If you’ve never run a dropshipping business, the information in this chapter could save you weeks of wasted time and frustration. Many of these dropshipping tips are drawn from two basic principles about making a dropshipping business work efficiently The convenience of dropshipping comes at a price, and having an invisible third party involved in each sale often complicates things. From botched orders to out-of-stock items, fulfillment problems will be something you’ll have to deal with. If you accept this POS mobile app ahead of time, you’re less likely to throw in the towel due to frustration.
it’s easy to think you need to set your system to perfectly track your costs and inventory at all times. But if you try to do this, you’ll likely go crazy, spend thousands on custom development and never launch a store. Focusing on the easiest-to-implement solutions, even if they’re not “perfect,” is usually the better option, especially when you’re starting out.
Under no circumstances should you blame your dropshipper for the mistake. It will only cause confusion and make you look like an amateur. The customer has no idea the dropshipper even exists. Instead, you need to own the problem, apologize, and let the customer know what you’re doing to fix it. Depending on the level of the mistake, you may want to proactively offer the customer something for the error. This could mean refunding the shipping fee (a personal favorite of ours) or an upgrade if the customer needs a new item shipped out.
You may have to assume responsibility for the error, but that doesn’t mean you need to cut into your profit margin. Any reputable supplier will pay to fix its own errors, including paying for shipping costs to return items. However, it probably won’t pay for any freebies or upgrades you gave the customer. You need to consider those public relations and brand-building expenses.
Again, even the best dropshipping suppliers will occasionally make mistakes, but be extremely wary of a supplier that habitually botches your orders and fails to fulfill them properly. Unless you can get the supplier to change (unlikely), your business’s reputation will suffer. If this is the case, you should probably start looking for another supplier.
Most experienced dropshippers would agree that managing the status of inventory across multiple suppliers is the biggest challenge you’ll face running a dropshipping business. Do a poor job of this and you’ll constantly be informing customers that their order is out of stock–not a great way to attract repeat business and loyal brand fans.
Properly managing inventory across your suppliers and distributors–and limiting the number of out-of-stock items you sell–is a complex process. Shopify apps like DuoPlane and Syncee or a web-based service like Ordoro can help you sync inventory. This is a great option when suppliers offer real-time data feeds, but suppliers don’t always have them.
Having access to multiple suppliers can be a huge advantage. Why? Because having multiple suppliers with overlapping inventory is the best way to improve your order fulfillment ratio. If Supplier A doesn’t have an item in stock, there’s a good chance Supplier B has it. Additionally, it’s risky to rely on one supplier as the only place to source your product.
If they decide not to work with you, raise their prices, or go out of business, it jeopardizes the future of your business. You’ll never be able to find two suppliers that carry all the same products, but if they operate in the same dropshipping niche or industry, both will likely stock the bestselling items–and these are your biggest concern.