After many years in this business, I have had my fair share of successes and failures. As such, I have learned so many things along the way. However, one of the most important things I learned is the importance of a supplier.
Today, I will show you how to choose the right dropshipping supplier and find one. I learned these things the hard way. In the end, I am confident that you can avoid the mistakes I made in the past.
Read on to find out how to find the best dropshipping suppliers. In addition, I will also give you some tips about the dropshipping business in general.
- Be choosy about your drop ship supplier
- Make sure you only partner with the best
- Check the products yourself
- Dropship directories are your best choice
Why Is It Important To Find The Right Dropshipping Suppliers?
Think of the dropshipping supplier as the conduit between you and your customer. Unfortunately, drop shippers like you do not have control over product quality, handling, and shipping.
It is crucial to find the right dropshipping supplier to:
- Ensure that the dropshipping products are of high quality
- Reduce the cost of shipping
- Guarantee that the customer will get his order
- Make sure the customer receives the correct product
- Manage returns and refunds appropriately
You are essentially at the mercy of your dropshipping business partner. If the supplier makes a mistake, it is your responsibility. The customer does not even know that you source your products from somebody.
Because of this, a customer will eventually distrust you. Your reputation is on the line if the mistake calls for a refund or product placement. Your dropshipping store will only succeed if the dropshipping supplier cares about your business.
How To Find Dropshipping Suppliers
There are three main ways by which you can find dropshipping suppliers. These are Trade Shows, Dropship Directories, Alibaba and AliExpress. I will explain each one in detail.
Trade shows are physical events where businesses display their products. What you do is go to these shows and meet people.
You must also ask them if they dropship. Some of them do. They are more than willing to ship the item straight to your customer. However, know that many of them do not have advanced systems like dropship directories do.
In a trade show, you can strike a deal. For example, you can ask the seller to give you a lower price, giving you room for a higher profit.
Alibaba and AliExpress
Both Alibaba and AliExpress are selling platforms in China. The same company owns them, the Alibaba Group. Alibaba is for wholesale, while AliExpress is for retail.
Think of them as the Chinese equivalent of Amazon. Here, you will browse products the same way a customer does. Then, once you find a product, you contact the seller.
It is important to ask if they will ship to a different address from yours. In addition, you must ask them if they dropship. Lastly, make sure you understand their return and cancellation policies.
The beauty of both companies is that you have protection. You can file a complaint, and Alibaba or AliExpress will take care of you.
The sad thing is that many items for sale on Amazon and eBay already come from Chinese manufacturers. China is a manufacturing superpower, accounting for 28.7% of global manufacturing output. 
Because of this, you are competing against thousands of dropshippers. You will also be selling the same thing that others do. As a result, you may not be profitable at all.
The third and best way to find dropshipping suppliers is through dropship directories. These are companies that look for manufacturers and then put them on a list.
These directories, however, are not simple lists. Instead, they have tools and systems that make it easy for you to do business.
Here are some examples of dropshipping supplier directories:
These companies have advanced tools. For example, Droship.IO has the following to offer:
- Product Database – list of products, their prices, suppliers, location, etc.
- Sales Tracker – the tool will automatically track how many items you sell per store; from here, you can generate reports and analyze your sales effectiveness.
- Competitor Research – the tool scours the internet to find out who else is selling your item; from here, you can analyze how to compete against them.
Dropshipping directories are not free. They charge a small amount of money for their tools. I can say that this investment is worth it.
In addition, these directories have standards. For example, all the suppliers here went through a vetting process. It means that all suppliers in these directories are legitimate.
What Makes A Great Dropshipping Supplier?
Not all dropshipping suppliers are equal in performance. Therefore, before you make a choice, I suggest you use this checklist. I created this list over the years that I have been dropshipping.
1. High-quality products
I do not recommend that you dropship cheap products. While you may tell yourself that low-cost items sell, your customers will not be happy.
Look for dropshipping suppliers who manufacture high-quality products. You want products that will last a long time. If you do sell high-quality products, you can expect that a customer will:
- Come back for more
- Recommend you to others
Low-quality products may sell outright, but the customers will say it is not worth it. If you develop a reputation for selling bad products, your customers will not buy anything from you again.
The only way to test the product is by buying it. You must order from the dropship supplier and see the product yourself. If it is good, there is no need to test the rest of the products from the same supplier.
A high-quality product reduces the likelihood of returns and refunds. As an ecommerce operator, the last thing you want is a return. Not only is your customer unhappy, but he will also spread the word about your store.
2. No unnecessary fees
Dropshipping is a straightforward business. If I am a supplier, here is the process:
- You order my product
- I take the product from my warehouse
- I pack it, then ship it
As a supplier, I must charge you the cost of handling and shipping. If the item is expensive, I can also charge you for insurance.
No other fees should come to the table. The sad thing is that some suppliers charge you ridiculous fees. They do this to profit off of you.
Here are some examples of unnecessary fees:
- Marketing fee
- Manufacturing fee
- Retail fee
- Warehousing fee
It is not your obligation, as a dropshipper, to pay for these things. Instead, the product price—the one you paid—should be enough to cover these costs.
A great dropshipping supplier has straightforward pricing. The legitimate things you must pay for are product cost, insurance, handling, and shipping. If a supplier charges anything else, it must be a scam.
3. Fast Shipments
The actual shipment is not the issue here, but the supplier’s processing time. Suppliers also do not have control over shipping time. Only the logistics company, like FedEx, has control over this.
I am referring to the speed by which the supplier processes the package. For example, how long will the supplier take to get the package to the shipping company if you placed an order today?
The supplier should pack and ship the item in two business days. Please see the scenario below:
- Customer orders from your store on Monday
- You place the order with the supplier on Tuesday
- The supplier hands over the product to the shipper on Monday
As you can see, it took the supplier six days to take the product to the shipping company. Only then will the actual shipping time begin.
This timeframe is unacceptable. Your customers will bombard you with follow-up questions, and you have nothing to answer.
What should you do? Choose a supplier who can pack and ship in two business days. Anything longer than that is not ideal.
4. Technologically Advanced
Look for dropshipping suppliers who have a computerized system for ordering. It is easier to do business this way than the manual one.
Here is how the manual way works:
- A customer orders from your website
- You list it down on a piece of paper (or MS word)
- You call the supplier or email them
- The supplier ships the item
You can keep an Excel tracker if you want. However, can you imagine the reporting and analysis nightmare that you will go through?
I recommend you only deal with suppliers who have an online ordering system. Now, not all suppliers will have something like this. Why? Because a software program is expensive.
The solution is to use a high-tech system where dropshippers meet suppliers. Some examples are Oberlo, Dropship.IO, Salehoo, and many more.
5. Support System
As a dropshipper, you are both a businessperson and a customer. You are responsible for your sales. So, if a customer has a question, you must provide an answer.
You can only provide the best customer support if your supplier does the same. Most of the time, the answers from your supplier are the ones you give to your customers.
Here are some examples:
- Did you already ship the item?
- When is the package coming?
- What is the tracking number?
As you can see, you cannot have answers to this. You can only take them from the supplier. So choose a supplier who is there for you 24/7. If not, choose one who responds in less than 24 hours.
Benefits Of Dropshipping From Multiple Suppliers
Should you only pick one supplier or work with several of them? My take is that you should dropship with several suppliers. Below are the benefits of doing so.
1. More Products to Sell
Not all dropshipping suppliers manufacture dozens of products. Some of them only manufacture one or two types of goods.
If you work with only one supplier, you can only sell what they have. And if you do this, you really do not have much to offer to your customers.
Customers like to see variation. They want options. So, if your niche is handbags for women, sell a wide variety of them. But, of course, you can only do this if you work with multiple dropshipping suppliers.
How do you find many of these? AliExpress, CJDropshipping, Alibaba, and Dropship.IO are a few places to start.
2. Less Headaches from Errors
One supplier means the error repeats itself. Or, if there is a problem, the problem impacts your entire inventory.
For example, let us say that a warehouse burned. If this happens, you have nothing to sell. All orders from your store must be on a waiting list. Your customers will be unhappy—especially if you cancel their purchases.
Now, if you work with multiple suppliers, you do not have to endure this nightmare. Here is what you would do:
- Remove the products of the affected supplier
- Display only the available products from the other suppliers
Customers who visit your site will not place orders from supplier number one. And if they don’t, you do not have to deal with cancellations.
3. Better Chances of Competing
Different suppliers have varying profit margins. As a result, some sell their products at a lower rate than others. Some even have promotions and bonuses.
Because of this, you can leverage price drops to your benefit. Either you can drop your price or retain it and make more profit.
Suppliers also experiment with products from time to time. If they do, you can display these products in your store. As you know, more displays mean a higher likelihood of making a sale.
4. Possibility of Private Label
A private label means you can brand your products with your name. While some suppliers readily do this, the process is costly. Many of them even have a minimum order requirement before they do this.
And worse? They would expect you to pay for the order, even if you have not made a sale. However, if you have worked with a supplier for a long time, you may have this benefit.
Some suppliers may brand your items under your name. They do this to thank you for being a loyal client. If they do, they may even agree to do it per piece, not wholesale.
How To Contact Dropshipping Suppliers
There are many ways by which you can contact your dropshipping suppliers. With today’s technology, we no longer have a limit to one or two methods.
Below are the most common ones:
- Voice call
- VoIP like Skype and Viber
- Social media apps like Facebook
- Text messaging
All these contact methods work. However, the best I recommend is a system. It is a system that keeps all your communique. I am not saying it is the only way; I am only saying it is the best.
Once you contact the dropship supplier, there are some things that you must ask. These things will help you verify if the dropship supplier is legit.
- Payment Terms – ask what kind of payment methods they accept
- Total Cost – determine the things you will pay for, such as handling and shipping; ask if there are other fees
- Product Location – find out where the warehouse is; you want a warehouse that is in the same country as your target market
- Return Policy – inquire about the returns, refunds, and replacement policies. If they do not offer a refund, do not work with the supplier.
- Product Warranty – a warranty only applies to electronics and big-ticket items; it does not apply to simple toys, clothes, etc.
- Customer Support – confirm with the supplier how to contact them; find out how fast they respond to questions and concerns.
A supplier may not possess qualities in all of these. However, you should know how they do their business. If you do, you can at least plan your business accordingly.
How To Spot Fake Or Scam Dropshipping Suppliers
Beware of fake or scam dropshippers. Dropshipping is a huge business. The forecast is that the dropshipping industry will hit $426 billion by 2026. 
Where there is money, there is also a criminal element. In this section, I will share some telltale signs that a dropship supplier is suspicious.
1. The supplier charges a monthly fee
One thing that makes a supplier suspicious is the monthly fee. The supplier has no reason to charge this money. As a manufacturer, the supplier must profit from the product, not the fee.
Do not get me wrong. A monthly fee is not bad if you deal with a supplier directory. However, with a supplier directory, you are paying for the online system and its benefits. For example, many supplier directories have competitor analysis programs. That is what you pay for.
2. The supplier has no address or contact information
Legitimate businesses are transparent. They register their business with the government, so they have no reason to hide.
Do not deal with suppliers with no contact information besides an email address. At best, make sure that you have a street address. A street address is a validation that they are real.
3. They charge too much for a sample product
Some suppliers will charge you more than five times the cost of a product for a sample. Why? Because they do not want you to buy it.
This tactic is a ploy to convince you to buy wholesale. Or the supplier likely wants you to sell his items even if you have not seen them.
A legitimate supplier will sell his sample product at the same price. He is not afraid of what you will say—it is what it is, and he has nothing to hide.
Frequently Asked Questions: Dropshipping Suppliers
What is the dropshipping supply chain?
It refers to the model or process of dropshipping. It starts with your order and ends when the customer finally receives the item. It also refers to the actual dropshipping business model itself.
Are there free dropshippers?
No, products are never free. There are no free dropshipping suppliers. Many suppliers may offer free shipping from time to time. However, do not expect that free shipping will last. There are free dropshipping tools you can use, though.
Is dropshipping even legal?
Yes, it is legal. No law prohibits you from doing it, provided that you do not sell illegal items. For example. You must know the laws of the country where you ship. If you violate these laws, you can get in trouble.
Is dropshipping even profitable?
Yes, it is highly profitable. At its core, your profit is the difference between the supplier’s price and your selling price. Of course, you must factor in your other expenses. An example of this cost is website maintenance. Another is employee salary.
Can I pay dropshipping companies with a credit card?
Yes, most dropshipping websites and suppliers only accept credit cards. While some may accept a check, this process can only prolong the shipment.
Can I Dropship on Amazon or eBay?
Yes, but they have specific rules. For example, you cannot resell a product already for sale on the manufacturer’s website. What you can sell, pretty much, are private-label items not found in other retail online stores.
Where can I find dropshipping suppliers?
There are many places where you can find dropshipping suppliers. However, the most reputable suppliers are those in directories like Dropship.IO. If you want, type “how to find dropshipping suppliers on AliExpress” on Google, and you will find many sellers who can help you.
How do you get products for dropshipping?
You do not get the products for dropshipping. You can only display them in your store. If you want, you can order a sample from your supplier. To find products, you must use dropship supplier directories.
Can you dropship for free?
Yes, but it won’t be easy. It is better to spend a few bucks on your system, like Shopify. You can also pay a small investment on a dropship supplier directory.
The dropshipping supplier plays a key role in the success of your business. A bad partner will drag you down. Take your time in choosing the best partner, and you will succeed.
The next step is to browse the sites I mentioned in this article. I am sure you may not have the time to go to trade shows. The fastest route to find a dropshipping supplier is online.
Check out AliExpress, but do not forget to visit the website of dropship directories. For example, check Dropship.IO and see what they got!