If you clicked on this article, you’re pretty serious about dropshipping. You either have a store in place or you’re researching with intent.
I congratulate you because you’ve embarked on an exciting experience with dropshipping, one that promises learning and money (if you do it right).
A lot of people take up dropshipping to make money on the side. If you’re expecting to rake in the big bucks and win customers, it’s super critical that you find the right dropshipping suppliers for your business.
Finding suppliers isn’t always easy though. You can run into two main problem:
First, many dropshippers are tiny companies without much marketing power so its difficult to find them through Google because they tend to be buried deep in the recesses of search results. The second reason and one that hurts the most is that a lot of dropshipping supply companies turn out to be a scam.
Even if you find legit dropshippers you could:
- get overcharged by a supplier, and lose out on the real profits you should be making.
- purchase poorly manufactured items, and won’t even know till an unhappy customer returns it back, and leaves a bad review.
- get sued. Probably the worst one out of them all. The sad thing is, it’s really easy to expose yourself to this situation, without even knowing it.
Don’t get discouraged though. This is why we wrote this post. We want to show you how to find dropshipping suppliers that are dependable, reliable, easily vettable, and most importantly, add value to your store.
So first up:
How do you search for a dropshipping supplier?
The good news is you don’t have to rely on Google results alone to find suitable dropshipping suppliers. Many companies are dedicated to connecting store owners with dropshipping suppliers.
You can partner with dropshipping ‘middlemen’ to sell products through their listings. We’ve listed some of the best dropshipping suppliers along with their advantages and disadvantages:
|Megagoods||Cheap, low monthly subscription costs||Small product inventory. limited website integrations|
|Wholesale Central||Over 600,000 items listed||Website isn’t great, bad UI|
|SaleHoo||Big, active community to learn from and interact with. provide research lab to experiment with product profitability||No free trial. training is exhaustive (can be overwhelming)|
|Wholesale 2B||Over 1.5 million products to choose from. Built-in ecommerce integrations||Communication with wholesalers limited and slow. Limited analytics dashboard|
|Sunrise Wholesale||Quick order processing. Access to amazon selling and research manager||Limited product range (around 15000). High restocking fee|
|Dropship Direct||Offers free version. good for beginners||Wholesale pricing higher than competition.|
|Oberlo||Modern UI, tight integration with Shopify, easy to import products from Aliexpress||Only works with Shopify stores.|
|Doba||Large product listing (2 million plus items). Email updates regarding suppliers and products||Pro package is expensive ($249 a month)|
These are the most common and most trusted sources for dropshipping. If you choose to go your own way and cut through the subscription costs, you can still dig through Google results and directories to find reliable dropshippers.
Regardless of your approach to finding suppliers. There are a few signs you should look for in a good supplier.
Signs of a great dropshipping supplier
If you want to gauge a potential supplier’s professionalism and commitment to partnerships check if they have:
A good high-quality product has distinguishable features. It has stellar product reviews and high customer satisfaction. Look out for how many 5-star ratings a product gets in comparison to total ratings. Also check 1-star reviews to get an idea of the worst you can expect from this product. The smaller the scale of the problems, the better customer satisfaction you can expect.
Another quick guage can simply be the number of prior orders that have been placed for that product, in other words, how many people have bought that product already. A high number shows that the product is high-quality, and is also in demand.
A good product will also boast a high word-of-mouth referral rate and few returns.
If the supplier’s product listing checks these boxes, they’re worth working with.
Low per-order fees
Dropshipping supplies usually charge a per-order fee for every order you place with them.
A red-flag to look out for is when wholesalers charge exorbitant fees per order.
A good way to check if the fees are high is to find out if you can still make decent profit margins even after being charged.
If you can still make a good profit after high margins, you can stick with the wholesaler, if not, look for the next one.
Helpful sales reps
Most people don’t realize how big of a reflection sales reps are of a company. Their behavior and attitude give you a good insight into the kind of business you’re dealing with so take note of sales reps.
If sales reps are accommodating, respond to your questions honestly, and are equipped to handle possible issues, you’re most likely in good hands.
Of course sales reps aren’t all perfect and they won’t be able to answer all of your questions but if they’re honest about what they don’t know and promise to get back to you with an answer, its a big tick-mark in favor of the supplier.
On the other hand, if sales reps are evasive, uninterested or pushy with their agenda, it’s best if you keep looking for further options.
Fast shipping capability
Amazon has greatly altered perceptions of good customer service by accelerating shipping and delivery times.
And like it or not, fast shipping is now an expected trait for ecommerce players.
If your supplier takes more than 24 hours to ship a product, you’re loosing out to your competition because customers will happily go and buy elsewhere if they’re promised quicker delivery times.
Dropshipping is very competitive and you need suppliers who boast a fast-paced supply chain.
The latest tech in automation, efficiency, and scalability are going to be increasingly important if you want to succeed in the dropshipping landscape.
You will want suppliers that have detailed websites with exhaustive product inventories. Ideally, they should also have an inventory data feed that automatically updates your product listings.
While these factors may not be so important when you’re starting out but once your business scales in size and complexity, a supplier that is invested in technology will serve you as a great asset.
Hopefully, these tips will serve you as good benchmarks to find the perfect suppliers for your store.
Signs of a dropshipping scam
Scamming is as old as trade itself. Now with the internet, its become even easier for people to earn illegitimate money. To avoid falling for a dropshipping scam, look out for these things:
- Monthly/membership fees: Most legit suppliers don’t charge monthly fees. Even for those who do, it’s best to contact and find out if their reasons for monthly charges hold up
- Don’t accept credits or checks: Serious suppliers have no qualms in accepting either. If they have problems with this, there’s probably something fishy going on
- No address shown: every legal supplier has to show their company address
If you’re in doubt about a certain supplier, its best to run a background check and also call them up directly to check if they can offer logical reasons for fishy behavior.
Now that you can tell the good suppliers from the not-so-good ones. Let’s look at how to actually contact suppliers and set-up business with them.
How to contact dropshipping suppliers
When you’ve locked down on a list of potential dropshipping suppliers you want to do business with, it’s time to reach out and close partnerships.
A best practice is to email your list of suppliers first. It’s an easy way to get information and also a way to establish contact with a supplier.
You can ask suppliers:
- What payment terms do they offer, is there room for negotiation?
- Do they sell direct? (if they do then you’re also competing with your supplier)
- Are there costs involved like fuel surcharges, restocking fees or delivery fees?
- What is their return policy (there will be times when customers return products for one reason or another)
- What warranty do their products carry?
- Do they have dedicated sales reps?
- Can they make custom items?
These sort of questions will give you a good idea to the level of professionalism and the quality of service the suppliers provide. It will also help you down the line when you run into problems and you can call out your suppliers on problems like returns or faulty products.
It will be difficult to get all these questions answered over an email so after you’ve sent one, its time to deep dive and get on a call with one of your supplier’s reps.
Talking to a rep will give you an opportunity to gauge their level of professionalism and answer all your questions in detail.
After all these steps if you’ve chosen a supplier you think is good for you. It’s a good practice to start off with a small order quantity to test your store and your supplier’s services.