February 9, 2018

How to Start a Dropshipping Business: Starting an Online Store with Dropshipping

What do you need for a dropshipping business start? Right, you need a store with products to sell. So, in this very post, you'll see steps how to do it from zero. As a bonus, we included 9 tips for you.

To start a dropshipping business you need to make the following steps:
  1. Decide what to sell
  2. Launch a store
  3. Promote products
  4. Dropship

How to Start a Dropshipping Business: Decide What to Sell

Previously, we shared a guide how to find dropshipping niche ideas where we described in detail how to choose a specific niche and where to find the best products to sell online. In this article we won't tell it again, we'll do better and apply to the source which collects ready niche ideas. It's called "Niche business ideas".

This source includes profitable niches for dropshipping as market research has already made. What makes it even more valuable is that niche ideas have 9 best-selling products within the niches.
What is "Niche business idea" and why use it
Niche business ideas are all-in-one solutions with ingredients required: (1) profitable niches, (2) each niche has 9 best-selling products, (3) ready Facebook parameters. First of all, they are helpful for beginners who start dropshipping business.

How to Start a Dropshipping Business: Launch a Store

Building a dropshipping store seems to be a very complicated and hard task for the beginners who are not experienced in webmastering and have no skills and knowledge in programming or design. This step-by-step description will show how easy it is to launch a brand new store and promote products without specific skills. In the end, building a store takes about 1 hour and a half. If it's your first store, it will take longer, about 4 hours. So, here are the steps for your store building:
Step 1 - Create Shopify account
To create a Shopify account, visit Shopify.com > click the button "Get started", input your email address, password and a store name and "Create your store" button. > Add information required, for instance, your home address.

Don't have a store name? It's ok. Here you may input any store name. We'll need a final store name in the settings further. As it's written on the screen the ecommerce platform provides with a 14-day trial period for free.
What is Shopify and why choose it
Shopify is an ecommerce platform for quick and easy online store launch and further management. It has all the necessary functions and blocks to track products, orders, customers, analytics, etc. You may customize ready templates "live". No coding or design skills needed. An alternative is WordPress that require coding or design skills.
Step 2 - Pick Basic plan
To choose a plan, click "Select a plan" button > click "Choose this plan" in Basic column > Input billing information
Why choose Basic? A basic plan is enough for beginners and I would say it's more popular. The other plans offer more functions but they are not needed to start:
  • more staff accounts - 2 accounts are enough
  • professional reports - Connect Google Analytics to have reports for free
  • less transaction fee - the difference is not big, in addition, possibly you won't use Shopify Payments, I'll get back to this in the next chapter
  • abandoned cart recovery, fraud analysis tools, gift cards - if you need any of these three functions, you may find Apps in Shopify App Store. For instance, abandoned cart recovery costs $8/month which is still less than "most popular" plan
Shopify will not charge you if you close your store before the 14-day trial period expires.
Step 3 - Specify Settings
1 - General settings

To specify general settings, click on "Settings" in the bottom left corner > Click on "General" > Input a real store name > Your store address > Unit system > Currency
Tip: Use a business name generator to get ideas for your store name.
2 - Payment provider

To enable payment provider, click on "Payment providers".
Shopify payments are available only to several countries (the US, Puerto Rico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore. It is not available to U.S. territories except Puerto Rico). If your country supports Shopify payments and PayPal, active both of them. Click "Complete account setup" button to apply Shopify for payments.

PayPal Express Checkout is a very popular payment method among dropshippers. Click "PayPal Express Checkout" to set up your PayPal account.

2Checkout is the last alternative if the country where you live doesn't support Shopify payments or PayPal. Please be informed that 2Checkout let's say doesn't like a dropshipping business, you may have trouble with it.

To activate 2Checkout, click "Change provider" > Tick check mark to activate the graph "Third party credit card provider" > Select "2Checkout"
3 - Checkout

To customize your online checkout process, specify the setting as it's given below:
In the last part called "Refund, privacy, and TOS statements" you may see three blocks: Refund policy, Privacy policy, Terms of service. Each block should appear in the footer of your checkout page. You can generate these policies by simply clicking "Generate sample" buttons. Edit content of any policy if needed.

Click "Save" to save settings.
4 - Shipping

Edit address only in case you have your fulfillment center in the US, Europe or China to print its address on shipping labels. As we have a dropshipping business, we don't change settings here.
If you plan to dropship to the US, click "Edit". If you have USPS on this page, delete it if you don't have a warehouse in the US.
How to Start a Dropshipping Business: Starting an Online Store with Dropshipping
If you want to offer free shipping to your customers, there are 2 options: Price based rates and Weight based rates.

How to set them:
  • Price based rates: "Add rate" button > Input a name > Set a minimum and maximum order price > Tick "Free shipping rate" when needed.
In my example, I set Free shipping is for orders over $100 and Standard shipping price is $8.99 for low-cost purchases.
  • Weight based rates are helpful for those store owners who plan to sell several or many items per one order. "Add rate" button > Input a name > Set a minimum and a maximum order price > Tick "Free shipping rate" when needed.
In the example Standard shipping price is $8.99 for 0-5 lbs purchases, Free shipping is for 5-15 lbs purchases, another Standard shipping option is $24.99 for 15-30 lbs orders.
Think what is more appropriate for your store to test variants.

Tip: Shipping may be another source of income. Think how to manage it.

5 - Taxes

The same situation is with taxes. Test the variant with "All taxes are included" to see how customers react. Customers may not like that you charge them both shipping and taxes.

Click "All taxes are included" > "United States" > Remove a tick mark to deactivate the graph "Calculate taxes automatically"
6 - Notifications

Here you may see ready templates which you may easily edit. For instance, in "Order confirmation" there are templates for email and SMS.

For instance, you may change the email subject "Order {{name}} confirmed" to "{{ customer.first_name }}, thank you for your order". To review changes, click " Preview".
Enable desktop notifications on "Notification" page to be constantly notified. In addition, install Shopify App on your mobile phone.
How to Start a Dropshipping Business: Starting an Online Store with Dropshipping
7 - Files

To upload images, video and documents visit "Files" page. You will also have a possibility to upload files while customization.

Note: one of the files you need to prepare for uploading is a favicon. It's an icon (logotype) your customers will see right above the address line.
8 - Sales channels

To add sales channels, click the button > Add Facebook to make promotion on Facebook and Instagram > Add Buy Button.
Tip: A blogger/influencer, for instance, will be able to place a buy button on his/her website and those people who click this button will make purchases on your store.

9 - Account

To add an account, visit "Account" page > Click "Add staff account" > Input name, email and select rights to limit access when needed > Click "Send invite"
10 - Billing

To replace your credit card and review Shopify invoices, click "Billing"
Step 4 - Customize Your Store
To select a theme you will customize, click "Online Store" on the sidebar > Click "Themes"
There are 3 options available: Upload theme - if you have one; Buy a theme - click "Visit Theme Store"; Use a free theme - click "Explore free theme" to select one. Use a free theme to start (I add Brooklyn as an example). Then click "Customize"
1 - Themes settings

Themes settings let us customize:
  • Colors
  • Typography
  • Cart page - choose drawer cart page variant (if you choose page variant customers will need to make one more unnecessary step)
  • Social media
  • Favicon - upload your logotype here 32x32 px. Tip: A logotype is very important to build a store image. To make logo design yourselves for free, use a free logo maker that required no skills. Or order a professional logo for $5 on Fiverr. It usually takes 24 hours. It may cost more and take longer time depending on your requirements.
  • Checkout
Notes: Whenever you set any parameter, it's displayed on the screen. This helps to preview updates "live". Remember to preview not only a desktop version but mobile too. Mobile version is even more important as the majority of your customers will use cell phones.

2 - Sections

Sections let us customize:
  • Sidebar
  • Header - upload your logotype and add announcement (for instance, "Free global shipping over $100").
  • Slideshow - upload images, change the text. Tip: Images may be taken from these sources. Use those images which are copyright free for reuse. Tip: When you save images you're going to upload on your site, save them as "Sports Leggings" for instance if you have this niche, it's needed for SEO. Tip: Optimize image sizes via TinyPNG to make your site loading faster. People don't like to wait, so even 2 seconds is much.
  • Rich text - Tip: Use Grammarly.com to check spelling. It's free.
  • Collection lists
  • Featured collection
  • Newsletter
  • Add section - display featured products or video files, for instance
  • Footer
You may change the location of blocks by shifting them. Only header and footer are not shifted.

3 - Blog posts

To publish news or blog posts, click "Block post".
4 - Pages

Add here at least these pages:
  • Return policy - copy content you have generated in Settings > Checkout
  • Refund policy
  • Term of service
  • Shipping and delivery
  • About us
  • Contact us
  • FAQ - add pages, if you already know what questions your customers will have
5 - Navigation

To add ready pages to Footer and Main menu, click "Navigation".
How to Start a Dropshipping Business: Starting an Online Store with Dropshipping
6 - Domains

You may either Connect existing domain or Buy a new domain. After you connect or buy your domain name, click it to check. Tip: If you click Buy here, you will pay around $14. Visit this source to buy a new domain for $0.99 and then connect it on "Domains" page.
How to Start a Dropshipping Business: Starting an Online Store with Dropshipping
7 - Preferences let us do the following:

  • Title and description - enter information your customers will see in search results
  • Google Analytics - click here to get Google Analytics account > Input the code you get
  • Facebook Pixel - visit this page to get your Facebook ID
Step 5 - Add Your Products
1 - Find products

To find what products to sell online, go to ready "Niche business ideas" and choose the one you prefer most. As I mentioned at the beginning we may either use the source with ready niche ideas or make market analyses yourselves (learn here how to do it).
How to Start a Dropshipping Business: Starting an Online Store with Dropshipping
2 - Import products to your store

To import products to your store we create Dropwow account. Follow this link to find Dropwow App on Shopify App Store and install.
What is Dropwow and why choose it
Dropwow is a dropshipping platform for automation processing. It imports products to a store, auto forwards customers' orders to suppliers. In addition, it's free which is important for beginners who may be sensitive to expenses, as well as for dropshipping veterans who get many orders daily and need to manage each.

An alternative of import function is a fee-paying Shopify App. An alternative of auto order placement function is hiring an hourly paid virtual assistant (here is the source with freelancers), as other Apps don't have the function.
Find best-sellers given in your Niche business idea on Dropwow marketplace and click "Import" button. All the imported products are displayed in "All products" in Shopify.
3 - Make effective product pages

Go to a product page input title, description, improve images if needed, assign products to collections, and set prices. Click "Save" > "View" to see how it looks.

The prices you will pay are imported. Here you need to have your sales prices that your customers will see. There are at least 27 elements of product pages that sell.
Think how to price products? Read 12 pricing strategies to learn.
4 - List products in your store

For now, the product pages are displayed only your admin panel in Shopify. To make them listed on your store, click "Manager" > tick check mark "Online store" > "Done" button > "Save"
5 - Create collections

Click "Create collection" > Add title, description, conditions (manual selection or an automated one) > Upload collection image > Arrange products according to a matched collection > Visit the page to check.

In my example, I made a collection with best-selling pants and accessories.
6 - Create discounts

Visit "Discounts" > Click "Create discount" > Generate a code. Then we set conditions: Option (I set free shipping as an example and apply minimum purchase $100) > Countries > Customer eligibility > Usage limits > Active dates.

A discount summary is displayed on the top right corner > Click "Save", when you're done.
As your store is ready, now we need to attract an audience that is interested in our niche to get orders in the end. So, we move to the next step.
How to Start a Dropshipping Business: Promote a Store
Step 6 - Run Facebook/Instagram Ads

Let's visit the page with the "Niche business idea" we've chosen to get a very important ingredient - Facebook targeting parameters. > Past this information with interests to Facebook Ad Manager. Read the guides on how to build the first Facebook campain.
Learn the best practices of dropshippers that reached 6 figures.
How to Start a Dropshipping Business: Dropship
Step 7 - Manage Your Orders

Go to "My Wallet" on Dropwow to charge it for auto forwarding customers' orders to suppliers. All the orders you get are displayed in "Orders" in your Dropwow account (they are also available in "Orders" of your Shopify account). A tracking number is displayed on this page within the next 48 hours after an order has been placed.
Conclusion: As you see anyone may launch a dropshipping store that looks pretty professional in 1 hour and a half without specific skills. Important note or number 1 mistake beginners make - perfection. Improvements may be made after a store launch.
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Content Creator at Dropwow
Gulnur Ismailova
Content Creator at Dropwow