Dropshipping as a supply model has become increasingly common. Suppliers who agree to dropship their product on your behalf will most often offer wholesale rates per product, even when you aren’t purchasing wholesale products in bulk. This is because it creates a mutually beneficial relationship; you sell the product for them, and you get a piece of the profit.
Traditionally, these relationships are slightly more difficult than with standard wholesale agreements because you are essentially asking for a partnership. Your dropshipping supplier will be agreeing to send your packages for you, directly to your consumer, on an order by order basis.
That being said, dropshipping is an ideal way to begin your ecommerce business if you want to maintain low startup costs and gain a more complete, 360-degree picture of ecommerce processes. Here are a few tips for dealing with suppliers:
Prepare Your Business Image
Before you approach vendors, be sure you have a company to portray. This means you are licensed to sell products with a legal business entity, have a website, and maybe even a track record for your sales. Of course, this can present a Catch-22 situation; how can you acquire your first vendor if you don’t have the sales or business set up?
There are several ways around this. First and foremost, starting a website is easier than ever, and you can choose from hundreds of viable themes and ecommerce cloud solutions. The idea is to just get something out there that you can show. Use standard product images and stock photos if necessary. This proves to your vendor that you have some sort of foundation in place to drive sales.
Searching for Vendors
Knowing what to say to suppliers is one thing, but finding them is entirely another. This might depend on the platform you’re using. For example, if you’re using Amazon to dropship products, then you can locate companies that are open to dropshipping by checking out other Amazon sellers that are selling that product. All it takes is a little reverse engineering. Search for a product or type of product you’re selling, then analyze the sellers offering that product. So long as the product isn’t coming directly from the manufacturer, it’s clear that the supplier is open to working with Amazon sellers.
Otherwise, Google is a great place to start your search. Conduct a standard search and add a few keywords. For example, you might search the term “travel backpack suppliers.” Play around with a few variations of this search term. Once you’ve found a few brands you like, search their website for wholesale information and begin reaching out.
There are many dropship directories out there that can make your supplier search more seamless. Some of these include Salehoo, Wholesale Central, and Inventory Source.
Creating Your Pitch
It’s time to start thinking about how you’ll reach out to some of your suppliers. And in the vast majority of these cases, you’re sending a cold email pitch. Your pitch is an email that’s asking them if they’d be interested in working with you for your dropshipping business. The pitch should always be short, simple, and to the point.
As the first email, your primary goal is to know whether they are open to starting a dropshipping partnership. Introduce yourself and tell them a little about your company and track record (no more than 1-3 sentences). Once they respond and give the basic answers, you can go into the depth with your follow-up questions.
Always check the supplier website to determine whether they list wholesale and/or drop shipping information. If so, follow their application instructions when applicable. Lastly, be sure that each pitch you create is tailored towards the supplier you’re reaching out to.
Ask the Right Questions
Once you’ve lined up a few vendors you’d like to reach out to, don’t forget that you also have to do your own due diligence. There are several important questions you should ask to determine whether they’re the right vendor for you. For instance, you want to know whether there’s a dropshipping fee, how long it takes to ship a product once it’s been placed, how orders are tracked, and whether they use EDI to help you manage inventory.
Keep Your Outreach Organized
Your outreach efforts are an integral part of your business. If you want to maintain a high level of efficiency, your outreach should be organized and easy to track. Google spreadsheets allow you to collaborate in the cloud wherever you go. Important columns include company name, website, wholesale information (when applicable), whether you reached out and when, and whether you’re still waiting for a reply. This way, you can refer back to your spreadsheet to easily see who you’re waiting on and manage your responses.