Practical Ecommerce

Running Your Business while Depending on Others

In my business I have to rely on many drop ship suppliers. Being a control freak this is very difficult for me to handle. I dream of the day I can warehouse my own items and ship direct, but until funds are available for that venture, drop shipping will have to work for now. I depend on my drop shippers to do a good job and take care of my customers the same way I would if I shipped direct. They represent my business with every order shipped. Of course there are always hiccups in the system as everyone makes mistakes but what happens when your drop shipper makes your business look bad?

This recently happened to us. I’ve had the privilege to work with some wonderful drop shippers. I’m proud to sell their items, and they honestly take very good care of our customers. I guess I was spoiled. This recent experience opened my eyes to what can happen if your drop shipper drops the ball.

What happened you ask? Well we had a $5000 order that we almost lost thanks to miscommunication by our drop shipper. Let’s just say it is a very long, very stressful story. Luckily we were able to save the sale by calling in a favor with a different (and much more reliable) drop shipper. In the end we probably looked a little disorganized to our customer, but we got the order done and delivered on time. If we didn’t have this back up plan we would have been left looking like idiots.

Sitting there stressed out and embarrassed at how this all was handled I realized something. Why in the world would I work with a supplier like this? Why would I allow them to represent my business to my customers? They obviously do not have the same values as we do. I spent the next hour removing their entire inventory from our website. Do they care? Probably not. But I feel better knowing that I no longer have to deal with that kind of a business, and that I am not paying them to make my business look foolish.

If you use drop shippers make sure they share the same values and ethics in business that you do. Is the customer their first priority? Are they easy to contact if there are problems such as damaged or missing items? How is their service, are they friendly, responsive and helpful? If not, you might want to look elsewhere.

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Comments ( 4 )

  1. Ilya Vassilevsky October 8, 2010 Reply

    So, backup is key?

  2. Kara English October 8, 2010 Reply

    I wouldn’t say backup is key. You just need to make sure that the suppliers you work with are reliable and share the same values as you do in your business.

  3. Gena Cornett November 11, 2010 Reply

    I, too, rely on drop shippers for much of my inventory, and right now am having a similar issue with one of mine. They’ve taken over 2 months to ship product, leaving me to try to explain to my customers what’s going on. They don’t provide updates, don’t send tracking information – it’s like they really don’t care. So once my orders are shipped from them, I’m firing them. That’s what you would do to an employee that was negatively impacting your business, and I think that’s what you have to do to suppliers as well. I’ve decided that I’ve got to require certain standards in my suppliers, because if they don’t perform, it’s my business that looks bad and suffers for it. Thanks for your articles – I always enjoy reading them.

  4. SouthWind November 27, 2010 Reply

    I ship mostly out of our own warehouse, but occasionally drop ship. I totally agree, when relying on drop shipper you are 100% at their mercy. I think that with more competition everyday and online markets becoming more saturated, it’s very important to stand out from the crowd. And I’m not talking about cutting prices. One of the things I pride my business in and make every attempt to excel and improve is shipping time. I try to stock as much as possible and ship as quickly as possible. You may not be able to boast about having the lowest prices, but I think there are plenty of other ways for the "little guy" to improve service, to ensure success and growth.

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