Finding a supplier is a necessary step in order for you to launch and run your dropshipping business. There are a number of factors you have to consider when you are looking for the right dropshipping supplier who can provide you with the products that you’ll be offering on your online store.
If you’re not familiar with the process of finding a supplier, then this article should act as an informative guide on how to find the best suppliers for you and how to approach them.
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Now that we are on the journey to finding your dropshipping suppliers, keep in mind that suppliers aren’t exactly known for being great at marketing themselves and it can take some time to find the right supplier for you.
If you’re using good old Google to look for suppliers, you might have to do so extensively and with caution. You’ll have to weave through some fake wholesalers, who typically have better marketing strategies. Here are three easy ways for you to look for legitimate and verified suppliers for your store:
1. Use Oberlo
Oberlo is a great place for you to start looking for experienced and trusted suppliers. All suppliers on Oberlo have been pre-vetted and have a long-running track record of providing excellent services to dropshippers like you.
Oberlo allows you to easily find and even switch between suppliers. It’s generally a good place for you to find products and top-performing suppliers for you to work with.
You’ll be able to integrate Oberlo to your shop by downloading it from Shopify’s App Store. Once you do, you will be able to go on Oberlo, select from millions of dropshipping products from reliable suppliers, and import products directly from Oberlo to your Shopify store by just clicking on the import button—it’s really that simple and doesn’t take very long.
2. Subscribe to Supplier Directories
Supplier directories allow you to browse a large number of verified wholesalers by niche or product type. However, supplier directories aren’t always free and they will charge you for their services.
It’s nice to know your options though and supplier directories are a secure and easy way for you to find suppliers. You’ll be assured that suppliers are legitimate because these directories employ the use of a screening process to ensure legitimacy. This is a great option for you if you want to find verified suppliers quickly, especially if you are willing to pay for this type of service.
Here are a couple of supplier directories you might want to check out:
3. Contact the Manufacturer
This is a straightforward and easy way for you to find a legitimate wholesaler, especially if you already know what products you plan to sell. Simply contact or make your research on the product manufacturer of the items you wish to sell and get a list of their wholesale distributors. Once you have their list of wholesalers, you can contact them to make your inquiries on dropshipping and how to set up an account with them.
DROPSHIPPING SUPPLIERS TO AVOID
It’s important for you to be able to spot and avoid fake wholesalers because they could really put a roadblock on your business. You don’t want to deal with fakes, but chances are if you are looking for suppliers with the help of Search Engines alone and not looking for pre-approved suppliers from apps like Oberlo and other directories, then it’s possible that you may come across a fake wholesaler.
Here are some red flags to look out for:
1. Ongoing Fees
Avoid wholesalers who ask you for a monthly fee for doing business with them. This is just a way for a fake wholesaler to get more money out of your transactions with them. True wholesalers will not ask for ongoing fees.
2. They Sell to the Public
Retailers who pretend to be wholesalers often sell to the general public as well. They advertise their products as being sold at “wholesale” price so customers will believe that they are getting a good deal. In reality, they are getting marked up retail prices.
If you come across a wholesaler who advertises their products publicly, then this is an obvious giveaway. Most wholesalers will not discuss their prices until you have approached them and will require you to provided proof that you are a legally established business.
3. No Contracts
This one is a dead giveaway. If a wholesaler you find and want to work with refuses to sign a contract with you or insists that a contract isn’t necessary for you to do business together, then they cannot be considered safe or reliable.
SPOT A LEGITIMATE SUPPLIER
Now that we have rooted out who you should avoid, here are some signs that tell you that you are dealing with a reliable and legitimate supplier:
1. An Application Process
Legitimate wholesalers will require you to undergo an application process. They will want to do things right by determining that you are a legally established business entity before they decide to do business with you. They will have to approve of you long before you can discuss product prices with them. Finding a supplier who follows a regulated process like this is considered a good sign of their legitimacy.
2. Pre-Order Fees
While wholesalers shouldn’t charge you with monthly fees to work with them, many will charge you small per-order fees ranging from $1 to $5. This is an industry-standard, and the fee could depend on the size of the order, its complexity, and it will include the cost of packing and shipping the products. A pre-order fee is simply the cost of the supplier’s service.
3. Minimum Order Size
Some wholesalers will require you to make a minimum order. This is not uncommon. It’s a way for legitimate wholesalers to weed out the people who don’t mean serious business at all.
For dropshippers, this could pose a problem. You might not want to pre-order $500 worth of products. However, most suppliers will allow you to pay the minimum order fee and charge it to your future orders as they come along during the course of your business.
4. They Won’t be Desperate
When you approach a wholesaler, it is you who has to apply and meet their requirements in order to work with them. Fake wholesalers, on the other hand, might try a lot harder to get you to work with them and go through lengths to get to your money. Legitimate wholesalers are less likely to go through such antics with you.
OTHER THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN A SUPPLIER
Just because you’ve found a legitimate supplier, doesn’t mean there aren’t a few other things that you still have to consider besides their legitimacy. You want a supplier who is top-notch and offers you reliable and great services. Here are some things you might want to look for in a supplier before deciding to work with them:
1. Organized and Efficient
You want to work with a supplier with a competent staff that operates with a highly structured system of efficiency. A supplier who is constantly botching orders and making mistakes is less than ideal. You want smooth business transactions.
What you can do is to test their efficiency by making a few test orders to see what their process is like, from how long it takes them to ship their products, to how long it takes for the products to arrive.
2. Take Orders Via Email
Having a supplier that takes orders through email is going to save you a lot of time, especially when your business starts picking up speed. You’ll be saved the hassle of over the phone transactions which won’t be sustainable when you start receiving hundreds of orders every day.
3. Provides Support
A supplier with dedicated support representatives is a good feature to look for. It means that they care about the businesses they work with enough to provide them with a line in order to handle any questions or concerns that they may have.
4. Invested in Technology
A great supplier will have invested in the right technology to make the business process smoother. Look for a supplier who offers dedicated tools and features that facilitate business transactions, like real-time inventory trackers and searchable order histories.
BEFORE YOU CONTACT YOUR SUPPLIERS
When you have found a legitimate supplier or two that you think is ideal for you to work with and you wish to contact them, it's important that you know what you want first.
Show your supplier that you mean business by knowing exactly what you want when you contact them so that your time and theirs won’t get wasted. Make sure to approach them with a clear purpose in mind and be straight to the point.
Ask yourself: What do I want from this supplier, and what products do I want to offer in my online shop?
OPTIONS ON PAYING A SUPPLIER
Now it’s time for you to consider the modes of paying your supplier. We’ll let you know how some suppliers like to receive payment so you’ll be prepared when the time comes.
1. Credit Card
Many suppliers will require you to pay them with your credit card. It’s an easy and convenient way for both sides. Once you are an established and thriving business, using your credit card to pay your suppliers will remain a good option for all parties involved.
Not every supplier will accept PayPal, but most will. PayPal might not be as great as credit card payments because of their fees, but some instances may render it necessary. Try to stick to credit card payments when possible.
3. Net Terms
Under a net terms arrangement, you will be given a number of days to pay your supplier for purchases. For instance, if you are given net 30 terms on your invoice, you’ll have 30 days from the purchase date to pay your suppliers.
Many suppliers use this method, but you’ll have to provide them with credit references, so don’t be surprised if they ask you to provide some necessary documents before using this mode of payment.
When you have found your dropshipping supplier and you’re all set and doing business with them, this is the time you will really be able to see how efficiently and professionally they work. With a good supplier, everything should work smoothly.
Regretfully, some arrangements may not work out as seamlessly as we would all want them to go. If something isn’t working out for you, don’t hesitate to change your supplier and look for a better one.
We hope that you find this guide useful in finding the right supplier. If you have any questions on how to find a dropshipping supplier for your online store, Ecommerce Pro welcomes them. Together we will find the best possible supplier for you.