Starting your own dropshipping business might be for you if:
- You want to become your own boss
- You don’t have the resources to manufacture and ship your own products
- You want to sell a wide range of items and are still trying to find your niche
- You want to expand upon an existing eCommerce store by growing your product range
That said, it’s no wonder that 33% of online stores already use dropshipping as their primary fulfillment model.
But despite these perks, there are trepidations surrounding the process – most notably, finding a reliable dropshipping supplier. In fact, 84% of eCommerce retailers say finding good dropshipping suppliers is the biggest obstacle to starting their dropshipping business.
In light of that, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about finding a reliable dropshipping supplier.
That’s enough preamble; let’s jump straight in!
Why Does Your Chosen Dropshipping Supplier Matter?
It’s no exaggeration to say that your dropshipping suppliers are the backbone of your dropshipping business. After all, they manufacture, fulfill, and ship orders directly to your consumers. As a result, your supplier’s reliability and product quality have an immediate impact on your customer experience and your brand reputation. Needless to say, this could be costly for your business. In fact, as many as 47% of consumers have switched to another brand because of a poor customer service experience.
That said, we thought it would be helpful to summarize the qualities of the ‘ideal dropshipping supplier’ below:
- They manufacture high-quality products
- They provide timely fulfillment and deliveries
- Their products are reasonably priced
- Contacting and communicating with them should be easy
- They comply with regulations in the countries you’re selling to. This is especially important for dropshipping products like electronics governed by varying compliance laws.
- They ship to where your target audience is located.
- They handle refunds and returns
- They offer shipment tracking
- They provide seamless inventory syncing with any eCommerce platforms such as Shopify, so you never have to spend your time doing administrative work to update your products
How to Find Dropshipping Suppliers
With this description of the ‘ideal dropshipping supplier’ in the forefront of our minds, let’s dig into how to go about finding them.
Of course, there are several ways to find dropshipping suppliers selling the types of products you’re after, the easiest of which is using a reliable dropshipping supplier platform – but more on this later.
First, let’s explore how to manually search for suppliers. Below we’ve listed a few best practices for doing exactly that:
- Attend industry trade shows. Dropshipping suppliers often have stands at these events advertising their products and services. This is a great chance to get a personal impression of a supplier and ask some questions. Nowadays, many trade shows have moved online but still function similarly.
- Google. It’s worth noting that many dropshipping suppliers fall flat on their marketing. So, they might not rank on the first page of Google, and their website may be clunky, but this isn’t always a reason to disregard them. However, be cautious if there’s no business address and can’t find any reviews – these are huge red flags!
- Order products from competing dropshippers. You can then search the return address to learn who their supplier is. This serves as both competitor and supplier research and gives you an accurate indication of product quality.
How to assess the quality and reliability of potential dropshipping suppliers:
- Try contacting them to see how they respond to your queries – for instance when asked questions about their products, are they knowledgeable and helpful?
- Order a sample product to assess product quality.
- Request a list of manufacturers they work with – are these reputable businesses?
Red Flags to Avoid
Never ignore red flags when they arise.Here are a few warning signs that a supplier might be bad news:
- Suppliers do not have any traffic to their websites. Use tools such as Similarweb or SEMRush to check whether the supplier’s website has any traffic. This is not to say that smaller suppliers with smaller traffic aren’t worth considering, but when you’re starting out it’s important to source from more reliable suppliers who are experienced in providing their services to other dropshippers or resellers. A dropshipping supplier platform, like Spocket, helps to vet thousands of great suppliers so dropshippers do not have to spend time doing this research themselves.
- They sell to the general public. Wholesale suppliers don’t usually sell products directly to the public, instead, they tend to strictly be B2B.
- They lack expertise in your niche.
The best way to avoid red flags is to work with suppliers that have been extensively reviewed by other sellers, or pre-vetted by a dropshipping platform like Spocket, which moves us nicely onto our next point…
Dropshipping Supplier Platforms
Manually finding and vetting individual suppliers is a long and tedious process -especially if you’re selling a wide product range. This is where using a reputable dropshipping supplier platform comes in handy. Often these solutions list several thousands of products across various product categories from hundreds of suppliers.
You can also start selling faster when you use a dropshipping supplier platform because usually these tools seamlessly integrate with popular eCommerce platforms. So, once you’ve found a product from a supplier you like, you can typically import it to your product catalog with just a few clicks to start selling near-on immediately.
This begs the question: which dropshipping supplier platform is best for my business?
Some directories only list suppliers operating in certain regions, and if they’re far away from your target audience this can lead to problems. Most notably, long shipping times, higher delivery costs, and issues surrounding foreign product compliance. It’s also worth bearing in mind that just because a supplier is listed in a directory, it doesn’t automatically mean they’ll provide the service and product quality you’re looking for.
This is why picking the right dropshipping platform is imperative. Let’s take Spocket as an example. Spocket is one such example of a reputable dropshipping supplier platform that vets its suppliers to ensure:
- High-quality products
- Personalization on your customer orders including branded invoicing
- Refunds for broken, incorrect, or missing items
- Order tracking for all shipments
- Fast and efficient order processing
- Access to suppliers based in the EU, US, and Asia
- Access to a wide range of popular products across multiple categories, including trending and seasonal items
Contacting Dropshipping Suppliers
Now you’ve got a list of dropshipping suppliers and you know the products you’re interested in, the next step is to get in touch to familiarize yourself with potential suppliers. This allows you to get additional information about the products they offer, unit prices, shipping times, refund policies, and other things you might need to know. It also enables you to check the company’s responsiveness.
Once you’ve confirmed the suppliers you’re interested in working with, it’s time to order product samples. Some suppliers offer discounts for sellers looking to obtain product samples. In fact, Spocket requires its suppliers to offer a 25% discount (as a minimum) on up to five samples of a product.
As we’ve already hinted at, ordering product samples enables you to assess product quality and shipping times for yourself. Of course, you can also review product packaging and take your own product photos too.
Remember: Ordering product samples are commonplace with reputable dropshipping suppliers, so suppliers that make this process easier tend to be a good sign!
Are You Ready to Start Working with Reliable Dropshipping Suppliers?
Working with the right dropshipping suppliers forms the concrete foundations necessary for a thriving dropshipping business. This is why it’s imperative that you carefully research and vet suppliers before going into business with them.
This is where dropshipping supplier directories that pre-vet suppliers (like Spocket) make finding reputable partners easier. That said, always order product samples to form your own conclusions concerning product quality and shipping times. It’s also a good idea to get in touch with potential suppliers to lay the building blocks for long-lasting business partnerships.
We hope this article will serve as a starting point for your thriving dropshipping business. Tell us how you’re getting on in the comments below!