Drop shipping suppliers are an essential aspect of every dropshipping business. After all, without a drop shipping supplier, you have no products to sell to your customers! But, it can be difficult to find the right drop shipping supplier for your brand or drop shipping companies that stock the exact products you’re looking for.
As a followup to our previous post on dropshipping, Dropshipping 101: What is Dropshipping, many people wanted to know how to find reputable dropshipping suppliers. This is a great question because, naturally, finding a drop shipping supplier is the first step in the process of starting a dropshipping business.
For the majority of new ecommerce entrepreneurs, finding reputable drop shipping suppliers can be a daunting process, as the search can be littered with scams and dead ends. How do you know which suppliers to trust and which suppliers provide the best dropshipping products you can be sure your future customers will love? Since it can be such a challenging process to find the right dropshipping supplier, we’ve combined our industry knowledge and connections in this article to help new entrepreneurs like you find the best drop shipping suppliers for your business.
If you’re having trouble finding drop shipping suppliers for your business then you’ve come to the right place! We cover everything you need to know about finding drop shipping suppliers in this article, and we even give you access to our curated drop shipping supplier directory so you can find drop shipping companies to supply products for your store without having to search high and low all over the internet.
Table of Contents
- What is Dropshipping?
- The Drop Ship Supply Chain
- Is Dropshipping Right for You?
- What Products Should You Drop Ship?
- Requirements to Work With Dropshipping Suppliers
- What are the Best Drop Shipping Suppliers to Use?
- How to Find Dropshipping Suppliers
- Can You Dropship on Amazon, eBay & Etsy?
- How to Manage Dropshipping Inventory & Multiple Dropshipping Suppliers
- Free Dropshippers vs. Paid Dropshippers
- Free Dropshipping Suppliers Directory
- Explore Our Premium Dropshipping Suppliers Directory
- How to Contact Dropshipping Suppliers
- How to Get Your Dropshipping Business Started
Finding Drop Shipping Companies & Suppliers Video Overview
What is Dropshipping?
To recap our last article, dropshipping is a business model that allows merchants to operate ecommerce stores without owning, handling or shipping inventory. It’s typically a business model that’s utilized by entry-level entrepreneurs as it’s very accessible to get started with — there’s no need to purchase inventory, there’s no inventory to be responsible for, there’s no requirement to handle complicated shipping processes and it’s just generally a much less hands-on type of business to start.
While those are some of the advantages of starting a dropshipping business, it comes with some disadvantages as well. Sourcing dropshipping products can be a bit of a challenge as there are so many suppliers out there is can be difficult to know who to trust. Since it’s such an accessible business model to get started in, there can also be plenty of other ecommerce merchants out there who are already selling, or looking to sell, the same products as you’re interested in selling, meaning there can be lots of competition. Finally, one of the biggest disadvantages of dropshipping is that the profit margins are much slimmer than other types of business models like wholesaling or manufacturing products from scratch. This is because other people or companies are handling so many different aspects of the supply chain on behalf of your business — namely the inventory handling, picking, packing, and shipping responsibilities — so, of course, they are compensated for doing that work for you and it’s reflected in the profit you earn from the products you sell.
So while dropshipping is an accessible business model to get started with that helps teach new entrepreneurs how to manage and run an online business and helps them to learn valuable lessons along the way, it can be difficult to grow a dropshipping store in the long term, and it isn’t the most efficient way to grow a sustainable business over time.
The Drop Ship Supply Chain
In order to have a full understanding of dropshipping and to find the right dropshipping supplier for you, it’s important to understand the dropshipping supply chain. To start off with, it’s important to understand the difference between manufacturers and wholesalers:
Manufacturers are the companies that actually produce a product or products. For example, Nintendo is the manufacturer of the Wii gaming console. Some manufacturers will have a dropship program in place which allows other merchants to directly partner with them to sell their products. If this is the case, the merchant can sell the manufacturer’s products on their own website and whenever they make a sale, the merchant just forwards the information to the manufacturer and the manufacturer will pick, package and ship the product to the customer on behalf of the merchant. When the customer receives the package, they’ll believe it came directly from the merchant as the manufacturer won’t put their own branding on the packaging or product.
When it comes to dropshipping, working with manufacturers is an ideal scenario because merchants are able to cut out all the middlemen which can sometimes be involved in the supplier process, which typically means they get the cheapest price on the goods they sell, allowing for greater profit margins. For these reasons, when looking for a dropshipping supplier for your own dropshipping business try to work with a manufacturer, if you can.
If a manufacturer doesn’t have a drop shipping program in place, then they may choose to work with a wholesaler to sell their goods. A wholesaler is any business that purchases goods directly from manufacturers and then resells those goods at a slight markup to retailers but at discounted wholesale prices.
A wholesaling company may also be known as a distributor, which is simply a company that specializes in distributing products to other retailers. These wholesale distributors will purchase products in bulk from manufacturers and may offer a dropshipping program which allows merchants to partner with them to sell the goods. If you’re dropshipping goods through a wholesaler, it’s safe to say the price has been marked up from the original price they paid the manufacturer because the wholesaler has to make a profit, too.
Sometimes, additional wholesalers who purchase from other wholesalers might be involved, and they may be pretending to be purchasing directly from the manufacturer. If this is the case, merchants who dropship from them will be purchasing products at a further increased price.
This is why you as a merchant have to be careful which kind of supplier you work with because any markup added by the manufacturer, wholesale supplier or distributor you work with will eat into your own margins which can make it more difficult for your business to compete in the market.
Attributes of Real Dropshippers
As mentioned above, sometimes deceptive middlemen, distributors or suppliers will try to play themselves off as real dropshippers when, in reality, they aren’t. Real dropshipping suppliers generally all have several attributes in common that you can look out for to help better protect yourself and ensure that you’re working with legitimate dropshipping suppliers and that you’re getting the best possible price:
- Real Dropshippers Generally Don’t Sell to the Public: Most dropshippers are focused on selling to other businesses and don’t sell directly to the public.
- Many Dropshippers Require an Application: If you can just sign up with an email and name, chances are they aren’t a legitimate dropshipper. Most, if not all, dropshippers will require some type of application to weed out the tire-kickers.
- Many Dropshippers Require an EIN Number & Reseller Certificate (For US Citizens): Most legitimate dropshipping suppliers will require some legal information from you to set up an account. In the USA, this is usually an EIN number and reseller certificate. If you’re from another country working with a US-based drop ship wholesaler, just tell them you’re from another country and aren’t required to have those items.
- Most Real Dropshippers Have Ancient-Looking Websites: Don’t expect a beautiful, modern website from great dropshipping suppliers. Most legitimate dropshipping suppliers haven’t stayed current with the times and have very dated-looking websites. Some, however, are in the process of updating their sites, so if you do come across some modern-looking ones that’s an added bonus but this is just something to keep in mind.
- Real Dropshippers Don’t Publish Their Prices: Since they don’t sell to the public and they want to protect their pricing, legitimate dropshippers often do not publish their prices online. They will likely give merchants special login information after their application is approved so they can access prices through a private part of their website or they’ll send merchants a spreadsheet of their pricing.
These attributes might not directly apply to every single dropshipping supplier out there on the market, but they’re some good rules of thumb to help you differentiate legitimate dropshipping suppliers from middlemen or distributors who hike up the price, or from non-legitimate suppliers that may be looking to scam potential merchants. Always think critically about every dropshipping supplier you look into and do your own due diligence to confirm whether or not a dropshipping supplier is legitimate.
Is Dropshipping Right for You?
While you might think dropshipping is the right business model for you based on its low-commitment and easy accessibility, there are other types of business models that exist that might be a better fit. If you’ve never considered these business models, you may be missing out on the bigger picture of business models in the ecommerce marketplace.
Other Types of Business Models
Dropshipping is just one business model in a sea of many. Some other relevant business models that exist include:
- Private Labeling
Private labeling is perhaps one business model that’s the most similar to dropshipping. When merchants private label products from suppliers, they’re able to list the supplier’s products on their own website and they’re able to sell them as if they are their own products. The supplier creates products that they either put no branding on whatsoever, or they put your store’s branding on them, so even if the product is a generic design or formula, your branding is put on the product to make it your own. This is helpful for merchants who want to create a more branded experience and want to build a brand their customers can engage with.
What sets private labeling apart from dropshipping, however, is that the supplier does not handle any of the inventory for merchants and they don’t package and ship the products directly to customers on the merchant’s behalf. This, obviously, is a huge differentiation from dropshipping because that’s one of the aspects of dropshipping that makes it so appealing to so many merchants. When it comes to the profit margin, sourcing products through private labeling typically offers a more generous profit margin potential than dropshipping does, but it largely depends on a case-by-case basis where the type of product, industry, and supplier will impact the overall profit margin potential.
Wholesaling and manufacturing, on the other hand, are quite different from both private labeling and dropshipping. When merchants source from a wholesale supplier they’re typically sourcing products that already exist under a reputable brand name. When merchants sell wholesale products there are often certain guidelines they must adhere to, such as the selling price and when products are put on the shelves and when they’re taken off the shelves. The profit margins for wholesaling are a little more generous than they are for dropshipping, but there often is a ceiling based on the supplier’s strict selling guidelines.
Finally, manufacturing is generally the most difficult business model to get started with because there are often MOQs to meet, there’s lots of inventory to be responsible for, and the inventory must be picked, packaged and shipped by the merchant rather than the supplier. This business model typically offers the biggest return on investment, though, because the profit margins are the most generous out of all of the business models.
Now that you understand all that information, you can adequately consider whether or not dropshipping is the right business model for you depending on your own circumstances and goals.
Why Dropshipping May Be Right For You
Dropshipping might be the right business model for you to pursue, if:
- You don’t have a lot of time or capital to source inventory
- You’re looking to sell validated products that are very likely to sell well on the market
- You have very little experience with ecommerce and you just want to test out the waters
- You want to start an ecommerce store quickly and easily
- You’re okay with not having total brand control over your products
- You understand that your profit margin earning potential will likely be much lower than it could be through any other type of business model
Why Dropshipping May Not Be Right For You
Dropshipping might not be the right business model for you to pursue, if:
- You want total control over the branding of your products which can include everything from putting your own logo on your products to creating unique product packaging to creating a branded unboxing experience and much more
- You want to have the biggest profit margin potential as possible
- You have time and funds to get started building your online business
- You have a vision for your brand and you want to bring that exact vision to life
- You want to have a completely unique product that no one else sells
- Your product idea is something that doesn’t already exist and it needs to be created
What Products Should You Drop Ship?
Once you’ve determined that dropshipping is the right business model for you, it’s time to start thinking about which product, or products, you’re going to dropship online. Choosing which product to drop ship isn’t an easy task; there are many factors, considerations, and criteria to consider.
First, if you’re totally new to the idea of dropshipping and you don’t know what kind of dropshipping products exist on the market and you don’t even have a product idea, then it might be helpful to look through some supplier directories to start figuring out what’s even available.
If you’ve had a look through our Dropshipping Suppliers Directory (check out the free preview Dropshipping Supplier Directory here) you can see that there’s a huge range of different dropshipping products available. Everything from clothing to accessories to pet products to homewares and furniture to appliances and equipment and so much more. Many entrepreneurs who want to start a dropshipping business but have no clue what products to sell browse through a dropshipping suppliers directory to get a feel for what’s available on the market.
Often, just by perusing through the directory they’ll find a product that they’re interested in selling, and as an added bonus they’ll already have the information to be able to contact the supplier right from the directory! This helps cut down the steps it takes to go from finding a product to finding a supplier of that product, which can sometimes be a very time-consuming process.
Another way to find dropshipping products online is by finding a niche you’re passionate about or active in and then finding dropshipping products that suit that niche. To get started finding a niche market, think about your own interests and the activities you participate in. Some examples of niches include backpacking, wine-tasting, literature, gardening, and DJing. If you’re having trouble thinking of niches you might be a part of, check out our downloadable guide of 500 Ecommerce Niches to help get you started.
Once you’ve picked a niche market to focus on, think about what the people in that niche market already spend their money on and what they might be interested in purchasing from you. Selling dropshipping products to a niche market is a lucrative business model because people are often very willing to spend money on their passions — even if the products aren’t necessary or practical.
Finally, if you’re planning to start your dropshipping business with Shopify (which we highly recommend because it’s one of the best ecommerce platforms available on the market, accessible for new entrepreneurs, has powerful scalability features for growing stores, and is one of the most highly recommended ecommerce platforms on the market, as we discuss in our in-depth Shopify Review) you might want to check out the dropshipping supplier apps on Shopify’s App Store to find dropshipping product ideas and the suppliers who already sell them. We’ve rounded up the 10 Best Shopify Dropshipping Apps to Acquire Inventory for Your New Store in this article, which includes some of the best dropshipping suppliers providing in-demand products to Shopify sellers.
Once you’ve started thinking up some product ideas you think you could dropship to your chosen niche market, evaluate those product ideas to make sure that they’re something customers would actually buy. To do that, it’s important to go through the process of evaluating your dropshipping product ideas.
We touched on this evaluation process in our Reverse Engineering the Perfect Product to Sell Online article. In this article, we discussed everything you need to think about in order to find a great product to sell online, such as:
- Potential Market Size
- Existing Competition
- The Market Forecast (Trending, Fad, Stable or Growing)
- The Local Availability
- The Target Market
- Potential Markup Potential
- Potential Selling Price
- The Number of SKUs (Stock Keeping Units)
- Potential for Subscription Business Model
- The Product’s Size & Weight
- Durability & Breakability of the Product
- Any Potential Seasonal Purchasing Swings
- Whether the Product Solves a Pain Point or a Passion
- Product Turnover Potential
- Whether the Product is Consumable or Disposable
- Whether the Product is Perishable
- Any Restrictions or Regulations Surrounding the Product
Take those evaluation criteria in consideration to think about your potential dropshipping product idea to evaluate whether it might be a viable dropshipping product to continue pursuing. You might find that the product idea you thought your niche market would like is actually something that wouldn’t sell well because it’s easily perishable, or maybe there’s already a lot of competition in the market and your ecommerce business wouldn’t be able to survive. If that’s the case, simply think of other product ideas and go through the evaluation process again.
Don’t let one, two or a few weak points in your product idea stop you from pursuing it all together, just be aware of the weaknesses that exist so you can prepare for them in the future. No product idea is perfect, so think critically about your dropshipping product idea and the potential that it has.
Finally, one of the most important considerations when choosing a dropshipping product to sell online is the retail price point of the product. This is important because margins on drop shipped products are slim, making it difficult to make sizable profits. This can make it extremely difficult if you’re selling $5-$20 products and only making a few dollars per sale. Consider choosing products priced at least $50 and up. These can sometimes be difficult to find in the dropshipping marketplace — especially since suppliers have a markup on dropshipped products because they handle the manufacturing, sourcing, inventory management, and shipping aspects of the process — but they’re well worth the search.
Requirements to Work With Dropshipping Suppliers
To get into dropshipping, there are a few important items you’ll need to get set up. In the USA, you’ll need an EIN number and a reseller certificate to work with legitimate dropshippers. An EIN number is like a social insurance number for your business, so you’ll also need to have a proper business set up. Once you have a company set up, getting an EIN number is a quick process.
A reseller’s certificate (also called a resale license, resellers license, resale permit, sales tax permit or sales tax ID) is also for Americans planning on drop shipping.
If you’re a US-based seller, this certificate exempts you from paying sales tax for the products you’re re-selling to others. Your customers will pay this sales tax when they buy the product. You’ll collect the money and send it to the state on a routine schedule.
What are the Best Drop Shipping Suppliers to Use?
We’re sorry to inform you that there is no single best drop shipping supplier for all businesses to use — it entirely depends on the type of business you want to start and the types of products you’re looking to sell! There are, however, some guidelines you can operate by to give you the best chance at success when searching for a great drop shipping supplier.
Drop Shipping Suppliers to Use
- Automated Processes: Dropshippers that can integrate directly with your ecommerce store are ideal so orders can automatically be passed on from your ecommerce platform to your drop shipping supplier. Automating your store in this way allows you to work in a more hands-off way and keeps orders flowing seamlessly to your supplier in real time. Many drop shipping suppliers have integrations with ecommerce platforms like Shopify, so take a look at their app store to see the suppliers that have that kind of capability.
- Low MOQs: Drop shipping suppliers with low — or, preferably, no — minimum order quantities are ideal so you don’t have to purchase inventory upfront. When it comes to drop shipping, there should generally be no need to purchase inventory upfront.
- Great Communication & Support: A drop shipping supplier that answers your emails and keeps you up-to-date on the status of products when they’re in or out of stock is crucial. You want to work with a drop shipping supplier that makes your life easier.
- Ample Product Selection: When you work with a dropping supplier that has a vast product selection you get to offer more products to your customers which means more potential sales for you!
- High-Quality Products: You want your customers to love your products, so working with a dropshipper that provides high-quality products is a must.
- Fast & Reliable Shipping: Customers don’t want to have to wait too long for their orders to arrive, and they’ll be more likely to order from you again if they have a positive experience with your brand which can be impacted significantly by shipping wait times.
- Located in Your Target Area: Drop shipping suppliers that are located near where your target market is located means that your customers are more likely to receive their orders faster and it can even mean that duties and taxes may not need to be applied to their order.
- True Dropshippers Not Middlemen: Working with a true dropshipper, not a middleman, aggregator or distributor of dropshipped products mean that you get the best possible profit margin that you can.
- Healthy Profit Margins: Making a profit is important and even though drop shipping product margins are notoriously lower than other types of business models, you want to work with a drop shipping supplier who gives you the best possible profit margins on products that they can offer.
- Return Policy: Drop shipping suppliers that offer some type of return policy is important. Before working with a drop shipping supplier make sure you know what their return policy is and if and how they handle returns or if they expect you to.
- Product Samples: It’s important for you to see your products in person, so you’ll likely want to work with a drop shipping supplier who can provide you with samples of the products they offer. You’ll likely have to pay for the samples, whether it’s discounted or full price, but try to work with a drop shipping provider that is willing to provide you with sample products at all.
- Expanding Product Selection: Drop shipping suppliers that continuously add new products to their offering give you more product options to sell to your customers which can help make your business better!
- Competitive Shipping Costs: It’s likely that good dropshippers will work out a deal with shipping companies so they can offer lower shipping costs, so look for drop shipping suppliers that can provide that so you can save on shipping expenses.
- Branding Options: Drop shipping suppliers that offer some type of branding options give your products that extra touch when your customers receive their order, even if it’s just something small like your logo on the shipping box or the receipt. Ask any potential drop shipping suppliers you want to work with what branding options they can offer you.
- Unique Products: Drop shipping suppliers that offer unique products give you the best possible chance to stand out. Since drop shipping is such an easy business model to get started in, it’s extremely important that you do everything you can to stand out.
Drop Shipping Suppliers to Avoid
- Outdated Website: Drop shipping suppliers with outdated websites can make for more work on your end of things. It may mean that they don’t offer direct integrations, order automations may not be possible, and getting in touch with them can be more difficult. Look for drop shipping suppliers that have an easily navigable website.
- Run-of-the-Mill Products: Unique products are what’s going to set your store apart from the competition, so drop shipping suppliers that sell any old products that customers could purchase at any old store just aren’t going to cut it.
- MOQs: If a drop shipping supplier requires you to purchase a minimum order quantity of products to do business with them then they probably aren’t a dropshipper. Drop shippers don’t generally operate by MOQ business models so there’s no need to purchase any inventory upfront unless you want some on hand.
- An Aggregator or Distributor: Try to go straight to the source and find manufacturers or suppliers that dropship straight from their factory. This means that you won’t be conducting business through middlemen like aggregators or distributors who will sell products to you at a marked-up price, causing your profit margin earning potential to shrink.
- Low-Quality Products: High-quality products are going to be the reason customers keep coming back to your store, so make sure your drop shipping supplier’s products meet your standards.
- Poor Communication or Support: Your drop shipping supplier is going to be like a business partner to you, so you want to be able to contact them easily and efficiently. If a dropshipper doesn’t communicate well or responds slowly to customer support tickets, then they may not be the best option.
- Unreliable Shipping: Shipping is a critical part of the drop shipping process and if your dropship supplier can’t get products to your customers consistently then they’re going to be opening up a mean can of worms for you to handle when your customers start inundating you with complaints. Find a drop shipping supplier that makes shipping a priority.
- Inconvenient Location: If your drop shipping supplier ships from overseas or out of continent, then it might make packages take longer to arrive at your customers’ doorsteps and it could also possibly mean they might have to pay duties or taxes when the package does arrive. Consider how this could affect your customers’ experience with your brand.
- Low Profit Margins: Profit is important for every business, so work with drop shipping suppliers that offer you a reasonable profit margin earning potential.
- No Return Policy: Not every drop shipping supplier will have a return policy where they accept products back once a customer has returned them, but some do. Either way, at least look into your drop shipping supplier’s return policy ahead of time so you know what to expect when working with them.
- No Branding Options Offered: Again, not all drop shipping suppliers will offer branding options but it’s in your best interest to find one that does, no matter how small. Even if they just print your logo on the shipping box or receipt, it reflects much more positively on your brand.
How to Find Dropshipping Suppliers
Once you understand dropshipping, have an idea of the type of dropshipping products you want to sell, you’ve evaluated your dropshipping product ideas to ensure that they’re viable to sell to customers online, and you have all the necessary paperwork ready to submit to your dropshipping supplier when the time comes, it’s time to actually find dropshipping suppliers for the dropshipping products you want to sell online!
There are a number of ways to find dropship suppliers, but generally, there are 3-4 main ways. In this section, we’ll cover the most common approaches for finding a dropship supplier.
- Contact the Manufacturer Directly:
- If you already know which type of products or brands you want to sell, the best approach is to contact the manufacturer directly. As mentioned previously, this is the best way to cut out middlemen and get the best possible pricing.
- For this sourcing tip to work, you’ll need to know the manufacturer of the product you want to dropship. If you don’t know who the manufacturer is, see if you can figure it out! Sleuth around online to see what you can dig up, and remember that the manufacturer may not have the same brand name as their trading name, so you may want to search via their trading name as well.
- The manufacturer may or may not have a drop shipping program in place, however, if they don’t, they should be able to point you to any of their authorized distributors that have dropshipping programs established.
- Search on Google:
- As you probably can imagine, searching Google is your best bet for finding drop shipping suppliers if you’re willing to work hard to find them.
- The most important thing to keep in mind when searching Google for suppliers is that it’s not easy to find them. Suppliers notoriously have outdated websites and don’t keep up with modern search engine optimization tactics which means that for the first time, you likely won’t find your answer on the first or second page of Google. In fact, it’s not uncommon to have to dive into page 10+ before anything relevant starts to show.
- When searching, you’ll always want to use a variety of terms like: “Dropshipper,” “Dropship Supplier,” “Dropshipping Supplier,” “Drop Shipping Supplier,” “Dropshipping Reseller,” “Dropshipping Product Supplier,” “Wholesale Dropshipper,” etc.
- Also, try to use targeted keywords in your search to find dropshipping suppliers that are directly relevant to your product idea. For example, try: “Clothing Dropship Supplier,” “Pet Supplies Dropshipping Supplier,” “Hiking Gear Drop Shipper,” “Yoga Mat Dropship Shipping Supplier,” etc.
- Purchase a Supplier Directory:
- Some of the best sources of dropshipping suppliers can be to use online dropshipping supplier directories. Online dropshipping supplier directories usually have profiles for hundreds or thousands of different dropshipping suppliers, depending on the directory, and they’re usually updated pretty frequently.
- Dropshipping Supplier Directories are also one of the best places to search for dropshipping product inspiration because you can see what kind of dropshipping products already exist on the market and once you do find a dropshipping product you’re interested in selling, there’s already a supplier for it!
- A word of warning when it comes to finding dropshipping directories online: Conduct your own due diligence to make sure the directory is legitimate and kept up-to-date. While there are a lot of great dropshipping directories online, many can be low-quality and provide little value. Be as sure as you possibly can be about the directory before you use one or purchase one.
- We’ve curated our own premium Dropshipping Suppliers Directory to help entrepreneurs find dropshipping products for their dropshipping businesses. Have a look at the free preview of our dropshipping directory to get started.
- Get Referrals:
- Throughout your search to find the perfect dropshipping supplier, you might find suppliers that aren’t the right fit for your brand or business. If this is the case, ask them to refer you to another supplier that might be a better fit! Since they won’t be getting your business anyway, they usually will have no problem referring you to another relevant supplier in the industry. Being in the industry means they will likely have great contacts and a vast network of other suppliers, and many are likely be more than happy to refer you to a different supplier that might be a better fit.
- Additionally, some of the best leads can come from referrals by friends, family, colleagues or peers. Social networks have also made it much easier to get the word out about great dropshipping suppliers so make sure to use channels like Facebook Groups, Reddit, Twitter, Slack and others to get referrals on dropshipping suppliers for your ecommerce business.
Can You Dropship on Amazon, Etsy & eBay?
The short answer to this question is yes — you can dropship products on multi-seller marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, however, some conditions may apply when it comes to drop shipping products on Etsy.
Selling Dropshipping Products on Etsy
Etsy has specific rules and standards that they hold their sellers to which may impact your ability to sell dropship products through their platform. For example, the Etsy Seller Policy states:
- All handmade items must be made or designed by you. If you work with a production partner, you must disclose that production partner in your relevant listings.
- You must accurately describe every person involved in the making of an item in your shop in your About section.
- You must use your own photographs — not stock photos, artistic renderings, or photos used by other sellers or sites.
- Reselling is not allowed in the handmade category on Etsy. Reselling refers to listing an item as handmade when you were not involved in designing or making that item.
Generally, if you source your products through drop shipping it’s likely that you will not meet Etsy’s Seller Policies and, therefore, will not be able to dropship your products on their platform. However if, for some reason, you’re working with a particularly unique drop shipping supplier which happens to satisfy Etsy’s Seller Policies, then you will be able to dropship products on their platforms. This generally isn’t the case, however, so unless you know that you’re sourcing products from a drop shipping supplier who definitely meets Etsy’s criteria then we would not suggest trying to sell drop shipping products on Etsy.
Selling Dropshipping Products on Amazon
Amazon and eBay, however, have much different seller policies compared to Etsy and it’s much more likely that you can sell dropship products from their platforms. Amazon’s Drop Shipping Policy, for example, states the following:
Drop shipping, or allowing a third-party to fulfill orders to customers on your behalf, is generally acceptable. If you intend to fulfill orders using a drop shipper, you must always:
- Be the seller of record of your products;
- Identify yourself as the seller of your products on all packing slips, invoices, external packaging, and other information included or provided in connection with them;
- Remove any packing slips, invoices, external packaging, or other information identifying a third-party drop shipper prior to shipping the order;
- Be responsible for accepting and processing customer returns of your products; and
- Comply with all other terms of your seller agreement and applicable Amazon policies.
Examples of drop shipping that is not permitted:
- Purchasing products from another online retailer and having that retailer ship directly to customers; or
- Shipping orders with packing slips, invoices, external packaging, or other information indicating a seller name or contact information other than your own.
Failure to comply with these requirements may result in the suspension or removal of your selling privileges.
Amazon seemingly just wants it to be as foolproof as possible for the customers receiving the products. If customers start receiving products they ordered on Amazon from a supplier they didn’t think they ordered from it can become confusing and can possibly damage the customer’s view of Amazon. This is likely why Amazon requires all drop shipping on their platform to meet the above criteria so it’s as seamless and straightforward for their customers as possible.
Selling Dropshipping Products on eBay
eBay also explicitly states in their policies that they allow drop shipping on their platform. Here’s an excerpt from eBay’s Drop Shipping & Product Sourcing page:
Drop shipping, where you fulfill orders directly from a wholesale supplier, is allowed on eBay. Remember though, if you use drop shipping, you’re still responsible for the safe delivery of the item within the time frame you stated in your listing, and the buyer’s overall satisfaction with their purchase.
However, listing an item on eBay and then purchasing the item from another retailer or marketplace that ships directly to your customer is not allowed on eBay. In such cases, we may remove your listings from search, display them lower in search results, or remove them completely from the site. We may also limit, restrict or suspend your ability to buy, sell, or use site features on eBay, and you could lose any special status and/or discounts associated with your account.
If you’re planning on selling drop shipping products on ecommerce marketplaces such as Amazon, Etsy and eBay we encourage you to ensure that you meet each platform’s specific policies and regulations before you start selling on their marketplace. This will ensure that you have the best chance at successfully selling to customers on each platform.
How to Manage Dropshipping Inventory & Multiple Drop Shipping Suppliers
The best part about drop shipping — you don’t have to manage any inventory!
But seriously, this is one of the major perks about drop shipping and it’s one of the main reasons that so many new entrepreneurs choose to use the drop shipping business model. Not only is it very accessible because it doesn’t require a lot of experience or capital to get started, but there’s no need to bulk buy inventory upfront, or ever, so you’re not left with a warehouse full of products to organize and keep track of. Can we get a hallelujah!
However, if you are working with multiple drop shipping suppliers or if you get a fair amount of product returns, then there might be some inventory management to take care of. Here are our tips:
Tips for Managing Inventory
Work with drop shipping suppliers who handle the returns process for you. If you can find them, this is a huge advantage that will take weight off of your shoulders. Some drop shipping suppliers might not accept returns though, which doesn’t make them bad drop shipping suppliers, it just might mean you have some more logistics to take care of on your end. If this is the case for you, then find a way to repurpose the returns, send them back to your supplier so they can be resold, or for the cost of returns to be cushioned by your profit margins.
Tips for Working with Multiple Drop Shipping Suppliers
If you’re choosing to source drop shipping products from multiple suppliers, our top tip is to make sure the ordering process is as automated as it can possibly be. This likely means that you’ll want to make sure that each drop shipping supplier can integrate directly with your ecommerce store so you don’t have to place orders manually. Most drop shipping suppliers that integrate directly with ecommerce stores do so through apps provided through ecommerce platforms, so check out the app store for your ecommerce platform to see which drop shipping suppliers offer integrations.
When your drop shipping suppliers can integrate directly with your online store this means that not only will customer orders automatically forward straight from your store to your suppliers but whenever an item goes out of stock on their end, they can automatically edit the stock levels so it updates the item as being out of stock on your website, too. This means you won’t have to constantly be on the lookout for inventory updates from each supplier or manually updating stock changes on your site. Keeping things as automated as possible will help you stay organized which is essential when working with multiple drop shipping suppliers.
Free Dropshippers vs. Paid Dropshippers
In your search to find the perfect dropshipping supplier for your ecommerce business, you might find that some drop shipping suppliers are free to work with, while others require you to pay a recurring or flat-rate fee. Why is this?
This free vs. paid structure totally depends on each droshipper’s individual business model and the way they operate their company. As a dropshipping supplier, when working with merchants who operate dropshipping ecommerce stores, it can be a volatile industry to exist within as they service many different types of merchants. Some merchants are seasoned entrepreneurs with a high volume of orders per month, which means the dropshipping supplier is guaranteed business and they’re guaranteed to make sales and profit. Other merchants, however, could just be starting their first online business and they might have very little orders at first while they grow their traffic. Since their order volume is so low, the dropshipping supplier likely won’t make much in sales and profit from the merchant, which means they may not be able to cover the cost of their operations simply just off the price of the products. Since the landscape of merchants can be so varied when it comes to dropshipping, this could be a reason why some drop shipping suppliers require a monthly or flat-rate fee on top of their normal product prices.
Drop shipping suppliers also might charge upfront fees to weed out any tire-kickers that might potentially waste their valuable time and resources. Only serious merchants who are 100% interested in building, launching and growing a successful dropshipping business are likely to opt into paying a fee to work with a dropshipping supplier and so this helps the dropshipping supplier protect themselves from merchants who may otherwise take advantage of their services.
Some suppliers, like Printful, who we used in our How to Start a T-Shirt Business in 24 Hours article, don’t require merchants to pay a recurring monthly or flat-rate fee in order to use their dropshipping service, even though they do handle all the same behind-the-scenes aspects of fulfilling dropshipping orders. This is likely because they’ve worked all the costs of fulfillment into their prices, and they likely have a recurring volume of orders from all different types of entrepreneurs every month that helps them keep their prices low.
So, ultimately there’s no type of dropshipping supplier that’s better to work with, it all depends on the dropshipper and on the type of dropshipping supplier that you want to work with. Just be aware that while you’re in the process of finding drop shipping suppliers online, you might find that some dropshippers require monthly or flat-rate fees while others do not so consider how that will factor into your business’ costs.
Free Drop Shipping Suppliers Directory
If you’re just starting to test the waters in ecommerce and not sure if starting a dropshipping business is the right step for you, then checking out a free dropshipping directory might be the best place for you to find dropshipping suppliers online. This way, you can check out the kind of suppliers that are available on the market without having to commit to a paid dropshipping suppliers directory.
Have a look at our Free Dropshipping Suppliers Directory here. It’s a preview version of our Premium Dropshipping Suppliers Directory so it contains actual dropshipping suppliers that exist in the dropshipping industry, and you can get a glimpse into what to expect from the Premium Dropshipping Suppliers Directory. Try it out for free with no commitment to purchase the full directory.
Explore Our Premium Drop Shipping Suppliers Directory
If you’re interested in going one step further, our Premium Dropshipping Suppliers Directory is a curated and comprehensive list of drop shipping suppliers specializing in many different types of products and goods. The dropshipping suppliers in our premium directory are based all around the world and supply products to clients everywhere.
The drop shipping suppliers in our dropshipping directory are professionals at what they do, and their experience lends itself well to providing a positive experience for new entrepreneurs and veteran business owners alike. No matter whether you’re just starting your first dropshipping business or you’re adding new dropshipping products to your current offerings, the drop shipping suppliers in our premium dropshipping directory have something to offer you.
These are the categories our premium dropshipping directory covers:
- Apparel & Shoes
- Assorted Merchandise & Miscellaneous
- Adult Products
- Automotive Parts & Supplies
- Beauty & Fragrances
- Child & Baby
- Computers & Electronics
- Food, Consumables & Supplies
- Gifts & Novelty
- Health, Fitness & Wellness
- Hobby & R/C Toys
- Home & Office Decor & Fixtures
- Jewelry & Accessories
- Outdoor & Tactical Gear
- Pet & Farm Supplies
- Sports Merchandise & Collectables
- Dropshipping Directories
- Printing & 3D Printing
Our Premium Drop Shipping Suppliers Directory also includes suppliers located in these countries:
- The Netherlands
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- The United Kingdom
- The United States
As you can see, our Premium Dropshipping Suppliers Directory offers a wide selection of dropshipping products and a vast range of suppliers located around the world. It’s one of the most curated and comprehensive dropshipping supplier directories on the market and we update it frequently to ensure that the suppliers are held to a high standard.
How to Contact Dropshipping Suppliers
Once you’ve found dropshipping suppliers to source your dropshipping products from, it’s time to reach out to those suppliers so you can get the ball rolling! Some dropshippers will have an online application you can submit to get started, other dropshipping suppliers you’ll have to get in touch with directly to find out how to actually begin sourcing products from them. The process will vary from dropshipper to dropshipper, so evaluate each situation on a case-by-case basis.
Look for a page on the dropshipping supplier’s website that’s specifically dedicated to their dropshipping process. They’ll likely disclose all the information there you need to know about how to get started sourcing products from them, or the next steps you need to follow in order to contact them.
Best Practices for Contacting Dropshipping Suppliers
- See what information you can find on their website first before contacting them about their dropshipping processes. They may have already answered your questions on their website.
- If they don’t have a specific dropshipping page on their website, check for a page on wholesaling, sourcing, supplying, or any other similar keywords. As we’ve mentioned before, some suppliers offer a dropshipping service but they just don’t call it “dropshipping.”
- If there are no set instructions on their website detailing how to get started dropshipping with them, contact the supplier directly via their preferred method of contact. When you contact them, inquire whether they’re accepting new dropshipping clients, how to get started sourcing dropshipping with them, and any documents or information they might need from you to work with them.
- Once the supplier has messaged you back responding to your questions and has made it clear that they’re accepting new dropshipping clients and they’re interested in working with you, then ask them more questions you might need to know to get your dropshipping business started. These questions could be about their pricing, their dropshipping process, how you forward orders to them, how they handle returns, and the shipping methods they use for the products.
When you’re corresponding with dropshipping suppliers, be sure to take notice of how the supplier responds to you. If they’re taking a long time to get back to you, or if they’re not communicating with you in a way that works best for you, then they might not be the right supplier to work with. Suppliers are the heartbeat of your online business — without them, your business wouldn’t be able to survive — so you need a supplier that can work within your time frame and is conscious that you need to communicate efficiently with them in order to get business done.
Keep in mind, however, that suppliers are busy and they’re typically juggling many different clients so they can’t be at your beck and call — but a supplier that respects your time and responds within appropriate time frames is important to look out for. How they communicate with you at the beginning of your relationship as business partners sets the tone for what to expect from them throughout your time working together.
How to Get Your Dropshipping Business Started
Finally, once you’ve settled on a dropshipping supplier to work with, you’ll have to take the next steps to get your dropshipping business up and running.
If you’re starting a t-shirt dropshipping business, we highly recommend checking out our How to Start a T-Shirt Business Webinar as it goes through the process step-by-step and you can walk through the entire process of starting a dropshipping business online from scratch.
You can also check out our One Page Ecommerce Business Plan to help you work through your business ideas and get a plan laid out for how you want to bring the vision of your business to life. This is a great tool to use if you’re starting your very first online business, a dropshipping business or not, because it helps you walk through every element of a business step-by-step so that you don’t forget anything as you’re getting your online business ready for launch time.
Once your business is getting ready to be launched, download our Launch Checklist to make sure you don’t miss a single thing. Launches can be stressful, it’s a busy time ensuring that everything with the business is in order, and this checklist has been formulated so entrepreneurs have all the information they need to pull of a business launch without forgetting the crucial steps.
Now that you have all this information in mind, you should be able to search for, select and approach dropshipping suppliers with ease. Take your time finding the right supplier for your dropshipping business as they’ll be one of your main business partners and they’ll make all the difference when it comes to your store’s day-to-day operations. Good luck!