Drop shipping products using small business as suppliers? Would it work?

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I am thinking about opening my own drop shipping online store and would like to source my products from small business since it would fit my niche the best. Would that work? What problems could I encounter? Has anyone tried that?

 

Thank you!

 

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Shopify Staff
Shopify Staff
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Hi, Flavia! 

This is Dallas, one of the Social Care Gurus here at Shopify. I would be happy to help you out with your question.

By all means, you are definitely able to find your own drop shipping suppliers for your store. The biggest thing that you would need to make sure of is that the small business would be able to facilitate what you are looking to do. With bigger suppliers, they will have a larger inventory and more staff to fulfill any orders that may come in. They will then be able to package multiple orders for you at once and send them out to your customers directly within a short time frame. 

Another issue that could arise from dropshipping with a small business is if your online store takes off. If you start getting more orders than the small business can handle then it may not look good on you if in turn, it makes delivery times longer.  

When you are deciding what companies you are going to work with you will want to ask them a few questions to get a feel for how business would look. Some good questions to think about asking are: 

  • How much inventory do they have at a given time
  • How long does it take between inventory shipments
  • Very importantly: will they allow dropshipping
  • What is their estimated prep & shipping time for an order
  • Will they charge you wholesale prices or will they charge full prices 

If you are familiar with the company that you are going to use and you are comfortable with them then you won't need to stress as much. However, if you are not sure then you will also want to make sure that they are legitimate. 

There are many things to consider, but this article should really help you with the basics of finding a supplier. 

If you end up finding a supplier that you would really like to work with all you would have to do is make sure you add them as a Custom Fulfillment option in the Shipping Settings. In Settings > Shipping in your Store Admin under Dropshipping and fulfillment services you will need to click Add dropshipping service. In the Custom order fulfillment section, click Add custom fulfillment service.

In the form, enter:

  • The title of your custom fulfillment provider
  • The email address of your custom fulfillment provider.

When you have put all that information in you will need to Click Add fulfillment service.

This document will go into it in more depth.

This will complete the set up of your drop shipping supplier so you can select it as the fulfillment option in is selected as the Shipping option in the product itself. That way when a customer orders it there will be an email that is sent out to the supplier. 

I hope this helps to answer your questions and alleviate some of the stress of figuring out what to do. If you have any more questions please let us know. Our support is around to help out 24/7. 

Dallas
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New Member
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Thank you so much for your long and thorough response!

That's great news! 

For the inventory issue, do you think that if I stated on the listing that since it's a product made by a small business, therefore the inventory is not unlimited or that if there's a big order to be patient about the shipping time (or something similar) that would work? Do you know of anyone using shopify working with small businesses? 

Also, I have a few more questions please:

1. Is it possible to have SOME listing from other businesses and SOME listing from aliexpress? If so, is it possible to have SOME dropshipping listings and SOME not drop shipping? (let's say I made some things myself and I want to sell them on my store in a limited edition?)

2. In your experience, is it possible to talk to the aliexpress supplier and ask for a certain kind of packaging  (for example, ask they don't package it in plastic but in cardboard or things like that)?

3. Any chance aliexpress suppliers would add a custom logo on packaging with drop shipping? Is there any service for that? Or I would need to buy a certain amount of products in advance? In your experience, do customers mind receiving a not branded product?

4. When I sign up for a Shopify account I have 14 days free. I work full-time and I am quite sure that that won't be enough time for me to get the shop set up and running. Will I need to start paying before I launch the shop or just after I launch it? 

Thanks so much for all the help, I truly appreciate it!

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Shopify Staff
Shopify Staff
464 26 66

Hey, Flavia!

Ya, I would just put a little note on the product page. That way you are letting your customers know right at the beginning so they know what to expect. 

These are some great questions. I will answer them in order for you:

1. You are for sure able to sell products from multiple distributors and you are even able to throw in some of your own products if you like. Your site can be a mish-mash of product fulfillment locations. Just make sure they are set up properly for each and you are golden.

2. You are definitely able to talk with the supplier and ask them. It never hurts to ask, however, in my experience they don't do that. There would be too many individual customizations and requests for them to customize for each store. 

3. As for personalized documents in the package, that is not able to be done. You are able to request they don't send their own documentation, but they won't send your branding info for you. If you wanted to do that then yes, I would suggest ordering some products ahead of time and then sending them out yourself. 

From my personal experience, I don't find that customers get frustrated about not receiving an unbranded product. You may be dealing with a different market of customers so it is hard for me to say specifically. However, from my experience, no that isn't really an issue.  

4. All Shopify trials are 14 days, yes. However, if you would still like to prep your site and not make any sales at first, I recommend going on the paused plan. This will be $14 USD /mo. This plan allows you to have access to your site and even open it up to the public if you like. This will still keep the cart closed so your customers won't be able to purchase any products. If you would like to pause you would want to go to Settings > Account > Cancel Store
 

This document will be able to give you some more information on how to do that. 

Cheers, 
Dallas

Dallas | Social Care @ Shopify
 - Was my reply helpful? Click Like to let me know! 
 - Was your question answered? Mark it as an Accepted Solution
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