Drop shipping is considered one of the easiest ways to sell products online. The major difference between the customary retail mode of business and drop shipping is that the seller (drop shipper) does not stock their own inventory. In its place, the merchant purchases stock from a supplier to fulfill an order. For your drop shipping business to work, it is crucial that you choose your suppliers carefully.

Just like a bad supplier will destroy your hard work and credibility, a good one can multiply your shop’s value. Finding the right drop shipping supplier, however, is no easy task. To narrow down your search, we have highlighted the best five places to find drop shipping suppliers.

1. Directories

A supplier directory is a corporate database of dealers that are categorized by market, product or niche. Most of these directories employ some type of a screening procedure before listing the supplier to make sure they are genuine. These directories are a safe and convenient way to search and browse a large number of merchants in one place. They also provide an excellent platform for brainstorming ideas on the most lucrative niches to enter and products to sell.

Although membership directories are great, especially when brainstorming for ideas, they are not necessary if you have already identified a product or niche you would like to sell. What’s more, once you have started your business, chances are you will not need to revisit the directory, unless you are looking to diversify your products and find other suppliers of these products.

If, on the other hand, you are looking for ideas and are short on time, these directories might prove a helpful tool. There are many different supplier directories and even more comprehensive reviews of them. Take your time to read and research before signing up for one. Some of the well-known supplier directories include Worldwide Brands, SaleHoo, Doba, and Wholesale Central.

2. Contact Manufacturer

If you have already identified the product(s) you want to sell, call the manufacturer directly and ask them for a list of their wholesale distributors. Contact the wholesalers to find out if they are in the drop shipping business. Also, since most wholesalers carry different products from a variety of manufacturers, this strategy will also enable you to quickly source a selection of products within the niche you are exploring. This is an excellent way to find legitimate drop ship suppliers.

3. Use Google

Another great place to find great dropship suppliers is on Google. However, there are some key factors you should keep in mind:

• Search extensively: Wholesalers are not the best at marketing and promotions. So do not expect to find them on the top search results. You will need to dig through lots of research, possibly hundreds before you find a wholesaler’s website.

• Do not judge the site: Other than poor marketing and promotion skills, wholesalers do not put a lot of effort into creating stellar sites. And while a quality website may be an indication of a good supplier, most legitimate suppliers have cringe-worthy homepages. Do not be put off by a poorly designed website.

• Use a lot of modifiers in your search: Wholesalers are also not doing extensive SEO to make their website visible to potential clients. So try using different search queries. Do not stop at just “product wholesaler”. Try using a variety of modifiers such as product reseller, product warehouse, product supplier, product distributor or bulk supplier.

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4. Attend Niche Trade Shows

Trade shows render one of the best places to find and interact with major manufacturers and retailers in your niche. They also provide the best place to collect contacts and research your products and suppliers all in one spot. This tip, however, is recommended for those who have already identified a niche and/or product. Being able to talk directly with manufacturers and wholesalers helps avoid all the noise and inaccurate information that often plagues the internet.

5. Competition

If you still can't find a supplier using the techniques highlighted above, try using the ancient order-from-the-competition trick. This is how it works: Search for a competitor you suspect is drop shipping the same product you are looking for and place an order with the company. Once you receive the package, Google the return address to find who the original shipper is. In most cases, you will find that the supplier is someone you can get into a contract with.

Before going out into the market to find a drop shipping supplier, it is crucial that you take the time to learn more about how to distinguish between a legitimate dealer and a fraudster. While most of the strategies highlighted above may work for you, some may be more effective than others.