Can you start dropshipping without Shopify?
Yes absolutely you can.
In this article I will cover 3 different methods you can use to start dropshipping without Shopify.
Why Shopify Is The Best Solution For Dropshipping (In My Opinion)
Before we get into how you can dropship without Shopify, I first want to go over why I use Shopify myself and prefer it over every other platform out there.
Here are three reasons I love Shopify:
- Super easy to start and manage. Shopify requires no coding experience, no real technical capabilities and if you run into a problem, the support is 24/7 available.
- The support is out of this world. You know that annoying feeling when you try out new software and you can’t seem to get it to work? It sucks, right? Well, you don’t have to worry about that with Shopify. Their support team is 24/7 available to you through live chat and if the problem gets too complicated, you can let a support member go on your website and take care of the problem for you. That’s called service, and Shopify knows how to provide it.
- Integrating Shopify with a dropshipping supplier is quick and painless. Whether you’re using AliExpress or dropshipping print on demand products, your supplier will have an app available to sync your product upload and order fulfillment process. With Shopify, you won’t have to mess around with CSV files, manual fulfillment and other painful tasks.
I get it, using Shopify comes at a price. You have to pay the $29 monthly fee and for many beginning entrepreneurs this can be an obstacle.
But let me be clear here: if the $29 monthly fee is too much for you, you won’t find an alternative to Shopify. Because there simply isn’t a 100% free way to start selling on your own online store.
For the people who want to start dropshipping with $0 in their bank accounts I recommend you skip all the way to part 3 of this article where I talk about selling on print on demand marketplaces, which can be done for free.
Now some of you may be thinking: Isn’t WooCommerce free? Why can’t I just use that to start a dropshipping store?
That’s right, using WooCommerce is free. But WooCommerce isn’t a complete site builder like Shopify. WooCommerce is a plugin for WordPress. This means you still need to buy a domain (as you would with Shopify) and pay for a hosting plan.
So no, starting with WooCommerce isn’t free. You’ll be paying around $7 a month for a decent shared hosting service. So you’ll be saving about $22 a month.
But while Shopify lets you pay the fee monthly, most hosting providers require you to pay for a yearly subscription. So while you’re paying $7 a month, you will be billed for a yearly subscription of $84 right away.
This means you can’t decide to opt-out after a couple of months and you realize your store, or niche isn’t working out.
On top of that, you will have to do everything yourself. Remember when I said Shopify requires no technical skills? Well, starting a dropshipping store with WooCommerce, does. The skill-gap between Shopify and WordPress is big. Really big. And I’m speaking as a web developer as I write this.
With a WooCommerce store you will have to learn how to setup a WordPress site, how to install a WordPress theme, how to deal with WooCommerce’ and WordPress’ complex setup. And so on and so on.
It will get very technical and if you’re down to get dirty and watch a couple of youtube tutorials to start your dropshipping store, be my guest! I’ll support you 100%.
But for your average entrepreneur who just wants things to be as simple as they can be? You’ll be a lot better of starting a Shopify store. Or move over to part two where I talk about dropshipping on marketplaces.
Read: Shopify Dropshipping Guide
Part 1 — Cheaper Alternative To Dropshipping Than Shopify
I’m sure you know by now which Shopify alternative I’m talking about since I’ve spoiled it earlier: WooCommerce.
What is WooCommerce again? It’s a plugin that you can install to WordPress in order to set up to turn a regular “website” into an eCommerce webshop.
The best part about WooCommerce is that it’s completely free and combining it with a WordPress store, opens you up to A LOT of modifications. If you have coding skills, you can truly make something amazing here.
I recommend WooCommerce to tech-savvy people and experienced dropshippers who are looking to save money in the long run by avoiding steep Shopify and Oberlo fees.
Read Also: Oberlo Alternative For WooCommerce
Part 2 — Dropshipping On An Online Marketplace
Alright. Shopify is awesome and all but it does get costly and some of us just don’t want to commit to starting a brand, setting up social media campaigns, dealing with email marketing and so on and so on.
For those people, who are still interested in dropshipping, selling on marketplaces is the perfect solution.
You probably know most of these marketplaces:
Dropshipping On eBay
Dropshipping on eBay is a bit more complicated than dropshipping on Shopify. Because unlike Shopify, where you can dropship in whichever way you see fit, you cannot do so on eBay. eBay is a marketplace and these have rules.
Breaking those rules could result in money being held, listings removed, and even suspension.
Dropshipping is only allowed on eBay provided that you use a wholesale supplier. This means dropshipping from AliExpress, Amazon, and other marketplaces on eBay is not allowed and will eventually set you up for trouble. So don’t do that.
Here’s how you can legally dropship from eBay:
- Dropship from a private, wholesale supplier
- Dropship through a print on demand supplier (e.g. Printful)
Dropshipping On Etsy
Etsy is the arts and crafts and vintage marketplace of the web. If you want to get creative, custom, artsy products, Etsy is usually the place to be. But what you may not know is that a huge amount of Etsy sellers use print on demand dropshipping suppliers to send products to their customers.
In a previous article, I explain how you can dropship on Etsy with print on demand.
You can also check out these articles to get you started:
- How to sell stickers on Etsy
- How to sell art prints on Etsy
- 3 print on demand partners that easily integrate with Etsy
Pros of dropshipping on Etsy
- Gain access to a marketplace with millions of monthly visitors. Etsy gets over 300 million visitors per month, this gives you a huge audience you can sell to without having to pay for advertising as you would with a Shopify webshop.
- Super easy to setup. An Etsy store is setup and ready to sell in minutes.
- There are no monthly fees attached to running an Etsy shop. If you’re not making sales, you don’t have to pay for owning your shop.
Cons of dropshipping on Etsy
- Etsy takes a cut in your profits. While Etsy is free, they do charge some fees. For example there is a $0.20 listing fee. Etsy also charges a 5% transaction fee on ever order. This transaction fee is on top of the payment processing fees which are 3% + $0.30 per order.
- Lots of competition on the Etsy marketplace. Marketplaces are popular places to sell on due to their simplicity. This leads to big competition within niches and even copycats who will steal your ideas. All of this will cut into your profits as compared to when you dropship from your own Shopify store.
- You cannot establish a brand.
- You are bound to Etsy.
Part 3 — Shopify Dropshipping Alternative: Print On Demand Marketplaces
Dropshipping isn’t for everyone and I have a nice alternative for those of you that prefer to have more of a hands-off approach and want to start with $0.
You can do this by selling on print on demand marketplaces.
How does this work? It’s super simple. You upload your design to a selection of products on the print on demand marketplace (e.g. a t-shirt). Once someone purchases one of the t-shirts with your design on them, the marketplace will print your design on the purchased shirt. They will also ship it directly to the customer.
What do you have to do? Absolutely nothing. You don’t even have to provide customer service. That’s the beauty of print on demand marketplaces. A truly hands-off, passive income experience.
Your only job is to create art/designs and upload them to your seller account.
These marketplaces are completely free and each comes with their pros and cons.
Here’s a quick tip: you are not bound to any of these marketplaces. Your designs remain your designs which means you own the copyright and thus, you can list them on as many of these marketplaces as you wish.
So you can upload designs to Redbubble, Zazzle, Teespring, Society6 all at the same time and reach a massive audience!
I highly recommend looking into these POD marketplaces if you’re interested in dropshipping but don’t quite have the money to get started with Shopify, to pay for Facebook Ads, register a business and so on.
Here are some examples of popular POD marketplaces you can register to for free:
The most popular print on demand marketplace out there is Redbubble, as it has a massive existing audience that you get access to as a seller. But the royalties to Redbubble are less than if you were to sell on Teespring for example.
Like I said, each of these marketplaces comes with pros and cons. If you’re interested, I recommend you check out our article on Redbubble alternatives.
And again, don’t limit yourself to just one pod marketplace!
As you can see, you can definitely get started with dropshipping without Shopify.
Here are the 3 different methods summed up once more:
- Method 1: WooCommerce
- Method 2: Dropshipping on Marketplaces
- Method 3: Print on Demand Marketplaces
Each method has their pros and cons.
WooCommerce resembles Shopify most closely but will require more technical experience to get started and is generally not recommended to dropshipping and or WordPress beginners.
Marketplaces offer a free way to get started with dropshipping but have a lot of competition amongst them.
Print on Demand marketplaces are great for the creative individuals between us.