how to replace Shopmaster in dropshipping
It’s sent shockwaves through the drop shipping community but Shopmaster is closing. Notices went out on Monday 15th March to tell subscribers and users that the service will end on April 30th. This is depressing news for any user of Shopmaster.
Shopmaster was, without doubt, the easiest and most comprehensive dropshipping management site there was. Comparing Shopmaster with any other dropshipping management service was like comparing Mo Farer with your local county runner. The service was literally in a league of its own.
The full range of its facilities is not for this blog. I’m going to look at what I used Shopmaster for and how I plan on finding a replacement for it – and that’s not going to be easy.
Shopmaster in basic dropshipping
Shopmaster had lots of things that I did not use. I just used it as a simple drop shipping management service. I used it to manage my Woocommerce shops and my Ebay store.
Simply I imported products from Aliexpress, set the automatic pricing formulas, wrote unique titles and descriptions, then exported products to both my Woocommerce stores and to my eBay shop.
Shopmaster would then monitor prices and stock at Aliexpress once a day and automatically made the required changes for stock and prices in my shops. Simple and easy once set up.
When orders came in from either Woocommerce or eBay the order would be passed through to the Shopmaster control panel. Once logged into my Shopmaster dashboard I would see all the orders that had come through. With one click I could raise a purchase order from the Aliexpress supplier and pay. All the order details are then sent to the supplier to send out the items.
It was a very reliable and effective service. It left me to deal with the marketing of sites and took away all the process of making individual orders with Aliexpress and filling in shipping addresses for each order.
Without that automation, it becomes very tedious and time-consuming to process orders.
Too cheap to survive?
Shopmaster almost certainly paid the price for being too cheap which is why it is now closing. There are similar management services available, but nothing as wide-ranging or comprehensive as Shopmaster – at a much higher cost than Shopmaster.
Those who offer a free trial would offer 50 products or less. Shopmaster on their free plan offered a massive 800 products. That’s enough to run a small fulltime store on. I was subscribed to their small plan at £9.99 a month and that gave me 2,500 products. more than enough to bring in a good fulltime income if you chose the right products.
While there are no actual figures about the breakdowns, from what I can see in the community, the majority of users were taking advantage of the free plan for 800 products on a site. Then they would open another site, register in that name for another free account and get another 800 products for free.
It was ripe for exploitation and inevitably, I guess, the plug has been pulled on the service.
Is Shopmaster gone for good?
The owners of Shopmaster have said that the services are closing for good. They have no plans to start in a different format or to sell the software to another company to operate.
My gut feeling is that Shopmaster in some form will come back. Probably not with the free version available – or not as generous. Shopmaster is too good for it to be lost for good.
Shopmaster was bringing in enhancements and new functions right up to 2 weeks before the closure announcement.
My gut feeling is that it will be taken up in some way by the Alibaba group. Whether they release it as a tool for dropshippers to use generally or they keep it for a tool of Aliexpress sellers I’m not sure. But it will be back in some form.
Finding an alternative to Shopmaster
Finding an alternative that is as good as Shopmaster is not going to be possible. For my own personal dropshipping set up I need to import Aliexpress into both Woocommerce shops (I have 5 stores) and my eBay shop.
The best option I’m going with, after testing a number of options, is the following set up. I’m using a Woocomerce plugin called ali2woo lite to import aliexpress products into Woocommerce and then wp-lister lite to export products from Woocommerce to eBay.
Like most things, there’s a learning curve though it’s not too steep with these two plugins. Having free versions available in the WordPress repository helps in that you can test them without cost.
They both seem to work pretty well and together offer a potential alternative to Shopmaster. However, it does mean having to log into each store whenever sales are made to process them. There is no one central dashboard like there is with Shopmaster.
The process is that you use a Chrome ali2woo extension to import products from Aliexpress to your woo-commerce site. You then do the usual writing of titles and description before publishing the product. You then post the product to eBay using wp-lister lite.
The main issues with these plugins are that they are the free version and not the pro so have some limits on what they can do.
Ali2woo Aliexpress importer
The free version of AliExpress can pretty much do everything you need it to do. One big benefit that you don’t get with many importers is the option to split variations. This is something I use a lot because of the items I sell. This was available on Shopmaster so it’s nice to see it as part of the free version of Ali2woo.
What you don’t get in the free version is syncing of stock and prices automatically with Aliexpress. This is an important thing to have. In my early days of drop shipping, I lost money on some products because I did not synch products regularly – at least once a day.
Alirexpress sellers have lots of offers and sales and if you don’t keep an eye on the prices you could base your price on a deal and when that deal price expires you are selling at a loss if you don’t update your sales price. It’s an easy mistake for novice drop shippers to make.
You can manually update stock and prices in the free version but not automatically. The pro version costs about $40, which may not sound a lot but that is per domain. so I have 5 domains which mean the pro licences will cost $200 for ali2woo alone.
For that sort of money, I can get someone on Fiverr to write a macro to fire the manual update in the free version This is a small window programme that will automatically fire on a predetermined interval. The firing of the macro will send a call to the manual update web address. This could be more cost-effective than paying a licence for every domain. It’s a shame that no multi-domain licence is on offer for ali2woo that would make it more affordable to purchase.
WP-Lister Ebay Lite
The pricing is even worse with wp-lister lite. For the pro-version, the developers want $150 per domain it’s used on. An excessive amount for small drop-shippers. The cost for my 5 sites would be $750 a year. Not a viable option.
I certainly would not suggest buying a nulled version from eBay for $9. Or get it from many different unofficial sources for substantially less. Personally, for $750 I can get a plugin written on Fiverr to do the job for a lot less.
The main reason you need the pro-version of wp-lister is to sync eBay orders to your Woocommerce dashboard. The free version notifies you of sales but does not import orders and generate woo-commerce orders for eBay orders. you need to do this so you have a woocommerce order to allow ali2woo to transfer all the details to express.
With the wp-lister lite, all your product is exported to eBay really well. But to process an order you have to cut and paste all the order details and manually raise an aliexpress purchase order. With the pro version, you have a woocommerce order that can be used to raise an aliexpress order automatically.
A sad day with the closure of Shopmaster
It’s been a sad day with the closure of Shopmaster. There’s going to be many drop shippers – especially those who concentrate on eBay or Amazon for drop-shipping – who will have limited options to keep their businesses operating.
It does demonstrate the fickleness of the internet. When you place your business into the hands of a third party, you never know what the long-term outlook is like.