How to Find Dropshipping Suppliers
Online retailers looking to operate as dropshippers will face a variety of challenges. As with any online store, it’s important to face these challenges head-on and then adjust your model accordingly. Although the model of dropshipping products has numerous benefits, you will have to make sure that your entire supply chain, including your wholesale distributors, is reliable and up to the task at hand. If you are wondering how to find dropshipping suppliers, rest assured that there are a variety of tools and approaches you can use. This will ensure that you have a dropshipping store that is running smoothly and efficiently, thereby allowing you to focus on your most important role: connecting with customers.
Remember that the terms dropshipping supplier, dropshipping wholesaler, and wholesale distributor are synonymous and are frequently used interchangeably. Keep that in mind when learning how to find dropshipping suppliers!
Where Do I Start?
Well, there are three basic ways you can start your search:
- Doing a Google search. This is a natural place to start. Google is a valuable resource, so be sure you use it extensively. However, keep in mind that not all great suppliers will be equally great at internet marketing. Consequently, check the tips below to conduct an effective Google search.
- Subscription to a directory. There are a lot of dropshipping suppliers out there. There are also a lot of supplier directories. However, many of these are of lower quality and will not provide you with much value or business knowledge, but there are some legitimate options with thousands of vetted and pre-screened dropshipping suppliers. These include:
- Contacting the manufacturer. You can also try to approach the problem from the other end and just contact the manufacturer. Obviously, you can only do this if you already know what products you want to sell and is especially effective if you’ve chosen a well-defined niche. The manufacturer can point you in the direction of authorized dropshipping suppliers.
Remember that the manufacturer is different from a supplier or wholesaler. The manufacturer is the entity that built or created the actual product whereas suppliers or wholesalers buy directly from manufacturers and then sell them onto retailers at wholesale pricing.
What Should I Ask Dropshipping Suppliers When Contacting Them?
Now that you’re learning how to find dropshipping suppliers, it’s important that you know what to ask them. So let’s say you’ve come up with a list of potential suppliers. Great! You’re well on your way to making some cash with your online store. Now you need to reach out to these suppliers and start forming some solid business relationships.
The best way to start this process is via email. Send your list of suppliers emails and be sure to ask the following questions:
- What are the payment terms? What are the order fees? Are these negotiable?
- Do they sell directly to consumers? (If so, this is a bad sign. See the section below on fake dropshipping suppliers).
- Are there any additional costs like delivery fees, fuel surcharges, expedited orders, or restocking fees?
- What is the return policy? (It’s unavoidable, you will have customers returning items).
- What is the warranty for the various products?
- Are there dedicated sales and/or service representatives? (The best suppliers give you a contact person to help you 24/7/365).
- Do they have a niche or specialize in certain types of products?
- Are there any custom items they can make?
This may seem like a long list, but remember that this is an important part of your dropshipping store. You need to be thorough and extensive in order to make the best decision for your professional success.
The 6 Attributes of Great Dropshipping Suppliers
Let’s say that you’ve come up with a list and emailed the various candidates, so now you may be wondering how to find dropshipping suppliers that are actually good. How exactly do you spot a great supplier? Well, great suppliers will have many or even all of the following attributes:
Expert staff and industry knowledge.
If a potential supplier has sales representatives who really know their industry and product lines, you’ve found a winner! You need to have this source of knowledge when launching your online store, especially if it’s in a niche that may be new for you.
Dedicated sales and/or service representatives.
The best suppliers will assign you an individual representative to take care of you and any issues that you may have. Running an online store will present various challenges, and you need someone in your corner to help you navigate these challenges. Remember, this is a collaboration. By having a dedicated representative, problems get solved quickly and efficiently.
Innovative technology and well-designed tools.
The best suppliers innovate – they react to and predict what their customers will need in order to be successful. If the supplier understands the benefits of well-designed tools, this will make your job that much easier. These may include:
- A website with detailed product descriptions.
- An inventory data feed and/or real-time inventory tracking.
- An online catalog that is comprehensive.
- Data feeds that are customizable.
- A searchable order history.
You shouldn’t consider these to be luxuries; they will help you succeed. Remember that the fanciest looking websites don’t necessarily mean that the supplier offers the most innovative technology.
Ability to take orders over email.
This may sound nitpicky or minor, but trust us when we say that having to call every order in can get real old real fast. By accepting emails, your order processing will be less time-consuming and more efficient.
As obvious as this may sound, it’s an important point to keep in mind. By offering high-quality products, you will have:
- Consistently high customer satisfaction (you can turn them into regular customers).
- More referrals due to positive word-of-mouth.
- Fewer product returns from unsatisfied customers (you’ll always have some, but this decreases it).
- Consistently better product reviews.
There really is no downside to high-quality products other than a slightly lower profit margin. But there are far more pros than cons.
Fast and efficient shipping.
This is crucial! If a supplier takes more than 24 to 48 hours to pack and ship an item, then your customers will likely not be satisfied. Remember that dropshipping is a competitive market and there really is no room for slow-moving suppliers. You have to be fast, efficient, and reactive to the market.
Not all of these can be answered via your emails. So what else can you do to determine if a supplier is a right fit for you?
Try Placing Some Test Orders To Find Dropshipping Suppliers
In some cases, placing a few small orders as a test can give you a pretty good sense of a dropshipping supplier’s quality. If you decide to try this tactic, be sure you look at the following:
- How the supplier handles the entire order process.
- Did the supplier ship the products quickly and efficiently?
- How quickly did the supplier follow up your test orders with an invoice and tracking information?
- Were the items packed well?
Pay attention to these aspects of the test orders. Don’t forget that number 4) is especially crucial for fragile or perishable products. Some dropshipping suppliers pride themselves on innovative and effective methods for packing and shipping these types of products. When conducting these test orders, it might be especially useful to do so with these types of goods.
However, don’t tell them that these are test orders! You want to get an accurate assessment of how well they operate and letting them know ahead of time may result in them doing an especially good job. Think of it as a pop quiz; the whole point is for them not to know so you can see how well they operate.
Effective Tips When Doing a Google Search
Start with Google, but here are some tips to keep in mind when searching online:
- The rankings of the search results may not always prioritize the best wholesalers. Google sorts its search results based on how well search engine optimization (SEO) has been implemented for a given website. Some wholesalers are better at this than others, but this certainly doesn’t rule them out as excellent dropshipping suppliers. In some cases, you will have to go past the first two pages of search results and see what other options there are.
- Well-designed websites do not necessarily mean that a wholesaler is your best option. Everyone knows that old saying: never judge a book by its cover. Well, in the world of dropshipping suppliers, this is something to look out for. There are many dropshipping suppliers who do not have the best design or layout; don’t rule them out based on this fact alone! Take a look at what they offer and then make your decision based on what you find. The most important part of their website is the tools they offer, not how nice it looks.
- Use plenty of modifiers in your search queries. Remember that SEO we talked about above? If a given dropshipping supplier hasn’t entirely implemented their SEO, they may not show up at the top of your results. This is highly unfortunate as they may have been a match made in heaven for your particular store. Consequently, be specific when searching; don’t just type in: [product] wholesaler. Try using modifiers like distributor, bulk, supplier, reseller, and/or warehouse.
Choosing the right dropshipping supplier is crucial for your future success as an online retailer. Think of it as a business collaboration. As a result, it’s best to dig a little deeper when doing a Google search.
How To Spot Fake Dropshipping Suppliers
Remember that dropshipping is a crowded marketplace with many players jostling for a place at the table. Unfortunately, this also includes a large number of fake suppliers who are trying to squeeze a profit margin out of just being glorified middle men. If conducting a Google search, it’s important that you be vigilant as many legitimate suppliers may not have the best online marketing and will appear lower in the search results.
Consequently, be on the lookout for the following:
- Any supplier that tries to sell to the general public. This defeats the whole purpose of securing a wholesale distributor. In order to keep a robust profit margin, you have to pay wholesale prices for the products you offer in your online store. If you want to secure a dropshipping supplier, you will have to apply for a membership or account and prove that you are a legitimate business. So, if a supplier is offering products at “wholesale prices” to the general public, they’re simply selling items at grossly inflated prices.
- They don’t accept checks or credit cards. This is a really bad sign! Any serious dropshipping supplier will happily accept either of these, so if they don’t then there’s probably something fishy about their operation.
- They don’t have an address listed. This may seem like a minor qualm, but it’s important. Every legit dropshipping supplier has to show the address for their company.
- Closely consider their membership costs. For example, if they require an annual or monthly membership fee, be sure to contact them to fully understand the payment structure.
Keep an eye out for all of these. Of course, when learning how to find dropshipping suppliers, you have to always use common sense and trust your intuition. For example, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.