If you want to run an online store, dropshipping seems like the perfect way to do it – you don’t need a warehouse or your own products, and you’re not directly involved in the finances. You can start this business with almost nothing and you can run it from anywhere. Also, it’s not you who prepares and ships orders, but you can still make money. Sounds perfect, right? Unfortunately, nothing is – less responsibility means less control over the process too. Since you’re not the one dealing with orders, you have very little or no influence over what happens. And there are many things that can go wrong. So what can you do to protect yourself and your e-commerce’s reputation? Here are some of the most common problems arising in the dropshipping business and how you can deal with them:
- Out-of-stock item
Surprisingly, this happens a lot. Most producers and wholesalers really try to keep track of how many items they have in stock to inform their partners about it, but it’s not always possible or quick enough. It may happen even with the best, most reliable suppliers who offer the best dropshipping products and services. It’s not rare for customers to order something that turns out to be unavailable.
What to do? If it’s possible, give your customer a call. They don’t like impersonal emails – that’s what makes them feel unimportant. It’s better to pass bad news in person. Also, don’t stop at simply informing – propose a satisfying solution. Find a product at different suppliers’, get something similar or suggest another alternative. Very often, customers will be perfectly happy with a replacement or they will at least feel taken care of. Also, to prevent this kind of situations, try finding yourself suppliers with overlapping offers.
You receive orders and you pass them to the producers. Then you wait for them to be processed to inform your customers that the order is on its way and they can track it. Normally, it will take up to 24 hours to process the order, unless stated otherwise. Things happen, though, delays occur and that’s when your customer becomes irritated.
What to do? If an order should be processed within 24 hours and you don’t hear anything back from your supplier, contact them immediately. Even if it’s not possible to process it quickly, you will at least know the reason and the estimated time of shipment. You need to be prepared because most probably, a customer will contact you to know what’s going on with their order.
- Wrong item sent
It’s a poor experience for a customer to receive something that they didn’t order – it leaves a bad impression and undermines your reputation. And it doesn’t matter that in most cases it is your supplier who’s guilty – in the eyes of a customer, you’re the supplier so it’s your fault. Don’t argue. It can be harmful to your reputation so it should be you who fixes this.
What to do? It’s important to know your suppliers’ return policies so that you can inform your customer what to do as soon as they file a complaint. Most producers and drop shippers cover the costs of the return and shipping the right item but if it’s not the case, you should be the one to do it – you may lose some money on this order but it’s crucial to maintain a good reputation. It’s always good to offer a discount or another bonus as an apology to your customer.
- Wrong shipment address
The procedure of passing and processing orders is not always the same. The majority of suppliers want you to send the information via email, but there are those who accept orders over the phone. In the second case, it’s easy for a mistake and even one small spelling error can change everything. That’s how orders can end up being shipped to non-existent or totally different addresses.
What to do? It’s vital to always have any kind of proof of an order placement and shipping address. In the case of return or reshipment, you will be able to prove that it wasn’t your fault. So don’t agree to any costs until you determine who is to blame for the mistake.
- Damaged item
Sometimes a supplier doesn’t notice a flaw while packing and shipping an order, but it can also happen that the package gets damaged on its way to a customer.
What to do? Most probably, it will be the producer who will ship a replacement, but it’s always handy to know their policies, terms and conditions.
Running a dropshipping business requires a lot of thinking. You have to rely on producers and drop shippers companies, and not always everything goes as planned. That’s why it’s not the best company idea for someone reckless and distracted. Make sure you know the wholesaler you’re choosing, look for references and don’t be afraid to place some test orders to see them in action. If you want to build a respectable business, you need to reclaim as much control as you can.