If you’ve ever tried dropshipping, you know how hard it is to find product suppliers. These companies are the most crucial part of the dropshipping ecosystem, but finding one that’s reasonable, affordable, and reliable can be a hit and miss affair.
We understand that drop shipping can’t work without a reliable supplier, so in this article, we discuss how you can find the best product suppliers for your business.
Study your products
Before you identify and collaborate with suppliers, you need to understand the products you want to offer. Specifically, ask yourself;
- Where the products are coming from
- How they are made.
- The duration of the manufacturing process
- Whether there are any size or weight considerations that could affect fulfillment costs.
Doing this will help you understand them better, so you’ll be in an ideal position to choose the best suppliers.
Understand your supply chain
After you’ve identified your products, you need to understand your supply chain, or in simple terms, how the dropshipping process works. Products are never really in the retailer’s custody with the dropshipping business model. Instead, the retailer receives orders and asks the supplier to handle packaging and shipment.
Studying your supply chain will help you understand who your most valuable supply chain partners are, so you will know where to concentrate your efforts.
A Google search will help you develop a preliminary list of suppliers that you can refine later on. As you make this list, remember to record each supplier’s terms and requirements by considering the following factors.
- Supplier location: the closer a supplier is to your target customers, the faster it will deliver the orders
- Integrations: can the supplier integrate with your eCommerce platform (Shoplift, Woo-commerce, Magento, and so on) so new orders are automatically sent to fulfillment?
- Minimum order quantity: Most suppliers have a minimum order volume they’ll be willing to work with.
Trade shows are an excellent way for you to establish and expand your business. Though you may not have access to one right now, you can attend a virtual event since there might still be COVID restrictions.
Trade shows allow you to collaborate with other businesses involved in the dropshipping supply chain, like wholesalers and manufacturers. They’ll give you insider information on upcoming bestsellers. You also get to share experiences with other drop shippers, which will provide you with valuable business knowledge.
Subscribe to dropshipping supplier directories
Directories are online databases that offer wholesalers and suppliers for a broad range of products. They provide more comprehensive information than what you’d get from a Google search. The best dropshipping supplier directories are not free; you will need to subscribe for access.
There are also free alternatives that you can visit at no cost. However, it’s worth noting that they are often outdated. You won’t see new businesses, and some of those that have already been listed may have closed.
Premium directories usually vary in cost from 30 dollars a month to a few hundred dollars for lifetime subscriptions.
Make test orders
It doesn’t matter how many testimonials or reviews you find. There is no substitute for firsthand knowledge. Ordering samples help you understand important details about your prospective supplier. First is you get to know about product quality in person? The second is you get to experience how the supplier addresses the order fulfillment process, including packaging quality, the number of distributors involved, and how long delivery and shipping took.
Suppliers will be delivering your orders; making test purchases helps you evaluate your customer’s experience.
Most manufacturers do not sell to retailers directly, but some do. Before choosing suppliers for your eCommerce store, consider finding the manufacturers of the products you’ll be selling. Doing so will improve your margins significantly. Most manufacturers have minimum order requirements, so be sure to check if you can satisfy them.
Re-evaluate contract conditions and fees
So, you’ve made a list, sorted through all your entries to find all but the most promising contacts, and shortlisted the best suppliers for your brand. Now all you have to do is negotiate contract fees and terms. In contrast to established businesses with reliable customer bases, newer companies have fewer repeat buyers, so they have limited leverage.
Since you won’t be holding your own inventory, your margins will below. Your suppliers take on the tasks of storing the products and delivering them to customers; they have the right to take the highest cut. In the end, you’ll need to choose suppliers who meet your needs and offer reasonable terms.
Watch out for fake suppliers.
No contact details
Most dropshipping suppliers will not bother with creating attractive websites. However, they will provide multiple ways to contact them like telephone numbers and email, and other essential details like their physical addresses. A supplier who doesn’t give these important pieces of information may not be legitimate. You should stay away from them.
They sell to the general public.
What sets drop shipping suppliers apart from traditional businesses is that they specifically cater to eCommerce stores that prefer not to hold inventory. Suppliers who sell to the public won’t do you much good because they’re just retailers offering items at inflated rates. A genuine supplier will ask you to apply for a wholesale account and prove that you’re a real business.
They promise unreasonably high margins.
Dropshipping is an inherently low-volume business. This arises because the supplier holds the inventory and fulfills customer orders. Any company that promises to help you make quick profits by giving you large margins should be considered fraudulent. It’s a common strategy meant to lure unsuspecting startup brands. Even when such suppliers deliver on their promises, they will provide low-quality items or low-quality packaging, which will eventually anger your customers.
They won’t give you samples.
You should ask for samples during the negotiation process. Besides helping you evaluate your product’s quality, this approach will enable you to assess the supplier’s legitimacy. Fake dropshipping suppliers won’t provide any samples or ask for more time to deliver.
With these tips, you have all you need to find the best dropshipping suppliers. If you’ve just started dropshipping, this will ensure that your customers receive the best service and grow your business.
If you’re an established brand looking to scale your operations, you may want to consider holding inventory through a third-party service instead of looking for more suppliers.
Nextsmartship has fulfillment centers around the world. We will hold your inventory and fulfill customer orders at a cost just as affordable s dropshipping. Contact us today.