You’re in business for yourself, but you don’t want to be in business by yourself. This is why you chose to drop ship items. Drop shipping allows you to maintain a virtual storefront without having to hold onto inventory like a traditional brick-and-mortar store. In a sense, drop shippers are like your own personal warehouse. Suppliers like business like yours because they don’t have to manage the front-end of the business, and customer service with the general public.
Customers place orders through your site, and then you place orders with the drop shipper. Easy as pie. Your customers get what they want and you get what you want – money. There’s just one problem. You’re not sure how to use drop shipping to expand your ecommerce business. You have reason for concern. There are a ton of problems that you can potentially run into with suppliers as well as some “tricks” of the trade that aren’t widely advertised on the Internet. Knowing how to find and then use a 3rd party supplier isn’t rocket science, but it’s also not common sense.
Contact The Manufacturer of the Product
It might seem almost too simple, but contacting the manufacturer directly might solve all of your problems. Some manufacturers have in-house shipping departments that rival the best wholesaler outfits. If your manufacturer can drop ship items for you right from the factory, you don’t have to deal with a wholesaler. What’s more, if you do have any issues with the products, it’s nice to know that you can talk to someone at the company who actually makes the stuff you’re selling.
Perform An Extensive Search
This is the new “wet thumb” method. Yes, searching Google, Bing, and other major search engines isn’t groundbreaking, but here’s what is: do in-depth searches. Wholesalers and drop shippers are notoriously bad at marketing. Even more, most of these companies are stuck in the 1990s in regards to their web design, so you can’t judge these books by their covers. None of this web 2.0 stuff is important to them either because they’re not selling directly to the public.
This also means they stink at SEO and they often don’t show up in the SERPs for terms that they ought to. So, if you’re selling “handbags,” forget about finding them while searching for “handbag wholesaler.” Ain’t gonna happen. You’re probably going to have to go 20 pages deep to find a good supplier.
Finally, use a lot of modifier terms in your search. For example, instead of searching for “wholesaler,” try “distributor, “reseller,” “bulk,” “warehouse, or “supplier.” You might even try a combination of those terms together just in case one (but not all) of the terms is in the company’s title tag.
Buy Directory Lists
It’s not ideal, but buying a list of directories works. You bypass the searching and get straight to the “meat.” Worldwide Brands has a good directory. It costs about $300. Yes, that’s lot of money for a list. If you think 20+ hours of searching through the SERPs is worth $300, then buy the list.
Have More Than One Supplier
There is a truism in investing and that is: “diversify, diversify, diversify.” The same principle applies to your business. Two drop shippers are better than one. Three are better than two. Having 5 or 6 different suppliers allows you to ship from a location that’s closest to your customer too. With one supplier, you’re at the mercy of that supplier. If there are ever any issues with back-orders, or if customer service starts to slip, you don’t really have any leverage or “out.” When you have two or more suppliers, you there’s more incentive for the wholesalers to compete for your business – especially if the volume is there.
Test Suppliers Before Marrying Them
All of the analysis in the world won’t do you any good if you never make it past the number-crunching. You have to test your suppliers out. Send them a few orders. Meticulously track every step in the process. Verify that your customers are getting product on time. Do surveys with customers, and ask them about their experience (both good and bad). Sometimes, suppliers will look great on paper but they just can’t perform when it counts. If you know this before you make large commitments with them, then you lessen your odds of getting bad service.
Ted Hosford consult businesses on their eCommerce needs. His articles mainly appear on business and software blogs where he enjoys sharing his knowledge of the topic. Visit Ordoro.com to see their range of business solutions.