The top performers in our review are Doba, the Gold Award winner; Dropship Direct, the Silver Award winner; and Wholesale2b, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a dropshipper to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of these dropshipping companies.
A dropship service is more than just a wholesaler that ships and fulfills orders for you. Dropship services are one-stop-shops that offer products from multiple suppliers and include options that make it easier to add products to the website or marketplace you plan to sell them on. The best dropship services also include integration with many of the leading shopping cart software providers.
There are many benefits to using a dropship service. First, you don't have to deal with storing inventory. You save on inventory storage and shipping costs. You also do not have to worry about having old or unsold stock on hand. The wholesaler or supplier ships orders from its warehouse. Second, you don't have to manage relationships with multiple suppliers; the dropship service collects products from each supplier under one virtual roof. Third, these services often have tools to let you add large amounts of products to the platform you use to sell. This can save you a lot of time that would be spent adding products, uploading images and writing descriptions.
Dropship services are not without their drawbacks. With so many products available, certain categories are oversaturated. Margins are thin as you have to price your products competitively. It's best to find a niche and specialize in one or two areas rather than spreading yourself thin. If you are an expert in a particular area, this may be an opportunity for you to show off your expertise and add value to your future customers by providing buying guides or other expert commentary as part of your site. And though you won't have to manage the shipping of the product, you are still responsible for other customer service issues that might arise.
Signing up for a dropship service is one step in starting an online business. The best services offer more than just products you can sell; they have tools and resources to make it easier to sell. You can learn more by reading our articles on dropship services.
When evaluating these dropship services, we looked at the options they provide for managing inventory on the back end as well as the products they include. We also looked at the way these services manage the shipping of products with the many suppliers they work with. Costs and fees were another factor that weighed into our rating. These include membership fees as well as costs associated with shipping products. Account support provided by the dropship services was the final factor that we considered.
We appraised all services and products using hands-on evaluation and research that attempts to replicates the exploratory process of a typical small business owner. The dropship services we evaluated had no influence or input over our testing methodology. Research was conducted through the services' websites and by contacting them directly.
Inventory & Backend Management
One factor we considered important when evaluating these dropship services was their options for exporting products. Using a data feed or inventory download can allow you to upload a large amount of products to your marketplace or website and save time that you would spend manually adding each individual product. Dropship Direct is a standout in this respect; it uses Pushlist technology to create inventory feeds in formats for 20 different shopping carts.
When choosing a dropship service, you want to consider which products you'll sell. The number of products available through the dropshippers we reviewed ranged from two million to 2,000. While we did consider a large inventory a positive thing, we took into account that some services specialize in certain product niches. Megagoods, with a focus on electronics, and Smart Living Company, with home goods, are two dropship services with smaller inventories and a focus on specific categories.
The best dropship services aggregate multiple suppliers and combine their products into one list for you. The dropship service manages the relationships with those suppliers for you. When a customer orders from you, you will need to log in and place the order through the dropship service. A feature that we liked was the ability to integrate the dropship service with your site's shopping cart, allowing orders placed on your site to be automatically processed by the dropship service. This feature saves you time and makes the process smoother. Wholesale2b in particular had a strong shopping cart integration option.
Some dropship services, such as Inventory Source and Dropshippers.com, require you to select specific suppliers and don't collect all the products under one roof. This could be a good option if you are interested in pursuing relationships with individual suppliers, but we penalized these services in our rankings because it requires more effort than the all-in-one solutions.
Since many of these dropshippers work with multiple suppliers, shipping speeds vary. Other variables, including the location of the supplier and customer, can affect the shipping speeds. National Dropshippers is the quickest of the services we reviewed, with an average shipping time of one to three days.
Costs & Fees
The most common fee associated with dropship services is the membership fee. These fees can be paid monthly or yearly. Some services only charge a one-time fee to sign up for. The monthly fees range from $14.99 to $59.95. Signing up to pay yearly can save you some money. The amount you pay can also depend on how you intend to sell products. Plans to sell through eBay or Amazon or your own website are often cheaper than plans that involve the dropship service building a website for you. If you choose to have a dropship service build a website for you, you'll often pay a larger upfront fee as well as regular monthly hosting costs.
We rated Dropship Direct best on costs and fees since it does not charge a membership fee, though it does charge a fee if you want to use its Pushlist data feeds. Wholesale2b and Megagoods are two services with low membership fees. Doba charges the highest membership fees.
Others common fees we considered when rating these services are restocking fees, dropship fees, and shipping and handling costs. Restocking fees are usually a percentage of the order cost and are charged when customers return non-defective products. The restocking fees of the services we reviewed ranged from 15 to 20%. Dropship fees are charged per order in addition to regular shipping and handling costs and range from between $.99 and $5.95, though there are many services that don't charge any dropship fees. Shipping and handling costs vary depending on factors such as the supplier, your customer's location and which shipping provider the supplier uses.
It's important to know the costs associated with a dropship service before signing up. There are the membership fees as well as costs associated with shipping the products your customers buy from you. Remember, you also need to pay the wholesale costs for the products that customers order. There are also listing fees if you choose to sell through an online market place. Be aware that using a dropship service to start a business has more costs than just the initial sign-up fees. Dropship Direct is the best for a basic plan that is low cost, aggregates products and allows you to export products to the widest variety of platforms.
We scored each of the dropship services on how forthcoming it was with information and how promptly the customer support returned calls and responded to email. Several of the companies we reviewed proved difficult to contact, either not returning calls or not replying to our queries in a timely manner or even at all. Several services had no listed phone number or email address and can only be contacted through an online ticket system on their website. It's important to consider how willing these services are to answer your questions before you sign up, and we would recommend trying to speak to a representative before you commit to a dropship service.
Doba and Smart Living Company had the strongest account support. Both services provided helpful information when we contacted them. Both dropship services also provide you with a dedicated account rep, who can give you one-on-one advice about what the best options for your business are.
All dropship services we reviewed shared several features. Every dropshipper blind ships products for you. This means that they do not include information about themselves on the packing slip. Dropship Direct allows you to customize the packing slip that is included with orders. Every dropship service also offers product order tracking, so you and your customers can make sure every order reaches its destination.
Dropship services can provide you with the products and tools to begin selling online. There are other factors to consider when selecting a dropship service.
How You Sell Your Products
If this is your first online business, you need to determine how you're going to sell your products. Amazon, eBay and your own website are the most common options. Each of these options has its own advantages and drawbacks. Amazon and eBay are easy to use and have a built-in audience, but both charge listing fees, which can eat into your profits. Creating your own website gives you more freedom and control, and you don't have to pay any third-party fees. Several of the services we reviewed can help build a website for you at an extra cost.
If you build your own site, you will have to market and optimize it since you won't have access to existing traffic. Managing your own website can also be more complex than simply listing your products on eBay or Amazon. If you already have an existing website, several of the services we reviewed make it easy to upload products to it. Dropship Direct and Wholesale2b are two services that can help make websites for you.
The best dropship services offer you the ability to manage inventory without having to manage relationships with each supplier. Keep in mind that most charge a monthly or yearly fee, so you may want to look around to find a dropshipper that has the right mix of products and cost for your business.
If you have a large business or want access to the largest inventory, Doba may be the best dropship service for you. It has over 2 million products and has several back-end management options uniquely suited for enterprise-level businesses. Doba does charge high fees.
If you have technical savvy, Dropship Direct may be a good option for you. Its Pushlist technology allows you to customize your data feed to add the products you choose to your site or marketplace quickly. Dropship Direct doesn't charge any membership fees.
Wholesale2b is a great option if you want a website built for you. The website will be preloaded with the products of your choosing, and you can customize it from a variety of templates.
If you plan on selling products through eBay, Sunrise Wholesale may be the best option for you. It has an eBay wizard that allows you to manage your eBay listings. You can also link your eBay account to your Sunrise Wholesale account and load products directly from Sunrise Wholesale's catalogue.