If you are dropshipping, then you might have heard of the term "dropshipping agent".
It's likely that you didn't know what that term means yet, so that's why you are here now!
Today, I will break down what dropshipping agents do for your business and tell you about the benefits and drawbacks of using them.
One thing is for sure though, don't be ashamed for being here. It's completely normal not to know what a dropshipping agent is after hearing it for the first time.
I didn't know what a dropshipping agent was at first, either.
However, I can tell you that once I got to know what dropshipping agents were and what they could do for my dropshipping business, they opened up a whole new world for me!
What is a dropshipping agent?
Let's start with the question you came here for: What is a dropshipping agent?
A dropshipping agent is an alternative to a dropshipping supplier. It's a person that will source, store, pack, and ship products for your dropshipping store.
In that sense, a dropshipping agent is identical to a dropshipping supplier.
The key difference between a dropshipping agent and a dropshipping supplier is that a dropshipping agent is a middleman and can offer you more services.
I will talk about those services later, but first, let’s go over why a dropshipping agent is a middleman:
Well, when working with a dropshipping agent, you contact him or her with a product that you are looking for.
Then, your dropshipping agent will search for suppliers for that product and negotiate the best prices. After that, he or she proceeds to sell those products back to you and ships them to your customers.
This is pretty different from directly working with a dropshipping supplier, as in that case, you are limited to the products in that supplier's catalog.
A dropshipping agent can be self-employed or work for a fulfillment warehouse company.
Having access to a fulfillment warehouse is crucial for a dropshipping agent. To offer their dropship clients fast shipping and quality control services, dropshipping agents can't afford to let the supplier ship the products to your customers directly.
After building a relationship with a dropshipping agent (which is done by ordering from them consistently), most agents will pre-order your products and store them in their warehouse beforehand.
In that case, they will be able to ship the products out within one or two days of you sending the agent your list of orders.
Side note: Wondering if there's a difference between a dropshipping agent and an AliExpress agent? Check out this article here!
But that's not everything that a dropshipping agent does. Just like I promised, continue reading to find out which kinds of services a dropshipping agent can perform for a dropshipping store:
What does an agent do for a dropshipping store owner?
A dropshipping agent does more for a dropshipping store owner than a typical dropshipping supplier.
Before, I told you that most dropshipping agents take product requests from you to find the products that you are looking for.
That's already one difference between a dropshipping agent and a supplier.
Note: Some dropshipping suppliers do offer product sourcing request services. For example, take a look at CJdropshipping.
But there's more. Here's a list of all tasks that a dropshipping agent can do for you:
- Source your requested products by contacting various suppliers and manufacturers
- Making sure the product's quality is good
- Negotiating the best price for the product
- Stock the products in a fulfillment warehouse
- Do quality control for the products
- Pack the orders for shipment
- Support in branding, private labeling, and white labeling
- Selecting the best shipping methods for your target country.
- Provide help in case of shipping delays or broken products
- Update you on the latest product and shipping trends
As you can see, that's quite a list!
Some of these tasks are rarely offered by dropshipping suppliers, which is precisely why you should consider using dropshipping agents, but I will come to that in a moment!
Do you need a dropshipping agent for your business?
To make it simple, I would say that you don't need a dropshipping agent for your business. What I mean by that, is that it's still possible to build a successful dropshipping store without an agent.
However, I think that it can definitely help to partner with a dropshipping agent if you're currently dropshipping from China. In that case, a dropshipping agent can take your business to the next level!
A lot of dropshipping agents are based in China. For them, it's much easier to find manufacturers for your desired product as they read and speak Chinese.
Contacting small Chinese suppliers and manufacturers is something that a Chinese dropshipping agent can easily do, but a lot of dropshippers can't.
This is also the reason why dropshipping agents can often offer you great prices. Chinese suppliers and manufacturers that aren't that internationally-focused yet usually handle much lower prices when compared to Chinese manufacturers with an English website.
Most Chinese manufacturers think that westerners have a lot of money, which is why they drive up the product prices for them.
So, one benefit of using a dropshipping agent is that you will often be able to reduce your COGS (Cost Of Goods Sold), but there's more!
Note: An alternative way to "level-up" your business if you are dropshipping from China with a supplier, is to use a local dropshipping agent or a local dropshipping supplier.
What are the benefits of using a dropshipping agent?
The main benefits of using a dropshipping agent are lower prices, faster shipping times, and personalized support.
I will go over those benefits in more detail below:
- Better price/quality ratio. As I already mentioned, a good dropshipping agent will have the network and skills to find the best quality version of your product at the lowest price. That will definitely help you to beat your competition!
- Faster shipping times. An experienced dropshipping agent will know exactly which shipping methods are the best for each country. Often, these will be shipping methods that typical dropshipping suppliers like AliExpress don't offer.
For example, your agent might send packages to Germany using 4PX and Austria using YunExpress, leading to faster shipping.
- Consistent pricing. When using standard suppliers like AliExpress, your product's price can change from day-to-day, and your product can even become unavailable. When using an agent, this won't happen without you being aware of it, as your agent would warn you beforehand.
- Insights on the latest trends in the industry. When working with a dropshipping agent, he or she can keep you informed about things like what kinds of products are currently selling. Also, your agent will warn you of upcoming events such as Chinese New Year, so it doesn't come to you as a surprise.
- 1-on-1 contact. Whenever you have any questions, you can easily contact your dropshipping agent through platforms like Skype, Whatsapp, or Telegram.
- Improve your product's packaging. You can ask your supplier to include your logo, a promotional code, a thank-you letter, or your product's manual. In other words, a great way to make your dropshipping store unique!
If you're interested in learning more about these benefits, then check out this article here.
What are the drawbacks of using a dropshipping agent?
The drawbacks of using a dropshipping agent are that you may be obligated to have a minimum amount of orders per day, pre-pay for the stock, and that it can take you more time to process orders.
Again, I will explain the drawbacks in more detail below:
- Some agents require you to have a minimum amount of orders per day. You can probably imagine that a dropshipping agent invests time to find your product and build a relationship between you both. That's why some agents only work with dropshippers that already have a certain amount of orders per day.
- No fully automated order fulfillment. Some dropshipping suppliers offer one-click or fully automated order fulfillment. When working with dropshipping agents, you shouldn't count on a feature like this. To process your orders, you will most likely have to send your agent a .csv file of your orders every day.
- Trustworthiness is more of an issue. Unlike suppliers, most dropshipping agents don't have a website for their business (or at least not an English one). For suppliers, you can easily find reviews of other dropshippers, but for agents, you can't. That's why you will have to trust a dropshipping agent before partnering with one.
Is a dropshipping agent trustworthy?
Let me tell you some more about that last drawback.
Actually, trustworthiness is a big hurdle when it comes to partnering up with a dropshipping agent.
When searching for one, you may come across many people who are just looking to scam you in some way.
However, it's not fair to say that all dropshipping agents aren't trustworthy.
I may have gotten lucky, but in my experience, a dropshipping agent has never lied to me or scammed me before.
While it didn't happen to me, it doesn't mean that you won't find an untrustworthy dropshipping agent either.
Luckily, there are some ways to prevent getting lied to and scammed by a dropshipping agent.
Here are five tips for finding a trustworthy dropshipping agent:
5 Tips to find a trustworthy dropshipping agent
- If possible, ask other dropshippers first. If you know anyone that is successfully dropshipping with an agent, you should ask them for that agent's contact details. That way, you will be sure he or she is legit!
- Ask your agent for previous tracking numbers. That way, you will be able to check their promised delivery times.
- Ask your agent for photos or videos of their warehouse. If they send it to you, you will see that they have stock and package products there. A tip is to ask for a unique sign in the photo or video (like a thumbs-up) to make sure it's real.
- Don't work with an agent that asks for a high setup fee or minimum order amount. This is a tip to be on the safe side. When doing this, be aware that someone could take your money and disappear. Only do it if you trust the agent 100% or are willing to take the risk.
- Schedule a video call. By doing this, you will be able to get a better feeling with that agent and judge if they are legit or not.
How do you find a dropshipping agent?
If, after reading this article, you're interested in finding a dropshipping agent for your business, then I suggest reading the article I will link to below.
This article will cover five tips that will help you find the best dropshipping agents:
Plus, I suggest checking out this article here, which will go over 11 things to consider before picking a dropshipping agent.
And don't forget that we have a big list of the 11 best dropshipping agents, which you can find here! That article is great if you're not sure where to start.
Today, you (hopefully) discovered what dropshipping agents are and how they can help you to scale your dropshipping business.
In my opinion, dropshipping agents can be a great alternative to dropshipping suppliers.
However, like always, there are some drawbacks.
For instance, it can be pretty challenging to find an awesome dropshipping agent for your business.
I can imagine that if you made it this far, you are very interested in finding out more about dropshipping agents.
In that case, I recommend checking out this part of our blog with a lot more articles around this topic!
For now, that's all I have for you today.
I wish you the best of luck with your dropshipping business!
Getting Started with Dropshipping in 2024
So, are you ready to get started with dropshipping? Or maybe you have already started, but you’re looking to get some inspiration?
If so, then I suggest reading this complete Shopify dropshipping guide.
It’s a huge article, but it contains everything that you need to know to create your own Shopify dropshipping store in 2024. It’s like a dropshipping course, but then for free!
Reading this article will surely help you to get started and to stay motivated while beginning and continuing your dropshipping journey.
Just don’t forget that success takes time. Keep improving each and every day!
And here are the articles I suggest you read next:
- The 25 Best Dropshipping Niche Ideas for Your Store
- Dropshipping Startup Checklist: 10 Things to Do Before Starting
- How to Find Winning Dropshipping Products (13 Research Methods)