Have you got a dropshipping business idea and you’re ready to give it a shot?
If so, you’ll find this guide to finding dropshipping suppliers very useful.
There are thousands of suppliers across the globe, offering a ton of different types of products that vary wildly in quality – so how do you find the right dropshipping supplier to work with?
You might think you can just look for them online, but actually, it’s a little more complicated than that. Dropshipping suppliers aren’t known for their great marketing skills, so actually finding good ones can be trickier than you think.
Picking an unreliable dropshipping supplier is a problem you definitely want to avoid. Late deliveries or missing items can do real damage to your brand – that’s why it’s so important to pick a great supplier that you can trust.
It can be a daunting prospect.
There are a few shortcuts you can take however, and we have a few tips and tricks to help you find a reputable supplier that can offer the best quality products to your customers.
By the end of this guide you will hopefully have learned:
- how to avoid fake or unreliable suppliers,
- what to look for in a good supplier, and;
- what tools you can use to make the process a lot quicker and easier.
Let’s start with weeding out suppliers you don’t want to work with …
How to Spot a Fake Dropshipping Supplier
Before we go into how to find a good dropshipping supplier, let’s take a look at how to avoid the fake ones!
There are a few companies out there that do a great job at looking like a legitimate supplier. The problem is, sinking your money into a membership fee with these companies is going to leave you with nothing in return.
So, how do you avoid these suppliers?
Look out for these common signs:
They Sell to the Public
The role of a dropshipping wholesaler is that they provide a service for you as an eCommerce business.
Their role is to hold inventory for you and complete the order fulfilment – not to sell to the public. If a supplier is selling to the public too, it’s usually a sign that something isn’t right – they’re likely to just be a regular retailer, selling items at higher prices than a wholesaler should be.
They Ask for Ongoing Fees
Although you might come across some legit fees to pay, scam wholesalers commonly ask you for monthly membership or ‘service’ fees. This is not standard practice for legitimate dropshipping suppliers – you shouldn’t have to pay a fee just for the privilege of shopping with them.
If you spot a supplier wanting to charge you a monthly fee, steer well clear.
Lack of Contact Details
One last tell-tale sign that a company is fake: there will be no way of contacting them. A reputable company should ideally have multiple ways to get in touch with them – email, phone, online chat, that kind of thing. A fake company will make it difficult or nearly impossible to get hold of them (for obvious reasons).
What Makes a Good Dropshipping Supplier?
Now onto the good suppliers. What should you look out for?
A good dropshipping supplier should have friendly, knowledgeable staff who really understand their products.
If you’re diving into a new niche you don’t know much about, having someone who can give you advice is a useful thing. With bigger suppliers, you may find that the product range is too vast for the customer service reps to have specialist knowledge.
This might not bother you, but it could be a deciding factor depending on the niche you’ve chosen.
You can find out a lot about a company by how much effort they put into their customer services. How fast are they at responding to queries? The best dropshipping suppliers will assign you an individual sales rep – this saves so much time (and a lot of stress) if you need to resolve a problem, as it stops you from having to explain the same issue again and again to different reps.
Having an assigned sales rep allows you to build more of a personal relationship with the company, which is a useful thing to have if you want to work with the same supplier well into the future.
Location is key if you live in the U.S. Having a centrally located wholesaler can save a lot of time on shipping. If your dropshipping supplier is located on a coast, it can take over a week for orders to be shipped – whereas if you choose a centrally located supplier, it takes 2-3 business days on average.
It goes without saying that if you aren’t based in the U.S, it’s a good idea to look out for a supplier in (or closer to) your own country.
Having said that, sometimes dropshipping suppliers based in China can offer cheaper products (and therefore better profit margins for you), but the downside is you can expect longer shipping times and you may end up paying more for shipping too.
Ease of Use
With technology having advanced so much even in the last ten years, there isn’t really any excuse for a cluttered, difficult-to-navigate website. It sounds like a small problem, but if you’ve got to use the same platform every day and it’s stressful and annoying to use, it’s going to drive you crazy.
Some useful features to look for include:
- A real-time inventory
- An easy to navigate catalog
- Customizable data feeds
- A searchable order history
Basically, look for a platform that makes your life easier!
The better quality your products are, the less likely you are to have to deal with returns, and the better your reputation will be.
If you can, try to place a test order. Not only will this enable you to check the quality, it will also allow you to see how long it takes for your delivery to arrive – and therefore how long your customers will be waiting for their orders, giving you a good idea of the experience your customers will have.
(This is especially important if the supplier you’re looking at offers products at prices that seem a little too good to be true – it’s really worth checking the product quality in that case. The last thing you want to do is harm your brand with low-quality products.)
Also, as a side note – you might want to consider ordering products from your competitors. This allows you to check the quality of the goods they provide and the delivery time – allowing you to compare it to your chosen supplier.
What Fees Should I Expect to Pay?
Before we take a look at some of the best dropshipping suppliers out there, let’s take a look at some of the fees you might have to pay. You may have to pay per-order fees – this can be anything between $2-$5 per order, depending on the scale of the order. This is a standard charge to cover packing and shipping costs.
You also might come across minimum initial order size – the lowest amount you have to buy for your first order. This is a way of putting off businesses wanting to order very small amounts of products who won’t actually bring them a decent amount of business, or individuals wanting to get products at wholesale prices.
This can cause issues if you have a small initial order that you need to make, but the supplier expects you to order more. In that case, you can pay them the amount that they require, and have it credited to your account to use for future orders. (Again, this is where having a good relationship with your supplier is helpful.)
How to Find a Good Dropshipping Supplier
So, how do you find a great supplier? You can do the obvious and sift through search engine results, but that’s going to take a long time and involve a lot of effort.
Thankfully, there are a few tools you can use to find decent suppliers much more quickly.
Before You Start
If you like, check out our guide on dropshipping business ideas for some inspiration on how to find a profitable niche.
You don’t need to know what your niche is before you start looking for suppliers – in fact, some of the tools and services below might help you with that – but it could save research time if you’re already got an idea about what you want to sell.
Use Our Dropshipping Directory
What is a dropshipping directory you might ask?
A dropshipping supplier directory is essentially a database of genuine suppliers that you can search through, organized by niche, product, or market. While they aren’t strictly necessary, they can save you a whole lot of time and hassle. They can help you to avoid a lot of headaches by filtering out difficult, untimely or fake wholesalers. Plus, they can even provide you with inspiration for a new niche if you’re not sure where to start.
Basically, they act as a huge shortcut for you!
Our own directory of 400+ suppliers is a comprehensive database to some of the best suppliers out there. We only include suppliers that are trusted, reliable, and professional – so we can help you avoid fake or badly run wholesalers.
The suppliers are based all around the world, not just in the U.S, and we cover a huge range of products and services, so you should be able to find suppliers that work perfectly for your business.
Plus, we update it regularly. We know that trends change, and suppliers can change just as quickly. A one-time purchase of our directory gives you access to all future updates too.
If you’re interested, you can find out more about it here.
Use a Dropshipping App or Integration
Okay, so other than a supplier’s guide (or alongside it), what other tools are out there to help speed up the process of finding a good supplier?
There are quite a few apps and services out there to choose from.
You could go for an integration with your eCommerce platform (Shopify and WooCommerce have quite a few options). Some services allow you to import products from suppliers straight into your eCommerce store – cutting out some of the time you might otherwise spend looking for suppliers.
The downside to these apps and integrations is that a lot of people will be using them at the same time – increasing the amount of competition you will face. If you want to avoid competition, you might have to put a bit more work in to find a niche that isn’t over-saturated.
It also takes some of the personal connection out of the process – so although in some ways it’s easier just to click and add products to your store, you’ll potentially be sacrificing a good working relationship with the supplier itself.
This isn’t necessarily the end of the world, but it’s definitely something to consider.
Here’s a quick look at some of the best services out there.
Alibaba is a huge online marketplace with 12.7 billion estimated annual orders. It can be pretty overwhelming to know where to start with Alibaba – it’s packed with wholesalers selling a huge variety of products.
You can search by category, which can help you to find your niche. Some third-party apps help you to connect Alibaba with eCommerce stores like Shopify (like Importify, which we’ll get to in a moment).
AliExpress is similar to AliBaba, the main difference being that AliExpress is open to consumers as well as retailers. The AliExpress Dropshipping Shopify app is great.
It’s easy to use for beginners, but it offers enough for more advanced dropshippers too. It runs smoothly, it has a super-fast setup time, and you can start selling straight away.
You can also use the Chrome extension – this lets you import products from AliExpress with just one click (you can edit images and product descriptions too). Pricing starts from $5 a month.
Doba is another online marketplace, and it acts as a middleman, bringing hundreds of suppliers into one marketplace for easy browsing. With over 2,000,000 products to choose from and the option to export your product listings to Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, Volusion, and API or data export integrations for over 100 other platforms, it’s a useful tool. Doba’s pricing starts at $29 per month, but they also offer a 30-day free trial.
Dropified offers a few tools for dropshippers. Their research tools allow you to find profitable products to sell, and their video tutorials help you to market your store effectively. This alone is pretty useful.
They also act as a middleman, allowing you to import products from AliExpress and eBay to your store. Their integration with Shopify, WooCommerce, CommerceHQ and GrooveKart automates a lot of the processes that normally take up a lot of time. Their pricing starts from $47 a month, and they have a 14-day free trial.
Importify integrates with Shopify and WooCommerce. It’s a pretty user-friendly platform, with reviewers praising the navigation and how simple it is to make orders. You can edit product information before importing if you want to.
They import products from some of the heavyweight suppliers – AliExpress, Alibaba, Walmart, Amazon, and more. It starts from $14.95 a month.
Oberlo integrates with Shopify and allows you to quickly import products from suppliers. It automatically fulfills orders, gives you inventory and price updates automatically, and allows for product customization.
It’s a great integration if you have a Shopify store, and it has a free plan of up to 500 products.
ProductPro integrates with Shopify and uses only US-based companies – cutting down shipping time drastically. The goods are of a high standard, with over 50,000 products to choose from.
One stand-out feature of ProductPro is the internal messenger – this connects you to suppliers directly if you have an issue or a question you would like to ask. This side steps some of the communication problems you might encounter working with a third-party app.
The app is pretty easy to use, with automated fulfilment and product management. It has a free plan.
If you want to get into the print-on-demand game, Printful is the one for you. It integrates with Shopify, WooCommerce, Wix, Squarespace, and more. It gives you access to hundreds of print-on-demand products including clothing, homeware, and accessories.
Plus, they don’t have a monthly fee – and they can take care of warehouse storage and fulfilment, too.
Spocket (which integrates with Shopify and WooCommerce) has glowing reviews. They have great pricing – with between 30-60% discount for merchants. This should increase your profit margins pretty nicely.
They also offer personalized company branding for receipts and invoices, giving your dropshipping business an air of professionalism.
You can order sample products, so you can check the quality and take your own photos of the products. The inventory updates automatically and they even offer one-click fulfilment offers. There is a free plan available.
Salehoo is great for beginners. It connects you to 8,000 suppliers with over 2.5 million products – so it’s a pretty huge platform. You can search through Salehoo to find what you’re looking for, and their suppliers are based all over the world.
Although it doesn’t integrate with Shopify or other eCommerce platforms, it does take some of the hassle out of finding products. Plus, you can find what is trending using their market research tools and connect with other dropshippers using their forums.
You can pay one flat rate for one year of access to Salehoo – it costs $67.
We hope this has helped you cut through some of the confusion when it comes to picking a dropshipping supplier.
It’s easy to feel daunted at this stage, but there are a lot of ways that you can cut out boring hours of research time. Our directory can help you out – with only trusted suppliers and a huge range of products, it’s a really useful resource whether you’re just getting started or if you’re just looking for different suppliers.
Once you’ve found the suppliers you need, you’re almost there – just set up an eCommerce store, kick your marketing plan into gear, and you’ll be off to a flying start.