What is Dropshipping?
Dropshipping with Shopify and Oberlo is a great way to start up an ecommerce store. Dropshipping isn’t specific to shopify and Oberlo; it’s the name for when the product manufacturer or wholesaler ships a product directly to another store’s customer. You can dropship from Chinese companies, like with Oberlo, or US companies, like with Spocket.
Dropshipping is a great way to start an ecommerce business because you don’t have to spend any money upfront to buy and warehouse a product yourself. You do the marketing and sales, then send the order to the dropshipper for them to send the product to your customer. This allows you to easily test out multiple products until you find the ones that fit your style and customers are most interested in.
The downsides to dropshipping are that you don’t have as much control over the fulfillment process, and if you’re drop shipping internationally, longer fulfillment and shipping times. It can be difficult to find unique products and while all products and vendors have customer reviews and ratings, it’s hard to know how many of them are legitimate. Because of that, always order samples of products you’re considering. You’ll see what the fulfillment and shipping process is like and what kind of packaging and paperwork are included. In fact, do this in your own store, so you can get the full experience.
Shopify has thousands of apps, and offers the Oberlo app to let Shopify stores easily pull products in from and automatically fulfill products from Aliexpress. Aliexpress is a Chinese company which allows Chinese wholesalers, who usually sell in large quantities on Alibaba to larger companies, to sell smaller quantities to smaller companies and individuals. Oberlo lets you choose from any of their products from any of their sellers on Alibaba, and you can offer a wide variety of products to your customers.
Choosing a product is a complex topic, which we’ll detail in another post. Once you find a successful product, consider ordering some quantity, like a month’s worth, depending on your budget. You’ll save on shipping costs from China because of the bulk rate, and you’ll be able to offer faster shipping times to your customers. This is the best scenario, as if you get more orders than your inventory, they can be automatically fulfilled from Oberlo, and you’ll know to restock your own supply.
Fulfillment and shipping
Fulfillment times for orders processed through Oberlo are typically a few days, and then 20 or more days shipping time. Use the ePacket shipping method, which gets tracking numbers and is delivered by the US Postal Service once it hits the US.
Since shipping times are so long, make sure that order fulfillment and shipping notifications are set up in your Shopify store dashboard. That will go a long way towards helping set customer expectations. But even before that, you want to have the expected delivery times listed in multiple places, like on the product page, in the cart, and on the order confirmation page. In fact, you may want to put this as a banner on your store. Because Amazon has conditioned people to expect cheap and fast shipping, you should probably make your shipping free and to compensate, increase your price by $5.
Shopify doesn’t provide a way to keep track of shipments once they’re fulfilled. Especially since fulfillment and shipping times from China are so long, it’s important to understand what’s going on. International shipping has a higher rate of problems and delays than shipping within the US, so there’s more risk to customer trust and loyalty. Apps like ShopClerk provides an easy way to have a holistic view of your shipping so that you can prevent any customer service disasters.
Dropshipping with Shopify and Oberlo is a cheap way to start out
It can be difficult to find unique products though
Test order and send yourself samples of products you’re considering
Always use ePacket shipping for orders from China
It can take up to a month to get packages from China
Set shipping time expectations with your customers at a few points on your store
Make sure your store is sending fulfillment and shipping notifications
Use a Shopify app like ShopClerk to keep track of all of your packages
ShopClerk offers a 14-day free trial and analyzes your last 60 days of orders to find any hidden problems. Give us a try.