When it comes to dropshipping, most are quick to suggest Shopify. While certainly a popular choice, WooCommerce is widely considered a more cost-effective and flexible alternative to Shopify dropshipping. In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn everything there is to know about dropshipping using WooCommerce including how to find suppliers, how to choose products and how to build your WooCommerce store.
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is a plugin which allows you to turn a WordPress powered website into an online ecommerce store. Complete with hundreds of built-in features and optional add-ons, it’s extremely flexible, modern and easy to use. It’s also completely free, the only costs associated with building a WooCommerce store is the purchase of a domain name and hosting, both of which are very inexpensive and affordable. More on purchasing a domain name and hosting, along with details on how to set them up will be covered later in this guide.
What is Dropshipping?
Dropshipping is a popular ecommerce business model which involves selling products online, then sourcing them directly from a wholesaler, manufacturer or dropshipping supplier. Instead of buying stock and storing it, products are only purchase after they’ve been sold to a consumer. Once an item has been sold and subsequently purchased from the supplier, it’s shipped directly to the customer on behalf of the dropshipper, typically in plain unbranded packaging. For more information on how it works, please see our what is dropshipping guide.
What is WooCommerce Dropshipping?
When referring to WooCommerce dropshipping, it simply means to sell dropship products through a WooCommerce powered store. Any form of selling products through WooCommerce and sourcing them directly from a supplier is considered dropshipping. Using WooCommerce to build a dropshipping store is becoming increasing popular, particular amongst those who are familiar with the WordPress platform.
WooCoomerce Dropshipping Costs
While WooCommerce itself is completely free, you’ll need to purchase a domain name and hosting to get your store up and running. Don’t worry though, it’s a very small expense and simple to do, I’ll take you through the whole process later in this guide. Typically, a domain name costs around $10 per year while hosting costs around $10-$20 per month. However, many hosting providers offer managed hosting options specifically for WooCommerce, starting at around $5 per month.
WooCommerce Dropshipping Pros & Cons
While dropshipping products through a WooCommerce store can be highly profitable for some, it’s not always the best option. Common alternatives include dropshipping on eBay or Amazon. While each selling platforms has its own exclusive benefits, it’s important to determine which is right for you. To help you on your way, here’s a side by side comparison of both the pros and cons of using WooCommerce for dropshipping:
- Free to Use & Open Source
- Highly Flexible & Customisable
- Thousands of Extensions
- Secure & Stable
- Advanced Features
- Detailed Analytics & Reports
- Difficult to Use
- Extensions Are Not Free
- Advertising Costs
- Lack of Support
How to Build a Successful WooCommerce Dropshipping Store
Building a dropshipping store with WooCommerce requires a few key essentials, including a domain name and hosting. While the process can be somewhat complex for newbies, the end result is worth the learning curve. From setting up WordPress to installing the WooCommerce plugin, I’ll take you through the whole process step-by-step.
1. Choose Products to Sell
Before you start building your WooCoomerce store, the first step is to choose the type of products you want to sell. As a starting point, you should think about the type of brand you want to become in the long-term. It’s always best to specialise in one specific niche such as kids backpacks or fishing accessories. Your end goal is to build a brand which becomes a reputable source within your specific niche or category.
However, try not to choose something which is too specific, you want to leave the door open for future expansion. As a dropshipper, you’re not limited by the number of products you can sell, so why limit your brand? Specialise in womens fashion accessories rather than womens scarves, as it will allow you to branch out into other areas such as gloves, handbags and hats, instead of being restricted to selling scarves exclusively.
- Choose a niche which has low competitive, but is not too small and restricted
- Think about the future of your brand and the areas you can expand into later
- Browse eBay’s best-selling items and study other sellers to spark some ideas
- Use a keyword suggestion tool such as Google Keyword Planner or WordStream
As a benchmark for this guide, we’re going to imagine I’ve decided to start selling camping accessories, mainly campsite gadgets such as lanterns, torches and survival tools. I’m a keen and regular camper, so having some basic knowledge on the products I’m selling will be a major advantage over my competitors.
2. Find a Supplier
Once you’ve decided on the type of products you want to sell, the next step is to find a dropshipping supplier. From searching on Google to attending trade shows and studying online forums, there are several ways to find suppliers. Using a wholesale directory is one of the more effective methods as it can save you a huge amount of time and effort.
Here at SourceLow, our wholesale directory is completely free to use and packed full of reputable dropshipping suppliers from multiple locations across the globe, including in the UK, US and China. Simply search for a specific product and use the filters to narrow down the results based on company type and location. Once you’ve found a suitable supplier, you can start sourcing from them directly to lock in the lowest possible prices. To get started, simply click the button below, or for more information on the alternative methods of finding suppliers, please see our guide on 12 easy ways to find dropshipping suppliers.
3. Establish a Brand Name
Coming up with a brand name for your store is one of the most important steps. It should be short, sweet, relevant and catchy. Start with some basic ideas then search for other similar companies to expand on those ideas. Try using a free keyword suggestion tool or a brand name generator like Namelix or Business Name Generator to spark further ideas.
Make sure your chosen brand name is unique and available. You don’t want to be using a brand name that’s already taken or trademarked. To determine if a brand name is already in use, search the trademark database of the country you’ll be selling in. For example, the UK trademark search database can be found on their gov.uk website. A quick search will reveal whether a specific term is trademarked or not. You should also check to see if the domain name is available on the most popular registrars such as GoDaddy and NameCheap.
In my case, I’m going to be selling camping accessories in the UK. After doing my research and discovering that’s it’s available, I’ve settled on the name Camping Galore. It’s short, easy to remember and search engine friendly. It’s also not currently trademarked, and the UK domain name is available.
- Choose a name which is short, catchy and memorable, as well as relevant to the products you’re selling
- Use a free keyword suggestion tool such as WordStream or Google Keyword Planner to spark ideas
- Try a business name generator such as NameMesh, NameBoy or DomainWheel
- Check the name is not trademarked by doing a search on your local governments trademark search website
- Make sure the domain name is available by searching on registrars such as GoDaddy or NameCheap
4. Register a Domain
Once you’ve established a name for your business, it’s time to register the domain. Essentially, a domain name is the website address where your WooCommerce store will be found. For example – campinggalore.com. The cost of a domain name will vary depending on the registrar you use to purchase it, however it’s generally around $10 per year. I’d recommend using GoDaddy to register a domain name, however other options including Name.com, 123-Reg and NameCheap. Whatever registrar you decide to use, purchasing a domain name is simple. Just search for your desired domain and follow the purchasing process. Once you’ve completed the checkout, return to this guide and continue to the next step.
Tip: If your desired domain name is already taken, try adding an abbreviation to the end or use an alternative TLD. For example, if the domain name mywebsite.com is taken, try using mywebsite.net or mywebsiteuk.com. However, you should avoid registering a domain name which is similar to one already in use by another company.
5. Purchase Hosting
Every website needs hosting. It’s what powers your website. Thankfully, it’s very inexpensive for basic hosting. I’d recommend using SiteGround as your hosting provider, however you can also try the following popular options: HostGator, 123-Reg, BlueHost and GoDaddy. In most cases, the company you registered your domain name with will also provide hosting services. If the price is right, registering a domain name and purchasing hosting from the same company is the best option as it keeps things simple. Some hosting providers such as SiteGround provide dedicated services for WordPress and WooCommerce, known as managed WordPress hosting, it’s designed specifically for speed, security and stability.
Tip: Many hosting companies will offer a large discount when purchasing a yearly plan over a monthly subscription. If you can afford it, consider a yearly billing option as it will further minimise your expenses.
6. Install WordPress
Once you have a domain name and hosting, the next step is to install WordPress. The process will vary depending on your hosting provider, however it’s generally very straightforward. For a detailed tutorial on installing WordPress based on which hosting provider you’re using, please see the following guide on How to Install WordPress on a domain. If you struggle with this step, please contact your hosting provide for more specific instructions.
Tip: While installing WordPress, you’ll be prompted to create a username and password. Always use a strong and hard to guess password which includes letters, numbers and special characters. Using a strong password is the first line of defence against hackers. You should also frequently change your password for added security.
7. Familiarise With WordPress
Once WordPress has been installed on your domain, you can login to the WordPress dashboard (the central location for editing your website) by going to your domain name and adding /wp-admin to the end of the URL. For example, campinggalore.com/wp-admin. When you access this page, you’ll be promoted to input the username and password which you created during the installation of WordPress in the previous step.
Tip: Once logged in, take some time to familiarise yourself with the WordPress dashboard. The following YouTube video will give you an overview of the basic functions and features: WordPress Dashboard Tutorial for Beginners
8. Install a Theme
A theme is the foundation of your website. It forms the look and feel of your site. There are literally thousands of different WordPress themes to choose from, most of which are entirely free to use and highly customisable when it comes to colours, fonts and overall design. As your website is an online store, it’s recommended to find a theme which is fully compatible with WooCommerce. Please check the following list of the 49 Best Themes for WooCommerce and WordPress.
Tip: To install a theme, login to WordPress and navigate to Appearance > Themes. From within this page, you can either directly search for and install a theme or upload one that you may have downloaded from another website or resource.
9. Acquire a Logo
A website is not complete without a professional company logo. Hiring a graphic design company or freelancer to create a unique logo for your store is recommended. Websites such as Fiver, Freelancer and PeoplePerHour are among the most popular choices for finding low-cost, logo creation services. However, you can also try using one of the many free (and paid) logo creation tools available on the internet, some of which include:
Once you have acquired a logo, you can add it to your website by logging into the WordPress Dashboard and navigating to the Appearance > Customise section. Alternatively, if your theme has it’s own settings, a logo can usually be uploaded from there. You may need to use a free image resizing tool such as Simple Image Resizer to ensure the logo fits in the available space without getting distorted. A large and clear logo gives the impression of professionalism.
10. Install & Configure WooCommerce
The next step is to install the WooCommerce plugin. Simply head to the Plugins section of your WordPress dashboard, click Add New and search for the WooCoomerce plugin. Once located, click the Install button next to it.
Immediately after installing the plugin, a pop-up wizard will appear. Follow the simple instructions to enable the essential features of your store including payment gateways, business details and shipping policy.
Tip: Once installed, it’s important to familiarise with WooCommerce and it’s settings. The following YouTube video will give you a detailed walk-through of the basic settings and features – WooCommerce Guided Tour. For more advanced tutorials, please refer to the following index of WooCommerce guides from RexTheme.
11. Setup Essential Pages
After completing the WooCommerce setup wizard, the next step is to create some essential pages on your store. To add a new page, login to your WordPress Dashboard and the click Pages > New Page link within the menu. Give the page a title and add a paragraph block to the editing space. Here you can add content for the page and click Publish once finished.
Tip: Create a page for your shipping policy and returns policy, as well as a contact page and about page. Include at least a few paragraphs of content on each page and be sure to outline the important details of your shipping and returns policy. Well-structured policies will inspire confidence in your customers and encourage more orders.
12. Create a Menu
Now that you have some pages, it’s time to create a menu for them. A menu allows visitors to quickly browse the important pages of your site, as well as product categories. It’s very easy to create a menu on WordPress, simply follow these steps:
- Login to your WordPress Dashboard
- Navigate to Appearance > Menus
- Click Create New Menu
- Name the new Menu e.g. Main Menu and select where to display it
- Add pages to the Menu by clicking and dragging
Visit your website to make sure the menu is visible and working. Once you’ve started creating product categories and listing products for sale on your store, you can come back and add the categories to your menu. For now, place your shipping, returns, contact and about page within the menu, as well as any other important pages.
13. Install Other Useful Plugins
One of the biggest advantages to using WordPress is having literally thousands of performance-enhancing plugins at your disposal. A plugin is simply an addon which enables or improves certain features of your WordPress website. WooCommerce itself is a plugin, however there are many other plugins which you can install. From image zooms to express checkouts and contact forms, there’s a plugin for it all. As a starting point, I’d recommend the following free plugins:
- All in One SEO – Improves the search engine friendliness of your website and allows you to create custom meta titles and descriptions for pages or products.
- WordFence Security – Essential plugin for improving the security of your website. Includes website firewall, automatic scanning for malware and suspicious user blocking amongst other features.
- Contact Form 7 – Allows you to add a contact form to your website in which customers can send you direct messages. This plugin is only necessary if such a feature is not built-in to your chosen theme.
To install plugins, login to the WordPress Dashboard and navigate to Plugins > Add New. Use the search bar to find the plugin and click Install. Once installed, the settings for the plugin will appear within your WordPress dashboard. Most plugins are designed to work out of the box. However, you should take a brief look at the settings to make any necessary changes. If you require support, refer to the plugins documentation or contact the provider directly.
Tip: To maintain a fast and efficient website, avoid installing an excessive amount of plugins. Poorly designed plugins can affect the speed of your website. You should only use essential plugins which are lightweight and simple.
14. Start Listing Products
Now that your WooCommere store is up and running, it’s time to start listing products for sale. You can either do this manually or by using software (details below). When creating listings, it’s important to make them unique, professional and attractive. While copying your supplier’s descriptions is quick and easy, creating your own descriptions is the better option. You might also want to vary the main image you use in order to further differentiate yourself from other competitors. To create a new product listing on WooCommerce, follow these steps or refer to the following video: Creating Products – WooCommerce Guided Tour
- Login to WordPress and navigate to Products > Add New
- Input a name and description for your product
- Add product data including price and inventory count
- Select a Product Category and add any relevant tags
- Upload product images (provided by your supplier)
- Click the Publish button when finished
When it comes to pricing your products, aim for a high profit margin but try to keep your prices as low as possible in order to attract maximum sales. It’s better to sell an item 10 times with a £2 profit than to sell it only once with a £5 profit. The only fees you will pay on sales (aside from advertising costs) is payment processor fees. The amount you pay will vary depending on which payment processor you use, however it’s generally very low. PayPal for example charges around 2.9 – 3.4% + 0.20 per transaction fee. Factor any potential fees into your final selling price, making sure you take into account the different fees for different payment processors. If you can, undercut competitors, at least by a few cents.
15. Automate Price & Stock Management
One of the biggest challenges with dropshipping is products running out of stock or changing in price. If you have to cancel an order for being out of stock, it could result in a disgruntled customer. Furthermore, excessive cancelling of orders will damage your brands reputation and generate significant losses due to payment processing fees.
Using automation software is the best way to eliminate the issue of selling out of stock products, and ensure you always earn a profit on sales. Essentially, the software will monitor your suppliers products and mirror any inventory changes with your WooCommerce listings, thus avoiding selling out of stock products. For example, if your supplier runs out of stock, the software will automatically place your subsequent WooCommerce listing out of stock. If the price of the product is raised, the software will change your selling price based on predefined profit formulas.
However, in order to make this possible, you need to find a software which is compatible with both WooCommerce and the supplier you’re sourcing products from. Luckily, there are several different software solutions available on the market, many of which are compatible with WooCommerce. As a starting point for finding software that suits your needs, please refer to our list of the best dropshipping automation software for WooCommerce.
16. Drive Traffic to Your Store
In order to make sales, you ned to drive targeted visitors to your store. There are multiple ways to do this using both free and paid techniques. Some of the more effective ways of driving traffic to an online store include:
- Facebook Advertising
- Google Adwords
- Instagram Avertising
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
- Content Marketing
One of the best tools for learning how to drive traffic to an online store is YouTube. It’s packed full of free video tutorials on generating traffic through low-cost Facebook Ads and Google Ads, as well as SEO. Paying for a course on traffic generation is not necessary when you have hundreds of hours of free content as your disposal. Be sure to also browse our online store building guides which include various articles on traffic generation and marketing.
17. Sell on Multiple Platforms
One sure-fire way to get orders rolling in quickly is by selling your products on multiple platforms. Innovative multi-channel selling platforms such as Codisto and Sellbrite allow you to quickly push your WooCommerce listings to both eBay and Amazon. Better still, they automatically sync your listings across all platforms, meaning when you edit one of your WooCommerce listings, the changes are automatically reflected across eBay, Amazon and any other platforms you’re selling on.
When using automation software to monitor and reprice your listings, Codisto and Sellbrite will ensure any changes are also mirrored with your eBay and Amazon listings. Therefore, you can focus on scaling your business to sell a large volume of products on multiple channels without worrying about stock and prices. You could also go that one step further by asking your supplier to include a note with Amazon and eBay orders which includes a promotion for your website, something along the lines of ‘buy direct from our website and get 10% off”. It’s a great way to drive more traffic to your website for free.
18. Process Orders Quickly
Quickly processing customer orders is particularly important when dropshipping. Ideally, when a customer purchases an item, you should be placing the order with your supplier the very same day. Once the supplier dispatches the order, be sure to inform your customer and forward any available tracking information. You should also take the time to follow-up with the customer after the estimated delivery date to ensure they’re happy with the purchase.
19. Deal With Problem Orders & Returns
It’s inevitable that some orders won’t go as smoothly as expected. Whether it’s a late delivery, damaged item or unwanted return, swiftly dealing with such orders will prevent any negative impact on your business such as bad reviews. When dropshipping, it’s common to have returns sent directly back to the supplier. However, the exact process of arranging a return will vary depending on your supplier and their policies. Establishing a close relationship with your supplier is the key to dealing with returns quickly. In most cases, they should be able to provide
20. Manage Customer Support
Providing excellent customer service is the key to maximising sales and building a repeat customer base. Make sure you respond to customer enquiries in a timely manner and always remain professional, even when faced with tricky order issues or difficult customers. Remember, the customer is always right, even when they’re wrong. Take the extra time to follow-up with customers and really make an effort to resolve any issues to their satisfaction.
21. Keep Listing
Consistently creating new listings and expanding your product range is the quickest way to increase profits with dropshipping. While some items may generate only a few sales each month, others will attract constant sales. To find the hot sellers, you must frequently create new listings and weave out under-performing products until eventually, you’ll be left with a range of
WooCommerce Dropshipping Alternatives
WooCommerce is one of the most flexible, affordable and customisable online store building platforms on the net, but it’s not the only option. Alternatives include Shopify, BigCommerce or 3dcart, each of which have their own pros and cons. For more information on their differences, please see our comprehensive list of the best online store builders.
Creating your own website is the most viable way to build a scalable and sustainable dropshipping business. However, dropshipping on eBay or Amazon, as well as through a Facebook Shop can help you to bring in quick sales and improve brand awareness. If you want to earn as much profit as possible, you should aim to sell on as many platforms as possible, including through your own website, as well as on eBay and Amazon. You should also consider selling on other popular marketplaces such as eBid or Bonanza. Please refer to our guide on 5 effective ways to sell dropship products for more information.
WooCommerce Dropshipping FAQ’s
The following FAQs provide instant answers to the most commonly asked questions related to dropshipping on WooCommerce. If we missed a particular question, or if you require additional assistant, please feel free to contact us directly. Alternatively, refer to our other comprehensive dropshipping guides and tutorials.
Why WooCommerce for dropshipping?
Having been around for over 8 years, WooCommerce is one of the most well-established, reliable and widely used e-commerce plugins for WordPress. It’s extremely flexible, free to use and highly optimised. It’s also compatible with thousands of professional plugins which significantly enhance its features. With a user-friendly dashboard, it’s easy to list, manage and edit products, as well as create and manage categories. Built in features to enable multiple payment options including PayPal and Stripe, as well as over 80 more available extensions allow for adequate choice for customers. Quite simply, if you want to build an online store with WordPress, WooCommerce is the plugin to do it with.
How much is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce itself is completely free. However, you will need to purchase a domain name and hosting to create your store. A domain name generally costs around $10 per year while hosting costs around $10-$20 per month depending on the provider. Many hosting providers offer dedicated managed WooCommerce hosting services for as little as $5 per month.
Is WooCommerce better than Shopify?
Both WooCommerce and Shopify have their own exclusive benefits. While Shopify is much easier to use, WooCommerce is much more flexible. There are literally millions of WordPress plugins and thousands of WooCommerce plugins, each enhance the features of your store. WooCommerce is also generally more cost effective, the plugin is completely free with hosting being the only ongoing expense at a rate of around $10-$20 per month. With Shopify on the other hand, pricing starts at $29 per month (at the time of writing this) with additional transaction fees on orders. It’s impossible to give a definitive answer as to whether WooCommerce is better than Shopify, as it all depends on your specific needs.
Is WooCommerce user-friendly?
Admittedly, WooCommerce can be difficult to use at first, particularly because it’s powered by WordPress which is a more advanced website building platform. However, it’s absolutely worth the time and effort to learn how to use it. With so many features and thousands of extensions which enhance its functionality, the flexibility of WooCommerce is second to none. There’s no two ways about it, WooCommerce is the best platform for building an entirely unique, customisable and fully functioning online store, without having to pay any fees.
Is dropshipping allowed on WooCommerce?
Absolutely. As dropshipping is simply an e-commerce business model, it’s entirely allowed to be used with a WooCommerce store. Thousands of WooCommerce store owners, including some major retailers across the globe harness the dropshipping business model and achieve great success in doing so.
Is WooCommerce safe?
WooCommerce is an extremely safe and secure plugin, while WordPress is a highly stable, trusted and reliable website building platform, with an estimated 20% of all self-hosted websites, around 450 million being powered by WordPress. To further enhance the security of your WordPress website, it’s highly recommended to install a free security plugin such as Wordfence or iThemes Security Pro. You should also frequently change your admin password for added security.