If you have made up your mind to start a dropshipping business, then you know that one of the first and most important things you need to do is to partner with the right suppliers. No matter how elegant your website is or how effective your marketing campaigns are, none of it will matter if the products you sell are low-quality or do not arrive promptly. So, where do you find the best suppliers, and how do you know what to look for?
Make sure you have a worthy product
If you want to make money with the dropshipping method, then you need to sell a substantial number of products. Unless you want to charge your customers an exorbitant amount—and therefore drive them away—you’re going to have to accept that the nature of dropshipping means smaller profit margins per order. Compensating for this fact means you need to provide a product you don’t have to strain yourself convincing people to buy. Before you begin vetting suppliers, make sure that you won’t be in fierce competition with other sellers already occupying your market.
Double check for legitimacy
You may think that a supplier is perfect for you, but you need to beware: fraudulent suppliers are out there. To avoid someone taking advantage of you, be sure to look for signs hinting that a manufacturer is legitimate.
One of the most significant red flags is monthly fees. Many suppliers will charge you an initial fee when your relationship begins, but trustworthy companies will only charge you a small fraction per-order instead of a chunk of cash on an ongoing basis. Look out for pre-order fees and if the company sells directly to the public—most suppliers that specialize in dropshipping only sell to retailers and sometimes request that you complete an application process.
When vetting your suppliers, check a few things off your list: is their website professional and well-designed? Do they display contact information and their location? Do they accept the right kinds of payment? Are they experts in their industry? You do not necessarily need to know everything there is to know about the products you sell (though it never hurts), but the people you buy them from first should know the ins and outs of what they make.
Once you have established if a company is legitimate or not, continue to conduct thorough research. If someone’s product quality is poor, then keep looking. If they have issues with punctuality, keep looking. You can also check out Oberlo’s useful dropshipping suppliers guide when it comes to finding the best partners.
Pay attention to location
Location is a critical element to consider. Where your suppliers are geographically will affect shipping times and your ability to interact with them. After you conduct a market analysis and believe that much of your audience will be in a specific area, you would ideally find a supplier near enough that your customers do not have to wait longer than five days to receive their orders.
Some dropshippers choose to partner with international suppliers. If this is the case, be prepared to deal with time zone differences and language barriers. Maybe find other dropshippers who use them and ask them questions like, how responsive are they? How well are you able to communicate? If something goes wrong in the shipping process, the customer contacts you, not them, so it is essential that nothing is impeding a workable business relationship with your suppliers.
Be a suitable partner
Finding reliable and legitimate suppliers is one thing, but you need to hold up your own end of the bargain. Manufacturers want to make sure that the dropshippers they sell to will order from them often, so you need to do what it takes for them to approve you.
Drop Ship Lifestyle categorizes suppliers into different categories: bronze, silver, and gold. Gold-tier suppliers are unlikely to accept you without a sales history, and bronze ones are intermediaries that make money off of fees, so you want to target the silver varieties. There will be some back-and-forth, so remember to have your website set up, a professional email address, and give them a hint of how your customer service will be when you interact with them. Drop Ship Lifestyle also advises that you refer to yourself as an “online retailer” instead of a dropshipper.
Because you are not creating your products yourself, it is imperative that you find suppliers you trust to send your customers quality good in a timely fashion. You may excel at marketing, but customers will only purchase from you if their orders are satisfactory. What will you look for in your dropship suppliers?