If you’re planning to start your own Shopify dropshipping business, you’ll want to find suppliers who can meet customer expectations around delivery time and product quality. Unfortunately, many dropshipping suppliers run minor operations with no branding or promotional activities, which makes them harder to find. Plus, the fact that store owners sometimes need to factor in the supplier’s region makes research all the more challenging. Another problem is that there are some illegitimate dropshipping companies working too which can be hard to detect. These vendors don’t offer value for money but are often good at marketing their services. The good news is that there are ways to overcome these challenges and find the right suppliers for your dropshipping store.
In this post, we’ll mention the tactics and tools you can use to find legitimate dropshipping suppliers. And, as a bonus, we’ll share a strategy that allows you to skip the step of researching suppliers altogether. (Spoiler alert: It requires an upfront investment, but you get a contact list of high-quality suppliers and an established dropshipping business).
Finding Dropshipping Suppliers
Below are several methods you can use to find dropshipping suppliers:
1. Contact the product manufacturer
One of the best places to start is where the product is produced. Although manufacturers won't likely dropship or even sell the products to you, they usually maintain a list of product distributors. You can contact these distributors and find out if they dropship and possibly set up a partnership. This way, you will be sure the dropshipping suppliers are legitimate, and you won’t have to worry about product quality. Being closer to the manufacturer will also enable you to be competitive with your pricing.
2. Find suppliers on Google
Google is always a rich source of information, and you can use it to search for a supplier for any product. The easiest way to do this is to search "niche+distributor / dropshipping supplier."
The problem with Google is that you will get millions of results, and filtering through all of them is quite a task. Another issue is that most suppliers don’t work on SEO as much as retailers, and so you won’t be able to locate them easily. Nevertheless, you can try several modifiers such as "vendor,” “supplier,” “warehouse,” etc. to weed out non-related results.
3. Order from the competition
If you’re having trouble finding a supplier, you can always rely on your competitors. We don’t mean you rely on them to locate the suppliers for you, but you buy their products to see who they’re dropshipping with. To start, make a list of four to five competitors you think are dropshipping, and then place a small order on their stores. When you receive the items, Google the return address on the packages to find out who the actual suppliers are. In most instances, they will be companies you can contact.
4. Use supplier directories
Supplier directories are databases that provide lists of suppliers organized by industry, market, niche, and products. The best thing about using supplier directories is that they do the screening process for you, ensuring that you can avoid illegitimate suppliers. Below is an overview of some of the most popular dropshipping directories.
- The directory provides access to 130+ suppliers and 1.6m+ products
- It allows sellers to export data to over 100 eCommerce platforms
- Subscription prices range from $29 a month for the basic plan to $249 a month for the pro plan.
- The directory provides access to 230+ pre-integrated suppliers across the US and China
- It offers full product data integration and optimized inventory sync
- Subscriptions range from $99 per month to $225 per month
- One of the dropshipping pioneers, with 20+ years of operation
- It provides 16+ million certified wholesale products
- Worldwide Brands charges $224 for access.
While becoming a member of one of these directories can be helpful, it is by no means necessary. If you already have a good understanding of your niche market, you should be able to find dropshipping suppliers with a bit of work and the techniques discussed above. Plus, if you use Shopify to set up a dropshipping store, you can use free tools to find suppliers for your business.
Free Dropshipping Suppliers Tools
Oberlo is an official Shopify app that allows you to find products from dropshipping suppliers across the globe. You can search its database to access a huge variety of products, and then add them to your dropshipping store with just a few clicks. Besides, the app gives you access to several other handy features that enhance the user experience. You can edit product titles and descriptions, automate your prices, and more. Best of all, Oberlo includes product statistics that allow you to make informed decisions about which items to sell.
Spocket is another Shopify app that lets you add products from EU and US dropshipping suppliers. It offers a huge range of high-quality products, order tracking, plus fast shipping times. The app also claims to auto-update your inventory, so you can stay up-to-date with the stock of your items, and avoid the embracement of selling out-of-stock products. Plus, Spocket promises a 30%-60% discount on the retail price of each item, enabling you to keep a higher profit margin on sales.
Topdser enables you to find niche products from dropshipping suppliers in China. Its algorithm keeps a constant eye on the latest trending items so that the app can recommend you high-potential products for your store. And with Topdser’s sourcing service, you get the best price guarantee for all items available through the app. What’s more, the app allows you to auto-sync tracking numbers to your store, which is great for customers (they can self-check the status of their items).
GlowRoad is the only Shopify app that connects you with dropshipping suppliers India-based companies typically use. You get more than 500,000+ high-quality products to sell and the freedom to add the margins of your choice. Once you sell a product and it’s delivered to your customer, GlowRoad calculates your earnings based on the margin you applied and deposits them to your bank account every week. If you’re looking to enter the fast-growing Indian ecommerce market, GlowRoad may be the perfect option for you.
DropnShop lets you find French dropshipping products to sell to your customers. Thousands of French factories list their items on this app, meaning you can communicate directly with the manufacturers. Also, you can be sure that your customers will get durable, high-quality products when you source from suppliers on this app. Every DropnShop product is kept under optimum conditions according to the criteria of the French legislation, which is one of the strictest.
My Online Fashion Store allows you to source products from dropshipping suppliers clothing companies mostly use. From jewelry to shoes, tops to bottoms, there’s a large variety of items you can add to your store. Plus, each product listing features a suggested selling price, so you get an idea of the kind of margins you can expect to earn. What’s more, suppliers on this platform offer great shipping rates along with free returns.
How to Identify Legitimate Dropshipping Suppliers
Not all dropshipping suppliers are created equal. However, there are some attributes you can analyze to separate the real ones from the fake. Genuine dropshipping suppliers can be identified using the following criteria:
Accept orders via email
Sure, having to call in the orders sounds like a minor inconvenience, but things can turn quickly when the numbers start to add up. Fortunately, many dropshipping suppliers accept orders through email, which makes order processing significantly less stressful.
Minimum order size
It’s common for suppliers to have a minimum order size, especially for the first order. Suppliers do this because they only want to work with serious merchants, and having a minimum order helps them filter out inquiries that don’t translate into serious business.
Whereas no legitimate dropshipper will charge a monthly fee, many will charge a pre-order fee to cover the costs of shipping and packaging. This can range from $1 to $5 depending on the complexity and size of the individual product. Be wary of suppliers charging ongoing fees, as the pre-order fee is a one-time charge when the order is placed.
Real dropshipping suppliers also require proof that you’re legally incorporated before you’re able to use their services. While you won’t need to provide any documentation if you’re looking to ask a few basic questions (Do you have product X? Where are you located?), you’re required to have a proper business setup for dropshipping. Bottom line? Consider making your business official before reaching out to suppliers.
Top suppliers will assign you an individual representative responsible for resolving any issues you experience. You should be able to ask them questions about customs, overweight packages, and more. This isn’t a deal breaker, but it sure helps to be able to call up a person who knows your niche market and can address any problems you have regarding the delivery of your orders.
Let’s assume the majority of your customers are based in the US. What would be the ideal location for your suppliers? If you’re thinking of China or somewhere else in Asia, you might struggle to win customers due to long shipping times. The truth is that it makes the most sense to work with suppliers strategically located in the middle of the country. Centrally located suppliers will give you shorter delivery times (2-4 business days rather than weeks), and it should cost less to dropship items to your customers.
This won’t matter much if you’re planning to sell only locally, but for selling in an international market, this is definitely something you should know. Top suppliers should have no problems in sharing a list of countries they ship to, as well as the companies they use to export products. You may even get an option to choose between standard and express shipping.
Skipping Supplier Research with Exchange
When performing supplier research, you’ll need to spend time evaluating the company and the performance of the vendor. Even with free tools, it’ll take you a while to make a list of high-quality suppliers that suit your niche. Now, if you’re looking to start selling online immediately, you can’t afford to spend too much time on vetting and shortlisting suppliers. Fortunately, Exchange Marketplace has a range of dropshipping businesses that allow you to acquire a list of supplier contacts.
The process works like this: You go on the Exchange website and search for a list of dropshipping businesses for sale. Next, you narrow down your search to stores that are relevant to your niche. Then you look at individual listings to see which store owners have included their supplier contacts. After compiling a list of potential businesses, you reach out to the owners to make a purchase. What makes this approach effective is that it lets you skip the step of supplier research. Plus, you get an established business that’s already set up and potentially making a profit. Speaking of which, you should check the profit and loss of the business before agreeing to make a purchase.
To help get you started, here’s a list of dropshipping businesses offering their supplier contacts:
GrossoShop – is an electronics and gadgets store focused on a single European market.
Skip hire Australia – is an Australian dropshipping store offering affordable skip bins.
Sinavo – is a health and beauty business selling adjustable knee and ankle braces worldwide.
Cinavo – is a food and lifestyle brand selling innovative kitchen products internationally.
As a dropshipper, working with high-quality suppliers is so important. Since you won’t have any control over your products, it’s important to have dropshipping suppliers who are reliable and make timely deliveries. Hopefully, the strategies and tools we’ve mentioned will help you find suppliers that will allow your business venture to succeed without any major hitches. And if you’ve got the money to invest in digital real estate, you might as well take the plunge and buy a dropshipping business to secure contacts of suppliers.