Looking to build a successful online business? This comprehensive guide covers everything
you need to know about running a dropshipping business.
It may seem obvious by now but it's worth mentioning again: To run a successful online retail store with the dropshipping business model, you must find the right supplier. A good dropshipper can take your enterprise to the next level, but a bad one can destroy your reputation — and your business.
Finding a good dropshipper is easier said than done, as there are a large number of variables to keep in mind. For example, a quality dropshipper will:
So how do you find a dropshipper that meets these criteria?
Here are a few methods you can try:
First, check a product and its packaging to find out the name of the manufacturer and its website. If you cannot find the name of the manufacturer, search for the product name in Google.
Once you locate the website, you should be able to find an email address or a phone number for the sales department. If you cannot find contact information for the sales department, call the company’s office and ask to speak to the sales department.
Now, contact that department directly and ask if the company dropships. If not, ask for names of wholesalers, distributors or dropshippers the company works with.
Attending trade shows can be extremely rewarding because you will make face-to-face contact with potential suppliers and get to know their representatives on a personal level. Remember, almost every industry has trade shows that wholesalers, distributors and manufacturers attend.
Try attending one of these and bring a big stack of your business cards. At the trade show, you will meet veterans of your industry and see new products before they come out.
To locate a trade show, simply run a search for the industry in Google and add the phrase “trade shows.”
There are many wholesale directories available online today. One of the best is the SaleHoo Wholesale Directory, which has more than 8,000 security-screened suppliers offering 1.5 million products in over 150 categories. It also features reviews of suppliers from experienced online retailers.
Ask other retailers selling products similar to yours what dropshippers they use. Some online retailers won’t tell you who they use out of fear of aiding a competitor; others will be very helpful. By simply asking, you can identify reliable sources of dropshipped goods.
What are other retailers saying about a potential dropshipper? A good way to uncover a dropshipper’s reputation is to run a Google search on the name. If there are major complaints, a Google search should turn them up quickly.
Another good way to learn more about a dropshipper’s reputation is to ask about them on the SaleHoo.com forums. This way you can learn from the experience of seasoned retailers.
Now we come to the most important matter in this section: screening dropshippers.
You must screen a dropshipper carefully because your reputation will depend on that company. If your supplier does a poor job of shipping, order fulfillment or customer service, it will drive your customers away, and worse, it will reflect badly on you! Using a bad suppliers is one of the fastest ways to destroy your reputation.
You need to ask a dropshipper some questions before establishing a relationship; these questions will reveal how professional the dropshipper really is.
(Note: It's not a good idea to go in guns blazing and ask a supplier all of these questions at once. Most suppliers will list the answers on their website, so try to find the answers yourself and fill in the gaps when you contact them).
The questions to ask a dropshipper include:
A smart online retailer never puts all of his or her eggs in one basket. If possible, find two, three or more dropshippers and use them all on a regular basis. This provides you with a backup if something goes wrong and gives you an alternative if prices go up. Having more than one dropshipper also makes it easier to negotiate for a better deal on prices and fees.
Congratulations! You now know how to find a quality supplier. Make no mistake about it — this is a huge step in the right direction. But now it's time to bring everything together and discuss how to run a dropshipping business through SaleHoo on a day-to-day basis.