Drop shipping is a simple enough concept. You make arrangements with a wholesale supplier, manufacturer or distributor to sell their products direct online, as opposed to having an inventory of products in your physical location. You can offer these products on your own website, or via online auctions like eBay, or through a sellers’ market like Amazon.
When a customer orders the product, you pay the supplier the discounted price to ship it directly to the customer. There usually is no indication that the product came from another company, and many offer branding options to further create the illusion that the product came from your business (such as customized packing slips).
Customer Price – (Wholesale Cost + Expenses) = Your Profit
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The Dropshipping Business Opportunity
Drop shipping offers a unique opportunity for Canadian entrepreneurs to start a business without investing in product inventory. You won’t have to worry about being stuck with products that don’t sell, shipping, etc. You’ll also be able to have US suppliers ship to US customers if you like, without worrying about cross-border red tape or long shipping times.
The drop shipping business model can be permanent, temporary, or hybridized. It’s utilized in both small and large businesses because it’s cost-effective, versatile and easy.
For example, Namaste Vapes has an exclusive drop-shipping supply agreement with Ample Organics Inc. Ample Organics is Canada’s leading seed-to-sale software platform, currently used by the majority of Canadian licensed producers of medical cannabis. Namaste will connect its cannabis hardware and accessory platform via API integration with Ample Organics’ system. This will allow each of Ample Organics’ customers to purchase a large variety of devices and accessories.
How big does it go? Just ask Wayfair.ca, a company started at home that grew to one of the world’s largest online destinations for home decor. Over 90 percent of their products are drop shipped from a large marketplace of thousands of brands. Their total net revenue for Q2, 2020 was $4.3 billion USD.
Nordstrom also forms collaborative relationships with dropshipping suppliers to provide Canadian and US customers with a wider selection, including additional styles, sizes and colors.
Closer to home, TDOTPerformance.ca (who scored a Dragon’s Den deal with Michele Romanow in 2015), relies on drop shipping to keep inventory and fulfillment costs at a minimum.
“…drop shipping on demand means they don’t have to carry a lot of inventory, which is expensive,” Michele Romanow told the Financial Post.
Drop Shipping Risks
Most of the issues that used to arise, have been addressed for today’s dropshippers. For example, synced inventory management has all but eliminated fulfillment problems. The new and improved drop shipping business model has had a significant impact on profits. As a business model, dropshipping revenue growth increased by 44.8% in 2018, according to eCommerce Fuel.
There are only two major risks involved in dropshipping:
- Your reputation will ride on the reliability of your drop ship supplier.
- Your supplier may sell out of a product while you’re still taking orders.
Both of these concerns can be addressed by carefully selecting your suppliers. The larger drop shipping networks prevent these issues with integrated, automatic inventory updates and screening of individual suppliers. In less automated situations, consider having more than one supplier of the same product as backup in case an item is sold out. The best way to test reliability is to first place an order for yourself.
“We are 100% drop ship and we have a number of supply partners which are the largest of the large, so we have a deep and diversified catalog and plenty of inventory to work with,” said BettyMills.com CEO, Vic Hanna in an interview with DigitalCommerce360. The online medical supplies superstore has been in business for almost twenty years.
You will, however, face the same challenges and risks as any retailer. It’s important to learn about retail and ecommerce before starting your online business, whether you intend to use drop-shipped fulfillment or not.
Getting Started with Drop Shipping eCommerce in Canada
First, you’ll need to pinpoint a niche or two to focus on. If you need some help with that, please read 10 Hot Product Niches to Sell or Drop Ship Online in Canada.
If you’d like to set up your own website to sell drop-shipped products, there are ecommerce hosting solutions that accommodate the arrangement with apps (such as Shopify Canada).
The Shopify/AliDropship app setup is what a New Zealand teen recently used to bring in $1.2 million in his first year of dropshipping, averaging 25% margins. The most interesting part of his success is the vast majority of sales came from Canada and the US.
If you use WordPress, there are plug-ins specifically designed for drop shipping, like AliDropship. If you plan to sell on eBay, you’ll find some drop shipping companies are authorized eBay dealers with integrated features to make auction selling easier, such as Wholesale2B.
For additional guidance, please read The Best eCommerce Software Platforms for Drop Shipping.
Fees are intended to cover the shipping service and/or to give you access to wholesale prices on a large number of products (which are usually only available to volume purchasers). Charging a fee is not a red flag. However, there are good services available and there are scams, as is the case with any business arrangement. Again, going through reputable drop shipper networks will greatly reduce these risks.
Our Checklist: How to Start a Drop Shipping Ecommerce Business in Canada guides you step-by-step, as you explore this method of order fulfillment.
Finding Wholesale Drop Shipping Products
You have millions of products to choose from. If you need some help choosing which products to offer, please read How to Choose the Best Products to Drop Ship Online in Canada.
The next big challenge in drop shipping can be finding suppliers. Finding manufacturers isn’t a big problem, but most won’t deal with individual sellers and I don’t know of any that will drop ship direct to individual customers. They operate on volume purchases from companies placing large orders. Drop shipping is usually offered at the distributor level. That said, if you can prove that you’ve consistently sold thousands of their “widgets” some manufacturers may consider a special arrangement. At that point, however, you should consider having your own inventory of best-selling products.
It’s important to note that you don’t need to find Canadian dropshippers, you just need to find wholesale suppliers that will ship to Canada (or you could choose to not sell to Canadians at all). The beauty of the Internet is that the World is your marketplace. If you’re looking for Canadian dropshippers, Spocket makes an effort to recruit Canadian suppliers.
You may partner with individual companies that have existing drop shipping programs, or approach any company to ask if they’d be willing to drop ship. For example, it’s common for print on demand (POD) companies to offer drop shipping. We have 7 Print-on-Demand (POD) Drop Shipping Suppliers for Canadian Sellers to help you with that.
You could also gain access to a dropshipping directory with thousands of products from a wide range of companies. Several of the choices below offer a variety of ways to access products from multiple suppliers, it’s just a matter of deciding which structure suits you best.
Choose your suppliers and products very carefully and learn the warning signs of a bad deal. For example, some shady companies may offer products that should only be available from authorized dealers (such as Nikon Canada merchandise). If you resell these items, you could land in hot water and your customers could find themselves with a useless service agreement. When in doubt, contact the manufacturer or check their website. Using certified drop shippers through reputable networks eliminates this issue.
A Note on Drop Shipped Product Pricing
Chances are, you’re going to pay a higher price than you would if you were ordering a thousand of each item. There are people who don’t understand the concept who will post dire warnings about prices not being truly wholesale, but that’s their inexperience talking. Naturally, you want a large enough discount to allow for a reasonable profit margin and some research is involved to ensure it. However, you can’t expect to get the same wholesale price as volume purchasers when you’re buying the product one at a time. Plus, they’re doing the investment, storage, and shipping for you.
You’ll learn where to set your expectations as you go along, but in my experience the average margin is 15-40% (marketplace fees can reduce profit margins if you sell through them). If you find a product is selling really well, you can explore stocking the product yourself and pursue volume wholesale prices.
Drop Shipping Networks & Wholesale Suppliers that Serve Canadian Sellers
Wholesale2B – Wholesale2B has everything you need and is very easy to use. The majority of our drop shippers choose to work with Wholesale2B, in fact. They have several plans that facilitate selling over 1.5 million products on eBay, Amazon, Google, or through a website (your own or through a turnkey website). They ship to most of the World, including Canada, the US and the UK. Wholesale2B guarantees “the lowest dropshipping prices,” so you can be assured of profit margins large enough to make your business successful. Take them for a test drive with the free trial.
AppScenic – Facilitates and automates every aspect of the connection between ecommerce stores and premium wholesalers, either for individual dropshipping or bulk wholesale orders. They offer exceptionally fast shipping by design (usually 3-5 days). Their platform includes products supplied by Canadian businesses that drop ship and/or sell wholesale, as well as global suppliers. Search by country to find wholesale suppliers in Canada. AppScenic integrates with all major ecommerce platforms. They have five-star ratings on Shopify, Trustpilot, G2 and Capterra. Check them out with a free trial.
CJ Dropshipping – There has been a lot of buzz around CJ Dropshipping in the ecommerce community lately, largely due to their profit margins, fast international expansion and how they work diligently to reduce shipping time/costs.
They provide a number of services, including product sourcing, global warehousing, order processing and shipping. There’s a huge selection of products to choose from overall (including print-on-demand and white label products) and you can request any that aren’t there already. Their Canadian warehouse is just starting to pick up, but the domestic product selection is expected to increase soon. You can sell into any of the other countries through local warehouses to significantly reduce shipping time and cost.
Create an account through their website or use their Shopify app. CJ Dropshipping products can also be integrated with eBay, WooCommerce and other eCommerce platforms that are frequently used for online drop shipping stores.
AliDropship – Offers two affordable and versatile WordPress solutions. Both include over 100,000 suppliers offering free worldwide shipping to your customers, along with two combined revenue streams (product sales profit and affiliate commissions on those sales).
Concerns about shipping delays from Asia may soon be a thing of the past, as marketplaces like Alibaba open eCommerce processing centres in Canada. Now is the time to position yourself as a Canadian source of these low-priced goods. However, you may experience delivery delays until more efficient and reliable distribution is in place. Be transparent and protect your reputation by informing customers about possible delays.
You can either buy the plugin and do it yourself (standalone or integrated with WooCommerce), or pay a one-time fee to have it all set up for you.
- The plugin is the best in the business, featuring store themes, search and one-click product import, auto-updates from suppliers, auto pricing, auto order placement, and a control panel for tracking and reporting.
- AliDropship also offers three dropship store packages, featuring their WP plugin, custom design, deep niche research, product setup, payment gateways, free domain name, and more. In the marketing department, they provide integrated marketing tools, SEO, branded social media pages, social media promotion tool, and a promo video.
Their client ratings on various platforms are very impressive, in the range of 4.5-5 out of 5 on Facebook, Trustpilot and Sitejabber.
SaleHoo Canada – Thousands of verified drop shippers and wholesale suppliers, along with direct shipping manufacturers. You have the option of using their web store to start selling instantly. They have a community for anyone who sells online, where dropshippers can review & rate suppliers. Salehoo’s expert training on how to launch and grow your drop shipping business (taught by 7-figure drop shippers), further ensures your success. You’ll find the free trial reassuring as you research almost 2 million products.
Spocket – A Canadian-founded drop shipping solution that boasts a growing list of Canadian drop shippers, along with American and European options. Suppliers offer a variety of products in a full range of categories. The app syncs with your store so you can fill your orders with one click and manage the entire process from start to finish. You can even order product samples through the dashboard, further ensuring your customers will receive quality goods. Get started for free (no credit card required).
Syncee – This international marketplace includes Canadian wholesalers, with some offering drop shipping services. Choose from millions of products provided by vetted suppliers with fast shipping. One of their best features is their Datafeed Manager, which you can use for both their wholesalers and your current wholesalers that only offer datafeed integration.
Individual Companies Offering to Drop Ship Their Products
There are individual companies that offer dropshipping to Canadian sellers. Some have active public programs, while others may consider it if you contact them directly. The Canadian Trade Index is a great place to start if you want to contact companies about drop shipping their products. You’ll find many more sources in Finding Wholesale Suppliers for Your Canadian Business.
Following are a few companies that have existing drop shipping programs or wholesale merchandise for Canadians:
Dreamhug – Weighted blankets in Ontario available for drop shipping or wholesale purchase.
Printful – Order custom design products to dropship or sell direct online under your own brand. Customize over 140 products, including T-shirts and other clothing, décor, posters, phone cases and more. Sell from your website, including all major ecommerce platforms.
Payless Medical (Best Buy Medical Supplies Inc) – Large Canadian drop shipper with over 15,000 medical products. They have five warehouses, strategically located in New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, to provide 1-2 day delivery to most customers in Canada.
KimmyShop.com – Toys, puzzles, bags, backpacks, apparel, party supplies, décor and more featuring characters from Disney, TMNT, Marvel, Mattel, Hasbro, etc. Currently offering a 15% discount to drop ship account holders. Orders are shipped from Montreal, Quebec or Champlain, NY.
Fragrance Net – 16,000+ discounted brand name fragrances, aromatherapy, skincare and hair care products.
Grosche – Kitchenware company offers drop shipping in both Canada and the US, along with wholesale options.
Wordans – Canadian clothing wholesaler specializing in t-shirts, tank tops, sweatshirts, jackets, hats, work clothes, accessories, etc.
Nu-Look Fashions – Canadian Fashion wholesaler offering wholesale clothing with drop shipping options, including knitwear, formal wear, office wear, sportswear, cruise/resort wear, and evening wear.
Escape Swimwear – Wholesale and drop-shipped Canadian swimwear.
Tee Hatch – Print-on-demand (POD) t-shirts in Vancouver, BC. Drop shipping across Canada.
T-Print Canada – Drop ships custom t-shirts from Alberta.
Art of Where – On-demand printing of your artwork on their products. Drop ships from Montreal, Quebec, or New York.
Wedding Star – Almost 3000 wedding accessories can be drop shipped to Canada and they pay the duty charges.
Prepac Manufacturing – Ships ready-to-assemble furniture (manufactured in Canada) from Delta, BC. Contact them for more information about wholesale and drop-shipping opportunities.
GFurn – Drop ships furniture, design lightings and home décor accessories from Montreal.
Hammock Universe – Drop shipping hanging chairs, hammocks and accessories out of Ontario.
One Wholesale– Wholesale Cannabis accessories drop shipping out of Toronto.
Hackney Nine Jewellery – Dropship eco-friendly jewellery from British Columbia (through Shopify with SyncLogic). Their jewellery is made using a combination of traditional artisan methods and modern manufacturing techniques to achieve an optimum balance of style, sustainability and quality. Hackney Nine uses a premium graded, recycled base metal to craft their collections, adorned with responsibly-sourced natural stone, fresh-water natural pearls and natural shell.
For more Canadian drop shippers, check out 15 Canadian Dropshipping Wholesale Suppliers. If you’d like some help in selecting which companies to work with, check out our list of the Top 5 Drop Shipping Suppliers for Canadians.
Drop Shipping Tools to Beat Your Competition
I recommend having an ecommerce website no matter where you’re selling, but you can opt to only sell on eBay, Amazon and other online seller markets. These markets can be more challenging due to the side-by-side competitive environment and confusing rules, but you can win the game with proper data and market analysis. To that end, you can capture, analyze and refine billions of data points from Amazon with Jungle Scout, plus research competitors and even find suppliers.
We will update this post periodically as we find more drop shipping and wholesale suppliers that work with Canadians. Please bookmark the page or follow us on Twitter so you don’t miss any updates.
??? Are you new to drop shipping in Canada or do you have some experience to share? Please comment below or discuss this and other online business topics in the Online Business Canada Facebook group!
Note: This article about drop shipping in Canada is continuously updated. The original version was published in 2013.
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Melody McKinnon's formal education is in business management, which she enhanced with more than 60 certifications revolving around business, marketing, health, general sciences and writing. In over 20 years of working online, she has owned or managed both educational and eCommerce websites.
Melody has worked with many businesses & brands in a multitude of capacities. She can often be found on CanadiansInternet.com, CanadianFamily.net and AllNaturalPetCare.com, as well as other quality digital publications. Her content has earned reference links from highly-respected websites, magazines and university textbooks.