#1 What are your fees?
For obvious reasons, you should question your dropshipper about all fees involved in doing business with them. Some dropshippers have monthly or yearly fees and others have fees that are added to price of individual products. Knowing exactly what fees you will be paying will allow you to properly calculate your potential profit margin and help you decide which products to sell.
#2 How often do you update your inventory?
It is important to keep in mind that your dropshipper’s inventory is essentially your inventory. You want to try your best to avoid selling a customer something that you don’t actually have. This can affect your reputation with your customers and make you come off as unprofessional and sloppy. This is why you need to know exactly when your dropshipper updates their inventory so your website can display the most accurate information.
#3 What is your return policy?
In order for you to provide your customers with a return policy of your own, it would be beneficial to know what policies your dropshipper has. This becomes more important when you begin to work with multiple dropshippers. You need to determine the process of returning damaged items and what qualifies for a refund. Be sure ask whether there is any variation in their policy based upon the product type. For example, you may be able to return a lamp within 30 days of the purchase but a cellphone may only be returnable within 7 days. Also ask if there are restocking fees, some dropshippers charge a percentage of the sales price to restock returned items.
#4 How do you handle customer service?
The customer service you provide could potentially make or break your business. Once you’ve devoted all of your time and efforts on gaining a customer, the last thing you will want to do is lose them to poor service. Ask your dropshipper about the various ways to get in contact with them to ask about customer service questions. Be sure to find out how quickly you can expect to have your questions answered. Timeliness in these cases is very important. The longer you take to answer a question about your customer’s order the shadier and less reputable you become in their eyes.
#5 How do I submit my orders?
This is a really simple question. Some dropshippers have an online checkout system and others may take orders by email. If the dropshipper has an online store be sure to ask if you need to enter any codes to receive your dropshipping discount. As your business grows and you begin receiving a large amount of orders, you should ask your dropshipper if you can send them your purchase orders directly for them to fulfill. This will help streamline your business and reduce the errors created by entering incorrect order information into the dropshippers system.
#6 How long does it take for you to process orders?
You need to be able to provide your customers with an accurate estimate for when they should expect to receive their products. How quickly a dropshipper can process an order and have it shipped out is a testament to their quality as a dropshipper. Good dropshippers can have your orders shipped on the same day if you submit them early enough.
#7 How do you handle payment?
Usually in the early stages of your relationship with your dropshipper, you will be required to keep a credit card on file to cover costs. As your relationship grows, your dropshipper may offer you credit on net terms. Net terms allow you to receive the items upfront and make a payment later based on the length of your net term. For example, something bought on net 10 terms with your dropshipper would have to be paid in full within 10 days. These net terms will play a big role in your business’ cash flow. When a customer pays you, unless they pay you in cash, it will take a few business days for the money to clear and for you to have access to it. During that time, the customer will still expect their orders to processed and their products shipped. That short period of time between when the customer makes a payment and when you have access to those funds is why purchasing on net terms is beneficial and why it is important to determine all the payment methods available with your dropshipper.
#8 Do you ship internationally?
You want to exactly where your dropshipper is willing to ship your products and what fees are involved. If the costs are too high to ship internationally, you may not want to offer that to your customers or you can pass the extra cost along to them. If you can find a dropshipper who can ship products internationally without too much extra cost, you may be able to take advantage of lower competition in an international market and possibly carve out a niche for yourself.
#9 Do you provide blind shipping?
Since your customers are coming to you to buy products, you want to know what the package will look like when your customer receives it. Ideally you want to find a dropshipper who will ship the product blindly to your customer. This means that the product will be shipped without any identifying labels or slips on or in the package that would alert the customer that another company shipped the product.
#10 Do you provide shipment tracking?
This is something that you definitely need to know before working with a dropshipper. Probably the most frequent questions you will receive from your customers will involve shipment tracking. The sooner you can get tracking information to your customer, the sooner they will feel comfortable with their decision to purchase. If a dropshipper doesn’t provide tracking information, that is a red flag and you may want to reconsider doing business with them. Be sure to ask how quickly the tracking information will be available and where you can go to access it.