What are they and are they a scam?

It seems like every time you log into a social networking site, you see hordes of ads from online stores that you’ve never heard of. With all the exciting promotions and bargains, it is definitely tempting to take advantage of the deals. But who benefits from whom?

Dropshipping sites are becoming more and more popular: you have probably seen them before without realizing it. It’s a smart business model, but what are dropshipping sites? Can you trust them?

What is drop shipping?

woman on the phone

Traditionally, online stores store their inventory in designated warehouses where items wait to be shipped to customers. Some retailers cut out the middleman and simply ship items directly from a third-party manufacturer.

By using a dropshipping business model, a business never manages “its” items. After placing an order on a dropshipping site, sellers will enter your address information on a third-party site and order this item. Dropshipping sites advertise the products they find on third-party sites, often from sites like Wish.com or AliExpress.

Think of it as if you want to buy a new bag from an online store. Instead of the store selling you its own products, it actually just lists the items it finds on AliExpress. When you place an order with them, they buy one of those handbags and ship it to your home, then keep the profit.

Are dropshipping sites legitimate?

You may be wondering whether or not you will receive a product from the dropshipping sites. Yes, most dropshipping sites are legitimate. When you give them your payment information, they will send you a product.

They can’t just run away with your money, and you can always report them to PayPal or your bank if they don’t follow through.

However, that does not mean that these stores are not deceptive. Dropshipping sites often use different strategies that mislead consumers into believing they are getting an exclusive offer. This is the trap of using one.

Some create the illusion that they are a real store with workers and their own special products. However, in reality, many of these stores are just singles who know a little about web design.

There are even Shopify plugins that make integrated online shopping platforms with third-party retailers seamless and make it easy to set up your own dropshipping sites.

You can get these same, often low-quality items for a fraction of the price directly from the third party. In fact, if you see an item that you really want on a dropshipping site, it’s pretty easy to do a quick search through one of these cheap online retailers and find the original listing.

Signs of a dropshipping site

handbag cosmetics merchandise

How do you know when you are looking in a dropshipping store? While most would never advertise that they are a dropshipping site, there are some clear red flags to watch out for. Keep the following signs in mind.

Questionable product images

Because they don’t sell their own products, it’s not uncommon for several different dropshipping sites to list the exact same products. Many “popular” articles (ie.

You’ll even notice that different sites will use the same images in their ads. This is a clear sign that these are not original products at all, and a quick reverse image search can take you straight to the original listing on the third-party site.

There are even bigger red flags when you recognize a luxury brand‘s item. If you notice a product on sale that looks a lot like something from brands like Coach or Gucci, it is probably a counterfeit.

Unlicensed Merchandise

It is not just luxury brands that should arouse suspicion. Many franchises have partnerships with large companies. However, they will clearly state that they have the company’s permission to sell these products.

Sites that sell merchandise from your favorite shows or games without these explicit statements are probably selling the items without permission. Dropshipping sites advertising animation and movie products are incredibly common.

In addition, stores can sell works by artists without their permission. If you recognize that your favorite artists’ work is being sold on smartphone covers or mouse pads on a sketchy site, reach out to the artist on social media to let them know. They will appreciate the warning and hopefully help them get the compensation they deserve.

“Just pay for delivery”

Many of these sites advertise ridiculous sales that are too good to be true. The most common promotion is “for a limited time, you just have to pay those flat shipping costs!” It looks like you get a deal, but the flat shipping cost is often a big markup over the actual price of the product.

Long delivery times

Since many dropshipping sites turn to overseas suppliers for their cheap products, the wait times are long. It usually takes a month or two for packages to arrive from Chinese suppliers like AliExpress.

The rise in popularity of dropshipping creators, however, has led to the emergence of several inexpensive warehouses in North America. Such steps taken to reduce shipping times make it an increasingly unreliable red flag, unfortunately.

Bad reviews

online credit order

Many dropshipping sites have a strong social media presence. If they don’t have an explicit reviews section, sift through the comments on the posts.

When you see an overwhelming number of bad reviews (or notice that comments are being removed from posts), it may be a sign that this is not a good store to buy.

No brand

Stores usually ship their items in branded packaging. At the very least, companies ship items with their brand mentioned somewhere on the box or bag. However, dropshipping companies have no direct involvement in this process.

When the items arrive from these stores, they will be in the original third-party packaging. This packaging is often ordinary plastic with inscriptions in a foreign language. In some cases, it may even be accompanied by an initial receipt to the third party company.

Should I order from dropshipping sites?

Whether or not you want to buy from a dropshipping site is a personal choice. Learning a bit about the nature of this business model encourages people to look for alternatives (or eliminate the middle man).

Remember to be wary of sketchy stores you see online and offers that sound too good to be true.

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