Dropshipping is one of the most well-known order fulfillment methods in the ecommerce world. Dropshipping businesses are affordable to start and cost-effective to run. But it's not the only way to limit your expenses — in fact, there may be a better option for you. Drop surfing is a rising alternative to dropshipping that could help your profit margin skyrocket.
In this article, we'll explain what dropshipping and drop surfing are, then compare and contrast the two concepts so you can choose the right path for your ecommerce store.
What Is Dropshipping Ecommerce?
Dropshipping is an ecommerce business model that eliminates the seller's role in much of the order fulfillment process. When a shopper purchases from your dropshipping store, all you need to do is forward the order to your supplier. Your supplier will take care of getting the product to your consumer.
Starting a dropshipping business is pretty low-risk. Your ecommerce website, which can be created through a platform like Shopify or WooCommerce, will likely be your main startup cost. You'll never have to purchase or store inventory, and you'll only pay your supplier for the product, shipping costs, and a small dropshipping fee after your buyer has already paid you (at your marked-up price).
What Is Drop Surfing Ecommerce?
Drop surfing works almost exactly like dropshipping, only you don't exclusively work with one supplier. When a customer orders a product or when they list a new product, drop surfers first compare pricing from different suppliers who can fulfill the order on time. Drop surfers may also compare suppliers based on their guaranteed shipping times, reputations, and more to ensure they're getting the best service — not just the lowest price.
The drop surfing process is often automated, at least in part. Instead of manually comparing prices, which can be time-intensive, drop surfers use specialized software like Dropified or uDroppy to compile different vendor options. Dropified's software, for example, can help you source products from sellers on AliExpress, eBay, Amazon, and more, all on one platform.
By taking the extra step of comparing suppliers, drop surfers maximize their profit margins, allowing their online businesses to thrive.
Pros and Cons of Drop Surfing vs. Dropshipping
One of the most obvious perks of drop surfing is the fact that you can get the best price on every single order. Drop surfing gives you the freedom to select the vendor that can give you the highest profit margins while delivering the quality and speed that your buyers expect.
Dropshipping, on the other hand, ties you to a single seller. You're obligated to pay whatever they're charging for each product, even if it's at a premium compared to pricing from other vendors.
However, drop surfing does come with an added cost. You'll typically need to pay a monthly fee for your drop surfing software, which can range from $15 to over $150 per month, on top of your website maintenance costs. But if you don't use a drop surfing software, you'll spend hours comparing vendors.
Drop surfing ideal for high-ticket sellers or well-established sellers who are already generating a strong sales volume each month. But if you're still a fairly new startup with a tight budget, dropshipping may be a better temporary path. You can still implement drop surfing tactics once you see your business take off.
Drop surfing isn't quite as simple as dropshipping. After all, what makes drop surfing differ is that added step of comparing suppliers. Plus, managing the dropshipping process can get complicated when you’re juggling orders on multiple suppliers’ sites at once.
In order to automate that extra step with drop surfing software, you may need a bit of tech knowledge in the setup process. While you don't need to be a coding expert to link your drop surfing software to your ecommerce website, you may struggle a bit if you're not tech-savvy.
The perk of setting up drop surfing software is that some plans include helpful automation capabilities. Your buyers' orders could go straight to your supplier, further simplifying your order fulfillment process. While this automation is possible with dropshipping, you'll need to purchase and set up software that you otherwise wouldn't need.
Drop surfing is clearly the more flexible option when it comes to working with vendors. And since you're not sticking with a single supplier, you can also choose from a wider range of products. You'll be better equipped to:
- Offer trending products when they're in highest demand
- Curate high-quality collections of niche products
- Keep items in stock, even when your usual vendor is sold out
Dropshipping does give you more options when it comes to ecommerce platforms. Drop surfing software is usually only compatible with one or a few select platforms. Oberlo, for instance, is a popular software that only works with Shopify.
The business model you choose can impact your own brand experience. When you opt for dropshipping, it can be hard to offer your clients guaranteed shipping times because you're at the mercy of your supplier. Plus, if your vendor is ever understocked, understaffed, or otherwise causes delays, this can reflect poorly on you. The same goes for poor packaging, which can lead to damaged products and unhappy customers.
When you dropship, it can be hard for your brand to excel in customer support. You always have to rely on your vendor to do their part.
When you drop surf, you can increase your online store's reliability by checking suppliers' shipping times, reviews, and more before you choose one. If one supplier isn’t meeting your brand’s standards, you always have more than one backup plan.
Both dropshipping and drop surfing are highly scalable ventures. But what makes drop surfing excel in this category is its ability to get you the highest profit margins on every sale. This means faster growth for your company.
Drop surfing allows for more consistent growth, too. With dropshipping, your profit margins will waver each time your vendor changes their product pricing, unless you constantly update your own pricing in a timely manner as well. With drop surfing, your profit margin doesn't depend on a single supplier's pricing. You can find vendors to fit your pricing structures instead of adjusting your pricing based on what vendors are charging.
Earn More With Drop Surfing
Drop surfing is a relatively new term in the world of ecommerce, but it's already rising in popularity. This order fulfillment method can help you achieve higher profit margins on every sale and offer more products to your customers. Though drop surfing does come with slightly higher monthly costs than dropshipping, due to the need for drop surfing software, your investment can be worth it in the end. You’ll see cost savings per sale.
Drop surfing doesn't just benefit you. It can also help you provide a better customer experience with reliable shipping times — even when your usual seller is out of stock.
Want to further impress your clients? Pair your drop surfing website with an embedded video chat tool like ServiceBell to offer face-to-face support when your shopper needs it. Sign up for your free account to create a well-rounded user experience that your customers will fall in love with.