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MICROmud
04 Mar 2011, 06:02 AM
I used to manage a family-owned retail menís clothing store, and have considered seriously getting back into retail. From what I understand, drop shipping is in vogue especially of late. Problem is, Iíve no idea what drop shipping entails.

O_OWHISPER
04 Mar 2011, 06:49 AM
Great and fundamental question. Simply put, drop shipping is a mode of supply chain management wherein the retailer doesn’t handle fulfillment, but rather forwards customer orders to the manufacturer or warehouse, who then picks and ships the goods ordered, to the customer.

Drop shipping has gotten popular because there’s no need for a warehouse. All a drop shipper really needs is a telephone and an Internet connection, and so it’s custom-made for work-at-home models. I mean, you could have a show room with demo pieces, but that’s just icing, and in no way necessary for successful drop shipping. So long as you have a site with detailed pictures and effective descriptions, you’re golden.

webrobot
04 Mar 2011, 06:59 AM
Purely out of curiosity, how did you manage a store for any length of time and not know what drop shipping is about?

MICROmud
04 Mar 2011, 07:18 AM
Honest question. No, we never really dealt with any but a handful of suppliers the ownership had been working through for something along the lines of 20 years. Never really came up in the 15 years I worked there.

To be honest, drop shipping sounds exactly like what I’m looking for. I’m not about to try and run a storefront at this point in my life. If I could just take orders and earn a discretionary income, I’ll be happy. Seems like the model would allow for a variety of offerings from a single point.

O_OWHISPER
04 Mar 2011, 09:41 AM
You’re absolutely right! Since there’s no real need to keep items on-hand, you can work through multiple sources and offer a wide spread of products. I’d still recommend at least a degree of specialization, though. You don’t want to go nuts and make your site confusion. I’d still keep to what I have an intimate understanding of. Remember, you’ll need to be able to field questions and resolve problems even under drop shipping.

MICROmud
04 Mar 2011, 10:01 AM
How likely is it I’d be able to get a demo order? I guess I could forward an order to a friend and, check it out that way. I mean, I’m still the face of the business far as my customers are concerned, since they won’t know that I drop ship. Am I right in my understanding?

webrobot
04 Mar 2011, 10:38 AM
Spot on, actually. Your customers won’t know, and in my experience, wouldn’t care if they did. It’s you they’re dealing with, not the supplier, and so it’s you they’ll hold responsible for problems, even if those problems are fundamentally with the supplier and/or manufacturer.

With that in mind, you want to be very picky about your supplier. If the supplier ships out shoddy, late, or just downright fake loot, it’s still your ass on the fire. If you have suppliers you trust, ask if they’ll work as a drop ship supplier for you. You’ll be surprised how many suppliers are already established DS suppliers. Failing that, join a paid supplier listing. These sites review and verify suppliers for you, and puts you in touch with them. Similarly, I’d stick with established suppliers. You shouldn’t be in the business of helping new suppliers into the trade. Not your job.

O_OWHISPER
04 Mar 2011, 10:58 AM
Be sure not to deal with suppliers who insist on charging fees for really anything. You probably already wonder how idiotic it is for a supplier to charge his customers for being customers.