Although most people open their dropshipping stores using paid software, you can also create a free dropshipping store using WordPress and WooCommerce.
This may leave you wondering if a free dropshipping store can work as well as a fee-based store. There is no reason why it can’t. However, a free store will lack some key features.
You’ll have to be sure to understand what is and isn’t included with a free store versus a paid store. I’ll explain some of your options below to help in your decision-making process.
Why Use a Free Dropshipping Store and How to Create One
So there may be a number of reasons why you’d want to create a free dropshipping store. For many, it is often about budget. You may not have much money for fee-based dropshipping software.
Others may already have a store up but do not want to invest in another paid store until they are sure the niche they chose is going to be lucrative.
In that case, opening a free dropshipping store is a great way to test the waters without spending money on monthly software fees.
How To Open a Free Dropshipping Store
One of the best and easiest ways to open a free dropshipping store is to use WordPress and the WooCommerce plugin. Both of these are free to use.
You will need your own domain name and web hosting. You can get both inexpensively at NameCheap.com. I buy all of my domain names using NameCheap. I also host some of my websites with them as well with no problems.
Once you have web hosting, you can install WordPress using one-click software installation. You can locate this in your CPanel. Most commercial web hosting providers offer this.
If you are using NameCheap to host your website, it will look like this:
However, you can find Softaculous Apps in Cpanels across a majority of web hosting providers. After you install WordPress, you will need to install WooCommerce.
You can do so right from the plugins page of your WordPress admin area like below:
After WooCommerce is installed, you will need a dropshipping plugin as well. WooCommerce is not dropshipping software by default. It is shopping cart software.
I recommend downloading and installing the Dropship.Me plugin. It is a free dropshipping plugin that works with WooCommerce.
Dropship.Me enables you to import the best selling products from AliExpress into your WooCommerce store. All of the products have been manually selected.
All of the product titles, images, and descriptions have been edited for you. It saves a lot of time and you know the products are top sellers.
What To Keep In Mind About This Version of a Free Dropshipping Store
Building your store this way using the free software outlined above means that you will have the bare minimum in terms of features. For example, you will not have automated order processing or automated tracking information sent to your customers.
You will need to manually handle those processes. That may be okay for you in the beginning but after a while, the process can become time-consuming and tedious.
When you are ready to move beyond that and automate your store, I highly recommend upgrading to the AliDropship Woo plugin.
AliDropship Woo turns your WooCommerce store into a full-featured AliExpress dropshipping business. What is nice about AliDropship is that you only pay a one-time fee and have no recurring monthly software fees to use it.
What Types of Fee-Based Dropshipping Software To Use
There is a wide variety of shopping cart platforms that you can use to open a dropshipping store. Shopify is probably the most popular paid platform.
In order to dropship with Shopify, you’ll need a dropshipping app. Oberlo is widely popular for Shopify. However, another dropshipping software that integrates with Shopify and gaining popularity for its features is Dropified.
Dropified has a bit more features than Oberlo does. In particular, you can dropship from 100+ different suppliers. You can also manage multiple stores from one location.
Fee-Based Dropshipping Software Has More Features
The big advantage of a fee-based dropshipping store is that you get all of the features you need to automate your business.
For example, Shopify has its own built-in payment gateway (with its own fee structure) which makes it easy to begin selling immediately.
Both Oberlo and Dropified automate order fulfillment and can automate tracking information that is sent to your customers.
Fee-Based Software Can Be Expensive
You can expect to pay monthly fees for all of the software that you need to dropship with fee-based services.
For example, Shopify’s basic plan is $29 per month. Oberlo is free to use with limitations and their basic plan is $29 per month.
That doesn’t include the other possible apps that you’ll want or need to install that may or may not have fees.
At a minimum, you’d be paying $60 per month or $720 per year. If you are on a tight budget, opening a free dropshipping store using WordPress and WooCommerce makes more sense.
You Can Make Sales with a Free or Fee-Based Dropshipping Store
Making sales will work in the same way with either type of store. You will need to promote your store and products in the same manner whether you are using free or paid advertising.
The most popular paid advertising options include Facebook ads, Instagram ads and shout-outs with influencers, and Pinterest ads. You can use the free versions of these services as well to promote.
My Closing Thoughts On a Free Dropshipping Store and Fee-Based Stores
I think that a free dropshipping store can work well in the beginning stages of running your store. However, once you begin making a good amount of sales on a regular basis, you’ll likely want to upgrade your store.
A free dropshipping store is a good option for those on a limited budget.
I recommend preparing to want to upgrade later on. If you build your free store using the software I pointed out above, you can upgrade easily using the AliDropship plugin.
There is more work involved with a free dropshipping store. You will not get the automated features that make running a store easier.
You will have to process orders manually as well as send tracking details to your customers manually.
Considering a Fee-Based Dropshipping Store
If you are not limited by budget, starting off with a fee-based store may be the ideal option.
Whether you are paying monthly fees using Shopify or another service, or if you use WordPress/WooCommerce, you have plenty of options to automate your store.
If you plan on using the AliDropship plugin, I recommend bundling in their web hosting as well.
Not only will you get hosting that is perfectly configured for the plugin, but they will install WordPress and the plugin for you.
What are your thoughts on a free dropshipping store working as well as a fee-based store?
It is nice to have options but it is also important to think long term as well. Leave your thoughts in the comments below!