You’ve probably seen forum messages and YouTube comments criticizing dropshipping via Shopify, mostly claiming that “the trend has died”. It commonly comes from people who failed, but that doesn’t mean the same will happen to you.
This idea may also spring from people who may profit from dropshipping drop-outs. They could run other business models and want to profit off their recommendations.
However, the question is still valid, especially if you’re just starting to learn about the model. Anyone thinking about venturing on any business should make similar questions; all entrepreneurship requires investment, and you don’t want your money and/or time to waste.
Today, we’ll go through what’s dropshipping, how it works, and how exactly it came to be what it is right now. That way, you won’t just know whether or not it’s dead, but you’ll also have a solid idea of where things may go in the future.
About the model
Dropshipping refers to selling products directly from a supplier on your website. You don’t keep a stock; you list and advertise products, and once you receive an order, you direct the order to your supplier. They take care of shipping the item to your clients.
In other words, you’re somewhat of a broker between the customer and the product supplier.
There are may approaches to dropshipping as well. Some suppliers will add their labels to the product, and others will let dropshippers brand their items. You can ship from the manufacturer or a distributor. Then, there’s print on demand, where you print your own designs into blank products and sell them.
Regardless of the method, you’ll always market products directly from a supplier and they’ll produce and ship everything.
That’s also the main advantage of this model: you don’t handle anything physical. You also skip an initial investment on inventory; you just wait to get an order and pay for the product with your customer’s money.
Profitability lies in pricing: you sell your products for a price higher than their production cost. That way, each time a customer pays, you pay for the item and pocket the remaining sum.
How did everything start?
Dropshipping is quite old; some people even sent products directly from the suppliers to their customers before the internet was a thing. Mail order is the best example.
Mail orders were popular during the 50’s, and it came through a physical catalog with countless products. The businesses distributing these catalogs didn’t really keep or make the products they listed.
If you wanted something from the catalog, you’d call and order or send a mail with the money. Those printing the catalogs would then order the product from their suppliers, who’d send mail them back.
Other than the catalogs, you also had door salesmen, basically operating with the same model. They’d offer products without owning them, and once a sale was made, they arranged the delivery with the supplier.
With the internet, dropshipping was right there on the onset. Even before it became a recognized term, Amazon has been around pretty much since the dotcom craze, and it’s actually the first dropshipping website – even if some claim it has moved away from it.
It listed products from different suppliers, and once someone bought anything, it notified suppliers for shipping.
Will it continue to exist in the future?
Dropshipping is an exceptionally lucrative business, and the internet – with new platforms like Shopify coming out – makes it even better.
Once Amazon gained traction (until becoming the giant it is right now), other businesses replicated the model with success. That’s how dropshipping started becoming more popular, simultaneously with eCommerce in general.
Dropshipping has way too many advantages for it to die in the future. There are countless big companies just living off the business model, and it’s all because of how lucrative it is. It might not remain in the same way it is right now, but it won’t die.
Remember: it’s been since Amazon started off and others copied their approach. Back then, it was quite difficult to find suppliers willing to let you profit off their products, and contacting them and marketing your site was just as tough.
That changed with Shopify, AliExpress, and similar platforms. That’s what enabled it to become so widespread, and the future can only bring more tools.
Why did it become popular?
The most obvious factor is how cheap it is. You can find suppliers with marketplaces like AliExpress, and each one will offer a competitive price.
Therefore, buying products from these websites is very cheap. Most products available come from China, which is pretty much synonymous with affordability. Then, you can add how suppliers offered shipping all around the world and their willingness to work with dropshippers.
We also have how easy it is to create and run a website right now. You can simply pay for a Shopify subscription and have access to an intuitive platform to create your site from scratch with no knowledge whatsoever.
Finally, we have countless tools to make things even easier: order automation, email autoresponders, different payment processors, paid ads on internet giants like Facebook and Google, and more.
The start of Shopify dropshipping
Now that we mentioned Shopify several times, let’s go into Shopify dropshipping specifically, which pretty much started as soon as Shopify released back in 2004.
There’s nothing special about Shopify dropshipping. It’s not a new method or strategy; the term refers simply to dropshipping through a website created and hosted on Shopify.
Shopify lets users create, run, and grow eCommerce sites without any programming knowledge – all without sacrificing functionality, responsiveness, and looks. From Shopify, you have access to intuitive tools and countless additional apps you can add to your store as you see fit.
The subscription plans also offer all of the features you need to get your store running, and all functions work like a charm at low costs that let you start right away. With such a complete basic package (and countless integrations available), dropshippers quickly saw how it fit their needs.
They didn’t have to learn about coding or hire a web developer. They could create their stores in a few hours and sport designs that looked professional. That’s why Shopify is pretty much synonymous with dropshipping right now, and it’s among the top names when speaking about eCommerce.
How Shopify has grown
Sure, Shopify is the best way to build a store that will be ready tomorrow, but is it really a company you want to rely on in the long-term?
Well, Shopify is actually the fastest-growing eCommerce solution right now. It supports more than 600,000 businesses from nearly 200 different countries. It has more than 400,000 stores active right now, and it has processed over a billion orders since its inception.
Its CEO has also highlighted how Shopify has accomplished a rare feat: being the fastest SaaS firm to break the $1,000,000,000 revenue milestone.
Shopify is huge today, and it’s just growing each year. Therefore, there’s no reason to believe it’s dead; the same goes for dropshipping on it and doing it for a good while.
So, is it dead?
You see how profitable the business has been for people since the dawn of time, how it became even stronger with the internet, and how Shopify turned it into one of the most famous online ventures.
Unfortunately, for every success story, there’s at least one failure. Lots of people try to start their own dropshipping business with Shopify and then flop. It’s often because they lack the understanding or planning, or they just hop into it hoping to grab a quick buck off a popular trend. They don’t even invest in a proper quality course which can help improve results greatly.
Others try to take shortcuts, offer low-quality items for higher margins, or simply underestimate the amount of work it needs. The end is often the same: they blame it on the business model dying.
Thankfully, that’s far from the truth.
You just need to understand that dropshipping isn’t a “get-rich-quick” scheme. It needs as much work as any venture, and it requires as much dedication and discipline, even while the investment costs are lower.
You won’t get customers for free. You need to market your store via paid ads, content, search engine rankings, etc. You’re still running a store, and it requires the same care as any other venture.
Dropshipping is far from being dead; it’s growing every day. New stores show up. New sales are made. New plugins are released to facilitate a new aspect of this business.
As long as you have the knowledge, time, and tools necessary to start a dropshipping store, you have the chance to find success.
Sure, it may be difficult, and you might even fail your first try, but as long as you can apply the necessary knowledge and skills, you can become a successful entrepreneur.
It’s easy to blame external factors for your failures. That’s why so many people call dropshipping a scam, yet I doubt Amazon would’ve been what it is right now if it just scammed others.