Dropshipping & Fulfilment: What is it & how to get started

Dropshipping and fulfilment services can make it much more accessible for someone to start an ecommerce or e-retail business. It involves facilitating the sale and delivery of goods to a customer, either directly from a supplier or via a fulfilment service. It’s often cheap to get going and therefore poses less risk to the dropshipper, and with the right product and marketing, it can be easily scaled to create more revenue.

What is dropshipping?

Dropshipping is an e-retail term where someone facilitates the selling and delivery of an online product without physically handling the goods. Dropshippers will communicate with third party suppliers and make orders on behalf of a customer who has ordered through them. Dropshippers will charge a price higher than their supplier offers and takes the difference as revenue. The process can vary depending on the dropshipper and the size of their business, but here’s a rough guideline as to what happens:

  1. A customer orders a product from someone who is dropshipping.
  2. The dropshipper will then place an order with their supplier and get the item delivered directly to their customer who placed the order.
  3. The supplier will ship the order to the customer but never deal with them directly.

Dropshipping can be an excellent way for someone to start with ecommerce as they do not need to manage and purchase large amounts of stock to get started.

What are fulfilment services?

Fulfilment services are used heavily in conjunction with dropshipping. Anyone offering fulfilment services will have a warehouse that can be used by people to store and manage their inventory, and some solutions will include access to inventory management software. 

Why is fulfilment so relevant to dropshipping?

By utilising the services of a fulfilment company alongside your dropshipping business, you may be able to transform your operations and make your business more successful. Here’s how the dropshipping process could look when also using fulfilment:

  1. The dropshipper purchases goods from a supplier and has them sent directly to their fulfilment provider.
  2. A customer orders a product from the dropshippers store.
  3. The fulfilment provider will then prepare and ship the order on behalf of the dropshipper and sends it directly to the customer.

One of the significant differences here is the time it can take for the customer to receive the good. If a dropshipper is sending goods directly from a provider, this can often mean long delivery times. Fulfilment users, on the other hand, will already have the stock ready in the country of the order, meaning that the customer can receive their product at a much faster rate.

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Is dropshipping and fulfilment right for me?

Dropshipping and fulfilment services can be a fantastic option for anyone considering ecommerce. You do not have to use a fulfilment service straight away, and trialling your idea by dropshipping can help you decide whether to invest in wholesale stock to sell.

  1. It offers a low-cost option for starting your ecommerce business.
  2. You can start with a small amount of stock and level of fulfilment service before expanding.
  3. You spend less time on the management and mailing of deliveries, and instead, you can focus your time on marketing and building your business.
  4. Some fulfilment services offer you access to SKU software, helping you to improve the efficiency of your business.
  5. You do not need a physical location to store products which can otherwise be costly and demanding to manage.

How to start dropshipping in the UK

Getting started with dropshipping is as simple as finding a product you want to sell, setting up an online store and having an efficient shipping process in place. Here’s an example of how a dropshipper can get started:

  1. Find a product or group of products you want to sell. You may find you have more success focusing on a niche or specific type of product at first.
  2. Locate a manufacturer/supplier and negotiate with them the price you’ll pay per product. Not all suppliers will allow you to make single orders and may have a minimum order quantity.
  3. If you are using a UK fulfilment service, get in touch with them to discuss the process and how they’ll handle your orders when they come in.
  4. Once you have organised your supply chain and fulfilment provider, you’ll need an online platform to sell your products. You can either use online marketplaces or make your own website.
  5. When you are happy with your online store/ marketplace profile, you can begin selling your products. You may need to invest in advertising or other ways to reach your audience, such as optimising your site for search engines.
  6. When an order comes in, communicate with your supplier or fulfilment provider to have the product shipped to the customer.

The UK Postbox solution to Dropshipping and fulfilment

Our dropshipping and fulfilment service is for businesses that want to sell products within the UK and EU. The cost to send individual products to the UK or EU when an order is placed may become too costly for you to profit, or the higher price may deter customers from making an order. It can also lead to extended delivery times, and when many online retailers offer next day delivery, this can often result in the loss of a sale.

Have your goods delivered to UK Postbox in bulk and we’ll store them within our secure mailing facility. When an order is placed for you, we’ll fulfil and post it on your behalf on the same working day. Here’s what else you can benefit from:

  1. No minimum volumes
  2. Flexible contracts available for short or long term use
  3. Secure mail storage facility
  4. Free returns address service, meaning your customers can return items to us for you to store/ have forwarded on to another location.

Our solution has been created for start-ups, small and large-scale dropshippers. Our contracts are flexible, and ultimately, we want to work with you to create a solution that makes your business viable. Please get in touch with our business support team if you’d like to learn more.

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Allan Chester