There are two major macro challenges you need to solve as a Shopify dropship e-commerce entrepreneur. Supply and demand. First, you need to build out your merchandise mix aka supply. Once you have secured a differentiated merch mix you should begin building out your demand/marketing systems. In this post, we will focus on how you build your initial supply by finding and closing dropship vendors.
There are so many e-commerce marketplaces in 2020 that finding dropship partners should be relatively painless. A major question you need to account for is “Does the vendor actually dropship?” I would also think through your ideal vendor/customer profile (ICP). If you are just getting started it does not make sense to hit up large vendors as you won’t be able to drive the volume they are looking for. I’m not saying don’t go after your dream vendors but what I am saying is to diversify your outreach efforts. Engage with smaller SMB vendors as well as a few larger accounts.
Walmart.com is a nice place to find dropship vendors because a lot of the inventory listed on the marketplace is dropshipped. Another question to think through when looking for dropship vendors is “Is the vendor name clearly listed on the marketplace?” This is incredibly important otherwise it will be pretty challenging to contact the vendor.
In the early stages of your e-commerce business reducing complexity can make the difference between success and failure. A “simple” way to hack your supply-side scaling is through distributors. These vendors represent 100s or 1000s of SKUs. You do one deal with the right distributor and bang your supply is in-place. Now you have one partner to manage and coordinate with versus 100s. I can attest to making this mistake with my company Shop Hacker. When building the Shop Hacker Shopify app I went out and closed 50+ eLearning instructors and the complexity grew quickly before I really had the demand side figured out.
Anywho…Distributors tend to have economies of scale so they have lower COGS (cost of good sold) and lower shipping costs. This means you will have more competitively priced products due to your distributor’s scale and lower cost structure. You can Google “dropship distributors” and should find a handful.
Conferences are a solid targeted way to find your ideal Shopify dropship vendors. You can attend the conference or you can use the exhibitor list as a vendor lead list. My favorite conference for finding dropship vendors is CES but there is a myriad of conferences around the world where you can find these partners. Typically my process is:
- Scrape exhibitor list
- Enrich list to find contact info
- Import into CRM
- 1st Outbound Email Campaign
- Go to Conference
- 2nd Outbound Email Campaign
This process gets all the data into my CRM then gives me 3 chances to generate the business opportunity and start the sales conversation.
Listicles are real. There are a host of top 10 lists for all types of niche dropship product categories. Just Google “Top 10 Dog Beds” and see the entire search results page packed with leads! This sourcing strategy won’t work for every category and I would expect that a lot of these lists will have tier 1 vendors that are a bit too big as compared to your ICP. That said these lists are prevalent throughout the web with new lists being published daily. Also, major media sites and blogs are getting more and more into commerce content where they are posting deals/cool products regularly. This means blogs will continue to be an epic sourcing location as the number of deal content posts increases.
The good thing about solving your supply side is that it is somewhat straightforward. Build lead lists, do outbound email, close, on-board, launch and repeat. A volume outbound email is key here. I would recommend sending 100+ outbound emails per week until you have closed 5 to 10 deals. Vendor partnerships can be hard especially for a newer Shopify store so keep pushing as it is a numbers game. If you put in the effort you will be able to onboard new vendors to your shop.
About the Author
Matt Smith is the CEO of Shop Hacker. The app allows any Shopify merchant to seamlessly add 1000s of eLearning courses to their store instantly. If you are looking to sell eLearning courses in your Shopify store today you can download the Shop Hacker app here.