Is there any way to fully automate an online store through a dropshipper? Instead of the order coming to me and being mailed W/payment to the dropshipper. Could the order go direct to the dropshipper who would subtract the wholesale amount and send me the difference? I am certainly not fluent in HTML. Would it take software or an agreement with the dropshipper? Any Ideas or Comments? Anyone doing or done anything similar?
I have heard of affiliate programs but, I'm looking to make sales not commissions. Like a stockless retailer. I would like for my orders to go straight to my store supplier and have them subtract the wholesale and send me the difference. I would be a stockless retailer with an automated store. Instead of being an affiliate to a merchant. Can This Be Accomplished?
What is the difference? Your margin on items sold is your commission or profit whether you stock the item or not. A true salesman will learn his products and make sure he has access to them though. This way he can answer the inevitable questions that will come.
The situation you describe, if available, is going to provide very very low profits. You might make 10% on a sale or less. Most drop shippers exist to make money off people trying to start a retail business. They're like those "Internet Terminal" ads you see on TV.
So, what you want to do won't make anymore than an affiliate program, so why not just use an affiliate program? Many affiliate programs off datafeeds that allow you to put their entire product inventory on your site. Some affiliate programs, such as Template Monster's, even gives you all the code you need to do it.
Russ723 I'm setting up a site exactly as you've described. Although I haven't proven my model yet I have the raw info and I think it can work. I'm setting up a store to sell products made by a manufacturer and the markup is a sound 30%. This allows room for payment gateway and merchant account fees etc and even to factor in a shipping discount for customers (although this is costly, but somewhat necessary I feel). The products are consumable and I'm hoping to build a database of repeat customers. On top of the 30% the manufacturer pay a percentage commissions on the total volume passed through my account (all the orders I make for my customers) as part of the Marketing Plan offered by them to distributors.
As a backend strategy I can set people up with an agreement so they can buy at wholesale, and when I do this they are converted from my retail customer to a wholesale customer and they order from the manufacturer and not me any more. But I will get commissions on every purchase they make. So I can have two customer types: retail and wholesale. And then my wholesale customers can set up others with their own accounts and I get more comissions. So what if it's network marketing, it solves many of these problems and allows you to leverage and grow your own organisation, not just be an affiliate of someone else. The main thing is if the products are solid and your marketing is too, it's what you make it or turn it into.
I still have a lot of work to do but I wouldn't advise the orders from your customers going direct to the dropshipper because you would be surrendering control. I would separate your sales from your purchases. I want to set up the orders to come straight to me and then I'll mirror them on my manufacturer's website who'll then ship direct to my customer. I make it clear that my customer is to contact me and not the manufacturer, as the wholesale receipt will be in their parcel (again, no big deal I feel, I'll just put a disclaimer on my order page they'll know their account options) Later on I want to negotiate to auto-email the dropshipper so I don't have to manually place the orders, even though this is not that difficult. I've heard that you can use an API (Application Programming Interface) to automatically update your inventory with the supplier and this will be another development but don't mind doing it a bit manually at first. But my store however will be automated - I was going to just accept faxed and mailed orders but this would suck. The only fulfillment I have (at first) is placing the mirror order on my suppliers' site (take about 3-5 minutes each time). This is easier than picking and packing my own stuff. Until I get an API I'll have to manually update discontinued products, back orders, new products, changed item descriptions and codes etc from month to month.
There have been many successful retailers with the supplier I'm using (I've read their success stories) and they are all selling in the dirt world. There's no reason to suggest that doing it online can't also be met with similar success in fact I would imagine there's a lot more potential to do a bigger volume with an online store, making up any slight shortfall due to merchant expenses, if it's set up right and you manage your CRM right. I will offer the same pricing as any other distributor of the goods I'm dealing in and will have an accessible, easy sales process, with plenty of rich content such as articles and testimonials (some of which are provided by the supplier and some are mine) for them to base a buying decision on. The content reveals a lot about the merchandise where independent parties etc have conducted tests and experiments on the merchandise and it's proven to be better than competitors - vastly better. For example a test on hair care products with an electron microscope shows switching to the brand of shampoo I'll be distributing actually repairs the hair follicle where damage has been made by competitors brands. Powerful sales education using the strength of the web as a visual and written medium. If you join an affiliate program you might get a cookie cutter site with a bit of sales blurb (generality).
I have a good knowledge with the products and can offer more than adequate customer service and insight to my clients on the products and the opportunity. Much of the delay for me is technical implementation, which will be key. But I have the vehicle and have crunched the numbers.
I want to crate my own affiliate program after my sales site is going for a while but will be more of an associate support program than just taking orders from referrals. I want to show my wholesale/business associates to do exactly what I do, showing them success. It would take a commitment from them but be well documented.
There's always what has gone before and there's what you want to do. It pays to follow best practices and not reinvent the wheel but it also pays to innovate if the building blocks accomodate setting up the operation. If there's a sniff of potential, go for it. The money's in the (ecommerce setup and) marketing.
But be prepared to spend some time. The alternative is to just plug into an affiliate program but it won't be exclusively yours. It depends a lot on your work ethic. I didn't want to start an ecommerce site selling my own wares initially because I want to set up the marketing side which has more than enough work in it for 1 man. If I tried to conceive and manufacture my own exclusive widgets as well I think it would burn me out before I reached it, but once I can prove my 'manufacturer alliance' revenue model there's no doubt I'll start my own 100% venture with much of the grunt work done and able to be duplicated again.