If you’re looking for a way to start a business quickly without a lot of overhead, then you’re probably looking into beginning a Dropshipping business. Or at least, you think you might be interested in starting to dropship, but you aren’t sure where to get started. As someone who is a BIG fan of getting entrepreneurs to launch their businesses, let me help get you started!
A Dropshipping business is one that has a relationship with a manufacturer or established brand that sells their products online, but has no actual products of their own or stored inventory. This is different from a Print-On-Demand brand as none of the products are customized.
The process works like this:
A customer orders a product from your website, and this order is passed onto your manufacturer/brand. The brand then ships the product from their warehouse. Bills you their rate, which is usually around wholesale cost or a little higher.
This is great for entrepreneurs who aren’t interested in creating their own product, or want to have a curated online storefront without worrying about where to store the inventory. Or can’t handle the upfront costs that come along with wholesale relationships.
A Guide to Dropshipping on Shopify
So what’s the downside? There are a few things to consider:
1. Turn around time from the vendor
In most cases, Dropshipping companies are outside the United States. And consequently, the shipping times to your customer can be severely delayed. In an Amazon Prime world, this is a big consideration. And one that you’ll have to train your customers to understand. Make sure to be upfront about delayed shipping times and potential import concerns (fees, held upon in customs, etc.)
2. Quality issues
By not controlling the inventory, you will be beholden to the manufacturer’s own quality control procedures. So it’s REALLY advisable that you order and review samples before adding their product to your store. Remember that your products are a representation of your brand, and customers who feel deceived can damage your reputation.
3. Customer service
How are you going to deal with returns? Many drop shippers won’t accept returns or exchanges. So you’ll need to consider how to navigate your customer service protocols that will need to include returns, exchanges, lost packages, damaged orders, etc.
4. You are tied to their product inventory
Since you hold no inventory, your store will be directly tied to your vendor’s product line. If they discontinue your best-selling product or change a process in the manufacturing, that can leave you scrambling for a Plan B.
While Dropshipping may be a great avenue for new entrepreneurs, it’s not one that is completely risk-free. And is not as “easy money” as many are led to believe. So I want to make it clear that there will be some work on your end that will have to be done to ensure you’re selling quality products and having satisfied customers.
Different Places to Get Dropshipped Products
AliExpress is a marketplace that has thousands of vendors in China who deal both in retail and dropshipping. From beauty, to clothing, to electronics, to even indoor saunas. If it’s manufactured in China it’s most likely available on AliExpress.
Alibaba is like AliExpress’s big brother in that it has nearly every product under the sun. But most vendors there are looking for wholesale or bulk orders. That’s not to say that many aren’t interested in hearing your dropshipping proposal, but I would recommend reaching out on Alibaba when you have a better-established brand. And can show them that your order regularity will be worth it for them to give you better pricing than you’d find on AliExpress.
Oberlo works with Shopify and directly pulls in dropshipped products right to your Shopify store. It’s great for those who want a more turnkey solution and aren’t looking for completely unique items.
Etsy and eBay are harder to use in terms of finding dropshipping partners, but that’s not to say it’s impossible. Search for a few products you’re interested in sourcing and read the store’s policies to see if they welcome wholesale/dropship partnerships. (Or send them a message and ask)
Probably the best of all worlds. Having a dropship arrangement with a local manufacturer helps ensure quality control, shipping speeds, and supports your local community. Look up local networking groups or make an appointment to visit their store to see if there’s any interest from them in expanding their retail footprint.
If you’re able to get industry access to trade shows, then you’ll have an excellent chance at finding companies who are aware of what can go into dropshipping and have the ability to handle the partnership. Remember, though, that not all may be receptive to it and will instead be looking for wholesale accounts instead. So be sure to make it clear what you’re looking for in terms of a business partnership.