Starting a business may sound daunting, but it is fun and rewarding, especially when it begins generating profit. While there are so many tasks involved in running a business, it’s now possible to operate an almost hands-free one.

Yes, it’s “almost” hands-free, as you still need to supervise the operation and audit the automatically-generated records to ensure accuracy and free from any error. In this article, we’ll be discussing one of the most hands-free e-commerce business model, which is called “dropshipping business model.”

What is dropshipping? This video explanation might open your eyes and mind.

In a nutshell, dropshipping is a business model where the store owner doesn’t need to stock any inventory, and the products will only be bought after customers have purchased them. It translates to almost zero startup capital, as it only requires an e-commerce site and a reliable dropshipping app.

Step 1: Install a Turn-Key E-Commerce Platform

For convenience, Shopify offers a reliable e-commerce platform, which can be used immediately. All you need is an e-mail address to register for the service. If you already have a domain name, you can instantly connect it with the Shopify store. If you don’t have one, you can obtain the unique name later after you’ve set up the store site. Or, you can use WordPress blogging platform and Woocommerce plugin to make it e-commerce ready.

Step 2: Install a Dropshipping Management App

If you use Shopify, install dropshipping app Oberlo that facilitates sourcing of products from dropshipping suppliers directly from the dashboard, automated publishing of product images and specifications, automated “out of stock” front-end notifications, global price markups and automated price updates, one-click order shipping, and tracking, creating wishlists, and other features. It truly simplifies the dropshipping e-commerce business, as it would save you hours upon hours of uploading images and specifications. However, you can also use WordPress CMS and Woocommerce or other e-commerce platforms for the dropshipping business, but the automation level might not be as comprehensive.

Step 3: Install Marketing Apps

With the dropshipping business model, the business owner’s job is promoting the site to attract traffic. Install marketing apps that would boost engagement, such as product review app, customer service app, upselling and cross-selling app, e-mail marketing app, and others. There are many options for marketing the store, including utilizing social media accounts.

Step 4: Install Accounting App

Adhering to federal and state laws for taxation is a must. With the new Internet sales tax starting on June 21, 2018, now customers of all 50 U.S. states are required to pay sales tax for every item purchased online. As a business, adhering to all states’ requirements can be quite a headache. For this, make sure to integrate your e-commerce store with the latest version of automated accounting and taxation app.

Step 5: Install Data Analytics App

Installing data analytics apps, like Google Analytics and Optimizely, would allow you to analyze customer data and strategize accordingly. Both historical and behavioral data can be used for predictive purposes, which are crucial to most e-commerce giants’ success factor. In addition, you can subscribe to research tools like Jungle Scout to locate best-selling products on Amazon and ShelfTrend for eBay merchants.

In conclusion, you can definitely start and run an almost hands-free online business with the dropshipping model. It requires nearly zero startup capital and almost zero on-going expenses. Combine it with online tools to automate e-commerce process, sourcing and dropshipping, marketing, accounting and taxation, and data analytics, you’ll have yourself a business that runs almost automatically, so you can focus on increasing sale with meaningful promotional activities.

About the Author

Jennifer Xue is an award-winning author, columnist, and serial entrepreneur based in Northern California. She is also a digital strategist for Oberlo. Her byline has appeared in Forbes, Fortune, Esquire, Cosmopolitan,, Business2Community, Addicted2Success, Good Men Project, Positively Positive, and others. Her blog is


How to Start a Hands-Free Business in 5 Steps

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