The most important decision you will make for your dropshipping business, is choosing a supplier. It’s your responsibility, not the supplier, to correct any mistakes made by your supplier. You want to ensure that you pick someone who will stand by your side.
What makes a dropshipping supplier great?
Dropshippers can be great at what they do. There are some keys to finding the gems in the rough. Let’s first look at the characteristics of a great supplier before we talk about how to find them.
1. Sales reps who are knowledgeable and can be relied upon
A great sales rep is something I look for in dropshipping suppliers. I need to feel like I can reach them to get all my questions answered and that they will be able to resolve any problems I may have.
I don’t mean to be negative. There will always be questions that they are unable to answer immediately. They should be able to quickly find the answers and return your questions.
2. No huge per-order fees
Dropshippers usually charge a per-order fee. You will be charged this fee every time you place an online order. This is because it takes them extra time and resources in order to pack and ship your orders.
Wholesalers sometimes take advantage of this to charge exorbitant fees. These fees could be anywhere from $2-10. This will depend on how much profit you make on your products.
I advise you to do the math and determine if you can still make a profit despite paying a high price. Keep looking if you don’t find the answer.
3. Customers are happy with fast shipping
Your supplier should not take more than 24 hours to ship your item (48 maximum), otherwise they may not be a good fit. Dropshipping is a highly competitive market. There is no place for lengthy shipping processes. If your shipping process is too lengthy, the competition will beat you.
You’ll also gain an advantage if suppliers ship quickly. Before you decide on the dropshipping company, it is a good idea to place a test order.
4. High quality product with lower returns
We discussed earlier in the section Finding a product to Dropship. This means that you need to find the dropshippers who are selling the highest quality products.
Selling high-quality products means:
- Higher customer satisfaction
- Referring more people by word of mouth
- There are fewer returns
- Get better product reviews
Selling a high-quality product has no downside, except for perhaps lower margins. The benefits you will see above will bring your business more profits over the long-term than the low-quality, high-margin product.
5. Invest in technology
As your dropshipping business expands, you will need to keep up with the latest technology in automation, efficiency and scalability. Although it is not essential right away, you will want to choose suppliers who have the endgame in view.
These are some signs that a dropshipper has invested in technology:
- Detailled website with product descriptions
- To automatically update your product listings, you can use an inventory feed
- You can cancel or place orders via their website as well as by email.
These advanced features may not be available to all dropshipping businesses. Do not dismiss one dropshipping company just because they don’t have a beautiful site.
6. Products with brand names
I discussed in the section on Finding a product to Dropship how it is possible to sell brand-name products. This is especially true for beginners.
This is a niche you may want to explore as you grow as a drop shipping company owner. This is something to think about when selecting a supplier.
How do you find reliable dropshipping suppliers?
You know what to search for. But how do you find dropshipping suppliers that are great? Do you have any steps?
There are many! These are the top ways to find trustworthy and legit dropshipping suppliers.
Google is the most common source of information when we need it. Google is an easy way to locate wholesale dropshipping businesses, but it comes with its own risks.
Google search “[Product] + dropshipper” is the best way to locate wholesale dropshippers.
Phew–1.6 Million results. What’s worse? These sources may not be trustworthy. Each one will need to go through strict vetting (which I’ll briefly cover in the next section).
This is time-consuming and carries a lot of risk. Google is not a good place to search for dropshipping suppliers. Why? Why? Because eCommerce is a great way to make a lot of money.
Because the best suppliers are always busy supplying, and don’t have the time or resources to do SEO or marketing, they will be found in the most difficult search results. SaleHoo was actually born because of this!
SaleHoo (our directory)
SaleHoo was founded by two eCommerce store owners who became fed up with finding great suppliers and falling for scams.
We are a supplier directory website. Before adding any supplier to our categorized list, we thoroughly research each one. This has many benefits:
- Our suppliers are less likely to scam you.
- Searches made easier – filter search results based upon the exact specifications you require
- You can find contact information and product offerings of suppliers faster with faster research
How do I find dropshippers?
Wholesalers and retailers often source products directly from the manufacturers. Manufacturers usually have minimum order quantities (MOQ).
Dropshipping is a way to sell products that you don’t have in stock. Instead, you source the products directly from a supplier (usually a distributor) and ship them directly to your customer. Some manufacturers will dropship your products. You will need to make contact with the manufacturer to inquire about this.
Dropshipping is a great option for you if you’re looking for manufacturers.
- You can find the relevant contact information by going to the SaleHoo Wholesale directory. Other useful information, such as their trustworthiness score, product range, quality, and customer support information, will be available. If dropshipping is not available and you wish to sell their products, ask for their list.
- You can do your own research to find suppliers. This could include looking through trade magazines, attending trade shows and visiting trade fairs. For more information, see this article How to Find Manufacturers in China
How do you choose the right dropshipping supplier?
Now that you have a better idea of how to locate the best dropshipping supplier and what makes one great, it’s time for you to actually make a decision.
To ensure that you select the right supplier for your company, follow the checklist below:
- Excellent experience Dropshipping can be dangerous because of the possibility that they may be fraudulent or the fact that new sites are often closed. It is crucial to verify the website age of any supplier. The SaleHoo Directory displays the number years that each supplier has been in operation. You can also conduct your own research. You can simply go to a domain-age checker tool and enter the URL of your site. This will show you how long it has been in business. SaleHoo recommends sites that have been around for at least 2 years.
- Legitimate feesPre-order fees are reasonable because the supplier does all the heavy lifting in keeping your products in stock and shipping them. Remember that you are looking to make a profit and not get taken advantage of by unnecessary fees. Keep in mind that not all dropshippers are free on SaleHoo.
- Shipping FastIt is important to find a supplier that can ship as quickly or quicker than your competitors. This will make you and your customers happy. If possible, it should be within 24 hours but preferably less than 48 hours.
- High quality productFinding quality products to sell is an important aspect of your business. This will help you build a successful brand that has happy customers and lower returns. Although it will take more effort to source quality products, the rewards will be well worth it.
- Great customer serviceYour business’s efficiency is vital. You need to ensure that your supplier can answer your questions promptly and resolve any problems. If possible, it’s a good idea to choose a supplier who has experience. Sending a test email is a great way to see what kind of service they offer. Ask generic questions such as “How much should I spend to receive a discount?” and rate their responses and response time.
- A suitable return policyIt is essential that dropshipping businesses manage returns efficiently. It is important to understand your supplier’s return policy and any fees. You and your customers will be happy if your policy is in line with suppliers.
How do I contact a drop shipping supplier?
Once you have compiled a list of dropshipping wholesalers and manufacturers, it is time to contact them to find out if they are a good match.
Contact them first. Email is much more convenient than calling. Emails will give you the information you need quickly and without the hassle of waiting on the phone.
Are you unsure what questions to ask in an email? SaleHoo members receive a free list of email templates. These templates will help you look professional and get the information you need. You will save time and increase your chances of getting a response from a supplier by using the supplier contact email.
Give them a call after you have sent the email. This will increase your chances of getting a reply and help you learn more about the support staff at your supplier.
What should you say to the dropshipper?
You’re likely wondering what to say to a supplier when you email them or call them. Here are my suggestions:
Prepare a list with questions. Being prepared is key to calming your nerves and making you sound professional. Asking questions will help you get to know your supplier and determine if they are a good match.
Here are 10 questions you can ask:
1. What are the payment terms Can they be negotiable
This is a simple question. This will allow you to see their actual pricing (often the price they list on their website is higher than what they actually charge), and negotiate the best price.
2. Is there additional cost to the product than the direct price?
Some suppliers charge delivery fees, fuel surcharges , stocking fees for return, and duties on imported products. It is important to be aware of what you are getting into before it happens.
3. Do you sell direct?
Suppliers may sell direct to consumers as well as dropshipping services. This is something you should know before you decide to choose them. If the answer is yes, then you will be competing with your supplier directly.
4. What is your return policy
Customers sometimes make mistakes and order an incorrect item. Sometimes suppliers ship the wrong item accidentally. This is going to happen. You want to know what your supplier will do in this instance.
5. What is my expected gross profit?
In business terms, gross margin refers to the profit you make on a sale of an item less the cost to you. It is also known as the gross profit margin. Even if your prices are set by you, your supplier should be capable of telling you what the average selling price is.
6. When might prices change?
It is not unusual for suppliers to suddenly change your price. This can have a negative impact on your business so be aware of when it might occur.
7. What warranty or guarantee is the product covered by?
You need to be able to offer great returns policies for defective products to your customers.
8. Can your service representatives answer my product questions?
Although not essential, it is important to know how much you can trust your supplier to answer any questions regarding the product. This is more important the more complex the product.
9. Do you have a datafeed?
Did you remember when I mentioned data feeds under the “invested into technology” section? It is important to find out if your supplier supports datafeeds so that you can update your store without having to manually enter information such as quantity, descriptions, images, and so on.
10. Are you able to make custom-made items?
To be a successful store owner, you must improve upon the products that already exist to gain a competitive edge. You will need to find a manufacturer or supplier who can make your products unique if you want to create your own.
Remember that SaleHoo members have access to all our supplier outreach email templates. These templates will save you time and increase your chances of getting a response from a supplier.
Last tip: When reaching out to suppliers,
Do not appear to be a complete beginner.
Dropshipping wholesale suppliers and manufacturers are looking to find people who are committed to the long-term. You don’t have to believe that you will be running your online shop in 10 years.
You sound like a complete novice (i.e. Suppliers will not respond to you if you sound like a complete novice (i.e. For professional sounding, I recommend using the email templates and asking questions. These are the keys to getting the best deals, and the best suppliers.
How to avoid dropshipping scams
Dropshippers may not always be in your best interest. There are many people looking to steal your money.
There are ways you can protect yourself from being scammed.
Use the SaleHoo Supplier Directory to avoid fraud. You pay $67 annually and you get a 60-day money-back guarantee with no questions asked. But I won’t pressure you… too much!
Watch out for warning signs
When looking for wholesale dropshipping suppliers, there are some red flags you should be aware of:
Membership fees and monthly fees
Although some legitimate suppliers may charge monthly fees, others are just looking to get your money. It is best to discover why the fees are charged. If they claim it is honest, it most likely is. Let’s get to the bottom of it. Do your research.
Refusal to accept credit cards or checks
Don’t deal with suppliers who only accept bank transfers. More than 99% of serious suppliers accept credit cards or checks. These metrics are automatically checked and displayed by SaleHoo.
An address should not be displayed
Legal suppliers must have an address. It is a red flag if you don’t. SaleHoo has a complete list of all suppliers addresses on their website.
US only: Not being listed on BBB
The Better Business Bureau, a US-based non-profit that helps businesses stay in control, is located in the United States. The BBB is a place people can report frauds. It can also pursue legal action against unethical or illegal business practices. This is a great place to look at the dirty laundry of a company.
Go to their website and search for the supplier. Although they may not have all the information, it is a great place to start your search. SaleHoo automatically verifies and displays each US supplier’s BBB rating.
Steps to Avoid Fraud
These are the steps you can take to verify each supplier on your list.
Verify their domain age
A domain name that is young often indicates a new business. This can be a red flag for suppliers and could also indicate a scam. Most suppliers have been around for a while and have learned a few things. The SaleHoo directory displays the number of years a supplier has been in business. However, you can also check the domain age of other suppliers websites by using the Domainage Checker tool.
Google will search for their name, “scam” and “fraud”
Someone who had a negative experience with a supplier will likely write about it online. Searching for “[Supplier name] + scam” on Google is the best way to locate these writings. You’ll often find out if the supplier is a fraud in the search results.
Calling them is the fastest and easiest way to identify fraudulent suppliers. Ask them the same questions that I have outlined above. Ask them the questions I outlined above. If they struggle to answer, or stutter, that should be a red flag. Many times, the phone number will not work.
Find their address
It’s a bad idea to show their address if it doesn’t appear or isn’t their actual place of business. To get a better view of their building, check out the Google Maps street view. Is it a distribution center, a house or another business? To make it easy, we show you every supplier in our SaleHoo Directory.
Ask the manufacturer directly about these products
Every manufacturer should have a list of all wholesalers and suppliers to which they sell their products. There’s a high chance that the manufacturer of the product does not have their name.
To test their process, place a small order
This was something I mentioned a few times. A small test order can be a great way of testing the supplier’s skills and to ensure that they are not fraudsters.