25 Questions to Ask your Dropshipping Supplier Before Getting Started
Finding the right dropshipping suppliers for your business is never an easy task. When you type into Google the keyword “dropshipping supplier” your search results will come close to 5.5 million which is an overwhelming number when you are looking for the best fit for your store. Now the question of “How do I find the best match?” rightfully comes into your mind. There are certain key considerations you need to focus on when choosing your suppliers. So, in this article, we will focus on questions or evaluation points you need to ask your prospective suppliers to make sure they are a good fit for you.
Do you have customer reviews available?
When it comes to purchasing a product online, customer reviews have an astonishing impact on the purchasing decision, in 95% of the cases prospective customers are influenced by previously left reviews. If you have this mentality as a consumer, why would you start off in a different way when in the role of a store owner searching for a dropshipping supplier? So, always ask your suppliers if they have previous reviews available for you to read. If they have reviews on a credible rating website such as Trustpilot, then it is even better as you can make sure that they are not fabricated by the supplier to mislead you. If they say no, it should automatically be a red flag because if they are as good as they say, they should have a bank of previous business owners who had a positive experience with them.
Are operating only a B2B-oriented marketplace?
Another highly important question to ask your dropshipping supplier is if they are strictly operating a B2B business. If they do sell to the general public at the same prices as they are selling to you, take it as a signal that you are not facing an actual dropshipping supplier. This is a giant red flag and means that you would not want to do business with them and you should go on to the next dropshipping supplier that is operating only as a B2B marketplace.
How do you do customer service?
We have previously written about the importance of outstanding customer service as a benefit that your dropshipping supplier can offer to you. It is inevitable for you to be able to communicate with your supplier promptly so that you can best assist your customers as well. To facilitate this, your supplier needs to have adequate language skills and use multiple channels through which you could quickly contact its team in case of a problem of any kind.
Do you offer plugins for automation?
Automating the dropshipping order and fulfillment process can save you a great deal of time as you can drastically reduce the manual work associated with this and focus your time on other aspects of your business such as marketing. Some suppliers, such as BrandsGateway, offer plugins that you can connect to your dropshipping store for better inventory keeping, automated orders, and bulk import of products. This is the reason why this question is one of the most important ones to ask your potential dropshipping supplier upfront.
Do you offer a turnkey solution for a dropshipping store?
If you are just starting up your dropshipping business and you still do not have an eCommerce store in place, having a supplier that is offering a turnkey dropshipping store can be a huge advantage. If you are not familiar with coding or the use of CMS (Content Management System) platforms or you just do not feel confident enough to build your own store’s website, having a ready-to-use webshop is a great help. Ask your potential dropshipping supplier if they offer this solution, and, if not, find a supplier that is collaborating with a development company that can provide the best dropshipping turnkey solution for you.
Which marketplaces and eCommerce platforms are you supporting?
Dropshippers are creating their stores across several Content Management Systems such as Shopify, WooCommerce, and Wix which all have their own characteristics and ways of operation. But they do not exclusively use their own stores’ websites to sell their products as other marketplaces like eBay and Amazon also offer opportunities for dropshippers to use their platforms. Hence it will be important to you to find a dropshipping supplier that is supporting the eCommerce platform of your choice. As an example, BrandsGateway offers a plugin for Shopify, Wis, Shift4Shop, and WooCommerce alike. Moreover, you can request access to CSV files that are refreshed every four hours and allow you to bulk upload and update products in your Amazon or eBay store.
Do you have a minimum order amount or revenue requirement?
When you are just starting up your business in the world of dropshipping you might not be able to meet your target sales as quickly as you have thought before. For this reason, it is important to know if your dropshipping supplier has a minimum order amount or revenue requirement before you start doing business with them. Committing to a certain target before you have even started selling can be risky for a new store, so always consider this as a key factor and look for a supplier who doesn’t work with MOQs.
Can you meet the demand generated by my store?
At the moment you might just be starting off your dropshipping store but you have to be prepared for the time your customers’ demand is picking up, especially if you are championing the marketing aspect of your business. For this reason, it is highly important to make sure that your dropshipping supplier is ready and able to meet the demand that will flow into them from your store. Otherwise, you will be missing out on good sales opportunities.
What are your shipping times?
Consumers’ demand for fast shipping has increased over the past years. They prefer a shipping time that is not longer than 5 days so they can get their hands on the merchandise they ordered within a week. Consequently, this is one of the most important questions that you can ask your dropshipping supplier. Usually, dropshipping suppliers that are based in China are failing the fast shipping aspect as they have to move products across the globe so delivery can sometimes take up to 6 weeks. Hence it is better that you work with dropshipping suppliers that have multiple warehouses, preferably in Europe and the US, so that your products are quickly delivered to the audience you are targeting.
What is your processing and dispatching time on dropshipping orders?
Another factor that will highly affect the time your end customers can receive their order at their doorstep is the time of processing and dispatching of their order. Fast order processing and dispatch will mean faster delivery and higher satisfaction for your customers. Normally, dropshipping suppliers are quick to ship orders out once they receive payment for them but on occasions, it can take longer through busier seasons, for example, around the holidays. It is extremely important that you are aware of these times of your suppliers so you can manage your customers’ expectations in advance.
Will my customers’ orders be tracked?
Another question that is of utmost importance to ask your potential dropshipping supplier is whether the orders of your customers will be tracked. Giving your customers the benefit of being able to track the progress of their orders will not only help you to run a smooth delivery process but will also improve your customers’ experience with your store. It will also give them the impression that you are a transparent and trustworthy seller that will eventually result in good feedback and additional sales. Consequently, it is highly important that you receive a tracking number for each and every order so both you and your customers can always be up to date on the progress of each order.
Do you provide a dedicated account manager?
Having a dedicated account manager can be a huge help both when you are just starting off your dropshipping store or even when you are an already experienced dropshipper. Your dedicated account manager will be the one who is always up to date with your business so will know how to assist you the best whether it is about your business strategy or potential technical issues.
What kind of packaging are you using?
In dropshipping, as you surely know, you are giving up your control over how your orders will be packaged and sent to your final customer. For this reason, you should be aware that in some cases your supplier might be obliged to put its name or warehouse address on the packaging. However, there are times when it is possible to leave the packages unbranded. In order to be able to maintain the integrity of your store, it is important that your dropshipping supplier – when possible – is not using their branding on the packaging. BrandsGateway, for example, is a supplier that is using unbranded packaging and sending the goods under a generic name when shipping in countries within the EU.
Do you provide product information and images?
Having access to SEO-optimized product names, descriptions, and high-quality images can be a great help for your dropshipping business. This way your dropshipping supplier can support you and you won’t need to take your own professional product images and the descriptions will also help you to rank better in search engine results. This also allows you to familiarize yourself better with the products that you are offering to your customers so if they happen to have any questions regarding the specifications you can provide them with better answers.
Do you support selling in different currencies?
Dropshipping stores have the liberty to target consumers all over the world so it is important for business owners to be able to offer items that are priced in their customer’s local currencies. But at the same time, keeping your prices updated by the actual conversion rate can be a time-consuming task. This is why it is important to have a dropshipping supplier that facilitates currency conversion through their dropshipping plugin so your prices can sync automatically and in a timely manner.
How often do you offer new products?
Another important question to ask your dropshipping supplier is about the time that it takes for them to provide you with new products so you can always offer newness to your customers. If you keep offering the same merchandise to your customers you would not be able to give them a reason to frequently return to your store and browse through your offering again and again. So make sure that your dropshipping supplier has new arrivals coming in on a weekly basis so that you can stay relevant and offer new merchandise to your customers regularly.
Do you offer business support for dropshipping retailers?
Again, when you are a dropshipping newbie it is crucial for you to receive the best business support you can access whether it is from paid online classes or is coming directly from your supplier. Well-established dropshipping suppliers are usually in the business for several years, meaning they have a vast amount of knowledge on the dynamics of the eCommerce market. So asking your dropshipping supplier if they can give you business advice prior you start working with them can not only result in you receiving support on your marketing and SEO strategy but can also help you evaluate your supplier as well.
Where do you store your products?
As mentioned before, the location of the warehouse or warehouses of your dropshipping supplier is key when it comes to delivery time. But this is not the only important aspect, you need to consider the country of origin of the products you are selling to your end customers. Customs fees and taxes are equally important from a consumer’s point of view as these are considered as extra charges on top of the purchase price. With this in mind, you should always look for a dropshipping supplier that has warehouses the closest to the market you are aiming to target, even better if they have several ones across the globe. This will allow you to provide merchandise to your customers under the best conditions possible.
What is the markup you can ensure?
You have to make sure that you are keeping your business profitable so you have to closely monitor and evaluate your dropshipping suppliers on the markup you can achieve while working with them. Always ask about the markup you can achieve when reselling their merchandise so you can budget and calculate the return on your investment (ROI) as realistically as possible. Working with a supplier that provides high markups up to 250%, as BrandsGateway does, is the ideal scenario.
Do you sell authentic products?
This question is especially important to ask your dropshipping supplier before you start working together when you are looking to resell branded products. Even if you are selling counterfeit without your knowledge, the end customer will have a legally binding contract with you directly, not your supplier as a result of the purchase. This means that you could face serious copyright and infringement charges if your products are not 100% authentic. Dropshipping suppliers that have authenticity assurance and ship and deliver their products in their original boxes and with the original branded tags are an example of reliable and trustworthy suppliers.
How does your return process work?
Knowing your dropshipping supplier’s return policy is essential for several reasons. Firstly, you have to make sure that your return policy is in line with your supplier’s so you will not end up having to pay for a faulty item out of your pocket. Also, by knowing your supplier’s return policy throughout you can make the whole process as easy and seamless as possible for your customers and maintain the reputation of your business.
How great is the variety of the merchandise you offer?
Yet another essential question to ask your dropshipping supplier before getting started is how great is the variety of the merchandise in their offering. As a dropshipper, you should always offer the best and widest variety of merchandise within the niche you operate so you can increase your chances to make a sale. This is why you must ask your dropshipping supplier about their available stock and evaluate if it is extensive enough for you to work with them. Ideally, your dropshipping supplier would have enough options at all times so your customers would not need to turn elsewhere when looking for a complimentary product to the one they already chose to purchase. This is particularly important if you decide to sell clothing and accessories which are categories that are selling very fast. Selecting a dropshipping supplier that offers thousands of products from hundreds of brands is something that should be your primary goal when entering the fashion dropshipping niche.
What can our future prospects be?
If you start working together with a certain dropshipping supplier and you are satisfied with how things are going, you would ideally want to work with them in the long run. This is why it is important to ask your dropshipping supplier, even up front, how are they planning to imagine your cooperation in the longer term. It will be vital for you to know if they see you as an enduring partner or they are just looking for a one-off occasion to collaborate to make money right away.
Will you support my marketing efforts?
If you are reading this article, you already know that marketing is everything when it comes to opening and growing a new business. As your dropshipping supplier takes care of all aspects of inventory management, fulfillment, and shipping, you have the chance to really excel in online marketing. But not every business owner is a marketing expert so it usually comes in handy when a supplier is providing you with supporting material. So be sure that you ask your supplier if they have a Facebook Ads guide or social media templates ready for you to use in order to make your campaigns pop and if they are planning holiday campaigns going forward that you can line up with your marketing efforts.
What kind of payment methods are accepted?
Last, but not least, knowing upfront what kind of payment option your supplier accepts is another crucial aspect when running a dropshipping business. When you are in a business relationship with a dropshipping supplier it is likely that you will have to make payments to them on a regular basis. These payments will not only be for your monthly dropshipping subscription but also for the products your customers purchase from you. This is why it is important that your dropshipping supplier facilitates different kinds of payment methods so you can choose the one that is best suitable for your circumstances.
To sum up
In order to make sure you are always working with the best possible suppliers, we recommend that you refresh the list of your preferred suppliers from time to time. As time goes on, your business will be constantly changing so you will need to make sure that the suppliers you work with are still as suitable as they were at the beginning of your work relationship. To ensure this, you can go through again the questions we have listed above and re-evaluate each and every supplier you have at least on a yearly basis.
Table of Content
- Do you have customer reviews available?
- Are operating only a B2B-oriented marketplace?
- How do you do customer service?
- Do you offer plugins for automation?
- Do you offer a turnkey solution for a dropshipping store?
- Which marketplaces and eCommerce platforms are you supporting?
- Do you have a minimum order amount or revenue requirement?
- Can you meet the demand generated by my store?
- What are your shipping times?
- What is your processing and dispatching time on dropshipping orders?
- Will my customers’ orders be tracked?
- Do you provide a dedicated account manager?
- What kind of packaging are you using?
- Do you provide product information and images?
- Do you support selling in different currencies?
- How often do you offer new products?
- Do you offer business support for dropshipping retailers?
- Where do you store your products?
- What is the markup you can ensure?
- Do you sell authentic products?
- How does your return process work?
- How great is the variety of the merchandise you offer?
- What can our future prospects be?
- Will you support my marketing efforts?
- What kind of payment methods are accepted?
- To sum up