- By Ricky Hayes: July 6, 2020
Finding Reliable Dropshipping Suppliers in 2020
Looking for dropshipping suppliers in 2020 needs some savvy skills to match your goals with the capabilities of your supplier. However, you need to start off on the right foot with your paperwork and product idea.
Few things turn off product suppliers more than a newbie entrepreneur who doesn’t have an actual business strategy to start working with them. Consultative calls to suppliers using flaky language like, “I am interested in maybe opening a store in probably a few weeks or so,” will only earn you a blacklisting.
So you should make sure before you start your supplier search, you at least already have a company legally registered and probably even a Shopify store so that you can immediately start transactions with your chosen supplier. This gives you credibility so that your queries are more likely to get useful and timely feedback.
Telling Suppliers, Middlemen and Scammers Apart
There are many suppliers on the internet who are genuine manufacturers and wholesalers. There are also very many people posing as suppliers when in fact they are middlemen in close proximity to the supplier (for example both may be in the same city in China while you are in the USA). Finally, there are scores of scammers with no legitimate businesses looking to score a quick buck at your expense. How can you tell these different individuals and companies apart?
It is very important to determine whether the supplier is providing the actual product you are interested in. This starts with product knowledge by the sales representative and can be qualified by requesting samples from a potential supplier. Many manufacturers make knock-off versions of products at reduced prices to dupe dropshippers, ultimately affecting customer trust in your brand.
Many middlemen posing as manufacturers or wholesalers will ask you to pay an ongoing fee for them to ship to you a product at a certain price. This kind of subscription payment is never charged by actual suppliers who know this can drive away crucial clientele. This is a big red flag that you may be dealing with a middle man or scammer.
Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ)
Established suppliers tend to prefer large MOQ’s, usually starting at 100 on the lower end but commonly 1000 units per purchase. Finding a supplier who is amenable to a dropshipping arrangement is the ideal, but it is more likely they are a middleman. Tools to find suppliers who can dropship and ways around working with genuine suppliers setting high MOQ’s are described below.
Per Order Fees
These are shipping charges applied on products when the manufacturer dropships on behalf of your Shopify store. There are many ways this can be incorporated into the product price so that your store is not affected but allows the supplier to recoup the costs of dropshipping. A common method is to set a free shipping clause for orders above a certain quantity. This is tied to the MOQ negotiated between the merchant and the supplier. In the case of scammers, this negotiation avenue may not be possible as they are looking for profit maximization, not customer loyalty like the supplier.
Assess the Supplier for Reliability
Drawing a list of potential suppliers is just the beginning. Not all suppliers are a good fit to provide the product to your customers in the way you intend. Here are a few tips to help pick out the best from the rest.
Determine How Responsive their Communication is
It is very important to have timely communication channels between your customers, yourself and the supplier. In the event that this chain delays considerably or breaks entirely for reasons outside of your control, it is your Shopify store that will suffer losses. Working to establish a reliable method of communication such as WhatsApp or Weibo or even email with the supplier must be a priority.
Sales Reps are Knowledgeable
When dealing with a supplier, it is preferable to have a dedicated sales representative who understands the product and your requirements from the supplier. A supplier who keeps assigning you a different rep on each call will lead to longer issue resolution time since they need to come up to speed with the interactions so far. If the rep doesn’t know you, or the product well enough to maintain business momentum, you should let that supplier go.
Use Technology to Maximize Customer Satisfaction
A good supplier should have a real time inventory that lists their online catalog in an easily digestible format for you or your sales rep on their end. This allows rapid feedback to your customers through your Shopify store’s integration to the inventory. A supplier who is able to take your orders by email is also a big plus.
Located in A Convenient Part of the World for Your Market
Serving customers in the US would be better to have a supplier in the Midwestern states where the majority of shipping times are 1-3 days to the rest of the country. This is in comparison to a supplier on either coast or even China which has a shipping time of 7 days or more.
Effectively using Dropshipping Supplier Directories
Armed with selection criteria, where can you find the best dropshipping suppliers for your Shopify store? Below are a few good sources to start.
A 20-year-old directory listing primarily US based dropshipping suppliers that charges a flat fee of $299 for lifetime membership. It is a high fee for a new entrepreneur but becomes a bargain over time compared to other sites or directories.
A supplier directory combined with a community of ecommerce stores, dropshippers and wholesalers operating in the United States and globally. The directory boasts of listing over 1000 verified dropshipping suppliers. Access membership is priced at $67 per year or lifetime access from a one off payment of $127.
An integrated supplier directory with an interface that allows you to connect to multiple suppliers within the site instead of contacting them individually. This is a great feature if you want to compare suppliers or want to source multiple products from one site. On top of that, Doba offers an order fulfillment engine, making it a one stop shop for a starting dropshipper. The site offers membership plans ranging from $29 per month to $249 a month.
This is a business to business directory (B2B) offering listings of suppliers and wholesalers. Unlike the other directories listed above, Wholesale Central is free to access. Yes, it offers information on all its 1000+ suppliers completely free with tools to help businesses find each other. The downside is that only around 100 of the listed suppliers offer dropshipping while the rest offer wholesale deals. Additionally, it does not offer automated tools beyond finding your product of choice and the supplier for it.
Leveraging Marketplaces for Your Shopify Store
The two most popular marketplaces for finding suppliers to link to a Shopify store are currently AliExpress and Alibaba, both located in China and owned by Alibaba Group.
A large B2B wholesalers’ directory and marketplace connecting businesses to suppliers and manufacturers in mainland China, Hong Kong and Singapore. Most of the businesses listed operate on large volume orders so MOQ plays a big role in pricing and product movement. Established ecommerce stores on Shopify can take advantage of the lower prices if they can guarantee returns on dropshipping for the supplier.
A China based buying and selling portal that was originally offering business to business services (B2B) but now also offers business to consumer (B2C) and consumer to consumer (C2C) services. It is arguably the biggest marketplace for finding dropshipping suppliers for a very wide range of products across categories and interests. It is very popular for providing support to various dropshipping sites and integration tools such as Oberlo. With such a large variation of ecommerce occurring on the platform, it is quite easy to be duped into buying from a middleman and not the actual supplier of a product.
Integration with Shopify Search Apps
There are now a number of apps on the Shopify marketplace that can assist you find suppliers without leaving the site. These apps have gained popularity as they are integrated into the Shopify system so metrics and analytics are located in a central hub.
One of the most popular apps on Shopify for finding highly reliable suppliers on AliExpress without spending a lot of time navigating the site and vetting suppliers manually. The app is exclusive to Shopify and so it is tightly integrated into the system. It offers a number of unique benefits to users such as automated importing of product data from AliExpress into your Shopify store, one click order fulfillment, sales reports and dispute management. With an attractive free plan for small stores and a pro plan priced at $79.90 per month, this is an app worth trying out.
Spocket is a Shopify dropshipping app that connects your brand to suppliers in the US and EU. Shipping times are 2 to 5 days compared to suppliers in China and Singapore where the shipping times are between 1 and 6 weeks. It also offers features that can boost your store management such as auto import of product data into your store, price markup and order fulfillment. The pricing plan for Spocket is competitive with a free plan allowing up to 25 product imports per month. The empire plan is priced at $99 per month with unlimited product imports, branded invoicing and several customer support avenues.