Choosing a Good Dropshipper
I can't stress enough how important it is to ensure that you know a dropshipper is reliable before even thinking of subscribing to their service. There are a few critical factors you need to consider and test before committing to trust a particular dropshipper to use. Let's review what a dropshipping model looks like:
1. Seller decides to buy item.
2. Seller pays for item.
3. You buy item from dropshipper (at a lower price) and instruct dropshipper to post item to buy directly.
Imagine Yourself As The Buyer
Put yourself in the shoes of the buyer. It is December 1, and you are thinking of buying an MP3 player as a Christmas present for a friend. You come across an eBay listing selling an affordable MP3 player. Not too expensive, player looks not too shabby, perfect as a gift for a good friend! Let's say the seller inserts the following description in his eBay item listing of an MP3 player - "Your item will be shipped in 48 hours and you will receive it in 10 working days". You do some calculations. Hmm.. if you place an order now, your friend should receive his gift by Christmas. A normal buyer probably has little or no idea about dropshipping, and most would assume a seller actually owns the physical item, and will post the item personally.
Let's say the seller of this MP3 player uses a dropshipper from Hong Kong. The seller decided to use this dropshipper because the dropshipper promised on his website, that they will ship all orders within 48 hours, and that delivery will take 10 days. However, what if they do not stay true to their promise? What if, at the point when the seller ordered the MP3 player, the dropshipper was out of stock? What if the dropshipper takes a week to get new stocks before finally shipping the player? Are the postal service delivery times as promised by the dropshipper accurate? What if they are not?
As you can see, things are getting pretty dicey here. An unrealiable dropshipper could take ages to finally get your product to your customer. If you have an impatient customer, he or she could give you a negative feedback on eBay (a system whereby potential buyers can look at your past feedback to determine if you are a reliable seller). Too many negative feedbacks can be disastrous. Imagine getting a feedback like this from a disgruntled customer who took ages to receive her item - "Dishonest seller! He told me I would get my MP3 player in 12 days! Now it's been A MONTH and it's still NOT HERE. My friend is going to be so disappointed! It was supposed to be a Christmas gift for him! Guys, stay away from this seller!" That's going to hurt your business very very badly.
Other Consequences of Choosing a Bad Dropshipper
There are instances when dropshippers ship the wrong item due to worker miscommunication and mistakes. Especially during peak seasons, this cannot be totally avoided. An unreliable dropshipper who constantly ships wrong items to your customers and pisses them off will hurt your reputation and ultimately your business. That said, not all dropshippers are 100% foolproof. However, your best bet is to choose the dropshippers that are as reliable as possible. Do searches of them on Google to know about their reputation. Chances are that if they are bad dropshippers, internet forums and websites will be rife with complaints and warnings from resellers about them. Do take these reviews with a pinch of salt though. Sometimes, resellers deliberately try to spoil the reputation of a good dropshipper to reduce competition from other resellers who might wish to sell the same thing. The best way to determine for yourself which dropshipper you would like to use, is to personally test them. Do small test orders for a few items you need personally. If you have no need for any items, at least do an order for something low cost. Decide for yourself if they are truthful in the shipping times and accuracy of items. When in doubt whether to start listing a particular new product, always dropship one item to yourself for quality checks before attempting to sell to others. This can potentially reduce a lot of problems. Alternatively, to reduce the ordeal of being taken for a ride by different dropshippers, you may also sign up for premium services that give you exclusive lists of reputable dropshippers and suppliers to choose from.