Do you really need a dropshipping agent for your online store? Or you can succeed without one? Let’s find out together!
If there is one problem nearly every retailer has, it is this one – the cost of unsold stock. This is why a growing number of online retail businesses are relying on trusted third parties or suppliers to ship orders directly to their customers.
In the world of e-commerce, this business model is called dropshipping. You probably already know this. But if you are a newbie who has just entered the dropshipping industry, it won’t hurt to look for some dropshipping expert advice. Plus, it is a good idea to know the difference between dropshipping and wholesale.
Now, why don’t we return to the issue in question – “What is a dropshipping agent and how to find the best one for your dropshipping business?”
What is a dropshipping agent?
A dropshipping agent is an individual or a company that offers a variety of services to dropshipping entrepreneurs for a fee. Some of these services include product sourcing, fulfillment, and shipping.
In short, that individual/company sources products, manages inventory, and packs and ships those products on behalf of a dropshipping store owner like you. They actually streamline the entire sourcing, fulfillment, and shipping process, enabling you to run your dropshipping business with ease.
Moreover, not every dropshipping agent has their own warehouse to store your products in. Many work for fulfillment warehouse companies.
In fact, a dropshipping agent is a MIDDLEMAN, i.e., an intermediate between the dropshipping supplier and the dropshipper (you).
Wanna learn about Dropshipping from AliExpress to eBay? Here’s our guide.
This means that by hiring a dropshipping agent, you can run a successful dropshipping business. And you can do so without the hassle of finding a dropshipping supplier, sourcing or storing your products, and managing fulfillment and shipping.
If you are a bit confused and find dropshipping agents identical to dropshipping suppliers, read on!
The difference between a dropshipping supplier and a dropshipping agent
The main difference between a supplier and an agent is that the dropshipping agent does a lot more for you than the dropshipping supplier does.
We will give an example to make things clearer. Let’s assume that you have been in the dropshipping industry for a while, sourcing products from AliExpress. And you have many responsibilities like doing your research and finding the right supplier that will store and ship products to your customers’ doorstep in a timely manner. Also, you have many orders to process and place with your dropshipping supplier.
But by working with a dropshipping agent, they will do that work for you. You just have to inform the agent about your chosen product and they will do the research and find the best dropshipping supplier for you.
They will also negotiate the best prices and shipping methods with the supplier. They will store your products in the fulfillment warehouse they have access to. And they will ultimately ship the products to your customers.
This means that by working with a dropshipping agent, you do not have to deal with dropshipping suppliers. This will save you time and allow you to focus on marketing and scaling your business.
Unlike dropshipping agents, dropshipping suppliers only store and ship products to your customers. They do not source products for you.
Do you really need a dropshipping agent for your e-commerce store?
Life gets busy, we get it. Perhaps many tasks ultimately fall on you and your to-do list gets longer every single day. Not to mention the extra effort required to find a reliable, reputable dropshipping supplier to source products from.
And this does not include all the things you have to do in your private life as well.
You know that work is supposed to be challenging. However, it does not have to be too hard. As a dropshipping entrepreneur, you do not have to do everything alone. You can hire a dropshipping agent who will do some of the hard work for you.
But do you really need a dropshipping agent for your online store when you can work with a dropshipping supplier and have your orders shipped to your customers?
In reality, it is possible to work with a dropshipping supplier and run a profitable dropshipping business. However, you may need to hire a dropshipping agent, particularly if you are sourcing products from China.
Simply put, if you are sourcing products from AliExpress for your dropshipping business and want to make the entire process easier, it is advisable to find a dropshipping agent.
Most dropshipping agents are located in China. They can find the best Chinese suppliers for your chosen product in no time. And they will function as an extension of your e-commerce operation in China.
Pros and cons of working with a dropshipping agent
Working with a dropshipping agent is beneficial for many reasons. Aside from making it easier for you to run your business, a dropshipping agent can help you do better than your competitors.
So, let’s look at the actual advantages (and disadvantages) of working with a dropshipping agent.
Quality products at the lowest prices
A great dropshipping agent works closely with various manufacturers and dropshipping suppliers. Additionally, they are also able to perform a strict quality inspection.
With their network and negotiating skills required for their job, they can get a better deal than you do. As a result, they can find a quality dropshipping item at a low price.
It goes without saying that consumers expect their orders to be shipped and delivered to them as soon as possible. Thus, super-fast delivery plays a significant role in the success of your dropshipping business.
Luckily, a proficient dropshipping agent knows exactly what type of shipping method is ideal for each country.
They are experts in their field and usually have access to the fastest shipping methods to your target customers’ countries. Oftentimes, the shipping methods they offer are not the same as those of some popular dropshipping suppliers.
When you work with a standard dropshipping supplier on AliExpress, the price of your dropshipping products may vary.
And nothing is more irritating than buying a product from a supplier for, let’s say, $10, only to find out that the price has been raised to $15 just a week later.
Nevertheless, when you work with a dropshipping agent, you can prevent that by making fixed-price agreements. And even if they plan to increase their prices, they will certainly let you know beforehand.
A better understanding of the latest industry trends
In the present age, everything changes, and your dropshipping industry is no exception.
So, keeping pace with the ever-changing market and industry trends can be difficult nowadays. You cannot focus on that all the time. After all, you have a business to run.
But you can keep up with cutting-edge trends with ease if you know where to look. Namely, partnering with a dropshipping agent can help you do so along with staying ahead of the curve and avoiding competitors passing you by.
To put it another way, your agent will have many other clients, i.e., other dropshipping businesses that operate in your niche.
Consequently, they will have a good understanding of which dropshipping items are currently trending or selling well.
They also tend to perform original market/industry research and follow influencers in various industries. And if you have a strong relationship with your dropshipping agent, they will be willing to share their findings with you.
Minimum order quantity requirements
One of the disadvantages of hiring a dropshipping agent is that they may require you to receive a certain number of orders daily.
Sure, this is perfectly understandable because they invest effort and time to find the right supplier for your product, contact them, and develop a relationship with them. And they cannot do so only for one order daily.
Although some “modern” dropshipping agents use an app to automate their order fulfillment process, most require you to send a CSV file of your order to them.
And you have to do so every single day. This is considered to be another disadvantage of working with a dropshipping agent.
Vulnerability to fraud
While you are reading this article, you have probably got the impression that these agents are some kind of “angel” who can help you make millions with dropshipping.
But let’s be honest – not all dropshipping agents are trustworthy. Unlike dropshipping suppliers, many dropshipping agents do not have websites for their businesses.
We must point out that we do not want to make you avoid using dropshipping agents. We just want you to be aware of this and avoid agents who are not reliable.
Therefore, when selecting an agent, you must do your own research and be very careful. This is something we will discuss further in one of the following paragraphs.
Familiarize yourself with the dropshipping taxes and payments before you start your Dropshipping Journey with Agents.
How to find a dropshipping agent
As mentioned above, many agents do not have websites, so it is not easy to find the right agent for your dropshipping business.
Sure, this is hard but not impossible. But how can you do that? Keep reading as you are about to find out!
Find a company that offers dropshipping agent services
To find a company that offers dropshipping agent services, you need to do some research on Google.
There are several companies out there, with great teams of sourcing, fulfillment, and shipping professionals.
They can source your chosen product from manufacturers or suppliers, check product quality, store your products in their fulfillment warehouses, and ship them to your customers.
They can actually complete the entire source-to-fulfillment process for your dropshipping business.
Some of the well-reputed companies in the industry offering dropshipping agent services include:
Look for a dropshipping supplier who offers sourcing and fulfillment services
Some dropshipping suppliers offer sourcing and fulfillment services, meaning that they also act as dropshipping agents. And here are some of the best suppliers for this purpose:
Join and use Upwork
Upwork is a popular freelancing platform where you can find a trusted dropshipping agent for your business.
To find an agent, simply visit the site and type “dropshipping agent” in the search bar. Many suggestions for dropshipping agents will undoubtedly pop up.
What’s more, that way, you can see some social proof regarding their job success rate, their hourly rate, etc.
Also, by using Upwork, you can search by location. This allows you to find a dropshipping agent depending on where you want to source your products from.
Join a FB dropshipping group
It is indisputable that Facebook is an amazing social networking site where you can find literally anything.
By joining a Facebook dropshipping group, you can chat with like-minded individuals and find what you are looking for. If you have difficulty finding a Facebook group to match your interests, check out the following FB dropshipping group suggestions:
Once you have joined a FB group, feel free to write a post and ask if someone can recommend a good dropshipping agent.
Contact other dropshipping entrepreneurs
Last but not least, this is another great way to find dropshipping agents.
If you know someone that has a successful dropshipping business using a dropshipping agent, get in touch with them and ask them about their agent.
Just be careful with this because not everyone will be willing to give you information about their business!
Tips on how to evaluate if a dropshipping agent is suitable for your online store
As we have already said, not every dropshipping agent is reliable. Do not be a victim to scammers that are out for your money.
So, to ensure a productive working relationship and business success, you must choose an agent who is trustworthy, delivers great customer service, and meets your specific needs.
Picking the right agent involves much more than scanning a series of fee lists. It is recommended to do a little more detective work and ask them to answer the following questions.
This can give you additional peace of mind and help you ensure they are qualified and the best fit for your business needs.
“Where are you located?”
Some agents have their own warehouses, whereas others work for fulfillment warehouse companies. Either way, you must know their location. Your chosen agent must be based close to the product factory or dropshipping supplier so that they can restock faster.
Furthermore, they need to ship your products to your customers as soon as possible. Therefore, it is important that they are based in a location where there are good shipping routes available.
If they have their own warehouse, you can ask them to send you photos of it.
“What is your processing time?”
For those who do not know, processing time starts when a customer places an order with you and ends when the dropshipping agent fulfills that order. The time in between is the processing time.
Different dropshipping agents have different processing times. But the typical processing time is anywhere between 2 and 3 days. And remember that if the processing time takes longer, the shipping time will take longer too.
So, you must ask the agent how long it will take to process an order.
“What is your shipping time?”
Similarly, you also need to ask them about their shipping time. A good dropshipping agent must offer good shipping options and fast shipping times.
Make sure that they offer a shipping option that’s both fast and inexpensive.
“Could you tell me more about your business network?”
This is another important question you need to ask when picking the right dropshipping agent for your business. If the agent has mutually beneficial relationships with other business people like manufacturers and suppliers, that’s a great plus for you.
It would be great if your chosen agent has genuine connections with local factories. This can increase your chances of business success.
Avoid agents that source your products from AliExpress or Alibaba since you can easily do it yourself. You do not have to pay an agent for that.
“How do you perform the quality inspection process?”
The term “quality inspection process” refers to the activity of checking products. And if the agent does not care to tell you how they check the products so that no poor-quality products are sent to your customers, it may be a sign that they are unreliable.
“What is your return policy?”
Handling returns is a crucial part of running a dropshipping business. However, this process is not entirely up to you – the dropshipping agent is responsible for that.
And that’s why you must be familiar with their return policy. That way, you can let your customers know what products can be returned and for what reasons. Also, that way, you can inform your customers about the timeframe over which returns are accepted.
“How much do you charge for your services?”
The majority of dropshipping agents do not charge a fixed fee for their services. So, you need to know how much the agent charges for what they do. If they charge a reasonable fee without any hidden costs, you may consider working with them.
“Could we schedule a video call?”
Of course, asking someone you do not know to set aside time in their busy day to talk to you can be challenging. But a trustworthy dropshipping agent will not hesitate to make a video call.
Not only will this help you meet them, but it will also help you determine if they are reliable. Needless to say, video calls can also facilitate remote team bonding if you choose to work with the agent.
The bottom line
To sum up, a dropshipping agent is an intermediate between the dropshipping supplier/manufacturer and the dropshipper (you).
Although you do not need a dropshipping agent to be successful, it is a good idea to hire one, particularly if you are sourcing from China to the United States or Europe.
Just be careful when selecting the right agent for your dropshipping business because not all agents are reliable!