Dropshipping is when you sell a product that’s shipped directly from the manufacturer to your customer. Dropshipping suppliers, databases, and tools It can be hard to break into dropshipping because most dropshipping businesses don’t like to share their items or their suppliers. Once you make a sale, you’ll use Oberlo to order the item to be shipped to your customer. Doba – This 2 million product database doesn’t just bring a number of suppliers into one marketplace — you’ll also place your customer orders within Doda as well. You’ll have the most success dropshipping a product if there’s an audience that wants to buy it and doesn’t have an easy way to access it. Look at seller’s reviews and order a test product. Consider dropshipping only some items. Just because you’re dropshipping some things doesn’t mean you need to dropship everything. Ask yourself: Would I buy from this store? This is not the same as the price you can sell it for.
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Dropshipping is when you sell a product that’s shipped directly from the manufacturer to your customer. It is never held by you in a warehouse or a spare bedroom, and you’re not responsible for the packaging or shipping. Your dropship partner takes care of all that.
Sounds dreamy, right? No warehouse rent to pay, no upfront investment in purchasing inventory, and no shipping work on your end. Those are the perks.
But those are also the drawbacks. You don’t have the inventory in your warehouse, so you don’t have control of a customer ordering something that’s out of stock. There’s no shipping work on your end, so you can’t control the shipping speed, or the packaging. Long ship times = canceled orders. Weird packaging = bad reviews. And, you’ll still need upfront money for advertising, building your website, and all the other steps you’ll need to take to start your business.
And, because you’re basically outsourcing those storing and shipping tasks to your dropshipper, you may not have as great of margins that you would if you took that all in house.
In this guide, we’ll round up some of the best known dropshippers and some lessons from top dropshippers, including what to consider before you get started.
Like any business partnership, before you get involved you need to do your research on who you’re working with, what it’s going to cost you, and what you’re expecting to get out of it.
What’s the best dropshipper?
Trying to find the best dropshipping company is a little bit beside the point. It’s like asking for the best eBay seller or the best store on Etsy.
There are things that make dropshippers great, and they’re a lot of the same things that make an eBay or Etsy seller great: They’re super communicative and have fast shipping. The product arrives as promised. It looks like the listing and it arrives in one piece in packaging that looks nice and not chewed up by an alligator.
Just like an eBay seller, the best dropshipper for you is the one selling what you’re interested in buying. They will reliably, communicatively, and quickly shipping the product you’re after at the price that’ll be profitable for you — that’s your best.
Dropshipping suppliers, databases, and tools
It can be hard to break into dropshipping because most dropshipping businesses don’t like to share their items or their suppliers. The thinking is: you’ll just replicate their shop and eat into their market.
Shopify dropshipping apps and tools
- Oberlo is a plugin service that works with Shopify stores. You’ll browse the Oberlo directory (which includes suppliers verified by Oberlo) to find inventory you’d like to sell in your store. You’ll be able to see how many pageviews, sales, and star-rankings each item and seller has. Once you make a sale, you’ll use Oberlo to order the item to be shipped to your customer. Oberlo has a forever-free plan, though you’ll need to pay for a Shopify subscription, too. Oberlo has 4.7 out of 5 stars from 2,258 reviews in the Shopify app store.
- Spocket is a database app of dropship items that you can sort by country and simply upload into your Shopify store. Spocket makes it easy to find US and EU items that’ll ship within your country rather than from China, cutting down on slow ship speeds. The Basic plan (25 products with unlimited orders) is forever free, and upgrading to Pro is $39 / month for 250 products and branded invoicing. The Empire plan unlocks unlimited products for $99 / month. The app has 4.8 out of 5 stars from 1,008 reviews in the Shopify app store.
- Dropified is a Shopify app for populating your store with items and automate your orders on AliExpress, including customer shipping address. There’s no Dropified marketplace, but rather a browser plugin that’ll let you pull from anywhere on the web. You can set up margin parameters and rules for changing the price points in your store. There’s a free 14-day trial; after that it’s $47/month for the Builder plan. The app has 4.8 out of 5 stars from 98 reviews in the Shopify app store.
- Dropwow is like Oberlo or Spocket, but has more negative reviews. The tool claims to automate your orders and help you locate dropshippers located in the US and elsewhere. However, with only 3.8 out of 5 stars from 108 reviewers on the Shopify app store, and a monthly subscription of $29/month, we don’t recommend it.
Dropshipping databases and software solutions
- SaleHoo – A $67 yearly membership grants you access to this database of wholesalers and dropshippers. There are currently 8,000+ suppliers on the site, and they’re all screened by Salehoo before they’re added to the directory. There’s a 60-day free trial period, and the customer service gets high marks: 9.6 out of 10 with 239 reviews on TrustPilot.
- Doba – This 2 million product database doesn’t just bring a number of suppliers into one marketplace — you’ll also place your customer orders within Doda as well. That being said, it’s not cheap and we’ve read a number of negative reviews, many of which mention that the prices aren’t low enough to profit. Doba has a 14-day free trial, so you can log in and run the numbers to see if a membership (which ranges from $29–249/month) is right for you.
- Wholesale2B has a variety of plans: sell its products on eBay, Amazon, on a Wholesale2B site, or your own WooCommerce / Shopify / Magento / BigCommerce site. Any one of these options costs about $20–30/monthmonth. Handle the orders yourself by becoming a registered reseller with each supplier or pay Wholesale2B a 3% fee to handle that for you.
- Worldwide Brands – For $299, you can get a lifetime subscription to this database of wholesalers and dropshippers.
- Wholesale Central – This free directory lists suppliers you can work with individually to order products from. There’s nothing fancy about it — it’s like a phone book — but has useful information to use as you do your research.
- Sunrise Wholesale Merchandise – A $99 yearly fee gets you access to Sunrise’s selection of goods. It’s a bit smaller than other databases, but there the shipping times are pretty quick: typically 5–7 days. Packages arrive to your customers with a receipt from “Customer Service” that’s not branded.
- Megagoods – A California-based warehouse and will dropship your goods under your packaging and branding, typically in less time than it’d take to ship from an overseas supplier. Check the added fees to make sure that your margins are good.
- Inventory Source – An automation tool that allows you to either sync the suppliers products with your page (inventory automation) or to sync the entire customer purchase flow so that your orders are automatically placed with your supplier (full automation). Inventory automation is $50/month and full automation is $150/month.
- Dropship News – This free online directory of suppliers is worth sifting through. We found some great US-based suppliers. Most of each supplier’s dropshipping information is on their profile, which saves you some clicking around.
- National Dropshippers – This site is free for the first 7 days, but its products are hard to find and search for, and the returns and shipping policies aren’t favorable. You can give a try to see if there’s a product that’s only available here, but if you can find it elsewhere you’ll probably be better off going with the alternative.
- DropshipDirect.com – This site makes some enticing claims: 100,000 items in its inventory, a SaaS-approach to data, and quick shipping from its Michigan warehouses. However, the sign-up form is in private mode and the company seems to be on a year-long hiatus. We’ll keep an eye on Dropship Direct and report back.
- AliExpress is a Alibaba’s online retailer. It’s based in China, but doesn’t sell products to anyone in mainland China. The site has lots of user reviews and analytics that are super useful during the product research phase.
- DHgate – There are over a million Chinese suppliers on DHGate. Best practice for buying off DHgate: check user ratings and feedback. Just like you would when buying something off of eBay, be wary of anything that could be a knock-off or imitation, and be prepared for slow shipping and nuances like new-with-box items arriving with their boxes unassembled.
4 Steps to start your dropshipping company
1. Find items to sell
Find your niche.
There’s lots of chatter on the internet about finding your dropshipping niche, but this is just a trendy buzzword for…