For those who know me, I’ve been in and out of Dropshipping for some while now. I was one of those early birds that started out with dropshipping. Dropshipping has changed since that. A lot. If you were one of the lucky ones that succeeded in 2016 or before you won’t succeed with the same strategy in 2019. It’s not a fact, but I’m pretty sure, people have been burned by a lot of dropshippers due to the long delivery times, issues with refunds, broken products, bad customer service, etc.
People have gotten smarter since then, they have learned the dropshipping pattern, so If you’re being lazy and not willing to put in the effort, you won’t succeed anymore.
When I open a Shopify store and if I’ve to think for more than 2 minutes if it is or it isn’t a dropshipping store then that’s already a good sign. If I open up a store and see the Aliexpress pictures on the products then you’re just being lazy, there are hundreds and thousands of people doing this and if you’re not willing to put in the effort and stand out with something, then you don’t deserve to succeed. Your shop needs to look flawless with perfect pictures and perfect descriptions and everything else needs to be perfect you can’t create a sh*tty website and expect people to buy your products. I’ll talk also about the biggest mistakes that I’ve noticed later on in the blog post.
So without further ado, I decided to write a blog post on How to start a Dropshipping store with Shopify and Aliexpress and write down all the steps you need to take in order to launch your store.
This is a beginner friendly tutorial, so if you’re an intermediate drop shipper, this probably isn’t for you.
How to start a dropshipping store with Shopify and Aliexpress – step by step
I will try to keep it short and provide you with all the most amazing sources that I have studied myself.
In order to sell, you will need to open your own Shopify store. You’ll have 14-days free trail afterward it will be $29 per month.
2. Sign up for Oberlo
Now that you have created your store it’s time to go to the app section and find “Oberlo”. This is an app that will help you find products to sell on your store through Aliexpress. They have made product importing into your store from Aliexpress super easy. You will still have to edit the titles & description in order to succeed. You can start with Oberlos free plan. In the beginning, you won’t need the paid plan, until you reach a certain amount of sales, then you can update and it might be even more profitable for you, let’s think about that in the future, so pick the free plan.
3. Download Oberlo Extension for your browser
This extension will make your product import even easier. Just by browsing through Aliexpress you can simply add any product you like to your store with just one click it will also show you which products do have ePacket and which products don’t have ePacket(I’ll talk about ePacket later).
4. Pick your niche
Let’s clarify. Pick a niche, not a category. Of course, if you wish to pick a category – go ahead, it will be a bit more difficult to advertise, but I would advise picking a niche. A niche idea is a focused, specific topic. It is a sub-section of a larger category. Quick example, the category would be something big like – jewelry. A niche would be a jewelry store that only creates jewelry with lions. Cliche example, but you get the point.
How to pick your niche?
So there’s no easy way to do this, you can’t really create a formula for that, but this is my approach – you go into Aliexpress and just try to figure out what you have seen lately on social media, what have you personally liked and considered buying, maybe something that you’re really passionate about – fishing, some specific animal, some specific sport like boxing, etc. You get the points. Another tip what I can give you is, go to – Wish. Just select popular products and scroll through and write some ideas down on your notepad. (Post twist – wish is one of the biggest dropshipping stores in the world) So if it works for them you can make it work also.
Not that you have written down some ideas I suggest you go to google keyword planner or any other keyword planner by your choosing. Enter all the keywords and try to figure out if those keywords actually have any search volume online and from which countries they are coming from.
Another great tool is google trends. If you decided, for example, to sell “fidget spinners” just type in the query into google trends and it will give you a graph.
So as you can see it’s probably not such a great idea, it bombed back in 2017, if you got in before, kudos to you. Probably made a lot of money.
- Write down your top ideas into notepad
- Go to google keyword planner get the search volume
- Go to google trends
If everything seems legit, you found a niche. If there are people looking for it, you can sell it to them.
5. Find products to sell
Okay. You got yourself a niche if you’re down this far. Now that you have found a niche, you need some products. Now if you’ve found a niche that doesn’t ‘t necessarily mean you have to sell only one product. although many people have succeeded with one products store, that’s up to you. For the sake of discussion let’s assume, you picked Lion’s niche. Now go to Aliexpress and just start searching for everything that you can think of – Lion’s bracelets, Lion’s iPhone Cases, Lion’s T-shirts, etc. etc.
Now how can you find which products are actually legitimate?
Criteria on how to pick products
- The product needs to have ePacket (if you installed Oberlo extension, it will show you which products have and don’t ePacket)
- Decent amount of sales – I would say 100+
- Decent amount of reviews – a minimum of 5 (you need to know if the product is good or not and you will be able to add those reviews to your store to add some credibility to your store)
- Price needs to be under $10 – this, of course, is debatable (research competitors to find a silver lining.)
Research your competitors by searching in google “lion bracelets + Shopify” or “lion t-shirts + Shopify”, etc. By doing this you will see all the Shopify stores that are selling this niche product.
Now, this product has a great price, it has ePacket, also a decent amount of orders and reviews. I’m not guaranteeing it’s going to sell, but you get the point, behind my criteria.
6. Create flawless pictures for your products
Now in my opinion – creative is everything. The better your pictures/videos are the more sales you’ll get. period. When you have a trashy picture directly imported in your store from Aliexpress, it probably doesn’t inspire trust among your customers. But if you’ve ordered the product you’re selling and created flawless pictures, that looks a hundred times better then any of your competitors…trust me when I say this – you have a huge chance on actually selling something.
At the end of the day no matter what marketing guru’s are telling you or whatever your marketing teacher is telling you… people are buying products, not stories. That always comes second. I agree if you have a great story under your brand it’s definitely a boost, but no one will buy your product if it has a great description and a great story and a shi**y picture.
People eat with their eyes and people buy with their eyes. Make your content visually attractive.
If you’re not good at photography or just too lazy for it or don’t have the time or whatever you can send your product to some professional if you don’t know anyone – go to Fiverr and find someone, you can probably get it done by $5-$10
7. Write detailed and simple descriptions for your products
You need to describe your product. I’m not saying 1000 boring words, that doesn’t add any value to it. Add details that give out some value to your customers. Be short and precise. Keep it simple, stupid.
Go to your competitor, take an example, go to Amazon and take an example, eBay, etc. Write down all the features and when you’ve done that it’s time to add some visuals to your description. As you probably know pictures explain it better than thousands of words.
Some great product description I personally found amazing:
Now, look at these examples. I’ve no idea of their conversion rates or anything, I’m not associated with them, but when I saw it I went just like – Wow, this is a great example on how to do things the right way. If you go deeper, you notice they add icons that give you already a great idea without even reading the text. Extra pictures that explain the product details & features, it’s just flawless. The creative is perfect and the copy is great as well. It definitely gives out credibility and value to the customer.
- Research competitors
- Write down all the features
- Add icons
- Add pictures
- Add videos
Make your product page so great that your customer can’t refuse.
Go to google and do some research on your favorite brands or your competitors and take an example. As dumb as it may sounds, but Good artists copy, but great artists steal. Cliche I know. But you can’t invent something new in this world, you can only add something new.
8. Pick a color and stick to it
Now you need to pick a color and just stick to it, don’t create a rainbow on your website, it will just take away credibility. Go to Coolors and explore and find a color that suits your site to change all the buttons on your site and save those colors for the future. People with time will start to recognize those colors and start to identify with your brand. Most importantly – stick to those colors you chose. I would also suggest to add them to your logo.
9. Buy a Domain & Create a logo
I have a pretty simple rule when it comes to the domain and logo. When a third party looks at your logo and domain he needs to instantly understand what is your brand doing. Of course, there are great examples that prove me wrong – Adidas, Nike, Apple, etc. But let me tell you something – You’re not an Apple, Nike or Adidas, they spent millions on their brand.
When you look at it and read the name you’re pretty sure they are selling socks.
Again, you look at the logo, read the brand name and you can be pretty sure that they are selling something that has to do with your posture and spine.
Buy your domain inside Shopify dashboard. It will make the whole process easier. You’ll pay a little more, but you won’t have to go through the hassle to set it up for your store.
10. Set up Paypal & Payment Gateway
You’ve taken care of the visual stuff and the website should look pretty great by now if you went through all the points and now it’s time to take care of the technical stuff. You need to set up PayPal. People often use PayPal instead of their credit card, because it’s more secure and a lot easier to make a dispute.
Shopify Payments and PayPal are enabled by default, but if you wanted to use other payment providers or accept other modes of payment (e.g., Amazon Pay, Bitcoin, etc.), you can set that up manually under payment providers.
Even though PayPal is enabled by default you will only be available to receive those funds after your finish your registration with PayPal. If your PayPal email address varies from your Shopify stores email you should change the setting then.
In order to receive credit cards, I would suggest you set up Stripe. It’s simple, straightforward and I’ve used it myself for a long time ago so I can vouch for them. If for some reason Stripe isn’t available for your country, DYOR and find the next most suitable gateway.
Every single e-commerce needs to have these pages. It’s mandatory. If you don’t create these pages your store might be shut down. Also, it will save you a lot of time if you have these pages available on your site, otherwise people will e-mail you and you will just lose valuable time. So make them available.
Now you will be surprised how easy it is to generate these pages.
Shopify Admin Panel > Setting > Legal
I also would advise you to create a Shipping Policy page, just so people can manage their expectations. You don’t want to respond to hundreds of e-mails manually about how long does your shipping on average takes or where are their tracking numbers, etc.
Advertise your Store
When you have done everything and you personally go through your store and think – damn, this looks awesome. It’s time to advertise. Time to send your store’s link to all your friends & family and post it on social media.
If you want to start advertising on Facebook, Google Search, Google Shopping, Bing, DuckDuckGo, Reddit…follow my blog and my social accounts and I will write about it in my next posts.
Now, obviously, this post is very narrowed down, there is a lot of details that would benefit your store, that is left out. This post is meant just to create a simple Shopify store. If you would like something specific e.g. – how to deal with abandoned carts, returns, refunds or have to generate traffic – leave a comment below.
Dropshipping useful apps, sources:
These are all the apps and sources you’ll need to get your store going.
What I personally don’t like about dropshipping
I know there’s a lot of people out there that are calling it a scam and I actually kind of understand that, but if we’re looking at it rationally – you’re showing a product for a specific price, you’re not pressuring anyone to buy, even though they can simply go to Aliexpress and buy the same product for 50-200% less. It is what it is. That’s how business works. That’s not my biggest issue with dropshipping. My biggest issue is that you can’t really control the quality as much as you would like to and the long shipping times. Let’s not also forget about the packaging and branding. I personally like to sell great products that I would like to use my self, but in order to manufacture and sell those products you believe in, you need capital and I believe through dropshipping you can acquire that capital if you stay persistent.
I believe you can be really proud of your e-commerce store only then when you’re ready to sell your products to your friends and family and don’t be ashamed of it. That’s what I would call a success and I believe dropshipping is just a gateway to that.