How much does it cost to start an online dropshipping business?

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According to recent surveys, online dropshipping businesses are booming in the United States. The global dropshipping market is expected to reach 7.9 billion by 2025, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 28.8%. The rise of e-commerce platforms, increasing internet penetration and increasing disposable income have contributed to this significant growth.

Dropshipping is a business model that has grown in popularity over the past decade. With its low barrier to entry and minimal start-up costs, it has become an attractive option for entrepreneurs looking to break into the e-commerce space. The process involves selling products online without actively storing inventory. Instead, when a customer purchases a product, the retailer passes the order to a supplier, who then fulfills the order and ships the product directly to the customer.

Although it may seem like a simple business model, starting an online dropshipping store requires a considerable financial investment. There are several one-time costs that entrepreneurs need to consider before launching their online business. In this article, we’ll cover the expenses you need to budget for when opening a dropshipping store in the United States.

What are the startup costs?

  • Website development and maintenance costs
  • Inventory management software subscription fees
  • Marketing and advertising expenses
  • Legal and consulting fees
  • Payment processing fees
  • Office equipment and supplies costs
  • Shipping and handling infrastructure requirements
  • Customer service tool subscription fee
  • Initial inventory purchase and storage costs

Now, let’s explore each cost in detail and how much you can expect to pay for each expense when opening an online dropshipping store.

start-up costs

Starting an online dropshipping business can be a lucrative business, but it does require an initial investment. Here are the average startup costs involved in starting an online dropshipping business:

startup cost Average amount range (USD)
Website development and maintenance 1,000 – 5,000
inventory management software 500 – 1,500
Marketing and advertising expenses 500 – 3,000
Legal and consulting fees 1,000 – 5,000
Payment processing fees 50 – 200
Office equipment and supplies 500 – 1,500
Shipping and handling infrastructure 1,000 – 5,000
customer service tool 100 – 500
Initial inventory purchase and storage costs 1,000 – 10,000
Total 5,650 – 32,200
  • Website development and maintenance: You will need a professional website to showcase your products, hence the budget for website development and maintenance costs.
  • Inventory Management Software: To keep track of your inventory, you’ll need software to help manage it.
  • Marketing and advertising costs: You will need to market your new business if you want to attract customers.
  • Legal and Consulting Fees: You may need help setting up your business structure and navigating legal requirements, so budget for legal and advisory fees.
  • Payment Processing Fees: You will incur fees to process payments made by customers.
  • Office equipment and supplies: Make sure you have the necessary office equipment and supplies to run your business efficiently.
  • Shipping and handling infrastructure: To ensure timely and efficient delivery of your products, you will need shipping and handling infrastructure.
  • Customer Service Tool: A customer service tool will help you manage customer inquiries and complaints.
  • Initial Inventory Purchases and Storage Fees: You will need to purchase initial inventory to list in your marketplace, which includes storage fees.

1. Development and maintenance of the website

One of the first steps in starting an online dropshipping business is to create a website. The cost of website development can vary greatly depending on the complexity of the site and the functionality required. According to recent statistics, the average website design and development cost ranges from ,000 to ,000 for a basic website while a more advanced website with features like e-commerce functionality can cost upwards of ,000 or more.

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It is important to remember that website maintenance is an ongoing cost that should not be overlooked. This includes things like software updates, security measures, and content updates. In fact, according to recent studies, the average cost of maintaining a website can range from to 0 per month, depending on the level of maintenance required.

Avoiding website maintenance can lead to potential security risks, loss of revenue, and negative impact on customer experience. Therefore, it is important to factor these ongoing costs into your budget when starting an online dropshipping business. This may also include hiring a website maintenance specialist or outsourcing maintenance to a third party vendor.

In addition to website development and maintenance costs, there are other expenses to consider when starting an online dropshipping business. These may include:

  • Domain registration and hosting fees: It can range from to per year
  • Marketing and advertising costs: This can vary greatly depending on the marketing strategy and advertising channels used.
  • Legal Fees: This can include things like business registration, trademark registration, and consultation fees with lawyers or other legal professionals
  • Payment Processing Fee: This can range from 2.9% to 3.5% per transaction, plus a flat fee of approximately 30 cents per transaction
  • Inventory costs: If you choose to hold inventory, there will be costs associated with purchasing and storing products

When budgeting for an online dropshipping business, it is important to consider all costs associated with website development, maintenance, and ongoing expenses of running the business. This will help ensure that your business is financially stable and able to grow over time.

2. Inventory management software

Inventory management software is an essential tool for any dropshipping business as it helps track inventory levels and automate the ordering process with suppliers. The cost of inventory management software can vary depending on the features and functionality offered. According to recent statistics, the average cost of cloud-based inventory management software for small businesses ranges from 00 to 00 per year.

Real-Time Inventory Tracking: Inventory management software allows businesses to monitor their inventory levels in real-time, helping them determine when to reorder products. This feature eliminates the risk of overselling and inventory, which is crucial for the success of any dropshipping business. With real-time inventory tracking, businesses can maximize sales while minimizing the risk of losing customers due to out-of-stock products.

Automated ordering process: Inventory management software can automate the ordering process by generating purchase orders to suppliers when inventory levels reach certain thresholds. This feature helps businesses save time and money while ensuring they always have enough inventory to fulfill customer orders. Dropshipping businesses can also set up automatic reordering with suppliers, which can help them save money by negotiating lower prices than bulk orders.

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Multi-Channel Integration: Inventory management software can integrate with multiple sales channels such as Amazon, eBay, and Shopify, which helps businesses manage their inventory across different platforms. This feature also allows businesses to list their products in multiple marketplaces, which can increase its sales and reach a wider audience.

  • Example 1: Inventory management software like Tradegecko offers real-time inventory tracking, automated ordering process, multi-channel integrations, and many other features starting at per month for the basic plan.
  • Example 2: Cloud-based inventory management software like Skubana costs around 9 per month for the standard plan and offers features like real-time reporting, automated order routing, and multi-channel integrations with Amazon, eBay , Walmart and many other markets .

Conclusion: Inventory management software is an essential investment for any dropshipping business because it helps streamline the inventory management process, save time and money, and maximize sales. Although the cost of inventory management software varies depending on the features and functionality, businesses should choose software that suits their needs and budget to ensure the success of their dropshipping business.

3. Marketing and advertising costs

Marketing and advertising are essential parts of the operations of any dropshipping business. It is crucial to develop a marketing strategy to attract potential customers and drive traffic to your online market. According to a recent study, the average small business spends approximately ,000 per year on marketing and advertising costs.

There are several marketing channels that dropshipping businesses can use to promote their products, including Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising, email marketing, content marketing, social media advertising, and online marketing. influencer marketing. Each of these channels has its unique costs associated with it.

PPC Advertising: This method of marketing involves paying for each click your ads receive. The cost per click can range from a few cents to several dollars depending on the competitiveness of the keyword. According to a recent study, the average cost per click on Google ads is around .69.

Email Advertising: Although email marketing has no direct costs associated with it, businesses should invest in email marketing tools to automate campaigns, perform A/B testing and measure the performance of email campaigns. The cost of email marketing tools can range from to 0 per month.

Social Media Advertising: The cost of social media advertising varies by platform, audience size, targeting criteria, and ad type. However, on average, businesses can expect to spend .50 to per click on Facebook Ads.

Influencer Marketing: The cost of influencer marketing depends on the size and reach of the influencer, type of content, and industry. According to a recent study, businesses can expect to spend around ,000 to ,000 per influencer per campaign on Instagram, YouTube, and other social media platforms.

In conclusion, marketing and advertising expenses vary depending on the channels used, the size of the company and the target audience. A well-designed marketing strategy can help dropshipping businesses attract more customers and increase sales.

4. Legal and Consulting Fees

Starting an online dropshipping business requires legal and consulting fees, which are essential to obtain the necessary documents and advice. According to recent research, the typical cost of legal and consulting fees in the United States can range from ,000 to ,000 . This estimate covers expenses such as company integration, application for trademarks and patents, and payment for professional advice.

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It is important to note that the cost of legal and consulting fees may vary depending on the state where the business is established. Some states require higher fees to register a business entity, while others have lower fees and more lenient regulations. For example, the cost of forming an LLC in California can be as high as 0, while the cost in a state like Nevada can be as high as .

In addition to the initial start-up costs, there may be ongoing legal and consulting expenses that arise while operating the business. This may include hiring a lawyer to review contracts or consulting with a tax professional to handle tax issues. To mitigate these costs, many business owners opt to subscribe to online legal services or retain consulting firms on a contract basis.

It should be noted that the cost of legal and consulting fees is a necessary investment for any business. By ensuring proper compliance with legal regulations and getting experienced advice, business owners can avoid legal battles or costly mistakes that can lead to financial loss. Additionally, it is crucial to have proper documentation and a legal structure in place to protect the business and its assets.

  • Example 1: A business owner in New York paid ,500 for legal and consulting fees to file for LLC formation and obtain legal advice on contract law.
  • Example 2: A business owner in Texas paid ,000 for legal and consulting fees for trademark filings, tax advice, and monthly consulting services with a business law firm .

5. Payment Processing Fees

One of the most important aspects of running any online business is accepting payments. Many payment processing services are available that charge different fees for their services. The cost of payment processing fees varies depending on the payment gateway chosen and the country of operation.

In the United States, the average fee charged by payment processors ranges from 2.9% to 3.5% of the transaction amount. For example, if a customer places an order that costs 0, a typical payment processor will charge between .9 and .5 to process that transaction.

Choosing the right payment processor is an important decision for any online business to make. Popular payment processors include PayPal, Stripe, and Square. These payment processors provide detailed breakdowns of their fees, allowing retailers to make informed decisions.

There are also different fees associated with different payment methods, such as credit card fees and bank transfer fees. Some payment processors charge additional fees for international transactions or recharge disputes.

It’s important for online retailers to consider all of these fees when deciding which payment processor to use. Retailers should carefully consider their options and choose a payment processor that best suits their needs and budget.

  • PayPal fees: 2.9% + .30 per transaction in the United States.
  • Stripes fee: 2.9% + .30 per transaction in the United States.
  • Square fee: 2.9% + .30 per transaction in the United States.

6. Office equipment and supplies

When starting an online dropshipping business, it’s important to have the necessary office equipment and supplies to help you run your business efficiently. According to the latest statistical information, the average cost of office equipment and supplies for a new online dropshipping business in the United States can range from 0 to 00.

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Computer and Software Costs: One of the most crucial office equipment you need when starting the business is a computer. The average cost of buying a new computer can range from 0 to ,500. Additionally, software like accounting or inventory management software can cost you around 0 to 0 per year.

Internet and Telephone Costs: With the business primarily operated online, the Internet is crucial to keeping the business running. The average cost of internet service can range from to 0 per month, depending on the internet speed you choose. Additionally, phone service is also important and the average cost can range from to 0 per month.

Office Furniture and Supplies: A desk, chair, and filing cabinet are essential pieces of furniture for your office. The cost of a good quality desk and chair can range from 0 to 0, and a filing cabinet can cost around 0 to 0. Additionally, office supplies like pens, papers, envelopes, and printer cartridges can cost between 0 and ,000 per year.

Shipping supplies: You will also need shipping supplies like boxes, bubble wrap, and labels to pack and ship your products to customers. The cost of these supplies will depend on the size and quantity you need. An average cost can vary from 0 to 0 per month.

Marketing and advertising costs: Finally, marketing and advertising are crucial for any business, especially for an online dropshipping business. You will need to invest in marketing channels like social media advertising or search engine optimization. These costs can vary, but it is recommended that you allocate around 0 to ,000 per month for marketing and advertising expenses.

  • Example of office equipment costs:
    • Computer: ,000
    • Software: 0 per year
    • Internet service: 0 per month
    • Telephone service: per month
    • Desk and chair: 0
    • File cabinet: 0
    • Office supplies: 0 per year
    • Shipping: 0 per month
    • Marketing and advertising: 0 per month

It’s important to keep in mind that the cost of office equipment and supplies can vary depending on your unique business needs and location. However, investing in quality equipment and supplies will help you run your online dropshipping business effectively in the long run.

7. Shipping and handling infrastructure

One of the biggest costs associated with starting an online dropshipping business is shipping and handling infrastructure. It is important to consider the cost of transporting goods from supplier to customer, as well as the costs associated with managing yields and providing customer service.

The average shipping cost for a small business is around per package, with an additional – for handling fees. This can add up quickly if you ship a large volume of product.

Another important cost to consider is the cost of returns. According to recent statistics, the average cost of a yield in the United States is around . This includes the cost of shipping the product back to the warehouse, processing the return, and restocking the item. It is important to consider these costs when setting up your dropshipping business.

One way to reduce shipping and handling costs is to work directly with suppliers who offer discounted rates. Many suppliers have established relationships with shipping carriers, which allows them to offer lower shipping rates to their customers.

Another strategy is to negotiate lower rates with shipping carriers. This is especially effective if you experience high shipping volumes. You can also take advantage of shipping software that helps you compare rates and choose the most cost-effective shipping method.

To reduce the cost of returns management, you may consider outsourcing your returns processing to a third-party logistics provider. These vendors offer solutions for managing yields, restocking inventory, and providing customer service, freeing up your time to focus on marketing and product development.

  • Consider the cost of shipping and handling when setting up your dropshipping business
  • Work with suppliers to negotiate lower shipping rates
  • Use shipping software to compare rates and choose the most cost-effective method
  • Outsource processing processing to a third-party logistics provider to reduce costs

8. customer service tool

The success of an online dropshipping business depends on how well it can maintain customer satisfaction. A reliable customer service tool is essential to achieve this goal. Customer service tool costs vary depending on the type and features offered.

Basic customer service tools are free or have a minimum cost of to per month. These tools allow you to manage your customer service requests via email, live chat or phone calls. They also offer basic features like ticket management, chat transcripts, and analytics to monitor your customer service team’s performance.

Advanced customer service tools can cost between and 0 per month. These tools offer more advanced features like omnichannel support, automated responses, and integration with other tools like CRM and social media. They also provide analytical data for better understanding of customer behavior and sentiment analysis.

Enterprise customer service tools are designed for large businesses and can be quite expensive, ranging from 0 to 00 per month. These tools offer advanced features like AI chatbots, sentiment analysis, and customer interaction automation. They also provide a dedicated support team to resolve customer issues quickly and efficiently.

  • Basic customer service tools: to per month
  • Advanced customer service tools: to 0 per month
  • Enterprise customer service tools: 0 to 00 per month

It’s important to keep in mind that quality customer service can have a direct impact on the success of your business. Investing in a reliable customer service tool can help keep your customers happy and increase brand loyalty.

9. Initial inventory purchase and storage costs

One of the biggest advantages of the DropShipping business model is that you don’t need to purchase inventory in advance. Instead, you purchase products from vendors only when a customer places an order. This means you don’t have to even your money in inventory, but it also means you need to carefully balance your inventory purchases with your sales volume to ensure you have enough product to fulfill orders.

The cost of initial inventory purchases can vary greatly depending on the type of products you sell and the vendor you work with. In general, you can expect to pay a wholesale price for products, which is usually around 50-70% of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. For example, if you plan to sell a product that has a retail price of 0, you can expect to pay around -70 for that product from your supplier.

In addition to the actual product cost, you may also need to pay storage fees to store your inventory with your supplier. Storage fees are usually charged on a monthly basis and can range from a few cents to several dollars per unit. If you plan to stock a large number of products, these costs can quickly add up, so it’s important to factor them into your budget.

If you’re new to Dropshipping, it’s a good idea to start small with your initial inventory purchases and gradually increase your inventory as your sales volume increases. This will help you avoid tying up too much of your money in inventory and ensure you have enough products on hand to fulfill orders.

  • In general, you can expect to pay a wholesale price for products, which is usually around 50-70% of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.
  • Storage fees are usually charged on a monthly basis and can range from a few cents to several dollars per unit.
  • Start small with your initial inventory purchases and gradually increase your inventory as your sales volume increases.


Starting an online dropshipping store can be a profitable business venture, but it requires careful planning, execution, and investment in various areas to sustain and grow. In this blog post, we’ve covered some of the major costs of starting an online dropshipping store. Let’s recap the costs:

  • Website development and maintenance fees: Depending on the complexity of your website, you can expect to pay anywhere from ,000 to ,000 in one-time fees and an ongoing monthly maintenance fee of to 0.
  • Inventory management software subscription fees: Expect to pay to 0 per month for inventory management software, depending on the features it provides
  • Marketing and Advertising Costs: Budgeting 0 to 00, assuming a modest marketing plan.
  • Legal and consulting fees: Seek advice from a lawyer or consultant who can help you understand local laws and regulations around business registration, tax laws, etc. The cost can vary, but expect to pay ,000 to ,000 in upfront legal and consulting fees.
  • Payment Processing Fees: Payment processing fees range from 2.9% + .30 to 4.4% + .30 per transaction, depending on the payment processor you select.
  • Office equipment and supplies costs: Expect to pay around 0 to 00 for infrastructure costs, including office equipment such as computers, printers, etc., and supplies such as paper, pens, staples, etc.
  • Shipping and handling infrastructure requirements: For shipping and handling, your charges would include packing supplies, lading bill, tracking charges, etc. You can expect to pay around .75 to per order as a starting point.
  • Customer service tool subscription fees: For customer service tools, you can expect to pay around to 0 per month, depending on the complexity, scale, and functionality of the tool. tool.
  • Initial inventory purchases and storage costs: Expect to spend 0 to ,000 on initial inventory purchases and storage costs.

Overall, a newcomer to the dropshipping industry can expect to spend ,000 to ,000 on average, a minor investment compared to other types of businesses. As a dropshipper, being flexible, resourceful and strategic can make a substantial difference in establishing a profitable and scalable business.

Our advice would be to conduct thorough research and planning before starting a business to see if it is viable and sustainable in the long term. With proper preparation and a strategic approach, you can grow a successful and profitable dropshipping business that can generate $ xx,xxx to $xxxxx in revenue every year. Good luck!