Drop shipping suppliers are widely viewed as the solution to the stocking and fulfillment issues faced by small, online retailers. They help businesses cut costs, by eliminating the need for inventory, making them a highly economical option.
They also assume responsibility of shipping and stocking related tasks, making them an extremely efficient option for online businesses, particularly those with limited space and resources.
While this all sounds very promising, unfortunately, drop shipping suppliers do pose their own set of issues. Because businesses are delegating such an important job to an outside source, mistakes can occur, and these can create serious setbacks for an online company. Mistakes can include sending products to the wrong customer; a lack of stock and a general mismanagement of the operation.
The easiest way to resolve the issues surrounding drop shipping suppliers is to first address them. Below, we look at some of the biggest problems associated with this type of supplier- and offer effective solutions to help correct them. We also focus on how business owners can prevent future problems, and create a system that is as effective as possible, in the interest of protecting and improving their business in the long term.
Dealing With Damaged Products
One of the biggest and most common issues associated with drop shipping suppliers is damaged goods. Businesses may receive complaints from customers who claim that their items were either broken, damaged or both.Damaged products usually result from one of two issues. Either the item was poorly packaged, or the postal service mishandled the parcel during delivery. Alternatively, although much less likely, the item may have been damaged in the warehouse during stock check or a general reshuffling.
Broken products are big issue, and one that needs to be resolved immediately. In most circumstances, the supplier will offer a replacement, if not a full refund. However, in the interest of ensuring that customers are always put at the forefront of the operation, it’s important that companies check with their suppliers to clarify their policy before replying to the customer.
Ideally, however, companies should fully understand their suppliers returns policy before committing to a dropshipping supplier- in the interest of ensuring that the two companies are compatible. Compatibility between a business and their supplier is, after all, essential to guaranteeing full and efficient cooperation!
Products Are Sent To The Wrong Address
When a shipping supplier sends products to the wrong address, they’re forced to resend the same product to the correct address- at a cost. In these situations, businesses will be tasked with understanding who is at fault, and how to prevent this issue from reoccurring in the future.
The easiest way to resolve the issue of products being sent to the wrong address is to increase the efficiency of communication. For example, if suppliers operate over the phone, then the likelihood of an error occurring increases significantly- for example if a supplier employee mishears or misremembers important details. In this instance, it’s recommended that they switch to emailing or messaging, in the interest of having a clear; written form of communication that suppliers can reference during the shipping process.
In extreme cases, where suppliers repeatedly misaddress their packages, businesses may be justified in demanding that suppliers sign a release before mailing the parcel- so as to ensure that the details were thoroughly checked and that the drop shipping suppliers aren’t making careless mistakes at the expense of everyone involved.
Returns and Exchanges
Somewhat related to the above point is the issue of returns and exchanges. Most online stores will be forced to deal with customers who need a different size, a different product or who changed their mind entirely. Here, businesses have a few options with which to resolve this issue.
Companies can choose to have any returns sent to the dropshipping supplier, which increases the efficiency of the operation. However, there are a few other issues associated with this. Some dropshipping suppliers will charge a significant fee to accept returns, others will not accept returns in damaged packaging and few will immediately log the return of a package- which creates significant delays. The solution to this would be to negotiate a fair, comprehensive service.
The alternative is for companies to accept returns at their offices, or at the location from which they conduct their business. This is a viable option, although it means that companies now have to implement a system where they store returned stock; resell it or return it themselves to the supplier. Alternatively, companies could refuse returns or exchanges on the basis of their policy, although this could harm the reputation of the business.
The Wrong Product Or Quantity Is Processed
Some mistakes are difficult for businesses to predict, especially when they are, without question, the fault of the drop shipping supplier or the wholesaler responsible for creating and stocking the product. This includes circumstances where a shipping supplier sends the wrong product, or the wrong amount of products, to a customer.
The easiest way for companies to resolve this is to request that suppliers send their invoices before they mail their products. In such a way, online businesses can thoroughly check the invoice for any mistakes, and correct any misinformation before the packages are sent out. This gives companies more responsibility over the product, and ensures that the blame is spread equally across all involved.
Similarly, online retailers can ensure that if any mistakes are made, they’re resolved as quickly as possible- by notifying the supplier, finding a resolution and finally informing the customer of the ways in which they’ll be helped (all as quickly as possible). This puts the needs of the customer first which is, after all, key to conducting good business.
The Branding Problem
One of the biggest issues associated with drop shipping suppliers is the lack of brand continuity. Many businesses find that once their customer places their order, they detach themselves completely from the brand, mostly because the supplier delivers the products in generic packaging with no reference to the business itself (as is policy with most suppliers).
There are two, effective ways to resolve this issue. The first is to use a dropshipping supplier that offers customizable packaging to its customers. This would involve a supplier manufacturing, at a cost, a selection of packages that feature the logo or branding of the online business. This is usually the slightly more expensive option, but an effective way for a company to delegate further responsibility.
The other alternative is for companies to create their own packaging, and supply this to their drop shipping supplier, in the interest of ensuring brand continuity across the whole process. Companies can commission customized envelopes; tape and labels from another company- and then provide this to suppliers who will usually accept this without question.
Resolving The Issues Before The Appear: Choosing The Right Wholesaler
One of the easiest ways for both companies and drop shipping suppliers to avoid problems is to choose an appropriate wholesaler, for example Aliexpress. With the right wholesaler, companies who don’t create their own merchandise can set up their business quickly and efficiently- and watch as they make a significant profit (after appropriate marketing and other strategies are carried out.)
Finding a reliable wholesaler means guaranteeing the satisfaction of all customers who shop through an online store. Wholesalers are, after all, responsible for creating and stocking the product. This means that by choosing a reputable wholesaler, companies can ensure that their customers receive high quality products; in a timely manner and in the expected condition.
The Problem With Drop Shipping Suppliers
In general, while there are many problems associated with drop shipping suppliers, there are also many benefits that outweigh them. Dropshipping suppliers are a worthy investment for online businesses. Entrepreneurs looking to create a budgeted, profitable store online will without a doubt benefit from a dropshipping supplier and a high quality wholesaler- who will work together to ensure total satisfaction in all respects.
Many companies may encounter issues specific to their suppliers, and these should be resolved internally. However, the key to ensuring that any and all issues are resolved, is to make sure that good communication takes precedence over all else.
When a company communicates with their dropshipping supplier, and does so through writing or a medium that can be referenced at a later date, most of the problems resolve themselves. Communication is key to any good business, and if a problem ever arises, both dropshipping suppliers and businesses should first examine their chosen means of communication and then work to find a more targeted solution. In many circumstances, simply changing the way companies and their suppliers interact with each other is effective enough to resolve any problems.