Common Pitfalls to Consider When Dropshipping From China
Author note: Please keep in mind when reading this article that we are writing this with an opinion that your target consumer is in the United States. Some opinions and concepts might apply to non-US consumers.
With the increasing interest of dropshipping and popular sites such as Aliexpress and Oberlo in the ecommerce space, it is reasonable to question the validity and sustainability of dropshipping from China. While some claim China dropshipping is the way to go for start-up ecommerce businesses, in this article, I’m going to focus on why it may not be and offer what I think is a better solution.
Pitfall #1: Shipping
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that shipping an item from overseas takes longer than if it were shipped domestically within the United States. However, these shipping times may be even longer than you think. In the age of Amazon Prime’s 2-day shipping, and now with other companies following suit, consumers now have an expectation that their order will be on their doorstep within that time frame.
Generally speaking, the fastest shipping time with a product being dropshipped from China is two weeks! In some cases, it can take as long as five weeks! Once the consumer finally receives the item they ordered, it is highly likely they won’t be a returning customer. And, if you don’t have returning customers, it will be hard to sustain a business. Not only that, but now with the transparency of social media, your business can easily earn a poor reputation for the lengthy shipping times, and no one likes that.
Some people will say that you can help manage expectations by adding a note on your store, email or shipping policy that clearly outlines the longer shipping times. But the truth is, many customers will either overlook that or will still get frustrated wondering where their order is after a week. This creates more effort in damage control for you, and that is time you could be spending on marketing and promoting your brand.
Pitfall #2: Product Standards
Dropship products from China have been known to not be at the highest standards of quality and safety. The majority of the time, those products you find on the China dropshipping sites are originally made in the domestic China market. This isn’t good for your business or end customer because almost always, these products are not compliant with overseas regulations and standards including labeling requirements.
This is especially important to remember when you’re wanting to dropship highly regulated products such as beauty care or baby products. You have to keep in mind that if one of your customers were to become ill or injured from one of your products you sold, it is you who is responsible for selling the product in America and not the dropship supplier in China.
Pitfall #3: Returns
We’ve gone over lengthy shipping times and questionable product standards, but if that isn’t enough for you to rethink China dropshipping, have you thought about returns?
With lower product standards, the quality goes downhill with generic China dropship products. Also, a lot of the times, the pictures do not accurately portray the product’s reality – have you seen these online shopping expectations vs. reality memes? This means you should be expecting returns at some point, which is yet another downfall of this ecommerce business method.
So how do you deal with returns from a China dropshipper? You pay for them out of your own pocket. Unless you don’t want to offer returns in general, which would not be popular among consumers (I don’t recommend that). So, by paying for every return yourself, your business profitability goes down with it.
So, how should I dropship?
Glad you asked! China suppliers don’t have to be the be all end all if you want to jump on the dropshipping train. In fact, there are a lot of wholesale companies here in the United States that offer dropshipping.
When you utilize a dropshipper from the United States, not only do you gain access to higher quality products, quicker shipping times and easier return processes, you also gain a partner. It’s difficult to build a relationship with a China supplier because, as you can imagine, there is often a language barrier and communication gap. American suppliers provide substantial reseller support in comparison.
US Direct is a great and easy way to get started with American dropship suppliers since there’s no supplier approval process needed. With US Direct’s efficient shipping of top products from leading brands and trusted American suppliers, it is much more likely you’ll be able to build a long-term, sustainable business with repeat customers and a good reputation.