Drop shipping has become the foundation of many successful merchants’ businesses. It doesn’t matter if you’re a merchant just starting out, or you’re a big box retailer trying to expand your product line, drop shipping can be leveraged as your fulfillment process. It’s a model that more merchants should consider and take advantage of.
But, drop shipping is complicated. There’s a lot of factors that go into using it to successfully grow your business. One of the most important factors is finding the right drop shipping suppliers to work with.
That’s easier said than done. So in this post, we’re going to give you all the tips you need to find drop ship suppliers that are right for your business.
What is drop shipping?
For those that are new to the concept (if you’re not skip on down to our list), drop shipping is an alternative fulfillment process in which you don’t keep inventory on hand. Instead, you sell products offered by a wholesaler, supplier, or manufacturer, who keeps the inventory.
When you sell an item, you purchase the item from the supplier, who then ships the item straight to your buying customer. The best part is that the drop shipper is completely invisible in the process. The customer receives the package as if it was sent by you.
This type of fulfillment model makes it easy for someone to start a company without purchasing costly inventory upfront or managing it. You can basically run your business from anywhere, with just an internet connection.
Drop shipping is also a great way to expand your current product line. You can quick grow your product catalog for a low cost and without risk.
Drop shipping has many benefits that all types of merchants can take advantage of. Learn more about what drop shipping is and its pros and cons.
The Importance of Finding the Right Drop Ship Suppliers
For drop shipping to work for your business, you need to create relationships with one or many suppliers, wholesalers, or manufacturers that fit the bill.
First, the supplier must provide whatever type of products you think you want to sell. Second, they have to agree to you using them as a drop shipper. Last, they have to provide consistent, reliable service for your business.
Finding a supplier that meets all this criteria can be really hard. You have to be willing to put in the effort in researching and selecting suppliers that are best for your business.
If you don’t find the right ones, drop shipping can easily ruin your business.
How to Find Drop Ship Suppliers
Looking for compatible drop ship suppliers can be like finding a needle in a haystack. It can easily lead to frustration and failed attempts that ultimately result in you just giving up.
So, we’ve put together a list of the some best practices of how to find drop ship suppliers. Use these to guide you in your research.
But, before you start looking and inquiring with suppliers, we want to point out these two reminders:
- Most suppliers will require that you verify that you’re a legal business. So, make sure you’re already legally incorporated, and have your EIN number and sales-tax ID handy.
- Not all wholesalers, suppliers, and manufactures drop ship. You might call some that aren’t open to it at all or don’t know what drop shipping is. Just move on to the next one.
Now the list:
Contact Manufacturers Directly
Look at the type of products you want to sell and contact who the manufacturer who makes them. By going to the manufacturer first, you can ask for a list of who their wholesale distributors are. Use this list as a starting point of what wholesalers you want to contact to see if they drop ship or not. Or, even see if the manufacturer drop ships.
This is an easy approach to developing a list of legitimate wholesalers that sell the type of products that you want to offer. You’ll spend less time trying to sift through long lists of suppliers and just finding ones that offer the products you’re looking for.
Purchase/Subscribe to a Directory
A directory is a compiled database of suppliers that you can sort by market or product type. Merchants like directories because the suppliers usually have to go through some type of screening process to ensure they’re legitimate. A direct can either be a single list you can purchase or a site that you can pay to be a member for all-time access.
Purchasing lists can be hard. Most of the time, you end up with a really long list of outdated contact information. But, if you know it’s a trusted source, a list might be a cost-effective way for you to find suppliers.
Subscribing to a directory, on the other hand, is usually the better way to go. Sites like Thomas Register and Worldwide Brands have a trusted reputation of providing a community where buyers and suppliers have an easy way of finding each other. Also, you can usually trust these sites to provide current, and accurate contact information.
If you’re not sure what niche you want to sell in or products you want to offer, directories are good way to explore options. However, if you already know what you’re looking for, they’re probably not worth paying for (unless you can find a free one). Instead, you can use some of the other tips to dig and find the right suppliers.
Use Google Search
It’s free, and you’ve probably already started here. Knowing the types of suppliers you’re looking for makes Google’s search results worth the time digging through.
- Look beyond the first page results: Suppliers are notoriously bad at marketing, which means that they’re not spending their dollars and time trying to be at the top of search results. You’re going to have to search through pages and pages of results, we’re talking like page #80. Be prepared to keep on hitting the next button until you find something
- Try lots of search terms: Don’t expect to just be able to type in “headphone suppliers” and magically get an extensive list. Their site isn’t built for SEO, so you’re going to want to try just about every combination of terms you can think of, “headphone reseller, wholesaler, bulk,” etc.
- Ugly Websites: Don’t be surprised that once you find a supplier, their website looks like it was made decades ago. Wholesalers aren’t selling to the general public, so their website aren’t going to be sexy. It doesn’t mean though they’re not a quality supplier.
Read Trade Magazines
If you know the industry you want to sell in, trade magazines can be an easy way to find the type of suppliers you need. Manufactures and wholesalers often advertise in these publications. Most importantly, you’ll know that you’re getting accurate contact information.
You can even find some of these trade magazines for free by just searching for them online.
Attend Trade Shows or Conferences
Attending a trade show or conference for a specific industry is also a great way to connect with suppliers. You’ll be able to talk to suppliers’ sales reps with suppliers directly about a possible partnership.
While you’re there, you can learn more about your industry and how it works. If you’ve got the time and money, this might be an interesting way for you to find suppliers.
If you’re looking for trade shows near you, check out the site Trade Show News Network.
When looking for suppliers, be prepared to use many of these ways to find drop ship suppliers for your business.
How to Avoid Fake Drop Ship Suppliers
As we’ve said, drop shipping is quickly becoming the foundation of many merchants’ businesses. This also means that there are people trying to take advantage of you. There are people that will “fake” being a drop ship supplier and will charge you the retail price, instead of the wholesale price so that they make a good chunk of change.
Keep these clues in mind to spot out any “fakes”.
- An individual wholesaler asks for ongoing fees just for the ability to do business with them. Real suppliers don’t do this. (Do expect some per-order fees though that can be a couple of bucks.)
- They sell the general public while advertising “wholesale prices.” Real suppliers require you to create an account and establish a relationship. Those who don’t do this, are just ripping you off with higher prices.
What to Do Next
Drop shipping can leverage you to start a new business or help you grow your current one. Either way, your success at implementing drop shipping as a fulfillment process relies on your ability to find the right suppliers.
Finding wholesalers and distributors that fit your business model requires extensive research and some legwork. Use our tips above to find suppliers. Then, you’ll be well on your way to drop shipping.
In the meantime, check out some of other articles about drop shipping and different fulfillment processes:
amazing guide, very useful info here is 2016 list of reliable drop shipping suppliers
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Awesome guide! I’m trying to find a good supplier list. Has anyone tried Salehoo? Does anyone have experience with them? I’m interested to hear more before trying them.
Thanks in advance!