Drop shipping offers huge benefits to sellers and eliminates a lot of the risk associated with selling online. However, working with suppliers who you are drop shipping from can take a little management on your part. Here's a quick guide to getting the most out of them.
By letting you drop ship, your supplier is taking a lot of responsibility off your hands, but the fact is, you can never fully trust anyone other than yourself to do the job properly. For this reason, an important part of successfully drop shipping involves good management skills. Here are some essential tips:
- Don't expect a drop shipper to tell you if supplies are getting low. Email or phone the drop shipper twice weekly to check up on stock levels. Some suppliers have stock level management software that you can log into and check up on which makes the process a lot simpler.
- Keep 2-3 'buffer' items on hand in case you have orders that can't be fulfilled through sudden stock shortages. For example, if you are selling cell phone accessories, keep a few of the most popular ones on hand at your house just in case your supplier runs out so you can send them out to the buyer yourself. This gives you more control over the ability to provide solid customer service and solves the problem of having to worry about stock running out, which aggravates customers and could lead to negative feedback being placed.
- If the drop shipper is located internationally, then make sure you specify in your listing description that items will take 1-2 weeks to ship after payment. When selling on eBay (and some other sites, check individual policies), you must disclose in your listing to all potential buyers the location of your item. For example, if your supplier is based in Hong Kong, you must display this in your listing so that buyers are aware that there may be longer than expected shipping times. Check the full eBay policy here. Honesty is the best policy, don't try to hide anything from your buyers, this will only increase their mistrust of you if things do go wrong. Some buyers may find this off-putting so we highly recommend including an explanation for the location in your FAQ or description. Explain the benefits to your customers. For example, they are receiving unique goods at a much more affordable price than they could otherwise get. Don't forget to offer a full guarantee and refund/returns policy to put any fears over quality to rest.
- Include your policy on returns in your listing description and discuss with your supplier what happens when something goes wrong
- If possible, use a drop shipper who is willing to add your brand name or eBay user name to the packages they send out to your buyers. For example, some let you upload your logo to their website where they will print it onto all your packages. They will also put your address as the return address, rather than their own company name.
- Consider enhancing personalization by giving your supplier hand-written thank-you notes to include in the packages. Not all suppliers will be agreeable to this as it can complicate their shipping systems but you can always ask.
- Most importantly, follow-up every sale with a customer satisfaction survey. It is critical that you keep tabs on how well your supplier is performing. There's no doubt you'll be the first to know if the service is extremely bad, but you are less likely to hear if service is mediocre, even though it may still be bad enough to discourage customers from returning. Remember that eBay buyers are able to give feedback on different aspects of the sale, so it's important to ensure every stage of the sales process is excellent.
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