Remember 2017? (Barely, but yes.)
It was only 5 years ago that Shopify acquired Oberlo for a whopping $15M.
And now? The dropshipping giant is being softly put to sleep, never to be seen again.
Despite being one of the most successful Shopify apps with more than 100,000 active installs, Shopify delisted the app from its app store on May 12th, with no option to install it any other way. Not only that, existing users will need to migrate their content to another provider by June 12th or risk losing all their data. The app will continue functioning as normal up until that point, but we’re basically looking at a month’s notice for a pretty earth-shattering change for business owners. So what happened?
To figure out what’s actually going on and next steps for the dropshipping industry, you can also check out our handy video summary on the topic. Otherwise, keep reading and let’s start from the top.
Most eCommerce professionals will by now be familiar with the term dropshipping. But just to reiterate, dropshipping is a type of fulfillment method that removes the store owner as the middleman between the customer and supplier. The store owner (also called dropshipper) merely provides an online shop front, so when an order is placed this is redirected to the supplier, who then directly ships the product to the customer.
This business model means that eCommerce entrepreneurs are able to start their business with little to no capital, as opposed to the wholesaling model of operating which requires purchasing large amounts of stock to get started. All you need is an internet connection, a reliable supplier or two, some profitable products and a place to sell them. And voila! You’re flying. It’s no surprise that dropshipping has taken off and is being adopted by businesses-savvy individuals all around the globe today.
The name of the game is passive income: letting your business make you money with little to no interference. Oodles of people want to get out of the slog of 9-5 office culture and start taking control of their own fortunes. Needless to say, the more you can automate, the better.
That’s where dropshipping apps like Oberlo, SaleHoo Dropship and Spocket (to name a few) come into the picture. They provide entrepreneurs with automation tools for managing their business, such as uploading products directly from Chinese super store Aliexpress (one of the main sources of dropshipping suppliers) to their Shopify store, processing bulk orders, automated pricing controls and more. This means that a lot of the legwork involved in managing and growing an online store is taken care of already, which is great news for your work-life balance!
SaleHoo Dropship, for example, lets you search products by their origin and destination country, as well as by price, delivery estimate and the amount of order placed to date. That way you can easily find products that suit your needs without having to wade through the entirety of Aliexpress. Oberlo, DSers and Spocket also offer various handy product filters, but the added benefit of SaleHoo is that all suppliers are pre-vetted by our skilled team of dropshipping experts, so you can be sure your customers won’t be receiving any poor quality or inadequate products.
Oberlo was originally founded in 2015 as a startup in Lithuania, which is one of the Baltic states in Eastern Europe. The founders Andrius and Tomas Slimas and their team (two developers and a designer) decided to try out a few Shopify apps and Oberlo was the one that was by far the most successful. So successful in fact that Shopify acquired the company only two years later for a swanky $15M. After a rebrand and some additional investments, the dropshipping app ran successfully ever since, with tens of thousands of installs from the Shopify app store.
Functionality-wise, Oberlo offers easy import from AliExpress with the ability to customize product listings and descriptions, automatic listing updates, inventory management and bulk order management.
Considering the seemingly successful run Oberlo has had over the years, it’s not entirely clear why Shopify has decided to shut down operations. True, there are more and more competitors on the market offering similar functionality, and Oberlo’s reviews from customers haven’t always been favorable (leading to a relatively low Trustpilot rating of 2.6), but is this the reason they’re withdrawing from the market? At this moment in time it’s impossible to say, as Shopify themselves are keeping things vague:
One would hope that current Oberlo users were giving some advance warning before dropping this bomb shell on them, but it’s not clear that was the case. As it stands, thousands of users have to find new homes for their dropshipping business set-up within the next three weeks, as all current and historic data will be taken offline on June 15th. Shopify themselves recommend migrating to their newly chosen dropshipping partner DSers, which provide similar tools and functionality. However, like Oberlo, DSers also doesn’t provide any quality-assurance for AliExpress suppliers, so it remains up to each individual to make sure the suppliers they choose for their business are vetted.
With SaleHoo Dropship, all suppliers are pre-vetted by our team of professionals, which means you can safely import any of their products into your store and you definitely won’t get “Ali-scammed.” (Shudder!) Dropshipping low quality products is extremely dangerous as it means high refund rates, tons of customer complaints, and pretty much no repeat purchases. Because we know that with all this upheaval it’s going to be a challenging time for current Oberlo customers, we’re offering 25% off (Code: OBERLO) SaleHoo Dropship for all users who migrate to SaleHoo Dropship. Making it the most affordable dropshipping tool currently on the market. Not bad, huh?
So if you’re reading this because you’re frantically trying to figure out an alternative to Oberlo, fear not. We’ll have a quick look at some alternatives for you.
DSers is a tool that’s relatively new on the scene (founded in 2018), but it’s already garnered a lot of positive reviews and has made a name for its excellent customer service. The functionality is similar to Oberlo’s in the way that you can search and filter for AliEpress products and easily upload them to your store via a few clicks. Much like Oberlo, it also doesn’t vet suppliers, however they’ve recently launched the ‘Find Suppliers’ feature which highlights some of their favorites. Their plans cost $19.99, $49.90 or $490.00 per month for varying services.
SaleHoo Dropship stands out through its advanced product filters and, as mentioned before, pre-vetted suppliers. This can’t be banged on about enough, as reliable suppliers really are the be-all and end-all of creating happy customers - especially in dropshipping. And happy customers mean lower refund rates, fewer customer complaints, and therefore more repeat purchases. This is also super important for your brand’s branding and reputation. On top of that, SaleHoo Dropship offers renowned 24/7 customer service (who will even start custom product/ supplier searches for you free of charge) and a 30-day-money-back guarantee. $27/ month gets you 500 product uploads and $97/ month unlimited products, woop!
Spocket has a simple, user-friendly interface and gives you all the essentials you need to start dropshipping, such as searching product in the US and EU, importing products from Aliexpress, bulk importing products and integrating them into your store. Their plans start at $24.99/month, but the most popular one is $49.99/ month for 250 products, which is a little on the high side in terms of pricing but definitely something you can test out with their free trial.
Dropified again offers all the main functionality of other apps (e.g. product search and import and bulk order processing, but their unique feature is that you can manage multiple stores and find products from both Aliexpress and Alibaba. Again, this creates a challenge of making sure all those suppliers are reliable so that you don’t fall into anyone’s scamming trap, but it’s definitely worth checking out. Plans start at $17/ month, but the recommended one is the Retro plan at $47/ month as you’ll get to access unlimited products.
Just like DSers and SaleHoo Dropship, CJ Dropshipping also integrates products to your Shopify store quickly. Again, they let you add any product from AliExpress so you’re on your own when it comes to quality control. One interesting thing about CJ Dropshipping is that they allow you to make photography requests for your product so you can get customized product photos and videos. This can be especially handy during the scaling phase when you need custom material for your brand.
If you like the sound of SaleHoo Dropship and want to take advantage of 25% off, starting your migration process is easy. Simply leave us your email address and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours to make your transition as smooth as possible. If you have any other questions or concerns in the meantime, why not chat to one of our dropshipping experts? As already mentioned, we make customer service a priority, regardless if you’re a paying customer or not, so just come and say hey!