How to start DropShipping for free
DropShipping can be a great if you want to start a business but you don’t have any money to invest, or you don’t want to invest your savings in stock – just in case things don’t go as you planned. Whether you plan for your business to be a side hustle to earn you a little bit more cash, or you want to be able to replace your current job and income with working for yourself, then DropShipping can be a great way to do both things.
If you know retail, or indeed, anything about the economy at all, you’ll know it is incredibly challenging all the time –but right now, while we’re facing the cost of living crisis and a potential recession, things are even harder. You have to find every edge over your competition that you can, whether you have a great idea for the niche you want to capitalise on, or you just have a hunch about what might work.
Luckily, there are a number of different ways to start a DropShipping business for free, and in the current economic climate, DropShipping just makes sense. Whether your plan eventually includes moving onto holding stock as part of your operations or you continue purely DropShipping, starting your business for free will always be a good idea.
What is DropShipping?
If you’re already looking at how to start DropShipping for free, we probably don’t need to tell you what DropShipping actually is – but a quick recap is always a good idea, just in case.
DropShipping is a retail fulfilment method where a business can sell products from suppliers before they have bought the inventory.
More simply, the seller buys the products individually AFTER they have been paid by their customer. The process follows these steps:
- The retailer sources products from their supplier
- They list items that their supplier has in stock, either on their website or from their marketplace listing
- When they receive an order, they immediately buy the item(s) from their supplier (plus a small fee)
- They fill out the order details with the customer’s shipping address
- The supplier picks, packs, and dispatches directly to the customer
In case you’re wondering, we didn’t miss a step here – the retailer never sees, or handles the product, and the customer is unlikely to know that their order didn’t come directly from the retailer’s warehouse (and they probably don’t care either!).
DropShipping works as a business model that can be started with very little capital precisely because there is no investment in stock – the retailer doesn’t spend any money on stock until they have already received payment from their customer. That means that, with the right suppliers, and the right approach, entrepreneurs can get their business off the ground by investing little more than just their time – although, of course, that isn’t the only thing they will need.
What do you need to start a DropShipping business?
Starting any business isn’t easy, and unless you plan carefully, you’re likely to find that there are more things you need than you might think. We’ve talked about planning ahead on the blog loads of times before – and while there are many successful entrepreneurs that claim they just started doing, rather than planning, there are far more businesses that fail because their owner didn’t plan properly. The old saying ‘perfect planning prevents poor performance’ is absolutely true, so it is well worth creating lists, business plans, and analyses to get things right before you get started.
However, there are a few things that pretty much every successful DropShipping business has, and needs, so we’ve rounded those up here:
- A business plan
- A website
- Supplier(s) that you can trust
- A plan for which sales channels to sell on
- A way to track customer orders
- A way to track what inventory you’re selling
- Active social media channels for the business
- A credit card or cash reserve
- Accounting software
These won’t be the only things that you’ll need as your business grows. You might find that you end up needing helpdesk software, social media management tools, or you may decide to use freelancers to help you manage certain aspects of your business, particularly if there is something you don’t excel at, such as creating branding materials.
The manual (harder) way to start DropShipping for free
When entrepreneurs realised that they could use the DropShipping model to create a business online, it was immediately clear that they would need to source their inventory at a low price in order to create decent profit margins. That’s where AliExpress, and sourcing from suppliers in China came in. Being able to buy products at a low price after their customer had already paid meant that they were able to use any funds they did have for other things, such as marketing.
But DropShipping this way had plenty of challenges. Working with suppliers that are based in China meant:
- There were long delays with shipping – even with ePacket delivery
- Shipping accessing customer support could be difficult due to language and time zones
- Quality control issues – often the product received didn’t match the description or the photos
- Tracking where they sourced the product from was difficult
- Customer orders were frequently missed due to lack of automation
- When customer packages were lost, arranging replacements often meant paying for the item again, hitting profit margins
- Businesses disappeared from AliExpress without warning, so when retailers received an order, if they couldn’t find a suitable replacement at a suitable price, they would end up having to cancel their customer’s order, or lose money
All of these issues resulted in businesses losing money if they couldn’t get the support they needed from their suppliers, and their customers weren’t happy. And in many cases, because they were sourcing from Chinese retailers on AliExpress, rather than suppliers, those businesses didn’t want, or need to support them in their DropShipping efforts – and so they didn’t.
While some businesses were able to make a success of their business this way, it doesn’t scale well because of the fast-moving nature of selling online, and so the popularity of this method waned, in favour of using apps to source from AliExpress.
DropShipping with shopping cart apps
As soon as you read anything about DropShipping, you’ll read about apps such as Oberlo, that allow you to source from AliExpress without the hassle. Oberlo reigned as one of the most popular DropShipping apps for quite some time, but Shopify – who owned Oberlo from 2017 – took the decision to retire the app this year, and so that isn’t an option any longer.
There are other DropShipping apps available (Shopify now recommends DSers) and while some of those apps are free, many businesses find they don’t have the functionality to really make it worth using them as they scale, or they need additional solutions.
But even with automation, DropShipping from AliExpress can still be tricky. Those issues with shipping from sellers in China still haven’t gone away – and since customers have become accustomed to getting their orders as fast as Amazon Prime delivers, they don’t generally want long lead times, and they are prepared to pay a little extra to receive their products the next day. There are alternatives to DropShipping from AliExpress though, with Avasam being one great example – so let’s take a look.
Automated DropShipping without AliExpress
With so many issues with AliExpress DropShipping, it isn’t surprising that you’d be looking for an alternative that doesn’t face those issues. When we started to develop Avasam, it was because we knew there was a better way than DropShipping from the other side of the world, and that with the right automation, DropShipping could be incredible for entrepreneurs and existing businesses alike.
Avasam is a low risk, low cost way for businesses to:
- Create unlimited potential sales income
- Source limitless inventory from suppliers that are based in the UK
- Get products to customers quickly (usually next working day)
- Automate sourcing products
- List items on sales channels easily with listing tools
- Track customer orders
- Automate returns and contact with suppliers
- Send updates to customers automatically
- Manage admin procedures effectively
Not only have we automated the DropShipping process, but we’ve also been recognised in a number of different industry awards, and we’re continuing to innovate, with even more functionality to come this year.
The easy way to start DropShipping for free
When you’ve got so many things to get right for your business, but you want your business up and running as quickly as possible, then you’re going to be looking for shortcuts. Getting your website set up, sourcing products, and then starting to market that business – it can take a lot of time. That’s why when we started to develop Avasam, we knew there had to be better solutions, and we worked hard to create the best possible solutions for our users. The Avasam DropShipping platform automates everything we can (we’re working on additional features) helping entrepreneurs and existing businesses to source and sell more efficiently, but we wanted to offer users even more. In addition to the automation we provide, our strategic partnerships have helped us to create even better solution for our users.
We’ve worked closely with BigCommerce to develop an incredible solution that we’ve called Click To Launch. When you sign up for Click To Launch, you get a month of Avasam, as well as a month of BigCommerce absolutely free of charge, with your BigCommerce store pre-loaded with products from Avasam suppliers, so you can start selling instantly. Even better? The whole sign up process takes just 90 seconds, and your store is ready to go.
With your free month of BigCommerce and Avasam, you can make a great start on your marketing, and with the sales and profits that you accrue during your first month, you can pay for your second month of subscribing to both platforms. Once you’ve got that far, your business will be able to sustain itself, and be able to keep going without any investment – you’ll have started your DropShipping business, and made money from nothing!
There are loads of reasons to start a DropShipping business, and while AliExpress can still help you to create a business for free, it is increasingly clear that it isn’t the best option for all entrepreneurs. The challenges of sourcing products and DropShipping from overseas are simply too big now if you are to compete – and since we’ve eliminated those issues, you don’t have to struggle to start your business now.
Starting a DropShipping business, quickly and easily, and for free has never been simpler. If you’re ready to start your marketing efforts straight away, then sign up for Click To Launch. Not only will you get a range of products in your niche pre-loaded into your BigCommerce store, but you’ll also have access to both your BigCommerce store, and Avasam for absolutely free for your first month. With the sales – and profits – that you can make in that first month, you can pay for your second month’s subscriptions, leaving you to grow your business with absolutely no capital required at all. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch or book a call – we’re happy to help you get started.