How To Get Started Dropshipping: 30 Steps We Took To Reach $900,000 Per Month
People all over the world are increasingly wondering how to get started with dropshipping. So, today, we are sharing the step-by-step dropshipping success story of our own team. Here is the real-life experience that helps us create the best solutions for dropshipping store owners!
The AliDropship team has a huge experience in dropshipping business. We are creating and promoting lots of our own successful dropshipping stores that are available for purchase as Established businesses and Premium stores. Our team has done a lot of work and has gained solid practical knowledge over years, and it’s time to share our experience with a wide audience! We want you to use our practical tips and recommendations on how to dropship as we are sure it will help you create a profitable dropshipping store.
We started the dropshipping business in 2015. As of today, we have 50+ stores. At the end of February 2021, our monthly revenue was $900,000. Here you will find the 30 steps we took to achieve this impressive result in dropshipping.
How to get started with dropshipping business: Our experience
Ecommerce field is thriving. The growth of social media, mobile shopping, digital payments, artificial intelligence, big data, and personalized experiences are changing this business.
In particular, the dropshipping business grows really fast globally. It has huge potential because it is easy to start and run. People with any education and skills can do it. This is why we decided to give it a try and see what we can achieve.
Step 1. Dropshipping business research
How to start dropshipping? We started our journey with an analysis.
- Can we run a dropshipping business?
- Who will be our suppliers?
- Will we find customers?
- What do we need to launch this online business?
- What technologies do we need to learn?
These questions are crucial. Without answering them, it is impossible to understand where to go next. You will need to do detailed research. As a result, you should get a clear view of your goals, opportunities, and challenges.
Step 2. Learning from competitors
This is tricky because not all ecommerce store owners openly say they are dropshippers. Still, any online store is a source of knowledge and can help you learn dropshipping tricks and strategies. Understanding how the store is designed and advertised can help beginners a lot.
We were inspired by the experience of Zappos. This is the biggest shoe and clothing webstore on the globe with great profit margins. It was an ordinary dropshipping store at first, but in 10 years Amazon bought Zappos for $1.2 billion.
Looking at others, you can learn a lot. For example, you can use someone else’s experience to improve your product page. Or, you can learn how someone promotes their store on Instagram and other social networks.
This type of information helped us a lot. It is important to rely on it when you have no experience yourself.
Step 3. Understanding the legal part of dropshipping: registering a company
Most businesses should be registered. For dropshipping business, this is not always necessary. It all depends on the country where you run this business, although technically it doesn’t really matter where to start dropshipping. As a beginner, you can start a business with no registration.
We learned it when we talked to AliExpress sellers. We wanted them to be our dropshipping suppliers. They don’t mind if you are a private individual and not a business.
As a rule, buyers also don’t ask about it. But it is important that you provide them with money back guarantee and free shipping worldwide. These options should be offered by your suppliers, so check if they can do it.
Step 4. Understanding the legal part: dropshipping taxes
Taxes are a vital part of every business. Dropshipping taxes exist in the form of customs fees. Customs fees are added to the cost of the item, and it is a buyer’s responsibility to pay them.
Customs fees are different in every country across the globe. This is why you need to notify your buyers about it. Ask them to check what the customs fees in their own country are. Your potential customers must be aware of the local laws and regulations, and they must pay customs fees if necessary.
Step 5. Choosing dropshipping suppliers
To create a dropshipping store, you need to find products to sell and their descriptions somewhere. But these products and their sellers should be really special. It is important that they meet some criteria.
The sellers, for example, should be ready and glad to work with you. They should deliver items to any place in the world. Also, they should agree to deliver orders without putting their own promotional materials in the packages.
After a long analysis, we decided to choose AliExpress as our source of dropshipping suppliers.
In addition, it is really important to choose the right niche. It means a lot to the success of your dropshipping store.
We have a lot of webstores, and all of them sell different products. Every niche for these stores was chosen with the same algorithm. It is a special mechanism we have developed ourselves when we started selling online.
Step 6. Understanding own interests
It is much easier to run a dropshipping store if you are deeply interested in it. So, we recommend that you think about your passions first.
When you have deep knowledge of your niche, you provide better customer service. Besides, if you like and understand your niche, you can pick the best items for your store. You can provide these products with top quality descriptions.
Your clients feel that you are passionate about your ecommerce business, so they trust you. Also, they know that they can get professional and detailed consultations.
Step 7. Defining the target audience
Who are your potential customers?
It is important to know your target audience. This is how you will promote and advertise your store more effectively.
It doesn’t matter what countries they are from. Dropshipping has a global reach, so you are not limited by a region. Instead, you need to know what they are interested in, and how you can attract them to your store.
Step 8. Exploring social networks
You need to know what online channels are the best for promotion. Do your potential clients use forums, blogs, and social networks? For example, if you know that your buyers prefer Facebook, you can efficiently advertise your dropshipping store in Facebook groups.
Step 9. Searching on AliExpress
When we choose a niche, we always go on AliExpress to check its potential. It means that we look at the number of products offered on the platform, the reputation of suppliers, and buyers’ feedback.
It is necessary to understand if we can find enough offers from this niche. These offers should meet some criteria (a big number of orders, positive feedback on the quality, good reviews about the seller, etc.). After all, we need to fill a store with lots of items, and we need to update our product range from time to time because it keeps our target audience interested.
Step 10. Checking the marketing potential
Can we promote this niche on social networks? Can we do something for its search engine optimization? Is the niche good for paid ads?
It is necessary to answer these questions when you choose a niche. If it has good potential for promotion, you will be able to attract more customers and earn more.
That’s why we have developed a detailed algorithm to check SEO potential of a dropshipping niche. It will help you find the best dropshipping opportunities from the point of view of promotion.
How to start a dropshipping business step-by-step
When you create a store, it is important to make it convenient for your customers. We did our research and understood we can make something great.
This is how we developed the AliDropship plugin. It can help you create and run a fully functioning and professionally looking webstore.
Step 11. Buying a domain name
We use the GoDaddy service to buy a domain name. Choosing the name, we prefer something short and easy to remember. Besides, ideally, domain names should be identical to company names. Alternatively, you can include the most important keyword in the domain name. It will make it much easier for you to promote the store.
Step 12. Choosing a content management system (CMS)
There exist numerous content management systems. Simply speaking, a CMS is a solution that helps you create and manage content online.
When you develop a dropshipping store, it is really important to choose the right CMS (ecommerce platform). It should be functional, easy to understand, and easy to manage.
That’s why we prefer to work with WordPress. It is perfect for dropshipping stores because it is easy to run. Also, it is really functional and convenient for business.
You can also make it even more functional if you install plugins with additional features. The AliDropship plugin is a good example of such a tool. It was created by dropshippers and for dropshippers, so it has all the features you need to get started with dropshipping.
Step 13. Choosing a hosting solution
This is the necessary part of creating your dropshipping business. Web hosting is the service that you use to publish your webstores online and make it visible for Internet users. If you don’t want to do it all yourself, you can ask for professional help with hosting.
Step 14. Creating the store design
When the website itself is ready, you don’t have to do much with it. As soon as you install the AliDropship plugin, all the main things will be done automatically.
It is especially important for design. A webstore design means a lot for business success, but it can be tricky. People who have no experience in developing sites often have a lot of questions about making a good store design.
With the plugin, you can choose one of several themes available, and use it for your dropshipping store. All of them look nice and professional. Therefore, you can be sure that your store visitors will enjoy being on your site.
Step 15. Importing products
Later in this article, you will learn how to check product ideas and choose the right products.
The plugin allows you to import items from AliExpress automatically. You need to set the search parameters, and the plugin will do all the rest. So, you don’t need to spend hours on AliExpress to choose and import items to your store. You only need to spend several minutes and do a few clicks.
Step 16. Integrating multiple payment options
Your goal is to sell something to your store visitors. It should be convenient for them to make a payment. Remember that you sell your products to people all over the world!
That’s why you need to include several payment options. For example, our plugin accepts payments made through PayPal and major credit card processors.
How we do dropshipping
How does dropshipping work?
The most common questions we get are related to management and organizational issues. They may seem challenging for beginners. This is why it is so important to cover them.
Step 17. Choosing products
The quality, features, and price of the products you import to your dropshipping store are your competitive advantages. It is one of the main drivers of your business success. We have a full guide about choosing the perfect dropshipping products on AliExpress.
Generally, you need to check if you like the product description, its photos, and reviews from previous buyers. Also, it might be useful to order a couple of items for yourself. This is how you can check if you want to add them to your store.
Step 18. Choosing suppliers
Suppliers mean so much for the success of your store! AliExpress is different from major dropshipping platforms. The latter typically ask you to pay a fee to view suppliers’ contacts and their offers. However, on AliExpress, you can access all the necessary data for free.
So, AliExpress is a great place to search for dropshipping suppliers because you can see detailed statistics on every seller. This is really useful because you can check the feedback and performance of any seller you like. Also, it is really easy to contact sellers. When you communicate with them, you can understand if they will be good partners for you.
Step 19. Placing orders
When somebody buys something from your store, you need to give all the information to your supplier. The AliDropship plugin does it automatically.
It notifies the seller about the ordered product, its quantity, and the buyer’s address. It is all done by the plugin, so you won’t mix up anything. Besides, it is really useful when you have a lot of orders.
Step 20. Working with troubled orders
Sometimes it happens that our customers are mistaken. They provide incorrect names, surnames, and even postal addresses.
Sometimes they change their mind.
Some of them may ask for returns and refunds.
Sometimes they can’t track the package and say it is lost.
This is our job to be really polite and patient. We are all humans, and anything can happen.
That’s why we do our best to negotiate and offer several possible solutions. And of course, we have to contact the sellers and note them about the problems we have. It is necessary to provide top-level customer support if you want your business to grow and thrive.
Step 21. Preventing fraud
Internet fraud gets more and more widespread. We are always polite to our customers, but we are really attentive to their behavior.
If a customer tries to pay from several different credit cards, it is suspicious.
If all these attempts fail, it is suspicious.
When a customer uses a credit card that is different from his own name and country, it is suspicious.
If we have any doubts, we typically ask the buyer to send us an ID form. Also, we wait a couple of days before processing the order. If it is a fraud, the payment system will recognize it, and the order will be canceled.
In general, we recommend that you follow the instructions of your payment system provider. They have their own sets of rules for such cases, so learn them and stay safe.
How we promote dropshipping stores
Step 22. Working with SEO
Search engine optimization is really important in the dropshipping business. If you do it right, you can achieve great long-term results.
You need to think about SEO when you choose a dropshipping niche. You should also consider it when you choose the domain name, and when you write texts for the store. The more you work on it, the more visitors will find your store in Google search results.
Step 23. Using social media
Social media can drive lots of customers to your store. If you do it right, you can achieve a wonderful performance, and then sell your dropshipping store for a great profit.
We have tried and tested a lot of strategies to promote dropshipping stores on Instagram and advertise stores on Facebook. Our clients share success stories of dropshipping business and they show that promoting your dropshipping store on social media brings you great revenue.
This process takes a lot of time and effort, of course. But you can make it automated if you like. To do that, read our research and review of the Social Rabbit plugin that automatically makes promotional posts for your webstore in any social networks you choose.
Step 24. Learning about paid ads
To promote your store the fastest way, you can also use paid advertising like Google Ads and Facebook ads. If you use your money wisely, even more Internet users will learn about your store. We used paid ads to promote dropshipping stores, and the results are really impressive.
Step 25. Dealing with clients
We have already mentioned we try to stay patient and tolerant in every situation. But apart from that, we also do a lot to enhance our clients’ experience.
We create a positive atmosphere in our stores, and it makes them different from AliExpress. Our buyers can always count on professional and timely support. Also, we modify product pages of dropshipping stores to make it easy for our clients to get information and make a purchase.
Step 26. Thinking of product strategy
When we analyze what our customers like and want, we can use the knowledge wisely. We can add new products from time to time to keep the buyers satisfied. Also, we monitor the market trends. This is how we learn that some new products appeared on the market.
Remember that it is necessary to advertise these products. If you add something new, make sure your store visitors and social media subscribers learn about it.
How we expand our dropshipping business
The business should grow. If you stop working on your store, it will gradually wither. This is why our work never stops.
Step 27. Improving customer experience
You can do a lot to increase your customers’ engagement and motivate them to return to your store.
Make sure it is easy for them to navigate your store. Check if it is easy to make a payment. Don’t forget to include all the information on shipping costs and other delivery terms and conditions.
Also, always be honest about the delivery time. Remember that you need to notify every new client about it. People don’t mind waiting for their order, but they need to know the correct information.
Step 28. Adding new products
We already mentioned that it is really important to keep your store offer up-to-date. If you add new items regularly, your clients are interested in visiting your store again and again.
The bigger your product range, the bigger the average check. It means you can also add the products that are related to your niche, and your customers will also be interested in buying not just one but several products at once.
But we recommend following a specific concept when choosing new products. Always remember what the general idea of your store is, and don’t get distracted. It is especially important if you promote your site as a niche store.
Step 29. Creating new stores
When you launch your first dropshipping store, you don’t know much about management and promotion. But as soon as you get enough experience, you understand it is not really difficult to run such a store. It means you can use your knowledge to create more and more stores in other niches.
Remember that your ecommerce store is an asset. If you run it wisely, you can sell it for a good profit. We learned it from the experience of our client Alex who manages several dropshipping stores at once and sells some of them from time to time.
Step 30. Exploring
There is so much to learn! New business ideas, new niches, new traffic sources, new promotional methods, and many more.
Business and technology evolve every day, so you have a whole world to explore. Always look for something new, and don’t be afraid to try and test different things. This is the engine that drives you and your successful business.
These are the 30 steps that we took to get our impressive business results. We started from zero, and less than in 2 years we achieved the average monthly profit of $97,000. By 2021, the revenue of our dropshipping stores got to $900,000.
How to get started dropshipping using our experience?
Now, as you know our step-by-step process of launching successful dropshipping businesses, you’re probably wondering: how can you start a similar business, too?
We are excited to offer you 4 ways of becoming a dropshipping business owner!
Create a dropshipping store by yourself
Thanks to the AliDropship plugin we created as practicing dropshippers for our fellow entrepreneurs, you can launch a dropshipping store yourself even if you don’t have a technical background or any experience in website development. Installing the plugin even on the simplest WordPress site, you’ll get a fully functional dropshipping store that can accept incoming orders, transmit them to your AliExpress suppliers, and process your buyers’ payments! To see how you can launch your dropshipping business this way, simply read this article.
Order a custom store from our skilled team
If you want, you can safely delegate us all the technical tasks associated with a dropshipping store creation. Upon your request, we’ll make a unique custom dropshipping store and consider your individual preferences of its design, name, niche, product range, etc. As a result, as soon as we complete the development part, you’ll get a perfectly optimized dropshipping store ready to be put into operation immediately. Kindly read more about this offer here!
Get an exact copy of a store with a proven potential
If you don’t want to create a dropshipping store by your own effort, and don’t want to wait until we develop an individual custom version for you, there’s a simple and elegant solution!
Check out these Premium dropshipping stores: you can buy an exact copy of any one of them, and put this copied website into operation immediately, without waiting and wasting your time. Plus, with these stores, you won’t even be wondering whether your business will be successful: as you get a full replica of a well-performing store, you can be sure of its money-making potential. What’s more, you can even get the same marketing materials we used ourselves to promote these stores: check out the details here!
Buy an established business with a proven track record
If you like the idea of buying a ready business, but want it to be unique rather than copied one, check out the Established stores! They are also created, managed, and promoted by our skilled team, and they are only put on sale after they truly prove to be generating healthy profits.
Every store goes with detailed performance data, so you can view the stats and make a well-informed decision before purchasing an established store. In fact, by doing this, you’re safely investing in a highly profitable business that is ready to drive sales from day one. Just take a look at the details if you’d love to become an owner!
We hope our experience will motivate and inspire you to start your own dropshipping business in any way that is more convenient to you. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section below. We wish you the best of luck on this road to success!
May I ask how the income is divided between the stores? Is it like 80% from 5 stores and 20% from other 20 or more dispersed?
Ryan, you hit the right nail on the head, approx. 80% of profit is generated by 4-6 stores and 20% by other sites.
I have already a dropshipping store, I need support to run campaigns on Facebook Ads and Google ads, can anyone support me please..
Hi, thank you for your interest!
Kindly read this article on Google Ads: https://alidropship.com/google-ads-audit/
if you need our help with preparing Facebook campaigns for you, you can order any of the services here that suit you the most: https://alidropship.com/services/#marketing
I am from Uganda, can i also start a drop shipping store with you……payment processes are really tricky how can you help me
Hi, thank you for your interest!
Please, start with this free guide https://alidropship.com/guide/ for a step-by-step starting process, and then choose the most suitable store option here: https://alidropship.com/stores-comparison/
Thanks for sharing Yaros!
Could you also tell us, do you currently run any stores that are not profitable, or have you ever cut out a store because the niche was not profitable?
Yes, actually you never know for sure what niche will be profitable for you until you try it. And we had to stop running some stores.
How long do you wait until you stop store?
It all depends, but usually I decide to stop a store when I see that all my marketing strategies are not working fine with this niche.
Is it possible to change the niche instead of closing the store?
Hi, thank you for your question!
Yes, of course. Please, refer to this article: https://alidropship.com/how-to-change-business-niche/
Who do you use as your payment processor as most of the majors no longer allow drop shipping?
We are using Stripe on all our sites, some clients are using 2CO, another group is using Authorize.net, some are using PayU. What processors have stopped working with dropshippers!?
Stripe – See number 5 – https://stripe.com/blog/why-some-businesses-arent-allowed
That article does not say drop shipping is “not allowed”. It says it’s under “more scrutiny”. If you run your store honestly, you won’t have any problems.
I forgot to say, great article also and thanks for the reply!
Is there a reason not using Paypal for dropshipping?
Hi, we are using PayPal on all our stores. It’s better to use both options – PayPal + credit cards.
How easy is it for me to start a dropshipping business in Nigeria. Would I find it difficult with the payment gateways?
Hi, thank you for your question!
You can learn more about dropshipping in Nigeria from this article: https://alidropship.com/7-facts-about-drop-shipping-in-nigeria/
One of our clients from Nigeria has shared his positive experience in this business – you can read his interview here https://alidropship.com/ecommerce-affiliate-success-story-nigeria/
Great article Yaros. Please shed more light on ROI, avg breakup of costs like cp, marketing, taxes, refunds etc.
Thank you! We are going to cover some of these topics in our next posts, stay tuned!
Thank you for sharing. When I buy items on eBay, when they come into Australia they always have a customs declaration sticker showing how much I paid for the goods. If I drop ship I assume the customer gets this same declaration just with their address on it. Is this the case with Aliexpress? How do you manage this charging a customer $20 for a product where they see the cost is $5?
Honestly saying we have never got any complaints from our clients about any prices stated on packages. btw AliExpress sellers often put lower prices on packages that a buyer can avoid any custom fees of his country.
I really would like to be part of this and to learn how its done.Directly extend more imformation all the time some thing comes up.
Great article! One question, is it possible to create bundles with your plugin? Two different products in a store are bundled together?
You can do it by adding product variations.
Great work Yaros and a team!!
My wife and I had created our first store using your plugin.
And today we are focusing on Instagram Shoutouts – never done it before, will see how it is going to turn out.
Hi, it’s been a few months since you started AliDropship, how is it now, can you share on your experience about it. Thanks in advance!
My only problem is Stripe is still not supported in my country. Unless someone can help me setup a bank account in the USA so I can use Stripe is very wonderful.
You don’t need US bank account to use Stripe, use Payoneer instead. We will describe this strategy in our next article.
Thanks for this great article.
What about using Shopify, How crucial it is for designing a dropshipping store?
Shopify is a good platform and it is used for ecommerce projects by many people, but we prefer WordPress because it is more flexible, has more features and possibilities and gives 100% control over your webstore. Besides, you don’t need to pay monthly fees with WordPress (it’s free).
Hi, Thanks for your AWESOME article. I have some question listed below.
1. Should I find supplier or seller in Aliexpress and will contact with them for working with me as a partner for my dropshipping business? Or your plugin will do everything.
2. You said that you used stripe for payment and seller will take responsibility for refund or dispute. Stripe will setup with my mail and buyer will buy from my website and I will be paid by stripe account so how the seller or supplier will handle dispute and refund?
3. If some supplier or seller cheat with me after confirm partnership what can I do that situation ?
4. Can I start without your plugin?
Thanks in Advance.
1. You don’t need to contact suppliers in advance. You just select products from different sellers on AliExpress and import them in your store.
2. Please check https://help.alidropship.com/orders-and-shipping/returns-and-refunds
3. You don’t need to sign any agreements, you just purchase items on AliExpress for your clients as a usual AliExpress buyer.
4. Yes you can, but a lot of manual work will be involved and you will have to spend much time and efforts before you can start your dropshipping business.
Im literally new in this and have no experience.
Do i hire someone to build a website?
Are there video courses that i can watch?
You are welcome to check our service here: https://alidropship.com/start-new-business/
As for courses, first of all, I recommend that you check the Guide https://alidropship.com/guide/
Is Aliexpress plugin can be used for several store? Or only one store?
Which one is more advantage for beginner: do the store by ourself or Order custom webstore from Aliexpress?
Thank you! One plugin license is valid for one domain. Even a beginner can build his own dropshipping business using just the plugin. However, if you want to save time and get a completed dropshipping store developed by experts in this field, you are welcome to order a custom store service from AliDropship https://alidropship.com/start-new-business/
Thank you very much Yaros. The basic plan of custom store includes only Facebook integration with other social network left out. My question is, will I be able to integrate other social networks by myself later? If yes, how easy will it be?
Also, can all the promo materials that are included in the ultimate plan be requested for later after going for basic plan. If yes, how will the process be?
Lastly, is there any difference in the web design offered for various plans?
It is really easy to integrate other social networks.
I did not understand your question regarding promo materials.
No, there is no any difference in designs.
I meant the promo videos and social media promo tool that is included in the ultimate plan.
Hello, I am Blake from China. I want to be a supplier for drop-shipping stores. What should I start this business?
Hi, you need to have a store on AliExpress I guess.
I am from India, I am confused that if I took the material from china and send the material to my customer. How the money will reach to my indian account, is there is any problem
please check how dropshipping business model works https://help.alidropship.com/getting-started/what-is-dropshipping-business-and-how-to-start-it
Hi, i would like to start dropshipping after inspired by your guide and article but i need to start with INR but ali express is in dollers only so how to please guide.
Hi, thank you for your question!
On AliExpress, you can switch currency. In the top right corner, there is a ‘Ship to…’ field. Click on it, choose your country and currency, and click on the ‘Save’ button.
Seems like it is an easy business to set up.
Very nice work on the blog so much valuable information.