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Blog / Beginner's handbook / How to Dropship on Shopify: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Beginner's handbook

How to Dropship on Shopify: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

How to Dropship on Shopify: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners
Zoe Amora Iranzo-Lauriņa

By Zoe Amora Iranzo-Lauriņa

14 min read

Shopify dropshipping opens a gateway to a dynamic ecommerce universe. You no longer have to worry about managing inventory, building a website from scratch, or fulfilling orders manually. With Shopify dropshipping, all you need is a solid business idea and an effective marketing strategy.

Because it’s so simple, you can even start a dropshipping business on the side while working a full-time job. Apply these 15 dropshipping tips to drive traffic to your store, and you’ll eventually be able to quit your 9 to 5 (if you wish!).

Learn how to dropship on Shopify as we demystify the process for aspiring entrepreneurs eager to delve into the world of online retail. Whether you’re an experienced business owner or new to the game, understanding the ins and outs of Shopify dropshipping can help you turn your entrepreneurial vision into a reality.

What is dropshipping?

Dropshipping is a business model in which a third-party supplier is responsible for manufacturing, packing, and delivering orders on behalf of other businesses.

a man sitting in a chair with a laptop

Source: Printful

The main advantage of dropshipping is that it enables businesses to offer a wide variety of products without the usual overhead costs associated with traditional retail, such as warehousing and large inventory investments.

Dropshipping suppliers offer on-demand order fulfillment, allowing businesses to pay for products only as orders come in. This ecommerce model is gaining popularity due to its low entry barriers and flexible product offerings. With the help of a reliable dropshipping partner, ecommerce store owners can sell their products worldwide.

Valuable read: What Is Dropshipping? The Ultimate Guide

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What is Shopify?

Shopify is a leading ecommerce platform that empowers individuals to create their online stores, market their products, and accept payments across multiple channels—all without the hassle of managing inventory and logistics.

Shopify owes its success and expertise in commerce to the millions of business owners who’ve achieved tremendous success using its platform. Whether you’re a solopreneur or an enterprise brand, Shopify offers the right features and products to power your business now and to help shape the future of ecommerce.

How to dropship on Shopify in 7 steps

Starting a Shopify dropshipping business has never been easier! Follow these 7 steps to confidently create a unique business idea, launch a storefront of custom products, and partner with a print-on-demand provider to streamline order fulfillment.

Imagine having your own fully functional ecommerce store that can start making money today. With the help of this comprehensive guide, that dream can come true. Follow these 7 steps to start a Shopify dropshipping business—including strategies to make your online store profitable.

1. Select a niche for your dropshipping business

When starting an ecommerce business, it’s essential to identify a niche that aligns with your interests and market demand. By choosing a specific niche, you can focus your efforts on creating offerings that cater to the needs and wants of a particular audience. Maybe you target single moms, outdoor adventurers, or pet owners.

a group of pillows with images of dogs and cats

Source: A Pet’s World

To find your niche, consider your hobbies, passions, and areas of expertise. Once you have a few potential niches in mind, conduct market research to ensure that there is a viable customer base. You can use tools like Google Keyword Planner, Google Trends, and social media analytics to gauge the level of interest in your niche.

Valuable read: How To Find Products To Sell on Shopify

By choosing a focused niche, you can differentiate yourself from competitors and establish yourself as an expert in your field. That can lead to increased brand recognition and customer loyalty. The more specific your niche, the better. Check out these tips from experts on validating a business niche.

Remember to assess the competition to see what’s working for them, how you can make your offers better, and ensure your products are unique. Find inspiration in our article listing the most profitable dropshipping niches in 2024.

2. Set up your Shopify dropshipping store

a screenshot of a website

Source: Shopify

Once you’ve found your niche, it’s time to open a Shopify account. Choose the plan that best suits your needs. Shopify’s Basic plan offers basic reports, up to 1,000 inventory locations, and 2 staff accounts, while their Advanced plan comes with a custom report builder and 15 staff accounts.

The coolest thing about opening a Shopify store is that you get a free 14-day trial plus the next 3 months for just $1/month. If you’re unhappy with their services by the end of this period, you can deactivate your account with virtually no losses. Chances are, you’ll fall in love with Shopify dropshipping and never look back!

After creating an account and selecting a plan, it’s time to set up your Shopify dropshipping website. Customize your storefront and configure essential settings like payment gateways, tax information, shipping, etc. To learn more, consult Shopify’s checklist for starting an online store.

3. Select your dropshipping supplier

A Shopify store without high-quality products is like a Taylor Swift concert without Taylor—nobody will show up. To attract a loyal fan base to your online store, offering quality products from a reliable dropshipping supplier is crucial. If you want to offer customized products, consider partnering with a print-on-demand provider like Printful.

A print-on-demand partner will handle order fulfillment and allow you to place your own designs on hundreds of customizable products. That’ll set you apart from typical dropshipping businesses offering products without original designs.

a screenshot of a product

Source: Printful

When scouring the market for a good POD partner, here are a few factors to consider:

Range and quality of products

Printful offers 340+ high-quality customizable products for your designs. You’ll find white-label apparel like custom t-shirts, beanies, and sneakers; stationery items like postcards, stickers, and notebooks; wall art like posters, canvases, prints, and much more.

Printful works with the best suppliers in the business, like Bella+Canvas and Gildan. Check out Printful’s quality page to see more of our partners.

Customer service

Printful offers 24/7 customer support, allowing you to contact a representative whenever necessary. Check out Printful’s contacts here.

Average production and delivery speed

You want to make sure customer orders arrive within the expected time. Printful calculates the fulfillment time in business days, and it’s 2–5 business days for all production techniques.

97.66% of our orders are shipped within 5 business days. More than 50% of our orders are shipped within 3 business days or fewer. Shipping time will depend on multiple factors, but with 11 facilities worldwide, Printful ensures swift delivery wherever your customers are.

Sustainable and ethical practices

Choosing to run a sustainable business will not only benefit the planet but may also attract more customers. Studies show that 78% of US consumers alone care about sustainability. Printful is constantly taking action to become more eco-friendly. We’ve partnered with an ethical trade provider, increased the number of products made with recycled materials, published our Code of Conduct, and more.

Here’s an example of what your website’s code of conduct could look like, taken from the sustainable dropshipping business Beefcake Swimwear.

a screenshot of a website

Source: Beefcake Swimwear

Want to start your print-on-demand dropshipping business today? Seamlessly connect your Printful account to your Shopify store in a few clicks.

4. Design and import products

When it comes to placing your design on products, you want to avoid any technical complications. These can prolong the fulfillment process and leave your customers waiting for their orders. Don’t worry—the built-in tools in Printful’s Design Maker (Clipart, Text Tool, Quick Design, etc.) are a fail-proof way to make solid print files.

a woman with short hair wearing a white shirt

Source: Printful

Let’s say you want to sell custom hoodies for your streetwear brand. Check out our guide for designing a hoodie using our Design Maker. The steps in this guide can be applied to any product from our catalog.

Want to expand your design options? There’s a plethora of free and paid software for creating stunning designs. Experiment with Adobe Illustrator, Canva, or Inkscape. Just make sure your design follows your POD provider’s print file guidelines to ensure a successful result.

When your designs are ready, it’s time to import products to your Shopify dropshipping store. Looking for ideas? Check out our list of trending products to sell in 2024, or browse the best-selling print-on-demand products.

Make sure you choose dropshipping products with high-profit margins to make bank. When calculating profit margins, consider expenses like shipping costs, inventory management (if you choose to fulfill on your own), taxes, subscriptions, design costs, etc.

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5. Customize your online store

You’re almost ready to start dropshipping on Shopify. But first, you want your storefront to look flawless. Customize your Shopify store theme to infuse your brand personality, and tailor visuals, layout, and content to create a memorable shopping experience.

When designing your Shopify store, consult the color wheel to see what contrasts work well together. Colors also evoke different emotional responses, so learning a bit of color psychology can be useful.

a color wheel with different colors

Source: Canva

As a basic rule of thumb, your Shopify store theme should have no more than three main colors and use them in ratios of 10%, 30%, and 60%. Just think of popular brands like Burger King, Starbucks, or Red Bull—they all use no more than three colors and keep it simple.

Another vital step to running a profitable online store is to have stunning product pictures. Taking multiple photos of each product can be time-consuming or expensive, depending on whether you hire a photographer. But what if you don’t have the time or resources? You can create product mockups for free using Printful’s Mockup Generator.

a man in a white shirt

Source: Printful

Simply select a product, place your design on it, and generate true-to-life mockups in a few clicks. Although mockups give a nearly perfect representation of reality, colors will always look slightly different in real life. So, don’t forget to order product samples to ensure you’re satisfied with the print and product quality.

6. Market products and build your audience

Any ecommerce business relies heavily on effective marketing strategies for its success. A marketing strategy is a tool that helps a company to achieve its long-term marketing goals. It involves setting up clear objectives, identifying the main value proposition of the business, and defining the target market. Why is it important to have a marketing strategy?

a group of people looking at a large screen with icons

Source: wpsocialninja

The strategy serves as a roadmap for the company’s marketing team, keeping their efforts focused on what the company is trying to achieve. At the core of a good marketing strategy are the company’s purpose and values. Find out more about how to develop an effective marketing strategy.

Once you have your strategy set, it’s time to choose your sales channels. There are several ways you can market your dropshipping store.

Social media marketing

Leverage your social media accounts by posting about your products and offering valuable content to your followers. You can run sales, competitions, giveaways, promos, or anything that encourages people to interact with your content.

In today’s digital age, any successful online business needs a strong social media presence. Find out where your customers are actively hanging out and what type of content they like. Check out our beginner’s guide to social media marketing to get started.

Email marketing

Who even reads emails anymore? Surprisingly, the vast majority of people. A staggering 90% of Americans are subscribed to at least one email newsletter, while 74% are subscribed to two or more newsletters. Add the fact that these potential customers check their inboxes daily, and you’ll understand why email marketing is so powerful.

a screenshot of a web page

Source: Storydoc

What’s more, email marketing has one of the highest returns on investment (ROI). For every $1 spent, companies earn an average of $42, a jaw-dropping 4200% ROI. Check out these email marketing strategies for better results.

Search engine optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving your website to increase its visibility on search engines like Google and Microsoft Bing. These optimizations aim to enhance user experiences and offer valuable content. By ranking higher in search results, your website can generate more traffic, leads, and sales.

You can hire an SEO expert or use content optimization tools like Surfer SEO or Semrush to boost your website’s visibility. Learn more about search engine optimization in our beginner’s guide to SEO.

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising

PPC advertising is a paid strategy in which your business pays an advertiser, like Google or Facebook, each time someone clicks on your ad. It provides concrete data for your marketing strategies.

With tools like Google Ads, you can research potential keywords, pick the most effective ones, and determine precisely how much you’re willing to pay for each click.

Usually, the average ROI is $2 for every $1 spent, but with Google Ads, it’s a whopping $8 for every $1.

Influencer marketing

With the increasing popularity of social media platforms, many people turn to influencers for product recommendations. In fact, 85% of Gen Zers (the younger generation) say that social media influences their purchasing decisions.

It’s no surprise that 92% of marketers consider influencer marketing to be an effective strategy. Just make sure the influencers you work with align with your brand image and values. That way, their followers are more likely to be interested in your brand.

Collaborating with micro-influencers who align with your brand can be more beneficial than working with mega-popular influencers who don’t. This is a strategy successfully adopted by the fashion brand Allbirds.

a man standing on a street

Source: Instagram

7. Build trust

Just as pop stars like Taylor Swift have a devoted fan base that keeps coming to their concerts, a good Shopify store has loyal customers who make repeated purchases. How can you build trust in your ecommerce platform or business? There are several actionable measures you can take.

Implement transparent policies for returns, refunds, etc.

Customers trust brands that openly share information and are truthful about their services. In fact, 74% of customers say transparency matters or is even crucial in their purchasing decision-making.

Have a dedicated FAQ section on your Shopify website, along with a clear refund and returns policy. When the return policy and procedure are clear and transparent, customers are more likely to make purchases.

a close-up of a document

Source: Printful

Also, be clear about your production and shipping estimates and provide complete listing descriptions and size charts. The more information you provide, the more trustworthy your brand becomes.

Offer excellent customer service

To build a successful dropshipping business, put your customers first. Treat each shopper like a human, not like a number. Over 80% of customers reported that receiving outstanding service makes them more likely to repurchase from the same company—even when presented with the chance to switch to another company.

Find out more on how to provide outstanding customer service as a POD dropshipping business.

Leverage customer reviews to build credibility

Don’t underestimate the power of stellar reviews. According to a recent survey, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations. Encourage your customers to leave a review by offering a special discount code on their next purchase or another incentive.

a screenshot of a computer

Source: Instagram

But don’t worry if you get bad reviews—they’re an opportunity to improve your offering! Check out our guide on how to turn negative feedback into a positive experience.

Connect with your audience

To build trust, it’s equally important to connect with your audience and build an online community. First, establish your business purpose, then engage with your audience. Act like a friend they can trust by being transparent, providing value, and standing for a common cause.

a woman clapping at a meeting

Source: The Outrage

There are many ways to promote your products. You can run a blog where you share valuable information or create meaningful posts on social media. Make your content interactive to boost engagement.

Yes, dropshipping is a legal business model. Like any other business, you must follow local, national, and international laws that govern the sale of goods. If you comply with these regulations, dropshipping is usually a low-risk business model with minimal personal liability.

Is Shopify dropshipping profitable?

The short answer is yes. From 2022 to 2023, the dropshipping market grew from $192.76B to $249.16B. And it’s expected to reach $724.26B by 2027. You, too, can start your own dropshipping business and claim a piece of that pie. But remember that, like anything worthwhile, it’ll take time, dedication, and consistency.

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How much does it cost to start dropshipping on Shopify?

The entrance costs of starting a Shopify dropshipping business are surprisingly low. All you need is a Shopify account, dropshipping suppliers, and (if you wish) some paid ads. Remember, the free trial of Shopify gives you 14 days to try it out, plus 3 months for just $1/month.

There are multiple suppliers to choose from—wholesale, manufacturer, print-on-demand, and dropshipping. The problem with working with a wholesaler or manufacturer is that you’ll likely have high overhead costs from buying inventory in bulk.

a collage of images of a man working in a factory

Source: Printful

If you partner with a POD provider like Printful, you can open an account with no setup costs, minimums, or monthly fees. You pay only for a product when a customer places an order. Plus, Printful takes care of warehousing, inventory management, and order fulfillment.

Give Shopify dropshipping a try!

Running a Shopify dropshipping store is the perfect business model for those who aspire to create their own enterprise with minimal investment. Plus, Shopify’s platform is easy to navigate and seamlessly integrates with fulfillment providers like Printful.

With Shopify dropshipping, you only order what your customers buy, so you don’t need to worry about excess inventory. That allows you to focus on meeting customer demand and building a flourishing business.

Open your Shopify account today and reap your harvest in no time! Still have questions about Shopify or the dropshipping business model? Leave them in the comments below.



By Zoe Amora Iranzo-Lauriņa on Jan. 23, 2024

Zoe Amora Iranzo-Lauriņa

Guest author

Zoe is a creative writer, multilingual translator, and certified yoga instructor with a passion for learning, traveling, and global cuisine. When she's not typing away at her PC, you can find her teaching yoga in the park, reading on the couch with her cat, or plunging in the Mediterranean.

Zoe is a creative writer, multilingual translator, and certified yoga instructor with a passion for learning, traveling, and global cuisine. When she's not typing away at her PC, you can find her teaching yoga in the park, reading on the couch with her cat, or plunging in the Mediterranean.