When evaluating these dropship services, we looked at the options they provide for managing inventory on the back end as well as the number of products in their inventory. We also looked at how dropship services manage shipping with the many suppliers they work with. Costs and fees were another factor that weighed into our rating. These include membership fees as well as costs associated with shipping products. Account support provided by the dropship services was the final factor we considered.
We appraised the services on our list using hands-on evaluation and research that attempts to replicate the buying process of a typical small business owner. The dropship services we evaluated had no influence or input over our testing methodology. Research was conducted through the services' websites and by contacting them directly.
Inventory & Backend Management
A crucial factor in our evaluation of dropship services was the options companies offered for exporting products. Using a data feed or similar inventory-management feature, you can upload a large amount of products to your website (and other sales channels) and save time that you would otherwise spend manually adding each individual product. Dropship Direct is a standout in this respect; it uses Pushlist technology to create inventory feeds in formats for 20 different shopping carts.
When choosing a dropship service, you want to consider which products you'll sell. The number of products available through the dropshippers we reviewed ranged from 2,000 to two million. While we considered the ability to handle a large inventory positive, we took into account that some services specialize in certain product niches. Megagoods, with a focus on electronics, and Smart Living Company, with home goods, are two dropship suppliers with smaller inventories and a focus on specific categories.
Typically what happens when you use a dropship service is that after a customer orders from you, you log in and place the order through the dropship service. One feature we liked was that some services integrate with your site's shopping cart, allowing orders placed on your site to be automatically processed by the dropship service. This feature saves you time and streamlines the fulfillment process. Wholesale2b in particular had a strong shopping cart integration option.
Some dropship services, such as Inventory Source and Dropshippers.com, require you to select specific suppliers and don't collect all the products under one roof. This could be a good option if you are interested in pursuing relationships with individual suppliers, but we penalized these services in our rankings because it requires more effort than all-in-one solutions.
Since many of these dropship companies work with multiple suppliers, shipping speeds vary. Other variables, including the location of the supplier and customer, affect the shipping speeds and costs. Megagoods is the fastest of the services we reviewed, with an average shipping time of one to two days in the U.S. Only a handful of services on our list offer international shipping, while a few more only ship to certain countries.
Costs & Fees
Most dropship suppliers charge a membership fee, which can be paid monthly or yearly. Some services charge a one-time fee. Monthly fees range from $14.99 to $59.95. Some dropshippers offer incentives to save you further. For example, plans to sell your products through eBay or Amazon (or your own website) are often cheaper than plans that involve the dropship service building a website for you. If you have a dropship service build a website for you, you'll often pay a larger upfront fee as well as regular monthly hosting costs.
Dropship Direct had the best costs and fees. It does not charge a membership fee, though it charges a fee if you want to use its Pushlist data feeds. Wholesale2b and Megagoods are two other services with low membership fees. Doba charges the highest membership fees.
Other fees common with dropship services are restocking, dropship, and shipping and handling costs. Restocking fees are usually a percentage of the order cost and are charged when customers return non-defective products. Of the services on our list, restocking fees ranged from 15 to 20 percent. Dropship fees are charged per order in addition to regular shipping and handling costs and range from between $.99 and $5.95, though there are many services that don't charge dropship fees. Shipping and handling costs vary depending on factors such as the supplier, your customer's location and which delivery service the supplier uses.
It's important to know the dropshipping company's costs before signing up. Remember, besides membership fees and other costs, you also need to pay wholesale costs. There are also listing fees if you sell through an online marketplace.
Dropship Direct is the best provider for a basic plan that is low cost, aggregates products and allows you to export products to the widest variety of platforms.
We scored each of the dropship services on our list based on how forthcoming it was with information and how promptly customer support responded to our inquiries (both by phone and email). Several of the companies we reviewed proved difficult to contact. They either did not return calls or emails promptly, or they didn't respond at all.
Several services have no listed phone number or email address and can only be contacted through an online ticket system on their website. As such, it's important to consider how reachable these services are before you sign up. We recommend evaluating a services' contact methods, their responsiveness and speaking to a representative before committing to a particular dropship service.
Doba and Smart Living Company had the strongest account support. Both were responsive and provided helpful information when we contacted them. Both also provide you with a dedicated account rep, who can give you one-on-one advice about what the best options for your business are.