Some people wonder if they can launch a Shopify store without dropshipping.

The truth is that Shopify supports many different business models to sell products online, and dropshipping is just one of them.

In this article, we will guide you through those other ways to sell on Shopify!

Stick around to discover how these options could work for you.

Tip: Have you already created your Shopify account? If not, sign up by clicking this link here to get a free 3-day trial + 1 month for $1!

Get your free Shopify trial

Can you use Shopify without dropshipping?

Yes, you can absolutely use Shopify without dropshipping. Shopify is a versatile ecommerce platform that supports a wide range of business models, not just dropshipping.

Homepage of Shopify

Here are some ways you can use Shopify beyond dropshipping:

  1. Sell physical products you manufacture or purchase wholesale and store them in your own inventory. Alibaba is a popular source for such wholesale purchases.
  2. Offer digital products like ebooks, courses, or software that customers can download.
  3. Provide a platform for selling services such as consulting, coaching, or freelance work.
  4. Set up a multi-vendor marketplace where different sellers can list and sell their products on your Shopify store.
  5. Use Shopify POS (point of sale) to sell physical products in a brick-and-mortar retail location.

Using Shopify without dropshipping offers significant benefits, such as more control over inventory, fulfillment, and branding.

This can provide a more premium customer experience than a pure dropshipping model.

5 Other business models to sell with using Shopify

There are many ways to sell on Shopify without having to use dropshipping.

Here are some examples:

1. Print on demand

Print on demand lets you sell customized products like t-shirts, mugs, and more without holding any inventory.

The print on demand model - Infographic

You create designs for items, and when a customer makes a purchase from your store, a third party prints your design on the product and ships it directly to the customer.

This way, you don't need a big space for inventory or invest much money upfront.

If you love creating unique artwork or designs, the print on demand model is perfect for you!

Shopify has specialized apps for print on demand services, which help manage orders and connect you with suppliers who handle the printing and shipping of your products.

printify app store

You can get started using some of the most popular apps, like Printify:

printify homepage

Although this business model is similar to dropshipping, you have more control over the product quality and branding.

Since you're designing the products yourself, you can ensure a consistent look and feel across your product line.

Moreover, your print on demand supplier manufactures the items based on your specific requirements rather than just sourcing generic goods.

2. Digital products

You can also sell digital goods on your Shopify store.

This includes items like ebooks, music files, and online courses.

Once you create these products, you can sell them repeatedly without worrying about shipping costs or inventory space.

If you plan to sell ebooks, you can use Canva to design eye-catching and professional covers.

Canva also supports creating social media posts and promotional materials, helping you not only design but also effectively promote your digital products across social platforms!

Canva users homepage when you sign in to Canva

3. Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing lets you earn money by promoting other people's products. You get a cut every time someone makes a purchase through your link.

This model lets you sell items on Shopify without using dropshipping.

To get started, identify companies or apps like TinyIMG that offer affiliate programs and integrate their links into your Shopify store.

intelligent image compression

With this method, your main focus is driving traffic to your affiliate links and encouraging purchases.

Before joining any affiliate program, make sure you read their terms and conditions thoroughly, as they can vary significantly in their requirements, commission structures, and policies.

Here are some key things to look out for when evaluating affiliate programs:

  • Commission rates. The percentage of sales you'll earn as a commission can range widely, so compare offers to find the most lucrative programs.
  • Cookie duration. This determines how long a visitor's click on your affiliate link will stay active and earn you credit if they convert later.
  • Exclusivity rules. Some programs require you to be an exclusive affiliate and not work with competing brands.
  • Payment thresholds. There may be minimum sales amounts required before you receive your affiliate earnings.
  • Prohibited product categories. Be aware of restrictions on certain types of products, such as adult content or pharmaceuticals.

4. Private labeling

Someone searching for a niche for their business

Private labeling lets you put your brand on goods made by someone else.

You simply choose products from a supplier, like Alibaba, and customize them with your logo or design.

Once branded, these items are ready to be sold in your Shopify store under your own label!

This approach is perfect if you have experience selling online or if you've built a social media following around your brand.

It offers a unique opportunity to provide your customers with products they can't find anywhere else, helping your store stand out in a crowded market.

Private labeling not only builds brand loyalty but also gives you flexibility in pricing. Customers often value and are willing to pay more for branded items they perceive as exclusive or of higher quality.

Tip: You can combine private labeling and dropshipping if you don't want to stock the goods yourself. Find out how!

5. Wholesale

The Wholesaler homepahe

Wholesale means you buy lots of items at a lower price and sell them at a higher price in your Shopify store.

This model allows you to avoid manufacturing products yourself. Instead, you can source from suppliers offering cheaper bulk goods. You can then price them higher in your store to make a profit.

This method requires some space to store the items before they are sent to customers, but it eliminates the need to create products from scratch.

However, if you prefer not to handle the goods yourself, you can partner with a third-party logistics (3PL) company.

A 3PL can handle warehousing, packaging, and shipping for you, freeing you to focus more on sales and marketing.

Potential challenges of not using dropshipping on Shopify

Person sitting next to a laptop

Selling on Shopify without dropshipping presents unique challenges, but there are solutions to address them:

1. Establishing brand identity and trust

Without dropshipping, you are responsible for sourcing, storing, and fulfilling orders for your products.

This direct control allows you to shape your brand's identity but also means higher initial investments and the need to build customer trust from the beginning.

To overcome this, invest in a professional Shopify store design, high-quality product photography, and content that clearly communicates your brand’s story and value proposition.

Also, use social media, influencer marketing, and other digital channels to get your brand in front of potential customers and build credibility.

2. Inventory management

Managing your own inventory means striking the right balance between having enough stock to meet demand and not tying up too much capital in unsold items.

Employ inventory forecasting and just-in-time ordering processes. Using Shopify inventory management apps can also help optimize your stock levels.

3. Fulfillment and shipping

Handling order fulfillment and shipping in-house or through a third-party logistics provider requires careful coordination to ensure timely and accurate deliveries.

Offering transparent shipping times, tracking information, and a smooth returns process can help mitigate any customer frustrations.

Overall, not using dropshipping requires more hands-on work but can also allow for greater control over the customer experience and potentially higher profit margins.


Before we go, we've created a quick summary of this article for you so you can easily remember it:

  • You can use Shopify to sell your own products, whether they are physical goods, digital products, or services.
  • Alternative models beyond dropshipping include print on demand, selling digital products, private labeling, affiliate marketing, and wholesale.
  • Invest in a visually appealing Shopify store design, showcase high-quality product photography, and leverage social media to increase brand awareness.
  • Explore alternative business models beyond dropshipping (like selling digital products such as ebooks, courses, and digital arts) and use Shopify's apps and integrations to streamline your operations.


That's it!

You have many choices to sell on Shopify without using dropshipping, like print on demand, selling digital items, or using affiliate marketing.

As you gain experience, you can explore business models like private labeling, subscription boxes, or wholesale.

If you prefer not to manage inventory for these models, you can work with a third-party logistics provider (3PL) for storage, packaging, and shipping.

Want to learn more about dropshipping?

Ready to move your dropshipping store to the next level? Check out the articles below:

Plus, don’t forget to check out our in-depth guide on how to start dropshipping.

See what our fans are saying

Write A Comment

Get in touch



Our Site

As Featured On

Companies Do Dropshipping is featured on
Pin It