18 min read
When the topic of drop shipping comes up, most are quick to suggest Shopify. While certainly a popular and obvious choice, it’s not the only option. Considered to be a more cost effective and flexible alternative, WooCommerce is quickly becoming a fierce competitor to Shopify as a dropshipping solution.
Designed for use with WordPress, a highly popular website building platform, WooCommerce gives you more flexibility to create a unique, modern and professional online store for which you can start selling dropship products. It’s also completely free to use, meaning you won’t have to commit to paying a monthly fee to use it. Packed with all the features needed to build a fully functioning store, WooCommerce is the perfect all-in-one platform.
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. I’ll take you through the entire process from start to finish. By the end of the guide, you’ll have a clear understanding of how to build a successful dropshipping business with WooCommerce.
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is essentially a plugin which allows you to turn a WordPress powered website into a fully functioning online store. Complete with hundreds of built-in features and optional addons, 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 revealed later in this guide.
What is Dropshipping?
Also referred to as product sourcing, dropshipping is a popular ecommerce business model which involves selling products online, then sourcing them directly from a wholesaler, manufacturer or drop shipping 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 drop shipping 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 to consumers through WooCommerce and sourcing them directly from a supplier is considered dropshipping. Using WooCoomerce to build a dropship store is becoming increasing popular, particular amongst those who prefer the WordPress platform over alternatives like Shopify.
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.
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
Detailed Analytics & Reports
Difficult to Use Extensions Are Not Free Advertising Costs Lack of Support
How to Build a Successful WooCommerce Dropshipping Store
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 product niche such as kids backpacks or fishing accessories. Your end goal is to build a brand which becomes a reputable source for the specific products you deal in.
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? Specialising in womens fashion accessories rather than only in womens scarves is the better option.
As a benchmark for this guide, we’re going to imagine that I’ve decided to start selling camping accessories, mainly campsite gadgets like lanterns, torches and survival tools. I’m a keen and regular camper, so having some basic knowledge on the products I’ll be selling is a bonus.
Find a Supplier
Once you’ve decided on the type of products you want to sell, it’s time to find a dropshipping supplier. One of best ways to do this is by using Wholesale Frog. As a supplier directory, we make it easy for anyone to quickly find suitable suppliers. Simply search for a specific product type and you’ll instantly find a comprehensive list of reputable dropshippers. Handy filters allow you to narrow down the results based on company location and type. Furthermore, all trading with suppliers is done directly which means you’ll be able to lock in the lowest possible prices.
Alternative methods of finding a dropshipping supplier include searching on Google using long-tail keywords, attending local trade shows, joining dropship forums and contacting relevant wholesalers directly. Read our guide on how to find drop shipping suppliers for more information on the most effective ways to find suppliers.
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.
In my case, I’m going to be selling camping accessories in the UK. After doing my research and concluding 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.
Register a Domain
A domain name is the website address of 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.
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, known as managed WordPress hosting it’s designed specifically for speed, security and stability.
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 your 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 on how to do it as per their setup. In some cases, the hosting provider may be able to install WordPress for you.
During the process of installing WordPress on your domain, 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 every other month.
Familiarise With WordPress
Once WordPress has been installed on your domain name, 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.
Once logged in, take some time to familiarise yourself with the WordPress dashboard. The following video will give you an overview of the basic functions and features:
Install a Theme
A theme is the foundation of your website. It forms the look and feel of your site. There are thousands of different WordPress themes to choose from, most of which are entirely free to use and entirely 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.
To install a theme, login to your WordPress Dashboard 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.
Acquire a Logo
A website is incomplete without a company logo. Hiring a professional company to create a unique and original logo for your store is recommended. Alternatively, you can try using one of the many free (and paid) logo creation tools available on the market, 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.
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 WooCoomerce. Click the ‘Install’ button next to the plugin. Once the plugin has been installed, a new WooCommerce section will appear within your WordPress Dashboard.
To make things easier for beginners, a setup wizard will appear directly after installing the WooCoomerce plugin. Simply follow the step by step instructions to set up all the important features of your store including payment gateways and shipping options. Once you have completed the wizard, take some time to familiarise yourself with the navigation of the plugin.
Setup Essential Pages
Once you have completed the WooCommerce setup wizard, the next step is to create some essential pages on your website, these include a delivery policy, returns policy, contact and about page. To add a new page, login to your WordPress Dashboard and the click Pages > New Page section. Give the new page a title and add a content block to the editing space. Here you can add your content for the page and click Publish once finished.
Repeat this process for creating a delivery, returns, contact and about page. Try to include at least a few paragraphs of content on each page, covering all the important details particularly for your delivery and returns policy. Informative and clear policies will aid your customers in deciding whether to purchase from you or not.
Create a Menu
Now that you have some pages, we can create a menu to display them on your site. A menu allows visitors to quickly browse the important pages of your site, as well as product categories. It’s quick and 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 a location 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, placing your delivery, returns, contact and about pages within the menu
Install Other Useful Plugins
One of the biggest benefits to using the WordPress platform is having literally thousands of performance enhancing plugins at your disposal. A plugin is simply an addon which enables, improves or enhances certain features of your WordPress powered website. WooCommerce itself is a plugin, however there are many other plugins which you can install. From product 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 these plugins, login to the WordPress Dashboard and navigate to Plugins > Add New. Use the search bar to search for the plugin by name 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 changes based on your preferences.
Tip: To maintain a fast and efficient website, avoid installing an excessive number of plugins. Poorly designed or overly large plugins can affect the performance of your website. You should only use essential plugins which are lightweight and simplistic.
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.
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.
Automate Price & Stock Management
One of the biggest hurdles with drop shipping is products running out of stock or changing in price at your supplier’s end. Thankfully, using one of the many dropshipping software’s will allow you to eliminate that issue. Essentially, the software will monitor your suppliers products and mirror any changes with your WooCommerce listings. 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 pre-defined 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 many different software solutions available on the market, as a starting point for finding one that suits your needs, and to learn more about the workings of them, please read our guide to the best drop shipping software for use with most popular selling platforms including WooCommerce.
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 most effective ways of driving traffic include:
- Facebook Advertising
- Google Adwords
- Instagram Avertising
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
- Content Marketing
Sell on Multiple Platforms
One sure-fire way to get the orders rolling in quickly is by selling your products on multiple platforms. Innovative multi channel selling plugins 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 which means when a listing is changed on your WooCommerce store, it’s also automatically changed on eBay and Amazon.
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 to 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 not only get sales rolling in, but to advertise your website.
Process Orders Quickly
Quickly processing customer orders is particularly important when drop shipping. 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 were happy with the purchase.
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.
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.
WooCommerce Dropshipping FAQ’s
Why use 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.
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, 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.