Finding the right tool for the job can be difficult as there is a number of options available. Below I have explored each of them in as much detail as available at the time from a web developer and new business owners perspective.
If you have a limited budget (and most likely, that’s the reason why you’re looking into drop shipping in the first place for additional income), you can choose a working combination of affordable tools to get you there. There are many channels available, so you experiment with them and find the solution that suits your needs.
Once all setup if business is going slow, you can always switch to a different niche product line. Since you are doing drop shipping, you are not buying any products upfront, so you won’t lose any money. Don’t be afraid to try something new – maybe, the reason your sales are low is because you are trying to sell the wrong niche products. Experimentation and innovation are your key to success!
Shopify with Oberlo
Basic Shopify store $29 USD / month, Oberlo starter plan $0.00 for 500 products or 50 orders per month.
No order fulfillment or tracking on free plan.
Initially this seemed like the easiest way to get started with a dropshipping business that syncs with AliExpress, however if you are like me and don’t have a credit card you will be quickly stopped in your tracks. Both Shopify and Oberlo require payment for their platforms via credit card, not to mention whenever you make a purchase of products via AliExpress its ideal to have a credit card for that too.
Despite the lack of payment options available for both platforms, the setup and configuration of the store, adding products from AliExpress and using the Oberlo platform where quick straight forward and user-friendly.
7 day free trial, from $14 USD / month thereafter.
Import of 3000 product variants, fulfill 100 orders / month.
Though this may seem like the obvious best choice to start with as the initial 7 day trial plan means there is no initial upfront cost and the low monthly fee of $14 USD thereafter is great too, however this integration lacks alot of expected functionality and support.
Despite the detailed online documentation on their support subdomain, the documentation is either outdated or just not accurate with simple tasks such as configuring of global pricing rules just not working as intended. Data from AliExpress also isn’t pulled across properly with only generic product information being pulled through for product descriptions instead of the actual product description field. Once products are pushed through to your store there seems to be no way to update them again from AliExpress for updating of product information, pricing, etc so it leaves a disconnect between your store and AliExpress when prices fluctuate meaning you could easily lose money if prices on products increase without your knowledge.
The online documentation initially provides re-assurance that there is alot of help available but when you realise the documentation doesn’t match with functionality on the App and Plugin you are left wanting to contact their customer support for help and there is no contact details anywhere on the support website. Alas contact details were found on the original website, but it suggests a minimum of 6 hours wait for a reply. If you have a live store with numerous customers then this time delay would not be reassuring at all.
Dropshix with woocommerce
Starting from $9.99 USD / month, 1,250 active listings.
Free trial includes only 15 actively monitored listings.
The price is competitive on this product and it appears to be feature rich, but the number of actively monitored listings in the trial version is what makes this one less desirable to trial. Trialing with only 15 products really doesn’t give you much of a chance to setup a decent store and try the product properly. However saying that, perhaps this is where this product is a little smarter as you aren’t then configuring a huge amount of products only to later find you don’t like their product for whatever reason and cringe at the thought of redoing all that work again with another drop-shipping product.
If you are from a predominantly English speaking nation (1.5 billion speak English — that’s 20% of the Earth’s population), then you may find some of the grammar on their website, replies to email enquiries and support a little confusing and frustrating. Language barriers are the most common communication barriers which cause misunderstandings and misinterpretations between people and can delay finding resolutions to problems with their product. In saying that, if you are patient and perhaps English isn’t your first language you may find it easy dealing with them.
Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but this appears to be the same product as one of the others listed above but with an additional fee dumped on-top. Perhaps the additional fee is to cover the CodeCanyon listing fee or maybe it is actually an entirely different product, but it just seems too similar to one of the ones listed above.
The price of the product alone is its downfall as you not only have to pay an upfront cost of $40, but then a recurring monthly plan fee starting from $25 USD which includes only 100 products.
Alidropship with woocommcerce
Custom store built by their team of developers from $299 USD.
Plugin only $89 USD. Unlimited products to import.
Plugin includes built in themes.
Free Updates & Support.
This is definitely one of the more sophisticated looking websites of the lot, but its initially price is higher than the rest. Despite the $89 USD upfront cost if you only go with the plugin option, there doesn’t appear to be any other ongoing monthly fees, so perhaps in the long run its cheaper than the rest. For $89 you also get some suitable WordPress themes ready to use out of the box, add-on plugins (at additional fees) to further expand the plugin and detailed documentation.
The demo featured on their website appears to work well, however changing pricing formulas and related settings in the demo didn’t seem to follow through to the demo store. Perhaps the demo is only there to show you what is possible and not a fully functioning version, either way it still shows that the product has a lot to offer for its price.
One thing that is really great about this one is the ‘Free Updates and Support’ offered which boosts that after-sales support and life-long free updates with new options and features are included in the purchase. Makes spending a little more upfront seem worth it for that extra piece of mind later on when you may need help or support, plus not needing to constantly pay for new releases.
$40.00 one-time for up to 1000 products. $25 USD for 10000 products.
This product also seems feature rich based on the information provided on its website, however the lack of product screenshots, customer website examples or testimonials makes it hard to know truely what you would be getting from them.
There does appears to be a demo version but it reminded me a lot of how alidropship looked and functioned, but a little more basic. The initial $40 USD one time fee seems great, but when you suddenly have over 1000 products you will need to upgrade to their monthly fee starting from $25 USD per month, therefore your cost of running this product could add up quickly over time. If you never plan to list more than 1000 products on your website (including variations) then this might never be a problem, but you’ll find the more products you feature on your dropshipping website the more likely you are to make sales.
Unique Domain Name
If you are happy to have a generic domain name like business-name.myshopify.com, then you don’t need to worry about registering a domain name when going with the Shopify and Oberlo option, however if like mean you wish for some kind of professionalism to your website then you’ll quickly opt for a low cost domain name, starting anywhere from $5 for 2 years, with extra on top for domain name security.
Depending on where you register your domain name and if you also purchase website hosting (which doesnt have to be in the same place) you may also get email hosting space along with it which will help you to have professional domain specific email addresses.
Registered Business Name
Not only do you have to think about a unique Domain Name for your business, but depending on your country (and region) you may have to register a Business Name which can come at an additional cost too. Registering the business name will help ensure no one else steals the same business name too. Check with your local council on what legal requirements regarding business name and registrations you may need to run a small business.
If you don’t go with the Shopify (or related DIY shopfront platform) then you’ll likely have to fork out some money for website hosting to storing all the files that make up your website. The larger your website, visitation (bandwidth), etc the more you will pay for hosting. If you are just starting out your best with a low-medium cost hosting account and then increase your plan with your budget and requirements accordingly. You don’t even have to host locally if your keen for cheaper hosting from overseas, but be warned that hosting overseas may mean that customer support is only available outside of your usual business trading hours which can become frustrating in times of most need. You can get hosting for as little as $5 per month or even less if you pay annually upfront.
If you are a graphic designer with kick-arse website design skills then you’ll save yourself a bunch of money in this area, however if not then you could easily spend some serious coin here. Yes the look and feel and functionality of your website is important, but that doesnt mean you can’t start low cost initially and build up to something more high-end later when sales start rolling in. Check out free designs on websites such as Theme Forest, Template Monster and other websites. If you are using WordPress with Woocommerce for your store there is a great collection at JustFreeThemes.
Purchasing Products from AliExpress
As previously mentioned, if you are like me and don’t have a credit card you will be quickly realize you can’t make purchases fast on AliExpress. They do have other payment options available, but most are tedious and time consuming to use and would therefore delay your customers getting their products. Ideally if you opt to still not have a dedicated credit card you can try the pre-paid style credit cards which are readily available in most department stores, but be sure it can handle international transactions.