Selling products online is a great way to earn some money while building your store. Unfortunately, traditional online retail involves a larger initial investment to buy materials, establish manufacturing, coordinate shipping, and more. Most people don’t have access to these resources from the start, which makes it unrealistic that they will succeed in the long term on their own.
Dropshipping involves selling products in your store without actually holding the inventory. Instead, you work with a supplier who handles everything prior to the finished product for you so that you don’t need to establish the infrastructure required to supply or maintain your own inventory.
When an order comes in, you simply buy from the supplier and forward the buyer’s information to the supplier, who processes it and ships on your behalf. You can then pocket the difference, and everyone is happy – easy, right?
Unfortunately, not all “suppliers” have the best intentions when it comes to your business relationship. When finding your own dropshipping suppliers, you’ll have to sort through the people who want to take advantage of you so that you can build positive relationships with legitimate suppliers.
Just like you, there are going to be people out there who are trying to middleman a deal. While you’re looking to work with a supplier directly to receive the best rates, they instead pretend to be a supplier while adding a markup to the rates they charge you. This cuts into your profits and may even lead to getting scammed because they don’t actually represent the supplier.
To check that you’re not being played, do some online research into the “supplier” so that you can find out if they handle things themselves, or if they’re dropshipping too. Things like their business license, warehouses, manufacturing plants, and other assets would mean they are probably the real deal. You can also check the prices of their supply catalogue against prices for the same products online to see if they’re charging more than another catalogue may or if the price is too close to retail elsewhere.
Avoiding Fake Products
Whether you use a major wholesale marketplace like AliExpress or work with an individual supplier, counterfeit products are always a potential problem. Because you don’t often see the product until it arrives, it’s easy for a counterfeit or fake item to be sent to your customers if you’re not careful.
Fake products not only cost you money & hurt your reputation as a seller, but they can also get you into legal trouble. If you sell something that is counterfeit but made to match a copyrighted product, you risk getting your payment gateway or entire store shut down by a lawsuit.
Unfortunately, there’s no real way to totally eliminate the risk of fakes when you maintain a wide catalogue of products. However, you can minimize them by doing the following:
- Contact & Build a Relationship with Suppliers: The first thing to do when you begin dropshipping with a supplier is to contact them.Touching base allows you to ask for business verification information (licensing, manufacturing, etc.) so that you have a better idea of who you’re working with. Legitimate wholesalers are going to be more than forthcoming with providing their credentials, giving you peace of mind that they will likely provide what they say.
- Check Seller Reviews: If using AliExpress or another open marketplace, the reviews on the product & supplier can be your best friend. People who received fakes will NOT be happy, so you can be sure that they will warn others if something is wrong. This makes it easier to avoid specific sellers that have a higher risk of problems.
- Place a Test Order: When you add a new product to your store from a new supplier, you run the risk of it being fake. A great way to get an idea of the quality of the product is to place an order yourself so that you can inspect it for authenticity. That way you know what you’re providing your customers and if it isn’t up to par, you can stop working with that supplier.
Avoiding Membership Fees from Wholesalers
Another way people can try to make a buck on you is to collect a “membership fee” for you using them as a supplier. If they’re not the company themselves, they can simply provide you the same information that the legitimate supplier would but pocket the fees you pay them every month for no reason – cutting into your bottom line.
The exception to this rule is working with a directory to find suppliers for your store. These directories curate a collection of different suppliers & wholesalers who are often verified by the company to ensure they are legitimate. This can help to cut down fakes or price inflation, but may cost you a monthly fee to have access to their directory.
Remember it like this: if they charge a fee for a single supplier, it’s probably illegitimate. If you’re paying for access to a collection of suppliers (and the directory is reputable online), it’s probably safe.
WooCommerce Dropshipping: An Easier Way to Dropship
When it comes to beginner-friendly online retail, woocommerce dropshipping is one of your best options. With a woocommerce dropshipping plugin like WooDropship, you can easily import a supplier’s catalogue of products to your store with just a few clicks. This allows you to offer a wide range of products without needing to spend the hours of time it would take to set them up individually. These plugins often integrate with suppliers like AliExpress which allows you to take advantage of their review system and other features for a safer wholesaling experience.
Dropshipping can be intimidating to start, but as long as you take the proper precautions to vet any suppliers & do your research, it can be a great way to earn some extra money. Keep our recommendations in mind when you get started, and best of luck selling!