Daydreaming about owning an online store will do you no good unless you take action. And one of the most important steps is finding reputable product suppliers. Finding dependable vendors is a hurdle you must cross if you want to be a successful retailer.

When looking for drop ship suppliers, take your time and be very thorough. Your store will depend on these suppliers, so don’t think you can rush or hack your way into finding a vendor without due diligence.

Make sure that everything is straight with your business entity

Don’t think about contacting suppliers if your business isn’t set up correctly. Suppliers will want to see your business EIN number and a copy of your resale certificate. That separates rates you from the rest of the chaff; reputable suppliers do not like their time wasted. If they see that you are not a real business, you won’t receive the time of day. Take the time to set up the business properly to curtail any disappointment later on in the process.

Figure out what products you want to sell and contact the manufacturers directly.

The best and fastest way to get in touch with manufacturers is to simply call them and ask them if they drop ship. Either they drop ship or they don’t, so it should be fairly straightforward. If they do drop ship, ask them what they need from you. Some will require information about your business, and they may have minimum order requirements. If the manufacturer doesn’t drop ship, move on to the next one.

How to find these manufacturers

Your first impulse may be to use Google and see what’s on the first few pages. This will be a very time consuming and frustrating process, but it may be necessary. Wholesalers aren’t too keen on SEO and online marketing, so you may have to dig a few pages deep until you find what you’re looking for. Also, you may have to get a little creative with the keywords that you use. The vendor you need may not be optimized for a keyword like “T-shirt supplier”. So you will probably have to search using a list of related keywords and modifiers. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Distributor
  • Wholesaler
  • Reseller
  • Become a reseller
  • Reseller wanted
  • Bulk
  • Warehouse

Google isn’t necessarily the best option. Directories, trade magazines, offline newsletters, and trade show conferences may be the best option. This is, of course, far more hands-on than punching a keyword into Google and hoping for the best.

Deciding which vendor to use

If a vendor says “yes” to drop shipping, don’t just stop there. You should determine which vendors you want to work with through your own requirements.

  • Find out if they have any recurring fees for using them. Some vendors will charge a monthly fee, some want. Do the math and, if you can, compare their rates to other drop shipping manufacturers. You can expect various set up fees when you get started.
  • You should do a few test orders with that supplier. Using a vendor that isn’t verified as a legit supplier will be very, very risky.
  • Consider their location as an important factor in the overall logistics of order fulfillment. If the supplier is a great distance away from the majority of your customer base, you may feel it in shipping fees.

The supplier is an important piece to the puzzle

Finding suppliers can be fairly difficult, but it is far from impossible. Use the suggestions given in this post, and find the vendor that’s the best fit for you.

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