Shopify is one of the top eCommerce platforms in use. Not only can you sell products of your own or wholesale items, but you can also use Shopify for dropshipping. Although it remains a popular option, there are comparable free software platforms that you can choose from as well. I’ll explain how Shopify compares to these free dropshipping platforms.
I tried using Shopify for dropshipping during a free trial of the service. I connected the Oberlo app so that I could dropship from AliExpress. Overall, it was easy to use and I liked many of the features of the two services. However, there were a few things that made me concerned which is why I sought out other alternatives.
How Shopify Works
Shopify is eCommerce software that you can use to create your own online store. It is a SaaS (software as a service) business which means you create an account with them and pay a monthly fee to use their platform.
It is not a dropshipping platform by default. You would need to install another Shopify app in order to begin dropshipping. One of the most popular being the Oberlo app. Shopify bought the Oberlo service so it is now owned by Shopify.
Although Shopify did not start off as a dropshipping platform, the dropshipping model has made Shopify extremely popular.
Once you connect Oberlo to your Shopify store, you have the option to import products from AliExpress using the Oberlo Chrome browser extension.
What is AliExpress?
If you are not familiar with AliExpress.com, it is one of the largest online retailers in the world. Here are some of the reasons many dropshippers source from AliExpress:
- 200,000 exporters
- Over 100 million items
- No entry or participation fees
- No limits on your profit margins
- No limits on the amount of products you sell
- Works with individuals and registered companies
- Free shipping on most items
- Ships to over 200 countries worldwide
- Online shipping tracking
- Wide range of shipping methods
- Buyer protection system with full money back guarantee
Although many of the merchants on AliExpress are based in China, shipping times are not typically an issue.
A majority of suppliers offer ePacket shipping which is a faster shipping method from China. There are also suppliers on AliExpress that ship from the United States. Here is a great article by the AliDropship (dropshipping software) team that talks about AliExpress shipping times.
The Ease of Dropshipping with Shopify
What makes dropshipping with Shopify awesome is its ease of use and the ability to begin selling right away.
They have their own payment processor to process credit card payments. Their credit card processing fees vary depending on the payment plan that you choose.
Once you are finished importing products into your store using the Oberlo app, you can begin promoting your store and making sales.
Why Bother with Free Dropshipping Software?
Using Shopify definitely makes dropshipping easy so why would you consider free options? Well, for one, they are free. Free doesn’t necessarily equate to subpar.
The primary free alternative is WordPress. I’m referring to the WordPress software that you can download and install.
There is a difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. The .com version has payment plans while the .org is open source software that you can use for free.
That being said, WordPress is not an eCommerce platform or dropshipping platform by default. It is website software and like Shopify, you can use plugins to transform it into an eCommerce business.
For example, many people choose WooCommerce for turning their WordPress website into an eCommerce store. WooCommerce is a plugin which is also free to use.
The dropshipping plugin that I use and recommend is called AliDropship.
The reason that I like this plugin is that you only pay a one-time fee. There are no ongoing monthly software fees to use it and it includes lifelong updates and customer support.
Free Dropshipping Software Versus Shopify
Remember at the beginning of this post I mentioned there were a couple of reasons why I didn’t stay with Shopify? Although I do like Shopify, I still sought an alternative way to run a dropshipping store.
I knew that WordPress would be a great option as it is widely used and has really good plugins. I came across the AliDropship plugin which sealed the deal for me.
Reason #1: Store Ownership
- When you create a Shopify account, you are paying a monthly fee to use their software on their platform. Meaning, you do not retain full ownership of your store. Shopify has the authority to close your account at any time for any reason. Take a look at the screen capture below from their terms of service page:
Reason #2: Why Not Save On Expenses?
- The basic monthly fee for using Shopify is $29. The basic monthly fee for using Oberlo is $29.90. At a minimum, you will pay $60 per month to use their software. This doesn’t include other apps you may want or need to install that also carry fees. Below is a screen capture of a Shopify dropshipping store that was on sale and its monthly fees:
How to Maintain 100% Ownership and Lower Expenses on Your Dropshipping Store
If you’re like me and prefer to retain full ownership of your dropshipping store, you should strongly consider using WordPress and the AliDropship plugin.
No Monthly Software Fees
- WordPress is free to use. Any major web hosting provider provides one-click WordPress installation so you do not need any technical experience to install it. AliDropship has a one-time fee and zero ongoing monthly fees. Therefore, the money that you save on monthly expenses can be put towards your advertising budget.
Retain Full Ownership of Your Store
- Since WordPress is open source and free for you to use and AliDropship is a WordPress plugin, you thus retain 100% ownership of your store. There are no worries of a third-party service closing your account. This is something to strongly consider before you open your own dropshipping store.
You Can Have Your Store Custom Built
- Whether you build your dropshipping business with Shopify or WordPress, it still requires time to build your store. Importing products, editing images, editing product descriptions, and creating supplemental graphics (logos, banners, etc.) takes a lot of time. There are services that will build your Shopify store for you. However, you will still have the other issues I mentioned (recurring fees, not retaining store ownership.) The good news is that AliDropship also offers custom dropshipping store creation for a one-time fee and no recurring monthly fees. Even better—AliDropship provides you with a personal manager with any custom store plan that you choose.
Whether you use Shopify or a free eCommerce platform such as WordPress/WooCommerce, you are in good hands. What it really comes down to is your own preferences, budget, and goals of your store.
I really like the AliDropship plugin. It transforms any WordPress installation into a full-featured AliExpress dropshipping business. It also has a WooCommerce compatible version.
If you are leaning more towards Shopify, you can take advantage of their 14-Day Free Trial.