Dropshipping seems to be all the rage right now in the online business world. There are courses of all kind promoting Shopify and dropshipping.
I decided to give Shopify’s free trial a go and create an online store filled with products from AliExpress.
In this post, I’ll explain how I went about creating my store and the obstacles I discovered along the way.
Opening a Shopify Store is Super Easy
I can understand why a lot of people who are interested in dropshipping end up choosing Shopify for their e-commerce needs.
It is extremely easy to use and they offer a free 14-day trial which lets you play before you pay which is nice.
Creating a store is simply a matter of inputting your email address and choosing a name for your store.
No credit card is required to get started. However, your store will be password protected and in order for the public to view your store, you have to select a paid plan.
Your card will not be charged until after your free trial has ended. That means you could create your store, input products, and make a sale before you are even billed.
You can literally have your dropship store up and running with products in a few hours if you have the time or within a few days with some effort.
Sourcing Dropship Products Using Oberlo and AliExpress
One of the pluses of using Shopify for dropshipping is the Oberlo app.
Oberlo is a free app that connects AliExpress to your Shopify store and allows you to add products with a click.
That is why you can have a store created in a few hours if you truly wanted to. One of the challenging parts is finding items in a niche you want to sell.
There is an abundance of items on AliExpress. You can sell anything from dog and cat costumes to high-end watches and more.
If you are using the Chrome browser, you can install the Oberlo extension which makes it even easier to select items within AliExpress.
Some Things to Be Aware of with AliExpress
A majority of the items inside of AliExpress are shipped from China. Here are some things I ran into when importing products.
Many manufacturers are good about placing sizing information in their descriptions. You may have to convert the sizing to U.S. sizes if the manufacturer doesn’t do so.
Some products have extremely long shipping times. When I looked for items to import into my store, I looked for e-packet and no more than a 12 – 20 day shipping time.
ePacket delivery is an agreement between the US Postal Service and the Hongkong Post to boost growth in ecommerce. It allows for faster ePacket delivery of lightweight products coming from China and Hong Kong to the US. Merchants can send small packages weighing up to 2 kg (4.4 lbs). [Source: Oberlo]
You really have no way of knowing if one of your dropship suppliers are truly reliable until after you’ve placed an order with them.
One thing I looked out for was the seller ratings and how many years they have been on AliExpress. I felt ok with sellers with one year or longer on the website.
I didn’t come across this problem too much because of the niche I chose. However, it is something to keep in mind if you are selling higher-end items.
Traffic – Every Store Owner’s Biggest Challenge
Here is where I ran into the biggest issue. Like any website owner, without traffic, you realize your website is useless.
I had all of these great products in a very nice looking store and no way to make sales. I began reading articles on both Shopify and Oberlo for marketing my new store.
Facebook ads were talked about most so I created a few for testing purposes. Let’s just say if you do not have much of an advertising budget, it can be difficult to find a winning combination.
There is a learning curve with Facebook ads and I know for certain that I didn’t learn much during my free trial.
There are courses that will teach you how to use Facebook ads. I would probably research them and invest in one if I were to continue with running my store.
Keep in mind that regardless of what you learn, you’ll likely still have to pay quite a bit in advertising to receive traffic and make sales.
It is not uncommon for many store owners to spend $100 or more a day on ads. However, they are likely at a point in which they are making regular sales as well.
If you are a beginner, you may be risking quite a bit of money up front.
Have I given up on the dropship model? Not at all. I think it can work if you have an advertising budget.
Facebook ads aren’t the only method of advertising. You can use other pay-per-click services or even use free methods such as posting on Pinterest or Instagram.
At this point, I’m happy to continue creating niche websites. For the most part, niche websites generate free traffic.
There is always the option to use pay-per-click advertising but it isn’t necessary. Shopify is also not the only option for creating a dropship store.
AliDropship is a WordPress plugin that imports AliExpress products into your e-commerce theme.
It enables you to create a full-featured AliExpress dropshipping business. We use AliDropship for our own store and I couldn’t be happier with its features and ease of use.
What is even cooler is that AliDropship also offers a turnkey custom dropshipping store creation service.
Whichever platform that you choose, you are going to be in good hands. Both platforms have great customer service and there is plenty of documentation and training that you can use to build a successful dropshipping business.
Interested in trying out Shopify? Sign up for their 14-day Free Trial.