Delivering/sourcing products can be tricky for an e-commerce fashion brand. Some choose to make their own products and own all the means of production. Others ensure that manufacturers work directly with them and store products in warehouses. Others opt for dropshipping.
But what is dropshipping and how does it work for fashion companies?
Dropshipping in the fashion world.
Dropshipping, the direct delivery of products to individual customers from manufacturers or wholesalers, has helped revolutionize e-commerce by minimizing the costs of many online brands. This is because dropshipping removes the burden of investing in brand properties, manufacturing facilities, or inventory/warehousing. In many cases, dropshipping can benefit from online brands – especially if they decide to purchase a specific selection of items with designs that can be easily customized without having to manage products based on the specialties available on their website and their suppliers and having to manufacture it themselves.
Supply and demand are basically the perfect match in this scenario. There is no need to market products to compensate for long shipping, as dropshipping turns your brand or company into an intermediary between the end customer and the supplier or manufacturer. There’s no way to handle the product in person, but you have complete control over when to offer the product online or when to stop without worrying about the product remaining on the production line or in the warehouse. With dropshipping, you benefit from your additional cost on the price of your supplier’s product.
There’s also no need to double shipping costs – once to your location from the manufacturer, plus subsequent direct shipping to the customer. Everything goes directly from the manufacturer to the customer. This significantly shortens the delivery time from purchase to delivery, which helps improve customer satisfaction. This means your brand can devote more time, focus and resources to marketing and growing your online presence.
Downside of dropshipping fashion products.
If your brand chooses to focus on its unique image and product quality, dropshipping can reduce the brand’s value. On one hand, products sold via shipping tend to be more standard and generic than compatible with private label companies. Since dropshipping is usually done through wholesalers, your wholesaler may supply several other online retailers with the same products your store sells. Your customers can find suitable prices and compare your offerings with competing companies, or look to buy directly from your suppliers. With wholesale shipping, your brand may lose out on lost profits in an effort to keep prices low to avoid price competition.
On the other hand, if your brand decides to choose wholesale manufacturers and dropshipping directly from their facility, there is a need to worry about quality control. Your brand never has the opportunity to review a product prior to final delivery and a quality assessment may or may not be conducted on site. Additionally, for single orders (i.e. frequent downtime) it can be more expensive to procure directly from the manufacturer, as factories tend to produce garments online or continuously. Most manufacturers even incentivize a larger number of projects to reduce the frequency with which the options change with each project application and application is updated.
Whether you buy fashion products through wholesalers or work through your direct manufacturing facility, orders can be lost or unfulfilled. Dropshipping products can also be risky as some suppliers or wholesalers may not be reliable in building product, communication and brand loyalty. Since you will never have face-to-face communication, you will never know what to expect from your provider because your beliefs are based on computer algorithms and online feedback.
Your brand may not even have the ability to customize products to suit your tastes and variations. For example, you want to grow your brand through dropshipping to increase your customer base and recognition. Your brand will not grow rapidly or sustainably if you do not offer a unique product that is personalized and unique to your brand. If you decide to switch to your own unique labels and creations, you may see a decline in your customer base because they are unfamiliar with your new offering. A relatively small brand that grows by developing unique products can build a reputation for style, design and quality to build a more loyal customer base.
Where you can get fashion products depends on the focus and image you want, your brand and the desired profit structure. If you aim for the preferred sensitivity, the ship may crash. However, if your goal is to become more diversified and have complete control over product design and use, it is best to partner with a traditional manufacturer you trust and then handle the delivery of your products.
The future of your brand’s goals is in your hands and will be influenced by your best choices for business focus as it scales.