A question that gets asked alot on sites like Quora or even in Facebook groups is 'how much does it cost to start a dropshipping business' or 'can I start a dropshipping business with no money' and on occasion 'do you need money to dropship?'. That last one is kind of scary, especially ad DropShipping is a type of business, and every business needs some money!
No e-commerce business can be truly up and running for free, and that includes DropShipping, but you can get up and running quicker, and probably cheaper than you may think.
I will have a look at the 3 most popular ways of running a DropShipping store, from what I would class as one of the most expensives ways per year (even with a basic package) too the cheapest way (though obviously requires a more manual approach).
Shopify - The most expensive per month
We where obviously going to be looking at Shopify, one of the most popular places to DropShip, but still one of the most expensive sites.
Shopify offer a basic package for those just starting out coming in at $29.99 a month. It does come with your store, free themes and things like SSL included.
Now most people will look at around $300 a year and think that's nothing, that's just the price for the privilege to host your site on a platform that then allows you to DropShip.
This doesn't take into account any additional apps and the charges that are added per transactions.
If you take a conservative estimate of around 100 orders per month, which generate $1000 in revenue. We are
Your store, you will pay $29 a month for 'Shopify Basic' + around $35 worth of credit card fees (2.9% + 0.30c per). This takes our total to $65 per month.
Now, you are going to want to have at least, some apps to run your store with. I would usually recommend having at least 1 abandon checkout app (we actually found one for free!), a smart upsell app ($9.99 per month) and an email capture app (wheelio is one of the most popular apps at comes in at $15 a month). We could also add a decent currency exchange app, which will set you back another $10). All in all, even with a fairly slim number of extra apps you are now up to an extra $35 a month.
Just to add insult to injury, if you want to use the most popular auto fulfilment tool for Shopify, you need to spend an additional $30 a month.
So for a relatively small store, that is using a free theme (yep, we have tried to save money!), and a small number of apps designed to bump sales or increase retention, you will be looking at spending $120 per month or $1440 a year.
You can reduce your bill slightly per month by using themes such as ecomturbo.
WordPress + AliDropShip - A cheaper alternative per month
Now, I am not saying this method is 'cheap', but it does work out cheaper per month, though not quite the cheapest!
The calculations for this method is slightly different, especially as AliDropShip is a one off cost, so I will take the cost of the plugin and spread it out over 12 months.
So the cost is $89, as a one off payment. Spread out over 12 months gives you a grand total price of $7.40.
Because you are using WordPress, you are going to need to do some self hosting, sorry guys! The best hosting I found while DropShipping was from Bluehost. Using their most basic package, for $4 a month. A steal really for what you get. Even their more expensive hosting is only $6.
Now, for the charges, again I am going to use the same $1000 a month in revenue calculation. The cost of this roughly works out the same, but you can shop around. I will use standard PayPal and it calculates to be $35 a month in credit card charges.
Right, onto the apps. The good thing about AliDropShip, is that it comes with apps that you need. So your total cost per month for apps. $0.
You are also given a variety of themes, so again no cost associated there for you. Plus, AliDropShip wont charge you for becoming more successful (i.e Oberlo).
Your total spend per month, will be $46.40 or $556 per year. Which reduces to $490 per year after you have paid off your initial investment.
Find out the latest deal on AliDropShip
WordPress + WooCommerce - The cheapest way of starting a DropShipping store
This method works in very much the same way as above, but you take out the automation and the AliDropShip plugin. You can argue that it may increase your costs due to the fact you don't have any apps included, but there are a few free ones that might help.
So as before, still using the same hosting, Bluehost will set you back a grand total of $4 a month.
This time there is no plugin to pay for as WooCommerce is free, so your ongoing cost of running the site now equals $0.
You will of course still need to pay payment gateway fees, and again I will use the standard $35 a month we have so dearly started to love.
Your total cost per month for running WordPress & WooCommerce is now an eye water $39 a month.
Conclusion - Which is best?
Now, if I am honest, for the sake of $7 a month, it's really not worth the hassle of having to fill a store with products, create the orders, buy the orders, update the orders and notify your customers.
Seriously, it would take you around 2 - 3 hours a week to do that, if you only had to do 100 orders a month. I think your time is worth more than $1 an hour. If you ramp that up to 200 or 300 orders a month, averaging 10 orders a day, you are starting to drastically increase the amount of manual work required.
So take my advice, if you want to run a DropShipping store with the lowest cost per month, and still automate as much as possible, invest in either the AliDropShip for WordPress plugin, or the AliDropShip for WooCommerce plugin and make your life a lot easier, especially for the sake of $7 a month for a year!
James started The Online Student as a typical blog telling people about his struggles and woes with DropShipping, Amazon FBA and even Affiliate marketing. He then decided that blogging about it all would give people the skills, knowledge and apps to get up and running (while making a little extra on the side). After a few months he realised it was quite lucrative and decided to work his ass off making it a bit more than just a hobby!