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What is a Dropshipping Agent?
These days, many e-commerce retailers are looking into their very own dropshipping businesses, and for a good reason. Through dropshipping, you can sell products to satisfied customers and make a tidy profit without having to pay for storage space or even keep products on hand.
But to master your own dropshipping business, you need to know what a dropshipping agent is, how they can help, and how dropshipping agents may impact your business operations. Read on for the answers to these questions and more.
What is an Agent for Dropshipping?
In a nutshell, a dropshipping agent is similar – and in many ways identical to – a dropshipping supplier. A dropshipping agent sources, stores, packs, and ships products for your dropshipping business.
For example, as a dropshipper, you’ll sell products to target customers, then pass those orders onto a third-party supplier or manufacturer to be fulfilled. If you use a dropshipping agent, you first find a customer looking for a specific product, either through reaching out to customers directly or through an online website.
Once you have a customer with a potential order, you contact your dropshipping agent and tell them what you want. The agent sources and acquires the product, which they sell to you. The dropshipping agent also ships products to customers.
What’s the Difference Between a Dropshipping Supplier and a Private Dropshipping Agent?
While dropshipping suppliers and private dropshipping agents are similar, they are not exactly the same things. A dropshipping supplier offers you a standard spread of supplies or products in a dedicated catalog. In this way, dropshipping suppliers are a little more limited than dropshipping agents.
In contrast, dropshipping agents can be self-employed, work for fulfillment warehouse companies, or run their own agencies. Dropshipping agents are a little more flexible and versatile – they offer more services than standard dropshipping suppliers, which only provide you with products.
For example, dropshipping agents may:
- Perform quality checks for to-be-shipped products to ensure customer satisfaction
- Provide branding services, such as private labeling or using customized packaging
- Choose the ideal shipping option for them and you, their dropshipping client
- Provide aftersales services, such as shipping tracking, etc.
- Update customers about trending products, deals through your dropshipping business, and more
All in all, dropshipping agents may source products, acquire products, and ship products all at the same time.
What’s POD (print on demand)? How is it Different From a Dropshipping Agent?
POD or print-on-demand businesses are also rising. Put simply, a print-on-demand business has you work with a supplier that makes white-label products, such as hats, clothes, tote bags, etc. The supplier customizes products based on the orders you take or any brand imagery you want to set.
Similarly to other dropshipping businesses, print-on-demand businesses don’t require you to pay for the cost of a product until you sell it. You don’t have to hold any inventory for the white-label products, nor do you need to buy any products in bulk.
Everything after selling the white-label product to a customer, such as digital printing, order fulfillment, and shipping, is sampled by the supplier/manufacturer instead.
It’s easy to see how there are similarities between POD businesses and dropshipping agents. POD businesses provide sellers the platforms to create and view the designs on selected products on the dashboard, and ship out afterward.
However, dropshipping agents don’t create products outright. They may source products for manufacturers or third-party companies, but they don’t physically make the products that they ship to customers you connect with.
How Does a Dropshipping Sourcing Agent Help a Store Owner?
If you run your own dropshipping business, you probably already know the challenges and difficulties inherent in your business model. Dropshipping sourcing agents can help store owners like you in a variety of ways.
What are the Services of a Dropshipping Agent?
For starters, a dropshipping agent can provide several key services. For instance, dropshipping fulfillment agents:
- Source products to be used or shipped to your customers
- Take product inventory so they can ship that inventory to end consumers
- Ship and fulfill orders for customers, so you just have to focus on sales and customer connections
Many dropshipping agents specialize in one marketplace for another. For example, dropshipping from Aliexpress may involve dedicated dropshipping agents who know this marketplace backward and front. Alternatively, you may connect with a Shopify sourcing agent if you want to find appropriate products for your Shopify store customers specifically.
How Does a Dropshipping Agent Benefit Your Business?
When you hire the right dropshipping agent, your business may see several immediate benefits, such as:
- Giving you a better price-to-quality ratio compared to working with a dropshipping supplier
- Faster shipping times for you and your customers
- More consistent pricing models
- Greater insights into the latest dropshipping industry trends
- Improved product packaging for your customers
- Time-saving and less hassle: No need to search and bargain with suppliers
What are the Best Dropshipping Agents?
There are lots of dropshipping agents to choose from, which can make finding the best dropshipping agents difficult for your business. Take a look at the below options to start your search successfully.
Private Dropshipping Agents V.S. Professional Dropshipping Agents
As you search for the best dropshipping agents, you’ll be able to choose between private dropshipping agents and professional dropshipping agents.
Private agents are essentially freelancers. They may have contacts with several manufacturers and suppliers, and they often reach out to their clients individually. They don’t do branding for a business. Most private dropshipping agents manage orders using Microsoft Excel or CSV files.
In contrast, professional dropshipping agents run official businesses with a team to respond to your needs immediately, and they may have dedicated systems they use to bundle and split orders for a number of stores, automatically syncing tracking to store. Furthermore, professional agents usually have better after-sales services, more transparency on the cost and efficiency compared to private agents, though they may cost a bit more upfront. Also, professional agents can help customers save indirect costs, including customers’ refunds and reship.
Some merchants hire private dropshipping agents using social media lifeforms or websites like Fiverr. These could be the best choices for beginners. But if you want to expand or scale your business in the future, a professional dropshipping agency will be a better long-term choice.
Best Dropshipping Agents
Now let’s take a look at some of the best dropshipping agents to consider. Each of the below agents has major advantages and downsides.
HyperSKU is arguably the best dropshipping agent in China, bar none. It runs on a comprehensive, internal dropshipping management platform that allows you to see order details for all of your stores quickly and easily.
- Key Service: Dropshipping supply platform and control dashboard
- Pros: Zero subscription fees, easy and intuitive to use, 1-1 quality agent service, affordable and reliable shipping
- Cons: Still building product connections to appeal to all markets
AliExpress is a subsidiary platform of Alibaba. It’s an excellent way to get affordable goods from China, making it another top choice. You can find an AliExpress dropshipping agent fairly easily.
- Key Service: Goods shopping and order fulfillment from China
- Pros: Tons of products to choose from, very cheap order fulfillment
- Cons: Need to negotiate with different suppliers and with language barriers
Alibaba, as noted above, is the largest Amazon equivalent in the East. Thus, it’s a no-brainer to look for a good Alibaba dropshipping agent if you want to primarily sort your products from China, Indonesia, and related areas.
- Key Service: Dropshipping & order fulfillment marketplace like Amazon
- Pros: Absolutely staggering range of products available to purchase, good prices
- Cons: Shipping can sometimes be slow and more expensive than you think, reputation isn’t the best
CJ Dropshipping is a large dropshipping platform and agency service that offers thousands of different products you can easily import into a Shopify store.
- Key Service: Zero subscription fees, a huge marketplace, and excellent product recommendations
- Pros: Very robust and comprehensive dropshipping agency service and reasonable prices for smaller dropshipping organizations
- Cons: Overwhelming interface, neither the cheapest alternative nor the best customer service
Niche Dropshipping is a professional Chinese dropshipping agent. It offers on-demand agent services ranging from quality inspection to photography to product sourcing and more.
- Key Service: One-stop shop for all dropshipping agent services
- Pros: Supports thousands of dropshippers and assistance for those looking to build private-label dropshipping brands. Has some extra services that other agents don’t offer
- Cons: Services can be a little expensive, especially if you rely on dropshipping to do everything for your business
Eprolo is a diverse and simple-to-use dropshipping platform with an excellent marketplace and agents that can handle everything for your company, ranging from sourcing to fulfillment and more.
- Key Service: Automated fulfillment services and simple workflows that let you connect your storefront to Eprolo’s marketplace
- Pros: Backend is managed by Eprolo, offers a custom express shipping channel and print-on-demand services
- Cons: Only one warehouse and the express shipping channel can be delayed
Yakkyofy is a massive dropshipping company that offers over 12 million products and easy connectivity to your online store.
- Key Service: B2B pricing for B2B dropshipping companies. Allows users to upload three images of a product to search for it in the large database
- Pros: Automatic updates for stock and automated fulfillment, no need to check or click on anything on your end
- Cons: Small markups from time to time so prices can be higher than you anticipate
Sourceinbox is an excellent dropshipping platform that provides agency services, including a 100% free fulfillment app.
- Key Service: All-inclusive dropshipping agent services, including product sourcing, product selection, and shipping
- Pros: Very easy to manage through and through, has an intuitive app for you to use, also offers bespoke product photography
- Cons: Prices can be quite expensive
Dropified offers automated dropshipping supply services, as well as sourcing services from wholesalers.
- Key Service: Wholesale supply sourcing and automated customer order fulfillment
- Pros: Wholesale prices make Dropified relatively affordable, very easy-to-use software, video training tutorials available, most features are automated
- Cons: Many of the extra features on Dropified cost extra
Spocket is a dedicated dropshipping application for Shopify. It lets users import products from many different dropshipping suppliers, such as AliExpress.
- Key Service: Order supply and fulfillment from many different marketplaces and suppliers
- Pros: Offers a staggering range of different product types, plus a user-friendly interface and easy purchase experience
- Cons: It can be expensive for beginners.
DSers is the official e-commerce dropshipping solution for AliExpress. It’s a great dropshipping agent platform for dropshippers who primarily source products from China, Indonesia, and related regions.
- Key Service: Order placement and fulfillment for products on AliExpress
- Pros: Can make payments in bulk to minimize costs, easy to find multiple supplier options for a product in a few clicks, excellent customer service
- Cons: Only provides products from the AliExpress marketplace
Zendrop is an excellent Chinese dropshipping company that offers end and services, including sourcing and agency services.
- Key Service: Automatic order fulfillment, product sourcing, and shipping
- Pros: Relatively favorable prices compared to AliExpress, good American customer support, private labeling services
- Cons: Not the best choice for scaling brands, as you’ll want more control over your supply chain as your business grows
How Does an Entrepreneur Look for a Trustworthy Chinese Dropshipping Agent?
As you can see, there are many different options when it comes to connecting with a dropshipping agent. But it’s one thing to hire an agent for your business; it’s another to find the right business partner for long-term success. It pays, quite literally, to know how to look for a trustworthy Chinese dropshipping agent, as the distances involved between your business and their agency could make things tricky.
How to Find a Dropshipping Agent in China?
As you try to find a good dropshipping agent in China, you can use a few different methods.
For starters, you can join a Facebook dropshipping group. Social media is an excellent way to make connections around the world. If you join the right Facebook group, you’ll be able to find dropshipping agents looking for new clients like you, plus be able to ask them questions so you partner with an agent who can provide you with the services you need.
You can also check freelance job boards and listing websites like Upwork. Here, you’ll be able to interview freelancers and enter short-term contracts with them. This is a good way to find a short-term dropshipping agent solution, especially if you aren’t sure what you are looking for in a long-term partner yet.
Alternatively, you can find specific agencies that offer dropshipping agent services while you are looking for a dropship agent. These companies are oftentimes reputable, and you can check their online reviews to see if they are worth your time and money.
Or you can try making a post on a platform like Reddit. Announce that you are looking for a qualified Chinese agent for dropshipping, and someone may respond with their qualifications, enabling you to hold an impromptu interview. Lastly, you can use a dropshipping supplier that also offers sourcing and fulfillment services; in this last case, that dropshipping supplier is essentially acting as a dropshipping agent, even if they don’t realize it!
How to Identify a Reliable and Trustworthy Dropshipping Agent?
When you find a new potential dropshipping agent, you should make sure they are reliable and trustworthy by:
- Making sure they can speak English fluently. That way, you know you both communicate well with each other
- Checking online reviews or a dropshipping agent’s reputation. If an agent has a bad rep, move on to another potential partner.
- See if the agent has unclear or obfuscating language in their order shipment requirements. If they make it difficult for you to partner with them, take it as a hint you should find a better dropshipping agent for your needs.
Things an Entrepreneur Needs to Consider Before Hiring a Dropshipping Agent
Before you hire any dropshipping agent, however, you need to keep a few major things in mind.
For starters, consider location. Make sure your agent is in an area where they can get new stock delivered very quickly. They also need to be able to ship stock quickly to other countries in order to satisfy your customers.
Naturally, this also means you should consider the costs of shipping. Make sure your potential dropshipping agent won’t charge you too much to ship products to customers and that they respond quickly. It may help to further filter your dropshipping agent options by checking their English; if they speak English fluently and understandably, they could be very much worth your time and money.
Don’t forget to consider their flexibility, either! Some dropshipping agents have a minimum amount of orders per day, so you may need to get your dropshipping clientele up to partner with some of the best agents in the industry.
All in all, dropshipping agents are important business professionals who can help streamline your dropshipping enterprise and make it more efficient. Dropshipping agents offer order sourcing, shipping, and fulfillment services for a wider range of products, making them more versatile and valuable than standard dropshipping suppliers. With the right dropshipping agent, you’ll fulfill customer orders more quickly and accurately than ever, plus see more revenue in the long term.
In the meantime, you can bolster your dropshipping business with HyperSKU. As a comprehensive and well-designed dropshipping fulfillment platform, we make it easy for you to source products, store orders, and fulfill those orders within just a few clicks, plus track customer information from a unified and intuitive dashboard. Try it today!
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