How can I stay safe when dealing with unknown suppliers?

When dealing with an unknown supplier for the first time, it’s hard to know how it will work out.

While there is an element of risk in any business transaction, the below checks will help you to significantly reduce the risk to you and your customers.

1. Check how long they’ve been around

It’s safest to deal with suppliers who have been online for at least a couple of years. The longer the better. You can run a whois check by typing in the website URL here. While some parties may have kept their data private, for most websites you can see who owns the domain name and where it was registered. The country should match the contact details on the supplier’s website. Check the ‘Created Date’ to see when the domain name was registered by this party.

You can also type in their website at to view past versions of their website and establish how long they have been trading for.

Note that if you don’t find any information, it isn’t necessarily a red flag, but if you can confirm how long they have been operating for it gives them extra credibility.

2. See what others are saying about them

Search the SaleHoo forum for the supplier's website/company name and see what other members have to say. You can also run a check on Google for any scam reports - You can do this by searching for “Supplier Name” + the word “scam”.

3. Give them a phone call

A working landline number and office address must be provided and available on the supplier’s website. If no contact details, then that is a red flag. We suggest calling the supplier the first time you order, rather than using an online form or email. This way you have more information to establish whether they are genuine, and also it can help to expedite your order process.

4. Test on a smaller scale

Purchase a sample before ordering a large quantity to ensure that the item meets your expectations. Use this opportunity to check the shipping times, the amount of support the supplier provides throughout the process, and that the quality of the goods meets your expectations.

5. Ask yourself: Is it too good to be true?

Low prices do not necessarily mean fraud, but radically low prices should warrant a closer look. If a price seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Start by asking the seller as many questions about the item's authenticity as you can before you go any further. If it’s a branded product ask for a Certificate of Authenticity. You can also look to see if other suppliers are selling the product at a similar price.

6. Use a secure payment method

When it comes time to pay, which method should you use? There are two types of payment methods: (1) secured payment methods and (2) unsecured payment methods. Secured payment methods such as credit card payments, PayPal, Paymate and Escrow all provide some form of security from fraudulent suppliers as they hold the payment until the buyer receives their order.

Unsecured payment methods such as Western Union transfers and wire transfers do not offer any protection and therefore, are not recommended for suppliers you aren’t sure about or for first-time purchases. If you encounter a supplier who only accepts unsecured payment forms, it is quite likely that they are an illegitimate supplier.

You should only use unsecured methods when you have previously had successful dealings with a supplier.

Be sure to consider each of these points before deciding to do business with your chosen supplier.

If you need further advice or want to discuss the best approach before purchasing, feel free contact us. We’d love to help or else check out our review of the best drop shipping companies.


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