Doba has gained some great reviews on the web as a sourcing directory specializing in drop shippers. But does the reality live up to the hype? I decided to find out and keep you from risking the time and money involved in discovering for yourself. Here's what I found…
When you want to sell goods online, but you don’t want a household or even warehouse full of packages and products that need to be shipped out, they turn to drop shipping. The problem occurs when you try to find trustworthy drop shippers with profitable goods to sell.
This is where sites like Doba come in. Doba claims to offer an impressive 2+ million products to choose from, all of which you can drop ship.
In this review, you’ll find:
A full walkthrough of how Doba works
The pros and cons of Doba
A collection of other marketers' experiences and opinions about Doba, compiled from online communities and forums
An outline of whom Doba is best suited to
Advice for using Doba for those who decide to go ahead
You’ll start by finding products and suppliers. You’ll then be able to build your own inventory lists, export data about your products, keep track of your orders, and learn about the best practices for finding and selling products.
There are 3 different ways to browse potential products and suppliers on the Doba site:
1.) There’s the product feed, with featured products at the top.
In this product feed area, you can filter by category to find matching products.
2.) You can view a list of suppliers alphabetically, and then click on one for more information.
3.) Or, most likely, you’ll browse using the Doba catalog.
The left-hand sidebar allows you to search directly, or filter products by category, supplier, brand, price range, shipping filters, and/or quantity.
You can then prioritize what comes first in the results from the dropdown box next to “sort by.” This gives you a lot of opportunities to customize your search.
Something else Doba allows you to do is build your own inventory of products that are of interest to you. When you first arrive on the site, there’s a tutorial video to walk you through it:
It’s kind of like building your own custom catalog from the larger catalog so it’s easier for you to save and revisit product options.
I’ve created an example one for you to see, with a small selection of phone products:
You can then upload the inventories to your online store later on.
Doba allows you to export product information into various formats. Once again, there’s a little tutorial video showing you how to do it.
If you export the data to a spreadsheet, you can compare information in the columns easily and directly.
There are also a lot of third-party formats, so that you can easily upload product information to sites such as Amazon or eBay to expand your business opportunities.
There’s also a neat little area for keeping track of the details of your orders, including the order status, dates, suppliers, buyers, locations and amounts.
The last section I’ll cover is the “Education” tab. Doba provides a small series of free lessons on the main aspects of dropshipping, such as choosing your market niche or competing on price.
These are designed to help you get your head around what’s a good idea, and what you should run from as you go through the motions.
Here’s the nitty gritty of the pros and cons of Doba.
1. The website is easy to understand and navigate
It’s not hard to find your way around. Doba has worked to make itself extremely user-friendly. There are a variety of methods for discovering products and filtering search results. It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking for general suppliers or specific products, you can filter the searches to suit your requirements.
2. It provides helpful educational resources for dropshipping
Doba provides a wide variety of resources. Without signing up, you can access free resources such as the blog, as well as business guides, a list of suggested business tools, infographics, and white papers.
If you sign up for an account, you can also access the lessons we've already shown you, about how to export data to various formats and more.
3. It’s easy to customize your own inventories for quick reference
When you go away and come back, you haven’t lost your organized lists of products. They’re easy to review at a glance, or export for further use.
4. The integration between Doba and 100+ Shopping Carts makes uploading product info much faster and easier
Taking product details and manually adding them to your listings can be time-consuming. Doba’s biggest strength is this integration, bridging the gap to make the process faster and easier for you.
5. You get low inventory notifications as a precaution against overselling
If a supplier updates their account to show low stock, Doba will notify you so you can keep an eye out and avoid selling more than is available. Of course, this is dependent upon suppliers keeping their information up to date.
1. Membership isn’t cheap
At the time of this review, a Doba membership will run you $59.95 to $89.95 per month for depending on which subscription plan you choose.
Doba is certainly not the cheapest option, so you'll have to be more aggressive about earning that money back than you would with other, less-expensive services.
The site does have a money-back guarantee, but you have to prove that you’ve put in enough effort before you’ll be eligible.
2. The products are expensive and difficult to compete with on major platforms
Doba claims to have the lowest drop ship prices for its products and even has a guarantee to go with that, but it’s still difficult to find products on the site with prices that can compete on eBay or Amazon.
I’ve taken a look at the top 3 “hot products” shown on the site at this time, and they couldn’t compete on Amazon. Only one of them is cheaper on Doba than it is to buy straight from Amazon, and the difference wasn’t much.
This 4-piece lithium-ion combo kit, for example, is $371 wholesale on Doba, but only $319 on Amazon.
This doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to sell products from Doba. It just means that you have to be savvy about where you list these products, and avoid trying to compete with the major sites. More on this below under, “How to Succeed if You Choose Doba.”
3. The general across-the-board online opinion of Doba isn’t favorable
To broaden my view of Doba, I looked into what other people were saying about it, and I have to say that there were a lot more negative opinions than there were good ones.
So what exactly are people saying? I’ll cover my findings more thoroughly for you in the next section.
After reviewing all of the opinions I’ve found on various forums and online communities, I’ve extracted what I believe to be the main consensus made about Doba.
General Opinion #1: Doba prices are too high, which makes it difficult to compete with prices on eBay or Amazon, or to make a profit.
A comment by a user named “real-business” sums up the issue on the eBay community. They said, “So far and not so good. I have been looking through the DOBA catalogs now for some time and cannot find anything that is selling for more on eBay than it is through them.” And that was years ago. Combined with the more recent reviews saying a similar thing, it’s clear this is a long-running problem.
Another example is a comment on the Warrior Forum: “I tried Doba last year and there was no margin for profit there.”
Finally, and more recently, people on Doba's Facebook page have left similar comments:
General Opinion #2: Customer service is lacking.
I’ve seen a variety of complaints about Doba’s customer service on various forums.
Here’s an example, once again on Facebook, where Chantale is complaining on Doba’s company page that she’s had trouble:
People complain on Facebook; it’s unavoidable. Any business will face this occasionally. The concerning thing is that the comment was made a month before I found it, and no one from Doba had replied to her. That, paired with all the other accounts I found of similar experiences, create a bigger picture.
Update: Further examples of this have since appeared in the comments below this post. For example, this comment from Sharon, “...their customer service is horrible. I was supposed to receive an orientation phone call as part of my account subscription and never did. Then they charged me for a full subscription 1 day before my supposedly 'free' trial was supposed to end. When I contacted them about the early charge, they refused to reverse it and the rep gave me a FAKE email address to get in touch with the management team.”
General Opinion #3: Many have claimed that they’ve been charged during the free trial period, and that it’s extremely difficult to cancel.
Firstly, we have the “too difficult to cancel” complaint, as is mentioned by the user Importexport on the Warrior Forum:
Then there are the many people who have written below about being charged before the trial period was over. Cora from the comments below claims, “Free trial means we'll charge your credit card. Won't refund the money either. Will have to dispute through the credit card company. Sales staff will not let you know the only way to cancel the trial (have to call one number which doesn't get answered - there is no way to cancel by email, through your account, nor through the sales person you speak to).”
General Opinion #4: People can make money with Doba if they’re prepared to work for it. Those who complain that it’s impossible haven’t put in the work.
So far the opinions I’ve found have been rather unpleasant, it’s true, but it’s not all bad. I have found the occasional posts along the lines of the following…
This one is from John in the comments section of a Doba review:
And there are one or two posts below too, such as this one by Travis:
Basically, you need to be aware of the work and effort required to make a profit with dropshipping, especially considering the competitive pricing online.
If you want to sell via the big sites, such as Amazon and eBay, you’ll be battling prices that are more than likely impossible to beat.
If you don’t have a lot of confidence or experience with dropshipping, launching straight into a company with a high membership fee and prices that can’t compete in major marketplaces is quite a risk.
In saying that, Doba’s strengths are in its usability, the ease of exporting product information, and time-saving integration with Shopping Carts.
If you have the experience to sell items at a higher price, via your own website for example, and you’re confident that you could make enough from these products to make a decent profit, then Doba would be a time-saver option for you.
You have a couple of main options from here: You can decide to tackle Doba and try your luck at making a profit with the site, or you can look for an alternative.
If you decide to go ahead and try Doba, then you’ll need to be diligent about hunting for products with a profit margin that will be worth your time. This is something that needs to be done with any site, but as some products can be found cheaper on Amazon and eBay than they can on Doba, you’ll have to be extra careful with your filtering.
The secret to using Doba well is to use it as a stepping stone, rather than pinning all your hopes on it for the long term. Either work on developing good relationships with several of the suppliers you have found (until you get to the point where you can bargain for better prices), or use the knowledge and confidence you have gained from dealing with these suppliers to branch off on your own.
You’ll also be better off if you build your own online store, as trying to slug it out directly on Amazon or eBay will simply be too difficult, especially if you’re relatively new.
Despite Doba’s very tempting offer of allowing you to pay for goods only after you sell them, I recommend purchasing your items in bulk before you list them, or least keeping an emergency supply. Occasionally there are unavoidable hiccups with dropshipping, and it can be very embarrassing when a customer has purchased an item, but the dropshipper is out of stock. Let me be very clear that this is not a problem isolated to Doba: All drop shippers can suddenly run out of stock without warning, leaving you in the lurch unless you take precautions.
Although the price is steeper than other directories, members who know what to expect have found good value here.
If you decide that Doba doesn’t sound like it’s for you, you can start searching for other directories online.
As with anything, read their reviews, you can read SaleHoo reviews or any other dropshipping suppliers' reviews online and see what people are saying, read between the lines, take everything with a pinch of salt and you’ll find your way to the best option for you.
Look out for alternatives that have a lower membership fee, for example, but don’t skimp on customer service or profit margins.
Alternatively, if you find yourself worried by the negative reviews about dropshipping, you could consider shifting your focus to wholesale selling. While some of the issues people have are specifically about Doba (such as customer service issues or the cost of their membership), some of them are common problems for dropshipping in general.
When you invest your time, money, and online reputation in dropshipping, you’re putting a lot of your credibility and reputation into the hands of the dropshippers. The main issues revolve around receiving orders when suppliers have run out of stock, or the smaller profit margins compared to buying in bulk upfront. You can read more about the pros and cons of dropshipping here to get a bigger picture.
For some, these problems and risks are worth the benefits of dropshipping, and that might very well be you. But if you’re the kind of person who would like more control over the overall process, more confidence in your ability to deliver what you list online, and the lower cost of bulk buying, you might want to look into wholesale selling
Related: Reviews of SaleHoo