Home eCommerce Blog The Drop Shipping Dream - Is it too good to be true?

The Drop Shipping Dream - Is it too good to be true?

Not if you follow these essential tips!

Many eBay sellers are what's known as "accidental sellers" -- that is, they didn't start out planning to run a full-fledged eBay business, or to make a lot of money selling on eBay.  They just started out selling a few things they had at home, just to make a little extra money here and there.

At some point, however, these sellers realized that what they were doing had potential, that they could actually make a living selling products on eBay.   So they began to change their entire mindset about eBay, and along with that, most of the rest of their eBay approach had to change as well. 

Whereas most of the products they had sold previously had been their own unwanted items, naturally there's a limit to this type of inventory.  Pretty soon they'll run out of items at home they could list for sale on eBay, and will have to look elsewhere for products to sell.

Upon reaching this point, each seller has to make a decision about how they're going to obtain products to sell in the future.  And in many cases, the decision they make is based primarily on money.  Many sellers who have extra money to invest in products up front buy large lots of items from wholesalers or liquidators, then re-package them and sell them on eBay as individual items. 

But what happens when a seller isn't in a financial position to make an upfront investment like this? Well, in these cases, drop shipping is one of the best options to pursue.

It's every seller's dream...

Drop shipping allows you to list products for sale on eBay that you don't own or physically possess, and you don't have to pay for them until after you've sold them on eBay and the buyer has already paid you for the item.  It's a great way to launch an online business with little to no upfront expense.

But in order to sucessfully live the drop shipping dream on eBay, there are several unique issues you need to consider, and those are the issues I'll be addressing here.   Keep in mind, however, that these are not tips for selling your first few items on eBay, just for selling drop ship items.   In that sense, it pre-supposes that you've already sold a few items from home, or items you've purchased beforehand:

1. Images - In most cases, you'll obtain your product images by copying them from the drop shipper's website, and you'll either save them to your computer initially, or if you prefer, you can just use the website URL address for each image.  Most sellers find it easier to save the pictures to their computers, then upload them from their computers to the eBay selling form, just like you might have done with previous listings you've submitted, in which you physically possessed the product you were listing. 

Go beyond the images your supplier offers you

One difficulty regarding drop ship images that comes up quite frequently is that oftentimes, there's only one image provided for the product, usually a manufacturer's stock photo, so if the picture doesn't sufficiently demonstrate what the item looks like or doesn't provide enough detail, you may need to look elsewhere to try and obtain additional photos of the product.  Be careful, though, that you don't take images from the manufacturer's website or from other eBay listings, as both of those activities would constitute a copyright violation.  Instead, try looking on websites like Google Images (free) or iStockphoto.com (images cost a small fee).

2. Title - The product name listed on the drop shipper's website may be very short and general.  If so, don't just copy and paste it into the title field in the eBay selling form and leave it as is.  Brainstorm additional keywords you can include in the title that also describe the product and that will increase its likelihood of showing up in as many different keyword searches as possible. Here's an example of a good listing title:

3. Pricing - Many drop shippers will provide a suggested retail price, or MSRP (Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price), to go with the product, but it's extremely unlikely that you'll be able to sell the item for that much on eBay, so it's better to just ignore those "suggested prices" and stick with what your research indicates this product has been selling for on eBay lately. 

Be careful, too, because some drop shippers will require you to charge a minimum price for a certain product (known as a MAP - Minimum Advertised Price), and this price, again, will almost always be above what you can expect to get for the item on eBay, so as a rule, I recommend that you avoid selling MAP products and therefore, avoid using any drop shippers who only offer MAP products.

4. Description - Just as with product names/titles, most of the descriptions provided for products on your drop shippers' websites will be fairly short and bland, usually just a short list of product features or specifications.   When you're selling dropship products on a website, you can usually get away with using these short descriptions, but on eBay, it's a completely different story.  Your item descriptions should be fairly lengthy, albeit clear and well-organized, with lots of spacing between text sections, so you'll want to write quite a bit more text to go with what the drop shipper provides on their website. This is why it's usually better to sell products with which you're familiar. 

Simple ways to create enticing descriptions

If you rack your brain and you just can't think of anything else to say about the product, you may want to visit the manufacturer's website for additional details, or even get some information from other eBay listings, but if you do this, be very, very careful.  Similar to what I indicated previously regarding images, DO NOT USE SOMEONE ELSE'S TEXT WORD FOR WORD, other than the description on the drop shipper's website, and even then, it's still a good idea to rewrite the given text and make it more interesting and original. 

Original text is considered copyrighted material, and both manufacturers as well as other eBay sellers can get your listings removed by Trust and Safety for using their text word for word.  It doesn't mean you can't use the text at all, but just be careful to reorganize and/or re-format it, as well as use synonyms for as many words as you can, and rewrite any statements that sound like creative, original statements instead of simple product specifications.  You can keep a tab/window open to a website like Thesaurus.com to obtain synonyms for the words in the text and thereby, be able to rewrite most of the text yourself.

5.  Shipping - Obviously, since the drop shipper will be sending the product directly to the buyer, you'll obtain all of the shipping information directly from the drop shipper, usually from the shipping information posted on the drop shipper's website.  Before deciding to list the item, you should already have checked the drop shipper's shipping costs for this particular product and made sure they are competitive with what other eBay sellers charge to ship that item, or it could have a huge negative impact on your sales. 

Along with this, check with the drop shipper to find out if he charges sales tax, and if so, to which states, so you can include that in your listing.  If the drop shipper uses USPS (U.S. Postal Service) or UPS to ship, you can select the exact shipping method from the dropdown menu on the eBay selling form, but if the seller uses any other method, such as FedEx, DHL, etc., you'll want to select "Standard Flat Rate Shipping" or "Expedited Flat Rate Shipping" from the dropdown menu in the eBay selling form, but then be sure to specify exactly what shipping methods are available within your item description.

6. Policies - When it comes to specifying policy information, which you should absolutely do in your item description as well as in your payment/checkout instructions, return policy information, etc., keep in mind that some of the applicable policies will be your policies, and some will be the drop shipper's policies.  As far as contact, obviously, potential buyers will contact you, and buyers will also be paying you, not the drop shipper, so you'll put in your own payment information, i.e. your PayPal email address. 

But remember that the shipping and return policies will be up to the drop shipper.   Therefore, make sure you indicate exactly what those policies are, and make sure that they don't conflict with any eBay policies, such as the fact that eBay won't allow you to say in your listings that a restocking fee is charged if a buyer returns the item. 

It's a good idea to mention in your listings that it's imperative that the buyer contacts you right away if he wishes to return the item, so you can provide him with the complete instructions, which may then include any applicable restocking fee.  Lastly, don't mention in your listing (or anywhere else!) that you're drop shipping.  Don't reveal to anyone that you don't have the item in your possession. 

If a buyer specifically asks you that in an email, you can answer him truthfully, but don't advertise it.  Even though drop shipping is completely reputable and 100% legitimate, in the past, there have been eBay sellers who have defrauded buyers by claiming that the items were located elsewhere and would be shipped directly from someone else at some warehouse, and have thus then feigned ignorance and innocence when buyers claimed they didn't receive the items.  So please be discreet about the fact that you're drop shipping, mostly for the sake of appearances.

Erika Garnica
eBay User ID: the auctionguru
eBay PowerSeller and Top-Rated Seller
Former eBay Top Seller Account Manager

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21 Comments Add your comment
I just wanted to say that I find reading articles by Erika Garnica to always be extremely informative with a fresh and honest prospective. I look forward to more of her insights and advice on how to be successful in the wild west world of eCommerce. Her insights have already given me greater returns on my monthly sales reports which is where it really counts. I look forward to future articles from Erika. Reply
This makes really good since, I like that it tells you the information on what to do and not to do, and how to do things in selling on Ebay. Reply
Hey Erika, Let me first say, I love reading your posts. This one is like you were describing me exactly! I started out like you said selling stuff around my house and I have been growing in different ways since, BUT I am also a single mom of 2 with little to no financial help so I don't have money to invest much at a time. I have been checking into alot of companies that dropship but still havn't found one I have taken the plunge with. I am very interested in doing this and just not sure how to find a good trustworthy company without having to pay upfront costs or monthly fees. Any suggestions? Thanks so much & keep up the great posts :) Reply
Thank you Erika. I found your info to be informative and did answer some of my questions. The only question I would have is how would I know that a company is legitament? What products are popular at the moment. Reply
Very precise and informative. Thank you very much. Reply
Full Member
Thank you for this, I have been reminded of things that I had forgotten while learning a few more things in the process. It has been my experience in the past to just stay away from drop-shippers who require you to charge a minimum price for a certain product. What I have found is that they also have a eBay or other auction site listing that offers the products they sell to you lower then the Minimum Advertised Price they require you to charge. One other point not made is to watch out for drop-shippers that also have auction site listings that offer the products at a price way lower then the price they charge you. Reply
Your information is right on target. But encouraging new sellers who use Paypal may not be good. Maybe you should suggest alternative ways to accept payments. Paypal recently started holding everyone's payments for 21 days. A seller who is just starting out "cannot" wait that long to get paid. It's really discouraging. I've had a Paypal account for over 10 years- and they hold everything that comes from Ebay. It's not fair because Ebay and Paypal are one and the same. Reply
Full Member
Another great post by Erika although I don't sell on eBay but rather i sell from my own site, but things work on there as well. I sell mostly by dropshipping and I have never had a problem with my suppliers. What I like about these posts is that they are simple, back to basics stuff. My basketball coach said to the team once "good teams practice basic skills - good teams do the basic things well, the rest will take care of itself". No super-complicated plays (marketing?) just put the items for sale on the site and go and tell people about them. Seems pretty simple to me. Reply
Nice information, I am under the impression that is actually not allowed on ebay to drop ship items, is that why you are saying be discreet? Reply
Full Member
Great article on drop-shipping. Has cleared a few things up for me. Thanks Erika Reply
Full Member
Another great article for my OneNote collection. Thanks Erika. After I ran out of those unwanted items around the house I too made the research journey into wholesalers and drop shipping. At first glance drop shipping seemed like a dream come true but the deeper I looked into the concept the more concerns I found. • Not being able to physically see and confirm the condition of the products. • Having only stock photos to list and usually the same photos as every other seller was using and no recourse for listing more detailed photos. • No control over when items were shipped and their packing conditions. • Dealing with a third party if an item became lost or damaged. • The strong possibility of selling an item and finding it was out of stock or discontinued and having to tell the buyer. These, and more, were important issues for me. Drop shipping has been around a long time and many sellers have great success with this method. But for those of us who prefer a little more control in our business, drop shipping simply has too many unknown variables to make it a viable option. Look forward to your next article. Colette – TopCat2x2 Reply
Great information, however, as always when you are doing these business you find many obstacles when doing drop-shipping on eBay and the worst is that when you try to sell something there's many others doing the same for a lot less price than the lowest price you can sell for any profits, and the biggest reason is that those people purchase bulk loads at below wholesale prices giving you little hope to compete and make any profits. If you have new techniques to be able to have any success doing this please explain. Thanks Reply
Erika, I have a simple question. I have been cleaning out my garage and selling items on ebay for a little over a year. I have been successful at this. Although I am not making huge amounts of $$, I am asking who is the best dropshipping/middleman to use? Salehoo, Doba, Worldwide brands ect. to generate a modest monthly income of approx. $1000.00 Reply
I would like to know more about wholesale dropshipers that have discounted prices especially on coffee makers. Reply
Free Member
I'm new to salehoo!!! Looking to find several women clothing dropshipers. I was able to find only two.some one help me please. Reply
Hi erica very informative, simple and easy to understand. Reply
Full Member
Thanks, everyone, for your excellent comments and feedback. I apologize that I'm often unable to reply to questions asked in response to my blog posts, and I'd like to rectify that, so here goes! @Leah, you're in the right place to find excellent dropshippers with no upfront costs or monthly fees. Salehoo does more than their due diligence in making sure that they've fully investigated and vetted the suppliers they recommend in their directory, and you can also review feedback posted by other Salehoo users who have used particular dropshippers, in order to get a very good idea of the quality of each supplier. The vast majority of dropshippers listed in the Salehoo directory don't charge any upfront costs or monthly fees. @shirldacerl, building upon what I just said to Leah, you can know that a particular dropshipper is legitimate if they're listed in the Salehoo directory as being a verified supplier, and from the comments others have posted regarding them. @King_Robert_of_Kenwood, in the second paragraph of the Pricing section in my blog post above, you'll noticed that I stated, "... I recommend that you avoid selling MAP products and therefore, avoid using any drop shippers who only offer MAP products." But you're right, it is an important suggestion to make. As far as watching out for dropshippers who are also selling on eBay and are offering the same products for lower prices than what you pay for them, clearly, you should avoid doing business with such dropshippers. But honestly, in my experience, there are so many dropshippers out there who are NOT doing this that you don't need to do business with those who are. Plus, I've found that most dropshippers or larger companies who also list their items directly on eBay make a LOT of mistakes when it comes to employing effective listing strategies. You would think they would know better, but most of them don't. So you can often gain an advantage over these companies by listing your items properly and effectively, and in accordance with what the market research indicates has been the most successful for those items in the past on eBay. @Grace, unfortunately, like it or not, if you want to sell successfully on eBay, you need to accept PayPal -- it's an unavoidable necessity. Particularly when you're a new seller, it's crucial that you accept PayPal payments, or you may never get off the ground! The vast majority of eBay buyers pay using PayPal, so not accepting PayPal can kill your business before it even gets started. As far as PayPal's payment holds policy, it has been in effect for a couple of years already, so it's not that recent. And it's fairly easy to minimize the hold time significantly, such that new sellers can almost always work around it successfully. You should never have to wait 21 days to receive your payments, only 3 days or so after the buyer receives the item, which is when PayPal will release the funds, so long as you've given them a tracking number they can verify online. It will only take 21 days if PayPal has no tracking number to confirm delivery or if the buyer hasn't left you positive feedback (obviously, the tracking number option is much easier to accomplish than getting a buyer to leave you positive feedback so soon after receiving the item). @Cheryle, as far as whether or not dropshipping is allowed on eBay, if you want to get down to brass tacks, that's true. eBay TECHNICALLY requires sellers to have the items they're selling in their possession. But in almost 7 years working at eBay, I never once saw or heard of eBay taking action against a seller for dropshipping unless he or she was also committing other serious policy violations, and even then, eBay only took action based on the other policy violations, not on the dropshipping. It's sort of a "don't ask, don't tell" policy -- eBay will only "call your bluff" and require you to submit POM (Proof of Merchandise) documentation if they suspect you of fraud, if lots of buyers are filing claims that they never received their items, etc. It's extremely rare, in my experience. eBay knows it's happening and doesn't really care, as long as you're keeping all of their other rules. @TopCat2X2, I'd like to address your concerns about dropshipping, if I may. First, not being able to physically see and verify the condition of the item is very rarely an issue. Most dropship products are brand new, and as long as you're using a dropshipper who has been verified by Salehoo and/or has otherwise received good reviews from other sellers, you shouldn't have anything to worry about. As far as only being able to use stock photos, particularly when they're the same photos all the other sellers are using, again, I've never known this to be a noticeable drawback for any eBay seller before. Stock photos are actually PREFERABLE to most buyers, since they're indicative of a high level of professionalism, items that are either brand new or in excellent condition, and/or that they're dealing with a professional merchant (YOU). All most buyers care about is seeing one picture of the item; beyond that, your description can fill in the rest of the blanks. Also, consider the fact that 1 stock photo is better than 10 poor pictures you've taken yourself. Most new, relatively small eBay sellers don't take very good pictures, and that can hurt them much, much more than using only 1 stock photo in their listing. Plus, think about the largest eBay sellers -- eforcity, buy.com, planetoverstock, etc. -- ALL of them use only 1-2 stock photos in their listings. And they're not hurting for sales, are they? Next, as long as you're using a verified, well-established dropshipper with good reviews, although you can't directly control when an item is shipped nor its packing conditions, you shouldn't have to, as long as you KNOW when they generally ship their items and how they package them, which is again something you can almost always discover quite easily by reading comments from others and/or knowing they've been verified by a service such as Salehoo. Most good dropshippers are very upfront about their handling time, and will strictly abide by it. And most good dropshippers package their items well and very professionally; otherwise, they wouldn't have stayed in business very long. If an item is lost or damaged in shipping, it's usually BETTER if you're dropshipping, since the dropshipper will almost always take on the responsibility of dealing with the shipping company, tracking down the item, filing an insurance claim, etc., saving you a lot of time and trouble. Lastly, as far as dealing with items running out of stock, most dropshippers will clearly list the quantity available of every item right on their website, so you can check it yourself whenever you want. And the available quantity should give you a pretty good idea of how soon you may need to check it again. Obviously, if it says there's an available quantity of 5000, you don't need to worry about checking the quantity the next day or even the next week, in most cases. On the other hand, if the quantity available is less than 10, you may just want to avoid listing that particular item until more quantity is available. In my case, the time, money, and effort I've saved by dropshipping products on eBay is well worth any of the minor drawbacks there can be sometimes. @carlos, I agree that there are many products and categories on eBay in which it's next to impossible to compete with other sellers' pricing (primarily electronics, cell phones, cameras, computers, and video game systems), but there are MANY MORE products and categories in which you CAN compete, and very successfully. The vast majority of current and prospective eBay sellers gravitate towards the "big 5" categories I just mentioned, so more than half the battle is just avoiding those categories! I think you'll find that there are many, many products you can dropship profitably on eBay. All you need to do is conduct proper, thorough research, and be open to lots of different product possibilities, and you should have no trouble finding them! @Mark, asking which dropship directory is the best one to use is like asking which restaurant is the best one -- there are MANY excellent directories you can use, and each of them has its own strengths and weaknesses. Which one will work best for you depends on your own preferences, as well as which products are of greatest interest to you, how much money you want/have to spend on memberships, where you live, and where you want to market your products. Personally, I'm a HUGE fan of Salehoo -- not only are they one of the best directories out there, but when you compare their pricing to the astronomical amounts of money you're required to pay to use many other directories (including the other 2 you mentioned), it becomes a no-brainer! @Joyce, as I said earlier in this post, you're definitely in the right place to find good dropshippers with discounted prices. A few moments ago, I went to the main Salehoo directory page and typed "coffee maker" in the search field, and a list of 22 dropshippers with coffee makers came up. That should give you a good starting point! @Lrutty, sorry to sound like a broken record, but have you looked ih the Salehoo directory for womens clothing suppliers yet? There are no less than 30 PAGES of suppliers listed in the Womens Clothing category on this website. Reply
I am about to register with Salehoo, I live in UK, will there be much of problem with shipping goods to UK with regards to customs and delivery period? Reply
I have 3 options of websites like salehoo to register, and haven't decided yet... I just wanted to know what products they have for wholesale and dropship. Actually i'm interested on the apple products such as ipods and ipads, not their accessories. Is there anyway to know if they have these? Reply
Site Admin
Hi Chris and Fabio, I'll try to address your concerns to the best I can. @Chris: First of all please note that SaleHoo is not a supplier rather we are an online directory of suppliers. Shipping should not be too much of an issue especially since we do have a number of suppliers based in the UK as well as those that will readily ship overseas. If you're ready to join SaleHoo, please go to this link http://www.salehoo.com/join-now Once you join you can contact the suppliers that you are interested in and inquire further about their shipping schedules/time. Hope this helps :) @Fabio: Like you, a vast number of our members are very interested in sourcing Apple iPhones, iPods and the iPad because they are extremely popular. Unfortunately the requirements to source these wholesale are extremely high due to Apple’s desire to protect their brand value. If you want to source these items wholesale, you’ll need to fill out an application on Apple’s website and be able to meet a minimum annual purchase requirement of more than $100,000 and provide 2 business references – among other things. You can read the full requirements here: Although there is no other way to legitimately source Apple iPhones, iPods and the iPad wholesale except through Apple themselves, you can source Apple accessories from a number of wholesalers, drop shippers and liquidators on SaleHoo. Hope this helps. If you're ready to join SaleHoo, please go to this link http://www.salehoo.com/join-now Cheers! :) Reply
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I can't find the User ID of this blog post author on Ebay... Did she quit the business? Also the store doesn't exist...

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