Starting a Shopify store requires a lot of work. It takes a lot of research, planning, and bum-on-seat-time to get a professional-looking store set up. Should I buy a Shopify store and skip all that?
Is it possible to just buy a Shopify store and create a short-cut to success? The answer to this is complicated.
Buying a Shopify store can be the best thing you ever do but it can also be the worse thing you ever do. There certainly is an argument for both and there are many store owners who have seen success with stores they have bought.
Buying a store will never guarantee your success. The success of any business relies on a lot of moving parts working well together.
If you want to buy a Shopify store to buy an “instant income” then you have to be particularly careful. Established businesses can sell for six to seven figures – especially Shopify stores.
If you intend to spend that kind of money you will need to do a lot of due diligence and make sure you know what you are buying.
If you intend on buying a starter site then you could get it for much less but still, you need to make sure you know what you are really buying.
Types of Shopify Stores You Can Buy
Shopify is a shopping platform that allows you to easily set up a store, receive payments and fulfill orders. It is really easy and intuitive to use and managing a store with Shopify requires very little training.
If you plan on buying a store you should know that what you are really buying is business. The Shopify store is simply a means to an end.
Sourcing products, fulfillment, customer service, branding, advertising and a very long list of elements are needed to create a successful eCommerce business.
There are essentially 4 types of Shopify stores you can buy:
1.An Established Store That Is Succesful and Profitable
Buying an established store that is successful and profitable is like buying an instant income. Buying a store that is profitable is buying a business that is guaranteed to generate an income – and a profit.
The real challenge is to make sure you know exactly what you are buying. Buying an eCommerce business is very different from buying any other type of business.
Two of the biggest moving parts of a successful eCommerce business is the products(sourcing) and the traffic.
Typically with dropshipping stores these will be products sourced from China (like Aliexpress) and the traffic will be generated through paid ads.
Both these elements require experience and skill to manage and to ensure that the store stays profitable.
Ideally, you want to look for eCommerce stores where the products are sourced locally and where the store gets a large percentage of its traffic organically through search engines.
Any Shopify store that relies on paid traffic requires a very specific skillset to buy traffic and to ensure the store remains profitable.
2. An Established Store That Is Not Performing
Every online store goes through different life cycles. Different store owners bring different skills to the table. It is normal for stores to face different challenges.
A supplier can go out of business. A store can lose its traffic – either from organic SERP’s or from paid traffic channels.
Most of the time these are not great stores to buy but there are exceptions. If you have a particular skill or existing product that could be a match then buying a store could be a great opportunity.
If you are great with Facebook Ads or Google Ads you could turn almost any store into a profitable business.
If a store did well at some point then there is proof of concept. If sales dropped off for some reason then it can always be fixed.
Sometimes the store owner just fell out of love with the business and this can be a golden opportunity for the right person.
3. A Starter Store (prebuilt Shopify dropshipping store)
A starter store is a prebuilt Shopify dropshipping store that is built for the sole purpose of being sold. There are a number of sites that sell these starter stores and BeBiggy is one of the best known for buying starter dropshipping Shopify stores.
AliDropship sell starter dropshipping stores that are built on WordPress/Woocommerce if you prefer to buy something that does not have the Shopify overheads.
Prebuilt Shopify dropshipping store are usually built with a certain amount of products already created in the store. They are usually niche stores and are built around a specific niche market and the store usually has 20 plus products already in the store.
Apart from the fact that these starter stores usually look really professional they usually have everything set up and ready to go. All you will need is to add your own payment gateway information and you are good to go.
4. Custom Store
If you don’t like the idea of buying a “cookie-cutter” store from BeBiggy or AliDropship then you can always get a custom store built for you.
At first, this might sound expensive – and it can be. Getting a custom Shopify store built could cost $5k plus, but that will not be necessary.
This is where Fiverr will be your best friend. There are a number of excellent Fiverr gigs where you can get a custom Shopify dropshipping store built for under $250.
The reason why I like getting a custom store built on Fiverr is that I can tell them exactly what I want. You can pick the niche, the products and even the name of your new store..
It gives you a lot more control without having to do all the grunt work.
Like all things on Fiverr, you get what you pay for. If you don’t like the idea of Fiverr then you can outsource it on freelancing sites like Upwork or Guru. Personally I prefer Guru.com as I tend to find more talented people on there.
When you buy a starter store or a custom store, you are buying a “tool” that COULD make money.
You are not buying a business and there are no guarantees that it will be successful in any way.
The Advantages of Buying a Shopify Store
1.Save hours and weeks of work
Designing a Shopify store from scratch can take a lot of time and effort. If you are building a dropshipping store then there are many apps that can save you time but you still need to edit product images, write product descriptions and build the store itself.
If you are building a print on demand store then there is even more work since you actually have to create the products individually with your print on demand supplier.
No matter how you look at it, you can save a lot of time when you simply buy a store. This is valuable time you could be spending on your marketing.
When you buy a successful Shopify store then you buy more than a store. You buy a proven business. Starting a store has ZERO guarantees that it will be successful.
It can take a lot of time and money ion testing products to find out if the store will be a success. This can be a hugely frustrating process and if you have no experience you will probably give up before you even find winning products.
On top of buying a store with proven products, you also buy customers. A store with a proven track record of generating sales can be a goldmine.
A store wit a few thousand customers can be a very sustainable business as you can keep selling to the same customers over and over again.
2.Product Sourcing Taken Care Of
Sourcing products is not easy. Dropshipping from Aliexpress appears easy but it comes with a lot of headaches. If you buy a store that has already ironed out the problem of product sourcing you will save yourself a lot of drama.
Many successful stores start as dropshipping stores and once they have proof of concept they can start expanding and investing in inventory and proper branding.
To me, this is when it becomes a real business. It is at this stage where I personally become interested in buying a business.
I also really like print on demand Shopify store because when you buy these stores you actually buy much more than just the Shopify store. You buy the intellectual rights to all the products.
This can have huge value.
4.Buy a Brand
This relates closely to the previous point. An established store that has been around for at least one year and that has made significant sales will start to build a brand.
Branding can add massive value to a business. The value of a brand goes well beyond the business itself.
When people like and trust a brand it has the potential to become a big business. Building a brand can take a lot of time, money and creativity.
Unfortunately, the flip side is also true. If people distrust a brand it can ruin a business – especially in this day and age of social media.
The Disadvantages of Buying a Shopify Store
1.Established brand and products
Buying an established brand and established products can be very limiting. If you buy a store with the hope of putting your own branding and your own twist on it then it may not work.
If you buy an established store and the branding and products have bad reputation it can take years to restore trust with customers.
An established brand and products can be very limiting.
2.Not knowing the back-end
Every Shopify store has its own back-end with specific apps and specific setups that could take a lot of time to figure out or even learn.
Upsell apps, bundling apps and customization apps can be a bit tricky and often needs a few hacks to make it work perfectly. It can be very frustrating when you take over a store and you have to figure these things out from scratch.
3.Not knowing your industry
Every industry and niche has its own nuances. If you buy a store in a niche or industry you are not very familiar with then it can be dangerous.
Knowing your customers and what makes them tick is a vital part to being successful with eCommerce.
You can off-course learn any industry but this can take time and you may make a few mistakes along the way.
4.Not knowing your customers
Knowing your customers is a really important part of growing and sustaining an eCommerce store. Your store relies on making consistent sales and to do this you have to constantly find new products and new ways to sell to existing customers.
This is relatively easy if you know what makes your customers tick. If you are the one who started the store you would have lived through all the product testing and you would have learned what your customers respond to.
If you just bought the store you will have no clue other than what you can learn from the stats.
4.Not understanding your traffic acquisition
Traffic is arguably the most important “ingredient” of a successful store. It is the lifeblood of any online business.
If you are buying an established store that is getting most of its traffic from paid channels you need to proceed with caution.
Paid traffic is a very delicate skill and unless you have it you could buy yourself a worthless asset. Always make sure that you understand exactly where the store gets its traffic from and make sure you at least have a good chance of replicating it.
Just like every business, every online store has problems. This could range from issues with products to copyright issues or even issues with payment gateways.
Many of thee problems only surface once you run the store for a full year. Every store has some sort of seasonality and only after seeing an entire year of operation can you really understand the majority of issues you inherited.
6.Buying cookie-cutter stores
If you buy a prebuilt Shopify store then the danger is always that you buy a cookie-cutter store which is one of a few dozens. Your store is not unique and there could be many versions of the same store that got sold.
Should I Buy A Shopify Store – Conclusion
One of the first questions I would ask you is why do you want to buy a Shopify store? Only you can answer that question. If you have something you can bring to the business like traffic, a product or some sort of experience then it could be a great match.
If you are just getting your feet wet in eCommerce and you have no experience, no traffic, and no product(s) then you need to make sure you manage your expectations.
Should I buy a Shopify store if I have no experience in eCommerce? Probably not. Building a store yourself, learning first hand by actually doing it can teach you a lot.
If you hate anything technical then, by all means, buy a store BUT make sure you are heavily involved in product research and understanding how Shopify works.
You can also hire a freelancer to take care of the technical stuff you dislike. Never let the technical side of it deter you.
A successful Shopify store rarely relies on your technical competence to be a success.
Technical tasks and problems can be outsourced and fixed.
There are a lot of moving parts to an eCommerce business and a lot of hidden expenses. Make sure you fully understand that and don’t get swept away in the details of spending 2 days to modify a Shopify theme either.
Ultimately you need to play to your own strengths. If you are half-decent at design then you should probably build your own store. If your English is not great, don’t even try to do it because your product descriptions and sales copy will not be up to par.
I see far too many dropshipping stores with the most obvious mistakes and it breaks my heart because I can see how they are about to waste hundreds of dollars in ad costs – only to have their dreams shattered.
Buying a store can be a great option but my best advice would be this. Never spend money on a store that you can not afford to lose.