Dropshipping was one of the few online businesses that skyrocketed during this pandemic. Well, it’s no surprise given the number of people who are stuck at home.
That is one of the main reasons why the stocks of the Canadian multinational company, Shopify Inc. shot through the roof.
Shopify is no doubt, one of the best eCommerce platforms on the internet and most dropshippers prefer them over any other alternatives. But, can you start dropshipping without Shopify? and is it possible to start with other affordable platforms?
Yes, Dropshipping is possible without Shopify and other platforms can help you start your own dropshipping business. The best one I would recommend is Woocommerce. It integrates with WordPress seamlessly and is great for dropshipping.
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is a free online eCommerce platform that can be used to built and manage online stores. Woocommerce is a part of the company Automattic which is the same company that developed WordPress.
WooCommerce was built to give an additional shopping feature to your already existing WordPress website.
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Why Choose Woocommerce over Shopify?
There are a lot of reasons why you should consider Woocommerce over Shopify. Some of them are:
Shopify costs $29/month and this price may not be affordable to many budding entrepreneurs.
WooCommerce is literally free to use. However, since it needs WordPress to run, you will need to buy hosting from a reliable company.
Spying can be put to an end
There are a lot of tools and chrome extensions that are developed to spy on Shopify stores. However, with WooCommerce, you won’t really find that. Therefore, you won’t risk your winning product to be in the hands of other competitors.
If you do choose Bluehost for your hosting, you will get a free domain (worth $14) along with it. Shopify doesn’t give away any free domains.
Related Article – Are Shopify Stores Profitable? Can You Still Make Money in 2021?
How to Create an Online Dropshipping Store with WooCommerce?
Starting a dropshipping store is quite easy and you could potentially set up the whole thing in one or two days.
Store Type: General Vs Niche Store
This is one of the biggest steps and one of the most asked question before someone starts a dropshipping store.
General stores are stores that sell almost anything like flipkart and amazon. While niche stores are stores that sell products in a particular niche/interest.
Now, Which one should you choose?
I would probably recommend starting a general store so that you can test a variety of products in the same store.
But, once you do find a winning product, it would be better if you could transfer it to a niche store or a one product store so that you can increase your conversion rate.
Hosting and Domain
The next thing is to find a reliable hosting solution for your online store. Bluehost is what I recommend. It costs just $3.95/month and you get a free domain(worth $14) and an SSL certificate with it.
Installing Woocommerce and other Essentials
Once you buy your hosting from Bluehost, you will get access to your dashboard where you can sign in to your WordPress website.
After signing in, you will reach a page almost like this:-
The next thing is to install the WooCommerce Plugin. To do that, go to plugins -> Add New -> Search for “WooCommerce” and then click Install Now.
Click the activate button and then follow the on-screen instructions to set up Woocommerce on your site.
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Importing Products From Aliexpress
Finalized on what to sell on your store?
If you have then Aliexpress is the place where you can find suppliers for dropshipping.
Now, Aliexpress isn’t the best option but for a beginner it’s more than enough. However, Once you start scaling your business, you should look for other reliable suppliers online.
These plugins not only help you in importing products but also helps you in fulfilling products when an order is placed.
Ezusy would be your best choice if you are a beginner because they do have a free plan.
To connect your WooCommerce store with Ezusy follow the guidelines below.
- Download and install the Ezusy Chrome extension.
- Login to your WordPress admin > Settings > Permalinks and select Post name option. Click on “Save Changes”.
- Enable the legacy REST API in WooComemrce > Settings > Advanced > Legacy API
- Remove the following plugins if you already have them on your store-> Jetpack, Currency Switcher, WP Smush, Akismet Anti-Spam and Cache plugins.
- Register for an account on Ezusy
- Copy your Site Address (URL) and then go to Ezusy dashboard > Settings > General, paste it and click Connect Store button.
- Approve the connection in your next page and that’s it.
If you experience any connection issues, please do have a look at this article.
Now to import a product from Aliexpress. Follow the below steps:
- Go to Aliexpress and search for products which you wish to import.
- After you choose a product, click on them.
- On the product page, click on the blue “e” button. Doing that will import the product to your Ezusy dashboard.
- Go to Ezusy and click on the “Imported” tab. This will show you the product that you just imported.
- If you want, you can edit the product details before pushing it to your store. To do that click on the small pencil-like image. Then edit anything that you wish.
- After editing, you can push the product to your WooCommerce store by clicking on the push like image.
You can find the pushed products in the products tab in your WordPress admin.
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Designing your Store
The next thing to do is setting up a theme and customizing your store. There are hundereds of themes available for Woocommerce. Here are some themes that I recommend:-
Once you install a theme, you will need 2 other plugins called Elementor and Elementor addons. These plugins will help you design your store.
If you are completely new to Elementor. I recommend watching the below video that shows you exactly how to design a store.
Editing a store on Elementor can be pretty hard for a beginner. It will take some time, but once mastered, you can really edit the store in whatever way you like.
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Setting up the Legal Pages
Legal pages like Terms of service, return policy, refund policy, etc needs to be set up. This not only makes your site looks legit but also will adhere to the advertising policies of Facebook and Google (If you ever plan to advertise on their platform).
Setting up these pages is very easy. There are certain websites which do help you in creating them. Here’s the list of legal pages that you will need to add to your store.
- Terms and Conditions – https://www.termsandconditionsgenerator.com/
- Shipping Policy – https://www.easyship.com/shipping-policy-generator
- Return and Refund Policy – https://termly.io/products/refund-return-policy-generator/
Payment Gateway and Other settings
The next thing to do is to setup your payment gateway and configure other settings.
To set up your payment gateway, go to WooCommerce -> settings -> Payments. Click on Paypal standard and then follow the on-screen instructions.
Once set up, you will be ready to receive payments through your store.
There are some other settings that needs to be configured before you market your store.
Go to WooCommerce -> Settings
- Then under general, update your store address and select a currency that you wish (USD recommended).
- Under the shipping tab, click on “Locations not covered by your other zones” and then click “add shipping method”. Select free shipping (Recommended).
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Once everything’s set up, you should be ready to market your store. There are a lot of ways to bring in visitors to your store. Here are some:
1. Facebook Ads
This is one of the most common ways people do to market their product and bring in sales. It works perfectly but can be expensive if you don’t know what you are doing.
Here’s a brief intro to Facebook ads. Please do learn more about it before you advertise.
2. Influencer Marketing (Youtube and Instagram)
Instagram Influencer marketing used to be quite effective back in the prime dropshipping era when there was very less competition. It is now pretty saturated. But if you can find some good pages it would be great.
Youtube influencer marketing is something that is very much underestimated. It has a huge potential. However, it might be a bit expensive depending on the Youtube channel you wish to advertise.
The main advantage of Youtube marketing is that it can be long term and has the potential to get viral.
For egs: Let’s assume you have a dog-related product and you ask a youtube influencer to feature the product in their next video. We all know that dog-related content has the potential to get viral especially those compilations of “Cute puppies” and all that kind of stuff.
So, if they do get viral, you could profit a lot!
3. Google Ads
Google ads is another great way to advertise your product. They do have different types of ads that can be used.
Some of those ads are search network ads, display ads, shopping ads etc.
I personally have not used Google ads for any of my dropshipping business. But I have surely seen a lot of people profiting from it. Have a look at this video below to know more about Google ads.
4. Free Traffic sources
If you already have a blog, youtube channel or an Instagram/social media page with a good number of followers/subscribers, you could easily market your product to them.
However, that’s pretty much going to be the 1% of the people reading this article.
Even if you don’t have one right away. Start it today, select a platfrom, create content and publish them consistently. This is the only way you could bring some quality visitors to your online store.
It does take time but once you have an audience, you will have the potential to earn more.
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Once you start marketing, you will eventually start getting orders.
The order fullfilment process is a semi automated process. Here’s how it works.
- Create an AliExpress account.
- Your Ezusy dashboard will automatically pull the orders from your Woocommerce account.
- Go to your orders tab in Ezusy and then click “order now” for a specific product.(Make sure you have installed the Ezusy extension)
- After you click that, the Ezusy extension automatically adds all the order details on to AliExpress. Double-check all the information.
- IMPORTANT – Check if the field “Leave a message for the seller” is filled. If not, it should say that you are a dropshipper and any labels or pricing information should not be displayed on the product.
- Finally, enter your credit card/debit card details and then pay.
Watch the below video for more info:-
So, that’s how you set up a complete dropshipping store without Shopify.