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Over 84% of dropshippers say the biggest challenge they face is finding good suppliers. But did you know the platform you choose for your dropshipping store can actually have an impact on how you find suppliers? In this guide we will go through how you can use ecommerce platforms for dropshipping, the pros and cons of each platform and how you can use some dropshipping tools to help find you great suppliers.

What Is Dropshipping?

Dropshipping is a business model and order fulfillment method where the stock is held by the manufacturer or a third party, rather than by the owner of the ecommerce store. When the order is placed by the customer, a message is sent to the manufacturer or wholesaler with the shipping address, and they then ship the product to the customer. 

In regular ecommerce fulfillment, the shop owner has all the inventory in stock, and fulfills the order themselves. 

Usually, the ecommerce business owner will keep either a % of the sale as a commission, or they will pay the manufacturer the manufacturing and shipping cost, and then keep the rest as profit. 

The benefit of dropshipping products is you don’t have the risk of buying lots of stock that might not sell. Import products are potentially expensive and risky as you have storage costs and the risk of damage. 

The downside is it can be hard to build a brand using this method, and you are completely reliant on the manufacturer having the stock and not going out of business! 

The dropshipping profit margins are usually tighter than a regular ecommerce website, but this can be offset by the lower risk.

What Are Ecommerce Dropshipping Platforms?

An ecommerce platform is a software that allows shops to sell products to customers online. A dropshipping platform is software that also allows businesses to offer dropshipping. There are lots of different options to choose from, but most ecommerce platforms will include:

  • Product catalog
  • Product listings
  • Product search functionality
  • Shopping cart and checkout
  • Analytics
  • Third party integrations

The third party integrations are particularly important for businesses looking to do dropshipping, as you will need to send messages to your manufacturers that an order has been placed. You will also need real-time inventory level updates, as you don’t have control over the stock levels.

How To Choose The Right Ecommerce Platform

When choosing an ecommerce platform for your dropshipping store, the first thing you need to understand is what features you will need to use, and how easy the platform will be to use. Here are the main features of an ecommerce platform that you will need:

Ease of Use

Firstly, you want to use a platform that you have the technical knowledge to use. It may be tempting to build a customized platform just for your business, but this will mean you need a developer in future to make any changes. Whereas many out of the box systems are easy to use, quick to master and can be updated by someone with basic technical knowledge. 

Integrations

You will need to integrate with the dropshipping software that your supplier uses, otherwise you will need to manually tell them that an order has been placed, and this will get boring very quickly. It is also a good idea to choose a platform that can integrate with any other systems you use, such as order management system and inventory management system.

You might also want your dropshipping software to integrate with your current system, such as your inventory management system or order management system.

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Automated order processing

Most ecommerce platforms will either allow automated order processing or have some plugins you can use to automate orders. It is important to understand how this process will work before you invest in a new platform, especially if you have dropshipping and non dropshipping orders.

Scalability and Pricing

Ecommerce platforms can cost a lot of money, and it is expensive to choose the wrong platform then need to change later when you find it is no longer suitable. Choose a platform that can grow as you grow, so you can get better features and faster performance as you grow as a business.

Different platforms also have different ways of charging you. For example, some will charge you a transaction fee or credit card fee on each sale and some will just charge a monthly fee for using the platform.

Marketing and SEO tools

Some platforms have in-built marketing tools, such as PPC ads or integrations with Google ads. Some platforms also integrate with the SEO tools you use in your business such as Search Console and Analytics. They may also have email marketing and social media integrations.

Analytics

Analytics will help you understand how your business is performing. Some platforms have analytics tools built in and others allow you to integrate with other analytics tools. All the tools have basic backend analytics to help you track KPIs such as conversions and the number of users, but some will help show more in-depth analytics, such as page hotspots and add to carts.

Business and Customer support

You are inevitably going to have a problem with your platform at some point, either there could be an error or you don’t understand how a platform works. You need to have good customer service so you can help your customers when something goes wrong.

Plugins and Apps

Some hosted platforms and open source platforms have a range of dropshipping plugins you can use for your ecommerce site. If you are already selling on a platform that has these plugins, it might be easier to try installing plugins such as Spocket rather than rebuilding your site on a new platform.

What Are The Best Ecommerce Platforms For Dropshipping?

When you are deciding which platform to use for your dropshipping business, you first need to work out what your requirements are, and what sort of technical knowledge you have. The easiest platforms to use tend to be the most limited in their functionality.

You also need to think about your broader requirements, not just for dropshipping, especially if you sell products that aren’t dropshipped as well. Some ecommerce platforms are particularly well suited to dropshipping, and these are a few of my favorites.

Shopify

Shopify is probably the most popular platform for dropshipping businesses as it is both easy to use for startups and advanced online businesses alike, and integrates with nearly all other software. There is also a huge catalog of apps that integrate with Shopify, so whilst it isn’t the easiest to personalize, there are apps that can cover nearly anything you’ll need.

Shopify has a number of dropshipping-specific plugins that can help you connect to suppliers all over the world, including China, US, UK, EU. 

There is also a really good customer support team who will be able to help you with any issues and they are available 24/7. 

Shopify is very easy and user friendly, and even with virtually no technical knowledge you would be able to create a great looking shop. There are lots of templates you can use to build the site, and a lot of the functionality is drag and drop, so even beginners can learn how to use the platform in no time. There is also a Shopify app so you can manage your store on the go.

In my opinion, Shopify is the best platform to start with, if you have no experience of coding.

WooCommerce

Woocommerce is a Wordpress theme and ecommerce solution, so if you are already used to working with Wordpress, it could be the best option. My favorite thing about Woocommerce and Wordpress is the site and customer experience is completely customizable. This gives you great flexibility to brand the site with your style. 

Wordpress also has a huge amount of dropshipping apps and wordpress plugins you can use, both paid and free. The platform itself doesn’t cost anything for your basic packages, but different plugins and apps have different prices.

You don’t need to have a lot of technical knowledge to use Woocommerce, but it isn’t as easy to use as Shopify. However, it is much more flexible, and Wordpress websites perform really well with search engine SEO.

BigCommerce

BigCommerce is a similar platform to Shopify, and is a great option for businesses of any size. 

There aren’t as many plugins as there are on Shopify, but there are more built in features such as SEO integrations, email marketing and other marketing tools, on page analytics, which means you can get set up and selling quicker than on other platforms.

The website builder function on BigCommerce is really easy to use, so it could be a good alternative to Shopify.

Adobe Commerce (was Magento)

Adobe Commerce is a great platform for bigger more advanced businesses, or businesses looking to scale quickly. Their software has a lot of in-built features, but you will need to hire a developer in order to install most of the tools and make them work with your system. However, if you are using a developer, you have a lot of flexibility about how you can make the site look and perform.

If you are an enterprise level ecommerce business, then Adobe Commerce is a great option but it is expensive.

Wix

Wix used to be a beginners platform for creating simple online websites, but it has expanded into offering a drag and drop online store builder to allow anyone to build a good looking ecommerce store in minutes. 

If you have no technical knowledge and you want to start quickly, Wix could be a great option, however there are only a limited amount of plugins available and you are very limited on how you can change the appearance of the store.

Tools To Help You Find Dropshipping Suppliers

Spocket

Spocket is a plugin for Wordpress that can connect you with suppliers all around the world. The best thing about Spocket is it easily integrates with the big platforms like Shopify and Woocommerce, and it is the easiest way to find products to sell. There are thousands of products available on Spocket, so if you already sell some products on your site, you could use Spocket to expand your product range really easily and with very little risk.

Oberlo

Oberlo is a Shopify plugin that has a big list of dropshipping suppliers. If you have a Shopify store, then Oberlo or Spocket will be the easiest way to find new suppliers. The tool has its own list of suppliers plus it has suppliers from Alibaba and Aliexpress, so the list of products is massive.

AliExpress

Aliexpress is Alibaba’s consumer facing store, and has nearly every product you can think of. Most of the suppliers are from China and India, which means the prices are very competitive. However, the platform isn’t the easiest to use and it isn’t very easy to integrate it with your store. If you are just starting out, I would recommend using Oberlo first, then working directly with suppliers when you are more experienced. However, if you are experienced then Aliexpress suppliers probably have the cheapest prices.

Wrap Up

Dropshipping can be a great way to start or grow your ecommerce business, but it is important to choose the right platform for your technical knowledge and business requirements. If you are just starting out with dropshipping, Shopify is the best place to start as it is easy to use, not too expensive and has a lot of amazing plugins. If your business is already selling, and you are looking to grow using dropshipping, there are some great plugins such as Spocket, which might mean you don’t have to change your entire website, but just add a plugin to find products and suppliers.

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By Teddy Smith

Teddy Smith is an ecommerce brand founder and a former Senior Ecommerce Consultant for Accenture. He is also an independent ecommerce consultant, specializing in selling on Amazon and marketplaces. Teddy has 13 years of experience working with both enterprise and small scale ecommerce brands, and has provided over 3,000 hours of independent ecommerce consulting sessions.