Shopify dropshipping: The ultimate guide for small UK businesses

Launching a Shopify dropshipping store is an excellent ecommerce move. Learn more about how to use this platform, as well as its pros, cons and costs, in our expert guide.

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Shopify is one of our top-rated ecommerce platforms, and it’s also a perfectly designed dropshipping solution for small business retailers to take advantage of.

An integral part of dropshipping online is having the right software to take care of all your admin duties. This can save you both time and money, and even provide tips and tricks on how to optimise your store.

The Startups expert team has been analysing the best software tools for SMEs for over two decades. Our most recent round of research found Shopify is perfect for users wanting an all-in-one dropshipping solution, thanks to its extensive app store.

Having a wide range of apps to choose from means you can design a bespoke dropshipping strategy that is not only endlessly customisable, but also capable of growing alongside your business.

We ranked Shopify as the second best ecommerce website builder, although its premium price plans are not the cheapest option for startups.

If you’re considering using Shopify for your small dropshipping business, we’ll go through everything you need to know below, from pros and cons to hidden fees.

What is dropshipping?

Before we get started, you might want to know a bit more about what dropshipping is.

Dropshipping is a fantastic retail strategy for entrepreneurs because it’s a low-risk, low-cost way to enter the industry.

You take an order, send it to a supplier, and let the supplier deliver the goods to your client.

You’ll never actually handle the goods you’re selling, which means you can offer more products at a lower cost. Plus, you’ll have fewer demands to deal with in terms of inventory and staff management.

You should try dropshipping if:

  • You don’t have a lot of capital to get started with
  • You want to sell a large range of products
  • You want your business to scale and grow easily

What is Shopify dropshipping?

Shopify
4.6
Shopify’s superb features and extensive app market give ambitious ecommerce businesses everything they need to scale rapidly.
  • FREE TRIAL 14-day free trial
  • PRICE FROM Approx £21 per month
  • Preempts and predicts what a merchant might need next in all aspects of creating a website
  • Best range of apps and extensions
  • Perfect for dropshipping
Summary Shopify is perfect for users looking for that all in one online store solution. Its ability to predict what a merchant will need next when creating a website is a brilliant feature, and its countless apps give you complete control over your business, enabling you to grow through diverse multi channel integration options and automated SMS and email marketing. It is definitely better suited to store owners with complex, larger inventories and because there are fewer built in features, using the platform can get expensive compared to other feature-filled competitors like Squarespace and Wix.
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Dropshipping is most attractive to business owners because of how low maintenance it is.

So if you’re choosing dropshipping for your online business, then you probably want an easy-to-manage sales system – and Shopify fits the bill.

Shopify templates

Shopify templates

The Shopify platform is extremely beginner-friendly. Unlike other website builders, it’s designed specifically to help you build an online store, which means efficient selling has been factored into every aspect of the builder.

Users are provided with a wide range of ‘themes’ that can be customised to meet your own branding requirements. These allow you to sell either physical or digital products.

Plus, those that aren’t as experienced with web design needn’t worry with Shopify. Your store can be designed without any coding on your part, which means you don’t need complex knowledge of software development to use the platform.

Shopify also hosts your website for free, which eliminates the need to purchase an expensive and impractical dedicated server. Instead, you’ll pay a simple monthly fee to access and manage your site.

Here are some of the top dropshipping features you’ll get with Shopify:

  • Unlimited inventory allowance
  • Stock management tool
  • Revenue reports
  • Multiple product variants permitted
  • Comprehensive fraud detection features

According to a 2021 survey conducted by Oberlo, more than half (50.2%) of consumers say free delivery is one of the main reasons they shop online.

Another great feature that Shopify offers is the ability to edit your shipping rates to offer free delivery for customers (although remember that you’ll need to absorb these costs in your product pricing).

Shopify pricing

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Ecommerce Plan
Price
Plan main features

Basic Shopify

Shopify

Advanced

$29 per month (approximately £21)

$79 per month (approximately £58)

$299 per month (approximately £220)

Unlimited products
Abandoned cart recovery
Online credit rates: 2.2% + 20p

Professional reports and analytics
5 staff accounts
Online credit rates: 1.9% + 20p

Advanced reports
Calculated shipping rates
Online credit rates: 1.6% + 20p

Shopify has three main pricing plans, ranging in price from around £20 to £211 per month. There is also a free plan, which you can use to trial the platform for 14 days.

All of these plans are suitable for dropshipping. You’ll be able to list unlimited products with every payment tier and sell across multiple sales channels.

The main situation in which you'd want to pay for the more expensive Shopify plan (as opposed to the Basic plan) is if your business is growing its operations. The Shopify plan permits you to have three more staff accounts than the Basic plan, as well as up to five inventory locations.

In our guide to the best ecommerce platforms for small businesses – based on exhaustive user testing – we ranked Shopify second out of seven.

In fact, it had the best customer score of all seven online builders we reviewed, and scored highest for customer satisfaction. 93% of users said they would recommend Shopify to a friend.

The one area in which Shopify doesn’t overly impress is value for money. This is because it has less built-in features. Plus, you’ll need to pay for a pricier plan in order to get reduced sales fees.

Shopify’s cheapest plan, Basic, has a 2% transaction fee – not the cheapest on the market.

Want to know more about how much Shopify costs?

It’s a good idea to get a full breakdown of what each of the Shopify payment plans offer you, so you know exactly how much you’ll need to spend with the platform. Read our full guide to Shopify pricing to learn more.

Shopify dropshipping: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Huge range of apps makes it easy to manage your inventory
  • Comprehensive range of POS (point-of-sale) options
  • Great for creating product categories
  • Easy to use and set up
Cons
  • No specialist supplier network
  • Some core functions will require a third-party app
What else does Shopify give you?

Shopify is probably the best-known ecommerce solution currently available – but is it actually the best fit for you? Read our full review of Shopify to find out.

How do you start dropshipping with Shopify?

So you’ve read through the above and decided Shopify might be the right platform for starting your dropshipping business. Now how do you get started?

Below, we’ll go through the simple step-by-step process to set up your Shopify dropshipping store.

1. Set up a Shopify account

To set up your Shopify store, first visit the Shopify website to get started with the platform’s 14-day free trial.

From there, you’ll be guided through the setup process, which includes entering your email address, choosing a password and payment plan, and entering your Shopify store name.

2. Design your online store

Our expert team of researchers recently completed their latest round of ecommerce web builder testing.

We ranked Shopify as our second-best option for design functionality, thanks to its strong set of website features and beautifully designed templates.

 

Shopify inventory

Shopify editor

Shopify has a more limited choice of templates compared to rivals like Wix, but they are all professionally designed and curated for specific industries, which is useful for branding your business.

How do I set my store up for dropshipping?

Tailoring your ecommerce account for dropshipping involves a couple of extra steps. Firstly, you’ll want to input your payment details on the ‘Settings’ page, so that you’ll immediately be able to start taking payments once the store is launched.

Secondly, you'll want to add a ‘Theme’ for your site. This will enable you to add some important customisable elements such as shipping information.

What is our top-rated ecommerce website builder for design?

Shopify might score highly for its professional-looking website builders, but our research found that Squarespace is the best builder overall for its wide range of themes and well-crafted templates.

Learn more about how the two platforms compare in our full review of Shopify vs Squarespace.

3. Launch your ecommerce business

Congratulations! You’ve now built your online store and are ready to get up and running accepting payments.

Shopify makes it dead easy to launch your store. Simply access the ‘Sales Channels' option in your Shopify settings, then select the ‘add an online store' option.

This will permit you to start adding your products, and your ecommerce business will now be live.

4. Find your suppliers

To start selling products on Shopify, you’ll need to seek out a supplier located in the UK, or anywhere else in the world.

We recommend the former if you want to spend less on shipping costs – but you might want to ship internationally to take advantage of larger marketplaces, like AliExpress (based in China).

You can use the internet to find an online supplier database. Or, you can seek out a Shopify app that connects you and your store to thousands of reputable suppliers.

Shopify marketplace

Shopify marketplace

Which is the best dropshipping supplier to integrate with Shopify?

We recommend Oberlo.

Oberlo is an online marketplace that was actually developed by Shopify, so it integrates perfectly.

With Oberlo, you can browse AliExpress and import the products that pique your interest directly to the app.

It’s a fully automated process that even checks in with the buyer to make sure they’ve received their product and are happy. This will save you time and money, and ensure customer loyalty.

Want to shop around for a Shopify dropshipping supplier?

No dropshipping store is the same, and there might be different areas you want to focus on when choosing a supplier. Read our full guide to the top dropshipping suppliers to learn more.

5. Grow your customer base

Marketing your website might not strictly be a part of the ecommerce setup process, but the truth is that launching your business online is not just about registering a domain name – you also need to cut through the other ecommerce websites and get noticed so you can grow your store and customer base.

Shopify integration

Shopify social media integration

In terms of SEO, Shopify has lots of useful features that can boost your website search ranking and make potential customers more likely to click on your URL. These include meta descriptions, blogging tools, and header code.

Shopify also boasts some excellent integrations with Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. You can link your social media profiles with your online store so that your posts appear on both channels, thus advertising your products to a larger audience.

You can also easily install email marketing apps from Shopify’s extensive app marketplace – solutions like Mailchimp, Constant Contact and Convert Kit can help you create engaging content.

Did you know?

64% of small businesses use email marketing to reach customers.

How does Shopify dropshipping compare to other platforms?

Shopify is one of our top-rated dropshipping builders alongside Wix (our top-rated website builder for SMEs) and WooCommerce.

All three of these ecommerce builders integrate well with popular inventory and supplier apps. This is a big bonus when it comes to customising your online store to create the perfect dropshipping strategy.

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BEST FOR
Pricing
Visit

Shopify

Wix

Best range of apps and extensions

All-round ecommerce platform for small businesses

Customisation and scalability

$29 – $299 per month

(approximately £21-£220 per month)

£15-£27 per month

Free to download but themes and plugins cost extra

As you can see from the above table, Shopify is slightly more expensive than Wix or WooCommerce.

Still, we recommend it over the latter two platforms if you want the ability to customise your store with a huge range of sophisticated apps and integrations.

Which is best?

If you’re still unsure about which of our top dropshipping builders is the best platform for you, read our full guides:

Is Shopify right for your dropshipping business?

In a nutshell, Shopify is the best dropshipping platform for startups or side hustles.

Its easy-to-use builder gives you all the tools you need to create a flourishing website that speedily delivers top-quality products to customers, and you barely need to lift a finger.

The caveat to this is that Shopify is not the cheapest sales platform available, so more budget-conscious SMEs might want to look for a cheaper ecommerce builder, like one of our top nine free ecommerce platforms.

But the truth is, you get what you pay for with Shopify: a smartly designed software tool with a huge range of apps that can adapt as you grow your sales base.

Check out the free trial today to start small and learn the ins and outs of Shopify using just a handful of products.

Shopify dropshipping FAQs
  • How can I dropship with Shopify?
    It’s incredibly easy to start dropshipping with Shopify. Simply create an account with the platform, set up your payment details and password, and start building your online store!
  • Does Shopify have a free platform?
    Yes. You can trial the Shopify platform for zero charge for a total of 14 days.
  • Why should you not do dropshipping?
    Dropshipping is a good choice for SMEs and startups because it offers good scalability. Mid-sized companies tend to move away from dropshipping because they have the resources to foster and manage their own supplier relationships.
  • Is dropshipping profitable?
    Dropshipping is the ecommerce solution with the highest profit margin. This is because it has incredibly low startup costs. Software tools like Shopify mean you don’t need to handle shipping or inventory management, which saves sellers a lot of money, time and resources.
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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