Editor's Note

Hi Webmasters,

Today's issue is the second part of the series about drop-shipping on the Internet. I've received a lot of great feedback so far on yesterday's issue and I hope that you like this second part too.

Anyway, one of our editors here is writing NetworkNewz and wanted to put a blurb in about his excellent newsletter in this issue. So, here it is:

Serious Network professionals need to get into NetworkNewz. We're the best source of information for all types of networks from Microsoft to Unix to Linux to Mac OSX. NetworkNewz brings you a white paper that's truly worth reading. (Hint: if this didn't make sense to you, don't bother to subscribe.)

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I hope that you enjoy it.


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Drop-shipping on the 'Net: Pt. 2

Round Two

Ok, back to the search engines. I cleverly dodged all the people who wanted to sell me a "complete turnkey web site package with products ready to sell". I wanted to put my kids through college, not theirs.

I finally located someone who claimed that he was the owner of an import company that drop shipped hundreds of great products. I paid fifty bucks for a "membership", and got a no-name catalog in return, with a "wholesale" price list. "Great!", I thought, "here we go!" I searched, and found, many of his products for sale on the 'Net on other sites. The products were identical, but guess what? Their RETAIL prices were the same as my "WHOLESALE" prices. In other words, I had ZERO profit margin. The guy I signed up with was just another reseller like me, and he was now fifty dollars richer. I was still nowhere.

Finally! (sort of)
With a grim sort of last-ditch determination, I dug, and I dug, until I found the source of this no-name catalog I had paid fifty bucks for. It was a manufacturer and importer in Texas, and they were actually the source of the products! To make a long story slightly longer, my partner Gary and I set up an account with these people and began selling their products. A little later, we found another company ("3,500 products you can sell on your own web site".sound familiar?) and spent weeks sifting through more resellers who were posing as sources until we found that manufacturer outside of LA.

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We sold products from these two companies for about 6 months, and actually did about $12,000 in sales, but we weren't happy. The products were imported knock-offs. We wanted the shiny new name brands that look so cool on your web site, and that everyone wants to buy. After dealing with about the umpteenth customer who wanted to return his patched leather made-in-Kuala-Lumpur backpack because he wasn't happy with the quality, we had had enough. It was Name Brand or bust.

750 Name Brand Products
After another exhaustive search of the 'Net, I found a company in Arizona who offered 750 name brand products that they would drop ship. Of course, there was a catch.you had to use their web hosting. After much wrangling, they agreed to let us mirror our current site to their server, and sell their products in both places. The stuff was great! Everything from Panasonic to Shop-Vac! They sent us the catalog, and we spent two week working on the site, replacing most of the knock-off stuff with the Holy Grail of Name Brand Products.

Then they sent us the price list.

They had done it to me again. The "wholesale" prices we were supposed to purchase this stuff at was in most cases HIGHER than other sites were SELLING it for! Needless to say, my partner had by this time decided I was pretty much an idiot, and I was royally peeved.

Right from the Horse's Mouth
When I was a kid, and my mother was angry with someone, she would go right to the top. I remember her bulling her way through to the President of a national bank when she was furious about having to wait 6 days to cash a large check. He experienced The Wrath of Mom, and she walked out of the bank with thirty thousand in cash that same day. I decided to try it. Nothing left to lose, right?

I went to the Westclox web site, since that was one of the lines we were supposed to sell through that company in Arizona. Turns out Westclox is owned by General Time, Inc. in Atlanta, GA. So is Seth Thomas Clocks. I found the number for General Time, and asked for the Sales department. I explained my situation, and asked if they could refer me to anyone who could drop ship their products for me. "Oh, no problem," said Jason, the salesman, "we drop ship single units for you right from the factory."

It took me a full ninety seconds to crank my jaw back up off the floor.

After about ten minutes on the phone, I was well on my way to establishing an account directly with General Time. Talk about wholesale prices on Name Brand products! This was the real thing! They sent me catalogs, price lists and all the info I needed to get started right away. For FREE!

The Rest is History
So there it is, folks. That's all you have to do. CALL THE MANUFACTURER. As of today, we have accounts with so many name brand manufacturers and distributors that we can't get products on our site fast enough to keep up. We sell everything from Coleman Camping products to Panasonic TVs. Some of the brands we're not even bothering with yet.

Look up the manufacturer's web site. The phone numbers can be hard to find. They hide them, or don't post them at all. With one company, it was hidden so well that I just called their Product Support number and said, "Whoops, I must have the wrong extension. Can you transfer me to Sales, please?"

Most of them won't drop ship directly from the factory. If they tell you they can't, TALK to them. Ask for a short list of their largest distributors, then call THEM. If THEY can't help you, ask them who CAN. So far I've gotten every single brand name I've gone after, with the exception of a good source for Sony, and I will crack them, sooner or later.

You'll find that some companies are owned by others. START AT THE TOP. It's ok if you get trickled down to a subsidiary. At least you know that everybody else is buying there, too. If you have to deal through a distributor, make sure they ARE a distributor, NOT a broker. (Brokers charge higher prices, and rarely have a lot of stock).

Well, that's my story, and I'm stickin' to it! You CAN get name brand product drop shipped for your site. You just have to know who to talk to.

Chris Malta

Shelley Lowery is the Webmistress of Web-Source.net. Your Guide to Professional Web Site Design & Development. Display complete, professionally written articles & photographs on your website that automatically update each week, free.
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