Inside the world of Instagram dropshipping: is it right for your business?

Ready to ditch the warehouse and sell on Insta? Discover how Instagram dropshipping can turn your online hustle into a thriving business.

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We are a team of writers, experimenters and researchers providing you with the best advice with zero bias or partiality.
Written and reviewed by:
Helena Young

Still think Instagram is for sharing hiking pictures and trendy poke bowls? Think again. With millions of active users searching for everything from accessories to artwork, the picture sharing app is fast becoming known as a top-rated dropshipping platform.

Dropshipping is one the simplest and cheapest business models to implement. You’ll be selling cheap, wholesale goods Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) without having to cover inventory costs. Your only concern is finding an audience – which is where Instagram comes in.

This guide will explain how dropshipping on Instagram works, how to source products, and how to market them to your customers through the app. Sit back and start scrolling as we show you one of the easiest ways to make money online.

What is Instagram dropshipping?

Dropshipping is an ecommerce model where a company bulk buys products from a supplier and then sells them to customers for a profit (basically a middle man for online shopping). If you’re dropshipping on Instagram, you’ll sell your products indirectly through the app.

Instagram is the ideal marketplace to house products you’re planning to dropship. It offers plenty of tools to create promotional content like photos, videos, stories, and shopping ads.

Finding customers is often the trickiest part of starting any business. But Instagram’s massive global reach and engagement offers over 100 million potential followers worldwide, all of whom are waiting to befriend your brand.

How to dropship on Instagram

Plenty of people choose to sell products on Instagram because of the app’s low barrier to entry. Here’s how to build a dropshipping website and get selling on Instagram in just five steps:

1. Create a dropshipping store

Example of a dropshipping website built using Shopify

Shopify provides ready-made templates for dropshipping businesses to take advantage of, covering sectors from clothing to pet accessories

Before you can sell anything, you’ll need to build a dropshipping store to sell from. Website builders like Wix, or special ecommerce platforms like Shopify are the most popular options.

Boasting dropshipping features like revenue reports and fraud detection, both software products can behave like your very own virtual retail assistant.

The next step is to research the products you want to sell through your website. Be sure to consider your suppliers at this stage. Reliability is key as the customer experience depends on supplier quality – which is why the best dropshipping suppliers have good reviews and fast shipping.

Got your products sorted? Next, import them into your website and decide on a pricing strategy. Add enticing descriptions and high-quality images to attract buyers.

2. Set up an Instagram account

Startups business profile on Instagram

The Startups team has had a business profile on Instagram for almost a decade, which we use to engage with users and help introduce them to our expert guides

If you don’t already have one, you’ll need to turn your Insta page into a business account. It is worth noting that a biz account isn’t all that different from a personal one. What it does offer is access to analytics tools that allow you to see how well your products are selling.

Once you have a professional account, you’ll be able to connect it to your dropshipping store in just a few clicks. This will allow you to add products to your shop so that customers can purchase directly from your profile.

3. Process orders

Order fulfilment is an important part of the dropshipping model. As you’re not manufacturing the products, your main responsibility as the shop owner is to track orders, communicate with suppliers, and handle any issues on the customer’s end.

Steer clear of customer complaints by setting clear shipping and return policies. Respond promptly to inquiries and complaints: if a parcel is lost or delayed, be transparent about why.

Order fulfilment services can minimise the risk of errors by automating some of the fiddly aspects of order processing, like product importing, routing, and inventory management.

4. Promote your products

Your Insta page is basically a virtual shop front. Make a high-quality window display using professional product photos and videos. Optimise your account to encourage visitors, which includes creating a compelling bio and profile picture.

Contests and giveaways can generate excitement and engagement amongst followers. This is an excellent organic tactic to grow your following and grow customer loyalty – but it can be difficult to tailor your messaging to reach your ideal consumer.

Instagram ads are a better method to target a niche audience. Using the platform’s analytics tools, you can target customers by demographic, interest, and behaviour. These same tools can also be used to gauge impact (more on this below).

5. Refine your strategy

Dropshipping is known as a good source of ‘passive income’; that is, income you’ll earn with very little effort. This doesn’t mean you can sit back and rest on your laurels, however. Growing any business requires involvement – particularly in the early stages.

Handily, Instagram analytics will let you regularly analyse and interpret customer data, such as page visitors, number of likes, and comments. These insights can inform strategic decisions to maximise engagement, product sales, and overall business growth.

How to find dropshipping products on Instagram

Just like any business venture, it’s crucial to understand the landscape and learn from those already thriving using competitor analysis.

Seek out 3-4 brands or influencers that are successfully driving sales and engagement. What posts are attracting the most interactions? What pain points are users reporting? Are there recurring themes or product categories?

Focus on accounts that overlap with your target consumer so you can carry over any learnings to your own audience. Relevant Instagram hashtags are a good starting point to quickly locate similar brands.

Once you’ve decided on a shortlist, check out the supplier behind the product. You can either research wholesaler directories, or reach out to manufacturers directly by attending industry trade shows and events.

Competitor analysis should be ongoing. Keep your finger on the pulse by participating in the Instagram community to ensure you’re the first to hear if the conversation changes.

What are the best products to sell?

Everybody wants to be the brand behind a viral, must-have buy. Last year it was the Uniqlo banana bag. Could you produce the next winning design?

In truth, most wholesalers sell their items in bulk, with few options for customisation. It can be challenging to build a strong brand identity when dropshipping because you may not have complete control over product packaging and presentation.

To really succeed at dropshipping, your best bet is to trial a range of products over several sales cycles to find the one that takes off. Here are the best products for dropshippers:

  • Clothing and fashion accessories (eg. printed t-shirts)
  • Baby products (eg. bibs and baby bottles)
  • Home goods (eg. towels and rugs)
  • Office supplies (eg. notebooks)
  • Health and beauty products (eg. make-up brushes)

Tips for dropshipping on Instagram

Dropshipping on Instagram can be a lucrative business model. But with Oberlo statistics suggesting that up to 200 million businesses currently sell on the platform, the amount of sales you make will depend on how well you can stand out from competitors.

Here are five tips to optimise your dropshipping business and provide the best experience for customers you can offer:

  • Use Instagram reels: Instagram reels are short videos, tailored to user preferences using a unique algorithm, and designed to rival TikTok. They are a great way to showcase your products to the relevant audience.
  • Run targeted ads: these let you easily turn posts into an online advertisement, helping to target key demographics and reach wider audiences.
  • Partner with influencers: collaborating with influencers and customer advocates – particularly those who are already known in your product industry – is a smart way to market your product to an existing audience.
  • Introduce promotions: when building a brand, it’s a good idea to offer discounts to generate buzz and put your brand in the spotlight. This increased visibility can lead to more people becoming loyal customers of your brand.
  • Engage with your audience: if you’re selling through Instagram, customers will likely view your page as a helpdesk and use instant messaging to send in queries and complaints. Respond to comments and messages promptly to ensure they receive a smooth and positive experience.

Instagram ads for dropshipping: is it worth it?

If you have an Instagram account, you’ll already be well aware of what an Instagram ad looks like. As a form of paid social media, Insta ads mean you can pay for your content to appear in a person’s feed. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, as they say.

The benefits of using Instagram ads for your dropshipping business are:

  • You’ll be able to target ads to specific demographics, such as location and age
  • You’ll still have high engagement rates as users can still comment and like ads
  • You’ll have access to Instagram tools and analytics to track campaign performance

How to set up an Instagram ad in five steps

Meta (Instagram’s parent company) requires you to have an ad account and a Facebook page to publish Instagram ads. Once you’ve set these up, you can then link your Instagram account to run ads across either or both platforms in just these five steps:

Step 1: Posts – Go to the post you want to advertise from and click the ‘Boost Post’ button on the bottom right corner

Step 2: Goal – Instagram will check your payment details. You’ll then be asked what you want to achieve with the ad. What it’s really asking you is where you want the ad link to take audiences. There are three options:

  • To your website (if you want to boost traffic volume)
  • To your Instagram page (if you want to boost brand awareness)
  • To your DMs (if you want to encourage engagement)

Instagram let me boost a post from the account, choose a goal, and decide on the type of audience I wanted to target

Step 3: Audience – here you can select the demographic of users you want your ad to reach, including audience location, age, and interests. Or, for Instagram to do the work for you, click on ‘suggested audience’ to target groups similar to your followers.

Step 4: Budget and duration – this is where you set your ad duration and spending limit. For example, you might specify that you will spend no more than £4 per day over six days, for a total spend of £24.

Step 5. Review – Finally, review the ad and approve your payment. You’ll also be told how many new audiences Instagram thinks this ad will enable you to reach.

Instagram then let me select the amount of money I wanted to spend on the ad, before reviewing the final creation.

Instagram ads: associated costs

The cost of running ads on Instagram depends on a number of factors, including your targeting options, bidding strategy, and budget. However, here are some general averages:

  • CPC (cost per click): this is the price you’ll pay every time a person clicks on your ad, and currently stands at an average of £0.35- £0.75 per click
  • CPM (cost per mile): this is the price you pay to Instagram for every thousand impressions, which currently stands at an average of £7.94

CPM is cheaper than CPC. But in this case, less can be more. Using the above example, if boosted our latest Instagram post using a CPM method, we’d reach a total audience of around 20,000 at an estimated cost of £160.


Running a dropshipping page on Instagram is one of the easiest ways to make money today. But you’ll need to put in time and effort from the start to help your shop shine. Planning and refining your Insta strategy will lift your page from Insta flop to Insta famous.

We’ve taken you through all the details you need to source top products and build a gorgeous, Instagrammable shopfront. Now, get those labels printed and your Shopify website ready, and use the above tips to build a dropshipping brand that’s Insta-worthy.

Instagram dropshipping FAQs
  • Should I use eBay or Shopify for dropshipping?
    Shopify is the better option for dropshipping businesses because it automates a lot of the processes. eBay is best for selling a few personal items on the side – if you plan to make large volumes of sales, it requires a lot of manual work and effort from the seller.
  • How can I boost engagement on Instagram?
    The best way to improve Instagram engagement is through trial and error. Experiment with posting content at different times and in new mediums like videos, stories, and photos. Copy your top-performing posts and keep on top of digital marketing trends to help capture audience attention.
  • How much does it cost to put an ad in Instagram?
    On average, an Instagram ad costs a business around £0.35- £0.75 per click. However, this can reach as high as £1 or £2 if your industry is very competitive. For example, clothing brands will pay more than a company manufacturing solar panels.
Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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