In 2015, 61% of shoppers chose to shop at smaller businesses because they offered unique products they couldn’t find elsewhere (Source: ComScore). As customers have become accustomed to the plethora of online product options, they expect smaller online retailers to respond and present them with a vast array of specialized and more personal products.
It’s challenging for smaller retailers, however, to carry a large assortment of inventory due to exorbitant shelf costs. Dropshipping eases this burden. It gives businesses the ability to quickly order inventory directly from their suppliers when customer demand for a certain product spikes, avoiding high shelf space costs.
Starting a successful drop shipping site requires finding the right provider. Based on working with hundreds of successful eCommerce businesses at Volusion, I’ve identified the following top five most important factors to consider when choosing a drop shipping provider for your online business.
1. Relevant Product Options
It’s important to choose a drop shipper supplier that will provide you with a variety of items that are unique and catered to your business. In many instances, smaller online retailers will purchase “hot-selling” items from suppliers; however, these items are most likely available at big-box retailers for a cheaper price. To avoid this, it’s crucial to choose a supplier that offers a variety of diverse products that fall into a category you’re familiar with. When you’re knowledgeable and well-versed about the products you’re selling, your business offers a significant customer service advantage and can charge a higher price for products than a larger retailer that doesn’t know the product as well.
2. Strong Customer Support
Whether you own a large eCommerce website or are just starting your own online store, having a strong customer support team to answer drop shipping questions or help solve pop-up problems is a must. There are several drop shipping companies that provide a robust inventory, but when it comes to customer service, they may be lacking. Be picky about the qualities and extra features your drop shipper offers—this will go a long way in saving you time and ultimately supporting your business’ needs. For example, drop shipping company Doba alerts customers of special supplier deals and when suppliers’ inventory is running low on select goods, making it easy for business owners to update their products in a timely manner.
3. Easy Integrations for Your Online Store
When set up correctly, drop shipping can save you hours of time. Instead of spending time filling tedious backlogs, managing outdated inventory and ordering products for your website, drop shipping allows you to get that time back and focus on making more strategic business decisions. The best way to take advantage of this is by selecting a drop shipping company that has a seamless integration with your eCommerce software. Integrations such as these will automatically manage your orders and customer purchases through one easy-to-use platform.
4. Ability to Sell Your Products Through Different Channels
Creating a well-branded eCommerce store is a key step to growing and developing a successful online business. Creating your own branded eCommerce channel is vital to growing and developing your online business. Despite this, some products sell better on larger retail websites such as eBay, Amazon or even social networks such as Facebook. Additionally, selling on Amazing or eBay can be a good way for first-time or even established business owners to raise brand awareness and generate new customers. Some drop shipping providers give business owners the ability to sell products on Amazon and eBay while providing similar features and the same level of support as if they were selling on their own website. When choosing a drop shipping supplier, be sure to review their multi-platform features.
5. Shipping Prices & Options
“A study conducted by Amazon found that 46% of customers will abandon their shopping carts if free shipping isn’t offered” (Source: Volusion Drop Shipping Guide). That’s almost half of all online shoppers! Shipping cost strategy is an important element to consider when selecting a drop shipping supplier. Drop shippers typically have a shipping fee, so it’s important to choose a provider that won’t heavily raise your product prices or impact your number of customer purchases. Although you may not always be able to offer free shipping, particularly on products with a lower profit margin, try lowering the shipping rates on your more popular products.
Do you have any tips for choosing a drop shipping provider? Share your thoughts in the comments below.