Small Business Q & A: Cut Start-Up Costs By Using a Dropshipper

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Q: I’m starting an online specialty shop that sells gifts and home
accessories. I want to be able to have items dropshipped to customers
through my site. I already have a Web site and a domain reserved,
but I don’t have a lot of money to get this going. Can you offer
any insight?

A: Setting up relationships with companies who will ship merchandise
directly to your customers for you– dropshippers, as they’re called
–is an excellent way to start your e-business and, if done properly,
doesn’t have to be a costly endeavor. There are literally hundreds
of companies out there that will dropship products for you, everything
from gifts and housewares to power tools and furniture.

In a nutshell, here’s how dropshipping works. You set up an account
with a dropshipper (or multiple dropshippers who offer different
kinds of products) who provides merchandise that you can sell on
your Web site. The dropshipper typically supplies you with images
and product descriptions that you can use to build your online
store or feature on static HTML Web pages.

You can locate dropshippers with the new e-book The 2003 Guide to
the Top 400 Dropship & Wholesale Companies. YOu will find it at:
http://www.dropshipwholesale.net op400.asp.

When a customer places an order for the product on your site, he
or she pays you for the product. You, in turn, place the order
with the dropshipper and pay them for the product. The dropshipper
then ships the item directly to your customer under your company
name. To your customer’s knowledge, the product was shipped by you.

Dropshipping offers many advantages to the shoestring online
start-up. You don’t have to pay for an item until it sells, and
your customer pays you, so your personal cash outlay for the product
is zero. You never have to handle or warehouse the merchandise,
as order fulfillment is handled by the dropshipper. You can also
offer a wide variety of items from multiple dropshippers, and your
end customer is none the wiser.

Dropshipping does have its downsides. Since you do not actually
stock the products featured on your site, you have no control over
inventory management, product availability, order fulfillment,
shipping processes and so on. Still, if you do your homework and
establish a good relationship with a reputable dropshipper, the
problems you experience should be few.

Your goal should be to find a dropshipper that will ship items one
at a time instead of requiring that you purchase a fixed minimum
number of items each time (single-unit purchases vs. minimum-order
purchases). With this arrangement, you don’t have to invest your
limited cash reserves in inventory that might not sell (and that
sits in your garage for months).

Thanks to the stiff competition the Web has created, many dropshippers
will now do business with you without requiring that you pay a setup
fee or have a tax ID number. You simply set up a reseller account
(you’re the reseller) and start marketing the products on your site.
Account registration can often be done online at the dropshipper’s
Web site. With this process, you can literally be selling products
within minutes of setting up your reseller account.

Be warned, however, that some dropshippers are not as reliable as
others. Also, be aware that some companies who claim to be dropshippers
are really middlemen who have positioned themselves between the online
merchant (that’s you) and the real wholesale merchandise distributor.
These middlemen will eat into your profits and usually don’t offer
much in the way of customer support and service. They can actually
hurt your business more than help it, so make it a point to do
business only with–and directly with–established, reputable
dropship companies.

Spend the time to research the dropshippers doing business in your
particular product category, and try to get feedback from their
current customers. Remember that your customer doesn’t know (or care)
that the product they are purchasing from you really comes from a
dropshipper. If there is a problem, your customer will come back
to you for resolution, not the dropshipper, so make sure that the
dropshipper you use has a policy for resolving problems quickly.

Setting up an online store that offers merchandise from dropshippers
doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. However, this brings
up the age-old question: If I build it, will they come? The age-old
answer is: Only if you let them know you are there, but that’s
another column.

Here’s to your success!

Tim Knox
tim@dropshipwholesale.net
For information on starting your own online or eBay businessArticle Submission,
visit http://www.dropshipwholesale.net

Get ready for some gut-wrenching, laugh out loud hilarious pond stories from all over the world…
Funniest Pond Stories – Part 1, May 2004
(Continued from May Issue of PondStuff!)
We had some hilarious, truly gut wrenching, laugh out-loud stories sent in by some of you. Here we’re going to highlight some of the funniest stories for you to read, and we’ll post ALL of the funniest pond stories sent in on the website (link below).
We had entries from all over the place (Inluding one all the way from THAILAND!) The competition was fierce, and to be honest – I had a really hard time deciding on one ‘funniest’ story. So, I’m going to leave it up to you. That’s right – I’m asking everyone of you to ‘vote’ on your favorite ‘funniest pond story’. Then we’ll release the results in a week or so…
But here’s a brief rundown of our entries: cats, dogs, and bunnies (?) all taking the Nestea plunge right into the water, a hungry KOI nibbling in dangerous territory,
a missing flip flop, an electrifying experience for grandma, fun for the whole family, fish frape, and flying fish to boot! There you have it, these are the entries you will be voting on at the end, so get ready for some very amusing pond stories!
First, let’s start with this very funny story about ‘Smokey’ – who apparently thinks he can walk on water. This was sent in by Mike Lachance from Maryland:

Funny Pond Story #1
“I wish I had a photo to share of this very true story but any ponder with cats has likely had the same experience at some time or another. Several years ago, when I was enjoying the second season of my first pond (I have now built four as I’ve moved around), one of our cats, “Smokey”, who was a natural hunter in her prime, saw a mockingbird alight on a lilly pad to get a drink of water. Well, old “Smokester” slowly crept out from under some day lillies and made a spectacular jump with all four paws majestically carrying her like a flying squirrel, right for that intruding bird.
It is not as though she had not already had a couple of encounters with the water but that day the feathered treat must have been too much for her to pass up. Well, both my wife and I were there to see her make a wonderful belly flop into the pond.
Of course, the bird was out of the way in plenty of time and I swear that that cat walked on her toes the five feet it took her to get out of the water! And of course, after removing herself from the water, in a very nonchalant manner, proceeded to lift each leg, shake off the water and as much as say “I meant to do that, you know”.

Smokey often spent time at the pond later, using her tail to attract the fish (she would put it in the water and swish it around and the fish would come up to explore it. She never did catch one). She also loved to sit at the waterfall and enjoy the water moving past her.
So that is my funny pond story.

===
Funny Pond Story #2
“Dear all at McArthur,

My funniest pond story is about my late aunt, who introduced me to the joy of backyard ponds.
 
Donna had a large koi pond in her backyard that she devoted endless amounts of love and attention to. As happens with most ponds, spring brought some uninvited guests…in this case frogs. One evening Donna was working on the pond, checking the cantankerous pump and filter system, and using her net to skim out leaves and what not that had blown in.

My 80+ plus year old grandmother was supervising the work and offering her expert opinion on how to proceed. They were amazed at the number of frogs that had taken up residence, and not too happy about it. Donna noticed a frog swimming at the far side of the pond that she wanted to get out…something was not quite right about the way he was swimming, and she pointed him out to Grandma. “Mom, look at that frog swimming on his back!” Grandma was a bit skeptical…frogs doing the back stroke were a phenomenon that she was unfamiliar with.
She advised that this misfit should be removed immediately. Don’t want to give the other little froggies strange ideas. Donna made several attempts at scooping the miscreant up with her net, but he was just out of reach. Only one thing left to do. Roll up your shorts and wade in after him. The answer to Mr. Frogs strange swimming technique became painfully obvious as soon as Donna reached his immediate vacinity….a faulty under water light had shorted and electrocuted him! Donna didn’t need her electric rollers for a few days after that!”

Enecia Sabroff

Funny Pond Story #3
“Hello—-My husband recently bought a beagle puppy, at this time he was 8 weeks old. My husband also bought two almost, semi-tame rabbits to help train the puppy to track rabbits. At this time I only had one pond that was preformed 550 gallons, my husband put one of the rabbits out to platy with the puppy, the rabbit was teasing the puppy, running a little ways then jumping over his head, then the rabbit decided he didn’t want to play anymore so he started to run from Bear (the puppy), and he dove into the pond.
We were thinking that Bear would go around the pond to the other side and continue chasing the bunny, but Bear just dove right in, he was so little though that he had to be rescued from the small backyard pond. My husband’s only response was “he’s going to be a good rabbit dog!”
 
Well, thanks for listening to my story.
 
Sincerely,
Roberta Collins
Toledo, Ohio

Funny Pond Story #4
“A story to share…
Two years ago I started with the crazy idea of building a small pond with koi fishes. After a lot of working I finally built it, and decorated it with all sort of plants. One day… mi female cat “Manchita” went to the pond to examine this new construction. She went to the border, jumped on a flat stone and starter to drink water. To her big surprise one of the fishes , possibly thinking that the white nose of my cat was food, jumped out of the water, trying to eat it.. Can you imagine the surprise of the cat ? I believe that the fish was also quite impressed with the experience. My cat almost fell into the pond , .. and from then on she never went around the pond again. She used to watch the pond from my dorm, located in the second floor and just across the pond. Unfortunately I did not take a picture of this “accident”. I am sending you a pictute of this first pond; in the meantime I did build another, larger one. Unfortunately “Manchita” is not around any more, she passed away a few month ago, from old age..
This story happened in Valdivia, a city located in the south of Chile. In this country winter is approaching, with lots of leaves falling from the trees an the plants in my pond preparing themselves to sleep for a while…”
Maria Fresard
==
Funny Pond Story #5
“I have two ponds. An upper and lower pond. The upper pond is fed by a waterfall with the source being the lower pond (driven by a pump). The lower pond is fed by an overflow of the upper pond that flows underground for about 70 feet (12 in drain pipe). Last summer I rescued some trout fingerlings from a seasonal stream going dry near my home. I put them in the lower pond. This spring I was sitting in my
kitchen and could see something flopping on my water fall. The trout had migrated up the overflow tube and were trying to swim further upstream via the water falls. No so funny but does show the strength of nature. Just a few weeks ago, Egrets found the pond and the fish.

There is nothing left to migrate at this time. Not so funny but does an
Egret taste anything like a turkey when cooked?”
Tom Gegenheimer
==
Funny Pond Story #6
“We have only had a pond for a short time … details can be seen at http:/ hailand4life.net/smithgarden/
The funny story must include the workmen (in Thailand) who took zero safety precautions when constructing the pond.
Watching guys shovelling concrete from a lorry and spreading it across the bottom of the pond … when the footwear they had was just ‘flip-flops’ resulted in great entertainment …. especially when. several times, the flip flops came off and were lost in the cement somewhere (eventually found while they walked around bare footed) …. pictures at
http:/ hailand4life.net/smithgarden/images/large/DSC03062.jpg
http:/ hailand4life.net/smithgarden/images/large/DSC03070.jpg
http:/ hailand4life.net/smithgarden/images/large/DSC03060.jpg
Strangely it was only the guys …. the women laborers all wore Wellington boots …. maybe this reflects on which of the sexes is really the most sensible?”
Regards,
Chris
==
Funny Pond Story #7
“I am building a pond at this time and I was in the process of building a waterfall in the corner of a fence. The waterfall is about 3 feet high and 7 feet wide. I thought I was finishing up the waterfall with some flat rock on the very top. So I straddeled the
waterfall with my knees on the second ledge and set the flat rock on top. When I did this the whole waterfall fell down because I build it on blocks and not a pile of dirt.
When it fell one big rock caught my foot and I slide down the fall and fell backwards
into the pond going all the way under and had a couple of big rocks come down on me. Meanwhile my wife is laughing her butt of at me and I asked her to help me out she slipped on the flat wet rock that surounded the ponds edge and half way fell in with me.
Now my two boys were playing in the yard they are 5 and 3 and saw this happen to us and they thought it was time to got swimming so guess who jumped into the pond with us, the boys. Nothing like having the whole family in on the pond. We laughed for awhile but then I had to rebuild the whole waterfall again and this time I put the top rocks on from the side.”

Robert H Coppa Jr.
==
Funny Pond Story #8

I decided 300 gallons would be perfect. I did all the math and spent a great
deal of time working with more experienced ponders. Somehow when it was all
said and done my little 300 gallon pond ended up being 810 gallons and come
to find out it was yet another one of my mathematical errors. Guess I should
have paid more attention in that college level math class required for my
Associates, right.

We got the pond all up and running but because of the miscalculation we now
needed a bigger pump to feed the waterfall so I went to our local water
garden supplier and asked which one to get. Budget was a concern so it was
recommended that we got a ¾ HP submersible pump that cycles 44 gallons a
minuet. It was only $70 in comparison to the $170 one that was its
comparative alternative so… we went that route. $70 dollars later we had a
working pond with a beautiful waterfall! I was so excited I could hardly
wait to get fish.
Again budget was a concern so we went to the local pet store and picked up $50 dollars worth of fish, about 8 fish. 4 large gold Koi, some yellow and a blue Koi. The color excited me so much I never considered what would happen when the fish became comfortable in their new home. The swam around investigating for a day or two then started to come up missing. I had it figured that they were hiding or that a cat was getting fed to well but I never figured it was something I could have done. It was the pump… the intake valve on the pump was to large and the fish were
getting to close and being sucked into the pump though the motor pushed down
the hose into my waterfall.

While this is not a funny story, I must have cried for 3 days, I wanted to
share it because this is the one thing I never read anything about in all
the 6 weeks of reading I did on the web. I can chuckle about it now with a
‘I can’t believe I didn’t think of that’ thought.

Had I known this was possible I would have done something to prevent it by
caging in my pump or spending the extra $100 to get the right kind of pump.

Hope someone else can save a Koi by my blending experience.

ThanksFind Article,

New to ponds and already thinking of making it fish free!”
Sheri Furr
==
Well that’s it for this year’s ‘Funniest Pond Stories’…

What I Learned after 10 Years of Making Games! (Unity)

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