Doesn’t drop shipping seem like an ideal way to run an online store? Sure, and it seems so easy to do too.
You don’t have to hold any stock. Your financial involvement is minimal. Hell, you can start a drop shipping eCommerce store for almost nothing. You don’t have to worry about fulfilling orders and, a thing that attracts so many to this form of eCommerce, you can run it practically from anywhere.
Unfortunately, all is not that great with a drop ship business.
When you run a drop ship business, you are ultimately giving away the control of a massive portion of your business to someone else.
It is not you but a producer or a drop shipper that process your orders. You have very little influence over when that’s going to happen. You might be on top or at the bottom of a queue but you simply don’t know. You can’t control the packaging and what goes into the pack and all that is just the tip of the iceberg.
In short, after you have passed on the order, your control over what happens with it ends.
This is also where most problems start.
As a dropshipping store owner myself I can guarantee you one thing, if something is to go wrong with the order, it will.
If you are thinking of starting up a dropshipping online store, read on. What follows is a list of the most common issues and problems you will most likely come across and my recommendations on how to solve them.
Probably the most common of all problems you will experience.
Even though most producers and order fulfillment companies try hard to keep their Ecommerce partners informed about product availability, it often happens that the product someone ordered from your store is out of stock. Or it has been completely discontinued.
Best Way to Handle: Ring your client. Never inform them via email. Customers prefer personal contact, even if it means bad news about their order. Also, if possible, try to source a product from another supplier. Alternatively, see if you can get a similar product by another producer. Suggest any alternatives you might have to a customer. Quite often they will be happy to change their order to another product.
Picture this. You received an order through your store. Straight away you rush to place it with the producer and await for it to be processed so you could inform the customer that it has shipped and pass the tracking code to them. Yet, the order confirmation does not arrive.
Best Way to Handle: The usual time to process an order is up to 24 hours. If you hear nothing back from the producer or drop shipper after that, follow up with them immediately. These days customers are used to have their orders processed within 24 hours too. It is the imperative for your own brand that even if the order isn’t processed within that time, you at least know the reason and approximately when it’s going to happen.
Why? Because the customer might ring you. This usually happens if you sell expensive products and someone has purchased through your store for the first time. Their trust levels in you are low and through their order, they are ultimately putting you to the test.
I have to say that this hasn’t happened to me so far, however, I know it is many Ecommerce store owners worst nightmare so I am including this problem on the list.
Shipping a wrong product to a customer is a bad customer service, fact. It always leaves a bad impression regardless of a good will of the customer. And no matter what the circumstances, it is always you who are the guilty party.
This is one of the most unfortunate aspects of drop shipping. No matter what the mistake and who made it, it is always you and your reputation that suffers.
Best Way to Handle: First of all, know your producer or drop shipper return policies back to back. In fact, you should know them before you ship your first product. This way, when the complaint from a customer comes, you will be able to instruct them on what to do straight away.
Also, it is a good idea to offer a customer a discount for a future purchase or at least a small token to apologize for your mistake.
Similarly to the problem above, the shipped product may have been right but the quantity is wrong. This has actually happened to me few times. It is not such a problem if more items are sent but the problem starts when it is less than the customer has ordered.
Best Way to Handle: Sometimes you are actually able to stop this error from happening. Always review the invoice from the drop shipping company. They usually send them before goods leave the warehouse and if you notice a wrong quantity on them, ring them straight away and stop the order from being shipped.
If however, the order has already shipped, proceed in the same manner as with the previous issue discussed above.
A problem that does not affect the customer, yet still quite common.
Best Way to Handle: Always review the invoice carefully. This becomes especially important if you are paying straight away via credit card and don’t have a credit line with the producer. Sure, you will most likely receive a credit from the producer, yet your spending ability will be limited for that month nonetheless.
Different producers have different ways of handling orders. Some want you to email them over, others prefer you to order by phone. And as much as email greatly reduces the chances for a spelling error, it is quite easy to happen over the phone.
As a result, orders might be shipped to an address that doesn’t exist. Or to a completely different person (if orders got mixed up for instance).
Best Way to Handle: It is imperative that you hold some sort of proof of the shipping address you have supplied the producer or drop shipper with. Reshipping items cost money and you must be sure whose fault it was before you agree to any costs.
This luckily never happened to me, although I know some drop ship business owners to whom it did.
Best Way to Handle: This problem is actually pretty easy to solve. In most cases, the producer will ship out a replacement part or the whole item. However, it is good that you know your producers warranty terms and conditions. I am lucky to be working with producers that offer lifetime replacement guarantee, however, it might be different for yours. So, better check that up.
A minor problem, yet still something that has to be sort out. Sometimes the tracking code you receive is either invalid or its for a completely different package.
When you think of it, your producer or drop shipper you use issues tens if not hundreds of tracking codes a day. With such a volume, it is quite easy for a simple human error to happen.
Best Way to Handle: Always test tracking codes before you pass them on to your customer. Simple.
Running a drop ship business may seem like an easy thing to do. Unfortunately, in such a business model you rely greatly on a producer whose products you use or a drop shipping company they use to ship their goods. And as always when you leave the control over such an important aspect of business to someone else, mistakes can happen.
Luckily, usually they are easy to rectify, albeit at first sight they might look quite serious.