What is Drop Shipping?
Have you ever heard of drop shipping? Or maybe you know it as print on demand?
Well if you would have asked me about it a few years ago and I would have gave you a blank look…uhhh what is that?
So drop shipping (according to me) is when you have another company create, print, and/or finish your product and ship it to your customers directly, but under your own brand. This may be a bit generalized than some definitions, especially since there can be a lot of nuances to how each individual drop shipping company works. But for now it explains the general concept of what a drop shipping or print on demand company does. Once you start researching specific companies based on what you need you will realize it can get more complicated, which is why I am going to share everything I know about drop shipping in a simple way and why I choose to use it with the Proof & Parchment shop!
Why Use a Drop Shipper?
There are many reasons to use drop shipping, but I think one of the main reasons for most are that the startup costs are very low. You don’t have to worry about buying a ton of inventory before making actual sales. This is a really great way to test out items and see what your customers really want and will buy from you!
Here’s the quick bullet list of why I use drop shipping:
- No inventory needed
- Can easily test new products
- More time to focus on my designs
- No time spent packaging & shipping
- Can work from anywhere
- Can easily fulfill orders even on vacation
- No minimum order requirements
What Else is Important to Know When Using Drop Shipping?
While I did say the startup costs with creating a shop using a drop shipper are minimal there are still a few things to consider.
First off you still need to order samples of the items you plan to sell. Basically you NEED to check the quality of the items! Since everything you sell represents your shop you can’t take the risk of selling things that you have never seen. Sending sub par products out to your customers is a sure fire way to fail.
A few other reasons to order sample items would be to see how quickly the items are produced, shipped, and received. It’s also nice to see how they package your items and what branding opportunities you have. Plus having samples is necessary to photograph for your shop listings. You can use online mockup generators or ones provided from the drop shippers, but it’s still nice to create your own if possible. There are so many tutorials and tips out there on how to photograph products that anyone can learn!
So Are There Downsides to Using a DropShipper?
If this all sounds like it’s too good to be true, I do have to let you know there are a few downsides to using drop shipping. As long as you have all the information you can then make the right decision for your business, personally, it’s worth it to me in my current situation so I will continue to use this business model.
- You don’t always have control over the production and shipping timelines
- You make less profit margins
- Depending on which drop shipping company you use, the amount of customization with the packaging can be limited
- It can be hard to find the specific products you want to sell
- You still need to photograph items for your listing photos
What Can You Drop Ship?
If you are starting to look into drop shipping you will quickly realize how many different products are available and it’s really easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole. Instead of letting that happen you should take into consideration who your audience is and what type of products they are interested in. Also it’s important to think about your specific design and style to figure out what type of products they lend themselves to.
Say you spend all day designing patterns then maybe your shop would be perfect for selling wrapping paper, fabric, and basically lots of fun home decor items.
As for me here’s the items I’ve focused on so far:
- Coffee mugs
- Tote Bags
- Tea Towels
- Makeup bags
Overall I have a good variety of items but I’m always brainstorming new things to add. But I definitely try to restrain so my shop does not become a jumbled mess selling everything under the sun.
How to Find Drop Shipping Companies to Work With
Finding a good drop shipping company can be a big task. If you Google it you’ll see tons of companies that are hit or miss. I recommend starting with recommendations from others and also through trial and error. Also it helps to focus on certain items and look at drop shippers who specialize in them, whether it’s home goods or office supplies or clothing.
Personally, I have tried out a variety of different drop shipping companies since I’ve started Proof & Parchment. With my shop I’m always open to finding new ones if they fit in with what I need, but I also try to keep it down to 2-3 different suppliers because anymore than that and it can get complicated when fulfilling orders. If you want to see the specific companies I’ve used and recommend then just fill out the signup below and you’ll get access to the file in the Proof & Parchment vault.