Choosing Products and Suppliers
The dropshipping market is saturated with products and suppliers to choose from, and we’re here to help you make the right decision.
Good job! You know all there is to know about the dropshipping process; the pros, the cons, and even how to choose your niche. Now that the theoretical aspect is out of the way, it's time to get down to business. And by business, we mean choosing products, dropshipping suppliers, and building that stunning eCommerce website! Let's begin by exploring the most popular dropshipping store option out there - Oberlo and Shopify!
Oberlo and Shopify
You might have already heard of Shopify, but even if you haven't - you'll know all about it by the end of this section. Shopify is one of the leading eCommerce platforms right now, enabling users to open online stores and even start dropshipping with exclusive integrations such as Oberlo. In fact, many of the online stores you have already made purchases from are likely to have been Shopify dropshipping stores. When it comes to dropshipping, Oberlo and Shopify go hand in hand. Starting a retail business of any kind is pretty simple with Shopify since you don't require any technical knowledge. All you need is to know the steps, pay their monthly fee, and promote your online store.
Likewise, Oberlo is an integration exclusive to Shopify, which allows you to find products to dropship, explore and import items straight to your online store while connecting with suppliers from all over the world. Just like with any other dropship integration, you don't need to worry about packaging and shipping since Oberlo and Shopify will take care of that for you.
Getting started with Shopify dropshipping
Creating a store with Shopify is pretty simple, and it doesn't require any technical skills to do so. We'll go through the basic steps here, but don't hesitate to visit their official website for a more detailed guide.
1. Create a Shopify account by signing up with an email address and password;
2. Attach a payment method in order to receive payments from customer purchases;
4. Set your shipping rates, or opt to offer your customers free shipping. This can be done by incorporating your shipping fees into your retail price (e.g., selling a product for $25 with free shipping instead of $20 with $5 shipping. Just a little eCommerce trick);
5. Launch your store: choose a theme, customize your store and create a logo with Shopify's Hatchful tool.
Once your store is ready, it's time to add the products!
Adding products to your Shopify store
The easiest route to take when adding products to your Shopify dropshipping store is through Oberlo. This exclusive integration allows you to explore items and dropshipping suppliers, compare prices and add products to your dropshipping store via the Oberlo Marketplace. All you need to do is download the app from the Shopify Appstore, set up your account, and get started. Oberlo sources products from AliExpress, allowing you to browse through thousands of products and import those that are competitive and suit your niche. AliExpress is a huge marketplace with a wide variety of products to choose from.
You can either source AliExpress products via the Oberlo Marketplace and the Oberlo app or directly through AliExpress via the Oberlo Chrome Extension (OCE). Either way, the integration instantly syncs your imports with your Shopify store, notifies you of inventory or price changes on the supplier's side, notifies the supplier when orders are placed, and it even allows you to track orders.
As we mentioned in the first chapter, slow shipping rates can prove to be a competitive disadvantage sometimes, but there are some ways around it. For example, some AliExpress dropshipping suppliers offer the ePacket delivery option, which usually takes 1-2 weeks for your order to reach the customer. It's best to opt for the ePacket premium shipping delivery option whenever possible.
Alternatives to AliExpress Dropshipping
Now that you have been introduced to Shopify, Oberlo, and AliExpress, you may want to dig deeper and explore other options out there. Here is a list of alternatives that could be of interest:
A members-only database with over 8000 suppliers. The choice of suppliers may be limited compared to AliExpress dropshipping. Still, SaleHoo boasts of higher reliability in this field, plus a wider product catalog - the platform sources over 25 million products! The platform is intuitive, works with trusted dropshipping suppliers, and provides excellent dropshipping customer service. Plus, the yearly membership fee is only $67, you get a 60-day free trial period, and the platform scores an average of 9.6/10 on Trustpilot.
Somewhat similar to Oberlo, Spocket is a Shopify database that allows you to find reliable dropshipping suppliers. This platform offers a more comprehensive selection of suppliers to do business with, giving you access to over 20,000 suppliers from all across the globe. A significant benefit is that you don't have to limit yourself to strictly China-based suppliers, as you would do with Oberlo and AliExpress, making it easier for you to engage in local dropshipping by finding wholesalers from the US and EU. Spocket even offers integrations with FedEx and other shipping options. The downside is that it is a bit pricey, costing $99 per month for unlimited products. If you are starting out, consider their free basic plan, which allows you to import up to 25 different products and receive unlimited orders.
Coming soon to Ucraft!
A valid competitor to Oberlo and AliExpress, Doba offers over 2 million products and is considered to be one of the most comprehensive dropshipping platforms on the web. Likewise, the dropshipping process is very well-organized - from start to finish. Doba is designed to make dropshipping as easy as possible and even allows you to manage lists for bulk imports into your store. Doba may offer fewer supplier options than AliExpress dropshipping but makes up for it in other benefits. Plus, you get a 14-day free trial and can sign up for a membership with a $29 monthly fee.
Aside from those mentioned above, there are a myriad of other options to choose from if you are planning on starting a dropshipping business. Shopify alone offers several dropshipping apps and integrations, so you don't have to limit yourself to only Oberlo as an integration and AliExpress as a platform. Moreover, there are other ways to dropship that can add a personal touch to your business, including print-on-demand dropshipping. And since we provide these services at Ucraft, let's take a look at the POD model in more detail.
Ucraft x Printful
Another alternative to classic dropshipping is print-on-demand. At Ucraft, we offer an integration with Printful - one of the best print-on-demand retail fulfillment services. POD is a form of dropshipping, but it differs from the standard model in the sense that you work with a specific fulfillment center (in this case, Printful) to design custom goods, which the center then manufactures and sends to your customers when an order is placed. Sounds confusing? Let's look at this option in more detail.
Say you already have some designs that you would like to see printed on various products. With a print-on-demand dropshipping solution, you upload your designs to the chosen POD platform and select the items you want the design to be printed on (e.g., t-shirts, hoodies, beanies, mugs, etc.), and the company takes care of the rest. As soon as an order is placed through your online store, they will print your designs onto said items, package them under your own brand and send them to your customers. Let's see how Printful works, step by step:
1. Go to Printful, select a product category, and choose a product (e.g., Men's clothing > hoodies);
2. Customize the default design by uploading your own graphics and adjusting the placement on the item via Printful's drag-and-drop tool;
3. Set the main mockup image, and fill in the product description and title;
4. Choose your markup price, and Printful will automatically configure the product prices;
5. Submit the Printful products to your Ucraft online store;
6. When an order is placed, Printful will manufacture and ship the product to your customer.
POD is essentially a form of dropshipping. However, a dropshipping business model implies selling a wide variety of products, often from several dropshipping suppliers. With POD, you work with a print-on-demand dropshipping company to design, manufacture and print your items. In terms of shipping, POD works precisely the same as dropshipping - a customer places an order on your website while the supplier manufactures, packages, and ships the product.
There are several benefits to selling Printful products as a print-on-demand fulfillment solution. First of all, it allows you to get started for free, meaning that you only pay for the product once you have designed it, uploaded it to your online store, and a customer has placed an order. Although the solution doesn't offer the same extensive variety of products as the classic dropshipping model, Printful products still come in a reasonably wide range: starting from clothes for all genders and ages to homeware and design pieces such as wall art. This is ideal for dropshipping beginners who are not immediately looking to sell niche products or do not wish to set up a general store. Not to mention that their customer support is exceptional.
It's safe to say that our guide's theoretical part is over, and it's time to delve into the practical aspects of setting up a successful dropshipping store. And for that, you are going to need a memorable brand.