[Guide] Dropshipping on Amazon using the ‘Shotgun’ method – Perfect for beginners

The method

This new dropshipping method utilizes a number of tools that allow you to list a large amount of products found on Aliexpress onto Amazon, meaning you can get a lot of traffic just because you have a lot of products listed, increasing your chances of selling a product, if you listed on Amazon manually it would take a considerably longer amount of time and you wouldn’t have additional functionality which I will talk about.

Your main sales channel will be Amazon US as Shopify doesn’t support any other regions of Amazon at the moment.

Pros of selling on Amazon

  • Millions of free traffic for your products
  • Built in advertisement tools

Cons of selling on Amazon

  • % based fee on every sale
  • 7 day earnings reserve on every order

The tools

Aliexpress – Your inventory source

Shopify – This website will house your inventory and communicate with Amazon and Oberlo

Oberlo – This tool will allow you to import products from Aliexpress while keeping sync of stock, it will also load up the corresponding Aliexpress product page when you get an order which is an imperative feature as you will have hundreds of products that you won’t be able to keep track of manually.

Alibonus – This tool gives you cashback when making purchases on Aliexpress, there are couple tiers, starting at 7% going up to 10%, you can read in depth about it here

Keyword Tool Dominator – A neat little tool that allows you to peer into Amazon search data to optimize your listing keywords

Expected earnings ( based on my data )

I sold 7 products in march for a total profit of around $200, depending on what you sell and how much work you put into this method you should expect at least 5-10 sales a month, I was pretty lazy myself and only listed 300~ products.

chrome_2017-04-06_12-06-55 (Note: this data shows total sales, not earnings)

My first sale

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Only 8 days after I listed the product which from my experience is actually very fast as if I look at my other sales they were usually 2 weeks after listing the product

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 [UPDATE] April 2017 Earnings

April has been a really good month, my sales have increased compared to the last month and I had no issues with customers like refunds etc.

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This is my sales summary, minus product costs and $70 monthly fees for shopify, amazon and UPC codes I have earned $335.

I spent the first 2 weeks in April preparing more products to list them on Amazon but I got burned out really quick and took a break, I will start listing products in May again and I will add around 250 products as I have everything ready to list.

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This is a snippet from my Order Spreadsheet showing the sales volume for the whole month, it’s only 13 sales however the way my prices are set up I profit $25-$65 per order.

 

[UPDATE] May 2017 Earnings

This month started off well and then suddenly two weeks in all my sales  dropped to 0 and I haven’t sold anything since, I checked my business reports and I’m still getting a fair amount of traffic however no sales, I will wait another 2 weeks to check if the problem lies with my niche or the current season is slow.

My sales totaled $538 and after product costs my earnings for the month were $175, this was a total of 13 orders.

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My inventory after 2 weeks

Take away 50 from the total and I have listed around 350 products ( not including variations, variations alone are near the 1200 mark ) in around 2 weeks, I didn’t do it for 2 weeks straight however that was the general time frame, some days I didn’t feel like doing it.

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Startup cost

Shopify(Required) – $8/month for a basic store ( comes with a 14 day free trial )

Oberlo(Required) – Free

Amazon(Required) – $39.99/month for a professional seller subscription which is required for the shopify integration

Alibonus(Optional) – Free

Ebay – 1000 UPC Barcodes for Amazon (Required) – $13.99 for 1000 codes, comes out at roughtly 1 cent per product/variation

I highly recommend buying these UPC Codes as I have purchased them from this seller multiple times and they always work perfectly, I say this because UPC codes that come from illegitimate sources, if found out, can get your listings and or account banned by Amazon.

Keyword Tool Dominator(Optional) – Free daily searches or one off purchase

$300+ saved to purchase products

Integration diagram

integrationDiagram

You will import products from Aliexpress to Oberlo, from where you will export them to Shopify and then later on back to Amazon.

Which products to sell

You will not be doing any product research or looking at trend data, you will simply pick a product category or multiple, however you want to do it.

I picked one specific product and went with it, here are a couple of points that I recommend when picking a product

  • Fairly lightweight and compact(Free shipping)
  • One size (you don’t want any returns)
  • Non-electronic
  • Unbranded (Highly recommended)
  • $10-40 product cost range

You might be wondering why I recommend selling unbranded products, not all customers know how to utilize search engines to their full extent, however those that do can easily find the same product that you’re trying to sell somewhere else for a much lower price, if your product is unbranded the chances of that are minimal

Step by step setup

  1. Make an Amazon US account and set the account up with the necessary information like deposit method and charge method (the Shopify Amazon integration currently only supports Amazon US)
  2. Upgrade to a professional seller subscription on Amazon (Settings > Your services > Manage > Upgrade)
  3. Register with Shopify and make a store ( the name doesn’t matter unless you’re planning to have your own Shopify website )
  4. Left hand side > Settings > Sales channels > Add sales channel > Amazon > Connect to Amazon > Go through the setup wizard
  5. Register and install Oberlo
  6. ????
  7. After 14 days you will probably want to downgrade your Shopify plan to a lite plan so that you only pay $8 a month for shopify

Now after you’ve successfuly done all that you will want to configure Oberlo which is a straight forward process ( Shopify > Apps > Oberlo)

oberloSettings

These auto update settings are very important in order for Oberlo to relay stock levels to Shopify which sends that information to Amazon.

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These are my Oberlo pricing rules, with these settings anything I import into Oberlo will have it’s price changed according to my rules. As you can see I use a x3 markup on all my products, that might seem very high at first but you have to remember people won’t be able to find the same product that you’re selling so they do not have a price comparison and they won’t be dissuaded by your high price.

Lastly you will set up a shipping template on Amazon, this is what I use for all of my products

Shipping time – 7-14 days

All regions of USA

Free shipping

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Aliexpress

If you haven’t already, make an Aliexpress account, add a payment method and then verify your account on Alipay by sending in a picture of your passport etc.

This step only takes a few minutes and is very important as when you verify your payment method, the payments will process faster and Aliexpress won’t close your orders due to different billing and shipping addresses.

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Importing products to Oberlo

Make sure you have the google chrome Oberlo extension installed required for the next step.

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Change your extension settings to the ones above and click update, this will hide any products which don’t ship to the US and don’t offer ePacket.

If you don’t know ePacket is the best shipping method from China to America, offering very low cost, tracked, fast 12-20 day shipping, I do not recommend choosing products without ePacket as you do not want slow, untracked shipping as it leads to problems.

Let’s pretend you’re selling socks, you will navigate to the sock category on Aliexpress or simply search for socks.

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What to look for [IMPORTANT]

  • Products with a full white background
  • Free ePacket

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  • High available quantity ( 100+ )chrome_2017-04-05_22-22-46

Using these rules you will import 500 or less, potential products to Oberlo, I simply added pretty much any product that followed these rules, since you’re not doing any research and you do not want any favoritism, you will add any product that matches these rules.

After you’ve imported your products, before pushing to the shop, you can select any additional images you want to import for example any size charts or additional diagrams.

Once you’re ready you can push your products to Shopify.

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Getting products ready for Amazon

Amazon listing image rules

  • Main images must be at least 1000×1000
  • Main images must have a white background

This part is very repetitive and tedious, you will be going through all your imported products, one by one and resizing images to 1000×1000 and removing any product logos from the images, thankfully Shopify uses an integrated Adobe solution so you don’t have to save out the product images you can just edit and resize them in the browser.

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If you import any products and you notice that the background isnt completely white and perhaps is an off white I recommend deleting any variations and possible the whole product that do not have an image that abides by the Amazon image rules as saving out the images and doing manual editing will take time and you do not want to waste any time. Remember you do not have to list every product you import, after deleting a product from Shopify you can delete it in Oberlo to free up space.

Listing on Amazon using Shopify

For this step you will need to have already purchased some UPC codes ( Ebay – 1000 UPC Barcodes ) that are required to list products on to Amazon and also get approval for the Apparel/Clothing category on Amazon, this is because when exporting products from Shopify to Amazon you can currently only choose Apparel categories which require approval (the process to get ‘ungated’ is straight forward and anyone can do it)

Categories and products requiring approval: Clothing & Accessories

After you’ve completed the steps above you can head over to the Amazon tab

and click the Create listing button

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Select your first product and click ‘Select product’

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Now you will click create listing as you want to create your own listings

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If you’re selling a product that fits in the apparel category you can select the appropriate category, if not just select any category and then later on you can change it to an appropriate category in Amazon.

Now you will remove any brand names from the title and description if there are any, add some bullet points which are required ( I usually copy important bits of information from the description into the bullet points like Material and Length as people look for that kind of information)

I always leave the title as it is on Aliexpress which saves me time but in turn makes it easy for anyone to find that product, but you got to remember not everyone is that smart (or rather paranoid?)

You will leave the keywords blank as you will add those later on in Amazon because if you add them in now for some reason it pastes all the keywords onto 1 line in Amazon and I’m not sure if that has an impact or not so I’d rather do it manually and properly.

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Now if you scroll down you have to select all the variations you want to add, all follow the same process that I use

Size > Custom Size > x

Production time > 7 days ( this is the average processing time for most products on Aliexpress )

Product Identifier > Your UPC

Image > Select variation image and any child images

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As you can see in the image above I didn’t actually resize my variation images and I can’t list those without doing so.

After I’m happy with the listing I click Publish in the right top corner.

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In a few minutes your product will appear in your Amazon inventory however it takes another couple of hours for it to process and during that time it will appear broken and incomplete.

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Inserting keywords into Amazon listings

For this step you can skip it at your own choice however I recommend doing this to boost your traffic, I use a tool called Keyword Tool Dominator which after entering a keyword shows me the long tail keywords that people use to search for products which I can then sort by rank so that I am using the most popular keywords, here is my post about this tool

https://dropshippers.blog/2017/01/27/choosing-the-right-search-terms-for-your-amazon-listings/

After you compile list of keywords you can then open up all your listings and insert those keywords.

If you have products with variations you should be editing only the parent listing which is the one that shows up without expanding the child variations, this is because if you edit the keywords in the parent listing it will propagate the changes to the child variations.

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My average time to complete the whole workflow

This will give you an idea of how much time the whole process takes.

Importing a product into Oberlo – 15-40 seconds / per product

Selecting additional images in Oberlo import list – 15-30 seconds / per product

Resizing image + removing logo – 25-45 seconds / per product variation

Listing product onto Amazon – 5-15 seconds / per product variation

Now I usually do this whole workflow in waves, so first I add 300 products and then I resize the images for those 300 products, instead of doing it product by product, as this way you do it faster because your brain gets used to the process.

How to find the last product you listed the last time you were listing

You do not want to list the same product twice so you have to find the last product you listed the last time you listed so that you can continue where you left off.

Go the Amazon listings tab in Shopify and copy the name of the first product which will be the one you listed lastchrome_2017-04-06_12-50-28

Now go through all the pages and use ctrl+f to search for the product title you just copied ( for every new page you have click ctrl+f again and paste the text in again as for some reason if you just leave the text in there and keep scrolling through pages it won’t find it )

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After we find a match we can resume from that product by copying the name of that product and in create listings entering that specific name

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How to order

Finally got your first sale? Tell me about it so I can congratulate you

Now you have to find the corresponding product that the customer ordered on Oberlo, no problem, just head over to the Oberlo dashboard and in the Orders tab click on the product title which will take you to the product page.

Now is the time if you haven’t already to register on Alibonus

Every time you click on a link on Oberlo that takes you to a product page on Aliexpress it breaks the Alibonus affiliate link and you won’t get cashback, so make sure that when you’re on the product page it says ‘Cashback Activated’

After you’ve made sure of that you can add the product to cart and proceed with the order, this means you cannot use the semi-automatic fulfillment system offered by Oberlo because you won’t get cashback and you will have to fill out the address manually which isn’t that time consuming.

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After your order make sure you go back and send the seller a message

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This will ensure your customer doesn’t receive an invoice with the real price of the product and no promotional material.

Order Book

As you’re running a business here what I like to do is keep record of all my sales so I can calculate profit and keep track of orders.

This is the spreadsheet I use, in the first column you have the Amazon order id which let’s you find the corresponding order on Amazon2017-04-06_10-53-36

In the second column, Amazon profit, you put in the earnings you received for the sale, this is after Amazon takes their cut

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In product cost yo put in the price of the item that you ordered from Aliexpress, in the cashback column you put the cashback you’ve earned from Alibonus for this particular order. Finally you run a simple calculation to get your Final Profit, (Amazon profit + Cashback – Product Cost)

I like to record the date of the order as well as it helps me later if I need to investigate an order, lastly in the External Order No. you put in the Aliexpress order id as as when the seller confirms shipment of a product on Aliexpress you will quickly search for the product in your spreadsheet and find the corresponding Amazon order id.

Confirming shipment of your first sale

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Has the seller finally shipped the order? Great

Find the corresponding order on Amazon and click confirm shipment,

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Now you grab the tracking number from Aliexpress and change Carrier to other and put in ePacket as this is the shipping method you should only use.

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When will I get paid by Amazon

Amazon puts a 7 day rolling reserve on every transaction, meaning that you will be able to withdraw your earnings 7 days after the expected delivery time for the order, this means that you need some money saved up to purchase products as payments from Amazon won’t be fast enough to keep up.

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Scaling and upkeep

I’ve covered the whole process now all that is left is scaling and upkeep.

Oberlo lets you track 500 products at once if you’re on the free plan, if you want to expand your inventory all you have to do is change to the Basic Plan which lets you track up to 10k products, I wouldn’t do this until you’re receiving steady sales and can cover the running monthly expenses, what I would do to free up Oberlo space instead is to go through my Amazon inventory and perhaps delete products that have been listed for 2+ months and re-list new products.

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Every 1 or 2 days you should check your Amazon inventory for out of stock products as these take up Oberlo space and aren’t being displayed to customers

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What you can do not to waste time and UPC codes is find the product that is out of stock on Aliexpress, from another seller, an easy way is to search by your product title which is left the same or by reverse searching the image or variation image

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Now if you find the same product on Aliexpress head over to your product list on Oberlo > filter by > gone from supplier or search by the product title

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Action > Override this product

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Copy the link to your in stock product on Aliexpress and paste it in

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Go over to to your import list and go to the Variants tab of your product, now here you want to make sure your SKU, Color,  and Size properties match those of your old product ( I do not know if this is necessary but to my understanding the SKU and other properties should stay the same for things to stay in sync between Shopify and Amazon)

In short you want these fields except the price

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to match these

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After everything is ready click ‘Push And Override’ which should set the stock levels back to normal and after some time Shopify should sync back the inventory levels to Amazon

Expanding to other sales channels

If you have the time there are various Apps for Shopify which I’ve tested that lets you list on other platforms to increase the exposure of your products.

Sellbrite  – Costly but powerful addon, supports 8 different marketplaces and 4 shopping carts

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inkFrog – Cheaper solution but only let’s you list on eBay

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If you’ve gotten to the end, thank you for reading, if you have any questions or feedback please comment below

 


40 thoughts on “[Guide] Dropshipping on Amazon using the ‘Shotgun’ method – Perfect for beginners

  1. Thank you so much for making this guide. I will be putting everything into action. You wouldn’t mind it if I contact you sometimes for questions sometimes?

    Thank you again.

    Like

      1. There is a fee for every item sold, different product categories have different fees but it’s usually within 10-17%.

        On top of that there is the Pro Subscription fee you pay monthly like I mentioned in the post.

        Like

  2. You ever had any trouble with Shopify creating listings for you? I can’t see to make it work, it keeps giving me “Can’t connect to your Amazon account”.

    Like

      1. Thanks for the reply. Working great now. Seems like it just needed a little bit more time to connect correctly.

        Like

  3. Hey Tom, do you only work with high level sellers only? I am assuming that if they offer free E-Packet, that means they are good to work with.

    Like

    1. I tend to check the seller ratings and stay away from brand new sellers, that being said being a seller on Aliexpress costs a lot of money from what I’ve heard and I don’t think there are many scammers.
      Make sure you check if the sellers actually send your order with ePacket as I’ve seen cases being reported on the Oberlo forum where sellers didn’t send an order with ePacket when supposed to, probably because they were greedy and wanted extra money, if this happens just report them to Aliexpress as it’s against the rules, orders sent to the US with ePacket should have a tracking number that starts with LW and after a number it ends with CN.

      Like

  4. Hello Tom
    Thank you for this. I have a eBay based drop shipping business that does a little better than break even, but nothing to write home about. This is an amazingly detailed guide. I assume your still a fan of this approach? Thoughts on this approach vs. a Shopify store? Thanks in advance.
    Bill P.

    Like

    1. Hey,

      I’m only 2 months in with this method and I’m still testing the waters, I will still be posting monthly updates.
      With a Shopify store you have to find the right product and ad, unless you’re really good with Facebook ads you’re going to be spending a lot of money testing different ideas, if you find the right product/ad I’d definitely say Shopify is better as you don’t have to play on Amazon’s ‘playground’ and it’s easier to manage things.

      Regards

      Like

  5. Hello Tom,

    Thank you for the amazing guide.

    My question is – What are your tax compliance since you are registered in Europe but selling to American clients.

    Thank you again for your time.

    Like

  6. Hey Tom, Great article!
    2 quick questions…

    1) How do set your Ship-From Location? Do you enter China or the United States?

    2) ePack to US is 12-20 days + handling time. I see you set your shipping time to 7-14 days. Are you adding a handling time of 7-10 days in the Amazon listing page to make it work?

    Thanks for your wisdom!
    Simon

    Like

    1. Hey,

      1) I leave my shipping location on Amazon blank

      2) I put 7 days processing time when listing my products on Amazon, this should be enough for the supplier to ship the product on time

      Regards

      Like

  7. Hello, Thanks for great post.
    I have a question.
    In the post you said you would set shipping time 7-14 days. But as i know ePacket will take up to 20 days to arrive.
    So will it make problem happen with your customer?

    Like

    1. Hi,

      To the US, ePacket actually takes 7-14 days, when you set 5-7 day handling time in Amazon you get an expected delivery date that is more than 21 days which covers you in the event of a delay.

      Like

      1. Hi,

        Thanks for your supper fast reply. Very useful information.

        Do you have any experience in Aliexpress to Ebay?

        Nowadays, i see a lot of items on Ebay have a cheaper price than Aliexpress. All comes from Chinese Seller.

        So is there a chance we can still work with Ebay?

        How is your opinion?

        Cheers!

        Like

      2. Hi,

        Yes, i have seen that post. Another great post.

        I think i will read some times again. I may have some questions there. LOL!

        You are doing great job. Keep it up.

        Thanks Tom

        Like

  8. Thanks for this information.

    I have a question. What is the advantage of including Amazon into the pack … why not selling directly from your Shopify store and push sales by SEO/SEM?

    Best!

    Like

    1. SEO is a lot harder to learn and it usually takes a long time to rank a website depending on the keywords, that being said if you can pull it off it’s way better than selling on any other marketplace as you don’t have to compete with anyone on your website.

      By selling on Amazon you essentially get free traffic.

      Like

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