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1. What is dropshipping?

Shopify dropshipping: How to dropship on Shopify [2023]

It’s no secret that a successful ecommerce venture requires a fair amount of resources. So, how can you start a profitable online store if you don’t have the expertise to code a website, don’t have the budget for inventory and don’t have the time to make constant trips to the post office? With Shopify dropshipping, of course! The ease of the Shopify ecommerce platform is a dropshipper’s dream.

Shopify enables ecommerce entrepreneurs to navigate all elements of a dropshipping business model, from customizing their own online store to building a product line and fulfilling customer orders at little to no upfront cost. When your next big idea comes knocking, don’t let a lack of resources stop you from bringing your vision to life — start a dropshipping business on Shopify instead!

Main takeaways from this article:

  • Shopify dropshipping offers store owners many advantages, including low overhead costs and the ability to scale your business easily.

  • To launch a Shopify dropshipping business, you must choose your product line, find reliable providers, set up your Shopify storefront, and promote your products.

  • Working with reliable dropshipping partners can enhance your business’s profitability by accessing high-quality products, allowing competitive pricing, and enabling faster shipping and delivery.

What is dropshipping?


Dropshipping is an ecommerce business model in which a creator or entrepreneur sells products from an ecommerce store but has a separate supplier to manage the store’s inventory and fulfill customers’ purchase orders. In a Shopify dropshipping business model, a creator or entrepreneur launches a Shopify storefront and selects a dropshipping provider to package and ship orders.

Dropshipping has become a lucrative business opportunity for independent creators and ecommerce entrepreneurs, particularly because dropshippers can avoid huge costs (like wholesale inventory) and major responsibilities (like inventory management). With the right dropshipping partner, ecommerce store owners can sell their creations across countries and even worldwide. 

With a dropshipping supplier like Gelato, Shopify store owners can leverage print on demand functionality to produce items through a network of 130+ production partners and deliver products anywhere in the world. Products are made-to-order — and more than 85% are made locally — to make a Shopify dropshipping business more simple, sustainable, and scalable. 

How profitable is Shopify dropshipping?

A Shopify dropshipping business model can drive considerable profit for Shopify store owners. Most Shopify dropshippers earn between $1,000 and $5,000 per month on average, with the most successful store owners raking in over $100,000 annually. But like most ecommerce business models, the profitability of a Shopify dropshipping operation relies on an assortment of factors.

The cost to attain the products you sell — and the price you sell the products to customers — can significantly skew the profit margins for your Shopify dropshipping store. While it’s anticipated that you may pay a slightly higher premium for quality products, the more expensive your supplier, the more you will need to markup your prices to drive higher profit margins for your business.

Fortunately, a dropshipping operation does not involve manufacturing, warehousing, or other expensive logistics costs related to the purchase of inventory. So, while you will have to keep an eye on your product prices, you won’t need to worry about substantial overhead expenses. Instead, you can allocate your resources to creating an effective brand, which can help your business scale.

For instance, digital marketing initiatives — like email marketing and social media marketing — can help potential customers become more familiar with your Shopify dropshipping business. Other efforts to create a robust ecommerce brand, like designing and selling popular Shopify products, can help your business skyrocket in popularity and scale in profitability.

Get started with Shopify dropshipping in eight steps

It’s never been easier to start a dropshipping business on Shopify! Geared with the following eight steps, you can confidently craft a unique business idea, launch a storefront of custom products, and partner with a print on demand provider to streamline order fulfillment. Here’s a simple guide to starting a Shopify dropshipping business, complete with the best practices for ultimate profit.

1. Choose your dropshipping product line

Dropshipping product line

It’s a no-brainer that every Shopify dropshipping website needs a line of dropship products to sell. What’s not always obvious is what kind of dropshipping products customers want. So, begin your Shopify dropshipping store by selecting a niche. A niche refers to a specific segment of a larger market that shares certain preferences or interests, such as avid gamers, pet owners, or fitness enthusiasts.

To select a niche that can drive profit, make a list of the things you’re interested in, like calligraphy or custom apparel. Then, conduct market research to gauge consumer interest in the related products. Channels like social media, Google Search, and Google Trends can help identify profitable dropship niches — as well as the top-selling trendy products in each niche — for you to explore.

Once you settle on a niche, analyze the competitors in the space. Because you will share a target audience with your competitors, it’s crucial to assess the types of products and designs they already have on the market so that you can differentiate your product line. There is a wide variety of potential dropship products that are both profitable and high in demand for you to sell, including:

  • Adult apparel like t-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, long sleeves, tank tops.

  • Child and baby clothing like bodysuits, onesies, sweatshirts, and t-shirts.

  • Accessories like tote bags and phone cases.

  • Home décor like wall art and wallpaper.

  • Drinkware like mugs and water bottles.

  • Stationary like calendars and cards.

2. Create a Shopify account

Shopify account

With a niche and product line in mind, it’s time to seal the deal on your dropshipping store and create a Shopify account. If you'd rather test the waters before diving in completely, a 14-day free trial of Shopify is available. However, as a leading ecommerce platform, you’ll likely be sold on Shopify as soon as you start your free trial (and see how easy it is to start dropshipping). 

Now, you just need to select a pricing plan. When it comes to Shopify dropshipping, choosing one of the three plans best fits your current needs and budget is essential. The most affordable Basic plan includes simple reports and two staff accounts. The most expensive Advanced account includes a custom report builder, and up to 15 staff accounts for more developed businesses.

3. Select a print on demand supplier

Print on demand supplier

A Shopify store is nothing more than a pretty website without a reliable dropshipping supplier to fulfill customer orders. As you find dropshipping suppliers for your order fulfillment, don’t count out print on demand providers. Print on demand (POD) is similar to dropshipping in that inventory is purchased on a per-order basis, and a supplier prints, packages, and ships all orders. 

Like a regular dropshipping provider, a POD provider helps to avoid inventory management and related costs. But unlike plain old dropshipping, a POD supplier can also print custom designs on your products to make them totally unique. Plus, a print on demand provider with a global network (like Gelato!) can replace multiple suppliers and produce and deliver products anywhere in the world. 

When on the hunt for a POD supplier for your Shopify dropshipping, consider the following criteria:

  • Level of customer service. Gelato offers a centralized Help Center for technical support and live chat and a robust Resource Center to continue growing your business. 

  • Product selection and quality. Gelato offers a wide range of popular ecommerce products, including customizable apparel, home décor, accessories, drinkware, and stationery. 

  • Average production and delivery time. Gelato offers a Shopify integration to accelerate the timeline from when orders are processed to printed, packaged, shipped, and received. 

  • Provider sustainability and ethics. Gelato offers a local supply chain and reduced transportation distances to reduce carbon emissions on each and every order.

4. Design your products

product design

It’s time to design the product line for your dropshipping store! For the most professional-looking product designs, hire a graphic designer or use the Gelato Design Editor (available to Gelato+ subscribers!) to experiment with millions of stock images and premium fonts. If you’re feeling adventurous, use software like Adobe Illustrator or Canva to create your designs instead. 

This is the moment to let your creativity run wild, but still keep these design best practices in mind: 

  • Don’t sacrifice quality. Only use high-quality images and graphics, or risk your design looking pixelated and cheap. 

  • Keep it simple. Avoid using too many fonts, images, and graphics in one design, or your products may lack cohesion. 

  • Use complementary colors. Consult the color wheel to learn which shades work well together and are aesthetically pleasing.

  • Embrace trial and error. Play around with different combinations of fonts, graphics, and colors until you reach a design that best represents your brand.

  • See it before you sell it. Order samples to better understand the actual appearance and quality of your products.

5. Customize your Shopify store

customize shopify store

Once your product designs are ready to sell online, you can officially customize your Shopify storefront. To set your Shopify dropshipping operation apart from the rest, decide on a store name that’s simple, memorable, and relevant to your niche. Along with your store logo, your store name should describe your brand's personality and be recognizable to your target audience. 

Next, take advantage of Shopify's free and paid themes to customize your storefront to fit your brand. Shopify boasts an excellent theme editor that allows you to experiment with different fonts, colors, buttons, and more. Remember that the look of your online store should complement the products you sell, so stick to the same color palette and design style as your product line.

6. Add your products to your store

products for store

Now that your storefront is ready to sell, prepare product listings for your incoming customers. No product listing is complete without high-quality photos, so snap multiple images that capture the color and vibrancy of your products. Be sure to take photos in areas with good lighting and simple backgrounds, and for products like apparel, take a few photos of a model wearing each item.

Next, create detailed product descriptions that list the material and dimensions of your products and explain why your customers need them. Optimize your product titles and descriptions with relevant keywords for users' searches — like ‘red women's tank top’ — to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) and generate more traffic to your Shopify dropshipping website. 

Lastly, integrate your chosen print on demand provider with your Shopify store. This integration enables incoming customer orders to be automatically directed to your POD supplier for fulfillment. If you need help connecting your Shopify storefront with your print on demand provider, head to the platform's online Help Desk or check Gelato's support guide for getting started on Shopify.

7. Launch and manage your online store

online store

With products prepared to purchase on your Shopify store, you’re just moments away from finally launching your dropshipping business! First, you must set up payment and shipping options in Shopify’s settings. Once shipping costs and shipping methods are out of the way, create a refund policy for potential customers who may need to exchange or return an item from your Shopify store.

After you make your online debut, consider how you will provide customer support on purchases to enhance the shopping experience. As the weeks go by, keep an eye on your Shopify dashboard to analyze your business’ performance. Assess your ongoing conversion rate, sales revenue, average order value, and customer lifetime value to make data-driven adjustments when necessary.

8. Market your dropshipping store

Scale your Shopify dropshipping store with an effective marketing strategy. There are tons of tactics to grow your ecommerce business, the first being paid ads across various sales channels like search engines and social media networks, such as Google, Facebook, and Instagram. Social media marketing is another avenue to build brand awareness and engage with potential customers. 

You can use your social media platforms to build an email marketing list of current and potential customers. Shopify dropshippers use email marketing to inform customers of upcoming promotions, limited-time discounts, product freebies, and more. Shopify store owners can even  create email campaigns from ready-made designs directly within Shopify Email.

Likewise, consider incorporating influencer marketing into your strategy to drive more traffic to your Shopify store. Influencer marketing leverages social media stars and micro-celebrities to share your products and promote your brand to their (much larger) audience. Just be sure to select an influencer that aligns with your niche, so you can be confident their audience is also yours.

Start dropshipping on Shopify with Gelato

As one of the biggest platforms for independent creators and ecommerce entrepreneurs, Shopify has turned the idea of dropshipping into a lucrative business opportunity. When starting a dropshipping business, look no further than Gelato. Equal parts reliable and flexible, Gelato simplifies Shopify dropshipping from start to finish, with reliable support every step of the way.

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Next steps

Start dropshipping on Shopify with Gelato.