Whether you are a beginner or an experienced dropshipper, finding a reliable supplier is very important.
As you might know, a supplier can make or break your dropshipping business.
So if you want to learn:
- What types of dropshipping suppliers there are
- The differences between Aliexpress and private suppliers
- What characteristics the best dropshipping suppliers have
- How to find and negotiate with suppliers
This all new in-depth guide is perfect for you.
Let’s jump in.
What Are Dropshipping Suppliers?
As a dropshipper, you don’t hold any inventory of your products or ship any products to your customers.
Instead, your dropshipping supplier is responsible for manufacturing, storing, and shipping products directly to customers.
As you can see, the dropshipping supplier has full control over:
- Product quality control
- Shipping times
- Processing times
- Stock/inventory issues
For this reason, finding a great supplier is a must-do for every dropshipping business.
What Types of Dropshipping Suppliers Are There?
Now, you should fully understand the importance of finding the best dropshipping supplier.
A unreliable dropshipping supplier will be detrimental to your business.
So, let’s discuss what types of suppliers there are.
If you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve had some experience using Aliexpress suppliers.
Finding suppliers on Aliexpress is usually a mixed bag.
You’ll find a variety of great dropshipping suppliers as well as poor ones. However, it’s easy to distinguish good Aliexpress suppliers by simply looking at their feedback scores.
For example, this Aliexpress supplier has a 98.1% positive feedback score and has been open since 2013. This shows they have a wealth of experience as a supplier. Furthermore, it shows that they are probably reliable and great to work with.
Moreover, finding potential products to sell using Aliexpress is one of the best forms of product research.
When you’re first getting started, finding suppliers on Aliexpress is perfectly okay.
However, I recommend getting a private supplier in the long run.
If you are looking to graduate from using standard Aliexpress suppliers, a private supplier is the next step.
Private suppliers offer:
- Better pricing
- Access to different shipping lines
- Improved quality control
- Long term relationship
- Automated order fulfillment
- Custom branding/private label
Luckily for you, there is a surplus of great private dropshipping suppliers nowadays. Furthermore, you can even turn your standard Aliexpress supplier into a private supplier.
Having a private supplier is all about taking your business relationship to the next level. This involves a lot more communication, transparency and overall trust.
I recommend getting a private dropshipping supplier if you are consistently doing 20-30+ orders per day.
How to Find Dropshipping Suppliers
Next, it’s finally time to find a reliable dropshipping vendor.
The first task is to generate a list of potential suppliers to contact and evaluate.
We will be using a combination of Aliexpress, CJdropshipping, and our very own Verum Ecom Facebook group to build this list.
Aliexpress Dropshipping Suppliers
Let’s start off our list by using Aliexpress.
The first step is to go onto Aliexpress and find all the suppliers selling your product(s).
To do so, type in the name of your product into the Aliexpress search bar.
Next, start collecting the URLs of these suppliers in a Google sheets or excel spreadsheet.
Furthermore, you can instantly eliminate suppliers with a low overall feedback score. Consider their overall score in addition to their overall feedback.
To view an Aliexpress supplier’s feedback, first visit their store page.
Then, click ‘Feedback‘ on the store’s homepage navigation bar.
You will be taken to a page that shows a 1, 3, and 6 month report. I recommend cutting out suppliers that have a score lower than 90% for any time period.
This specific supplier has excellent feedback for all 3 time ranges. So, we would add them to our spreadsheet of suppliers to reach out to.
Believe it or not, this method can actually net you some fantastic suppliers.
We at Verum Ecom used this exact method to find our initial suppliers for our first 2 years of dropshipping.
Fulfillment Company – CJdropshipping
CJdropshipping is a company that can source your product, hold inventory, and fulfill and ship your orders.
They have warehouses in both the USA and China. This allows them to provide fast shipping services and competitive prices.
Furthermore, they offer print on demand, cash on delivery, and creative content for your products.
CJdropshipping acts as a one-stop fulfillment and supply platform covering all services related to dropshipping.
Last of all, there’s no sign-up fees. Simply go to the CJdropshipping website, register an account, and search for your product.
If you are unable to find the exact product you’re searching for, you can submit a product sourcing request.
To do this, click ‘Sourcing‘ on the main navigation bar.
Once you found your product(s), save the product price and shipping cost into your excel document. Also, take note of what shipping lines CJdropshipping offers.
Ask Verum Ecom Facebook Group
My favorite way of finding up-to-date dropshipping suppliers is by utilizing the Verum Ecom Facebook group.
We have an active community of over 60,000 dropshippers that are willing to help each other.
So, simply join the group and make a post.
The post should include:
- That you are looking for a private supplier
- Around how many orders your store is doing per day
- That you are looking for reliable suppliers that other dropshippers have experience with
- The contact information of said supplier
You should expect to receive responses from other dropshippers with their own recommendations.
Add any responses to your list of potential suppliers.
Characteristics of a Great Dropshipping Supplier
With your list of dropshipping suppliers fully compiled, the next step is reaching out to them.
However, you need to know what to ask and look for before contacting them.
You want to make sure the supplier will be a good fit for your eCommerce business.
What to look for in suppliers for dropshipping?
Let’s dive into the qualities of a great dropshipping supplier.
This list comes with the 4+ years of dropshipping experience I have and working with dozens and dozens of different suppliers.
1) Effective Communication Skills
The most important trait of a great dropshipping supplier is effective communication skills. Not only is this the most important quality, but it’s also very easy to tell.
So, make sure the supplier can articulate their thoughts clearly and quickly respond to your inquiries.
Let’s walk through an example:
For example, let’s say a logistical issue arises and causes a big pileup of orders on your store. You need to work with the supplier to resolve the issue in a timely matter. If the supplier only uses email and takes 1 or more days to respond, it will be difficult to work with them.
For this reason, keep note of how long it takes the supplier to respond to your initial message. Furthermore, pay attention to how thorough they are with their answers.
The next trait to look for in your dropshipping supplier is experience. I recommend working with suppliers that have a few years of experience working with dropshipping stores.
Logistics and supplier duties are no easy tasks.
It requires a variety of different skills that can only develop with years of experience. They need to have good problem-solving abilities as well as being adaptable to different situations. A supplier with more experience will generally do better than a supplier that just started their business.
In addition, suppliers with experience will often have better connections with factories and will be able to offer lower pricing.
For this reason, always ask potential suppliers how long they’ve been working with dropshipping companies.
3) Fast Processing & Shipping Times
The third trait is fast processing and shipping times. Being able to quickly process and ship orders will result in higher levels of customer satisfaction.
The number one complaint that dropshippers receive from their customers is long shipping times. Since dropshippers usually ship their products out from China, it can take up to 4 weeks for products to arrive.
In this day and age, 4 weeks is unacceptable as people are used to receiving their online products within a week maximum.
Luckily for you, many suppliers now offer same-day shipping as long as the order is fulfilled within a certain time in the day.
For this reason, you want to find a supplier that offers ideal shipping times to your customer bases location.
4) Thorough Quality Check Process
The last quality of a great dropshipping supplier is offering a fantastic quality check service. A quality check is when the supplier makes sure the customer receives a product that is as described and in mint condition.
Having a quality check process will greatly reduce the chances of products not meeting customer expectations. This can prevent a lot of Shopify chargebacks in the long run.
So, it’s important to ask a potential supplier what kind of quality checks they have in place.
Concluding Dropshipping Supplier Traits
If a supplier has all 4 of these characteristics, there’s a great chance that they’ll be able to offer you high quality services on your dropshipping store.
Now that you know what to look for, the next step is contacting your list of suppliers.
How to Contact Potential Dropshipping Suppliers
The best way to determine if a candidate meets the previous criteria is by asking the right questions.
You can message Aliexpress suppliers directly on Aliexpress. Furthermore, message everybody else on your list using email.
When first contacting a potential supplier, we usually lead with a message like this:
Initial Contact Template
I was looking at your profile and wanted to explore the possibility of working with you to source a product for my eCommerce business.
I’m currently doing [X] orders per day and am looking for a long-term supplier to fulfill orders for this store, as well as potentially other stores in the future.
I have a few questions about your services:
-What is the minimum amount of orders you will accept?
-What sort of pricing do you offer for my product?
-What types of shipping lines and speeds do you offer?
-Do you have a WhatsApp, Skype, or another channel of communication?
-What is the processing time for orders?
-What is your return & refund policy?
I look forward to hearing from you!
This initial email is fairly straightforward. We introduce ourselves and let them know we’re interested in their services.
We then ask them some details about their operations to determine if they meet our requirements and can provide a valuable service.
After sending this initial email to all the suppliers on your list, go over their responses to see if you’d work with them.
Remember to keep the 4 dropshipping supplier traits in mind.
Next, narrow down the list to the most promising 2-4 suppliers.
The final step to narrow your list to a final supplier is the negotiation phase.
How to Effectively Negotiate with Dropshipping Suppliers
More often than not, suppliers will try to highball you with the sourcing cost of the product. However, you don’t need to worry or be scared.
This is because most suppliers are willing to negotiate as long as you make a good counteroffer.
To make a strong counteroffer:
- Check out the pricing offered by other suppliers
- Indicate that other suppliers can source it for cheaper
Remember to keep your response as professional as possible.
Here’s an example response that I like to send:
Negotiation Response Template
Thanks for the follow-up!
I think that working together would certainly be beneficial for both of us, and I like the range of services that you offer.
However, I found that other suppliers are offering this product for cheaper, which includes the shipping cost.
Unfortunately, margins in my business are quite low and as such, I would like to get my product costs as low as possible.
Is this a price point that you could meet? [X Price Point]
Most of time, the supplier will either match your preferred price point or drop below it.
However, if they refuse to change their pricing, you can either:
- Accept their initial offer
- Try and meet them halfway
- Thank them and move on
Ultimately, the decision is up to you. You have to make the best decision for your dropshipping business.
We tend to accept slightly higher than preferred pricing if the supplier offers better services than others.
As such, I highly recommend prioritizing the quality of the supplier over small decreases in product pricing.
You can always revisit the pricing conversation later on when you’re doing more volume. Suppliers can usually offer lower pricing when your average orders per day increases.
Now It’s Your Turn
At this point, you should have a full understanding of:
- The characteristics of a great dropshipping supplier
- How to find and evaluate suppliers
- How to negotiate the pricing of your product
Now it’s your turn to put all this knowledge into action.
Finding a trustworthy and quality supplier plays a pivotal part in building a sustainable business.
Dropshippers constantly underestimate the importance of building a strong relationship with their supplier. The supplier is solely responsible for sourcing/manufacturing the product and delivering it to the customer’s hands.
For this reason, you need to be able to trust them with the keys of your business.
Another main reason dropshippers fail is because they think they can do everything themselves. For a long-term successful business, this is impossible.
As a dropshipper, you need to hire the right people and have proper systems in place. Having a fantastic dropshipping supplier is just one small key to overall business success.