Starting an online business has never been easier than today.

With the growth of Amazon, eBay, Shopify, and other online retail platforms, anyone with $20 can start an online shop.

If you’re just starting out, however, you may not have a lot of cash and a big house or warehouse to store your goods. Plus it can be daunting to figure out what to sell.

That’s where dropshipping and dropshipping supplier directories come in.

You’ll find several ecommerce website success stories about selling online through wholesale dropshipping, so what really is it about?

What is a Drop Shipping Business?

Dropshipping or drop shipping is another name for price arbitrage; a fancy term that means you find low-cost products and sell them at a higher price.

With a dropshipping business you don’t need cash or storage space. You just need to set up your store, list your products, and focus on marketing and selling.

It works like this:

First, you find and source a product with a low wholesale price from a supplier. Then, you place that product on your store and list it for a higher retail price.

When your customers purchase the item, you take their orders and send these to your supplier. The supplier sends out your goods directly to your customers and you keep the difference between what you bought and sold the product for.

The great things about dropshipping:

  • It’s easy to set up a store.
  • You don’t have to worry about inventory.
  • There’s little risk to you as the seller.
  • There are millions of products you can sell.
  • It’s possible to have a dropshipping business anywhere in the entire world.

The hardest part of being a new dropshipper is finding the right product and supplier.

Not only do you have to find a product people want to buy, but you also need to ensure that your supplier will deliver exactly what you advertise to your customer.

This is extremely important because you want to ensure your product arrives in a good condition, meets all of the customer’s requirements, is shipped quickly, and will not be returned.

The top suppliers will even include your company’s marketing materials to make it seem as if you sent the product yourself!

Working with sketchy suppliers can ruin your business’ reputation or cause you to lose money, so make sure you choose the right supplier or service before you start your business.

To help you get started on the right track, we’ve reviewed 12 of the top directories and search platforms.

Why directories?

Because they authenticate and vette their suppliers to ensure you only find the absolute best, based on product quality, price, and legitimacy. You get to avoid fraud for pennies on the dollar.

What is a Drop Shipping Service/Directory?

A dropshipping directory is essentially a giant list of different wholesalers, suppliers, other dropshippers, auctioneers, and other types of people selling goods and products.

These sellers pay money to get their company listed on the board and for better visibility so they can be discovered by you, the dropshipper.

All of the sites we reviewed can be broken up into two categories:

  1. Dropshipping directories (as mentioned above)
  2. Web platforms with an integrated supplier directory and back end inventory system

The disadvantage of normal dropship websites is that you have to comb through them and contact the suppliers yourself. You also have to source and manage the back end inventory and product descriptions on your site yourself. In other words…

It can be a lot of work.

The other type of sites we reviewed are dropshipping platforms/services such as SaleHoo, Doba, and Dropship Direct.

These are online companies that have a directory of verified and authenticated products that you can search through and automatically integrate into your own store – all in just a few clicks.

What does that mean?

All of the product data, including names, descriptions, specs and images, are “pushed” to your site using software that integrates with your selling platform.

Because of this integration, all the back end management can be handled by the service and updated even on a hourly basis.

The main difference between a regular directory and a service/platform is that you usually have to pay for the latter on a yearly or monthly basis.

But in most cases, the time-saving aspect more than makes up for the costs.

Let’s take a look at 12 of the top dropshipping supplier directories you can use to build your dropshipping business today:

1. SaleHoo.com

Based in New Zealand and started in 2005, SaleHoo is an online directory of suppliers and manufacturers.

What makes us one of the best drop shipping companies? Well, we have one of the largest selections of goods from dropshipping wholesalers in the world, and we personally verify each and every supplier on our site to ensure that every product in each of our 75 categories is authentic and legitimate.

We also have a broad set of categories including clothes and fashion accessories, electronics, furniture, office supplies, cell phones, and more. And our directory comprises more than 1.6 million products sourced from nearly 8000+ vetted suppliers.

With this kind of selection, you’ll be able to quickly find any product your niche requires. Our platform even has specific tools so you can find quality wholesalers who allow low or minimum amount orders.

We’re so confident in our suppliers that we fully guarantee their wholesale products in case of defect or scam. Not very many companies offer this type of guarantee.

In addition, we also provide you access to our Market Research Labs, an in-depth product discovery tool that allows you to determine with a high probability if your product ideas will sell on platforms like eBay and Amazon, among other sites.

To get access to SaleHoo’s directory, there is a yearly $67 USD fee that has to be paid upfront. In case you find it’s not a good fit, we offer a 60-day money-back guarantee.

We can also build your online store for you for an additional $27 a month.

Finally, we have 24-hour chat and email support and a ton of information on how to build a dropshipping business. It’s a great resource and you should definitely check it out.

Pros

  • Detailed directory of 1.6 million products from 8000+ verified suppliers.
  • Market Research Labs allows you to browse a huge product selection and see how well a product will sell before you pick one.
  • Great customer support.
  • Lots of free resources to help you learn how to grow your dropshipping company.

Cons

  • Upfront $67 fee.
  • A bigger focus on small business.

2. Alibaba/AliExpress

Alibaba, the eBay for finding wholesale suppliers in Asia, is not an easy platform to work with if you’re a beginner.

Most of the listings are made by manufacturers, not suppliers, meaning they usually have no website, they don’t speak English, orders have to be paid with a wire transfer rather than credit cards, and there is no guarantee you’ll get the items you want.

AliExpress, on the other hand, is a sister retail site of Alibaba.

It allows Chinese “stores” to sell the goods made by the manufacturers to customers all over the world. It’s like the Chinese version of Amazon, except everything has the lowest wholesale price and packages take 2-3 weeks to be delivered to your door.

The good thing about AliExpress is that you can use credit cards or AliPay to ensure safe transactions. Additionally, its rating and review system gives you a good idea about the seller, so you can make an informed choice on which product to buy.

Finding products on AliExpress is a bit like searching on Amazon: You won’t get much information on what’s hot and popular. There is no search engine to determine which products will be good for your niche. You have to do this work yourself.

The great thing about AliExpress is that it’s free. Unlike some of the other best drop shipping companies we’ve listed here, there are no upfront costs or monthly fees to join AliExpress.

Surprisingly, AliExpress support is actually pretty good. We’ve contacted the site several times about issues with payment and shipping and it provides round-the-clock service.

While it can’t provide super in-depth information about specific problems sometimes (customer reps just say it will take a day or five days to fix with no timeline), the site does solve problems eventually.

The biggest benefit of working with AliExpress is that you can use the Oberlo integration with your Shopify store. This automates your sales process, reducing the need to manually submit an order to your suppliers.

The downside to AliExpress is that shipping takes at least two weeks to get to the United States and can extend to more than a month for other parts of the world.

This can be a barrier to a lot of sales and could drive traffic away from your business to a site like Amazon, where consumers could pay a little more and get the item within a day or two.

Additionally, because you are dealing with separate sellers, you won’t have the option to bundle up multiple products if they’re sourced from different suppliers. Some customers may not like getting one package one week and then two more the next.

You need to be clear when setting up your site, detailing all of this shipping information.

Overall, AliExpress is a decent option for beginners. There are no upfront costs, you get buyer protection, and its rating system makes it easy to choose a good supplier. However, you must deal with communication barriers, variable shipping costs, and potentially fraudulent orders.

Note: You can also check out other AliExpress alternatives here.

Pros

  • Very cheap to get started.
  • It’s easy to integrate into Shopify with third-party tools like Oberlo and Shopified App.
  • It has multiple suppliers and a huge product selection.

Cons

  • Supplier quality can be mixed.
  • Shipping times can take upwards of a month in some cases.
  • You’re not dealing with the manufacturer, only third-party resellers.

3. Worldwide Brands

Worldwide Brands is the “grandfather” of wholesale supplier directories, founded in 1999 by eBay Powerseller Chris Malta.

Like SaleHoo, it has verified and vetted each one of its 8000+ suppliers. It does this by meeting the companies at trade shows, visiting their factories, and seeing for themselves that the products being offered are legitimate.

The biggest hurdle for WWB is that it has a one-time lifetime membership fee of $299 USD.

While in the long run, this may actually be less than other paid sites like Doba and SaleHoo, for many the upfront cost will be too big of a barrier to join.

What WWB provides, though, is a comprehensive directory where you can search for products from a regularly updated list of verified suppliers.

A query will return supplier information, such as the company name, website, full address, phone number, and all other payment and ordering details you will need for placing your order.

The issue for dropshippers, also known as Light Bulk Friendly on WWB, is that prices offered for low or no-minimum orders can be unprofitable unless you are making large purchases.

You may not get a discount big enough to be very profitable on eBay or Amazon.

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