How do I control my Inventory if I can't physically touch/count the products
I recall speaking with a business owner who was interested in our dropship program until 3 am in the morning. Do you know the major concern? Inventory. Well folks, as a dropshipper this is ALWAYS going to be a major concern/drawback to dropshipping. Now, any of you who have ever spoken with me personally; have sat in my office; met with me for my fave Apple Cider and blueberry bagel at my fave Starbucks locale in DFW, know that I will give it to you pretty straight...without the sugar...without the artificial sentiment...no holds barred. You KNOW that you can pretty much ask me anything, right? But I digress...here's a portion of that 3am convo I had...
Dropshipper: Jill, thanks for reviewing my list of potential dropshippers and providing your insight on each. And all of the suggestions you provided as alternatives. That helps a lot! I do have one question that no one has been able to answer. Maybe you can?
Jill L: lol you are more than welcome and thank you! And I shoot straight from the hip ***** even if we're not your perfect match. What's your question *****?
Dropshipper: Ok. so how am I to handle inventory for dropshipping? Would I need to check the site of my suppliers all the time? Like consistently? That just seems like a lot of work! Especially if I'm using multiple suppliers. I asked a few for daily inventory files (one being one of those more popular ones you named earlier) and the response was a flat out no! Do they actually expect me to visit their website multiple times a day to check their stock levels? Like why can't they just give me an automatic daily update? Is that so hard to do? Like seriously, is it?...
Jill L: Ok so ***** you know I don't like to tip toe around these questions right? Are you ready?
Dropshipper: lol Uh-Oh lol yes! Even if its not the answer I want to hear, I know you always tell me what I need to hear. I'm ready!
Jill L: Awe lol Okay. So the short answer is yes & Absolutely! Look ***** the fact is, your suppliers are providing a service to you that ultimately saves you money in stocking inventory that may/may not sell and you don't have to deal with actual shipping and logistics to get the product(s) to your shopper. We tell people at DPKiDz to think of us as your own personal shipping hub. This does not mean that we provide inventory management as well. Look at it this way, you're a new mom & your online store is your first baby. And your droshipping supplier is the baby sitter. Would you leave your baby in the hands of the baby sitter for an extended period of time without checking in on him/her consistently? Of course not! Unfortunately, inventory is going to be your biggest drawback with dropshipping. Eventually you are going to run into this issue. You are eventually going to sell your shopper something that your supplier no longer carries or is out of stock on. I'm sorry *****, its inevitable.
So how do you deal with the inevitably of out of stock inventory?
Unfortunately, being a dropshipper does have its drawbacks. Inventory levels remain a major concern for all dropshippers. So what happens if you sell your shopper something that is out of stock with your supplier? There are a few methods you can implore to help derail inventory control issues.
- Check your supplier's website everyday! Ok...so maybe not "everyday" but at least 3 times a week. Your supplier makes inventory control a part of their regular business process...so why wouldn't you?
Here at DPKiDz, we offer a few features that no other dropshipping boutique offers....this includes inventory stock levels shown directly on the product, as listed per size/option.
- Create a backup plan ahead of time just in case your shopper happens to purchase an item from you that is out of stock with your supplier. This could be something as simple as we have here via our checkout. We ask our shoppers what course of action would they like for us to take if we are out of a particular item. They tell us and when we have an out of stock issue, we follow thru with their request. This keeps our shoppers happy and coming back, as they are aware that we can sell out very quickly. (ie our boutique sets are very popular and can sell out within 1 to 2 weeks). Now while this does not happen often, it CAN happen. ALWAYS BE PREPARED!
From your supplier's point of view
Sometime ago, I was very fortunate enough to accompany our investors on an international journey to visit a factory direct wholesaler & their facility. I had a sit down with a rather large wholesaler that had just decided to provide dropshipping as a fulfillment option for their clients. They quickly abandoned this idea within a few weeks. I inquired as to why; because here at DPKiDz we have found that our dropshippers are some of our most best and reliable clientele. The response that I received was astounding! These were responses that I've heard from many other drop shipping suppliers before, so while the response was astounding, it wasn't a complete and utter make you faint shock moment. But these are the Big Top 3.The BIG 3
- Tying their supplier's hands with orders they are unable to fulfill because of lack of inventory management
Not performing your own inventory control by consistently checking your supplier's stock levels on a regular basis is bound to create a few messy situations.
- Expecting the same price as bulk wholesalers
Expect a higher price if you're not buying in bulk from a "real" wholesaler. Its that old saying. The more you buy. The more you save.
- Asking questions on a consistent basis that can be located via their website, catalog, or via your own research.
Well my goodness! This one always nails it for me! Of course you're going to have questions!! Before you jump into ANY endeavor with a third party you SHOULD ALWAYS ask questions! Now folks, I had to be partial to the Big 3 and look at it from a different angle.
a) "What is your Shipping Policy?" - Examine that supplier's site first & then send an email confirming their stated policy
b) "What is dropshipping?" - You can find this answer by doing a bit of research. There's plenty of info out there. Your supplier should never have to inform you about the basic ins and outs of your endeavor. BUT definitely confirm that they are referring to "blind" dropshipping and ask about any specifics that you aren't certain about as it pertains to theirdropshipping operation.
c) "How do I get your lowest price?" - Short Answer. Buy in Bulk. However, you should ALWAYS ask your supplier if they ever have any sales events and if you can be placed on their notification list for any special or seasonal sale events. You may already be signed up for their newsletter but ask anyways.
#1 Rule: Have a Plan!
Now, there is one question that we receive here quite often that always seems to stump us. "I have no idea what I'm doing here. Can you help me?" Well folks, we LOVE to help out our retailers and we definitely understand that you're going to have questions. But if you don't know why you're here, its going to be pretty difficult for us to guide you.
BACKGROUND STORY: Before I began working for Dollipops, I was one of their most avid dropshippers. I had a question about this process I think everyday...every minute. I was so terribly confused when I first began. And this company, one of the owners in particular - now my mentor, would spend hours on the phone speaking with me and clarifying anything (and I mean ANYTHING) that I didn't quite understand. I realized that I was making this entire ordeal harder than it needed to be! Which by the way, after my 6th phone call to her office one day, is exactly what she told me (lol). She told me the reason I was becoming so confused and frustrated with this process. She told me that when you start a business, you should always have a plan first. If you have a plan, then you know what you need to accomplish and identify your goals. Once you know this, THEN you seek out your manufacturers/designers/distributors who are in line with your goal. She told me that from that call forward that the very first thing she wanted to hear before I spoke was, "I googled it and this is what I found and read...Because I should never have to tell you how to run your business. My goals are not the same as yours. My process is not the same. My mindset is not the same. My availability is not the same. My tactical endurance is not the same. I am not you. I can't tell you how to be you." Sounds a bit harsh huh? Well after that 6th call that day, I think she was more amazed that I had contacted her back still utterly confused on how I was going to run my business and I recall telling her that I had no clue on any of this and just needed some more help. The help she gave me was a riveting "buck up" speech and it just motivated me to get a game plan together (first). At that moment, I actually sat and considered this an investment and not just a way to make quick cash on the side. When you think of it as just quick cash, then you are certainly doomed to fail because you don't put your entire self into it. You end up not researching on your own. You end up asking questions that can be found on the site's FAQs or other Policies. You end up questioning yourself and THAT is dangerous because it leads to doubt. NEVER DOUBT YOURSELF! EVER! Your passion should be larger than your doubt. Think about this, you become a distributor for a major clothing line. They tell you, "Here's what we have. Here's Your Cost. We advise you not to try and sell this product above this retail price." And you say "I'm confused. What should my profit margin be?" Well, that major clothing line would probably tell you that its up to you. But secretly, they may actually think that you are not serious about actively performing within their industry. Remember, game plan first....research next...find your suppliers...assess your costs...work...work...work...hard. This is called putting your plan in action.
DPKiDz Dropshipping is super simple. Promise.
Our dropship process is rather easy BUT it depends on YOUR drive/motivation. Do you really want to succeed in the world of retail? Do you really want to compete with the "big boys"? Success depends on how determined you are. Are you going to exercise due diligence and check our website often to ensure that you are providing an accurate shopping avenue for your clients? Are you going to go out and take this world by storm?! Of course you are! So why not let a team that has been doing this for over 5 years help you out and get you to where you WANT to be!
So this is the finale of my dropshipping post and I thank you for bearing with me throughout the entirety of this post. Drosphipping is simple with us. There are no fees. There are no restrictions. Its pretty simple
- You List It
- We "Blind" Ship It
- You Keep the Profit!
- The End.