So you’ve decided you’re interested in dropshipping. You’ve done your research, you’re aware of the pitfalls, and you’ve chosen a product niche. Now all you need is to find a supplier.
Manufacturers are able to offer you the cheapest price on goods, leaving you greater profit margins. For this reason, when looking for a dropshipping supplier, you should try to work with a manufacturer, if possible. Unfortunately, manufacturers tend to be some of the least marketing savvy people in e-commerce, and so more difficult to find through search. Most of the suppliers who rank well in search or advertise well are in fact middle men.
Most manufacturers will be on Ali Express though. That’s why Ali express is the first port of call for most new retailers looking to find manufacturers to work with.
Use a relevant subject line
The subject line is your chance to grab the attention of the supplier. Leaving the subject line blank is a huge mistake. Suppliers on Ali Express receive hundreds of emails every day and your email could easily be overlooked or even dismissed as spam if it hasn’t got a subject line. Using relevant and specific details such as ‘Pricing Request’, ‘New Account Request’ or ‘Trade Account Enquiry’ looks more professional and will help the receiver to understand the importance of your email.
Use a company email
Sending an email from your business account looks so much more professional than using your personal account. It also keeps your supplier emails separate from your personal inbox, making them easier to refer to in the future. It‘s simple enough to set up an email account with your own domain name through companies like 123reg or Go Daddy, but if you want something free, just set up a Gmail account for your business name.
Get to the point
The great thing about dealing with suppliers on Ali Express is that they are well versed in drop shipping and e-commerce. This is not their first time at the rodeo – you can dive straight into business without any of the excessive flowery niceties you may need when dealing with brands.
Remember that English is probably the second language of the person reading your email. Being clear and concise in your opening email is good for both parties. You can get all the information you need with minimal back and forth.
Although you don’t need to dance around and make communications longer than they need to be, manners are still a must. Being polite literally costs you nothing – and building strong relationships with suppliers from day one will pay off big time as your business grows.
Ask For Samples
Once you’ve contacted your supplier and you are happy with their pricing and everything seems agreeable, it’s time to ask for some samples.
Again, this is a request your supplier will be very accustomed to, and all good suppliers will be more than happy to supply samples. If a supplier is not able to send samples, that’s a red fag and you should keep on searching.
Usually you will receive a reply confirming the cost for those samples and details on how to make payment. Sometimes the samples will be free (you just pay shipping) but sometimes you will need to pay for the sample items. This all depends on the item, its value and the individual business. There really is no rule for this.
Many dropshipping advice pieces skip this step, but it’s an important one for creating authenticity and building your brand online. If you have a few samples, not only can you get a true idea of the product and the quality of it, you will be able to take your own unique product photos for social media and product pages. You could even create video if you choose to. This is great for ranking authority, and helps customers to see you as a genuine, trustworthy retailer.
We all hate waiting around for responses to our emails. It’s good to keep it in mind that when you approach a supplier asking to sell their products, you are not approaching as a customer, but as someone asking to work as a kind of business partner to them. No one wants to get into a business situation with a person who can’t manage their inbox.
If the supplier is interested in doing business with you, they will then typically e-mail you a few basic forms that you need to complete. They need standard information from you such as your business name, address, phone number, and billing information.
It’s important to complete these forms as soon as they send them and to send them back as soon as you finish filling them out. You want to keep the ball rolling and push your account approval through as soon as possible.
An account manager will usually get back to you within a few days of submitting your application to inform you that you have been approved. They will provide you with an account number and contacts within their company.