As an e-commerce entrepreneur adopting the drop shipping business model, your role is to act as the middleman. You connect the demand to the supply and make a good margin doing it. It’s therefore obvious that the two most important parts of the equation are: the supply (in the form of your drop ship suppliers) and the demand (in the form of marketing and customer acquisition). You want to find reliable suppliers that are as cheap as possible to allow for healthy margins, which brings us to the main question here: who are and how can you find the best wholesale drop shipping companies?
Table of Contents
- Drop Shipping Companies: Basics and Role
- Is Dropshipping Worth It?
- Do you need to be a company to work with drop shippers?
- Wholesale Supplier vs. Drop Shipping Companies
- Finding Good Suppliers (and spotting the bad ones)
- What Are Supplier Directories?
- 10 Most Popular Drop Shipping Companies
- Common Qs and As
- The Wrap Up
Drop Shipping Companies: Basics and Role
If you’re reading this then you probably already know what drop shipping is. In fact, you’ve probably already researched the pros and cons of this business model thoroughly. However, for the sake of comprehensiveness, we’ll briefly cover those points for those who are new.
Thanks to drop shipping, you can sell physical products online (or offline) without keeping stock or inventory. You don’t need a warehouse, you don’t need to store products and you don’t need to label and ship products. In fact, the products you sell don’t even have to ever touch your hands.
How does it work, then? Simple, you’re a middleman. You take your customers’ orders and then forward them to a third party, the drop shipping company or supplier. This third party is invisible to your customer. To the customer, you’re the one who’s actually fulfilling their order.
So you forward the order to your supplier, and then they ship the customer’s order right to their doorstep, you don’t get involved at any point during that process except to provide customer support when needed.
The biggest benefit here is obvious, you just do the marketing and customer service. Everything else is handled by your supplier. The biggest drawback is pretty much the same point: everything else is handled by your supplier. This means you have little control over your supply chain. Your brand name, reputation and practically the whole survival of the business is dependent on a third party (usually located tens of thousands of miles away) that you have almost zero control over.
Is it worth it?
A lot of people thinking of pursuing the business model reconsider after carefully weighing the cons. Drop shipping, like payment processors and merchant account providers like to call it, is a “high risk” business model. A lot of things can go wrong, and you’d think this might be the case for any business. The difference, however, and “high risk” associated with drop shipping comes from the fact that there’s little you can do as a business owner when things go south because of the lack of control.
Panicking already? You shouldn’t. Drop shipping is an awesome business model to help get your feet wet with eCommerce in general. It’s a low barrier to entry business model and can be very profitable when done right.
But, can you do 6 figures a month drop shipping? Yes, probably. But at this scale, the risk becomes much higher and “control” becomes more important than ever. This is why many people start out drop shipping to build some capital, but then eventually start buying wholesale and stocking their own warehouses or utilizing a fulfillment center. The following step would be to start private labeling. So while drop shipping may not be the best long-term business model, it’s most certainly an awesome starting point.
Do you need to be a company to work with drop shippers?
This is a common concern for people who are just starting out. My advice: don’t overthink this. Sure, some people might scare you to death talking about how you need to set up this complex legal structure before even getting your feet through the door, but I’m not one of them.
Before you continue reading: I’m not a lawyer and what you’re reading in this section does not constitute legal advice. Please contact a local attorney when in doubt about your legal status or if you have legal questions.
So the gist of it is this: Most US-based drop shipping companies will usually require a registered business and will ask for your EIN, “Employer Identification Number”. This can easily be obtained from the IRS once your company is formed.
In case your state charges sales tax, you’d also need a sales tax ID. Forming a company in the US is not as complicated as you might think, though, even for foreigners. You can usually get it done in a few hours to a few days under 200 bucks. It’s really important to understand the different corporate structures thoroughly before deciding on one, though.
The above applies if you’re looking to deal with US-based drop shippers. The majority of people starting out actually start drop shipping directly from China. In this case, and at this point in time (as of the date of publishing this article), you can freely work with foreign dropshippers and they usually won’t ask you for any documents.
It’s typically just a case of forwarding them the customer’s order once it’s placed. Nothing more, nothing less. They’d then send you a CSV with order tracking numbers, or however else you’ve arranged it with them.
This is the most common (and recommended) way for people to get their feet wet with drop shipping while minimizing the hassle involved. You’d operating as a sole proprietor and can start your business right now. Once you get the ball rolling, you might then start to consider using local drop shippers, buying in bulk…etc in which case you’d probably need to start forming a company. But by that time, you would have gotten your feet wet with the business model and decided whether it’s for you.
Wholesale Suppliers vs. Drop Shipping Companies
There’s an important distinction here between those two terms, they’re not one and the same. A wholesale supplier would sell you products at a discounted price because you’ll be buying in bulk. You’d then resell those products at “retail” price.
Wholesale suppliers are pure B2B businesses. They never deal directly with the end customers. They buy from the manufacturer in bulk (or sometimes they manufacture themselves), and then break down those quantities into “smaller bulks”, add a margin and sell them to retail merchants. This is the “traditional” product cycle and it generally has nothing to do with dropshipping.
The other type of suppliers is the drop shippers. Those guys are more expensive than wholesalers most of the time, but they’re still cheaper than retail stores so as to allow you to source from them and mark up the price to make a decent margin. Those are the guys you’d outsource your orders to and then they’d handle fulfillment to the customer on your behalf.
Drop shippers often claim that they’re selling you the product at “wholesale price”. This is usually just a marketing stunt. If you offer to buy their product in bulk right there and then, they’d probably offer you a much better deal than the one you’re getting with drop shipping.
Think about it, with drop shipping all the risk is on them. If they sell you in bulk, the risk is shifted to you and they get the huge added bonus of getting paid in advance and not having to deal with customers.
Those are attractive benefits so they’d be much more likely to give you a much better price. Now THAT is wholesale price (or at least close to it). It’s important to understand the difference and why a drop shipper would normally have higher prices than a wholesaler. This helps you navigate the “supplier waters” while minimizing the risk of getting ripped off.
Finding Good Suppliers (and spotting the bad ones)
We have an old Arabic saying that translates to “Don’t fish for me, teach me how to fish”. It stems from the logic that if, hypothetically, we were still fishing and hunting to survive, you’d be much better off with me teaching you how to hunt and fish rather than just serving you the food on a silver platter. Sure, it’s much more of a hassle for you, but in the long run, it’s got your best interest at heart.
Similarly (to an extent), you’re probably reading this to come up with a list of recommended drop shipping suppliers who you’d then rush to order from. Well, so will tens of thousands of others reading this (or similar) articles. Don’t get me wrong, I will give you a comprehensive list of drop shippers in the next section, but before I do that, I thought of including this section first.
If you go out there and try to find your own suppliers without depending on the sources everyone else is feeding off, you’re bound to get better results. I’m absolutely NOT saying that the biggest suppliers in the industry don’t work. All I’m saying is that there are a lot of hidden gems out there outside the directories and websites everyone is flocking to like bees to honey.
Start at the top of the food chain.
If you know the manufacturer of a certain item, go directly to them first. They will often refuse to deal with you directly, especially if you’re still starting out. This is particularly applicable for branded items. However, you can ask them about their distributors’ contact details. Some will have multiple direct distributors, others will have a single exclusive distributor.
You’d then contact that distributor and repeat the process. They’d either agree to work with you or send you another level down the food chain. Obviously, the closer you are to the top of the chain, the fewer intermediaries the product goes through, the lower the price you’d typically get. That’s why starting at the top maximizes your chance of getting the best possible deal.
Google is your best friend.
When people ask for something and I mention Google as recommendation for the solution, they usually think I’m blowing them off, when in fact, it’s the complete opposite. People usually dismiss Google because of how simple it is and how readily available all the information is. We just take it for granted.
There’s no magic, there’s no secret, no “hard work” involved. You just type in a few keywords and go through the results. I get it, the lack of excitement makes you think it’s not worth it. That can’t be further from the truth.
Try Googling a keyword related to your niche or product, and then add “wholesale”, “wholesaler” and “distributor”. You can also try “drop shipper” but that keyword is more likely to yield spammy results than the others.
Prepare to do a lot of digging. You have to be really patient here. Legitimate suppliers almost never deal with consumers directly. Because of that, their marketing capabilities are often non-existent. They’re just simply not in the business of marketing their products to the public, because: they don’t deal with the public.
That’s the bad news. It can be a huge pain in the butt to find those guys, trust me, I’ve been there. Their websites haven’t been updated since the 90s (if they exist in the first place), they have no idea how to even do the very, very basics of SEO, and it can be a pain to find relevant, up to date contact details for them at times.
So be prepared to sift through 10+ pages of Google to find those guys. When you do find them, however, it’s usually very rewarding. Most people will never go through this hassle, they’d just look up a few popular websites and that’s it. Doing this will often give you an instant edge over the competition. That’s a good thing to have that early on considering that at this point, your business may not even be operational yet.
Online Communities, Newsletters, Local Publications and more.
Look for “drop shipping influencers” online. Lots of people in the past couple of years started releasing drop shipping courses. Browse a little through YouTube. Most “influencers” that put up good content out there have their own Facebook groups.
These groups can often be goldmines. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen people ask for recommendations for fulfillment centers and drop shipping suppliers and got solid responses. One of the groups I really recommend is Nick Peroni’s “Ecom Empires”. There are hundreds of those out there, though, so do your research, join the relevant ones and scroll through the posts.
There are also many forums online that cater to discussing drop shipping, like this one. The great thing about online communities is that you get to connect and network with multiple people directly. Rather than having a one-way discussion between you and a single supplier, you can start threads and join ongoing discussions that may involve multiple suppliers and retailers looking to find suppliers, just like yourself.
Buy from competitors
This is an old trick that has worked for a lot of people in the space. It’s not a reliable method and will not yield consistent results, but it’s a good weapon to keep in your arsenal for those tough products that are hard to source.
The process is simple, you suspect a competitor is drop shipping, you visit their website and place an order with them. When the order arrives, Google the return address on the package or other details, it might lead you directly to the supplier. If it’s your lucky day, some suppliers include brochures or other marketing material in the package. If that’s the case, you can easily use this information to get in touch with the supplier.
In most cases, though, and especially if your competitor has matured enough, they would have already ordered from the supplier before and added instructions for them not to include any marketing material or content that can identify them to the end customer. In any case, as I said, this doesn’t really work as a “go to” method for finding suppliers, but it’s a good trick to add to your arsenal.
Red flags to watch out for
As said earlier, most legitimate dropship suppliers are notoriously bad at marketing. As a result, you’ll find that during your search, illegitimate suppliers and middlemen (who are good at marketing) will often dominate the search results, making it quite difficult to find the legit suppliers you’re after.
This is why, as I mentioned earlier, it’s important to stay patient and cautious as you evaluate potential suppliers. That said, let’s talk about some telltale signs of potentially illegitimate suppliers you’d be better off avoiding.
- Refusal to ship samples. Most suppliers should have no issues with you requesting a sample from whatever you plan on ordering from them. This is especially true for those who have MOQs or Minimum Order Quantities. They wouldn’t expect you to just shell out $500-$1000 (as an example) blindly. If they refuse to give you samples, something fishy might be going on.
- Public-facing stores. Suppliers usually ask you to sign up to a “wholesale account” which gives you access to a private bulk ordering portal. The process to get this account varies greatly depending on which country the supplier is from and the regulations of that country. In the US, for instance, they’ll require that you have a registered business and have the documents to prove it. This is why a supplier that claims to be selling “at wholesale prices” and has a public-facing store selling to everyone at those prices is probably just pulling a marketing stunt and is not honest about their prices being “wholesale”.
- “Subscription” fees. A legitimate supplier will never ask you to pay them a monthly fee just to get to work with them. Supplier directories do that but there’s a difference. We talk more about supplier directories in the next section.
What are supplier directories?
A supplier directory is basically a curated list of suppliers, usually organized and can be filtered by niche/category, location, MOQs and other relevant information that can help you filter and find suppliers meeting specific criteria quickly.
Supplier directories usually either charge the suppliers to be listed on them, charge the users (you) to access them, or do both or neither. In addition to the convenience of accessing suppliers’ information all in one place, the directories’ often offer additional added value by screening suppliers in their database for legitimacy. The directories may require verification documents from the suppliers prior to being listed on their website or database.
This provides an added peace of mind for users, since it’s very easy to get scammed or ripped off while randomly searching for suppliers around the web. As mentioned, there are free and paid directories. Most of the popular ones are paid. Whether you should pay for access to a supplier directory is entirely up to you. Those directories can definitely help you cut some time and find legit suppliers faster, but by no means are they necessary.
What I’m trying to say is, don’t pay for a supplier directory membership thinking there are secret suppliers in there that you can’t find or reach through any other means. That’s the wrong mindset and is very unlikely to be true. With a little bit of patience and digging, you could theoretically get to all the suppliers worth checking out in your niche without the need to use a supplier directory. If, however, you have the extra money to spend, they will most certainly be helpful for brainstorming interesting niche ideas as well as potentially finding some good suppliers.
In any case, I do not advise buying an annual subscription or so with those directories if they offer them. Supplier directories are not something you visit every day. Once you find the suppliers you’re looking for, you’d very rarely visit the directory again unless you need to search for suppliers in other niches or in case the directory offers additional services other than finding suppliers. For instance, some of them hook up directly into Shopify or other eCommerce platforms and can help you fulfill orders and manage inventory, acting as a middleman between you and the supplier.
10 Most Popular Drop Shipping Companies
There are quite a few popular “general purpose” drop shipping directories online. Most of these companies aren’t a single supplier but they either curate and filter suppliers as per the supplier directory business model covered above, or they’re more of a marketplace that actually gets involved in the supplier-merchant transactions.
AliExpress is AliBaba’s sister site. AliBaba is the go to website for finding Asian product manufacturers and distributors. It’s far from beginner friendly though, and you’ll often encounter suppliers with limited or no English skills. Plus, the majority sell in bulk and have minimum order quantities.
You can usually only pay through wire transfers and there isn’t much guarantee that you’d be getting what you paid for. Price-wise, however, you can get some really good deals on AliBaba because you can often deal with manufacturers directly, cutting out any middlemen.
AliExpress is a different story, though. It’s much more popular among drop shippers and has been featured in numerous online courses teaching the business model. Its popularity mainly stems from the extreme affordability, low barrier to entry and simplicity of the interface.
AliExpress works very similarly to Amazon. You can search for products by typing in some keywords, or browse categories and top lists. To purchase, you add items to cart and checkout in a very similar fashion to what you do on Amazon. It’s a pretty straightforward process and something that most people are familiar with, unlike AliBaba.
There are no minimum order quantities and there are some items on there that literally cost less than $1. Most products can also ship for free to the US, but they take 2-3 weeks or more to get there. Product and supplier reviews help you find the higher quality suppliers and avoid problematic ones.
Credit card payments and AliExpress support also keep you safe. Like Amazon, you can open a dispute if the order never arrives or if there’s a problem with the item and the seller isn’t cooperative. Their support is surprisingly responsive and most issues get solved timely.
AliExpress also has the added advantage of being able to integrate directly to your Shopify or WooCommerce store (among others) using apps/plugins such as Oberlo, Dropified, AliDropship and others. This is a huge advantage over other platforms as integrations significantly speed up the order and fulfilment process, allowing you to focus more on marketing and growing your business.
Instead of placing a new order from scratch manually with AliExpress for every order you receive from the customer, these apps help you accomplish this either completely automatically or semi-automatically. This might not seem like that much of an issue if you’re getting a few orders per day, but once you start dealing with, say, dozens of daily orders, you’d appreciate such an integration.
So let’s summarize AliExpress’ pros and cons.
- Very low barrier to entry, anyone with a credit card and a couple of dollars can order from AliExpress.
- Tight integrations with popular eCommerce platforms through third-party tools allow you to fulfill orders seamlessly.
- Responsive support.
- No membership or recurring fees, you just pay for your items.
- A wide variety of products covering many niches.
- Supplier quality may be inconsistent. Some suppliers have good ratings but end up being not as good as you’d expect.
- Shipping to the US and most countries takes weeks, this can cause customer frustration and trigger refund requests or worse, chargebacks.
- Unlike AliBaba, AliExpress sellers are mostly middlemen. This means higher prices and sometimes slow processing times if your order goes through multiple levels of middlemen.
Doba is a paid membership drop shipping company. It’s not just a directory that gives you access to supplier contact details, but rather an all-in-one dropshipping platform. They’ve curated over 2 million products from nearly 200 suppliers, and you can easily access all those products and list them on your stores with a few clicks of a button.
Doba’s main selling point is that they act on your behalf with suppliers and get your orders shipped. This is especially useful if you’re listing dozens (or hundreds) of products on your website and are sourcing them from different drop shippers. Managing all those drop shippers could get really hectic.
Another huge advantage is that Doba itself is based in the USA and some of their suppliers ship directly from US warehouses. This essentially cuts the Chinese/Asian shipping times by 80%+ which can be a huge advantage if delivering the goods quickly is critical for your audience and/or niche.
Doba also thoroughly verify the suppliers they work with, minimizing the risk of fraud, unreliable suppliers or “disappearing acts”. After all, you’re the face of the business, the customers don’t work with your suppliers, they work with you. So if suppliers screw you over, you’re the one with your butt on the line.
Here’s how you’d typically work with Doba. You login and go to the “Catalog” tab. This gives you access to all their products. You can search using keywords at the top or use their advanced filtering capabilities on the left column.
Again, it’s pretty similar to Amazon. You can start with a top-level category and then start drilling down to subcategories. Many top-level categories go several levels deep and this not only serves to help you find exactly the kind of products you’re looking for, but it can also act as a great brainstorming tool for niches you can pursue.
Once you find products you’re interested in drop shipping, you can then export these products and import them into your store. It’s a straightforward process that saves you a lot of time manually downloading and uploading those individual assets to your store.
Alright so for pricing. Doba charges you a monthly recurring cost that starts at $29 for the basic plan which should be sufficient for most people. If you need things like eBay/Amazon data exports, phone support or API access, then you’d need to upgrade to a higher plan. The advanced plan is $69/month and the Pro plan is $249. They also charge you a flat $0.99 per processed order.
The enterprise plan is the highest tier plan that gives you everything in the other plans plus API access, lower per order fee, a dedicated client success manager and more. They do not list a set price for this plan and it appears to be different and quoted on a case-by-case basis.
- Huge product selection covering many niches from a wide variety of suppliers. Over 2 million products and 200 suppliers.
- Some products ship directly from the US, significantly decreasing shipping times for US-based customers.
- Responsive customer support. They reach out once you create an account to help you set up everything and see if you have any questions.
- “Push to store” functionality allows you to instantly import products to your store right from their interface.
- Advanced sorting and filtering make finding the right products quick and efficient.
- Monthly recurring fee + per item fee means a higher barrier to entry for beginners.
- It’s not the biggest platform in terms of the number of suppliers, other platforms have more suppliers.
- There seem to be quite a few angry reviews on Doba’s Shopify app page. The app is rated 2.4/5 overall which is alarming.
SaleHoo defines themselves as “a powerful research tool, supplier directory, and online community for drop shippers, wholesalers, and e-commerce stores”. As you can tell, they have a strong focus on building a community around their product and have a pretty active blog and forums where you can find and network with merchants who are in the same boat as you.
They have both, wholesale suppliers and drop ship suppliers. They say their directory lists over 8000 suppliers covering 2.5 million products (on some pages they say 1.6 million so I’m not sure which of them is correct) across 75 categories. They also have over 137,000 registered merchants on their platform.
Like the others, each supplier that is featured on SaleHoo’s platform is vetted and approved by their team. In addition to the supplier directory and community features, they also provide a ton of training both free and for members after signing up. They also advertise a neat “Market Research” feature that tracks the price of products online and compares it to the SaleHoo supplier prices.
It then calculates the potential profit you could make selling these items, that can be hugely beneficial when you’re trying to decide, at a glance, whether a product is worth sourcing and selling. It also helps you uncover high-value opportunities early on before others catch on and the market gets saturated.
Now for pricing. SaleHoo costs $67 per YEAR. They also offer a “lifetime” plan for $127. I’m one of those people that really get trigger happy with the “buy now” button when I find that I can snatch a lifetime subscription at a reasonable price. Compared to Doba’s $348/year starting plan, SaleHoo seems like a really good deal.
To sweeten the deal even more, they offer a 60-day refund guarantee so your purchase is essentially risk-free. You can buy a subscription, login, have a look around, and if things don’t meet your expectations, you can ask for a refund anytime within 60 days.
4. Wholesale Central
Wholesale central is one of the oldest directories around, established in 1996. They used to have paid membership plans but they’ve shifted their business model since. Merchants looking for potential suppliers can browse their directory completely free of charge, as they make their money by charging suppliers a fee to list on their website.
Wholesale central features over 740,000 products from 1,400+ suppliers, that’s pretty decent. They also claim to carefully vet suppliers before allowing them to list on their directory. However, I don’t feel this vetting is as strict as it should be.
After all, Wholesale Central makes their money selling spots on their website to suppliers, that may mean that they’re less inclined to reject potential offers, unlike websites that make most of their money from the end user.
Other websites aren’t making money directly from the supplier so they can more “freely” asses suppliers without risking potential bias and an unworthy supplier buying their way into the platform. That said, this is a free directory so there isn’t much to complain about. You just need to be cautious and carry out your due diligence. Don’t blindly depend on their own screening. You can definitely find some golden nuggets on WC, just be prepared to put in the effort.
When you select and click on a supplier, you’re sent directly to their website and can access their contact details. Meaning, WC doesn’t act as a middleman/buffer and doesn’t require transactions or business dealings to go through them. They just make the initial “introduction”.
- Completely free for users.
- Connects you directly to relevant suppliers with no middlemen.
- One of the oldest supplier directories around.
- Website design is old and not intuitive.
- Although one of the oldest, they aren’t the biggest.
- Direct supplier connection means more work is required to work out deals and terms with individual suppliers.
- Quality cannot always be guaranteed and you need to manually vet suppliers.
5. Worldwide Brands
Worldwide Brands is also one of the oldest directories around, they’ve been operating for 18 years. It was founded by Chris Malta (a powerseller on eBay) in 1999. Like most others on this list, suppliers in the directory have to meet strict guidelines in order to be listed. They do this by hosting “face-to-face” meetings in trade shows as well as visiting manufacturer factories and sampling their products to verify legitimacy. Pretty thorough.
They also claim to “remove any middlemen”, meaning they go directly to the manufacturer or the top level authorized distributor for that manufacturer. Worldwide Brands offers a comprehensive directory of over 8,000 suppliers, updated weekly. They offer a single plan: $299 lifetime membership.
While I generally like the concept of lifetime memberships, this price is a little steep for small businesses or people just starting out with the business model. They might be better off starting with a free or reasonably priced, monthly subscription directory/platform.
It’s easy to lookup suppliers and all their relevant contact details are available at the click of a button, including: name, phone, email and website as well as full physical address and other order related details that help you understand how the supplier typically works and how ordering from them is like.
There are two things about Worldwide brands I find particularly annoying. One, they’re not very dropshipper-friendly. Don’t get me wrong, they do have a lot of dropshippers but your savings most of the time are very limited compared to the retail price, so there isn’t really much room for a healthy profit margin. Most of the good deals are available with wholesalers who typically ask for substantial minimum order quantities to give you access to the best available deals.
The other issue is their upsells. Sure, they’re charging a one time fee so I guess they need other sources of “recurring income”, but it’s not like their one time fee costs $1. I’d get it if you depended on partnerships and third-party affiliate offers to survive if you were a free directory, but for a $300 fee, I think members deserve a cleaner, more user-friendly experience.
- 8,000+ suppliers and over 1.8 million products.
- Created by an eBay powerseller, someone who knows the industry inside-out.
- Relevant supplier information and contact details easily accessible.
- One of the oldest directories around.
- One-time fee.
- Direct supplier access, no middlemen.
- Much more suited for established business with thousands to spend (to get the best deals). Not beginner friendly.
- $300 upfront is a significant barrier to entry for many people.
- Affiliate marketing and upselling offers are annoying and hinder the user experience.
Other Notable Directories/Platforms
Oberlo has been recently acquired by Shopify. It has a native Shopify application that integrates tightly with the platform. It allows you to easily import and sell products from AliExpress in a semi-automated manner.
They’ve also recently started offering products and fulfillment services themselves. Oberlo is a good choice for Shopify sellers but it’s rather limiting. You’re not free to choose between a wide variety of suppliers and they don’t integrate with any other platform except Shopify. That is unlikely to change especially after Shopify’s acquisition of the platform.
Dropship Direct is way smaller than many others on this list featuring 100,000+ products from 900+ suppliers. Technology and flexibility are where they really shine. With DD, you can choose to do white labeling, which means packages arrive without any promotional or branding material from the supplier. You can also choose to include your own promotional material.
Their technology makes it pretty easy to import products into Amazon, eBay, Shopify and a host of other platforms. They’re also pretty open and transparent about product pricing. Once you get approved, you’ll have access to their database and can easily discover how much exactly you’ll be paying for each unit of product.
Megagoods is a niche-focused dropshipping platform. They’re based out of LA, California and specialize in dropshipping consumer electronics and video games. Their product selection is limited at just around 2,000 products, but that would make sense since they specialize in only one niche. They ship products fast, provide white labeling services and have a solid 30-day return policy. Membership costs $15 per month and they also charge an additional processing fee per item.
IS isn’t a directory but rather a dropshipping service platform. They offer powerful backend and inventory management tools and integrate directly with eBay, Amazon, Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce and other platforms. They have a selection of over 1 million products from 100+ suppliers. Their customer support is really solid and will go the extra mile to solve any issues you may encounter.
GlobalSources isn’t really for dropshippers but for merchants who are looking more into buying in bulk or private labeling. They’re based in China and have a large selection of products and suppliers at very good prices (because of the Chinese origin). They’re really geared more towards high-volume merchants, though, with little to no support for dropshippers or merchants looking to order low volumes.
Common Qs and As
I’m just starting out, which supplier should I go with?
If you’re just starting out, my typical recommendation would be to do arbitrage. Buy from AliExpress, Amazon, eBay or any other marketplace and ship directly to the consumer. This will help you avoid the hassle of membership fees and vetting suppliers, and it can get you up and running pretty quickly. You’re simply ordering a product from a marketplace as any normal consumer would, but you’re shipping directly to your customer. Sure, there are some problems with this.
Supplier sending promo materials, shipment delays from China and low-profit margins in some cases. However, the important point is to start, to get up and running. I feel this is the fastest way. Get up and running now, optimize and refine later.
Is paying for directory memberships worth it?
This matter is highly subjective. Beginner or not, I’m not usually into paying membership fees for a supplier directory. Sure, they might provide quite a bit of value and save you some time, but they’d very rarely have this “secret” supplier that can’t be found elsewhere.
I’m not saying they’re not worth it at all, I’m just saying they’re not for me. Many of the membership sites on this list provide decent refund guarantees or free trials, so you can always check them out risk-free and then decide if they’re for you. Not much to lose there!
Should I work directly with a supplier or through a platform?
This really depends. It might be easier to start with platforms at first as they’re often more beginner friendly. When working with suppliers directly, you can usually get much better pricing but then again you’d probably have to be more involved with order fulfillment and be running good volumes.
So my answer here would be to start doing arbitrage with the help of automation platforms such as Oberlo, Dropified…etc then perhaps “graduate” later to working directly with suppliers and using CSV imports/exports to send and fulfill orders.
The Wrap Up
This is where many blog posts just end by saying “choose what suits you, good luck”. When I’m researching something and I see that paragraph, it doesn’t really add much value, so I won’t be using that approach. Instead, I’ll try to recommend what you should go for depending on your current situation.
Please do note that this is highly subjective and based on my own opinion and experience. Don’t take my words for granted and do your own research and due diligence.
- If you’re just starting out with dropshipping: Start out with arbitrage using AliExpress, Amazon, eBay or others. Don’t pay for memberships at drop shipping directories. Build momentum and get the wheel turning first then consider other options.
- If you’re experienced with dropshipping: Your next step might be to step into private labeling or work directly with suppliers who can source products and handle fulfillment for you. You may consider paid directories here but make sure you take advantage of their free trials and explore their database to ensure they have got dropshipping suppliers not just wholesale. Personally, I’d recommend posting in industry Facebook groups first for recommendations before going that route. I’ve seen people have pretty decent success with this.
- If you’re a retail store looking to buy wholesale: This is where I think the directories may be most relevant. Start with the free directories and vet suppliers thoroughly. Get memberships and free trials for other directories and randomly pick relevant suppliers and get in touch with them for details just to gauge the quality of the suppliers in that directory. Many of the directories listed can provide great value to people looking to buy wholesale/bulk.
Well, that’s it for this massive blog post! I hope you found it helpful. If you have any feedback or questions, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section below.