Are you really thinking of setting up an online dropshipping store? Great! That’s a great idea! But before you get involved with the technical side there are a few things you should know when creating a dropshipping E-Commerce.
To make it easier for you I have created this guide in which I will explain what dropshipping is, its advantages and disadvantages, and finally how to create a dropshipping store with WordPress and WooCommerce.
And not only will I talk about how to set up a dropshipping store with WordPress and WooCommerce because that’s what this blog is about, but also because this combination is currently the best for setting up any online store, and specifically a dropshipping store, for these reasons:
- It is the most popular software in the creation of online stores.
- It has the lowest start-up costs, so you don’t go over budget.
- As the applications are hosted on your server, you are not limited in the type of product you can sell by the terms of service of third parties, as is the case with Shopify and others.
- WordPress and WooCommerce have no limits when creating products, variations and orders. The limit is the capacity of your database.
That said, let’s get down to business…
Table of Contents
What is dropshipping?
If you already know what dropshipping is, skip this section and go on to the next one, because what I am going to explain is for those who do not know what dropshipping is.
If, on the other hand, you don’t know what dropshipping is, here is a mini course for beginners.
How does a traditional online store work?
A traditional online store receives orders from its customers and has to deliver them, right?
It would be something like that:
- Super eStore S.L. buys thousands of products and keeps them in a warehouse.
- Super eStore S.L. creates a website to sell these products online.
- The customer accesses the web and buys a product in the online store of Super eStore S.L.
- Super eStore S.L. goes to his warehouse, takes the product and sends it to the customer.
Simple, isn’t it? Especially if you have a warehouse and enough money to buy thousands of units of all products before you start selling the first one!
But if you have neither the warehouse nor a lot of capital to accumulate product with before you start selling, you have a problem.
Dropshipping eliminates these requirements and makes it easier for anyone to start selling on the Internet.
How does a dropshipping online store work?
Instead of storing and shipping the products yourself, you make arrangements with third parties for you to accept the orders but have those third parties, usually manufacturers or distributors, store the products and ship them to the customers.
The procedure by dropshipping, different from the traditional one, would be like this:
- Super eStore S.L. makes an agreement with Fantastic Manufacturer S.A. about the price of certain products.
- Super eStore S.L. creates a website to sell these products online.
- The client accesses the web and buys a product in the Super eStore S.L. online store.
- Super eStore S.L. sends the customer’s data and his order to Fantastic Manufacturer S.A.
- Fantastic Manufacturer S.A. sends the product to the customer.
And so, all of a sudden, you have eliminated the need to have your own warehouse and to acquire a massive inventory.
What’s more, thanks to dropshipping your business is totally online, being able to work from anywhere in the world, only with your computer.
Now you will understand why dropshipping is so popular in the world of entrepreneurship.
Dropshipping main benefits
There are many reasons why you will like dropshipping much more than the traditional model:
- Low investment and expense – because you don’t need to purchase inventory in advance or find a place to store it, your initial investment and ongoing expenses are virtually non-existent (beyond web hosting and store marketing, of course).
- Easy to get started – in addition to reducing the initial investment, it also reduces the complexity of getting started. No need to read rental contracts, search for transportation providers, do inventory management, etc.
- Not tied to location – because someone else is managing the location-dependent part for you, you are free to move as you wish.
- Scalability – dropshipping eliminates much of the complexity involved in scaling your business. You won’t have to hire warehouse staff, find a larger warehouse, etc. Basically, all you’ll need to scale is your ability to provide customer support.
Does dropshipping have any disadvantages?
Of course. If it didn’t have them, the traditional model would disappear.
The main disadvantage is that nothing is free.
The biggest disadvantage is clearly the effect on the profit margins. That can affect you in 3 ways:
- Since it is your supplier who is in charge of fulfilling the most important part of the investment, you will lose a large part of your margins, since your supplier will charge you a price for the service it provides, which you are saving.
- If you offer products that are easy to sell through dropshipping you will face a lot of competition from others who, like you, have discovered the advantages of this model, which can cause a huge price competition that reduces your margins even more, since your supplier doesn’t care who sells their products.
- You are still the one who faces the customer in your online store. So if the supplier or a transporter damages a product, you have to deal with those mistakes, even if they weren’t part of your management. This is why it is very important to find good dropshipping suppliers and close deals where everything is very clear, especially the incidents.
Common questions about dropshipping
Now, before we continue, let’s look at some typical questions about dropshipping that usually arise after the introduction you’ve seen:
- How can I find dropshipping products? It’s not that hard – we’ll look at it in this guide.
- How can I create an online store to sell my products? We will mainly use free open source software, and in particular the winning combination of WordPress+WooCommerce. We’ll see how to do it.
- How much money do I need to start dropshipping? This has a difficult answer. Although you can minimize the investment, it’s best if you have a base with which to make the first few expenses. It could be something between 300 to 500. There are always expenses, you’ll see that later.
- Do I have to move to Silicon Valley if I want to successfully dropship? No. Right here you have all the tools to start selling through dropshipping.
What do I need to start selling by dropshipping?
If you already know that dropshipping is not perfect, but that it can be a great opportunity to make a living selling online, especially for entrepreneurs or freelancers, let’s see what we need to get started.
Dropshipping Suppliers and Products
The first thing will always be to find quality products that you can sell by dropshipping.
This step has three parts:
- The niche – don’t be tempted to look for a niche that you like, but you have to identify product niches that people want to buy, that don’t have a lot of competition and that are profitable.
- The products – you have to find quality products, which are already in demand in the niche you have chosen. Here you have to find the difficult balance between finding products that people want to buy at the same time as being products for which there is not already fierce competition.
- A RELIABLE supplier – you need to find a supplier that not only has those products, but is also reliable in delivering orders quickly and with quality, offering a good level of service to YOUR customers.
Remember, you are relegating the entire product delivery process to your supplier, so if you don’t find a reliable supplier you are going to have angry customers.
Your online store
Once you have products and suppliers, you need an online store to sell them.
There are more and more people doing dropshipping on Amazon or eBay, but it’s not the most advisable, because there you control practically no part of the process and the competition is absolutely brutal, and you will not be able to build a brand, ever.
What I recommend is that you create an online E-Commerce store with your own brand and strategy. Although you will lose the existing audience of sites like Amazon, the benefits are almost always more than compensated for by that:
- You can brand yourself, differentiate yourself. On Amazon it is difficult to distinguish yourself from other brands selling the same product. In your own store you don’t compete directly with those products, you can – and should – use your own marketing and sales strategy.
- You create long-term assets. For example, you can create your own mailing list, one of the channels with the highest ROI in any E-Commerce channel, with which to encourage and obtain better future sales.
- You control everything. You won’t have to worry about losing your livelihood because of a problem with your Amazon or eBay account, which is more common than you think.
Is dropshipping the same as affiliation?
No, not even close. In an affiliate store you have no contact with the customer, you only offer products whose buttons lead directly to the direct supplier’s store, you only receive commissions for the sales.
In dropshipping you have a real and direct relationship with the customer, and you have to take care of every process of the sale, and the income is usually much higher than the affiliation.
Okay, you know the theory of dropshipping, let’s get to work!
I will have explained it badly if you don’t already know what dropshipping is, how it works and the basics of what you need to get started.
So it’s time to get down to business, leaving theory aside, and start looking at the “how to” of dropshipping with specific recommendations and the best tools and tips to find products, suppliers, but above all to sell.
And the first thing is…
Why WooCommerce is the best for dropshipping?
If you do a search for dropshipping guides you will find that there are many people who will recommend you to use Shopify, but it is false.
And the first reason it’s not true is that most of those recommendations are marketing from Shopify itself, which pays blogs to make dropshipping guides … on Shopify, if you add to that the generous affiliate program they have, there you have the answer as to why they’re not reliable.
I’m not saying that Shopify isn’t a good product, which it is, but it’s not the best, in fact it’s not.
WooCommerce, on the other hand, is free open source software, so I’m not going to charge you a single euro for recommending it.
And, if you check the data, WooCommerce is currently the most popular way to create an online store, with Shopify in second place, despite its marketing efforts.
So this is more than just a personal recommendation. I’m recommending you the best.
But there are more objective reasons to choose WooCommerce over Shopify:
First, the price.
WordPress is 100% free and the main plugin, WooCommerce, is also 100% free. All you need to start a store with WooCommerce is to hire your hosting, which you can get for something as ridiculous as less than $5 a month (although I recommend you upgrade to bigger plans when your store grows).
Optionally there may be some costs you may want to pay, but if you are creating a dropshipping business and have a limited budget, WooCommerce allows you to start your store with no other cost than the hosting and the domain.
Then you decide whether to expand to give it more features, better hosting, a premium theme or special extensions, as you grow.
Shopify, on the other hand, will cost you $29 per month, yes or yes. Shopify doesn’t care if your store is new and you still don’t have any sales – you’ll be charged at least $29 a month.
And then, the premium Shopify themes are expensive (+$140), and the applications for them require a monthly fee as well. What’s more, if you want to use your own payment gateway, Shopify will charge you an additional 2% for each transaction you make.
In short, unless you can afford to start your online store by throwing your money away, WooCommerce allows you to start with almost zero investment, and then scale up as your business grows.
Yes, I know, cheap is not in itself a good reason to choose something, or not just for that reason.
Okay, if WooCommerce sucks no matter how cheap it is, it wouldn’t be a good choice for dropshipping.
But it turns out that WooCommerce doesn’t suck – remember, we’re talking about the most popular E-Commerce platform today.
Because you install WordPress and WooCommerce on your own web server (while Shopify is just a service), WooCommerce offers much more scalability than Shopify.
With Shopify you can only do what Shopify allows you to do.
With WooCommerce you can do whatever you want because you have full access and control over your site.
And don’t worry – you don’t have to be a programmer to benefit from that scalability. With WordPress and WooCommerce you can use the wonderful plugins.
There are free and premium plugins, and they allow you to add new functionality to your store without having to know a single line of code.
Right now there are over 55,000 free WordPress Plugins. And you can also find lots of premium plugins for all kinds of features (like automatically importing AliExpress products, or managing multiple dropshipping suppliers).
No product restriction
WooCommerce is not only free of charge, it is also free – free because you have no restrictions.
When you use Shopify or any other service platform, you have to comply with their terms of service. That means there are things you simply cannot sell with Shopify or other platforms.
The terms and conditions for payments in Shopify, those which charge you 2% for each sale, are more strict than the terms of service themselves. This is a list of the things you can’t sell:
- Electronic cigarettes and their accessories
- Everything that has to do with the Marijuana
- Age-restricted goods or services
- Fetish accessories
- Erotic toys
- Sale or resale of products or services of registered trademarks not previously authorized.
- Hair extensions (sic)
- Para-pharmacy products (not even lotions)
- Any substance that offers the same effect as a drug (sage, etc)
Okay, this may not affect most online stores.
But remember, when you sell on Shopify or other E-Commerce services you are playing by someone else’s rules, not your own. And they decide when and how to change those rules, and you can be out – and screwed – overnight.
On the other hand, because WooCommerce is open source software, there are no rules about what you can sell (as long as you find a payment method that allows you to do so, even if it is Bitcoin)
What do you need to create a dropshipping store with WooCommerce?
Great, if you’re still here I’ve convinced you that WooCommerce is a great option for selling through dropshipping. So now let’s see how we do it and what you need.
Web hosting and a domain name
Your domain name is the permanent address of your online store. So choose something:
- That reflects your brand
- Easy to remember
Besides the domain name, you also need web hosting. That’s where your store will really work with WooCommerce, and that’s where you install WordPress.
Whether you’re just starting out or have an existing store, I recommend SiteGround for these reasons:
- They are cheap – you will pay less than $4 per month in the first year, and about $10 per month the other years.
- Superior performance – they help your pages load very quickly, which is vital for E-Commerce.
- Free SSL Certificates – an SSL certificate is absolutely essential for E-Commerce, and also helps keep your customer’s information safe and encrypted.
- They make it easy for you to install WordPress and WooCommerce – so you can start creating your store without any prior steps. It even has a specific plan for WooCommerce that starts with all the essentials already installed.
- The latest technologies – something very important is that they incorporate new web technologies before anyone else so that you always have the best hosting.
- Brilliant phone, chat and email support – if you have a problem they are available 24/7, just like your eCommerce.
Even if you don’t choose the WooCommerce plan, just by registering a web hosting on SiteGround you are given the option to install WordPress and WooCommerce, so you can start creating your dropshipping store in minutes.
WordPress and the WooCommerce Plugin
WordPress is free, open source software that you can download from WordPress.org. You can also download for free the WooCommerce plugin on WordPress.org.
However, you may not even have to install it yourself, because your hosting company, like SiteGround, can do it for you with one click.
A conversion/sales-oriented WordPress/WooCommerce theme
It’s something that many people tend to forget, and it’s vitally important, because the WordPress/WooCommerce theme is where your products will be displayed, it will be your showcase to sell online.
There are thousands of free themes that you can install from within WordPress, and many other premium themes for ridiculous costs. My advice is to work with a theme that includes a visual builder, or to install a plugin that adds it.
This way you won’t be dependent on a single design, which may not work over time or adapt to new client uses.
A visual builder such as Divi, Visual Composer and others allow you to design your store to get the best conversions/sales, being able to modify each of the elements and sections of your store at a click as you learn about your customer’s uses and what makes you sell more.
The one I don’t recommend is StoreFront, the one that recommends WooCommerce after its installation, because although visually it’s not bad, it doesn’t have a sales-oriented structure, but rather that you see the possibilities of WooCommerce, and here it’s all about selling.
Optional: A specific dropshipping plugin for WooCommerce
It is optional because it will really depend on the type of relationship you have with your supplier (we’ll see later).
If you are simply going to sell a few selected products from a single supplier you can use the normal WooCommerce functionality to manage your products.
However, if you want a larger catalog, an option used by some dropshipping stores is to purchase a plugin that allows you to connect directly to your suppliers of, for example, AliExpress.
But, since we haven’t talked about AliExpress or other possible dropshipping suppliers yet, I think it’s time to get on with it, don’t you?
How to find suppliers and products for dropshipping
The big stuff starts.
Since we are pretty clear about what we need and why, now it’s time to get serious and start preparing our dropshipping business.
And the first thing is to choose which products to sell, and which supplier we will use to deliver them to our customers.
What makes a product good for dropshipping?
Although you will see stores that sell a little bit of everything, the most successful dropshipping stores are those that focus on a specific product niche and focus their efforts on it.
So how do I choose a good niche? What makes a product good for dropshipping?
Basically, you have to look for products that:
- Are popular enough for people to look for, but not so popular that you are drowned out by the competition.
- Have a price that offers you a decent, reasonable margin.
Doesn’t it sound easy when you see a list of only 2 things to consider? But the reality is that it’s not that easy.
If this is your first dropshipping store, it is highly recommended that you try to sell what you already know, and although it is not a requirement that you know your niche, it will make everything easier, especially at the beginning.
When you know a niche you already know what others don’t offer, and that can help you decide which products to start selling, that people want.
Besides, there are also some tips and tricks to keep in mind…
Start by selling products that cost less than 200
When you are choosing products for dropshipping try to sell them for 200 or less. 200 is the top of most people’s range for what is called “impulse buying”, and that means easier sales.
It’s not hard to convince someone to spend 70, but spending 700 will take a little more time and effort.
Also, watch out for MAP (minimum advertised price) prices. Basically it means that if you choose a product with MAP prices, there will be a minimum price set by the manufacturer that you are not allowed to lower.
Be careful with the dimensions/weight of the product
Many products are going to be shipped from China, that’s for sure, which means shipping can take a while, and shipping costs can skyrocket if the products are large and/or heavy.
So if you are planning to look for Chinese product suppliers to do dropshipping (like AliExpress), your life will be more comfortable and easier if you focus on products that are not too big and heavy.
Some specific places to start looking
Given the above, here are some tricks that may help you find products to dropship:
- Browse Amazon for ideas. Amazon gets over 50% of all product searches, so it’s always a good place to see what people are interested in.
- Visit social shopping sites. Sites like Fab, Massdrop, Wish, etc. can help you discover products in trend.
- Do keyword searches. The old keyword research using tools like Keyword Planner and KWFinder can help you discover what products people are looking for in Google (put Amazon and Google together and you’ll have access to almost all product searches). Google Trends can also let you see how much demand there is over time.
Where can I find dropshipping suppliers for the products I have chosen?
Once you have found a product that you want to sell, it is time to find a RELIABLE dropshipping supplier that will serve you.
And these are some ways to find dropshipping suppliers:
- AliExpress – AliExpress is probably the best known source to find dropshipping suppliers. It allows you to connect with lots of Chinese suppliers directly. And you can also find dropshipping plugins for WooCommerce that make it easy to manage AliExpress products.
- SaleHoo – SaleHoo is a very interesting tool that can help you search for products. It also includes a large supplier directory that can help you with first contacts.
- Google – You can find suppliers on Google…but sometimes it will be complicated because there are many suppliers that don’t have much of an online presence of their own. The good part is that if you manage to find a supplier directly you will have an advantage over those who simply chose the first option in AliExpress.
- Worldwide Brands – is a veteran directory of global suppliers, the downside is that you have to pay $299 just to get in.
- Local Vendor Fairs – if you can travel, going to an industry fair is a great way to meet with manufacturers and suppliers.
- Other dropshipping stores – it can also be interesting to do some shopping at other dropshipping stores to meet their suppliers.
But how do I choose the supplier for my dropshipping?
Okay, you have found several possible suppliers but how do I know if they are reliable?
To begin with, watch out for the red flags. One thing to keep in mind is that a good supplier will not charge you fixed monthly fees, the normal thing to do is to charge a fixed fee per transaction/product/order…
It is also a fact that a good supplier usually has no problem sending you samples of their products (even if you have to pay something for it), quality photos and extensive documentation of them.
In fact, it is good to ask for samples, as it allows you to measure some details of how the supplier works:
- How long has it taken to ship, the whole process – the faster your supplier delivers the happier your customers will be.
- Product quality – a quality product will guarantee you happy customers and fewer refunds.
- Quality of the packaging – a point in favor of any supplier is how they take care of the packaging of the products, something that is increasingly important to customers (environmental criteria also add up)
- Fluid communications – as you create a relationship with the supplier, it is important that the lines of communication are fast and fluid, something that your customers will also appreciate.
Once you find the best possible supplier for the products you want to sell you are ready to start creating your dropshipping store with WooCommerce.
How to create your online dropshipping store with WooCommerce step by step
Once you are clear about everything we have seen before:
- What is dropshipping and how does it work
- Why WooCommerce is the best choice to make an online dropshipping store
- The basics of creating an online dropshipping store with WooCommerce
- How to find products and suppliers for dropshipping
We are now ready to create the online store.
Contract a hosting plan and install WooCommerce
In this guide we will see how it is done with SiteGround, but with other serious web hosting providers it should be, if not equally easy, at least similar.
Note: These first steps are for those who do not yet have hosting and domain, if you already have them you can go to the WooCommerce configuration.
So, having decided on a domain name, we will go to SiteGround’s website and choose a web hosting plan that suits our needs.
My advice is to start with the most basic and cheapest, it will be more than enough to get you started, and you can always migrate to a higher plan. In addition, all SiteGround plans have the necessary features that we discussed previously.
As you will see, there is a WooCommerce plan that would be the most suitable for you.
Then you have to choose the hosting plan, choose the Startup to begin, more than enough, totally complete, and very economical.
In the next step you choose the domain
Next you will be asked for the data for the hiring and when you finish filling in the data you will receive an email with your access data (remember to write down the chosen password, as it will not be sent by mail for security reasons)
Log in to the SiteGround user panel with your details and the first thing you will see is a warning that you need to configure your site. Follow the instructions.
One of the first things he asks you is if you want to install software, so choose WooCommerce and the installation will start automatically.
When the process is finished you will receive another email and you will be able to access your brand new online store created with WooCommerce active and waiting for your instructions.
When you log in, you will discover the new SiteGround startup panel, which is much more intuitive than the WordPress panel.
The first thing you will be asked is what theme you want to install, you can choose from several categories…
Below we also recommend some important plugins.
Install at least Jetpack, it is quite useful in general for WordPress. The store plugin will already be installed if you chose the WooCommerce plan, otherwise you can install it here.
You will also want to install the SEO plugin, in the following screen…
Now it just has to install everything we set before.
Configure WooCommerce, payment gateways, shipping options, etc
Once installed WooCommerce will run the Setup Wizard. The first 2 steps are pretty self-explanatory.
But in the third one is important to say that you will sell physical products so that it allows you to set shipping costs later.
And again the next steps are pretty easy to do. Simply don’t accept any recommendation with other programs or applications yet.
From here we go to the Home of WooCommerce. From here we can setup payments, taxes and shipping which are some of the important ones. You can also change them from Settings.
It is important, and recommended, to install Stripe and PayPal, which allow automatic order processing, as well as automatic refund management.
If, in addition, you plan to sell C.O.D., depending on the niche and agreements with your suppliers, check the option.
Then you return to the WooCommerce Home and set the taxes and shipping costs.
Now you can finally begin creating your products.
Add products for your dropshipping
If you add the products manually, doing so is as simple as creating a blog post in WordPress.
Just enter the title, description, a short description, add images and then specify the price and features of the product.
Once you have your first product create the next one and so on.
Another possibility is, if your dropshipping supplier has them, to import products from a CSV file.
If so, go to the WordPress desktop section called Products > All Products > Import.
The import wizard will guide you through creating products automatically from the supplier’s file.
Plugins for adding dropshipping products
In addition to the – more or less manual – methods above, you will also find plugins that make it easy to upload and update products from your dropshipping suppliers.
By far the best covered is AliExpress, for which you will find several plugins, both free and paid:
- woocommerce Dropshipping Aliexpress + Ebay + amazon + etsy (free) – allows you to import products from various dropshipping suppliers.
- DropshipMe (free) – allows you to import thousands of AliExpress products for dropshipping.
- Ryviu (free) – easy import of Amazon and AliExpress products.
- WooDropship (from $14.99) – professional import from AliExpress, the most popular plugin for dropshipping with AliExpress.
- AliDropship (89$) – dropshipping import plugin with AliExpress (lately there has been some controversy about this plugin, find out before you buy it)
In addition to these examples, always talk to your supplier, in case they have a direct connection from WooCommerce to your ordering system, so you don’t have to do it manually.
More important plugins and services for your dropshipping store
In addition to connecting to your dropshipping supplier, you will need some other plugins, namely
- Yoast SEO – to configure and optimize the SEO of your products.
- MailerLite – or any other newsletter creation service, with which to make promotional and sales campaigns.
- Recovery of abandoned carts – so you don’t lose a single sale.
- AMP – Google’s AMP technology offers super fast pages for mobile devices, something that is currently vital, since most of the web traffic is from cell phones.
How to promote the products of your dropshipping store
Once you have reliable suppliers, and have created your online dropshipping store with WordPress and WooCommerce comes the most important, and difficult part.
The harsh reality that no one tells you
The harsh, terrible reality is that your online dropshipping store will not sell anything if you don’t get your products to stand out from the same ones offered by other online stores, most of which are also dropshipping stores.
And to achieve this, the formula is to apply visibility, marketing and, above all, SEO strategies.
Some actions I recommend to get traffic and conversions for your dropshipping products are the following:
- Blog – since WordPress already has the blog functionality, take advantage of it and publish interesting articles that attract visitors to your online store, on topics related to your products – work on keywords related to your products, but without using exactly the same ones, use synonyms.
- Social networks – open social profiles of your business in the main networks where you can attract visits and achieve conversion.
- Newsletter – plan and launch promotional campaigns by email, make promotions, offer gifts, give discounts, whatever you can think of to generate activity and sales, is the most effective channel by far.
- Advertising – if your niche is very competitive you may have to make some investment in advertising media, mainly online, using the keywords and target audience of your dropshipping products.
- SEO – you will inevitably have to define and execute a positioning strategy, SEO of your dropshipping products to outperform your competitors in search engine results (SERPs) – it is especially important to analyze your competitors to offer better, more eye-catching headlines and descriptions that achieve higher CTRs (click through rates)
Should I start now?
I hope this guide has given you the keys and enough information to start your online dropshipping store with WordPress and WooCommerce.
However, like any other business model, dropshipping is not for everyone.
You must have a merchant soul, a commercial spirit, and marketing skills, or you will become overwhelmed, stressed, and abandoned before you can start making money from your dropshipping E-Commerce.
But if you are sure, if you are willing to take all the steps, you can forge a more than interesting business, with income far superior to any affiliation initiative or other types of online business in principle easier to implement.
Read this post in Spanish: Guía desde cero de dropshipping con WordPress y WooCommerce