eCommerce Lifestyle
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Should You Buy “Test” Products From Dropship Suppliers?

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Customer service is a key to long-term in any business.  

If your customers are happy they will buy more from you, they will leave you positive reviews, and they’ll recommend your products to their friends and family.

There’s a lot that goes into delivering a great experience to your customers but a main concern for new store owners who are dropshipping is “are the products I’m selling high-quality and will my customers like what they receive?”

Many new store owners will actually go out of their way to even order “test” products from their suppliers… but is that even necessary?  

I answer that question in today’s episode of the eCommerce Lifestyle Podcast.

As always, if you have any questions and suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment below. Don’t forget to share this with someone who needs to hear it.

What's Covered in This Episode:

  • My experience with dropshipping from China
  • Sourcing brands with the Drop Ship Lifestyle method
  • Bronze, silver, and gold suppliers
The podcast is also available on all major podcast players including, Stitcher and Spotify.

Links From This Episode:

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Transcript

What's up everybody, Anton Kraly here from ecommercelifestyle.com and welcome back to the podcast. Hope everybody is having a good week, having a successful start, and hoping to continue that today and through the weekend. What we are going to talk about today is something that I get a lot of questions about, and rightfully so, this is related to customer service. And the question is, should you buy what people call... I'm doing air quotes here, I know you can't see me, but should you buy "test products" from drop ship suppliers? And what people mean when they're asking this is, let's just say you find a potential supplier you want to work with on a drop shipping store, should you actually order something from them as if you were a customer, receive it to your house or office or wherever you are, and check out the quality?

Again, I get why people ask this because if you want to be successful long term in your business, customer service really is the most important thing. Your customers need to be happy. And if they are happy, they're going to buy more from you, they're going to leave you positive reviews, which will in turn, have more people buy from you, and they're going to recommend your products to their family and their friends. While on the other hand, if you have bad customer service and customers have a bad experience, they're going to tell the world. And when people research you online, they're going to see what your previous customers have to say. If it's not good, they're not going to buy from you.

So there's definitely a lot, this isn't just about product quality when it comes to delivering a great experience to your customers, but the main concern for a lot of people starting out isn't how good are we going to be with responding to emails or live chats or phone calls, even though those are all very important, and I show you how to automate a lot of that inside of my coaching program, over at dropshiplifestyle.com, but the first question people typically think is, should I order these test products from my suppliers to make sure the quality is there? So I'll take you through my thoughts on this and how it works, because the answer is going to change from drop shipping business model to drop shipping business model. Even though that might sound a little bit crazy. Let me just explain.

So I'm recording this episode. What is it? It's early in 2021. So things already have shifted, but a couple of years ago, drop shipping from China was... I don't even know what to say. It was like the most popular thing, and they probably still do for a large part, but when people thought of drop shipping, they thought, "Okay, find something that is from China. Have it just shipped directly from China to my customers. And that's how I'm going to drop ship." It is drop shipping, but they were planning on working with basically no-name companies and trying to market the products online.

What this led to, you've probably heard me talk about it before, is really long lead times and sub par product quality. Not because everything made in China is crap or anything like that. But because what these store owners were trying to do is just find a random company online in China that says, "Yeah, we have $10 widgets. Sell it for whatever you want." And then the first people to receive this thing were their customers, and usually it was a bunch of orders going out at once. Then what happens if the customers receive it and it doesn't at all meet their expectations, add that on top of the extremely long shipping times, and what you get when you're drop shipping from China is very unhappy customers.

So I actually wanted to do my own little personal experiments. This is probably going back three or four years ago, but I was like, okay, obviously I don't drop ship from China. I only work with domestic brands at my coaching company, at Drop Ship Lifestyle, we only teach how to work with domestic brands. But I thought, let me just order some of these products to actually see what the customer is experiencing. So I did order these "test products" and what happened is the products, besides maybe, I don't even remember, I think one was okay, but I think I ordered a handful, maybe four or five and almost all of them were complete crap.

So, in that scenario back then, or even now if for some reason you still think drop shipping from China is a good idea, again, it's not. So don't do it. But then it would make sense to order sample products. You're still going to have unhappy customers because they have long lead times and because returns are basically not a thing, but you at least then can see, is this the minority of products where the quality somewhat meets the description or is this thing just complete crap that anybody would want a refund on and call me or email me complaining about it? So that's when I think people started to think about ordering these test products. So again, I don't recommend drop shipping from China, but if you ever were to do that, then that's when it would make sense to order, again, "test product."

Now, with my method, my Drop Ship Lifestyle method, what we do is sell for brands. So we actually leverage other company's products and their names to sell their products. And we try to sell for every reputable brand within a niche that we get into. So let's just say I was going to build a standup paddleboard store. This is one of the examples I give in the Drop Ship Blueprint. Again, you can learn more over at dropshiplifestyle.com, but let's say I was going to sell stand up paddle boards and I was doing my research and I found 20 different brands that make stand up paddle boards.

Well, these are products where the average sale price, what I would sell to customers for, it's probably about a thousand bucks. So I think you can already see the difference here. We don't sell $10 widgets where I'll send $20 to China and see what happens. I'm not going to send $1000. to 20 different paddleboard companies and then have 20 different standup paddle boards show up at my home. Even beyond that, most of the brands make sometimes five products, sometimes a hundred products or more. So I'm not going to spend a couple of hundred thousand dollars and have paddle boards everywhere.

So of course we're not going to do that. And then to take it even to an extreme, I was doing the research once for a side project for chandeliers and I think I found like 580 suppliers or something like that. So again, you're not going to order 580 at a minimum chandeliers to test the quality. So what can you do though? Because there still is risk involved. So I want to be clear on that. Even though you're working with domestic brands, you still, if you haven't seen the product, if you haven't touched it, you don't know if it's good quality or not. And that's true for us. So I guess first, I should get out of the way, we never order sample or test products, whatever you want to call them. But what we do is our research. You know this if you're a member of Drop Ship Lifestyle, I am big, big, big on research. I want to know if something's going to work before it doesn't. And that's because a lot of times in the past, in the past decade plus, I've learned the hard way.

So some basic things that you can do, if you find 20 different possible brands that you want a sell for, is literally do the most basic thing and go to Google and search for their products. What you're looking for is reviews. So you're looking for reviews, maybe on their own website or ideally on your future competitors' websites and you're seeing what people have to say about them. Do they have no reputation at all? Do they have a positive reputation? Do they have a bad reputation? Based on what you find, the way you move forward is going to be very different.

Now, something else you'll want to do, again, basic, but it really helps is look for reviews of the brand as a whole. So not just for the products, but search for the brand's name plus reviews in Google and see what you find, in this case for each of those 20 brands. Again, are people bashing them online? Is there really just nothing out there yet because it's a smaller brand? Or is it a company that already has a bunch of really positive reviews about the brand and their product quality? Now, another thing you can do, if you can't find any information at all on them is just dive deeper into the brand's history. Because a lot of these companies that do make, for lack of a better word, just crappy products, they are not companies that last. Again, surprise, surprise. Customer service and customer satisfaction is key for us but it's also key for these brands.

So one thing we look into when we're doing our supplier research is how long have they been in business? Are they established? What does their history look like? Because if we're not finding anything for them online, but they've been in business 20 years and they've sold thousands of units of whatever it is, then it's not something that people are obviously not happy with or else you'd find those negative reviews. So we look for that on their websites. We look for that at other websites. We ask potential sales reps when we call the companies to get approved, we ask them these questions.

A couple other next level things I can give you are attending trade shows. This is definitely not necessary, but I've been to a lot of trade shows, not so much this past year, not at all this past year, but a lot over the past decade. And it's a great way to meet sometimes like 300 different potential brands in person and actually see the products they have on display. What a lot of normal... I'm doing air quotes again, but normal trade shows are doing this year is virtual trade shows that are on Zoom or similar platforms. So not as good as in-person, but still a way to have those connections online. So you can check that out as well.

Now, one more thing, I'm not going to go into detail now, simply because it's not the point of this podcast and I like as much as possible to try to keep them on track and on message. But if you're listening to this and you want to know what the next steps are, once you find the suppliers and make sure they're not selling crap products or producing crap products... By the way, it's not just products itself. Like, are you finding a bunch of reviews that say the products were damaged while in transit? Maybe their packaging just sucks. Those are things you find through research.

But once you find them, the next step is to determine if they are bronze suppliers, silver suppliers, or gold suppliers. I show you exactly how to do that in module four of the Drop Ship Blueprint. So you, if you're a member of Drop Ship Lifestyle, which I know a lot of our listeners are so good on you, if you're listening and you're not a member, I don't understand. Go to dropshipwebinar.com. You get a free training from me there, and I'll make you a special offer. Again, that's dropshipwebinar.com, but either way, in module four of the Drop Ship Blueprint, I show you how to determine if these are bronze, silver or gold suppliers. And then of course, I give you the scripts, what to say, what to do to get approved.

So as always guys, hope you found this episode helpful. That's going to do it. We'll wrap this one up. If you got value as always, please go to Apple podcasts and leave the show a five-star review. It means a lot. I will link in the description for how to do that. And if you want to know more, you want to be part of my program, Drop Ship Lifestyle was voted best eCommerce course by Shopify. You can go to dropshipwebinar.com. I will link that up below as well. So thank you everybody. I appreciate you. And I will talk to you on Monday for the next episode of the eCommerce Lifestyle podcast. See you, everybody.

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