Your supplier plays a big role in the success of your dropshipping business. The kind of experience your customers have will depend on the quality of the products they sell and the services they offer to make sure orders are filled.
But you may need to work with more than one supplier in some situations to stay competitive and meet your customers’ needs.
In this detailed guide, we talk about the important details you should remember when dropshipping from more than one supplier. Does it make sense? How do you keep track of stock that comes from different places?
Read on to find out how we answer these and other important questions.
How Does Dropshipping From Multiple Suppliers Work?
There are main ways to drop ship from more than one supplier. All that matters is what you think is best for your business. Among them are:
Multiple Suppliers From One Platform
Most dropshippers try to find suppliers on AliExpress at the start of their business. It is easy to get to, doesn’t cost anything, and has a wide range of products at prices that can’t be beat.
One platform for many suppliers
Also, AliExpress is a place where you can find thousands of dropshipping suppliers all in one place. You have the chance to look at what they have to offer and work with as many of them as you can.
Multiple Individual Dropshipping Suppliers
For example, let’s say that your dropshipping store is all about hats. As you look for suppliers, you can choose to work with hat makers who make different kinds of hats. So, this is another way to dropship from more than one supplier.
Dropshipping With Multiple Platforms
In this third option, you would work with two or more different dropshipping platforms at the same time. You could, for example, sign up for both Printful and CJ Dropshipping. When each platform has something unique to offer, this is often the best way to go.
Should I Dropship With Multiple Suppliers?
As with any business choice, there are pros and cons to dropshipping with multiple suppliers. It’s also not a magic solution that will work for every dropshipping business. So, it’s best to think about what your business needs and then decide if it’s a good choice for you.
Here are some of the main reasons why you might need to work with more than one dropshipping supplier.
The Need For Variety
Variety really is the spice of life, as the old saying goes. Customers like it when a store has a lot of different products for them to compare and choose from.
The Need for Variety. Also, if you have a wide range of products, more customers will be able to find things that fit their tastes. If you dropship clothes, for example, different manufacturers will probably offer different:
Standard sizes and plus sizes
Fabrics Styles; oriental, casual, formal
This variety could help you sell more and bring in a wider range of customers. But it’s rare to find a product maker that makes so many different kinds of products. Because of this, you may need to work with more than one person.
Inadequate Production Capacity
Your sales will likely go up as your business grows. So, your supplier would need to have a high enough production capacity to keep up with your orders. If you don’t, it could take longer for your customers to get their orders, which would be bad for business.
If your supplier can’t keep up with the amount of supplies your business needs, you may want to look for other suppliers. Even more so if your first supplier is reliable and you don’t want to stop working with them.
Limited Order Fulfillment Capabilities
Your dropshipping business may need to move into new markets in order to grow. As you start to work on your plan to grow, you’ll need to think about whether or not your supplier can keep up with such needs.
Some suppliers have strict rules that say they can only fill orders from their home country. This would make it hard for you to grow, and you might have to find another dropshipping company that can ship internationally.
The Scope of Services You Require
When your business is just starting out, you may only need simple fulfillment services. But as your business grows, its needs may become more complex. In order to meet these needs, it may become necessary to find more suppliers.
Some services, like those below, may require dropshipping partnerships with more than one supplier.
Services that print on demand
Product sourcing Private labeling and white labeling
How to Manage Multiple Dropship Suppliers
Dropshipping is easy and straightforward when you only have one supplier. To begin with, all of the items in your online store come from the same place. So, it’s easy to manage and keep track of inventory and other product details.
When you work with more than one supplier, on the other hand, you have to deal with more than one batch of inventory. You’d have to do:
Choose the products you want to sell in your store from the platforms of different suppliers.
Information about the products from different suppliers should be kept up to date.
Know who supplied the products in each order so that you can handle the order correctly.
Even just reading it sounds like hard work, doesn’t it? But it doesn’t have to be hard, and it’s not impossible either. All you need is a system that makes it easy for you to keep track of everything.
Let’s talk about how to run a business, shall we?
Agree on Working Terms With Your Supplier
Each supplier or manufacturer works with their dropshipper partners in a different way. Find out what their rules are before you start to work with them. This could include information like:
Do they offer automation for drop shipping?
How will you find out about changes to your inventory?
How often will you get new information?
How should you share or handle orders that need to be filled?
Once you have all of this information, you can decide if their terms are good for you. If so, you can move forward with the partnership knowing how to run your business.
Create an Inventory Spreadsheet
An inventory spreadsheet is a list of all the products you’ve added to your online store from supplier platforms. It should have information about the products in stock from each of the suppliers you work with. Some of these details could be:
The name of the item
Description (color, size) (color, size)
The number of units that can be bought
A unique item number
A stock-keeping unit is a fancy name for a unique item number (SKU). It is often next to a bar code that can be read at a store. It is a way to identify that product in a unique way.
As each manufacturer or supplier gives you an inventory list, you will see that their products have SKUs.
Try to give each SKU a name as you enter it into your inventory spreadsheet. This will help you remember which supplier goes with which SKU.
Say, for example, that Nordstrom and FashionTIY are the places where you buy your clothes. You could change one of their SKUs in the following ways:
Nordstrom’s original SKU was K6760SMF, and FashionTiy’s was KM5678TU.
Nordstrom’s personalized SKU is NDK6760SMF, and FashionTiy’s is FTKM5678TU.
Note that the prefixes in bold show you which supplier each SKU is from.
Develop an Order Processing System
Once you have your inventory list, it will be easy to start taking orders. Still, that will also need some planning to make sure the right orders go to the right suppliers.
Make a note of the SKU when you get an order. This will tell you which vendor to tell about the order. Check to see if the product is in your inventory list and let the supplier know about the order.
When giving orders to suppliers, it’s important to say that you should use the original SKU. The only purpose of personalized SKUs is to make it easier to find products.
Also, if a client ordered different things from different suppliers, you will have to go through the same steps with each supplier.
You’ll save time by not having to do everything by hand if you automate your dropshipping processes. It could also help you save money by cutting down on mistakes.
So, how do you make your dropshipping business run automatically?
You can either work with dropshipping suppliers who offer automated dropshipping or install apps that will do the automation for you.
When you buy from a dropshipping company that offers automation, they will usually ask you to connect your store to their platform. In some cases, you might not be able to use this kind of dropshipping automation unless your store is on a certain eCommerce platform.
Once it’s all together, you’d be able to:
Bring items from their platform into your store.
Get regular updates on the stock
Get alerts when prices change. Have orders from your store sent automatically to their platform.
If you choose to use third-party apps, on the other hand, keep in mind that most of them are made to automate just one process. Inventory Source, for example, will make it easier for you to keep track of your stock.
Take some time to figure out what tasks are causing you stress and compare apps to see which one fits your needs the best. Most of them let you try them out for free so you can see what they have to offer.
Also, if you choose different apps, you might want to test them both at the same time. This will help you figure out if they will work well together.
How to Choose Multiple Dropship Suppliers
Choosing the right dropship suppliers takes some thought. One easy way to make sure you do it right is to start by making a list of the business goals you want to reach by working with more suppliers.
Picking More Than One Dropship Supplier
Then, you could use this list to narrow down your choices for suppliers to only those who can help you reach your goals. In addition to this, you might also want to look at:
It wouldn’t be helpful to have a lot of dropship suppliers that mostly sell the same goods and services. Aside from making it easier for you to fill orders, they wouldn’t add much to your business.
Instead, choose your suppliers so that each of them can help your business grow in a unique way. If one has great deals, the other might be a print-on-demand provider or be good at shipping all over the world.
Cost of Admission
How much will it cost to find more than one provider? Do the subscriptions make it worth it to pay to get in?
Try not to sign up for too many supplier platform subscriptions if your business hasn’t started making a steady and healthy profit yet. If you need more, you can try one and see if it helps your sales before getting more.
Some contracts between suppliers and manufacturers and their dropshipping partners are very clear. Because of these terms, you might not be able to sell products from some competitors as long as they are your supplier.
Some suppliers also impose:
Restrictions on the minimum order quantity (MOQ)
Minimum price limits for advertising
Tax and Business License requirements
If the terms of a contract with one supplier won’t work with those of another, you might want to think twice about working with that company. Unless, of course, you agree to follow the rules.
Also, if restrictions like MOQ will hurt your profits, give your business time to grow and get in touch with the supplier when you’re doing business on a bigger scale.
The Quality of Their Service
Your suppliers are kind of like representatives for your company. Whether or not a customer will buy from your store again depends on how well their fulfillment service works and what products they send.
If all the ratings and reviews you find about a supplier are negative or critical, you should be careful. You could also order some sample products to see how good their service is before you decide to buy from them.
How Many Dropshipping Suppliers Can I Have on Shopify?
Shopify doesn’t limit the number of suppliers you can have. The platform will also suggest and help you use apps to run your dropshipping store if you work with more than one supplier.
How Do I Handle Shipping When Customers Order From Different Suppliers?
This happens often at dropship stores with more than one supplier.
The biggest problem is that each supplier has their own way of handling orders and sending them out. Because of this, the packages may arrive at the client’s door on different days and in separate packages. This could be a hassle for some buyers.
There are two ways to deal with this:
Communicate With Your Customers
Reach out to the customer when you get an order that includes items from more than one supplier. Tell them that some of the things they ordered may be sent out a little later than others.
You could also put a note in your online store saying that some orders may be handled faster than others.
Use a Warehousing Service
As part of a warehousing service, orders from different suppliers are sent to one warehouse. Then, you would tell the warehouse to send the whole order to the customer.
Using this kind of service could cut into your profits a little bit and make the time between when you place an order and when it gets to you longer. But it will make your business look like a well-run business.
Dropshipping One Supplier vs. Dropshipping Multiple Suppliers
Let’s look at what each of these choices has to offer to get a clear picture of them.
One Dropshipping Supplier
In this model, you would dropship either through a single supplier or manufacturer or through a single dropshipping company like CJ Dropshipping.
When you only deal with one dropshipping supplier, it’s easy to keep track of your stock and other dropshipping transactions.
Orders filled by one supplier are packaged the same way and sent out as one shipment. You don’t have to worry about orders being filled by more than one supplier.
When your clients get their goods and services from a single company, they will be more uniform, and it will be easy to handle complaints.
It costs less to subscribe to a single supplier.
One company can only sell a limited number of products.
As your business grows, it may be hard for one supplier to keep up unless they do a lot of business.
Multiple Dropshipping Suppliers
If you work with more than one dropshipping supplier, your luck is likely to be all over the place.
Many suppliers give you access to a wide range of products.
You might be able to go into new markets if you have a lot of suppliers with a wide range of fulfillment.
When you work with suppliers who can handle large orders, it may be easier to grow your business.
Multiple suppliers make sure that you always have what you need. If one can’t fill an order, you can always contact the other.
Clients may not like having to deal with deliveries from multiple suppliers.
When you have a lot of suppliers, it can be hard to keep track of inventory, product lists, and other business details.
Having subscriptions to more than one supplier platform can be expensive.
Is Dropshipping Multiple Suppliers Worth It?
Dropshipping with multiple suppliers has a lot of benefits when it is done right and at the right time. The trick is to wait until you’ve done dropshipping enough times and your business is making money.
You’ll be able to take on more suppliers because you’ll have more skills and resources.
But you could also choose to work with a dropshipping company that has everything you need in one place. With this kind of drop-shipping partnership, you can:
Products from different brands and companies
Dropshipping services that cover everything, like warehousing and product sourcing.
A dropshipping agent who will help you with any problems or questions
Drop-shipping solutions that are automated
In conclusion, working with a dropshipping company gives you all the benefits of working with multiple suppliers without the stressful problems.
Growth is one of the best ways to tell if a business is doing well. Still, you often have to take calculated risks to get there, such as working with multiple dropshipping suppliers or a dropshipping company.