Finding the right supplier(s) for your dropshipping business is crucial for success, yet many fail to build a solid foundation at this part.
Suppliers in drop shipping means wholesalers (not manufacturers) & a supplier can make or break your business.
Another difference to know is that you can work with suppliers individually or use platforms like AliExpress (where suppliers & products are listed & categorized)
Since legitimate suppliers are quite poor at marketing, they are often hard to find.
This article lists down some popular & effective methods to you help you find the right supplier for your next dropshipping store.
What to Look for in a Supplier?
Before you start the hunt, you need to understand some traits of a good supplier – so that you know what to consider before finalizing one to work with.
Just because a supplier is willing to collaborate with you, doesn’t mean it’s trustworthy. There are a lot of suppliers if you go on searching extensively.
This is definitely the foremost thing to consider. Dropshipping is a real business & suppliers are the backbone of it. One should always work with suppliers who meet some business standards in terms of communication & operations.
Reviews are another primary thing to look at. Platforms like AliExpress allows users to add product reviews – these product reviews can help you get a hint on the products quality as well as suppliers image.
Make sure to go through the product/supplier reviews if available & see the pain points listed by other consumers or drop shippers for that supplier/product. You can also use Google to further inspect the suppliers’ image.
If you feel like the supplier is not good after reading reviews, don’t work with them.
Product Prices & Shipping Costs
Different suppliers may have different prices for the same product – the product quality may vary though. And so is the importance of researching the wholesale prices on the internet – so you know if the supplier you’re working with is actually offering you fair prices.
Shipping cost is another thing to consider & it varies from suppliers to suppliers – depending on the country you are targeting & if the supplier has a local warehouse within that country.
Customer Support Quality
Almost every supplier may provide a customer care number or email to reach them, but some of the suppliers have pathetic services. They don’t even know how to communicate. So it’s better to work with suppliers who can help efficiently help you with the queries you & your consumers may have.
If your supplier has a local warehouse within the target country you’re selling to – you would get leverage on shipping costs & time. This is definitely a plus.
Return/Refund Process & Damage/Defect Policy
This one is important, once you start pouring in some sales, things can go messy. One common thing that needs to be taken care are the returns or refunds, or damage/defect policy in business terms.
Ask your supplier about the terms & conditions when any damage to the product occurs or if any return is required due to a defective product. Either you or your supplier gonna bear the handling charges for replacing shipments.
Integration Possibilities for Product Importing & Orders Syncing
Do you want to leverage automation? In order to seamlessly import products to your store & sync orders with the supplier, many dropshipping product/supplier sourcing platforms like Spocket & Oberlo can be integrated within Shopify & BigCommerce – so the work can be automated & the supplier is notified as soon as the sale appears.
However, in many cases (especially when working with individual suppliers), you would need to manually forward each order. You should be aware of whether your supplier offers integration or any similar support – so you don’t have to do manual work.
Products Quality (verify by ordering samples)
This is the best takeaway tip that almost every dropshipping blog is sharing out there. It’s important that you verify the quality of the products by ordering samples from different suppliers, before launching into the market.
Bad quality products can do enourmous damage to your dropshipping business – increased returns, negative reviews & most importantly.
On the top of that – you lose many potential consumers (repeated sales) & you’ve already spent money to acquire them.
Many businesses across the globe calculate the CLV (Consumer Lifetime Value) & compare it with acquisition costs. Basically, a customer lifetime value means how much a consumer has spent on your business on average. On the other hand, acquisition costs are the money spent on acquiring each consumer.
It’s clear that if the acquisition costs are greater than the lifetime value of a consumer, you’re undoubtedly in loss.
Therefore, it is highly recommended to verify each product on your own by ordering samples, before you sell them to your customers.
How to Find Suppliers for Dropshipping?
Since most of the dropship suppliers do not focus on marketing, they are hard to find – sometimes very hard.
You can collaborate with a dropshipping supplier individually or use third-party marketplaces/platforms like AliExpress where a wide range of dropshipping products (categories) & suppliers are listed.
Some of these platforms are free to use, however, some might require a monthly fee to start with. Depending on your budget, you can opt for any method. Unquestionably, going with a free route would require more work as compared to using paid platforms.
It is recommended to finalize more than one supplier rather than solely depending on one – this will be your backup option when something goes wrong or the supplier does not meet your requirements.
Below are some ways you can find suppliers for your dropship business:
Method #1 Play Around with Google Search
A deep search on Google will help you find out a variety of suppliers as per your niche or products. What you have to do is search for suppliers using various keywords as per your needs.
You just have to be a little smart here & use some phrases that suppliers might use on their website – for dropshipping registration or inquiry.
In most cases, the phrase “become a dealer drop shipping” or “become a dealer dropship” works really well – because most of the dropshipping suppliers’ website has a page for retailers to contact them & this page has keywords like become a supplier, become a reseller, etc.
As we see, the above phrase is quite generic & hence suitable for entrepreneurs who are targeting to launch a general store.
However, to narrow down the searches for niche-specific or single-product stores, you can tweak the phrase & include location & product keywords.
For example, Become a dealer dropship/dropshipping [Category Keywords] + [Products Keywords] + [Location Keywords]
Become a dealer dropship + home decor (niche category) + us (location keyword)
Explore these results & use google to your advantage.
Remember that not all dropship suppliers are focused in marketing (SEO) & so don’t forget to check search results from 9th, 10th or even 50th page.
Method #2 Dropshipping Supplier & Product Sourcing Directories
Another cool & hassle-free method to find tons of dropshipping suppliers & products is to use free & paid dropshipping supplier directories & dropshipping product sourcing platforms – like AliExpress.
For beginners, it is recommended to opt for free platforms otherwise you would end up with $29-$50 additional bill on your monthly expenses, recurring each month.
1. Inventory Source
Inventory Source allows you to connect with over 300+ wholesale suppliers listed on their platform. It is basically a dropship automation software – product syncing, orders management, etc., – that integrates these suppliers to your online store or marketplaces like Amazon.
Although inventory source is a premium service, the best thing is that you only have to pay if you use their automation software or other features.
This means, browsing through a bunch of available suppliers is free & you can pick names from there & research them further on your own by visiting them via Google.
One thing I like about Inventory Source is that they have advanced filters to help you find the right supplier yu are
Plans & Pricing: You can browse through the dropshipping supplier’s directory for free, but the integration (products importing & orders sync) feature is paid.
AliExpress is the most popular platform to find millions of products for dropshipping from over 40+ niches. The majority of suppliers registered with AliExpress are from China. It also has manufactures registered from Australia, the US & other countries.
But since most of the products manufactured in China are of low quality, many of the dropship entrepreneurs are now ditching AliExpress & using alternatives like Spocket.
However, you can still find some good suppliers at AliExpress but the research needs to be done very thoroughly.
Plans & Pricing: Free to use.
Oberlo is a dropshipping automation platform that allows you to import products from AliExpress to your store. Once you sign up with Oberlo, you can browse through popular & trending products from AliExpress within the Oberlo web app & you can import them to your store in one click.
Plans & Pricing: Oberlo now has an amazing free plan that allows you to import up to 500 products to your store. This plan used to be paid a few weeks ago so this is definitely the right time to unleash the power of Oberlo.
4. CJ Dropshipping
CJ Dropshipping is another great platform that has millions of products to source for dropshipping.
The best thing about CJ dropshipping is that the platform allows you to select warehouse location from where the product will be delivered – helping you offer an optimal delivery time to your customers, as per the location you are targeting.
Plans & Pricing: Most of the features with CJ Dropshipping is free to use & a premium plan if also available.
Another great platform to find quality products for dropshipping is Spocket. Spocket has more than thousands of quality products for dropshipping – ready to be delivered in a fraction of days.
The reason behind the success of Spocket is that they have manufacturers from the US, EU, & Australia that offer quality products – unlike AliExpress, wherein most of the products are of cheap quality.
With that being said, Spocket not only gives you advantage over product quality but also over shipping times, which if definitely a cruical factor for success.
Plans & Pricing: The free plan offers nothing & just lures you to get signups. The basic plan starts with $24/month & allows you to import only 25 products. Furthermore, the $49/month plan allows you to import up to 250 products. Definitely not worth it if you are a complete newbie
Method #3 Browse Through Trade Shows & Expos
Another way to find dropshipping suppliers for your store is by visiting trade shows & expo websites to browse through the list of active exhibitors participating or have participated.
This method is used by a few & is effective in the long run.
However, one must keep in mind that these exhibitors are manufacturer/wholesale suppliers, not dropship suppliers – meaning that most of them will not be interested in working with you.
But if you outreach them, represent yourself & tell them about your plans, there are chances that you’ll convince them in collaborating with you.
Finding a supplier this way means more profitability & good business relationships – but the work is tedious I must say.
Final Step: Establish Yourself & Contact Suppliers/Manufacturers
Contacting manufacturers directly is one more option & efficient in terms of business relationships & profit margins – but finding a manufacturer & convincing them to work with you is tedious.
Now that you’ve seen a few methods to find suppliers, you can start searching & shortlisting some. While searching for suppliers, you will definitely come across manufacturers.
Not all manufactures would be aware of dropshipping & hence you must reach out to them directly & ask if they are open to collaboration.
You can introduce yourself as a small business founder & let them know how passionate you are to make your business up and running.
Contacting manufacturers directly rather than suppliers is a path to way more profitability – you get the products at wholesale prices if you manage to convince manufacturer.
While reaching out, pitch your plans & help them understand how you can bring value & sales to their business – if they are unaware of dropshipping.
If the manufacture seems to be not interested, you can ask them if they can share the list of wholesale distributors they are working with – which you can further contact to see if they allow dropshipping.
The Bottom Line – Summing Up
Suppliers are the backbone of the dropshipping business & you cannot succeed without good ones. Since you don’t hold any product inventory, your dropship business is solely dependent on suppliers you’re working with.
I hope this article helped you understand some ways to find legitimate & quality suppliers for your dropshipping plans. Just keep in mind that genuine suppliers:
- Do not ask for monthly fees until there are services that justifies the price
- Do not sell to the general market – they are a wholesale business & wholesale business is B2B not B2C
- Do not ask for an additional commission on each sale
- In most cases, do not ask for minimum order quantity
With that being said, make sure that you invest a good amount of time in finding a reliable supplier for your store. All the best & thanks for reading 🙂