Dropshipping Step-by-step: An Ultimate WooCommerce Guide

Jul 05, 2019
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So, are you thinking about creating a dropshipping store? Sounds like an awesome idea. However, if you don’t know where to begin, it’s natural that you need a helping hand. Today, I’ll guide you along the way and show you all the basics of WooCommerce dropshipping that you need to know.

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What’s Dropshipping?

First things first, let’s figure out what dropshipping actually is. Call this section ‘drop shipping for dummies’ if you want 🙂 Dropshipping is a method of supply chain management, in which the intermediary carries out the retail trade without storing goods in its own warehouse. Goods are delivered to the customer direct from the facilities of the manufacturer, dealer, or wholesaler.
dropshipping
There’s a traditional model that works the following way:
  • You buy thousands of goods and store them in your warehouses.
  • Next, you start selling them with your e-store.
  • Your customer buys a certain product.
  • You pick up the ordered item in the warehouse and send it to your client.
Everything is good with the model, except for the fact that you need to have a warehouse and a sound budget to buy thousands of products to store there. To contrast, with a dropshipping business you don’t need all that seed money to get started. You don’t have to buy products in advance and store them in your warehouse. Instead, you get a chance to quickly start selling on the web and generating profit.
A dropshipping business model works the following way:
  • You make an agreement with a manufacturer to sell certain goods.
  • You create an e-store and start selling those goods.
  • Your customer buys a product from the e-store.
  • You send the customer details to the manufacturer.
  • The manufacturer ships the item to your client.

So, with this model, you don’t have to buy products in bulk and store them in your warehouse. Moreover, now you can run your dropshipping store from any geographical location.


Main Draws Of Dropshipping

Are there any advantages to dropshipping? As you can see so far, there are a number of them, such as:

  • This type of business requires very little seed money. Therefore, you, the intermediary, do not bear any risks. You will give money to the manufacturer only after you receive the payment from the buyer.
  • Your business no longer requires the availability of warehouses for trade. All you need to do business is a computer with internet access. You can work from any geographical location.
  • All the concerns associated with sending the goods are handled by the supplier (manufacturer). You don’t have to hire staff to work in warehouses.
  • You have the opportunity to cooperate with several companies at the same time (if it is not directly prohibited by the contract), thus increasing the range of goods you sell, as well as your client pool.
  • The supplier sends the goods on your behalf. This helps you create a recognizable brand and advertise it.

Any Pitfalls to Dropshipping?

As in any other business, there are, of course, certain risks associated with this type of business. For example:
  • The item ordered by the customer may not be in stock at the supplier's warehouse. In this case, there will inevitably be delays, refund requests, and customer disappointment that you’ll have to face, rather than the manufacturer who actually failed.
  • While the product is being delivered, it may run into issues going through customs. You'll be the one held responsible to solve these problems.
  • The quality of the product may not satisfy the client due to objective or subjective reasons. You'll have to deal with this as well.
  • In some parts of the world, this business model works poorly when the supplier and the buyer are in different regions. The success of an online store often depends on the speed and cost of delivery.
  • The dropshipping model has a lower barrier of entry. This means that the competition you face will be stronger for a number of niches.
Dropshipping Pros Cons

woocommerce

Why Dropship with WooCommerce?

Undoubtedly, you can dropship with a number of e-store platforms. WooCommerce is the most popular of them. As many as 21% of the Top 1 Million e-commerce websites are using WooCommerce.
stats

Stats provided by BuiltWith.

On the global scale, WooCommerce holds the palm of supremacy, outscoring Shopify by 4%.

WooCommerce vs. Shopify Dropshipping

woo vs shopify
If you browse the web, you’ll come across a number of well-written articles advocating for Shopify dropshipping. Their authors claim that the best way to dropship is with Shopify. However, you should take their claims with a grain of salt for a number of reasons. The majority of these articles are created by the Shopify marketing team and their affiliates. If you follow the links within the articles to sign up for Shopify the affiliates will get paid. On the other hand, WooCommerce is free and open-source. So, there isn’t anyone being paid to tell people how effective WooCommerce dropship actually is. Keep in mind, that I’m by no means telling you that Shopify dropshipping is a bad solution. It’s good. However, there are a number of factors that make WooCommerce dropshipping a better option for many. Let’s see what these factors are:
  • Price WordPress and the WooCommerce plugin are both totally free. You don’t pay a dime for them. Creating a WooCommerce dropshipping store, your only must-have expense is hosting, which amounts to $5 - $10 per month. On the other hand, with Shopify, you pay $29 every month. This applies even if your store is under development and doesn’t function yet.
  • Cheaper Themes and Extensions Next, the assets that help you create a well-designed Shopify store are also more costly. You can get a premium WooCommerce theme starting from $70, while for a Shopify theme you’ll have to pay $140+. WooCommerce extensions are mostly free or relatively cheap. Shopify Apps cost more and you should pay for them every month. WooCommerce doesn’t charge for using any payment getaways. On the contrary, with Shopify, to use your payment gateway, you’ll have to pay 2% of every transaction to Shopify.
  • High Quality You don’t go for something simply because it’s cheap. You go for something only if it’s both good and cheap. And this is exactly what describes WooCommerce. Initially a fork of Jigoshop, since 2015, WooCommerce belongs to Automattic, the fathers of WordPress. Automattic is one of the most authoritative names in the web design industry and their products are upvoted by people all around the world. What should this tell you? Despite the fact that WooCommerce is open-source, it has a core no less strong and potent as Shopify.
  • Flexibility If you want your store to be really customizable and adjustable, go for WooCommerce. With WooCommerce you get full control over your website. For example, you can change the source files as you wish, choose the hosting to your liking and install any extensions. Quite unfortunately for many, Shopify hosts your website for you, doesn’t give you access to all files and lets you conduct only a limited range of e-store customizations.
  • No Selling Restrictions With WooCommerce you can sell any products. If you sell with Shopify, you should comply with their Terms and Services. You can’t sell a number of products, like guns, drugs-related paraphernalia, etc. This is likely not what you’re about to sell. However, things get trickier when organic cosmetics stores get shut down because Shopify qualifies their products as pseudo-pharmaceutical. In this case, Shopify support will hardly help you either.

For Whom is Shopify Dropshipping Still Better?

The process of setting up a dropshipping store is more automated if you go for Shopify, as opposed to WooCommerce. With Shopify, you don’t have to think about what hosting to use. Your plugin choices are also more one-way too. So, if you’re not on a budget and just want to spin up an online store as quick as possible, go for Shopify. If phone or live chat customer support is crucial to you, remember that only Shopify provides these. With WooCommerce, you can only submit tickets or try to find the answer to your problem on the forum. In other cases, WooCommerce is a way cheaper, more flexible, and easy-to-use solution to build a fully customizable and independent dropshipping e-store.
woo vs shopify

What Are The Top Dropshipping Apps for WooCommerce?

So, let’s say that you’ve decided to create a dropshipping store. And you decided to go with WooCommerce. The next question is: How do you set up dropshipping with WooCommerce? For this, you’ll need a certain dropshipping plugin. And there are multiple options on the market that are ready to help you. In this part of the article, we’ll talk about different WordPress dropshipping plugins and their peculiarities. First of all, I’d say, there are two major types of WooCommerce dropshipping plugins:
  • AliExpress dropshipping plugins
  • General WooCommerce dropshipping extensions

AliExpress dropshipping plugins

Let’s start with the first and more populated type - AliExpress plugins. An AliExpress dropship plugin will help you connect your WooCommerce store to the popular AliExpress marketplace and dropship products this way. Such a plugin will automate the following for you:
  • Importing products
  • Synchronizing prices and inventory
  • And, of course, fulfilling orders
If you want to dropship with AliExpress, consider using one of the following best plugins:

AliDropship Woo

alidropship woo
First of all, I chose this plugin because it’s perhaps the most obvious and logical way to dropship with WooCommerce and AliExpress.
AliDropship Woo allows you to:
  • Import AliExpress products in one click
  • Take some control over pricing to ensure profit margins
  • Keep everything synchronized: product info updates automatically
  • Automate order fulfillment
  • Delete watermarks from AliExpress images
Draws of AliDropship Woo:
  • Unlimited number of products
  • Best-automated
  • Add products in one click with AliDropship Google Chrome extension
  • Built-in image editor
  • ePacket shipping filter to sell products on best terms
Cost: $89 one-time payment.

WooDropship

WooDropship
This plugin is similar to the previous in terms of its functionality. It delivers you:
  • Customizable pricing rules
  • Inventory and price sync
  • Extensive product customization
  • Simplified order fulfillment
  • Custom image editor
  • Dedicated Chrome extension for easy product import
  • ePacket delivery filter
This plugin is available at $15/month after a 7-day free trial.

Ezusy

Ezusy
Ezusy lets you import AliExpress products to WooCommerce with its Chrome or Firefox extension. It allows you to set up pricing rules ensuring the desired margins. Moreover, it’s good in updating your inventory and keeping the prices synched. Once you start selling, Ezusy will automatically handle your orders and ensure their fulfillment. Moreover, Ezusy is perhaps the only AliExpress dropshipping plugin that has a plan that’s completely free. This plan lacks automatic features but lets you give Ezusy a try for free with no sense of urgency. And Ezusy is cheap. Its affordable plans start from $10 and depend on how many products you import. Other good AliExpress plugins to dropship with WooCommerce will be Dropified and DropshipMe. Do not hesitate to learn about them if the options above don’t seem attractive to you.

General WooCommerce Dropshipping Extensions

Now, let’s say that you don’t want to sell with AliExpress. You may find your manufacturers elsewhere, right? And there are plugins that will make you happy.

WooCommerce Dropshipping

WooCommerce Dropshipping
This third-party plugin is officially recommended by WooCommerce to create dropship stores. It lets you automate order fulfillment by suppliers outside the AliExpress marketplace. This plugin also lets you send automatic order notifications to suppliers. You can import the products with a CSV file created by your supplier. Unfortunately, this plugin does not allow you to calculate different shipping rates for suppliers. This may be a significant shortage if you have suppliers in different parts of the world. Installing and using WooCommerce Dropshipping on a single website will cost you $49 once.

WooCommerce Dropshipping Suppliers Pro

WooCommerce Dropshipping Suppliers Pro
This is another good third-party extension which lets you work with different suppliers. It lets you manage your inventory by uploading CSV files with products and data on items in stock. WooCommerce Dropshipping Suppliers Pro lets you set separate shipping rates for different suppliers. Moreover, this extension lets you automatically send e-mail and packing slips to your supplier. Price: $59 once for one e-store.

WooShark

WooShark
WooShark is very useful as it allows you to trouble-free import products from AliExpress, eBay, Amazon, Etsy, Tmart, and other popular dropshipping marketplaces. This plugin makes it very easy to import products, images, and description from the dropshippers. You can also set pricing rules for your products. The price of using WooShark depends on the marketplace you want to integrate your store with. So, do not hesitate to check out their website for more information.

How to WooCommerce Dropship?

I’ve pretty much named all the ingredients you need to dropship with WooCommerce. However, I haven’t yet put them in a logical order for you. Now, let’s get more hands-on and talk about how you actually start a dropshipping business with WooCommerce.

Step #1: Pick Your Hosting Provider and Domain Name Choosing WooCommerce hosting has its pitfalls and peculiarities. I’ve already covered all that concerns WooCommerce hosting in the 5 Best WooCommerce Hosting Options in 2019 article. So, if you’re interested, just check it out!
Step #2: Installing Your Store Base Once you have your place on the server and a domain name, it’s time you install WordPress and WooCommerce. Installing WordPress won’t take much of your time. Just 10 - 15 minutes will be enough even for a newbie to get started. Refer to this guide. Next, you install WooCommerce on top of WordPress. You can find a tutorial on how to install it here.
woo commerce installed
Step #3: Installing and Setting Up Your Dropshipping Plugin In this step, you get directly to dropshipping. And this is the fork in the road where the remaining dropshipping store setup instructions depend on the plugin you choose. Typically, a dropshipping plugin installs the same way all other WordPress plugins do. Its further setup depends on the plugin. In general terms, AliExpress dropshipping plugins are simpler to set up as the process is more automated. For other dropshipping stores, be careful to stick to the plugin documentation and do everything right.
Step #4: Adding Your Supplier and Importing Products The next thing that you’ve got to do is to add your dropshipping suppliers (manufacturers). Here, again, everything depends on the dropshipping plugin you use. Refer to its instructions to complete this step. Now you’re all set! You can start selling and transferring the first orders of your e-store to the supplier.

Where to Find Dropshipping Suppliers?

The last question I’ve got to cover is where you can find your dropshipping suppliers. In fact, there are a number of websites that specialize in bringing dropship businesses and suppliers together. Let’s see the best of them!

Wholesale2b

WholeSale2B
This dropshipping service is a one-stop solution for your business needs. If you’re on the lookout for a simple way to dropship, Wholesale2b lets you go for a dropshipping plan with a free account.
Wholesale2b offers you the following features:

  • Quick supplier integration
  • Inventory is automated
  • Orders are automated
  • Easy to integrate with your e-store

Wholesale2b has its own WooCommerce dropship app. Running a dropshipping business with the help of this app will cost you $30/month.


Doba

Doba
Doba has a huge and streamlined catalog of products that you can dropship. With the new-age search technology and relevant filters, Doba lets you find new products for your store more effectively. No doubt, this service also automates order fulfillment and inventory control for you. After a 14-day free trial, using Doba will cost you $29/month (Basic plan) or more.

InventorySource

InventorySource
InventorySource works as a Dropship Automation Software & Integrated Supplier Network. Its inventory sports over 9 million products by manufacturers from all over the world. InventorySource lets users flawlessly integrate the suppliers’ inventory and automatically upload and synchronize product data. The major drawback of InventorySource is, perhaps, the price. If you only need inventory automation, working with InventorySource suppliers will cost you $50/month. However, for full automation, you’ll have to pay as much as $150/month.

Worldwide Brands

WorldwideBrands
This trustworthy supplier’s platform has been in operation for 20 years already. The service is the home of more than 16 million products in almost every category that one can think of. Devoid of any middleman fees or other hidden costs, the service is about maximizing your profit.
Working with Worldwide Brands also isn’t cheap. They have two plans to offer you:

  • One-Time Payment: $299 (lifetime access)
  • Easy Pay Plan: $99 initially + 2 monthly payments of $110

SaleHOO

SaleHoo
This service combines as a powerful research tool, a supplier directory, and an online community for dropshippers and wholesalers. SaleHoo features over 2.5 million products that you can sell online. Moreover, you get access to SaleHoo Market Research Lab to find the right products that are trending or in huge demand. Offered at a flat pricing of $67 for a full year of complete access, the service is a huge hit. Moreover, lifetime access to this service will cost you just $127.

WooCommerce Themes for Best Dropshipping Stores

There’s one more ingredient, without which your dropshipping store won’t be successful. You need a dropshipping WooCommerce theme to enhance the interface and user experience on your website. The best of modern WooCommerce themes have incredible functionality, which makes shopping with you a way more attractive option. See some of the best dropshipping WooCommerce themes below:

Woostroid2 - Multipurpose WooCommerce Elementor Theme

Woostroid2 - Multipurpose WooCommerce Elementor Theme

Demo | Download | Hosting

WooStroid2 is a must-have multipurpose theme for a dropshipping store with 18 niche-related skins. It lets you edit store and other website pages in visual mode with Elementor Builder. Moreover, WooStroid2 features a blast of pre-built add-ons that help you enhance the UX on your website.

Elitex - Multipurpose WooCommerce Theme

Elitex - Multi-purposes WooCommerce Theme

Demo | Download | Hosting

Elitex is a clean and UX-oriented theme that brings you all the dropshipping store functionality you need. Elitex is ideal to build a hi-tech electronics store as it is 100% responsive, cross-browser compatible, feature-rich, SEO- and conversion-optimized.

Donnie - Clothes Dropshipping WooCommerce Theme

Donnie - Multipurpose WooCommerce Theme

Demo | Download | Hosting

The Donnie theme can power anything from a small store to an online supermarket. The theme comes with 6+ incredible homepage demos. Donnie also sports incredible e-store functionality such as Native Cart Popup, floating Add to Cart bar, off-canvas filters, Product Quick View, Product Wishlist/Compare, etc.

Over to You Now

Dropshipping is a cost-effective way to start your e-commerce business. Dropshipping with WooCommerce, you tap into endless flexibility, convenience, and freedom from this open-source solution. There are multiple plugins to dropship with WooCommerce. Some let you work with AliExpress, while others let you add suppliers from elsewhere. The way you set up your WooCommerce dropshipping store largely depends on the plugin you choose. We hope that reading this article you were able to find your best way to dropship with WooCommerce. Do you have any experience in creating a dropshipping store? Which tools do you use? Share your thoughts below. Stay tuned for more!


Read Also

BigCommerce vs WooCommerce Comparison

Ecommerce: Dropshipping or Classical Online Store?

How To Create a WooCommerce Store with Woostroid2 and Elementor Builder

20 Best Free WooCommerce Themes to Build Conversion-Oriented Stores

Building WooCommerce Multi-Vendor Websites

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Last Updated : Dec 12, 2019

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