How to Research and Find a Reliable Dropshipping Agent - Top 7 Criteria Besides Price to Consider
Sourcing for suppliers is a brain-draining task for many dropshippers as there are so many aspects to take into account. Besides, this is a perpetual process since ecommerce stores need to constantly update their product listings and improve their functions. Therefore, many dropshippers choose to work with a dropshipping agent to put all of those burdens away. However, it is only effective if you plan to stay with your agent for a long time, which only happens if the agent has certain merits. This is why it is important to spend time researching your potential agent(s). In this blog post, we will point out the top 6 criteria that you should look out for when choosing a dropshipping agent.
1. Shipping speed and costs
Shipping is an integral part of dropshipping. As the logistics and supply chain industry advances, the customer expectations also rise accordingly. Nowadays, stores who offer fast and cheap shipping are preferred among consumers because people want to get their hands on the products as soon as possible at an affordable price level.
As a dropshipper, you might get lost in the abundance of shipping options, such as ePacket, China Post, YunExpress, and CNE Express, to name a few. That is when a dropshipping agent comes in handy as they have expertise and experience in dealing with this matter, thus being able to advise you on which alternatives work best. Generally, a good agent should have an extensive network of courier services, thus having much negotiating power to obtain the best deals and perks in shipping arrangements for your ecommerce store. When doing your own research, you should find out more about their shipping time and costs. Although this may vary across different countries of destination, you can ask them for some historical data and average figures for certain regions to have a better idea about their performance.
2. Processing time
Besides shipping time, processing time also plays a crucial role in the decision making process because it essentially affects the delivery time (how long it takes for the goods to be received by customers from the point of purchase). If two agents are working with the same shipping companies, their shipping times are likely to be nuanced. This means that the difference in their processing speed would be the deciding factor.
3. Location of warehouses
The importance of this might not be obvious to many dropshippers. If possible, try to source dropshipping agents who are based in China. This would benefit you in many ways. For example, since most goods sold in the dropshipping sector are manufactured in China, buying them from the source would be much cheaper. Because China-based agents are proficient in the local language and culture, they can help you negotiate for better rates with factories. Other bonuses include cost-effectiveness and flexibility in inventory planning. Moreover, depending on the types of products you are selling, partnership with agents operating in certain regions in China offer some advantages over others. In particular, warehouses in Guangzhou enjoy many perks as the area is known as the biggest manufacturing zone in China and close to Hong Kong - a big logistics hub in Asia, giving them great access to many shipping routes.
4. Network of partners
Oftentimes, you might find yourself dealing with dropshipping agents who source products and suppliers from online marketplace such as AliExpress. Generally, you should avoid working with them because this is something that you can do on your own. Moreover, these online platforms have their own drawbacks, such as long shipping time and inconsistent product quality. Instead, you should opt for those who advertise themselves as having extensive partnerships with a large pool of factories. This allows them to have an unlimited product catalogue as well as reserve enough inventory from suppliers for you when scaling. Besides, it is also easier to negotiate and request customisation of hardware of your products if your dropshipping agent works closely and directly with manufacturers.
5. Communication and responsiveness
In essence, a dropshipping agent helps to connect you with suppliers. Therefore, they must have the ability to communicate effectively with both sides. For instance, language proficiency is an important factor. In particular, they should be fluent in your language (e.g. English) and suppliers’ (usually Mandarin). Additionally, when you first approach an agent, pay attention to how fast they respond to your messages. This could be an early sign that helps you detect whether they are worth your trust. A reliable agent should be able to get back to you within the same business day. It would be even better if you could find one who works during weekends or holidays. You might have heard of massive disruptions during Chinese New Year because during these 2-week periods, almost no one in China is working. This means you won’t be able to contact most suppliers or agents if there is any issue that arises unexpectedly, such as delays in shipping. Having a partnership with a dropshipping agent, such as Xianchao Logistics, who operates during these periods would enable your business operations to run smoothly as usual.
6. Range of services offered
Ideally, you are advised to work with an agent who provides a wide range of services. The basics should include:
Sourcing, purchasing and stocking your inventory: You should aim for agents who work long-term with reliable factories providing products of high and consistent quality. This helps to maintain your customer satisfaction and brand image at a healthy level.
Quality inspection: You should assess the level of quality control the agents are conducting. This is because not all suppliers exercise the utmost respect for mutual agreements with other parties. A trustworthy agent should strive to protect the reputation of their clients’ businesses by taking every possible measure, and this includes performing thorough inspection of products’ quality and conditions even if they trust the suppliers.
Multiple shipping options: They should be able to offer a variety of shipping routes and methods because it gives you more flexibility for strategic planning.
Order fulfillment: Less manual work would be required from you if your agent implements store integration and automation into this process.
Moreover, it would be great if they offer the following services:
Branding and customisation (e.g. private label with your logo, customise hardware of products)
Bundling and knitting
Advanced logistics solutions (e.g. shipping batteries and power banks)
After-sales services (e.g. reshipment for lost or damaged packages)
However, you should note that ‘the more the better’ is not always the case because you also need to pay attention to the quality of services they provide.
Last but not least, you should carefully evaluate how credible the agents are. This comprises of many factors, such as:
Number of clients served
Years of experience
Size of the company, departments, and teams
Reviews (on their websites, social media pages, and other sources)
Transparency in their business and pricing models
Partnership with trusted brand names and companies
In addition to the above, you should look at the commitment level of your agent. For instance, a trustworthy one should strive to maintain a good long-term relationship with you and do their best to safeguard your business. In many cases, it means respect for mutual agreements and no disclosure of your