The best dropshipping providers
One of the biggest advantages of dropshipping can already be found in its definition: Selling goods online without having to store or ship them yourself. Instead, these tasks fall to a wholesaler or product manufacturer. Such so-called dropshipping providers make a wide range of products from a wide variety of manufacturers available so that dropshippers can put them up for sale in their online store.
In your search for a suitable provider, you will quickly discover that the choice is enormous and that each one has its own advantages and disadvantages. For this reason, it is a smart idea to consider several factors before linking your online store to a random dropshipping supplier via their plugin.
This article was last updated in September 2021.
- Summary: The best dropshipping providers
- Dropshipping: What is it?
- Find dropshipping providers: Search tips
- Well-known dropshipping providers: An overview
- Integrating dropshipping providers into your e-commerce website.
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Summary: The best dropshipping providers
✔ International familiarity & accessibility
✔ Single product purchase possible
✔ No direct contact with suppliers necessary
✘ Often incorrect product information
✘ Problems with customs in case of counterfeit goods
✘ Long delivery times
✔ Great accessibility to European markets
✔ Over 80,000 products
✔ Express deliveries & shipment tracking
✘ Strong competition
✘ Shipping options & delivery times vary
✔ Thousands of suppliers from the USA & Europe.
✔ Wide variety of products
✔ Up-to-date inventory display thanks to automatic updates
✘ No direct contact with suppliers is possible
✘ Not usable on larger platforms such as Amazon
✘ Short trial phase, afterwards paid subscription
✔ Direct communication with suppliers
✔ Modalyst customer service
✔ Product range in the millions
✘ Basic subscription option is severely limited
✘ Subscription upgrade required for more (premium) suppliers
✘ Transaction fee of 5%.
✔ High quality print samples
✔ Design tool & graphic library
✔ Wide customer reach
✘ Few product options - limited product range
✘ Design transfer between items is time-consuming
✘ Low profit margin
Dropshipping: What is it?
Dropshipping, refers to an e-commerce business model in which the owner of an online store sells products over the Internet without having to store or ship them themselves. Instead, this task falls to a wholesaler or the product manufacturer, who is notified of the completed customer purchases and subsequently initiates shipment of the requested items. Thus, there is an interaction between three parties: Customer, online seller and wholesaler or manufacturer.
This indirect form of distribution has several advantages. By not having to invest your time in storage or product shipping, you can instead put it into running your business and communicating with customers. In addition, you avoid the extra costs of packaging materials and the risk of spending a lot of money on a large assortment of items that you end up stuck with if they don’t sell as expected.
However, there aren’t only advantages with dropshipping. Besides the fact that you as a dropshipper do not deal directly with your customers, the success of your online store lies in the hands of the wholesaler or manufacturer from whom you source your products. A reliable dropshipping provider is the be-all and end-all in this form of online commerce.
You can read more pros and cons in our article “What is dropshipping?”, which gives you a comprehensive introduction to the dropshipping business model. And if you already want to go one step further and focus on product selection, we recommend our article “The best dropshipping products”.
As more and more people make their purchases over the Internet, online businesses are enjoying great success. Especially those that follow the dropshipping principle are growing in popularity. More and more ambitious owners start their own online store and start their dropshipping career, which can be seen from the fact that more than 20 percent of global online sales can be attributed to this business model.
Find dropshipping providers: Search tips
As mentioned, choosing a dropshipping provider is one of the most important, if not the most important, decision you will have to make as a dropshipping business leader. But how do you find the perfect provider? And what factors should be considered in the process?
To answer these questions, we’ve compiled a list of several tips you should consider when searching for a dropshipping partner.
Try out products and customer service
By taking on the role of your future customers and purchasing a dropshipping product that interests you, you can get a personal impression of how delivery times and item quality turn out with a particular provider. You should also test the customer service to see if they leave a responsive and competent impression. If you have a bad experience as a customer, then you should consider this as a clear reason to look for another provider.
Take testimonials into account
In addition to your own experience, it is also a good idea to take into account the opinions of other customers. One of the best ways to check the image of a dropshipping provider is to read through the reviews and testimonials that have been published on the Internet. Both positive and negative feedback will help you know whether a retailer or manufacturer will make a competent dropshipping partner or not.
Check location and dropshipping locations
You should also consider the location of the vendor and to which countries they ship their items. If you want to make the dropshipping items in your store available to European customers, then the wholesaler’s or manufacturer’s delivery service should not be limited to the USA, for example, but should operate internationally. In addition, European dropshipping providers offer the advantage of shorter delivery times for products to Germany and the like.
Pay attention to delivery times and services
Building on the previous tip, the next step is to pay attention to delivery time specifications and supplier types. In order to guarantee your customers the best possible shipping, it is important that you know which postal service your dropshipping provider uses to ship the products and how long the delivery times are. A provider with a reliable delivery service is more attractive as a partner for your business than one that makes your customers wait several months for their ordered goods.
ePacket - yes or no?
If you want to collaborate with a Chinese dropshipping provider, then it is recommended to check whether they offer ePacket shipments. This shipping method ensures cheaper and faster product delivery from China and Hong Kong, which otherwise usually takes several months. In addition, your customers can always check online via an ePacket tracking system where their ordered goods are currently located.
Stock assortment and maintenance
Another important aspect when choosing a supplier is related to its warehouse size and maintenance. So you should find out if they keep a lot of products in stock and how quickly they can replenish their assortment if the need arises. In dropshipping, it is quite possible that an item is suddenly out of stock, e.g. due to high demand. As a dropshipper, you need to inform your customers about a longer delivery time and be able to count on your partner having the item back in stock soon.
Handling certain work processes manually, such as shipment tracking and managing your product inventory, takes up a lot of time that you could be using for other tasks. For this reason, you should check if a provider offers certain features or plugins for your online store that automate such activities.
Learn about their policies
Next, you should find out about the policies. It is important to find out what a dropshipping provider’s policies are, for instance, regarding lost and damaged products, returns, as well as other regulations. Since your customers will be directly affected, you should make sure that the policies reflect your views and don’t contain any provisions you may disagree with.
Keeping an eye on fees
There are various costs involved in running a dropshipping business. In terms of providers, these include shipping costs, which vary depending on the number of products, shipment weight, and delivery location. Furthermore, there are also dropshipping providers that charge an inventory restocking fee when items are returned by customers.
Other expenses that dropshippers may face are advertising costs through social media marketing and regular subscription fees, e.g., on e-commerce platforms such as Shopify. Some dropshippers also invest in professional product photography to ensure that their products are perfectly showcased online.
Well-known dropshipping providers: An overview
If you search for the best dropshipping providers online, you will find a variety of options and even more alternatives. Dropshippers who want to sell products in Europe should focus on providers that offer shipping within Europe or even around the world. We have looked around for notable examples and gathered the most important information about them for you.
AliExpress is a Chinese online marketplace that was founded in 2010 and can be used by both companies and individuals as sellers. AliExpress is among the largest online retailers in the world and is visited by several hundred million users a month.
- Advantages: The two biggest advantages of the platform are firstly its international image with multi-language support of 18 languages and secondly its product assortment of various dropshipping suppliers in millions. Furthermore, as a dropshipper, you have the option of not having to purchase large quantities of products in advance, but can order items individually once customers have purchased them from your store. This doesn’t even require contacting the product supplier directly, which is especially beneficial if you both speak different languages.
- Disadvantages: One problem you may encounter with AliExpress is incorrect product information. Thus, it may well happen that products, photos and/or their description do not match. For this reason, you should always check thoroughly beforehand if products and especially their suppliers or manufacturers have good reviews. This is also to ensure that you do not offer counterfeit goods for sale as this can lead to problems with customs. In addition, items of higher value are subject to import sales tax or even customs duties. Also note that the delivery time from China can be several weeks.
- Summary: AliExpress impresses with its product range in the millions and easy dropshipping. However, dropshippers must be careful to select good quality suppliers and products, and the often long delivery times are also a negative point.
The B2B wholesale platform BigBuy is one of the leading dropshipping providers in Europe. It was able to establish itself in 2012 and since then has already won many awards in the field of e-commerce, including the eAward in the category “Best Marketplace Technology” in 2018.
- Advantages: BigBuy scores high when it comes to accessibility to the European region, not least because both its website and product catalog are offered in 24 languages. This is followed by a clear plus point in the form of a huge product range of over 80,000 items from various brands. These are divided into nine categories, which include everything from gardening to electronic goods. Furthermore, the platform offers almost worldwide express deliveries and shipment tracking.
- Disadvantages: Since BigBuy is considered one of the largest European dropshipping wholesalers, many dropshippers accordingly resort to it and its products. As a result, the competition is very strong, which can make it difficult for your store to succeed in business. Another disadvantage is that shipping options and delivery times vary from country to country. This means that deliveries can take more time if the supplier and customer are far away from each other - for example, in Portugal and Finland.
- Summary: BigBuy impresses with a large, versatile product catalog and a high degree of accessibility thanks to professional translations into numerous languages. However, this also involves a disadvantage, because the huge number of dropshippers that can access BigBuy results in strong competition and makes it difficult to stand out with one’s own online store.
The Canada-based dropshipping platform Spocket was founded in 2017. Its CEO Saba Mohebpour was once one of the people wanting to open their own online store. But when he couldn’t find a way to source items from local dropshipping providers, he made it his mission to develop a program that would do just that. And the result was: Spocket.
- Advantages: The platform offers you not only a selection of thousands of dropshipping suppliers of European and American origin that have previously undergone verification, but also a wide variety of products of the most diverse categories. Thanks to product samples, you can even get an idea of an item yourself and only then decide whether you want to offer it in your store. In addition, Spocket always shows you the current stock level due to automatic updates. So there is no danger of offering products that are in fact not available. And if you have any questions about the platform or dropshipping in general, a help center is available.
- Disadvantages: Due to the high number of users, Spocket unfortunately does not offer a way to contact dropshipping suppliers directly. The large volume of messages that would otherwise arrive could never be properly addressed. Another disadvantage compared to other dropshipping providers is the fact that Spocket cannot be used on many larger platforms such as Amazon and eBay. And if you don’t want to commit to Spocket right away, the trial period is only 14 days. After that, you’ll need to select either a Starter, Pro, Empire, or Unicorn subscription and pay a monthly fee that doesn’t include customs duties and taxes.
- Summary: Spocket offers dropshippers and manufacturers or suppliers a place to come together and benefit from each other. Plus, there is a wide selection of items and product categories to choose from. However, there is a monthly usage fee for the platform that you have to recoup in order to eventually be in the green.
Headquartered in San Francisco, the Modalyst platform was launched in 2012 at MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as a wholesaler. Their dropshipping software was added three years later and has been gaining notoriety ever since.
- Advantages: Modalyst allows you to directly communicate with dropshipping suppliers, for example, to get more information about specific products. If you have any further questions, you can also contact Modalyst’s customer service, which offers its regular support via both live chat and email. In terms of products, the platform offers an assortment in the millions, which allows you to give your online store a range of goods with an individual character. Dropshipping beginners in particular can rejoice: The first subscription option with an item limit of 25 products is free of charge.
- Disadvantages: Although Modalyst allows its users a free hobby subscription, it is severely limited compared to its alternatives. To access more dropshipping suppliers as well as those in the premium class, one has to upgrade their subscription and pay a monthly amount of $35 (item limit: 250) or $90 (no item limit and access to all suppliers). In addition, the platform charges a five percent transaction fee.
- Summary: Modalyst has one of the widest product ranges in the dropshipping world and a reliable service to turn to when the need arises. However, if you want to pursue dropshipping as more than a hobby and offer a wider range of products, you’ll need to sign up for one of the more expensive subscriptions.
Founded in 2013, Printful offers dropshipping in combination with print-on-demand and has production facilities in various locations around the world. With the help of Printful, over 37 million products have been printed and delivered.
- Advantages: Printful offers you products of different categories to which you can transfer high quality print samples. In addition, a clear design tool is available, as well as a library where you can save your graphics, which makes it much easier to create items with your own design. Moreover, since Printful is accessible in various languages and has warehouses in both the USA and Europe, you are assured of a wide customer reach. Another advantage is the elimination of a monthly usage fee if you choose the free subscription.
- Disadvantages: The products that Printful offers you are limited to the categories of clothing, accessories and other items that can be printed (for example, lazy-bags and pillows). Thus, with Printful you can only create a very limited range of goods in your online store compared to other dropshipping providers. Another disadvantage is the fact that a design cannot be transferred to another type of product. So, for example, if you create a top with a sun motif, they will have to save it and start from scratch for the next product. This activity can take a lot of time. Also, the profit margin tends to be low when selling print-on-demand items.
- Summary: Printful is a good dropshipping provider for people who want to sell specific designs on different types of products. With the right idea, dropshippers can achieve some success here, but otherwise the profit margin for print-on-demand products is rather low. In addition, you are very limited in terms of product selection.
You can recognize a good provider by how appealing and clear their website is. As a dropshipper, you should also set up your online store on a website that offers your customers the best possible buying experience. We recommend WordPress Hosting from IONOS, which provides you with up to three domains. In addition, you can create a suitable email address to contact your customers.
Integrating dropshipping providers into your e-commerce website.
All the dropshipping providers we have introduced to you in this article offer the option to link with e-commerce websites. This means that as a dropshipper, you can easily connect your online store to a dropshipping provider and thereby import their products into your sales assortment.
This integration works via a dropshipping plugin that you can download and install. Here, it should be noted that there are different types of plugins that can be used, depending on the e-commerce platform you use. Among the best WooCommerce dropshipping plugins are AliDropship, Spocket, and Dropified, which allow you to fill your online store’s inventory with just a few clicks. Dropshippers also use so-called social media plugins to help their e-commerce website gain popularity.