We are often asked: “What is dropshipping? Is dropshipping in Canada possible? What is the easiest way to start your own e-commerce store?”
To answer these questions and many more, we’ve decided to launch a series of articles on Dropshipping, the tools you need to start an ecommerce store, advertising of your e-commerce store, and other aspects of running an online retail store.
What is Dropshipping?
Dropshipping is merely running an online retail business without ever needing to hold the stock you sell. It works by following this simple process:
- Find a product or products you’d like to sell (products must be suitable for dropshipping)
- Set up an online store
- Find suppliers you could purchase the products of your choice from
- Market and advertise your products online to drive customers to your store
- Make sales
- Place orders with your suppliers
- Keep the profits from the sales
That’s it, the basic principal of dropshipping.
Dropshipping in Canada
Drop shipping business could be set up from any place in the World. And that is the beauty of dropshipping as many of us these days are looking for simple businesses that can give us a dream work from home lifestyle. Whether you are a stay-at-home mom, a traveler, or simply someone who can’t work in the regular office environment and always dreamt of having your own business, dropshipping will be just the right one for you!
In Canada, dropshipping is still very young and if you are even considering this type of business as something that you might enjoy doing, you are still ahead of the most competition out there. There are, however, already quite a few Canadian e-commerce giants (ex., wayfair.ca) as well as many smaller players. So, if you are in a niche-research stage, studying your e-commerce competition, learning about existing e-stores’ best strategies, creating your own dropshipping store that would appeal to your target customers, and other business-building decisions are as important as if you were to open a regular brick-and-mortar retail store.
One of the first steps, and, probably, the most important ones in your drop shipping journey, is building a great-looking storefront. There are many options out there, but the one that we highly recommend is using a Shopify e-commerce platform for building your drop shipping store.
What is Shopify?
Shopify is a Canadian ecommerce solution that is thought to be the biggest online platform in the world with more than 200,000 users. With Shopify you can build an online store and add the products you wish to sell. Shopify stores are fully customizable, so you can make it fit with your business image and the products you’re selling. To do this, you may choose from one of the free or premium themes provided by Shopify, its partners, or independent designers and firms.
When setting up a Shopify store, you don’t need to worry about hosting as it will be included in a monthly plan of your choice. You may even purchase the domain name for your store from Shopify if you haven’t gotten it yet from somewhere else. If you buy your domain through Shopify (which we recommend), you will be able to auto-renew it, change your MX and other records, set up email interfaces – all in one place.
Depending on your requirements there are different pricing options to suit every size and type of business, but just a basic Shopify site is generally a good enough drop shipping store for those who do not have many SKUs.
Shopify Ease of Use
Like many of the modern easy to use website builders, Shopify comes with readily built themes. There are simple free themes or very professional looking premium themes, that cost various amounts depending on what you want. The nicer themes start at around $100.
When you’ve chosen the theme for your shop, it can be customized by your designer (or even you, if you are a techy person) to have the exact look and feel you want. It is notable that customization of the free themes isn’t as easy as the Premium ones, so, when deciding on your store’s future look, keeping this in mind is very important.
In addition to product pages, the content management system that comes with Shopify allows you to create new pages, such as contact pages, or blog pages. This will come handy when you’ll start working on your store’s promotion. Whether you only have a Canadian dropshipping store, a physical storefront with an additional e-commerce store for your business, or a warehouse that sells via online store only, having a blog that supports your products, provides additional information on how to use them, and so on, helps you with driving the free traffic and reducing advertising costs (SEO).
Additional features not supplied by developers of the theme of your choice could be added or modified via Shopify apps. Many of them could serve as promotional tools and help with free and paid advertising.
Because Shopify wants their platform to be suitable for everyone, it is relatively simple to import hundreds of products into your shop and use the provided tools to add titles, pricing, discounts, images, and videos. This is really helpful if you are either transferring your e-store from a different platform or had a spreadsheet from your suppliers that could be used for an upload of SKUs instead of listing them all one-by-one.
Cost of a Shopify Dropshipping Store
The entry point for Shopify is Shopify Lite, which is not a store but a way to add a simplified version of Shopify to a Facebook account or Website.
$9 USD/month. (This allows you to sell products via Facebook and chat with your customers using Messenger. You can also turn any website into a store by adding “Buy Buttons.”. All it takes is a few simple clicks.
You can accept payments with credit cards anywhere, allowing you to sell anything, from fairs to events all on your iOS or Android device.
Invoices can be created on your phone, right on the Shopify platform and sent straight to your customers with no fuss.
Credit card rates are 2.9% + $0.30.
Other Shopify plans:
A special package for large enterprises with high volume merchants. Price on application only. Because Shopify grows with your business, it is an ideal drop shipping store for a beginner.
Adding Inventory on Shopify
Whether you are a Canadian dropshipper or are running your store from the US or any other country, adding new inventory to your Shopify store is simple. From the sidebar in the dashboard, click on the products tab. From here you can quickly add everything: product title, description, price images and so on. From the dashboard, you can see all the transfers you make, inventory, collections, and so on. Your inventory is kept well organized in a manageable list within the inventory tab.
If you are dropshipping from such e-commerce giants as Aliexpress, Shopify integrates with such apps as Oberlo or other, similar ones that make adding products to your site a breeze.
Mobile version of your drop shipping store
Shopify themes are compatible with all devices, and the screen size adapts automatically to fit, this means you won’t lose customers on cell phones, as it is as simple for them to make purchases as someone using a PC.
Getting Paid Through Shopify
Shopify has their own payment platform, called “Shopify Payments” operated by Stripe. By signing up for the Shopify payment platform, you won’t pay any transaction fees when customers use it to buy products from you.
If you decide not to use Shopify payments or want to add other payment options such as PayPal or Google Checkout the transaction fee will be payable when customers chose to use them as their method of payment. There are over 70 payment gateway options available with Shopify. As the rates for these platforms differ, it is a good idea to find out how much they will cost before signing up to them.
Shopify takes security very seriously. All data, yours and your customers is secured they use security badges to show your customers your site is secure and utilize level 1 PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) servers.
You are also guaranteed 99.94% uptime, so you won’t lose business because the system isn’t working. Shopify also creates security backups, keeping your data safe so if your system crashes you will be able to re-install it.
Special vulnerability management lets you protect yourself from malicious hackers or fraudulent transactions.
The customer service provided by Shopify is excellent. No matter which plan you choose, you get 24/7 total customer support. This service includes email, phone, and chat. There is also a user forum with tutorials and FAQ. If you want to learn quickly, you can join the e-commerce University to get access to guides, videos, and eBooks that can teach you every detail about running a web store.
Shopify generates excellent reports to help you see exactly how well your store is doing. The reports are clear and concise and can be generated to give information on sales traffic, gross sales by product, billing address and more.
Scaling with Shopify
One of the reasons why Shopify is such a good drop shipping e-store for a beginner is to do with scaling. Other options for dropshipping stores such as the easy to use website builders Wix or Weebly, is that their sites don’t give you the scope to scale up as your business grows. At the other end of the scale, the problem with using a WordPress or Magento site is that they are generally too advanced for a beginner, requiring at least some website development skills to maintain the site, although scaling up is not an issue.
The beauty of Shopify is that it’s easy enough for a first-time dropshipper but is fully scalable to cater for businesses of all sizes.
If you are looking for a simple way to start your dropshipping store in Canada, US, or anywhere else in the World, Shopify is a great solution. You may either build a store by yourself or find a designer that would be happy to give your business a perfect start.
Going forward, we’ll look into other tools and steps you’d need to make to start your dropshipping business. Stay tuned!