The top 6 UK dropshipping suppliers and companies for small businesses

Dropshipping providers can save small retailers lots of trouble when managing inventory. Find the best provider for your small business with our expert guide.

Our experts

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Our top three dropshipping providers for small businesses are:

  1. AliExpress for product range
  2. Oberlo for Shopify users
  3. Modalyst for Wix users
0 out of 0
Pricing
Plan features:
Free plan?
Best for:

Oberlo

Modalyst

AliExpress

Avasam

SaleHoo

Printful

£22 per month

£22 per month

5-8% commission fee

£19 per month

£20 per month

£35.97 per month

– Integrates with Shopify

– Supports up to 500 products

– Integrates with Wix

– Add products in just one-click

– Unlimited inventory

– Reliably large company

– 250 orders per month

– Unlimited integrations

– Good for high profit product selling

– Smart automation tool

– Print-on-demand features

– In-built product design features

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

Shopify users

Wix users

Product range

Inventory management

Large seller network

Bespoke products

As the online world booms post-pandemic and ecommerce solutions become increasingly common, the dropshipping model has risen in popularity amongst entrepreneurs, as an excellent way to start an ecommerce business without worrying about inventory or shipping.

But how do you choose the right solution? Finding the best platform for your needs takes time that you definitely don’t have if you’re getting a new business off the ground.

Sometimes it’s simple. For example, if you’ve built your retail website using Shopify, then Oberlo is your best bet as it’s specifically designed to support Shopify stores.

But you might have specific factors to keep in mind, like a budget constraint or a need for license-approved suppliers. Online reviews can sometimes create more confusion than clarity, and there might also be hidden fees to consider.

To make things easier, we’ve broken down the top six dropshipping suppliers and companies for SMEs. Below, we’ll go through their pros, cons, and costs to tell you everything you need to know to find the right dropshipping platform for your online retail business.

The best dropshipping suppliers should integrate directly with your ecommerce platform. Read our guide to the top online store builders to get started.

Oberlo
Best for: Shopify users

Oberlo is not designed as a standalone platform. Instead, it’s a plugin you can install on your existing ecommerce website builder – namely, Shopify.

This might sound like a limitation, but the good news is that Shopify is an excellent ecommerce website builder. In our most recent round of testing, we ranked it as our runner-up for small business retailer websites, and our top-rated choice for dropshipping.

Feature-packed with tons of smart tools for users, including abandoned cart recovery, it's a great way to build a strong foundation for your dropshipping process.

Oberlo screenshot

Oberlo inventory management page

Perhaps Oberlo’s biggest pull factor is its ease of use. Your customer’s journey using the app is incredibly intuitive and almost entirely automated.

After the order is shipped, Oberlo also instantly updates the status on your online business store, and notifies the buyer – an important customer service touch that will keep buyers coming back for more.

How much does it cost?

Oberlo does not charge transaction fees, so the cost you’ll pay is entirely upfront. For £22 per month, you’ll get access to the Oberlo Basic Plan, which has:

  • 10,000 product limit
  • Bulk order option
  • Real-time order tracking
  • Order fulfillment monitoring

This is quite a generous offer for £22, and gives you everything you need as a small business retailer.

There is also the Oberlo Pro Plan. Costing £59 per month, it’s considerably more expensive than Oberlo Basic. It allows you to purchase 30,000 products and have multiple user accounts, and is best for rapidly expanding firms.

Oberlo does have a free plan, called Oberlo Starter. As its name suggests, it’s a good way to test the platform out. Nonetheless, you’ll be lumbered with a monthly limit of 500 products, so it’s not a good long-term solution.

All three Oberlo plans (including Oberlo Starter) also come with unlimited orders, a free Chrome Extension, and analytics features like product statistics and sales reports.

What ecommerce app does Oberlo integrate best with? Shopify

Verdict

If you’re a Shopify user, or are looking for an ecommerce/dropshipping bundle, we recommend Oberlo and Shopify as the ultimate software partnership. They work together as a simple, automated shipping process that will keep your customers happy and your costs low.

Did you know?

Recent research from the Business Data Group has found that online stores were the number one type of newly registered company in 2021.

Just under 50,000 retail startups were founded last year – that's 6% of all new UK businesses for that year!

Modalyst
Best for: Wix users

Coming in at number three is Modalyst, another dropshipping software solution boasting an unrivalled list of features even on its free plan. You can:

  • Add products in one click
  • Receive real-time product updates
  • Follow order tracking
  • Set automated markups
  • Use a profit calculator to work out your margins
Modalyst

Modalyst marketplace

As we’ve touched on before, it’s important to find a dropshipping tool that will work alongside your existing ecommerce website builder. 

Modalyst integrates with a few different ecommerce apps, including Shopify and large-scale software tool BigCommerce.

Unlike Oberlo, it’s not designed to specifically fit any of these platforms, but it is the only supplier directory that integrates with Wix, our top-rated small business website builder. Because it’s been designed with Wix’s builder in mind, it is super easy to use Oberlo to drop items to Wix eCommerce stores.

How much does it cost?

Modalyst has two payment tiers. Modalyst Startup is best-suited for small businesses and costs £22 per month (£25 per month when billed monthly).

Compared to Oberlo, Modalyst does not have the most generous product limit. Its free plan, Modalyst Hobby, allows you to buy just 25 products from the Modalyst marketplace, while the Modalyst Startup tier has a limit of 250 products.

However, it makes up for this with its huge list of features, which allows you to perform pretty much any function on the platform.

On top of the upfront cost, Modalyst also charges a transaction fee of either 5%, 2% or 1% on dropshipping sales based on your plan type (Basic, Pro, or Premium). That means the more you spend on a payment plan for Modalyst, the higher your profits can be.

What ecommerce app does Modalyst integrate best with? Wix Ecommerce

Verdict

Modalyst users are limited by a smaller product listing allowance, which means that there’s not much opportunity to scale. However, it’s an excellent platform for ease and functionality, and we would recommend it for any users with a Wix-built website.

AliExpress
Best for: Product range

AliExpress is probably one of the best-known names in dropshipping, and for good reason. It’s owned and operated by Alibaba, the global online marketplace.

The platform has millions of products and takes care of virtually everything you need to run a successful dropshipping site. It handles all of your shipping and tracking needs, and offers millions of products to help you build up an impressive product line for your consumers.

In terms of ecommerce integrations, AliExpress integrates directly with Oberlo to be available as an app for popular brands including Shopify, so you can add its products directly to your online shop.

So what’s the drawback? Well, while AliExpress has a huge range of products available, nearly all of them ship from China.

That won’t be an issue for most SMEs, as your customers probably won’t be expecting super fast shipping, but it’s something that could cause service issues down the road.

How much does it cost?

Retailers don’t need to pay a monthly subscription fee to sell on AliExpress. Instead, the software takes a 5-8% commission fee (depending on the cost of the product you're selling) per sale, which should be factored into your pricing.

Another upside to being able to sell for free is that, because you’re being charged per item, AliExpress allows you to sell single units or items – a novelty within the dropshipping supplier market.

If you’re looking to flog lots of low-cost items, the commission fee could become an issue. But for selling more expensive products, AliExpress works out to be an excellent, wallet-friendly option.

What ecommerce app does AliExpress integrate best with? BigCommerce

Verdict

AliExpress is affordable, easy to use, and has the widest-ranging product selection on this list. However, the majority of its products are based in China, which means you’ll need to factor in slower shipping times for your customers.

Avasam
Best for: Inventory management

Like Oberlo and Modalyst, Avasam connects product suppliers and online sellers in one fully automated platform. However, it does this only with approved UK-based suppliers.

Avasam’s limited list of suppliers can make your products a bit more expensive than if they were coming from larger marketplaces like China or the US. Still, you can rest assured that your products will arrive quickly and be high quality, which is helpful for your branding and quality assurance.

Avasam screenshot

Avasam invoice manager

Strong inventory management is also a big focus of Avasam’s toolset. The platform will cleverly automate your inventory syncing so you’ll never sell products you don’t have, and also allows you to download CSV files for editing and uploading products in a spreadsheet format.

How much does it cost?

You’re paying more for the quality of your suppliers with Avasam. It has a low starting price point of £19 per month, but this isn’t the best value for what you get.

The platform has three payment tiers available. They are mostly distinguished by the number of orders they give you per month:

  • Avasam Starter (£19 per month, billed monthly) gives you unlimited integrations and 250 orders per month.
  • Avasam Advanced (£49 per month, billed monthly) gives you 1,000 orders per month.
  • Avasam Business (£99 per month, billed monthly) gives you 2,000 orders per month.

There is also a free plan available, Avasam Free, which permits 10 orders per month and is best suited to newcomers or micro businesses.

What ecommerce app does Avasam integrate best with? BigCommerce

Verdict

You’ll get what you pay for with Avasam. A uniquely approved network of high-quality, UK-based sellers makes it great for high-ticketed items – but if you’re looking for the best value for money, Avasam’s meagre product allowance means it might not be the best choice.

SaleHoo
Best for: Large seller network

SaleHoo.com is an ecommerce company that offers different products to help retailers and wholesalers to dropship.

SaleHoo Dropship is its newest dropshipping product, and acts similarly to Modalyst and Oberlo, integrating with your ecommerce site to import products to your Shopify store in minutes and take care of shipping and tracking for customers.

SaleHoo screenshot

SaleHoo marketplace

But one of its most popular products, and the one that really sets it apart from the competition, is the SaleHoo Directory. For just £50 per year (or £93 for lifetime access), you’ll be able to view one of the largest curated lists of international suppliers, all of whom are carefully selected and trustworthy.

Access to the SaleHoo Directory brings with it help and support tools in the shape of the SaleHoo sales team. They are there to guide you through the marketplace, either online, over the phone or via email, and can also provide you with seller training.

How much does it cost?

SaleHoo Dropship costs £20 per month (billed annually). It’s a strong choice for very small retailers, and is suitable for just one or two users.

There is another, higher-tiered plan available called SaleHoo Dropship Premium, but this is specifically designed for larger teams. At £71 per month (billed annually), its added features aren’t crucial enough to justify the price increase for small business owners.

SaleHoo does not have a free plan on this list, which puts it at a disadvantage. But if you sign up for a plan and then change your mind, there is still a 60-day money back guarantee.

What ecommerce app does SaleHoo integrate best with? Shopify

Verdict

SaleHoo Dropship is a strong dropshipping product on its own, but it's the SaleHoo Directory that should entice small business owners as a great way to join a large, trusted network of ecommerce suppliers.

Printful
Best for: Bespoke products

One of the top on-demand dropshipping service providers on this list, Printful is the go-to product for small business retailers wanting to dropship accessories, homeware, and apparel.

The business prints designs requested by customers directly onto a variety of items including hats, mugs, and even throw pillows. You don’t have to purchase tools or inventory to get started, and you can be sure of a quick turnaround time thanks to Printful’s speedy three-day mailing policy.

Printful screenshot

Integrating Printful in the Shopify website builder

If you’re looking to create uniquely designed products, Printful is also good for that. There are no minimum purchase requirements, so you can order one item as easily as 100.

Finally, because Printful is a design-led dropshipping supplier, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that it's also great for branding. For businesses with logos, Printful has fantastic customisation tools that will allow you to create custom packing slips or logo stickers to add onto packages.

How much will it cost?

Technically, you can use the Printful platform entirely free of charge. You’ll have access to over 275 customizable products, product templates, mockups, clipart images and integrations, and you'll be able to sync with the major ecommerce platforms.

But Printful, like AliExpress, does charge fees for the products you sell from its suppliers, and these can grow to be very expensive.

Example: If you want to sell a t-shirt with your customer’s design on it, you’ll need to pay around £10 to buy the t-shirt from Printful. 

Add in shipping costs, and you’ll need to mark this up to around £18 to make profit.

That means that while you are basically selling for free with Printful, your customers are essentially absorbing the supplier costs for you.

There is a Printful Pro plan (£36 per month, billed annually) which gives you access to tools to build up your online store, including SEO (search engine optimisation) elements. However, you’ll get all of these tools and more with the right ecommerce website builder, so the Pro plan is definitely not a necessity.

What ecommerce app does Oberlo integrate best with? Shopify

Verdict

Printful is the simple, easy way to sell, print and deliver bespoke products to your buyers. Its seller fees can be quite expensive, so we recommend it for those with high-profit products.

How do you use a dropshipping supplier with your ecommerce platform?

0 out of 0
BEST FOR
Overall Score
Based on our in-depth research and user testing
Pricing
Dropshipping integrations:
Visit

Wix

Shopify

Squarespace

BigCommerce

All-round ecommerce platform for small businesses

Best range of apps and extensions

Best for ease of use and great design

Best sales features

Customisation and scalability

4.8
4.6
4.6
4.2
4.1

£15-£27 per month

$29 – $299 per month

(approximately £21-£220 per month)

£15-£30 per month

Use code “STARTUPS10” to receive a 10% discount on all Squarespace plans

 

£22-£216 per month

Free to download but themes and plugins cost extra

  • Modalyst
  • Printful
  • Oberlo
  • Modalyst
  • Avasam
  • Printful
  • SaleHoo
  • Printful
  • Modalyst
  • AliExpress
  • Avasam
  • AliExpress
  • Printful
  • Avasam
  • SaleHoo

To use an ecommerce builder alongside your dropshipping supplier, you simply need to install the latter as an app within your website builder.

It will then act as your sales team to manage the purchase, packaging and shipping of your chosen products, so you won’t have to worry about overseeing these time-consuming processes yourself.

For example, Oberlo is a dropshipping app made by Shopify (an ecommerce builder) that lets you source products from AliExpress suppliers. Through the Oberlo app, available free of charge in the Shopify app marketplace, you can import products to your online store, edit the product listings, and place orders individually or in bulk.

After you make a sale in your Shopify store, you then purchase the products from a supplier and they will be shipped directly to your customer.

Another bonus? You’ll be able to take advantage of ecommerce website tools that platforms like Shopify can afford, such as branded invoice and shipping label templates.

Verdict

We think the best dropshipping supplier overall is AliExpress, as it has a huge range of products available to choose from and is super simple to use.

However, our ultimate line of guidance is that you should always match your dropshipping supplier with your ecommerce platform. 

If you’ve built your online store using popular website builder brands such as Shopify, then you should use Oberlo as your dropshipping platform. Similarly, if you built your website using Wix eCommerce, Modalyst is your best bet.

Choose the best supplier by examining how well it integrates with your existing digital shop. This will enable you to maximise your ecommerce offering, and make the most of both your online store builder and dropshipping supplier.

Dropshipping platforms can be expensive. If you want to save money and find a cheap website builder to get set up with, read our guide to the top freemium web builders available for small businesses.

Dropshipping FAQs

How do you find dropshipping suppliers?

The easiest way to find dropshipping suppliers is to use a directory. It’s a database of suppliers that’s organized by market, niche or product, and is a great way to quickly browse through a large number of dropshipping providers in one handy online location.

Another, more direct route to finding a dropshipping supplier is contacting a manufacturer. If you’ve found a product you like, you can search online for contact information to reach out to the manufacturers and ask for a list of the suppliers they work with.

Do I need permission to dropship?

All you’ll need to do in order to dropship is register your business once you start making sales. This is because, once you hit a certain income level, the majority of payment providers will require you to prove that your business is registered.

Is dropshipping profitable?

Dropshipping is a very profitable business model, as you can get big returns for relatively little cost. Since you don’t need to manage your own inventory, you’ll be saving on all the expenses that a traditional retailer or ecommerce store would incur.

As long as you are pricing your products in a way that covers your branding and shipping costs (and in the case of AliExpress, commission fees) you will easily make money with a dropshipping business.

Is dropshipping illegal?

Dropshipping is a 100% legal business venture. It's a legitimate method that thousands of business owners use worldwide.

However, you can encounter legal issues with dropshipping if you work with dubious suppliers that use another company's intellectual property, so you need to make sure that the suppliers you’re using are verified.

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Helena Young
Helena Young Senior Writer

Helena "Len" Young is from Yorkshire and joined Startups in 2021 from a background in B2B communications. She has also previously written for a popular fintech startup.

Included in her topics of interest and expertise are tax legislation, the levelling up agenda, and organisational software including CRM and project management systems. As well as this, she is a big fan of the films of Peter Jackson.

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