Review Criteria Explanations
As the title implies, this is the overall rank of the service. The ranking is shown on a five star scale, with five stars being the best and zero being the worst. Then we will try to justify the number of stars given. This section also contains a general overview of the reviewed company as well as the reviewer's overall opinion of their offering.
This is simply the total number of different products available for order from the reviewed company. Generally, the higher this number the better. If a company has a small offering of products, and a large number of sellers, the market can quickly become flooded and competition becomes fierce.
The product pricing ranking is shown on a five star scale, with five stars being the best and zero being the worst. This section compares the wholesale cost of a sample of products to Internet retail giant Amazon.com. Looking at product mark-ups based on MSRP usually isn't very helpful since products rarely (if ever) sell at the manufacturer's suggested retail price online. By comparing all reviewed companies to the same source we hoped to add a level of objectivity; however, it wasn't always possible to find products from the reviewed companies on Amazon.com. In these cases, we looked elsewhere to try and best determine how competitive the pricing is.
It is also important to understand that all reviewed companies are involved primarily in drop shipping. The ratings are based on how competitive the product prices are when compared to other dropship wholesale prices and not compared to the pricing you would get if buying by the pallet or container. Compared to large bulk purchases, the wholesale pricing received through the reviewed dropshippers will rarely be the absolute lowest wholesale price. For a more comprehensive explanation of the pros and cons of dropshipping, please see our drop shipping page.
Fees / Trials Offered
This criterion simply tells you what you can expect to pay for the reviewed services and what you get for your money.
All of the dropship services reviewed have or claim to have some sort of support team, but by dedicated support, what we mean is: Can you communicate with a live person by either live online chat or over the phone? Email is great, but there's no comparison to getting to talk with someone real time and have a two way conversation.
Usability is a rank of how easy the service is to use. It looks at how well the website is put together, how easy it is to sign up, if the navigation is intuitive, and how easy it is to place product orders, track placed orders, process product returns, and perform any other tasks related to product sourcing service. With all the other things small business owners have to worry about, they shouldn't have to worry about time lost just figuring out how to use a website. We don't expect any of the services to be as easy as, say, performing a Google search, but they also shouldn't be rocket science. Therefore, the companies are compared against each other and not unrelated services. The usability ranking is shown on a five star scale, with five stars being the best and zero being the worst.
This is a must for your online business. Your product source must be as technologically sophisticated as your business.
Besides certifying all integrated applications, eBay® also has company certifications to help eBay users choose which companies to work with. The main types of certifications given by eBay are the two Certified Provider Certifications and the Certified Developer Certification.
According to eBay's site:
The Certified Provider Program was established in August of 2004 to serve as a sales channel, consulting force and development team to ramp up users on eBay.
• Non-technical providers (Certified Service Providers) offer services such as auction strategy and Web site template design
• Technical providers (Certified Solution Providers) offer services that include integration with the eBay platform and custom software development
The Certified Provider designation helps members of the eBay community feel more comfortable with hiring providers to grow their eBay businesses. Certified Providers are carefully screened to ensure that they can provide eBay members with services and solutions to grow their eBay businesses. Among other criteria, participants must have extensive experience with eBay, pass a strict certification exam and provide a number of proven customer references that are checked by eBay.
eBay Integrated Auction Tools
eBay has an open platform and allows other companies to program applications that will interface directly with eBay. These applications must be certified and approved by eBay and often make redundant or complex tasks faster or easier.
This criteria indicates whether the reviewed company is a member of the Better Business Bureau or not and, where applicable, their BBB rating. Evidently, the Better Business Bureau is still not completely unified on how they grade companies. In some states, a grading method is used, but in others, a simple satisfactory or unsatisfactory rating is all that's given.
A full explanation of BBB letter grade ratings can be found at: http://www.labbb.org/BBBWeb/Forms/Business/RatingExplanationPage.aspx
Research Tools / Tutorials Offered
One of the hardest parts of starting an online business is knowing what to sell in order to make money. Retailers, both online and off, probably spend more time deciding what products to source than they do on any other part of their business. It is a complicated, time consuming task.
Research tools or tutorials can be a great help and time saver for a small business entrepreneur—especially one just getting started. Therefore, this criterion tells you what kind of tools and information is available.
This criterion tells you if you can start browsing/ordering product right away or if you have to wait for an application process or jump through more hoops before getting started.
Integrated eCommerce Website
Many product sourcing solutions have partnered with or developed their own website builder. This is a great win for customers because it vastly simplifies the process of adding products to a website and managing orders and inventories. There are literally thousands of different eCommerce website builders on the market today, and it's beyond the scope of this project to try and rate them all, so this criterion just indicates whether or not an integrated solution is available.
If you're using PayPal to accept payment from your customers it is much easier to pay your supplier from the same PayPal account rather than waiting the 3-5 days for the money to be deposited into you bank account and delaying orders. If you can accept PayPal and use it to pay for your orders, whatever is left in your PayPal account is your profit... and that's just easier.
The Public Opinion Ranking is shown on a five star scale, with five stars being the best and zero being the worst.
We do not claim to be Nielson Ratings, Jupiter Research, or any other large research firm. We are not conducting large customer surveys to determine public opinion of the reviewed companies. Instead, we tap into the pulse of the online community by monitoring related forums, blogs, and message boards that discuss wholesale suppliers, drop shippers, and product sourcing in general. We also monitor consumer review sites like Rip-off Report and the BBB for customer complaints, rebuttals, and company responses.
We use our vast experience of working with drop shippers to determine what we think is most important. Discussions complaining about product pricing are not as relevant to our ranking as people complaining about poor service or communication.
Why? We've found that many people start out with skewed expectations of dropshipping. They want everything to sell for large profit margins without having to put in the time and hard work of doing product research and learning to market properly. Or perhaps they want to compare the prices with bulk wholesale prices. They think that they can start a business from their basement and immediately price-compete with multi-billion dollar corporations like Wal-Mart.
So, though postings about price are not ignored, they are weighted much less than other factors because those type of posts are common to almost all dropshippers.
Another important factor we examine when determining the Public Opinion Ranking is the ratio of negative posts and comments to positive ones. We know that human nature is such that people are much more likely to complain if they receive bad service then they are to take the time for praise if they're pleased.
This aspect of human nature is greatly augmented in the realm of product sourcing because successful sellers don't want to create more competition for themselves by recommending their suppliers to other sellers. For these reasons, negative comments are taken seriously, but with a grain of salt, while positive comments and/or service devotees are weighted heavier.
In Business Since
Time in business online is a little different than time in business in the brick-and-mortar world. Three years of proven service online and you're usually already considered a veteran. That being said, we try to provide this information as a means for you to try and judge if a company will continue to be around when you need them.
Disclaimer: The dates provided in this criterion may not be 100% accurate. If the company doesn't specify on their site how long they've been around, we took a best guess by using WhoIs (http://www.networksolutions.com/whois/index.jhtml) to see when their domain name was originally registered.
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