For newcomers to ecommerce, dropshipping is a low cost way to get started in the industry. Dropshippers don’t have to buy stock or manage their fulfilment – they outsource this work to a third party. You, the seller, simply provide the storefront, sales process, and marketing to sell those products online.
While the concept is straightforward, outsourcing the procurement, storage, and shipping to a third party doesn’t come without risks. And finding the right dropshipping suppliers or companies is a tough task.
In this guide, we look at the best dropshipping suppliers UK sellers need to know about, and how you can get started with dropshipping today.
What are dropshipping suppliers and companies?
Dropshipping suppliers provide the product for sellers, and ship it to customers.
Dropshipping companies provide access to lots of different suppliers and products you can choose from.
You need to work with a supplier so that you have products to sell. Think of them as your backstage hand – managing all the behind-the-scenes activities to move your product from storage to customers’ doorsteps.
Every dropshipping business differs slightly, but the relationship between sellers and suppliers who dropship will look something like this:
- A customer purchases your product
- You receive an order confirmation and this is sent to the supplier
- The supplier procures, packages, and ships the product to the customer
- The customer receives the product
Dropshipping suppliers and companies exist all over the world. Bear in mind that if you choose a dropshipping supplier from another country, it could extend the delivery time for customers.
Companies that dropship
As a seller, you’ll need to work with a third party dropshipping company that connects you to dropshipping suppliers. Companies such as AliExpress, Oberlo, and SaleHoo work as dropshipping supplier directories – and list all kinds of suppliers and products to choose from.
Some dropshipping suppliers are manufacturers, while others are wholesalers. Let’s look at the difference:
Manufacturers make and sell the products to wholesalers or retailers. But they often require bulk purchases upfront, which can be risky for dropshippers trialling a product.
Wholesalers buy products from manufacturers and sell them on to retailers for a small profit. They stock the product, but they don’t make the product. Price per unit tends to be higher with wholesalers, but the risk is lower because you don’t need to make bulk purchases upfront.
Best dropshipping companies in the UK
Quality products, shipping time, and customer service are all factors you need to consider when choosing the right dropshipping company. Here’s a snapshot of some of the best dropshipping companies, including the pros, cons, and noteworthy features.
Spocket connects sellers to a library of US and EU products and suppliers. Paying no commission fees, sellers using Spocket only pay for the products they sell – and a monthly subscription.
- You can order product samples to make sure the quality is up to scratch
- You can use Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and Wix integrations
- Suppliers are vetted and verified
- You get 24/7 chat support on any of the plans
- The starter plan only lets you sell 25 unique products
- Spocket handles all communication with the supplier, so you can’t get in touch with them directly through the platform
Wholesale2B provides a whole suite of dropselling tools and suppliers to choose from. You can integrate Wholesale2B with your existing ecommerce store or build a store within the platform.
- You can choose from 1 million products
- You can import up to 10,000 products (depending on the plan you choose)
- You can manage sales across multiple platforms and marketplaces with one account
- Most suppliers are based in Canada and the US
- Wholesale2B only supports shipments to the Canadian and US markets, so you need to use a forwarding service to deliver elsewhere
- There’s no live customer service for sellers – instead, you’ll need to submit a support ticket
SaleHoo has two offerings for dropshippers: a directory to source reliable suppliers and a store integration for Shopify, so you can directly import products from SaleHoo to your Shopify store.
- You can choose from 2.5 million suppliers
- You can access over 8000 suppliers who are pre-vetted by SaleHoo
- You can import 500 products on the cheapest plan or unlimited products on the Premium plan
- Only two pricing plans to choose from: Basic or Premium
- No dedicated onboarding account manager with the Basic plan
- No free trial
Avasam is a dropshipping platform with UK-based suppliers, and a suite of inventory and order management features. Integrations for a selection of the top ecommerce platforms are available too.
- UK-based suppliers, for speedier shipping and better access to the UK market
- Extensive customer service that includes live chat, email and phone support
- Suppliers are verified so you can be confident they’re trustworthy
- Automation features that take care of some of the sales admin for you
- The cheapest plan doesn’t provide live chat or phone customer service
- The cheapest plan is capped at 50 orders per month
- No account management on the first two plans (you’ll need at least the Business plan for this)
Wholesale dropshipping in the UK
Wholesalers buy products from the manufacturers in bulk, at a cheaper price than retail. Often, wholesalers will stock a huge catalogue of products from different manufacturers.
Wholesale dropshipping is where you work directly with the wholesaler instead of going through a directory or dropshipping company. Many wholesalers will require a bulk purchase of stock up front, which isn’t always the most cost-effective solution for sellers. Especially if you’re trialling a new product in your store – you can end up with a bunch of stock and no buyers.
Wholesale dropshipping can be a great solution once you’ve established a customer base and a selection of popular products. By working with a wholesaler, you could get a better deal on stock by purchasing in bulk. And you still won’t need to worry about storage – the wholesale will stock, pack, and ship for you.
Is dropshipping worth it?
You can set up a dropshipping business quickly and cost-effectively. Once you have an ecommerce store and a reliable supplier, you’re free to start selling.
That’s not to say dropshipping is easy. There are lots of moving parts to manage – and from a distance when you’re working with an overseas supplier.
Here are some of the pros and cons of dropshipping:
- Quick and easy set up (you just need an ecommerce platform and a supplier)
- No need to house stock – the supplier will do this for you
- A good way to learn about ecommerce and if it’s right for you
- You can work from anywhere – so long as you have internet access
- Profit margins can be lower, which means there’s less opportunity for you to make money
- You’ll be competing with other sellers who have been dropshipping for years
- Harder to build a recognisable brand when you’re selling unbranded products (that many other dropshippers could be selling too)
- Very little control over the packing and shipping process, which can lead to bad customer service if your products aren’t up to standard
Is dropshipping possible in the UK?
Yes, dropshipping is possible in the UK. But there are some obstacles you should be aware of.
Since Brexit, international shipping has been more expensive, and border delays more frequent. High costs and slow service can quickly eat away at your profit margin and customer base. What’s more, many suppliers and directories are based in Asia – which can mean slower shipping times for UK-based customers.
The global dropshipping market is expected to double between 2022 and 2026. If you’re based in the UK, make sure you can find reliable suppliers who are closer to home so that shipping isn’t an issue.
How to find dropshipping suppliers
There are many ways you can find dropshipping suppliers. For example, some manufacturers and wholesalers provide dropshipping suppliers and will work with you directly. Alternatively, online directories like those offered by SaleHoo and Wholesale2B give you access to a whole library of suppliers to choose from.
Search engines and social media platforms can also help you find dropshipping suppliers, but you’ll need to try a combination of searches. Try different terms like ‘wholesale dropshipping’, ‘dropshipping service’, or ‘dropshipping UK’.
You can also source suppliers through third party marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy. Search for your desired product and sort the results by price: lowest to highest for the cheapest deals. If you find a supplier you like the look of, research them online to see if you can set up a direct relationship.
Another way you can find dropshipping suppliers is by purchasing from companies you believe to be dropshippers. When you receive the package, look up the return mailing address to see who their supplier is.
Don’t overlook physical events and networking either. Attend industry trade shows to form personal relationships with potential suppliers, and negotiate deals in-person.
Tips for contacting and negotiating with dropshipping suppliers
- Research the supplier: You need to know that your supplier is reliable and trustworthy before entering a deal. Look them up online (even if you found their listing through a trusted directory) to find customer reviews. Look at product quality, shipping times, and pricing so you can negotiate better.
- Communicate clearly: Your supplier has a significant role to play in keeping your customers satisfied. Clearly state your expectations, concerns, and requirements to the supplier. Ask plenty of questions so you can create a fair agreement.
- Be flexible: Your vision for the business might not align with what’s possible for the supplier. Be firm on your expectations, but open-minded about supplier capabilities. Explain your requirements and listen to theirs so you can find a mutually beneficial solution.
- Build a long-term relationship: The promise of ongoing custom could encourage suppliers to provide a discount or additional benefits as part of your agreement. In return, recommend their products or refer customers. If you’re not ready to enter a long-term contract, suggest a trial period before signing.
- Consider the supplier’s perspective: Your supplier will have their own targets to meet. Think about how you can help them reach their goals while sustaining your own business. Acknowledge their profit margins and business model before haggling on price.
- Be professional: Come to conversations equipped with information and key figures for your business. Be fair and polite with all suppliers, regardless of whether you choose to work with them or not.
Where to find dropshipping suppliers
In this guide we’ve explored:
- Where to find dropshipping suppliers: online, via directories, and through competitors
- Companies that dropship, dropshipping suppliers, and the difference between the two
- The best dropshipping companies in the UK
- The pros and cons of starting a dropshipping business
Having the right dropshipping supplier is crucial for sellers, so make sure you do your due diligence to find the ideal match. The tips in this guide will help you source and set up with the right suppliers – so you can build your business with confidence.
Xero does not provide accounting, tax, business or legal advice. This guide has been provided for information purposes only. You should consult your own professional advisors for advice directly relating to your business or before taking action in relation to any of the content provided.