Today is day five of the Ultimate Blog Challenge blog boost, and I’m loving all the new blogs I’m finding along the way. To take a look at the blogs taking part in the challenge check out the #BlogBoost hashtag on social, or follow my Twitter feed where I’m sharing a few of the best each day.
Today I’m taking a well-earned rest and handing over to a very capable guest poster, Kayleigh Alexandra from Micro Startups. I’m so excited to be working with her, because her mission is so well-aligned with mine. Micro Startups is committed to helping aspiring entrepreneurs achieve their dreams, no matter how big or small, and make the world ‘a smarter brighter and wealthier place’. What’s more, all their web revenue is donated to charity. Check out the great work they’re doing here.
Today Kayleigh has kindly agreed to talk to us about dropshipping, which is a great way to sell a range of products online without the need to handle inventory or fulfilment, which suits a lot of solopreneurs. If this is a business model you use (or have considered) in your online business, read on to find out how to find the best dropshipping supplier for your business.
Dropshipping is a great business model, one that reduces your overheads and lets you set up an ecommerce business without needing a stockpile of products. Dropshipping can also be a quick way of tarnishing your brand’s reputation if you pick the wrong supplier. Your supplier provides and sends your goods, but if there’s a problem in the supply chain, it’s your business that will lose face.
From knowing the type of dropshipping company you need, to giving the service a test-drive, here’s how you can pick the best supplier for your business.
Know what type of dropshipping company you need
Each industry has its own unique supply-chain and distribution needs – some demand that you get products directly from the manufacturer, while others allow for a regional distributor. To pick the best dropshipping supplier for your business, you have to know the different available types and then select the one that fits your business needs:
- Manufacturer: Unique products only available direct from an individual supplier
- Importer: Goods sold across borders so that businesses can sell them in different regions
- Wholesaler: Companies acquire goods at wholesale price from their producer and then sell them on or on behalf of other businesses
Dropshipping will usually fall into the wholesaler category, but there are businesses that create bespoke goods. In the simplest terms, you need to know if you want a supplier that sells finished products or if you need one that handles order fulfillment.
Research and review the available suppliers
Aliexpress, SaleHoo, Oberlo, Printify, Printful, these are just a few of the suppliers available to your business. Having decided which type of dropshipping supplier your business needs, it will be a simple process to begin trimming down your list of options – all you need to do is review the suppliers against each other to see how they fare on some crucial points, including:
- Delivery times
- Delivery costs
- Material sourcing
- Service scalability
- White labeling
- Customer service
- Shipment tracking
- Product customization
Although this is not an exhaustive list, at the very least, reviewing the above features for each supplier will help you make a better decision.
See which ones work with your online store
One of the most important features of any online business is its online store. As a result. a key part of your dropshipping selection process is to get a supplier that syncs with your online store – if it doesn’t, you could slow down your supply chain, lose track of your stock levels, or worse.
WordPress is the most popular website builder and its WooComerce plugin makes it simple to start an online business – over 20% of ecommerce businesses use WordPress and WooCommerce. WooCommerce offers a range of dropshipping options, such as AliDropship Woo, WooDropship, YouDroop. My personal pick of the WooCommerce dropshipping suppliers is AliDropship, as this allows you to use AliExpress (low prices, lots of choice) , but you may find a different one works best for you.
If you’re not a WordPress fan, chances are you will have used the Shopify online store builder – it’s second only to WooCommerce in popularity and includes plenty of options for your dropshipping supplier, including Modalyst, Oberlo, Spreadr App, and Spocket. My tip to you is to opt for Oberlo, as this provides the smoothest and broadest service, but you may decide another option is the right one for your business.
Both WordPress and Shopify are excellent ecommerce options, with Shopify arguably offering more features out-of-the-box. However, if you use another CMS, I recommend checking with your provider to see which dropshipping suppliers will connect with your online store – you should have no problem synching the major providers like Alibaba and AliExpress, and your CMS provider will have it’s own options too.
Purchase samples from your chosen supplier
The final part of your decision process for selecting the best dropshipping supplier is to give the company a test-drive, which you do by ordering from them. Purchasing samples give you a true indication of the time scales involved in the dispatch, along with the quality of the goods and service you will receive.
Some of the things to consider when reviewing the quality of the service from your chosen supplier are:
- How quickly did your products arrive – did it keep to the advertised time scales?
- Is tracking available? If not, was it easy to get the status of your order?
- Was white-labeling used?
- Did the goods arrive in working order?
These are all things your customers will demand of you and your dropshipping supplier must deliver on each of them. If it doesn’t, it will be your company that suffers reputational damage – not the dropshipping supplier.
Dropshipping is an excellent business model, one that makes it simple and cost-effective to enter ecommerce. The most important decision you’ll make once you decide to use this model is which dropshipping supplier you will use, so use the advice of this article to find the best one for your business.
By Kayleigh Alexandra of Micro Startups
I hope we’ve given you some information today that will help you decide if dropshipping could be an element of your online business. If you need more clarity in the way you’re running your micro business, you can grab our FREE printable workbook for solopreneurs. Just let us know where to send it. You’ll also get a chance to grab The Busy Blogger’s Success Kit for half-price, and a regular newsletter with tips, freebies, and special offers.