21 Feb, 2019

10-Step Guide to Building a Dropshipping Store (With Video!)

This blog post will walk you through everything you need to know to launch a dropshipping store with Oberlo and Shopify. And there will be videos every step of the way.

Does that mean you’ll have a thriving business by the time you get to the bottom? Well, not exactly. There is a lot that goes into successful dropshipping stores, so don’t quit your day job – not yet, at least.

But hey, Step 1 for any dropshipping store is, you know, having a dropshipping store. You can get that part out the way by clicking here.

Once you’re signed up, read on as we go over:

  • How to find products to sell online with Oberlo
  • How to edit product names, descriptions, and prices
  • How to integrate the products you find on Oberlo with a Shopify store
  • How to make your Shopify store look and feel like a real online store
  • How to fulfill orders once the sales start rolling in

Alright, let’s get this thing going.

Don’t wait for someone else to do it. Hire yourself and start calling the shots.

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Step 1: Finding Products

Having products to sell is one of the biggest hurdles entrepreneurs face. After all, not everyone is artistic enough to design and create things that people want to buy. (I’m definitely one of these non-artistic people – my grade school art teacher can confirm.)

But with dropshipping, you don’t need to create anything. You need to learn marketing, sure. And you need to do some homework finding awesome products. But being able to design, build, manufacture – that’s all optional.

Pretty cool, right?

Alright, so instead of buying a studio and manufacturing our own items, us dropshippers will start by searching Oberlo and finding the items that we want to sell. There are tons of different ways to discover products. We can use filters such as:

  • Product categories like Women’s Clothing, Home & Garden, etc.
  • Where products ship from
  • How much they cost
  • How popular they
  • The different delivery methods available
  • And lots more

Here’s a closer look at how that works:

Oh, and real quick: As you see, the store I’m building is for leggings and other types of “athleisure.” These are a huge seller for Oberlo merchants, so could be worth checking out as you look for products to sell.


Step 2: Editing Products in Your Import List

The Oberlo “Import List” is where products hang out after you’ve selected them, and before you’ve pushed them over to your Shopify store. (Don’t have a Shopify store? No problem, we’ll get to that in a minute!)

Basically, the Import List gives us a chance to clean up anything that looks a little… off. Sometimes, for example, the original product names are a bit goofy, or the product descriptions aren’t exactly inspiring.

The Import List is also where you’ll handle search engine optimization. Put in any keywords or phrases that you think people interested in your product will be searching for. You also want to be sure to answer any questions that people might have in your product descriptions. Look at product descriptions on other websites, and see if there are common themes that are always talked about. Maybe there’s weight or length or color details that appear all the time – those are things that you can go ahead and make sure are in your descriptions as well.

The Import List is also where you’ll determine which product photos you want in your store, as well as which “variants” you want. Variants refer to the different sizes and different colors of the product, along with the prices. You can tweak your prices here if you want to increase your margins or incorporate shipping fee into the product’s price.

Anyway, you get the point: The Import List is a place to clean things up. Let’s see how that looks in action:

Step 3: Connecting Oberlo to Shopify

Whether you already have a Shopify store or are starting from scratch, next we’ll integrate Oberlo with Shopify.

Shopify, as you might know, is the leading e-commerce platform in the world. They power something like 800,000 businesses, and it is the platform that integrates with Oberlo. It is just as easy to sign up for Shopify as it is for Oberlo. You’re just gonna give your email address, a password, and your store name.

If you’re undecided on a store name, no worries. You can use Oberlo’s Business Name Generator or Shopify’s Business Name Generator to help you brainstorm.

After we start our free trial with Shopify, we’re going to land for the first time inside of our Shopify store. This is where you can find information about sales, orders, and visitors. Of course, we don’t have sales, orders, and visitors just yet because we don’t have any products. So to get products, we’ll make sure that everything that we put in our Import List gets to our store.

How does that work? So glad you ask. The next video will break it all down, including how to handle your Oberlo-Shopify integration settings, and the all-important step of how to set prices for your products.

Step 4: Making Your Store Feel… Like a Store

Now that the products are in our Shopify backend, we are getting closer and closer to having a store. But before we launch, we want to make sure that the store looks and feels exactly how we want it to.

And to do that, we are gonna check out the different Shopify themes.

The theme is like the backbone of your store. It’s going to dictate how your store looks, how it functions, and how the navigation acts when people come there to shop and to look around.

Shopify has tons of different themes that you can explore. Now, a lot of these are paid. They’re going to cost $180 or $160. These are super powerful and highly customizable. These are what you’ll need after your store hits it big.

In the meantime, though, we can use a free theme, which are all mobile-ready and all perfectly functional. In short, they’re powerful enough for us to get our store off the ground.

Within each theme, there are lots of customization options. This next video will give you a good overview of some of the big things to keep an eye on. Keep in mind: We can customize and tweak and adapt forever. That’s not what we’re doing today. Today, we just want to get something that’s good enough.

We can do that in about eight minutes. Here’s what it looks like:

Step 5: Handling Your Oberlo Products in Shopify

Alright, snapshot time. Here’s where we are right now:

  • We found products in Oberlo
  • We edited them in our Import List, and moved them over to Shopify
  • We launched a Shopify store and made it look like our own

We’re on our way – but not there yet. Next up, we’re going to explore how we can optimize the Oberlo-Shopify integration. One simple way to do that: create collections.

Collections are great for making your site easier to navigate. Think about some popular online stores, and chances are they have different collections of men’s clothing, women’s clothing, seasonal items, things that are on sale, things that are new, and so on. Collections are just a nice, simple way to break down your store into different elements that people can easily look at.

Another thing about your online store: They probably have more than three products, which is all that we have at the moment. So to familiarize ourselves with the Oberlo-Shopify integration – and to get some more products in our store! – we’re going to head back over to Oberlo and find a few more products.

Step 6: Adding Some Things Shoppers Will Expect

If you’ve been following along, then your store is now functional. It looks like a store, it has products, it even has a collection or two for your shoppers to browse. Not bad!

That said, there are a few items missing. So let’s add a few more things that every ecommerce store should have – namely, an “About Us” page and a “Contact” page.

The About Us page is a great chance for you to relate to your customers, to tell them what you’re all about, to tell them why you’re into the products you’re selling. It’s really a wonderful opportunity to turn visitors into customers, and there’s a lot of content on the Oberlo blog about how to create the perfect About Us page. There really is a science to what you want to include, what you want to leave out, and the sort of details that customers are gonna be looking for when they get to your store.

The second page we’re gonna create is Contact Us. After all, we need to make sure that our customers have a way to get in touch with us if they have questions. There are any number of things that somebody might want to ask you before they pull the trigger on a purchase, or even after they make a purchase. They might have a follow-up question or want to inquire about something else. So it’s really important that we give people the chance to get in touch with us no matter where they are in the buyer cycle, and this is especially important if people aren’t familiar with your store just yet.

Step 7: Shipping and Checkout

At this point, our store is really coming together. With enough hard work and enough patience, it’s inevitable that we’re going to start making some sales. And that means we’ll need to have our shipping details sorted out.

A good place to start is with Shopify’s “Shipping Zones.” When you’re just starting out, it makes sense to define your target markets – we don’t want to bite off more than we can chew by targeting every market from Singapore to Brazil. Your shipping zones should reflect your marketing priorities, so if you plan to run Facebook ads targeting certain markets, then let’s be sure to account for those markets in our shipping zones.

As a native English speaker, the first Shipping Zone I’ll create will be called the “Big Four + Europe.” The big four are the United States, the UK, Canada, and Australia, and these are huge markets for Oberlo merchants. We’ve written about this over at the blog: These are markets that you will want to target when you get your ads up and running. So we’re going add them to our primary shipping group, and then we’re gonna go ahead and put Europe in there as well.

And because these are our focus countries, we are going to have free shipping there. We’ll call this group “FreeI Shipping,” and we’ll set a free shipping rate. This will apply no matter how much money somebody spends at our store – they will get free shipping. Of course you’ll want to make sure that your prices cover the cost of shipping, but that’s a discussion for another day.

After we create our Shipping Zones, we’ll head over to the Check Out settings. As you’ll often find inside of Shopify, the default settings are going to work great for us. Of course, you should go through these and make sure that it matches what you want your experience to be at your store, but for now, we can just keep these default checkout settings. 

Another element of checkout – perhaps the most important element – is payment. We want to make this as smooth and convenient as possible, because by the time your shoppers get here, you’re on the doorstep of making a sale.

So we’ll double check a few things. First we’ll look into Payment Providers to make sure that everything is exactly how we want it. Depending on where you’re located, you’ll probably have Shopify Payments enabled by default, and we recommend that you keep it there. Shopify Payments is rock solid. It accepts all major credit cards, and the fees and rates are as good as any competitor.

Now that our Shopify Payments is set up, we can take a look at the other payment options that are available. Chances are that PayPal will be enabled by default. The only trick here is to make sure that it is linked to an email address that has a PayPal account. Shopify Payments and PayPal are definitely enough to get rolling. That said, there are certainly further options. You can activate Amazon Pay, or if you have a specific preference for other alternative payment methods, there’s a laundry list that you can choose from here inside of Shopify.

Sound complicated? It’s really not. Look for yourself:

Step 8: Finishing Touches!!!

You’ve come a long way since we first went on our product discovery mission inside of Oberlo. And I promise: We’re almost there. Just stick with me.

Another small but vital element of our store is legal stuff – the refund policy, the privacy policy, the terms of service. Now, this can be kind of scary, but luckily, Shopify has gone ahead and created templates that we can copy and use for our store.

You’ll want to go ahead and look through it – there are some details in here that you might want to update. There will be an address and an email address in here, for instance, so you want to make sure that all that stuff is spot-on.

For the refund policy, there’s also a dollar amount that stipulates how much somebody might expect to get back if they do ask for a refund. So you need to make sure to look at these details. But thankfully – especially for those of us who don’t speak legalese – most of the hard work has been done for us. It will remind you of the sort of documents that you would see from any major ecommerce shop.

Of course, having these different policies sitting in our Shopify back end isn’t going to be enough. We need to make them available to our shoppers, to our customers, and so we’re going to drop them into our footer. The reason that we’re going to put them in the footer and not at the top of the website is that these are very much technical details. They should be available for people who really seek them out, but it’s not something that we want people to find the moment they arrive at the site.

The top navigation bar should be about generating trust, it should be about generating conversions, and making sure that people know about all the cool offers you have. These policies, on the other hand, are vital, but they are far from cool. They’re the sort of thing that we’ll stick at the bottom of the page to make sure that they’re there but out of the way.

Step 9: Buy a Domain

In your Shopify backend, you’ll be asked if you want to add a domain. We do want to add a domain to make it easier for people to find us. Shopify will scan the web to make sure your selected domain is available. Owning the new domain is going to cost $14 per year. Just one of the inevitable expenses that come with launching a dropshipping store.

The moment you get your domain, Shopify will hook you up with a few vital email addresses. The “info@” and “sales@” email addresses will automatically be synced with the email address that you used to sign up for Shopify in the first place. This is awesome because info@yourwebsite.com is a lot simpler for shoppers, and it’s also gonna be a way for you to have a very legitimate-looking contact page so you can direct people to an info@ address.

Okay, we are almost there. We have our policies in place, we have our domain bought, our shipping zones, our check out. The only thing left to do is…

Step 10: Keep Going!

So to recap:

  • We selected products in Oberlo
  • We set up a store in Shopify
  • Then we pushed those products from Oberlo to Shopify
  • And finally, we made our store look and feel more like a store

And it all took about an hour (or about 3,000 words, depending on how you measure it).

Sure, there’s plenty of work to be done. It’s not like what we did today is some money tree that will let you quit your 9-5.

But hey, at the same time, it’s not bad, right?

Dropshipping ain’t easy. Today it was about building a storefront. Next, it’s about finding the best products and best suppliers. Then, it’s about running ad tests and finding which photos and copy work best.

Bottom line: It’s about perseverance.

This post is about building the foundation. Now it’s up to you to build the business on top of it.

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David Vranicar: David Vranicar is a Content Marketer for Oberlo. He wants to give store owners the tools they need to go from first sale to scale. Follow David on Twitter at @davidvranicar.