Since you’re here, and looking to get started with building a WooCommerce-based dropshipping store, you’re probably already aware of what ‘dropshipping’ is.
But just in case you aren’t, I’m going to save you the trouble of having to look the term up, and quickly walk you through the concept.
What is Dropshipping?
Dropshipping is when you (the retailer or store owner) sell certain products on your website, but do not stock these products yourself. Instead, you transfer the order details to your manufacturer or wholesaler, and they process the order for you.
In simple words, you don’t have to worry about stocks or warehousing. The products you sell will directly be shipped from your vendor to your end customer.
What’s the catch?
Don’t get me wrong. Dropshipping is a great way of making money through your online store. It comes with a low barrier to entry, minimal initial investment, and an opportunity to scale easily. But, if you’re diving into this business, you might as well get a holistic view of what you’re dealing with here. So here’s the disclaimer:
- You don’t have to fulfill orders because your vendors do it for you. That means, you’re paying your vendor for these services, and your margins are going to be small.
- You’re responsible for the products. In case your customers have complaints about an order, you’re going to have to resolve those issues (irrespective of whether you were responsible for it or your manufacturer was).
- You need to avoid stock shortages at all times. You cannot be selling more products than the vendor has in stock.
There are obviously some more technicalities involved (with regard to the supply chain management and vendors’ payments) which we’ll get into at a later stage of the article.
Should you even be using WordPress and WooCommerce?
There’s a lot of buzz online about choosing the right platform for dropshipping.
If you’ve done your research, you’ve probably come across a dropshipping tool called ‘Oberlo’. A lot of marketing content will tell you that Oberlo and Shopify is the best combination for setting up a dropshipping store. Your real challenge here is to cut through the noise and act on legitimate data.
The only way to be sure about your software is to list down the functionality you need, and check if the platform in question provides it.
That’s precisely why we love WooCommerce. It lets you build any functionality that you can possibly think of.
Since you’re in complete control of your code, you can modify and tweak your system to seamlessly catch up with your changing needs. In fact, there’s a good chance that a WooCommerce feature addition you’re looking for is already available in the form of a plugin.
The biggest advantage that you get by setting up a dropshipping store on WooCommerce, in a single word, is the ‘flexibility’.
That isn’t the case with Shopify and Oberlo. You use what the platform provides. They do have all of the necessary features that a dropshipping store needs, but if at any point you have a requirement that’s specific to your business, you don’t have as much flexibility.
A lot of blog posts will also tell you that, “WooCommerce is free”. Although I’m in favor of using WooCommerce for dropshipping, you should know that this statement isn’t entirely true.
While WooCommerce is a free WordPress plugin, you’re going to be spending money on your hosting, your domain name, any plugins you might integrate and a developer if you’re working with one.
But, rest assured, you’re investing in the right technology. After all, WooCommerce is the most popular eCommerce software in the world for a reason.
How to Get Started with WordPress and WooCommerce?
Now that all the doubts are out of the way, let’s map out the working of your store. To begin with, your WooCommerce dropshipping portal will need the basic eCommerce essentials.
If you’re new to WordPress and WooCommerce, this checklist will come in handy:
- Get a Domain
- Purchase a Suitable Hosting Plan
- Set-Up WordPress
- Configure the WooCommerce Plugin (This is when you integrate a Payment Gateway like PayPal or Stripe and also fill in your Shipping Details)
- Install a Suitable Theme (You’ll find free or paid WooCommerce dropshipping themes like Storefront or Flatsome)
What Does Your WooCommerce Dropshipping System Need to Handle?
Here’s how a generic dropshipping system works:
- You list the products on your website.
- A customer purchases your product (The buyer adds the product to the cart, fills in shipping details and chooses a suitable payment method).
- The details of the order are sent to your vendor.
- The vendor ships this product to the customer and simultaneously sends the order tracking details to you.
- You forward the tracking details to your customer.
- Depending on your prior arrangement with your vendor, the payment is settled.
Now, you’ll find yourself in either of the following four situations:
Case 1: You’re going to be working with a single vendor.
Case 2: You want to work with vendors from AliExpress.
Case 3: You’re dealing with local wholesalers and vendors from AliExpress.
Case 4: You don’t know who you’re dealing with yet, and you need help with finding the right products and vendors.
There are a whole bunch of WooCommerce plugins that’ll help you get started with the set up of your store. The build of your WooCommerce dropshipping system, however, should ideally depend on which one of the above cases you’re dealing with.
If you’re going to be working with a single vendor…..
things are going to be pretty simple for you. The only “extra” features your dropping system will need is the vendor side of it.
That includes uploading the inventory, sending order details and transferring the dues. Since that’s all that you need, a simple plugin like WooCommerce Dropshipping ($49/year) or WooCommerce Dropshipping Suppliers Pro ($59/year) will do the trick for you.
These plugins offer ‘single click product import’ and an ‘email notification’ that is automatically sent to your vendor. Additionally, WooCommerce Dropshipping Suppliers Pro allows you to import ‘inventory updates’ and keep tabs on product stocks.
While these plugins do support multiple vendors, their offering is very basic. Once you start dealing with a lot of products on your dropshipping website, juggling between stock updates, customer support, and payment processing can become quite a task.
In such cases, automating all of these tasks is the best way to make the most out of your software. That’s the reason we don’t recommend using these plugins when you’re dealing with a lot of vendors or even products.
If you want to work with vendors from AliExpress…..
you again have some great off-the-shelf tools that’ll take care of all your dropshipping needs. Two of the top plugins in this category are WooDropship ($14/mo to $49/mo) and AliDropship ($89). These plugins are specifically built to help you seamlessly deal with products and vendors from AliExpress.
I’m going to quickly list down to features so that you get the gist of what they’re offering.
As you can see, both of these plugins pretty much offer the same features. While they take care of the majority of your needs, the one thing that none of the plugins offer is an ‘automated payments module’ to handle vendor payments.
That’s a feature you’ll need to invest in once you start to scale. The good news here is that WooCommerce is extremely customizable and any good WooCommerce developer can help you set up this module.
If you’re dealing with local wholesalers and vendors from AliExpress….
customizing your WooCommerce dropshipping system is the smartest way forward.
Needless to say, you’re going to be working with a large number of products in this case.
Based on the deals you’ve struck with each vendor, the payment processing unit will differ. Even the inventory syncing workflows, order processing systems will vary based on who you’re working with.
No ready-to-use plugin will be able to cater to your specific requirements. To efficiently run your store by taking all of these factors into consideration, customizing your system to synchronize all these processes becomes your most practical solution.
If you don’t know who you’re dealing with yet, and you need help with finding the right products and vendors….
Dropified helps you find and source products from about 100 stores including eBay and AliExpress. They even offer a 14-day Free Trial and a 30-day 100% money-back guarantee!
DropshipMe offers a curated list of over 50,000 best-selling products that you can easily import to your WooCommerce store. You can import your first 50 products and test the waters for free.
After you’re through with building your store, maintain it and marketing it is going to be your next task at hand. But, that’s a discussion for another day.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about setting up your WooCommerce Dropshipping system, drop me a line below. You could even get in touch with our Certified WooCommerce Development Experts (*ahem* *ahem*) who’ll set up the store and customize it for you. 🙂