You’ve found your niche, decided on the perfect product, and found the right supplier. Now, all you have to do is get your product in front of the right people — your audience.
To do that, you’ll need to setup an e-commerce store. That’s an online destination where:
- People can search for and find your store when looking for a product.
- You list all of the products you have available, together with specifications, prices and other details.
- Customers can browse, decide on, and purchase an item.
- You take payments via your shopping cart software or integration.
- You send details to your dropshipping supplier so they can distribute the item to your customer.
When it comes to creating an e-commerce store, you have five main options — from most to least complex, they are:
- Setup your own store using a web building framework like WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal.
- Use an online website building service to create an ecommerce store like Squarespace, Weebly, or Wix.
- Use a specialized ecommerce store builder like Shopify, Volusion, or BigCommerce.
- Open a store on an established ecommerce marketplace like Amazon, eBay or Rakuten.
- Utilise other Ecommerce Marketplaces like Groupon or Trademe.
1. Setting Up Your Dropshipping Store Using a Web Building Framework
This option is not for the faint of heart! Some entrepreneurs want control over every aspect of their e-commerce website, but there is a lot of work involved. If you don’t have the skills and expertise to do that yourself, you will need to hire a web developer who can do the work for you.
- Customization — lots of customization options, tweak everything to exactly how you want it.
- Expensive — in terms of time and effort (if you do it yourself) or money (if you hire a developer).
- Support — difficult to maintain if you don’t have the technical skills.
We would not recommend using this option. You will spend a great deal of time sweating the technical details and trying to get all the small parts of your website right. You have more important things to focus on, like growing your business, rather than developing a website.
2. Using an Online Web Building Service
There are several very good online web building services that will allow you to create an e-commerce store. Although they don’t specialize in e-commerce, these services have good options for online entrepreneurs. They are also a great choice if you want to create content for other areas of your website like resource guides, blog posts, articles, and more.
- Look and feel — beautiful templates allow for many different styles.
- Integrations — ecommerce and store options are available to add to the website.
- Extra content — good if you want to create content that’s not just about selling.
- Effort needed — can still be time consuming to create these websites.
3. Using a Specialized Ecommerce Platform
There are several web building services designed specifically for ecommerce. These are optimized for building online stores and are an excellent choice for many dropshipping business owners. Some of these services also provide integrations that allow you to track and send orders to suppliers with ease.
The most popular ecommerce website platforms are Shopify, BigCommerce, and Volusion.
- Optimized for ecommerce — listing items, browsing, integrations, payments, and more.
- Speed — fast and easy to use, building a store can be completed in a couple of days.
- Templates — not as customizable in terms of templates and layouts.
- Extra content — not optimized for non-store content like blogs or articles.
Building Your Store in an Existing Ecommerce Marketplace
The final option, and one of the most popular, is to create a store on an established online marketplace. For example, you can create a store on Amazon or eBay and use their platform, brand recognition, and access to millions of customers to your advantage.
It’s important to remember that these ecommerce options are not mutually exclusive. For example, there’s nothing to stop you opening an ecommerce store on Shopify and stores on Amazon and eBay. Do check the fine print on your agreements though, especially regarding offering items for different prices on different websites.
4. Ecommerce Marketplaces — Options for Opening an Ecommerce Store on Amazon, eBay, and More
Because it’s such a popular option, here are some more details on the most popular ecommerce marketplaces and what you can expect if you decide to open stores on them.
As the biggest ecommerce marketplace in the world, and the first place many people look for products, Amazon is a natural choice for dropshippers. Opening an Amazon store is quick and easy and listing items is fast.
Advantages of selling on Amazon
- Speed — getting started is fast, you can get a store up and running in a few hours.
- Access — you get access to Amazon’s millions of customers.
- Marketing and brand recognition — Amazon is one of the widest known and trusted of online brands.
Disadvantages of selling on Amazon
- Strict guidelines — Amazon has strict guidelines that you must follow.
- Commissions and fees — You will pay a monthly fee for listing on Amazon, plus a commission of the selling price of each item sold through the platform.
- Competition — there are a huge number of vendors on Amazon, so you are likely to be competing with several of them.
- Lack of Connection with Customers — it’s very difficult to foster relationships with customers through Amazon, meaning it’s tough to set up email lists, promotions, social media, or other marketing content.
As the world’s leading auction website, eBay is a well-established, trusted brand. In addition to auction-style listings, eBay also provides more traditional ecommerce style transactions on its website, including operating your own eBay store.
Advantages of selling on eBay
- Speed — getting started is extremely quick and easy, you can get a store up and running in an hour!
- Access — you get access to eBay’s millions of customers. eBay has a very active marketplace, and your products can appear among other auction style listings and on your own dedicated store page.
- Marketing and brand recognition — eBay is one of the widest known and trusted of online brands.
Disadvantages of selling on eBay
- Commissions and fees — You will pay a fee for both listing and selling items on eBay. That fee can be up to 10% of the sales price of the item, which can really cut into your profits.
- Relisting — due to the style of eBay’s marketplace, you will need to monitor and relist items. Although there is software that will help with this, it does take time and effort.
- Competition — there are a huge number of vendors on eBay, so you are likely to be competing with several of them.
- Lack of Connection with Customers — it’s very difficult to foster relationships with customers through eBay, meaning it’s tough to set up email lists, promotions, social media, or other marketing content.
Although not as well known as eBay or Amazon, Rakuten is still a big online marketplace. It mainly serves customers in Japan and Asia, especially those with an interest in consumer technology and electronics.
Advantages of selling on Rakuten
- Speed — it’s easy to open a store and sell on Rakuten.
- Access — you get access to customers in Asia, a marketplace that can be underserved by other ecommerce providers.
- Promotion — Rakuten provide an account manager to help you promote your products.
- Remarketing — Rakuten lets you contact customers who have previously purchased from you.
Disadvantages of selling on Rakuten
- You will pay a monthly fee for listing on Rakuten, plus a commission of the selling price of each item sold through the platform.
5. Other Ecommerce Marketplace Store Providers
There are several other marketplaces where you can open a store and list products including Groupon and Trademe. Like the other marketplaces they benefit from already having brand recognition and an existing customer base, but you will need to take commissions and competition into account.
What You Will Find in the Next Guide…
Marketing Your Dropshipping Business
- Onsite Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Off Site Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Content Marketing
- Great Content Meets the Needs of Your Customers
- Great Content is Easy to Read and Understand
- Encourage People to Share Your Content
- Inform, Educate, Entertain, or Inspire
- Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising
- Other Types of Marketing for Your Dropshipping Business