. Also, you can narrow your search by selecting the product category and search location
Scrolling down will show you different keywords relevant to your initial search. On scrolling, I decided to continue with the word “wrist watch for men.”
While the Keyword Planner is good enough to give you information on keywords to target, it doesn’t show how difficult it is to rank for them.
Keyword difficulty is determined by how well sites rank in the top ten positions in search results for that keyword. Quality can pass down to different on-page and off-page SEO factors. Trying to decode all this data, regardless of your experience with SEO, is going to take a huge chunk of your time, and it’s something you can’t afford.
Therefore, you need a separate tool that helps you understand the difficult keyword. The tool you can use is SEMrush.
While SEMrush is a paid tool, you can still use the tool to extract keyword difficulty for a limited number of keywords.
Once the page loads, scroll down to the Phrase Match keyword section and click View Full Report.
On the report page, scroll down at the bottom to view related keywords and their various metrics.
What you want to focus on is the keyword difficulty row. The lower the KD percentage, the easier it is to rank for that keyword on search engines. Currently, keywords are ranked from most difficult to least.
And “men’s wristwatch” has a score of 90.71, ranking first for the most difficult keywords. What we can do is search for another keyword that we must think of to improve our Shopify store.
To arrange them from easiest to hardest, click on the KD letters to rearrange the keywords.
From the results below, you will see that the keyword “antique wrist watches for men” has a keyword difficulty of 67.03, which means that this keyword is easy to rank in the search results.
By choosing this keyword, we’ll also have to narrow our selection of dropshipping wristwatches for those with vintage designs. Looking back at AliExpress and setting our search to “antique watches,” the image below is a screenshot of the products featured on the site.
As you can see, the price point is in our $1-$20 range. While most of those pictured are pocket watches, there are wrist watches available as a result. Also keeping in mind that the keyword we want to refine isn’t hard to categorize (“antique men’s wristwatches”), this product is perfect for selling on your Shopify store.
It is also important to note that the keyword has a search volume of 20 on SEMrush. While size is critical, our goal is to rank at the top of the search results using our store. Therefore, we need to choose a keyword that is easy to rank for on Google and Bing. Choosing keywords with a lot of binders but with at least KD 85 will take you more time and effort to rank for the keyword.
Step #2: Choose a supplier for your dropshipping store
Using the above information, you should be able to find the best possible resource. When it comes to finding a seller who will offer you items to put on your Shopify store, you can’t go wrong with AliExpress.
Dropshipping business with AliExpress is easy and convenient. Shopify recommends AliExpress as the primary source for all of your dropshipping needs and offers this guide to help you get started.
If you don’t have a product to sell, you can use the search bar to brainstorm for ideas.
Typing in “dropshipping” will reveal plenty of results to choose from.
For the purpose of this example, let’s click on “Dropshipping Watches” and see which products we can choose to dropship on our Shopify store.
Judging by the results, the products sold cost between $1-20, which meets the standards of dropshipping best practices. This will likely be something you can sell on your Shopify store.
Now you have results hovering your mouse pointer over any of the items. You’ll see metrics that you can use to filter suppliers from the page.
Under the price, you will see the star rating from their customers’ comments. To the right, you will see the number of users who have rated the resource, as well as the number of requests for that particular item. From here, you must take into account the star rating of the product and the number of people who have rated it. The higher the star rating, the more reliable the product/seller.
Also, make sure that a lot of users have rated the product. If only a few people give a product a perfect score, you may want to find another product with a higher score than what has been rated by hundreds of users.When choosing the products you want to sell on your Shopify store, you can go with non-branded products. Since it is difficult to visually tell the original products from the fake ones, it is best to avoid them altogether. You should go with generic products that have high ratings on AliExpress to sell in your online store.
As a general rule, you need to contact suppliers who have a feedback rate of at least 95%, which is a good enough indicator of supplier reliability.
Follow these steps when searching for products and suppliers to find a product tailored to your store. You can narrow down your choices and start reaching out to them so you can get a better feel for how to connect with each of them.
Since we plan to target men’s wristwatches, let’s look at other wristwatches that are available on AliExpress. After researching, I decided to sell this on my Shopify store.
Based on the quality (4.7 out of 5) and volume (87 users) of the reviews, as well as the order volume (94), it is safe to say that there is potential for the product to sell well because the supplier has received ratings from its customers. Not to mention, the price point is perfect ($7.99) — it’s not too expensive, and you can work your way up the price for a reasonable amount.
To compare and measure the price we want to sell for a wristwatch, let’s go to Amazon and find similar items to the price we plan to sell.
From the screenshot above, the price of leather wristwatches ranges from $20 to $200. For this purpose, let’s set the hourly rate to $20 to stay competitive.
At this point, it is best to request a product sample from the supplier to see the appropriateness of purchasing from him or her. Assuming you choose a seller with a high feedback score, you should have no problem getting the product delivered to your door. While you can rely on the reviews shown on AliExpress, ordering from them will give you better insight into what customers can expect once they order from the supplier through your store.
Right now, we need to message the supplier to get high-resolution images and product descriptions that you can feature on your Shopify store.
Below is a correspondence exchange I had with the supplier regarding product details.
Based on the conversation above, you can secure the details within 24-48 hours. This is a good indication that the supplier is able to respond and should have no problem dealing with product details and other concerns. You can perform these steps again for other products you’re interested in selling on your Shopify store.
Step #3: Create a dropshipping store with Shopify
Now that we have a niche product in mind, it’s time to set up your Shopify store. To get started, you need to create a Shopify account by entering your email address, password, and your shop name.
Upon successful registration, Shopify will ask you questions about your store if you have one.
Regarding the first question, you have four options to choose from:
- I do not sell the products yet
- I sell on a different system
- I’m just experimenting
- I sell not only online
Since you don’t have a store and want to use Shopify to create a dropshipping store, you can choose “I don’t sell products yet” in the meantime.
For the question, “How much profit is your business currently making in one year”, you would enter “$0 (I’m just getting started)”.
Once you have chosen these answers, click Next.
You will then need to complete your application details by filling in your personal information.
After submitting your data, you will be redirected to your dashboard.
Choosing a Shopify plan
Once your account is created, you need to sign up for a system to unlock all Premium Shop features. While you do have a 14-day free trial, it’s best to pay off your plan from now on, so you don’t have to worry about it later.
To do this, once you are in the dashboard, click on the “Select plan” button.
Click “Select a plan” on the dashboard to set up your plan with Shopify.
There are three plans to choose from – Basic Shopify, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify.
Since you’re just getting started, it’s best to opt for the Basic Shopify plan. Later, assuming your store is growing, you can change the plan so that you can enjoy more features.
After clicking on the “Choose this plan” button, you must edit your billing details and complete the payment process. Once you are done putting in the information, click on Confirm Changes. Once successful, you will be redirected to your dashboard.
Step #4: Configure your Shopify dropshipping store
From here, let’s design your Shopify online store. Here are the things we need to address when creating your store:
- Buy and set up a domain for your store
- Set up email forwarding
- Choose a template
- Create “must-have” pages for your Shopify store
- Buy and set up a domain for your store
- First, you need to go to the online store page and click on “domain”.
Using a domain for your Shopify store is optimal. However, the main reason to consider buying a domain is the branding purpose. Without a custom domain, your store URL would be https://nameofshopifystore.myshopify.com. While you won’t have to spend any money unless you want to buy a domain, it will be better for your audience if you have a domain name so you can have complete control over how your URL is read.
For example, by choosing https://nameofshopifystore.com, it will be much easier for your target market to remember the domain name and so they can type it into their browsers.
Most importantly, being able to spend on your domain shows that you are serious about your online store, which gives a better impression to your potential customers.
If you eventually decide to buy a domain, all you have to do now is click on the Buy New Domain button on the page; Or go through a third party to get a premium domain i.e. Bluehost.
(Note: It is recommended that you register your domain name with popular third-party registrars – just in case you want to take your store online in the future. To do this, we recommend Bluehost or Hostgator) Bluehost is the better domain name registrar while Hostgator is very competitive in terms of pricing and customer support.)
The most popular domain extension, .com, is over $13 on Shopify. If you want a unique add-on, you can choose from a wide range of premium, albeit more expensive, domain add-ons.
For now, let’s stick to the .com extension. Click on the “Check Availability” button.
On the next page, you will find if the domain name is available for purchase. If so, you will be required to fill out a form to complete your application.
Before you hit the “Buy Domain” button, you need to check the box to show that you agree to ICANN policy and the DRA.
After you click on “Buy Domain,” you will receive an email notification asking you to click on the link to confirm your purchase.
Set up an email forwarding option
When you run dropshipping with Shopify, understand that you’re acting as an intermediary between customers and suppliers. Normally, when someone places an order, you will manually post the order to your service provider so that they can process the delivery and ship to the customer.
To set up the email forwarding option, go to the domain page and click on the purchased domain.
On the next page, you’ll see that there are two emails set up under your domain: info@ and sales@.
If you want to change the email address where all emails from your Shopify store are directed to, you can make the changes here.
To delete existing emails, just tap the trash icon and confirm the deletion.
If you want to add a different email, or perhaps change the address to customerservice@ or support@, you can click the “Add an email address” link in this section.
Simply enter the email name of your choice and the email you want to receive messages with.
Choose a template
It is important to put some ideas into how you will design your store. A large part of the reason for this is that you want to provide your visitors with a seamless experience when browsing through your items, products, and pages. If they like how your site looks, as well as its content, there’s a good chance they’ll order products from your store.
To get there, you have to choose the best template for your Shopify store.
Currently, the default theme is Debut. However, if you want to change it, you can select a theme from the Themes page.
A new window will open to download Shopify Themes. There are different templates and styles to choose from, some of which are premium and go as high as $180. However, there are free templates to choose from as well. Since you are just starting to build a store, it would be wise to choose from the free templates first.
In this example, let’s choose JumpStarttheme (the middle theme). Clicking on it will take you to the activation page.
However, before you make sure to use this theme, you may want to check out its features and see if you can use it to make your Shopify store look better to your visitors.
If you are sure that you want to use this theme, click on the Install Theme button.
You must click on the “Publish as a store in my store” link to complete the change in appearance. If you want to install the theme without overriding the current theme, click the “Install as an unpublished theme” link.
A new page will appear with a “Go to your theme manager” button that leads to the Shopify page where you can customize your theme. Click the button to make the necessary changes to the look of your store.
After clicking on the “Customize Appearance” button, you will be directed to the page where you can modify your appearance.
On this page, you will see several sections on the sidebar that you can edit on your site. Clicking on the ‘section’ will show you various customization options to choose from.
For example, if you click on the Header tab, it will display this:
Most of the options are self-explanatory, so it’s best for you to familiarize yourself with each to see what works best for you.
If there are sections in your chosen theme that you don’t have any use for, click on the tab, scroll down at the bottom of the sidebar, and click on the Delete Section button.
Since Shopify has no idea that you’re planning to set up a dropshipping store, you need to create pages that will help visitors get a sense of what your store is all about. Below are those pages that you need while creating your Shopify store.
- Return policy
- call us
To start creating your new page, go to the Pages section under the Online Store category.
Once you click on the “Add Page” button, you will be directed to the page where you can create new pages on your store.
The text editor is the usual WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) where you can format the content based on different options to choose from. If you know how to publish content using a blogging platform or a Content Management System (CMS), you should have no problem editing content on Shopify.
Here are guidelines to keep in mind when creating pages for your Shopify store:
About – The purpose of this page is to explain to visitors and suppliers what your dropshipping store is for everything. Be as comprehensive as possible and cover as much ground as possible when talking about your store.
Products – Displays the list of items and collections that you sell in your store. Also, explain why people should buy from you and what makes your products better than your competitors.
Shipping – Indicate the delivery time for each order (large or small) for delivery. Also talk about the offer and other details they need to know before buying from you, so they know what to expect.
Product Returns – Discuss the return policy here. List the maximum number of days before a customer can return the product, the type of amount you can offer customers, and who will pay for return shipping, among other details.
Contact – There will be details that you won’t be able to cover on your store pages. If so, you should open your contact page as it is the line between you and your customers for questions, inquiries and concerns about your store and products.
In this example, I’m creating an “about” page for my store by using dummy text so that you can see how the process works.
Since you also want to drive more organic traffic from search engines, you’ll want to adjust your page’s SEO for maximum impact. Scroll down the page and click on the “Edit website SEO” link.
Edit your title and description with the goal of getting more clicks from users as soon as they see the pages in the search results.
Once done, click on the Save button to finalize your page.
After the page is created, the page should be included in the site’s navigation menu, so that visitors can easily view the page. To do this, after saving the recently created page, click on the “add it to your store’s navigation” link.
You can add the page to the footer or the main menu. For this example, let’s include the About page in the main menu.
Once you are on the main menu page, add the About page to the menu.
Once done, click on Save List to finalize the changes.
Do this for all of the mentioned pages that you need to create for your site.
Refund, Privacy, and TOS data
If you want to quickly create pages for these statements, go to Setting > Checkout and find the “Refund, Privacy, TOS” section.
Phrases generated by this section will appear in the footer of the checkout page. As mentioned in the side part of the page, the templates are not legal advice so you need to edit it with the help of a legal expert to make it binding.
Step #5: Add the products to your Shopify dropshipping store
Now is the time to add niche products to your store. To add a product page, click on “Add Product”
Once you are on the Products page, you will need to fill in your product details.
As for the description, you may need to edit everything that was presented to you from the resource. Make your descriptions more compelling to convince your target market to buy from you.
On the right sidebar, under the organization section, you need to edit the product type and supplier to categorize your product for the benefit of your visitors. You can also include this product in a collection so that you can group similar products and show them exactly to potential customers. Finally, you should enter keyword tags for your product so that your visitors can locate it on the search bar.
Below the product title and description is an image section. You must upload all images provided to you by the supplier. Make sure the images are high-resolution and of excellent quality to improve the chances of getting people to buy your product.
For pricing, enter the most appropriate price based on your search. Comparing the watch to those sold on Amazon, we settled on $20. It can be said that we can increase the price to increase our profits, but the above prices are just an example. For the price your product will compare to, you need to enter a higher amount to convince your visitors that you’re offering a bargain.
For inventory, leave it blank. Since you don’t have the physical products at your fingertips, you don’t have to keep track of inventory.
Regarding shipping, you can also leave this data blank because your supplier will take care of this. However, you need to discuss details with the suppliers on how to proceed with each order to ensure that the products will be delivered on time.
Bottom of charge is variables. If your products are available in different sizes, colors, and sizes, you’ll want to enter them here, so people have options to choose from and potentially increase conversion.
Finally, you can edit the product’s search engine listing. Click the “Edit Website for SEO” link to enter your title and description, as well as the URL.
For the page title, you may want to add your dropshipping store’s name at the end if there are enough characters. For the meta description, you should be as detailed as possible about the product. Add up to 160 characters available so you can convince users browsing search results to click on your link. For the URL, you can also modify it to shorten it if applicable.
Also, you need to consider a keyword to optimize for that product page. You can use SEMrush to find keywords that aren’t too difficult to rank for so that you can increase your chances of ranking higher on Google or Bing.
Once done, you can save the product. Apply the same process to all of the products you plan to sell on your Shopify dropshipping store
Automatically add products to your collection
The benefit of creating a portfolio of products is to segment products with the same brands, type, theme, and other factors that tie them together.
Using the product we introduced above as an example, let’s assume we want to sell more genuine leather bracelet watches in our store. First, let’s create a group.
In the first half of the Create Groups page, enter a group name and description. Apply the same principles used to create your product here. Be as descriptive as possible so that you can provide the information needed to visitors to help them make an informed decision.
As for the group photo, ideally, you want to upload an image that shows most of the products you sell, so that visitors have an idea of what they see and buy from your group. If not, then you can download the product with the best quality related image.
To make it easier for you to add products to your collection, you can automatically add newly created product pages subject to certain conditions. You can choose from product type, price, seller, tag, and more, so you don’t have to manually enter them into your collection. You can also add multiple conditions to ensure that products that meet any of the conditions you entered are listed.
Finally, edit the page’s SEO so that you can force more people to click on your link as it appears in search results.
Once done, click on the Save Collections button.
Step #6: Add your payment method to your Shopify dropshipping store
As an e-commerce site, you want to provide the shopper with different payment methods so that they can pay whichever is most convenient for them. Shoppers usually use PayPal or credit cards for online transactions. Regarding the latter, you can use Shopify Payments so you can accept payment directly from Shopify – no settings required.
One of the best features of Shopify Payments is the ability to track all transactions made on your dropshipping store. Also, if customers want a refund from their purchase, you can easily refund them with a personalized response to make your life easier as a store owner.
Unfortunately, Shopify Payments is not available in all countries. If this is the case, the next best option is to use PayPal as your primary transaction gateway.
By default, all purchases will be made using PayPal Express Checkout. You can also accept credit cards through these payment gateways, and there are no transaction fees, so you can keep all the profits.
Regarding credit cards, if you wish to accept payments with a third-party provider by credit card, you must select from the list available under the Accept Credit Cards section.
Dropshipping on Shopify – Full Wrap Up
The above guide should provide you with enough information on how to set up a dropshipping store.
We brought up the topic of finding the right product you should consider selling, but it may not be the most comprehensive guide you’ll read on the subject. However, this section, along with the rest, will give you a better idea of how to approach building this type of store, so you can maximize your efforts and profit in the long run.
For those of you who want to keep improving their shop, you can check out these guides for Shopify or sign up for a forumc