When it comes to researching potential dropshipping suppliers that you’ll be looking to work with for your e-commerce store, there are a lot of questions that you need to ask so that you feel comfortable partnering with them.
Please view this list of questions as a starting point, and not an exhaustive list, because there is no way we could cover all of the scenarios you could face as you begin to research your potential product partners.
1. Does The Supplier Work With Dropshippers?
Not every company wants to work with dropshippers as they prefer to sell on a wholesale basis and want to work with larger minimum order quantities.
Other suppliers may not be set up to fulfill orders one-by-one, offer blind branding, etc, so it’s best to know that right away if they can’t offer dropshipping options so you can quickly move on to research other suppliers.
If they DO work with dropshippers, then you’ll want to work your way through the questions below.
2. Will They Do Business With A First-Time Business Owner?
Many dropshipping suppliers will work with any legitimate business, but they may have different requirements based on how long you’ve been in business.
For example, they may offer different payment terms to e-commerce owners that have a longer track record than brand new eCom owners that are just getting started in their own business for the first time.
You’ll want to know exactly how they’ll work with you if there are indeed differences in how they work with different types of businesses.
3. Questions To Check Company Background
If your potential supplier does work with dropshippers, you’ll want to do your due diligence on them before you get too far to ensure they are a legitimate supplier. Unfortunately, there are a lot of scammers in this arena, so it’s imperative you know that you can trust them to partner with your business.
Here are some important questions to ask to verify their background:
- How long have they been in business?
- Can they provide you with some references?
- Can they provide a company registration number?
- Do they have feedback and/or ratings available to review online?
- Have you searched online for feedback on their company and/or products?
- How quickly do they respond to questions/inquiries, etc?
- How do you feel about their responsiveness in terms of time to get a response and the quality of their responses?
4. What Dropshipping Options Does The Supplier Offer?
Just because a supplier offers dropshipping options, there can be varying degrees of service levels that they may offer.
For example, while they may be willing to ship one-off purchases for your customers, they may require a certain sales volume each month to want to continue doing business with you, so you’ll need to know if they have minimum sales requirements.
You’ll also want to know things like:
- Do they offer blind branding (blind product brand and shipping boxes and labels) so that your buyers don’t know who is fulfilling the order?
- Do they offer tracking so that you can provide that information to your customers?
- Do they accept refunds directly from your customers?
- How do they handle product quality issues and questions you may have?
5. What Are Their Payment Terms?
As mentioned briefly above, different suppliers may also offer or require different payment terms to work with them.
The differences in payment options can be very big and can affect your ability to work with them or not.
These are questions you’ll need answers to:
- Do they have a minimum order and/or sales amounts to continue working with them? If so, how much do they require to be sold and in what specific amount of time?
- How do they require payments to be made and when?
- Can you pay as you place each order or do you pay one bill each month or on some other time frame?
- Can you pay via credit card or do they require bank wires?
Another critical question is to find out if they charge any additional fees related to dropshipping outside of the normal product and shipping costs. Some suppliers will offer to dropship on your behalf, but they will only do so for additional fees.
6. Can They Meet Your Inventory And Shipping Time Needs?
While many suppliers can offer dropshipping options, you also need to know if they can meet your product selling volume demands as well as shipping times.
There are a lot of factors in play here, so it’s important that you really dive in here, especially if you know that you expect to sell a lot of products quickly.
Not only do you need to know if they can get your product out the door fast, but you also need to know how much volume they can handle.
Here are some critical questions you need answers as a starting point:
- How much inventory do they have on hand?
- How many other sellers are selling these same products?
- How long will it take them to replenish stock?
- Will they alert you if they are near to selling out and/or when they sell out?
- Do they have safety measures in place to ensure they never run out of inventory, no matter how quickly the products sell?
- How quickly do they ship products out once you place your order?
- What are their shipping times?
7. Does The Supplier Provide Quality Product Information?
As you begin to work with new products and add them to your store, you need quality information about each product to work with for your product descriptions.
You’ll want to see what kind of descriptions and images they provide for you to work with. Yes, you’ll certainly want to write your own custom descriptions and take your own product photos and videos in order to stand out, but it helps make your job easier when they provide solid product information from the beginning to work with.
8. Can You Brand The Products You Want To Sell?
This option is not important if you do not have any plans to offer your own branded line of products and only plan to sell your products as-is.
However, one of the best ways to grow your sales margins and income is to offer your own line of branded products.
So, if you think that this may be an option for you in the future, you’ll want to know if being able to brand the product, the packaging, and any other product inserts, instructions, etc is an option.
9. Does Their System Work With Dropshipping Automation Apps?
Using an automation app like Dropified can help to remove a lot of the manual tasks it takes to run a dropshipping company. As a result, you’ll want to know if their shipping process/system will integrate with your automation app if you use one.
Many dropshipping suppliers will have an API connection that allows you to hook their shipping system up to your selling and automation systems so that you can automate a lot of information and tasks.
You’ll want to know if their system can help automate:
- Shipment tracking information that is sent automatically to your customers
- Inventory alerts to let you know if inventory is low or sold out so you can adjust your promotions accordingly.
If their system does NOT integrate easily with your automation app, then you need to consider how much of your sales will need to be done manually to make sure you account for the manual costs associated with fulfilling in this fashion.
At the end of the day, the suppliers you work with are a direct reflection of your business, so you must do your due diligence and be certain that the suppliers you choose to work with are solid companies that stand behind their products and work hard to partner with you to ensure your success as well.