Want to start a business selling products but not worry about shipping, storing inventory, or investing in that inventory upfront? Dropshipping — when you a product that’s shipped directly from the manufacturer to your customer — might be for you.
In this guide, I list and review the best dropshippers to help you get started.
Dropshipping solves a bunch of problems: no cash needed upfront, no boxes piling up in your store room, garage, or let’s be honest, in your spare bedroom. You never even have to touch the product or be responsible for the packaging or shipping. That means no more trips to the Post Office, either. Your dropship partner takes care of all that.
Today world’s largest cab company, Uber, does not own a single cab. World’s largest accommodation company, Airbnb, does not own a single hotel. Similarly, lot of ecommerce companies don’t own any inventory and just operate as a marketplace. If you ever had a dream to start a eCommerce business this is the best time.” —Saba Mohebpour CEO of Spocket, as told to Thrive Global
Before I jump to the list of best dropshipping partners, some real business talk: the benefits of dropshipping are also its drawbacks. You don’t have the inventory in your warehouse, so you don’t have control of a customer ordering something that’s out of stock. There’s no shipping work on your end, so you can’t control the shipping speed, or the packaging.
Long ship times = canceled orders.
Weird packaging = bad reviews.
And, you still need some money up front to build your website, put in the sweat equity of making that business take off, and all the other steps you’ll need to take to start your business.
Like any business partnership, you need to do your research on who you’re working with, what it’s going to cost you, and what you’re expecting to get out of it before you get too involved. This review will help you pick dropshipping companies that’ll work for your business — no matter your niche.
What’s the best dropshipping company for me?
Trying to find the best dropshipping company all up is a little bit beside the point. It’s like asking for the best eBay seller or the best store on Etsy. The things that make dropshippers great are a lot of the same things that make an eBay or Etsy seller great: They’re communicative and have fast shipping. The product arrives as promised. It looks like the listing and it shows up in one piece in packaging that looks nice and not chewed up by an alligator.
Just like an eBay seller, the best dropshipper for you is the one selling what you’re interested in buying (and reselling). They will reliably, communicatively, and quickly ship the product you’re after at a price that’s profitable for you — it’s about finding your best.
Why Shopify is the best way to start your dropshipping business
That means, you are basically setting up the equivalent to any ecommerce store. For ecommerce stores, the clear winner is Shopify. It’s been the frontrunner for a while. What’s most important about that for dropshipping is that the app store is super robust. Most stores use Shopify, so developers looking to make a high-quality app develop it for the Shopify app store.
So, if you haven’t already set up your Shopify store, that needs to go on your to-do list. We have a post that’ll walk you through the step-by-step process for setting up your Shopify store. It’s easy. There’s even a course in the Shopify Academy to learn how to start a dropshipping business with Shopify: Dropshipping 101.
I don’t recommend dropshipping with eBay
It’s compelling to set up shop with a marketplace — you don’t have to start a website, pay a subscription, etc. like you would with Shopify. But, I don’t recommend it. Unlike Shopify that’s super excited and helpful with new dropshipping businesses, eBay is growing more and more against them. Here are the sticking points for me:
- Your store’s reputation is on the line — eBay is not forgiving and will downgrade accounts with reports of slow shipping
- You’re probably not the only one selling that item
- Your business case isn’t clear — why should someone buy that item from you, just another eBay store?
- eBay has been cracking down on dropshippers and resellers, asking for proof of having the item in possession and freezing your store until you send in that proof. Proof could be a photo of your ID card with the item — not a photo of the item from a different listing. See this article from eSellerCafe.com for more on eBay Aggressively Banning Drop Shipping / Arbitrage Accounts.
If you do want to build your dropshipping business with eBay, I’d spend a few weeks or months in the seller forums to understand the specific risks and challenges of dropshipping on eBay.
The 17 best dropshipping companies, suppliers, databases, and tools
Once you have your Shopify account and your store set up, you’re ready to link up with a dropshipping partner and get selling. But, it can be hard to break into dropshipping because most dropshipping businesses don’t like to share their items or their suppliers. The thinking is: you’ll just replicate their shop and eat into their market.
I’m here to help with this list of 17 dropshippers, databases and suppliers — along with their pros and cons. I’ve listed Shopify apps first, then databases and software, and finally online marketplaces.
1. Oberlo — Best Shopify plugin and directory
This plugin service works with Shopify stores. You’ll browse the Oberlo directory (which includes suppliers verified by Oberlo) to find inventory you’d like to sell in your store. You’ll be able to see how many pageviews, sales, and star-rankings each item and seller has. Once you make a sale, you’ll use Oberlo to order the item to be shipped to your customer. Oberlo has a forever-free Starter plan, but to unlock shipment tracking and order fulfillment monitoring, which I recommend, you’ll need to upgrade to the Basic plan at $30 per month. It’ll also raise your sales limit from 50 to 500. Once you crest 500, you’ll be in Pro territory, which is $80 per month and allows for multiple users as well. Oberlo has 4.7 out of 5 stars from 2,286 reviews in the Shopify app store.
2. Spocket — A Shopify database app with good reviews
Spocket is a database app of dropship items that you can sort by country and simply upload into your Shopify store. Spocket makes it easy to find US and EU items that’ll ship within your country rather than from China, cutting down on slow ship speeds. The Basic plan (25 products with unlimited orders) is forever free, and upgrading to Pro is $49 per month for 250 products and branded invoicing. The Empire plan unlocks unlimited products for $99 per month. The app has 4.7 out of 5 stars from 1,226 reviews in the Shopify app store.
3. Dropified — Popular Shopify app for AliExpress
This is another Shopify app for populating your store with items and automate your orders on AliExpress, including customer shipping address. However, there’s no Dropified marketplace, but rather a browser plugin that’ll let you pull from anywhere on the web. You can set up margin parameters and rules for changing the price points in your store. There’s a 14-day free trial; after that it’s $47 per month for the Builder plan, or $39 per month on the annual plan. The Premier plan, which costs $127 per month or $97 per month with annual billing, recently added a profit dashboard, Zapier integration, and an unlimited high-speed captcha solver. The app has 4.8 out of 5 stars from 104 reviews in the Shopify app store.
4. Dropwow — Negatively reviewed Oberlo competitor
An app that’s reminiscent of Oberlo and Spocket, but with more negative reviews. The tool claims to automate your orders and help you locate dropshippers located in the US and elsewhere. However, with only 3.8 out of 5 stars from 121 reviewers on the Shopify app store, and a monthly subscription of $29 per month, I don’t recommend it. There is a 7-day free trial if you’d like to give it a spin.
5. SaleHoo — Members-only database of 8,000+ suppliers
A $67 yearly membership grants you access to this database of wholesalers and dropshippers. There are currently 8,000+ suppliers on the site, and they’re all screened by Salehoo before they’re added to the directory. There’s a 60-day free trial period, and the customer service gets high marks: 9.6 out of 10 with 247 reviews on TrustPilot.
6. Doba — 2M+ products with so-so profit margins
This 2 million product database doesn’t just bring a number of suppliers into one marketplace — you’ll also place your customer orders within Doda as well. That being said, it’s not cheap and we’ve read a number of negative reviews, many of which mention that the prices aren’t low enough to profit. Doba has a 14-day free trial, so you can log in and run the numbers to see if a membership (which starts at $29 per month) is right for you.
7. Wholesale2B — Versatile supplier and dropshipping hub
You can do a lot of different things with Wholesale2b: sell its products on eBay, Amazon, on a Wholesale2B site, or your own WooCommerce / Shopify / Magento / BigCommerce site. Any one of these options costs about $20 per month. Handle the orders yourself by becoming a registered reseller with each supplier or pay Wholesale2B a 3% fee to handle that for you.
8. Worldwide Brands — Budget-friendly database
For $299, you can get a lifetime subscription to this database of wholesalers and dropshippers.
9. Wholesale Central — Best free dropshipping directory
This free directory lists suppliers you can work with individually to order products from. There’s nothing fancy about it — it’s like a phone book — but has useful information to use as you do your research.
10. Sunrise Wholesale Merchandise — Some of the best shipping speeds
A $99 yearly fee gets you access to Sunrise’s selection of goods. It’s a bit smaller than other databases, but the shipping times are pretty quick: typically 5–7 days. Packages arrive to your customers with a receipt from “Customer Service” that’s not branded.
11. Megagoods — US-based dropshipping supplier
A California-based warehouse that will dropship your goods under your packaging and branding, typically in less time than it’d take to ship from an overseas supplier. Pro tip: check the added fees to make sure that your margins are good.
12. Inventory Source — Timesaving dropshipping automation tool
An automation tool that allows you to either sync the suppliers products with your page (inventory automation) or to sync the entire customer purchase flow so that your orders are automatically placed with your supplier (full automation). Inventory automation is $50/month and full automation is $150/month.
13. Dropship News – Extensive free online directory
This free online directory of suppliers is worth sifting through. We found some great US-based suppliers. Most of each supplier’s dropshipping information is on their profile, which saves you some clicking around.
14. National Dropshippers — Difficult user interface
You can give a try to see if there’s a product that’s only available here, but if you can find it elsewhere you’ll probably be better off going with the alternative. Products are hard to find and search for, and the returns and shipping policies aren’t favorable. Free for the first 7 days.
15. DropshipDirect.com — Currently in hiatus
This site makes some enticing claims: 100,000 items in its inventory, a SaaS-approach to data, and quick shipping from its Michigan warehouses. However, the sign-up form is in private mode and the company seems to be on a year-long hiatus. We’ll keep an eye on Dropship Direct and report back.
16. AliExpress — China-based dropshipper with great user reviews
AliExpress is a Alibaba’s online retailer. It’s based in China, but doesn’t sell products to anyone in mainland China. The site has lots of user reviews and analytics that are super useful during the product research phase.
17. DHgate — 1M+ products, but check user reviews
There are over a million Chinese suppliers on DHGate. Best practice for buying off DHgate: check user ratings and feedback. Just like you would when buying something off of eBay, be wary of anything that could be a knock-off or imitation, and be prepared for slow shipping and nuances like new-with-box items arriving with their boxes unassembled.
How to start a dropshipping company
1. Find items to sell
Find your niche.
There’s lots of chatter on the internet about finding your dropshipping niche, but this is just a trendy buzzword for product-market fit: are there people who want to buy your product? From you?
If not, you won’t have a successful business.
You’ll have the most success dropshipping a product if there’s an audience that wants to buy it and doesn’t have an easy way to access it. That’s where you come in.
Some ways to find your niche: brainstorm rabid fan groups or audiences with a common need or interest (dog lovers, anime fans, parents who love to dress up their kids in matching outfits, sailors, very tall people, people who love 90s throwback tees). These are purchase-ready populations looking to love and buy things that they’re interested in.
See what’s trending on Facebook.
Doing a quick search of a phrase like “Get yours here” or “Buy now” and look at the videos featuring items for sale that are getting traction. This can give you a sense of which products are interesting people on Facebook right now. Look for a high number of views in a short period of time, then search for the item at a dropship supplier like Oberlo or AliExpress. Consider the price-point of the item in the video and the assets you can create for it. Can you replicate — or improve on — the current trending video? If so, you may have an item worth dropshipping.
Don’t sell anything dangerous or copyrighted.
If you’re a beginner, don’t start with something that goes in or on a person’s body. If you do not know the quality and source of the ingredients, and something goes wrong, do you have coverage for that liability?
Also, if there’s a celebrity or character from a movie franchise on the item, it could get you in trouble. Steer clear of mice with big round ears.
Look at seller’s reviews and order a test product.
How long has the seller been selling? What feedback have they been getting. When you order a test product, does it meet your expectations? What do you need to tell your customers so they’ll be happy when they receive the product?
Consider dropshipping only some items.
Just because you’re dropshipping some things doesn’t mean you need to dropship everything. Perhaps it makes sense to use dropshipping for large, bulky, high-priced niche items.
Say, for example, you have an online store that sells nautical gear. You may want to personally store and ship some items, but dropship the anchors. For items like this, your customers may also be more accommodating to longer shipping times since it’s a large and more considered purchase. Same goes for home goods: perhaps you keep small items in stock, but dropship the couches. You can increase your inventory breadth very simply this way.
Go directly to a supplier and build a dropshipping relationship with them.
This is a killer plan: there’s guaranteed to be less competition. You’re basically creating a new audience for an under-marketed product that’s not getting seen by a ready-to-buy audience. If you use a database, every single other subscriber is using that same database.
2. Nail the basics
Invest in a good domain name.
Set up your website.
If you go with Shopify, you’ll be up in minutes. Lots of dropshippers recommend the Shopify Brooklyn theme with a good font choice. You can also use another ecommerce option. Here’s our review on the best ecommerce platforms, if you’re interested in exploring.
Get a professional logo.
You can get one for a reasonable price (and no design expertise) with 99Designs. See my post about how to get your first brand identity on a budget for more details and how to run a logo design contest.
Use a professional email address.
It should be a sensible start (help@, support@) with your own domain name. I recommend getting G Suite for $5 a month per user. There’s nothing to trust about emailing a customer service that’s at yahoo.com or gmail.com.
Give your customer strong trust signals.
You can do this with high quality photos and unique item copy, a real and robust About Us page, and thoughtfully using things like discounted prices and pop-ups.
Ask yourself: Would I buy from this store? Would I feel comfortable suggesting it to a friend or family member? You’ll need some trust logos and some FAQs at minimum.
Set shipping time expectations.
Most dropshipped items aren’t going to get to the customer very quickly — and in world where Amazon Prime has set the standard at two days, that means dropshipments of 30 days feel extremely slow. If you don’t prepare your customers they’ll be very unhappy. We’ve seen very straightforward copy, like: All our items ship directly from our suppliers in China. Shipments are processed the day of your order and arrive in 25–30 days.
Make sure your orders go through.
Bundle credit card orders so your bank doesn’t cancel your numerous orders. Let your bank know what types of orders and in what quantities you’ll be placing, so they’re not flagged as fraudulent. There is no pain so rich as having to reorder orders you’ve placed. (You do have a business credit card, right?)
Prepare for returns and cancellations.
How will you deal with unhappy customers? What’s your return policy and how will you chargeback customer payments? Will returned items be shipped to you, or to your distributor? How will that work? Like with anything in business, it’s important to set it all up from day one like it’ll be a huge success.
Set aside money to pay taxes.
If you’re using Shopify as your payment gateway, once you get to a certain sales threshold, Shopify will automatically report your sales to the government. You’ll want to make sure you have money available to pay applicable taxes. We also recommend getting an accountant and a lawyer (we’ve heard good things about UpCounsel and LegalZoom) and setting up Quicken.
3. Differentiate yourself
Make your store listings and ads unique.
Remember, if you can quickly and easily set up a dropshipping order for a specific product, it’s likely another store will be able to do the same. You will need to find an edge: why would someone order from you, or find your store selling the product, and not your competitor?
Take your own pictures. Write your own copy. Shoot unique social videos. Really put thought into how to best convey the product and why a person would want it: What problems does it solve? Can it make them feel joy?
Import user reviews.
If you’re using AliExpress, you can import the user reviews. No one likes being the first to buy something.
Consider offering free shipping.
Do all orders have free shipping or only when a certain order spend is hit? What threshold or minimum spend works best?
I do not recommend offering “Free products — you pay shipping.” Many customers would rather know the price up-front than go through a purchase flow that says $0 the whole way through and then slaps on a $15 shipping charge. It’s 2019 and the norm is free 2-day shipping with Prime. People are catching on and aren’t happy about it. Read more from The Daily Beast in Instagram Influencers Dupe Their Fans With ‘Free’ Products.
Market your store.
Make sure people know about your store. This can be through word of mouth, social media ads, viral memes, influencer programs, SEO, a newsletter. You’re going to need visitors to make sales.
4. Iterate iterate iterate
Use ads to test and gather data.
We’re assuming that you’ll be buying ads. If you do, buy and use the data to test what’s working. What gets traction? Double down on it. What doesn’t? Trash it. This may lead you to changing your products, your ad style, your audience. Following the early traction means you head toward what’s working and away from what’s not.
Analyze your sales.
What’s selling well? What’s not selling at all? Is there any common theme in the items? Replicate what you can. Stop what’s not working.
Arbitrage – The simultaneous buying and selling of an item to take advantage of a difference in price for the same asset. Say there’s a board game for sale at Walmart for $20, but the lowest price on Amazon is $45. Arbitrage is listing the game for sale on Amazon and buying the Walmart game. For every sale you make on Amazon, you take advantage of a $25 price difference. If your arbitrage is online to online, with free shipping, the math suggests you could simply sell on one site, buy and ship from the other, and pocket all the profit. This does not take into account any hiccups: returns, merchandise not accurate, merchandise no longer in stock, price changes in either market, etc.
Dropshipping (DS) – The supply chain system in which a seller does not keep items in stock, but rather transfers orders directly to a manufacturer, supplier, or wholesaler who ships the item directly to the consumer.
Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) – Some sellers set a floor to how low you can advertise or display your product for sale. This is not the same as the price you can sell it for. So, the MAP price does not take into account coupon codes or sales, or other tricks like offering a gift card with a purchase, offering rebates, or doing things like showing an even lower price in the cart.
Dropshipping examples and press
You may have seen the posts we’ve seen — the ones about people starting dropshipping businesses and raking in the sales. We’re talking five-figures in a single day, six-figures every month. What is this magic sauce, we wonder.
The magic sauce is the same sauce as any other business: it’s a math equation based on margins. How big are your margins? How big is your customer base? What’s the conversion rate? How stiff is the competition?
Welcome to a little-known corner of the e-commerce world, where small entrepreneurs use social-media ads and hip virtual storefronts to entice people into buying products listed on online marketplaces such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s AliExpress.
The process often involves online storefronts transferring customer details to an AliExpress seller, which ships the goods directly to the customer; the storefront bills the customer. Called dropshipping, it is a twist on a fulfillment technique that major online retailers also use to send goods directly from their manufacturers to the customer.
The entrepreneur profits by charging a high markup, betting shoppers are unlikely to stumble upon the less-expensive goods on a marketplace site. AliExpress is the most popular such marketplace, but some entrepreneurs order from sellers on other marketplace sites like Amazon.
—“The Mystery of the $70 Hoodie That’s All Over Facebook,” Wall Street Journal
The mystery of the $70 hoodie is also not a mystery: it’s a one-time sale that’s not going to turn into repeat business. It’s a simple equation:
high price + low product quality + poor customer experience = repeat business
Dropshipping seemed cool because it made starting an eCommerce seem easy: I didn’t need to buy products in advance; I didn’t need to have space to hold them, and it didn’t require extra time and effort to ship the orders myself. Dropshipping does have disadvantages, but it really appealed to me, so I continued my online search.
There are numerous ready-to-use eCommerce platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce or Squarespace. Most of them start at around $20 per month, which seemed like a good deal for a first-time entrepreneur like myself.
It took me two days to set up the store the way that I wanted it to look. Shopify is totally non-programmer friendly. All you need to do is open an account, select a look for your store, and that’s it – you’re ready to sell.
When I set up my store, I had no definite idea of what I should sell. I wasn’t sure if I should pick a product I was passionate about or just a random product I was able to find in dropshipping databases like WholesaleDirect.com or the like.
“This Guy Made $12K In One Month While Working Full-Time,” Huffington Post
“This guy” is Justin Wong, and he made his business work by studying Instagram marketing, set up affiliate partnerships with influencers, and matched his product with his marketing technique. And, he’s not confused about the pros and cons of that marketing strategy: when the posts age on a influencers feed, his sales go down.
My name is Jacky Chou. With my partner, Albert Liu (albeliu on Reddit), we launched a home decor dropshipping site that went from negative 3k to 250k a month in 8 months at 30-40% margins. We’re both first generation Asian-Canadians who moved from Vancouver to Berlin to work in marketing.
We started our dropshipping store as a ‘practice what you preach’ case study, as we’re both working as digital marketing consultants (Albert as a freelance Facebook consultant and I’m a founder of an SEO agency, Indexsy).
— “We made 250k USD last month with our dropshipping side hustle. Oberlo / Shopify reached out to us to do a success story. AMA!,” Reddit
- Buzzfeed News “Small American Businesses Are Struggling Against A Flood Of Chinese Fakes”
- Wall Street Journal “‘Drop Shipping’ Looks Set to Go Mainstream as More Retailers Get on Board”
- Racked “The Fake News of E-Commerce”
- Vox “Why an ad for bootleg Hallmark socks is one of the most ubiquitous of the holiday season”
- Inc. “Why Weebly’s CEO Is Saying No to the Hottest Trend in E-Commerce”
- Entrepreneur “Why It’s Nearly Impossible To Stop This Amazon and eBay Scheme”
- The Atlantic “The Strange Brands in Your Instagram Feed”
- Reply All “The World’s Most Expensive Free Watch”
- Inc. “How to Earn Money While You Sleep: A Step-By-Step Guide to Building a Drop-Ship Side Hustle”
- Vox “Here’s why Trump threatened to pull out of a 144-year-old postal treaty”
- Today.com “‘Drop-shippers’ reveal the hard work behind the legitimate work-from-home model”