Upmetrics AI Assistant: Simplifying Business Planning through AI-Powered Insights. Learn How

How Much Does it Cost to Start a Dropshipping Business?

13 Min Read

cost to start a dropshipping business
Table of Contents
Writing a business plan?

Planning on starting your very own dropshipping business?

The very idea of launching a dropshipping business and sending products straight to your customer’s doorsteps without ever stocking an item is a thrill like no other.

But before you get into the world of e-commerce, it’s essential to figure out the answer to: How much does it cost to start a dropshipping business?

This in-depth guide will provide a thorough understanding of the costs associated with starting a dropshipping business and help calculate expenses. So you can start this venture without fighting scary concerns.

Average costs for starting a dropshipping

Before we dive into details, check out this dropshipping startup cost checklist. It’ll help you plan your startup budget and know how much financing you need to get started.

Item Average Cost
One-time Expenses
Website setup (including eCommerce platform) $100 – $1,000
Domain registration (per year) $10 – $100
Web design and theme customization $500 – $5000
Legal and consultancy fees $500 – $2,000
Initial marketing (social media, PPC ads) $500 – $2,000
Licenses and permits (if applicable) $0 – $300
Total One-Time Expenses $1,610 – $10,400
Recurring Expenses (Per Month)
Website Hosting $10 – $300
eCommerce platform subscription $29 – $299
Marketing and advertising $200 – $2,000
Email marketing software $20 – $200
Dropshipping supplier fees $20 – $100
Total Recurring Expenses $279 – $2,899
Total $1,889-$13,299

Using this dropshipping startup costs checklist, you can plan your startup or minimum budget and get an idea of how much financing you will need.

Find startup cost worksheets complicated and clumsy?

Make accurate startup financial estimates faster with AI

Plans starting from $7/month

How to calculate the cost of starting a dropshipping business

The calculator includes categories such as pre-trading, website setup, marketing, operations, and people. You can enter the estimated costs in each field and let the calculator estimate the costs for you.

Remember that many startup costs fall under recurring expenses, so cover those costs monthly, quarterly, or annually.

Calculate your startup costs using this calculator.

The Upmetrics method—financial forecasting tool

It’s an intuitive and efficient method of calculating startup costs. Using Upmetrics will not just help you estimate startup costs but also help with financial forecasting.

All you need to do is enter your sales, costs, and other financial assumptions and let the tool calculate monthly/quarterly/ and yearly projections for you.


Check out the financial forecasting tool for accurate financial forecasting. Once you have an accurate estimate of startup costs, you can easily identify funding requirements for your dropshipping.

Financial Planning to calculate startup costs

Calculate Your Dropshipping Startup Costs

Raising funds for a new startup is certainly a nerve-wracking and time-consuming process, but having a solid dropshipping business plan can make things a lot easier.

Let’s move ahead and discuss the factors that affect your dropshipping startup costs.

Factors that affect dropshipping startup costs

Several factors can impact dropshipping costs. From the choice of platform to marketing strategies, understanding these costs is essential for a successful launch. Here are the factors affecting startup costs in a dropshipping store:

1. E-commerce platform and website setup

Setting up your e-commerce platform and website is the first step when starting a dropshipping business. The cost associated with preparing your online store to sell products varies depending on several factors. It varies based on how fancy or simple you want your website to be.

When choosing an e-commerce platform, options such as Shopify, WooCommerce, or BigCommerce are available. These platforms let you create a store without the need for coding knowledge. The platform’s cost depends on the features you choose. Basic plans are typically cheaper but have fewer features.

You can use the free designs that come with popular platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, or BigCommerce, or purchase pre-designed websites for a unique look. Generally, custom designs, which are created specifically for your brand, are more expensive than pre-designed options.

Of course, you also have the option to pay someone to set up your online store. This can be part of the cost if you want to ensure everything is set up correctly from the start.

Hiring a professional can ease the process and free the stress of setting up your store yourself. They can help with tasks such as configuring the website, uploading product listings, setting up payment gateways, and ensuring that everything is optimized for a smooth customer experience.

Overall, the money you spend initially on setting up your e-commerce platform and website can range from $100 – $1,000, depending on how complex and customized you want your online store to be.

2. Supplier selection and product sourcing

When you start a dropshipping business, sourcing products and choosing the right suppliers is important because they impact the quality, availability, and timely delivery of your products to customers.

The cost of sourcing products varies widely because you generally don’t pay the supplier until a customer buys something from you. However, some suppliers may charge a fee for each sale or a monthly fee to access their products.

Finding suppliers:

You can find suppliers on platforms like AliExpress, CJ Dropshipping, or through specialized directories like SaleHoo. Each platform has different types of products and suppliers from various countries.

  • AliExpress: This is a popular choice for many drop shippers because it offers a wide range of products and doesn’t require upfront fees or minimum orders.
  • CJ Dropshipping: This platform is good if you want more support with branding and custom packaging. It can be slightly more expensive than AliExpress because of these extra services.
  • SaleHoo: It’s a directory of trusted dropshipping suppliers for various products. While there’s a fee to access it, it saves time by offering a reputed list of suppliers, reducing the risk of choosing unreliable ones.

Some suppliers charge a setup or monthly fee to work with them.

You might also pay for sample products to check their quality before you start selling them.

Choosing the right supplier:

Look for suppliers who have good reviews and deliver quality products on time. It’s best to order a sample or test products first to check their quality and delivery time. Also, ensure they offer reasonable shipping costs and times.

Overall, the cost of product sourcing or picking a supplier in dropshipping is mostly about the price you pay for each product when a customer places an order.

3. Inventory and order management software

While you don’t maintain physical inventory, investing in good dropshipping software to manage orders and stock levels with suppliers can streamline operations.

Such software can track products you have available to sell, even though you don’t keep them in a physical store. It also helps manage orders from customers, ensuring that everything they buy gets sent out correctly.

Here are some types of inventory and order management software you’ll need:

1. Basic Inventory Trackers

These are simple tools that help you keep an eye on what products are available from your suppliers. They can alert you when stock levels are low. This type of software is usually cheaper and might be included in some e-commerce platform subscriptions.

2. Integrated Management Systems

These tools do more than just track inventory. They also handle orders, process payments, and even help with shipping. They’re more expensive but are good for managing high-volume orders or products at a larger scale.

3. Custom solutions

Your e-commerce business can require a special system for its unique requirements. This can be very expensive but is necessary if your business is large or complex.

For example, a large yet simple business might need customization to ease inventory management across multiple warehouses or to integrate with specialized shipping providers.

With that said, let’s move on to…

Cost factors associated with the type of management software

Before getting into the specific custom solutions, it’s essential to understand the cost factors associated with management software. Let’s explore them.


More features usually mean higher costs. If you need features like automatic reordering or detailed analytics, you might need to pay more.

The basic plan ranges from free to $30 per month. This typically includes basic functionalities with inventory tracking, enough for a small startup.

The scale of Use

For small-scale businesses, costs can range from nothing to $50 per month. This is ideal for businesses that handle a smaller amount of orders each month.

For medium to large-scale operations, costs can range from $100 to $500+ per month. Pricing increases as the order volume and product range expand. Some software charges even more based on the volume of products sold or orders received.


Different software companies charge different prices. Some might also offer basic versions for free with the option to upgrade as your business grows.

Basic versions by providers: These versions are often free or cost up to $30 per month and are best suited for new or small businesses with basic needs.

Premium Services by Providers: Premium services cost approximately $50 to $500+ per month. This usually includes 24/7 support, integration options, higher data limits, and sometimes custom features specific to the business needs.

Opting for reliable management software from reputable providers can make business operations easier, saving you time and hassle.

4. Marketing and customer acquisition

Marketing and customer acquisition are important for drawing customers to your dropshipping store. Such business activities can cost between $200 and $2,000 per month, depending on how many marketing methods you use and how aggressively you want to attract customers.

Here are some types of marketing strategies you can consider for your dropshipping store or business:

  • Social media
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) ads
  • Email marketing
  • Content marketing

Additionally, it’s worth noting that some platforms are more expensive than others. For example, Google Ads usually cost more than Facebook Ads. More specific targeting can even increase costs but lead to better results.

That’s why, it’s best to start with social media and email marketing. It’s often cheaper. As your business grows, you can spend more on paid ads and professional content creation.

5. Shipping and Handling

While the supplier typically handles shipping, strategies and shipping costs need to be factored into pricing.

Where your suppliers are located affects shipping costs. So if they’re far from your customers, it costs more. That’s why international shipping is usually the most expensive.

Faster delivery also adds to shipping costs, for example, same-day or one-day deliveries.

Moreover, heavy or big products cost more to ship than small, light ones. Faster If customers want quick delivery, it raises the price.

Typical Shipping Costs

  • Economy shipping: Often free to customers, but slower. It can take 7-21 days, depending on the distance and supplier location.
  • Standard Shipping: Usually costs between $3 to $10 per order. Typically takes 3-7 days for delivery.
  • Expedited Shipping: This can cost significantly more, often ranging from $15 to $50 per order, depending on how quickly the item needs to be delivered. Delivery can be as quick as 1-3 days.

Some suppliers charge a handling fee for packing and sending out an order. This can be a flat rate or vary with the order size.

Shipping and handling are variable costs but planning how you offer these services can help you manage them effectively to keep customers happy.

6. Legal fees and business setup

Proper legal setup from the get-go protects you from fines and legal issues. It shows customers and suppliers that you’re serious and trustworthy. Some online platforms require you to have legal business registration to sell on their platform.

Business registration is the fee to officially register your business with your local government. The cost can vary by location but typically ranges from $100 to $800.

Legal fees to start and register your dropshipping business can range from $500 to $2,000.

Depending on what you’re selling and where your business is located, you might need specific licenses or permits. These can cost between $0 to $300.

Consultancy fees it’s often helpful to hire a lawyer or a legal consultant to ensure everything is set up correctly. This can cost anywhere from $150 to $1,000, depending on what your needs are.

You also need to set up contracts and agreements with suppliers or customers, where you might need legal help. By planning for these costs, you ensure that your dropshipping store starts on solid legal ground, protecting you from legal disputes.

7. Technology and website maintenance

Good website maintenance ensures it’s always available to customers and protects your site from hackers and data breaches.

The cost of conducting regular website maintenance can range from $10 to $300 per month. This depends on the size of your website and the services you need. Well-maintained sites load faster and work better, which keeps customers happy.

Tips for reducing drop shipping startup costs

Here are some budget-friendly strategies to launch your dropshipping store without creating large business expenses.

1. Choose a Cost-Effective E-commerce Platform

Start with a platform that offers low monthly fees and can scale with your business. Platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce offer various plans that can suit businesses at different stages of growth. Opting for a basic plan initially can help reduce your upfront costs.

2. Use Free or Low-Cost Apps and Tools

Utilize free or low-cost tools for managing your business. This includes free apps for customer service, inventory management, and marketing automation that integrate with your e-commerce platform. As your business grows, you can consider more advanced paid tools.

3. Select Affordable Suppliers

Research and choose suppliers that offer competitive pricing without compromising on quality. Sometimes, suppliers provide discounts for long-term partnerships or higher volume orders, which can help lower the cost per unit.

4. Limit Your Product Range Initially

Start with a smaller range of products to keep inventory management simple and costs low. Focus on a niche market where you can offer unique products or better deals than competitors. This can help build a loyal customer base faster.


And there you have it. We hope this overview has clarified the various costs associated with your dropshipping business. What’s the next step?

It’s time to calculate the specific start-up costs associated with your dropshipping venture in your chosen market. Create the minimum budget by evaluating your initial investment needs, from website setup to marketing strategies.

Grab your laptop, and get ready to launch your e-commerce platform, bringing innovative products and convenient shopping experiences to potential customers worldwide.

Use Upmetrics for Accurate Startup Cost Projections!

Looking to estimate your startup costs? Dive into Upmetrics! Our business plan software makes financial forecasting a breeze

Frequently Asked Questions

About the Author


Upmetrics Team

Upmetrics is the #1 business planning software that helps entrepreneurs and business owners create investment-ready business plans using AI. We regularly share business planning insights on our blog. Check out the Upmetrics blog for such interesting reads. Read more


Reach Your Goals with Accurate Planning

No Risk – Cancel at Any Time – 15 Day Money Back Guarantee