Sourcing products can be difficult for ecommerce fashion brands. Some choose to make products themselves and own all the means of production. Others hire manufacturers to work with them directly and store products with warehousing or storage facilities. Still others choose dropshipping.

But what is dropshipping and how does it work for fashion companies?

Dropshipping in the fashion world

Dropshipping, the direct shipping of products from manufacturing or wholesale locations to individual customers, has helped revolutionize e-commerce by minimizing costs for many online brands. That’s because dropshipping removes the burden of investing in a branded manufacturing facility or inventory / warehouse. In many cases, can dropshipping benefit online brands? especially when they want to source a specific selection of items with designs that can be easily customized based on the specializations available on their websites and the websites of their suppliers, without having to manage and produce the products themselves.

Supply and demand are essentially a perfect match in this scenario. There is no need to put products up for sale to get rid of old supplies, as dropshipping turns your brand or business into an intermediary between the end customer and the supplier or manufacturer. There is no case where you handle the product directly, but you have full control over when to offer a product online or when to stop without worrying about products staying on the production line or in the warehouse. With dropshipping, you benefit from your surcharge on your supplier’s product prices.

There is also no need to double the shipping cost ?? once from the manufacturer to you on site, plus later direct shipping to the customer. Everything goes directly from the manufacturer to the customer. Because of this, the lead time from purchase to delivery is greatly reduced, which helps increase customer satisfaction. This means your brand can devote more time, focus, and resources to marketing and developing your online presence.

Disadvantages of dropshipping fashion products

If your brand chooses to focus on the unique image and quality of their products, dropshipping can detract from that brand equity. For one, products that are sold via drop shipping tend to be more standardized and common, and don’t go well with private label companies. Since dropshipping is usually done through a wholesaler, your wholesaler may be able to supply several other online retailers with the same products that your store sells. Your customers can find a suitable price and compare your offers with competing companies or buy directly from your supplier. Also, sourcing through a wholesaler could cause your brand to miss out on profits that are lost in an effort to keep prices down to avoid price competition.

On the other hand, if your brand chooses to prefer a manufacturer to a wholesaler and dropship direct from the facilities, there is reason to be concerned about quality control. Your brand never has a chance to see products before they are finally shipped, and a quality assessment may or may not be done at the facilities. Additionally, if orders are placed on a case-by-case basis (i.e., frequent production stops), it can be more expensive to source directly from a manufacturer, as factories tend to make clothes on-line or continuously. Most manufacturers even discount incentives for projects with larger quantities to reduce the frequency of performance delays with each request and re-request of a project.

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Whether you buy fashion products through a wholesaler or work through your direct manufacturing facility, orders can be lost or not fulfilled. Delivering products through dropshipping can also be risky as some wholesale suppliers or manufacturers may not be reliable in product development, communication, and branding loyalty. Since you will never have face-to-face communication, considering that your belief is based on computer algorithms and online reviews, you will never know what to really expect from your supplier.

Your brand may not even have the ability to customize the products to suit their tastes and diversification. For example, let’s say you want to grow your brand through dropshipping to increase customer base and brand awareness. Your brand will not grow as quickly or sustainably as you are not offering unique products that are tailored and unique to your brand. If you decide to move on to your own label and unique creations, you may see a drop in customer base as they are not used to your new offerings. In comparison, small brands that grow by making unique products can build a reputation for their style, design, and quality to build a more loyal customer base.

Where you get your range of fashion products from depends on the direction and image of your brand and the desired profit structure. Striving for a more curated sensibility makes dropshipping a possible option. However, if your goal is to be more diversified and have full control over the design and inputs into the products, it is best to coordinate with a traditional manufacturer you trust and then ship the product internally or specifically through a separate resource to be processed for product delivery management.

The future of your brand’s goal is in your hands and will be influenced by your choice of what best fits the company’s focus as it scales.

This article has not been edited by Fibre2Fashion staff and is being republished with permission from