What is Shopify dropshipping?
Thinking of setting up a Shopify dropshipping operation that's ready to deliver results? We're here for you! In this guide, we give you not only a list of the 10 best Shopify dropshipping apps available, but also a full ultimate guide on how to set up and run your dropshipping business on Shopify.
Choose your adventure:
What is dropshipping? 🤔
Once upon a time, running a business meant creating your own products from scratch, spending loads of upfront cash, and handling everything from shipping to packaging and customer support. That's changed quite a bit over the years, and one of the most popular trends out there is called dropshipping!
If you're unfamiliar with the selling tactic, it basically allows merchants to partner with a “dropshipper” or supplier, who creates and stores products, then ships them out to your customers after you've made sales on your website.
Here's the process visualized:
- What's unique about this whole purchasing sequence is that it all starts not by you acquiring the product from the supplier, but rather by the customer placing an order in your store and paying for it (1). In other words, in the dropshipping scenario, you get paid before you even have the product in store.
- Next, once you have the money, you pay the supplier and tell them to fulfill the order for you (2).
- The supplier handles the fulfillment all by themselves without you ever touching the product – it goes straight from the supplier to the customer (3). So, essentially, your only job is to run your website and work on marketing.
Where does Shopify come into the picture?
In short, your dropshipping store has to run on some online platform. Shopify is that online platform. In fact, it's the best ecommerce platform of them all.
We like Shopify as an ecommerce platform because of its affordability and the “everything in one place” interface. You receive access to beautiful design tools, thousands of apps, and payment processing settings that help you secure your transactions and expedite the checkout process. It's also one of the best platforms for creating a dropshipping business.
Seeing as how this is so intriguing to new online small businesses and even large companies, we want to outline some of the best Shopify dropshipping apps to start you on the right path. Shopify has dozens of such apps, some of which provide diverse product selections, and others that focus on one or two types of products.
The best Shopify dropshipping apps available ⭐
Let's start with some background info that you should know before diving into the wide world of Shopify dropshipping apps.
What to look for (and avoid) when picking the best Shopify dropshipping apps
Not all dropshipping apps are created equal. In fact, the dropshipping industry has plenty of downsides, especially if you partner with the wrong supplier or app.
Here's what to look out for:
- 🛍️ The best Shopify dropshipping apps let you choose products directly from Shopify or instantly sync your chosen products with your shop.
- 🌟 Look for apps that curate high-quality suppliers. This involves some research, but you can usually find ratings and reviews on the suppliers.
- ⌛ A big problem with dropshipping is longer shipping times. Look for the best apps, with suppliers from all over the world (or at least near where your customers are) that have good product reviews. For instance, a merchant based in Chicago would benefit from finding suppliers in the US. Otherwise, your customers will potentially wait a month to receive deliveries from places like Vietnam and China.
- 💸 Another difficulty with dropshipping is keeping prices low but profit margins to a point where you can still make money. Since you're not handling shipping or storage, dropshippers tend to charge you more than wholesale pricing. The key here is to research suppliers on each app to see if you can actually make a profit without gouging your customers.
- ❤️ Does the dropshipping app provide great customer support? You'll definitely need it if a customer is angry with you or if people start making returns.
- 🔬 Are you able to get product samples? This is one of the only ways to maintain quality control with dropshipping.
- 📛 Are you able to put your own branding on the packaging? You don't want for your products to end up getting shipped without any of your branding on the box. This will be confusing to the customers since they won't recognize the foreign sounding names on the package. They might not even accept an alien package like that.
With that out of the way, here's your list of the best Shopify dropshipping apps:
Oberlo is probably the most popular of all Shopify dropshipping apps. The reason for this is because Oberlo (read our full Oberlo review) was one of the first to implement a system that automatically syncs products, order tracking and product information with your Shopify store.
Because of the major success of Oberlo, Shopify now includes it with new stores, without even having to install the app yourself!
In the past, I have always liked the functionality of Oberlo's. The only problem I had was how you were forced to work through AliExpress, which is known for long shipping times to many locations. However, Oberlo has added more dropshipping suppliers from around the world to mitigate this problem.
Overall, you can browse through a vast catalog of new products in different categories. You can select where you want to ship the products, so you don't have to worry about any such problems later on.
With each product listing, you also get info on the number of stores currently offering it, and even the number of orders of the product through other Oberlo-enabled stores. This gives you great leverage and a tool to only pick the products that actually sell.
What makes Oberlo one of the best Shopify dropshipping apps?
- You can search for products from many suppliers. Oberlo has one of the largest selections of items on the web.
- Once you find the products you like, Oberlo instantly syncs the information to your store.
- All items remain up-to-date in your store. So if a product is out of stock, your customers won't end up buying it.
- Oberlo offers a Free Starter Plan, making it easy for dropshippers without much upfront capital.
- When adding products, you get info on the number of sales and general popularity of the product in question.
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Most of the suppliers come from Europe and the US, so it's great for merchants based in those parts of the globe.
This makes Spocket a great tool if you want to build a Shopify dropshipping store but still keep it fairly local and not have packages be sent from China, but instead support suppliers from Europe or the US.
What makes Spocket one of the best Shopify dropshipping apps?
- You get to work with European and US manufacturers, so the shipping is generally faster for stores located there.
- The Spocket pricing is some of the most competitive of all apps on this list. The average discount for merchants is 45%, giving you plenty of room for your margins.
- Your company branding is added to all receipts and invoices that go out. It's not exactly the same as a logo on the packaging, but it's better than nothing.
- The real-time shipment tracking keeps your customers in the loop.
- Since the products mainly come from the US, Canada, and Europe, we've noticed they're often higher quality in general.
- Spocket has options for testing out products before putting them on your website.
Printful (read our full Printful review) offers you a different kind of a dropshipping setup. Whereas the other apps on this list offer a large selection of suppliers to choose from, and thus populate your store with a bigger number of different products, Printful is your go-to “print on demand” dropshipper.
Printful combines custom printing and dropshipping so that you can sell anything from posters to t-shirts, and pillows to mugs. The great part about Printful is that it has an ever-growing collection of quality products, and the design module is well-structured for you to upload your designs and start selling them on Shopify.
All you need to do to use Printful is select the products that you want to sell and upload your designs. Whenever anyone orders from you, Printful will handle the printing and delivery.
And just to make sure we're clear here, Printful is about a lot more than just t-shirts. You can also sell custom fanny packs, phone cases, backpacks, stickers, bags, flip-flops, swimwear, posters, coffee mugs, and a lot more.
What makes Printful one of the best Shopify dropshipping apps?
- The printing and dropshipping is all handled for you. You do have to design your products, but the graphic uploading tools are easy to use.
- Printful provides thousands of products in its library, making it easy to sell custom and branded items.
- Printful has several locations, including California and North Carolina. Therefore, you're able to get your products shipped to customers in a reasonable time frame.
- You don't pay anything for Printful upfront. Each item in the catalog has its own price, and then you get to set your own retail price tag on top of that. How much you earn is entirely up to you. Plus, as a result of this ecommerce business model, you don't have to spend anything before you actually start making money.
SMAR7 Express offers very good integration with AliExpress, allowing you to import products with just one click. These imports include product descriptions, images, and variants. Then, you can also fulfill your orders in a similarly simple fashion – one click and the order is on its way to the customer.
In addition, you can ask SMAR7 Express to find suppliers for current products you have in your store already. In this situation, you might decide that you'll make more money not storing or shipping the item as you've done before.
What makes SMAR7 Express one of the best Shopify dropshipping apps?
- SMAR7 Express has an extremely smooth integration process with Shopify. You link up to AliExpress and instantly transfer items you like into your store.
- You have the option to take your previously listed products and get them fulfilled by a supplier. This is completely unique to SMAR7 Express.
- Although most of the AliExpress suppliers are in Southeast Asia, SMAR7 Express still tries to improve shipping times by using the ePacket shipping option.
The primary difference is how Modalyst focuses on providing access to name brand suppliers like Calvin Klein, Timberland, and Puma. Yes, the pricing is much higher than the average Chinese supplier, but you're able to offer the best possible products to your customers. And, if you put in the research, we've found that you can locate many decent items with great margins.
In fact, Modalyst offers a whole curated catalog of suppliers from the US and Europe. Those are products that you're not going to find with any of the other dropshipping apps.
You can also communicate with your suppliers directly and thus build a better relationship with them.
What makes Modalyst one of the best Shopify dropshipping apps?
- Modalyst primarily dropships name brand products, so your customers don't get stuck with questionable items from random suppliers.
- There are also independent brands that you can partner with, which is a great way to boost margins (since the perceived value of these products is higher).
- The shipping is faster than most dropshipping apps. You also get free shipping to the United States, since most of the dropshippers are from the US.
- Modalyst provides an excellent tool for pricing rules. It helps with automatically setting and changing prices based on how much profit you'd like to make.
- Has a free plan for up to 25 products per month.
In fact, over 20 different ecommerce platforms are supported, giving you more flexibility and reach with your customers.
Inventory Source gives you access to more than 180 pre-integrated suppliers (also from the US) and also allows you to add your own suppliers.
All product data is automatically uploaded, and connected to inventory syncing. Then, you can manage your catalog using Inventory Source's cataloging and customization tools.
Another great thing about Inventory Source is that they don't charge any middleman fees. All you pay is for the monthly subscription to Inventory Source. The product prices that you get come from the suppliers directly.
What makes Inventory Source one of the best Shopify dropshipping apps?
- The dropshipping network from Inventory Source has over 180 suppliers with dozens of categories for you to choose from.
- The automation tools and management areas are fairly easy to understand and move around in.
- Inventory Source has a free account with access to all suppliers and niches.
- You can even add custom or private integrations if you upgrade to one of the paid plans.
- The customer support is willing to work with you on many facets of your ecommerce business, including backorders and returns.
Printify (read our full Printify review) is an alternative to Printful. From your customer's point of view, they deliver a very similar product – shirts, accessories, mugs, phone cases, and other items with your designs on them.
Printify connects you to a network of 90+ print providers, and there are 200+ different items to choose from in total. Apart from selling via Shopify, you can also offer your products via Etsy and WooCommerce, with eBay support coming soon.
If you plan on selling custom printed products and dropshipping them, we would recommend trying out both Printful and Printify to see which one gives you better returns and more sales. Neither company will hold your business hostage, so you can test them out for a period of time before making a final decision.
That being said, Printify does come with both free and paid plans. So it's not just the product fee that you have to pay when selling (Printful doesn't have any subscription fees).
What makes Printify one of the best Shopify dropshipping apps?
- You get to choose from over 200 custom products on Printify.
- Printify has a large network of printers so that you're always getting the highest quality products.
- You're able to put your own branding on the packaging.
- The mockup generator is simple to understand and upload your own designs.
- You can also integrate your products with Etsy and WooCommerce.
The Spreadr App takes an interesting approach to dropshipping. Instead of letting you connect with different suppliers and import their products to your Shopify store, Spreadr only links you directly to Amazon and lets you list products as an affiliate.
The difference here is that you're not as much working with suppliers but rather promote their products on your store for a small cut – a commission.
To make it all work, you first have to sign up to Amazon's affiliate program. The typical commission level is at 4%.
While Spreadr does indeed offer a more classic dropshipping setup as well – where you can collect orders in your store and have them fulfilled by Amazon suppliers – that is probably not the most optimized type of a dropshipping business setup. You're better off using other apps for that.
What makes Spreadr one of the best Shopify dropshipping apps?
- The app gives you a unique opportunity to view items that are already selling well on Amazon.
- There's a quick import tool, where you can search on Amazon and instantly add products to your store for selling.
- Dropshipping is allowed, but you can also decide to simply take an affiliate commission if you'd like.
We have a love/hate relationship with Gooten. On the one hand, it has by far the largest selection of custom products for you to sell in your Shopify dropshipping store. It's all custom, so you're able to find and design more unique things like totes, phone cases, and more. It's better than Printify and Printful in terms of the selection. However, these products come from a wide range of printers, so if your customer adds five items from five different printers, they receive five boxes, and have to pay for shipping on all of them separately.
That being said, the product catalog is really impressive, with a lot of unique items in it. For example, you can sell things like baby towels, bed comforters, printed canvas, notebooks, journals, travel bags, and, of course, the obvious stuff like t-shirts and mugs.
Just like with Printful, you pay only for the products themselves and there are no monthly fees involved.
What makes Gooten one of the best Shopify dropshipping apps?
- You receive custom printing and dropshipping all in one package.
- The collection of products is impressive, and the product categories are unique.
- Monitoring orders is easy for both the customer and merchant.
- The company is located in New York City, so you should be able to expect faster shipping in the United States.
- The app is completely free to install, so you only pay for when you make a sale.
Dripshipper is a very niche Shopify dropshipping app. Where most of the other apps on this list allow you to select from a number of categories, Dripshipper is for coffee only.
This means exactly what you're thinking, yes, you can sell your own branded coffee with your own logo on it. Ever wanted to be a coffee mogul? Here's your chance.
All jokes aside, Dripshipper has very good reviews and the app has a strong following of users. It seems that if you want to dropship coffee via Shopify then Dripshipper is the way to do it.
The app lets you design your own coffee and coffee packaging, along with the labels and other information on the package. The orders are then shipped out to your customers when you make a sale.
What makes Dripshipper one of the best Shopify dropshipping apps?
- It's hyper niche – your perfect dropshipping app if you want to enter the coffee business.
- The shipping time is within three days for US customers.
- You only have to focus on one niche, so your product management is easier to understand.
- The packaging and coffee design tools are sleek and easy to understand.
- Everything on your coffee is branded to your company.
- There's a free 14-day trial.
🏆 Which of these best Shopify dropshipping apps is the one for you?
This all depends on your needs. But here are some scenarios along with their best dropshipping option in our opinion:
- If you want to sell items worldwide with access to a wide catalog of suppliers, your best bet is likely going to be Oberlo. No matter if you want to sell just one type of products or a wider selection of them, you'll have no problem finding your suppliers on Oberlo.
- If you want to sell items coming from suppliers from the US or Europe, try out Spocket.
- If you want to sell products by name brand suppliers, try out Modalyst.
- For print-on-demand goods, go for either Printful, Printify, or Gooten.
- Want to get started quickly and sell Amazon products? Go with Spreadr, but this will be an affiliate arrangement rather than dropshipping.
- Lastly, if you want to sell coffee, Dripshipper!
With the apps out of the way, let's now talk about how to actually go about building your own Shopify dropshipping store.
🔨 How to set up a dropshipping store with Shopify step by step
Having picked your ideal tool from above, you can now finally start building your dream dropshipping store. There are a couple of steps to getting that done. We'll go over them one by one.
Here's the overview:
- Understanding how all the tools fit together
- Picking a niche and target market
- Choosing a name for your store
- Signing up to Shopify and setting the basics up, connecting a domain name
- Installing your dropshipping app and setting it up
- Picking products that actually sell
- Adding products to your store
- Working on the store's design and catering to your ideal customer
- Creating must-have pages for your ecommerce website
- Fine-tuning store navigation
- Setting up payments
- Launching the store to the public and testing if everything works
1. Understanding how all the tools fit together
Technically speaking, a dropshipping ecommerce store works just like any other ecommerce store, with the main difference being that when an order comes in, it gets transferred immediately to your supplier instead of having to be dealt with by you personally.
That being said, this all might sound not specific enough to truly understand what a dropshipping store looks like behind the curtains. So let's just discuss the key elements here briefly. This will help us feel more comfortable with the store later on.
There are five main elements of a Shopify dropshipping store:
- Shopify itself. It's the main platform that makes your ecommerce operations possible. Shopify is the tool that allows your store to exist online and your customers to find it. Think of it as your store's operating system. In other words, your iPhone has the iOS, and your ecommerce store has Shopify.
- A dropshipping app. We've listed the best Shopify dropshipping apps above. A dropshipping app is responsible for “taking” products from the supplier and allowing you to import them to your store and list them for sale.
- Payment processing. This is what makes your operation possible from a money-collecting point of view. Payment processing isn't always an integral part of Shopify since it depends on the dropshipping app that you choose and the model of payments used by that app.
- Suppliers. Your suppliers connect to you via the dropshipping app. In most cases, you don't need to be in direct contact with your suppliers outside of the dropshipping environment.
- Products. You don't hold products in your inventory, but just import product listings to your store. Those listings come from the suppliers, but they're brought in by the dropshipping app.
Here's how all these elements fit together:
You don't need to be an expert about all this stuff, but the point here is just to have a general understanding of how the dropshipping setup is run in practice.
With that, we can move on to the fun stuff:
2. Picking a general niche and target market so you can start dropshipping
The first real step when building a Shopify dropshipping store is figuring out what it is that you're actually going to sell – as in, picking a niche.
There are a couple of ways to approach this challenge. Some dropshippers go by their gut feeling and simply start looking into whatever niche seems interesting to them personally. Others turn to good ol' market research and base their decision on that primarily.
The best of both worlds is to do something in between. Start with your seed idea and then grow it into a fully-fledged dropshipping business model with research.
Here's how to do that:
First off, decide on the general market that you want to tackle. This can be as general as clothing, electronics, home improvement, software, apps, sports, video games, beauty and personal care, etc.
We're doing this for a couple of reasons.
- First, it's from where we'll narrow things down using a couple of handy online research tools.
- Second, our choice of niche will define the specific Shopify dropshipping apps that we're going to use later on (if you haven't picked it yet looking at the list of the top such apps above).
Just to give you an example, my seed niche is personal electronics. I can take that niche and use it as a seed keyword in KWFinder. KWFinder is a cool tool that takes whatever phrase you put in and gives you various related keywords along with a handful of metrics describing how viable those keywords are. KWFinder is a premium tool, but it does offer a free trial to test things out. Once I input “personal electronics” into the box, KWFinder shows me a whole set of related terms:
What you see in the “Search” column is the popularity of a given keyword. The numbers represent the average monthly search volume for the keyword. Although you will get a different recommendation from every expert, I would say that a viable niche starts at 10,000 monthly searches.
As you can see, my “personal electronics” term isn't very popular. But we can browse through the list to find something better. One interesting keyword that's on the list is “best electronic gadgets.” When I click on it, the search gets redone and I now see the numbers for that new keyword. Doing this a couple of times – going from one keyword to the other and looking at the numbers – I arrived at an interesting term, “gadgets for men.”
This looks like a promising term, especially considering that it's also easy to rank for, according to KWFinder – you can see the keyword difficulty level in the image above.
Now let's take that prospective niche and run it through another tool, Google Trends. This one tells you the popularity of a given term over time. Essentially, you don't want to enter a niche that's on the downstream. You want to enter something that's either rising or has a strong, steady stream of interested people. This is what Google Trends shows me when I look up “gadgets for men” and set the chart to show me the last five years:
As you can see, it's a strong niche that peaks around the holidays, which makes sense. This only means that it's indeed a buyer's niche since people are looking for gift ideas when it's the right time of the year.
Building a store in that niche can be a good idea.
Now, what you saw above is just an example. You can do similar research for any niche and market. The steps are the same:
- Start with a seed term and run it through KWFinder.
- Find relevant terms to narrow down on a viable niche that has at least 10,000 searches a month.
- Check the trends and see if the interest is steady through the last five years.
But hold on, that's not all!
The next step is looking for some competition.
The rule is simple; if there's no competition in the niche then there's no niche. 🤷♂️
Some competition is always a good sign. It means that there indeed is money to be made and that people are genuinely interested in buying.
Looking for the competition is simple, just google the term that's associated with the niche the most. In my case, the “gadgets for men” phrase returns a lot of pages that list various gadgets and link to Amazon and other stores (like Firebox.com) where one can purchase them. This is good.
3. Choosing a name for your Shopify store
With the niche out of the way, we can now begin thinking of how you're going to name your Shopify dropshipping store.
A popular and trendy way to go about picking a name is to combine part of your main keyword with a unique word or phrase.
For example, for the “gadgets for men” niche, I could go with names like:
- Gadget Zone
- Gadget Court
- Epic Gadgets
And so on. However, instead of leaving all this to brainstorming, you can help yourself to some tools. Specifically, Shopify has its own tool that can help you pick a name. It's simply called the Business Name Generator.
Enter part of your niche keyword and see what comes up. If you like any of the options, you can click on the arrow icon next to a given suggestion and go straight to building your Shopify store using that name.
But before we do that, it's also a good idea to make sure that the name you've picked for your store is available for domain name registration. Shopify's Business Name Generator doesn't give you that info, so you have to go somewhere else to get it.
Namecheap is a good place for that. Namecheap is a domain registrar, which means that it can register domain names on your behalf. However, we're not going to be using it to register a domain name, but just to check if the name is available. Therefore, enter your desired domain name into the field and see what comes up. If the
.com is available, you'll see this:
Note; you should generally always get a
.com domain instead of any of the less popular domain extensions (like
.org, or others).
Now that you know that the domain name you want is available, you can go back to Shopify and start building your dropshipping store.
4. Signing up to Shopify
No matter if you begin creating a new store by using Shopify's Business Name Generator or simply click on the “Start free trial” button on the Shopify homepage, the process is the same:
First, you need to provide your email address, password, and store name (if you come here through the Business Name Generator then the name will already be there).
Shopify will then take you through the basics, such as asking you about the purpose of your store, what you want to sell, and etc. After that, you'll be taken straight to the main Shopify dashboard.
⚠️ Note; don't forget to confirm your email. Shopify will send you a confirmation with a link to click.
Basic Shopify settings
The first thing to do is go into the settings and handle the basic details. The settings icon is in the bottom left.
Once there, you get a selection of options to choose from:
The first section to look into is labeled General. You'll find all sorts of your personal info there – the info that you entered during sign up. No need to go over that stuff once more. You can just scroll down to the section labeled Standards and formats.
If you operate out of another location than where your target market is, then the timezone settings and unit systems might not be set correctly. Adjust those settings to what you want.
Also, take a look at what's in the next section, Store currency. This might also not be what you want. Adjust if needed.
Click on the Save button when done.
The next page in the main Settings panel is called Taxes. As you would expect, this one is not fun. However, Shopify does attempt to make things easier on you by pre-filling these settings based on your location. Take a look there and if anything is not correct, check with your local authorities or accountant.
The rest of the pages in the Settings panel are not that important right now. We'll come back to them later on. Still, you can browse through them briefly just to see what's there.
Adding a domain name
Now is the time to register a domain name and connect it with your store.
Go back to the Shopify dashboard and click on the Add domain section in the central block, then click on the Add domain button.
You'll be taken to a different panel where you can buy a domain name straight from Shopify. It's much easier to get your domain from Shopify than to go back to Namecheap and buy it there.
Click on the Buy new domain button to continue. When you enter your desired name, you'll see it on the list of available domains. Click on the Buy button next to the domain and go through the steps to finalize the process.
When done, your domain is going to be hooked up to your store automatically.
5. Installing a Shopify dropshipping app
We've spent a lot of time going over the top dropshipping apps available for Shopify in this guide already, so you probably have a pretty good idea as to which one is going to be the best for your market and the products that you want to sell.
For this guide, I'm going to be using Oberlo. The Oberlo app is one of the most popular Shopify dropshipping apps out there, so there's a high likelihood that most readers will want to use that app as well.
Regardless, no matter which app you want to use, the installation process is the same, and the usage later on is also similar, so you'll be able to figure it out.
To install any app, click on Apps from the Shopify sidebar.
It just so happens that Oberlo is among the best Shopify apps, so you'll see it right there on the main list. If your desired app is not there, click on the Visit the Shopify App Store button to find it.
Once you're on the app's page, click on the Add app button.
You might need to provide your store's web address before you can continue.
Shopify will list all the specifics of the Oberlo integration and what this new app is going to be able to do with your Shopify account.
Click on Install App to finalize the install.
At this stage, you'll be taken to Oberlo.com to complete the setup. Getting this done is a four-step process. You already have step one taken care of – signing up to Shopify.
Step two is finding products to sell, which we'll discuss next:
6. Picking products to dropship that actually sell
Finding products can be tricky. While finding any ol' products is very easy to do with Oberlo, finding products that are actually going to sell requires some additional steps.
Even though you're not holding inventory, you still want to be offering only the top products in the market. That way, you're building your brand and showing customers that you have only the best stuff. This also makes it easier to cross-sell – recommend other products based on what the person is browsing.
To get some valuable market research done, it's best to head back to Google and search using your main phrase again.
In my case, looking through various lists of gadgets for men, it seems that the kinds of things that are really popular are:
- VR headsets
- power tools
- Amazon Echo Dots
- cameras of all kinds (including motion detection cameras, and dash cams)
- various creative bottle openers (like this Thor's one)
- espresso makers
- 3d printers
- survival gear (like this survival bracelet)
- beard care products
- headphones and audio gear
According to my quick research, the brand name doesn't play such a huge factor with these products – unless you're dealing with specific products such as the Amazon Echo, etc. For the most part, if a product looks legit and has the right specs, it will sell.
You should do similar research in your niche. First, look through your competitors' stores and see what sales best (their bestsellers lists). Also go to Google and look for popular articles featuring lists of “best products” in your niche. It's most likely that those are the products that will give you the best results.
Taking a peek into Oberlo's marketplace, and look for trending products.
As you're doing this, you can also narrow down on a sub-niche if it makes sense. For example, selling “all leggings” can be a tough niche to enter. But selling “L-XXL leggings” is a nice sub-niche that should be easier to cover.
In my case, I could tackle “tech gadgets for men” to narrow down the niche.
Either way, compile a list of the kinds of products that are the most likely to sell in your niche. Note down specific product links as well. Later on, you might be able to contact the same supplier and get the same products in your store, or at least find similar products.
7. Adding products to your store via a Shopify dropshipping app
With the research done, go to the Oberlo dashboard at Oberlo.com. Click on the Explore Products button.
What you'll see is a vast product directory with a lot of items to choose from. With your list at hand, use the search feature to find the products that you want to offer in your store.
You'll quickly see that there's a lot to choose from, and making a decision which products to actually pick can be difficult. But the Oberlo app wants to make this easier for you, so you get some cool extra tools that will come in handy.
First, from the dropdown on the left, pick a shipping destination. This has to be the country where your target market is, rather than your own location (if they're different).
Next, each product listing gets a note on the number of times the product has been imported to Oberlo-enabled stores, the number of pageviews it got, and the number of orders it generated.
You can also sort the list according to that number of sales. Just edit what's in the Sort by dropdown.
In my example, this is the top-selling drone:
Before I would import it into a real store, I'd go online to look for reviews and also browse through the reviews of the drone directly on AliExpress. You don't want to be offering products that are duds.
Also, check the shipping details of the products to make sure that the delivery times and pricing make sense.
Once you have an overview of what the manufacturer prices of the products are, you can begin importing them, but first, you should set your own pricing rules.
By default, Oberlo doubles the price of products on import. This means that if you see a product that's listed at $20, it's going to be $40 in your store once imported. This may or may not be what you want. Here's some more info on pricing strategies from Oberlo docs. To change these settings, from the Oberlo sidebar, go to Settings and then Global Pricing Rules.
Once this due diligence is done, you can click on the product listing to add it to your store. When on the product page in Oberlo, click on Add to Import List.
Following the same process, add your desired products to the import list one by one. For the purpose of this guide, I'll just stick with two products.
From the sidebar in the Oberlo dashboard, click on Import List. Go through your products individually, adjust the names, the descriptions, pick which images you want to import, and even add more product variants. The names and descriptions you can adjust later on in Shopify as well, so no need to stress about it too much here.
If you like what you see, click on the Import to store button next to each product. When the import completes, you'll be able to come back to Shopify to edit product details.
Editing product details
All the products that you've imported from Oberlo are going to be visible in the products section in Shopify.
Click on each product one by one to edit it.
As you'll see, the default descriptions are very basic, and you'll always want to adapt those to fit your niche and the angle you're taking in it. Writing sales copy is a huge topic on its own, so we're not going to get into it here, but you can find quality information online.
For each product, you can also add your own images and edit any other aspect of the product.
Another thing you can do is adjust the price of the products one by one. Just remember not to go below the actual cost of the product from the supplier.
Lastly, grouping products into categories, collections, and assigning tags to them can go a long way in terms of making navigating around the store easier for customers.
- Use categories to group the individual types of products that you offer; for me, those can be things like drones, cameras, coffee gear, printers, etc.
- Use tags to highlight individual features of the product; for example, you can use tags to indicate color options, sizes, whether a product is suitable for kids, etc.
- Use collections to group products that fall together nicely into a whatever theme.
Let's discuss that last thing a bit more – the collections. Think of collections as product bundles that go well together for one reason or the other. For instance, you can create a collection of products and title it “perfect holiday gifts for dad.” Or, “gear to take camping.”
Collections give you full freedom as to how you want to group products together.
You can create new collections by going to Products → Collections from the Shopify sidebar. Then click on Create collection and pick the products to include.
When it comes to categories and tags, you can assign them when editing products individually.
To help yourself figure this out, you can, again, take a look at what your competitors are doing and the collections/categories/tags they have in their stores.
8. Working on the store's design
With the products imported, you should now spend some time working on the design of your dropshipping ecommerce store. Right now, it's very plain-looking and won't attract much attention from customers.
Luckily, Shopify does offer a lot of options in terms of designs; and the process of getting those designs enabled is very user-friendly, too.
To begin, from the sidebar menu in the Shopify dashboard, go to Online Store → Themes. In the Theme library section, you can enter either the free themes catalog or go into the Shopify theme store for more premium selections. We're going to go with free for now.
When picking your design, again, do some research on what sort of design your competitors are using vs what you think can work in your niche – in a way that would cater well to your customer base.
Installing a theme is simple. Just click on the listing and then on the Add to theme library button.
You'll see the theme in the Theme Library section.
Click on Customize next to the theme's name. You'll see the main customization interface:
The way you use it is by selecting a section from the sidebar, adjusting the options, and then admiring the effect inside the main preview block.
The sections you can see in the sidebar correspond to the elements on the homepage. You can add new sections freely, as well as edit the existing ones or delete them.
It's best to proceed through the customization from top to bottom.
Start with the header. Add a logo if you have one already. If not, you can use one of the tools from Shopify's family called Hatchful. You can also realign the header if you want to.
After that, things like how you're going to proceed through the sections and what content you'll include on the page are up to you. It's generally a good idea to start the page off with some nice, wide image, then showcase your top products, and, finally, say something about your store further down. Albeit that's just the simplest layout. The more you work on something original for your store, the better your results will be.
Using Shopify's interface itself is very intuitive, so you shouldn't have any problems of technical nature. You can edit all texts pretty naturally, and you can also adjust the fonts, sizes, and upload images to use on the site.
When you're done, click on the main Publish button in the top right. With relatively little effort, you can make the homepage of your dropshipping store much more friendly.
9. Creating must-have pages
Every ecommerce store – including dropshipping stores – needs a set of pages that will help build trust and answer customer questions.
Most commonly, you'll need:
- about page – it's where you tell the story of your store, why you created it, and what it offers
- contact page – to let people reach you directly via a contact form
- FAQ – where you answer common questions
- shipping – the shipping rules
Luckily, Shopify will provide you with templates for some of these pages. Go back to your Shopify dashboard, and into Settings → Legal.
To fast-track, go through the pages and click on Create from template under each of them. Adjust the contents of the templates to make sure that they reflect your policies. Click on Save when done.
As for all the other pages, you'll have to create them by hand. But don't worry, that's not very hard. Go back to the Shopify dashboard and into Online Store → Pages. Click on Add page.
You'll see an editing panel where you can enter your page's content. The interface is intuitive, so you shouldn't experience any trouble.
As you can see, Shopify does offer you all of the common text editing features like text bolding, italics, and you can also add images and even videos.
When you're done crafting the page, don't forget to adjust the search engine listing info. You can find the section for that below the main page content area.
When done, click on the main Save button that's in the top right.
Proceed like this to create all the pages you need – your about page, FAQ, and so on. With one distinction, though. When working on your contact page, take a look into the right sidebar, and under the Template section, change the Template suffix parameter to
page.contact. When you do this, Shopify will add a functional contact form at the bottom of your contact page automatically.
Go through your list of must-have pages one by one until you have all of them created.
10. Fine-tuning store navigation
With the pages done and the products added to your database, it's a good moment to work on your website navigation.
At this stage, there isn't much done in terms of navigation in your store at all. Basically, all you have is a homepage and some links to your products. We're going to improve on that now.
The main task of good website navigation – and ecommerce store navigation as well – is to get people to what they're looking for as quickly as possible.
In other words, you want to make it easier for people to get to your products, and to also be able to access all the other purchase-related info that they might be interested in along the way. To achieve this, we're going to use two menus:
- the main header menu
- the footer menu
The main header menu is where the most important pages of your store should be.
In most cases, those pages are your homepage, the store catalog, the search feature, the shopping cart, and optionally some of your best product collections.
Please notice that the top menu isn't the best place for an about page, contact page, and so on. We don't want to get people distracted from their main task – buying! In the footer menu is exactly where we're going to place all those additional pages.
How to edit menus in Shopify
By default, Shopify already gives you two pre-made menus – one in the header and one in the footer. All you have to do is adjust what's in them.
Go to your Shopify dashboard and then to Online Store → Navigation.
From there, select the Main menu to begin editing it. At the moment, there's only your homepage and product catalog links in the menu. This setup is good enough for many stores, but if you want to expand the menu, you can add your product categories there or some of your product collections.
Click on Add menu item. Click into the Link field and, from the dropdown, select the page that you want to link up. For example, first click on Collections and then select the collection that you want to add.
When done, click on Save menu. When you refresh your homepage now, you'll see the effects of these changes.
As you can see, the links to the shopping cart and the search feature are already there, so no need to add those manually.
Next, the footer menu. Come back to Online Store → Navigation and, this time, click on the Footer menu link.
By default, the only link in the menu is pointing to your store's search page. Let's add more! Specifically, let's add all the other pages you have in the store. Again, to begin, click on Add menu item.
From the dropdown, click on Pages and then select the pages that you want to add. Repeat one by one until you have all your pages added.
The last thing to add are your store policy pages. Those work a tiny bit differently. Click on Add menu item again, and from the dropdown, select Policies. Then, go through your policy pages (terms, refunds, privacy, etc.), and add them to the menu individually.
When done, click on the Save menu button at the bottom. Go back to your homepage and refresh the page. You should see your updated footer menu there.
11. Setting up payments for your Shopify dropshipping apps
At this stage, your store is very much set up for operation, with just one exception, you haven't set any payment methods yet. Let's do that now. Go to your main Shopify settings panel and then to Payment providers.
You'll see that Shopify connects your store with PayPal Express Checkout right out the gate. So it technically does work. However, it might not be the optimal setup yet. For instance, by default, all payments are going to be associated with the email address that you used when registering with Shopify. This might not be what you want. You probably have your PayPal running on a different email.
To change that email, you first need to click on the Deactivate PayPal Express Checkout button, and then activate it back again, but this time PayPal will ask for the email address that you want to use.
Further, Shopify lets you work with a wide selection of third-party payment providers. You can give them a look if you have a preference. Click on Choose third-party provider to begin.
Shopify will also enable their own internal Shopify Payments module as soon as you complete your account setup and provide them with additional verification details.
12. Testing if everything works
The last task on your to-do list is to make sure that everything works as planned and that the orders can actually come in.
To start with, go through all your pages and make sure that they look like they should. Also, check if the product listings look correctly and if the whole site is accessible via mobile devices.
Lastly, you'll need to check if the orders are coming in and the payments are being processed.
There's just one problem; keep in mind that while Shopify does offer you a free 14 day trial to test out your store, set things up and make sure things look proper, you can't actually sell anything to real people. To make your store fully functional, you have to upgrade to one of Shopify's paid plans.
Once you do that, your orders will be “turned on.”
Do some dummy shopping in your store to check if the orders are coming in correctly. To check the payments, you can go back to the payment settings and in the third-party providers section, add a payment method called Bogus Gateway. This one is for testing only and will simulate a successful payment being made. Don't forget to disable it once the testing is done!
The way things work with Shopify and Oberlo is that every new order you get, you'll first see in the Oberlo interface. From there, you will need to request the products from the dropshipping suppliers to get the order fulfilled. You can also manage the orders in the Shopify dashboard.
Ready to Start Your Shopify Dropshipping Business?
If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about running and promoting your store later on, check out some of the other guides on this site.
Particularly, you should give these a read: