“We can get it in for you” is one of the most frustrating phrases in retail.
I’m here in your store, ready to buy right now. Fair enough if you don’t have the item in stock, but I don’t want the inconvenience of another trip. Oh, I can pay for it today and have it posted to me promptly, straight from the warehouse? Now we’re talking. Not as good as immediate receipt of goods, but not bad. I’ll buy it.
What happens, though, if the item doesn’t come straight from the retailer’s warehouse, but straight from the manufacturer’s? I’ve just been dropshipped. In fact, you’ve probably been dropshipped too.
Ever bought something on eBay or Amazon with a claimed item location of Australia, only for the product to be sent to you straight from China or Singapore? Yep, it was dropshipped.
The seller never saw the item, but they did make a tidy little profit from the transaction.
Dropshipping has been around for ages, but it seems to have reached critical mass recently. Now barely a day goes by where we’re not subjected to the self-proclaimed king of entrepreneurship, the great Gary Vee (yes, we’re being ironic) telling us on our socials just how easy dropshipping is, and that we should all be doing it. The idea of profiting from a little arbitrage is just so damn attractive – it sounds like a licence to print money.
Which is why big retailers are starting to jump aboard the dropshipping train. A fortnight ago it was announced that Bunnings has begun dropshipping everything from TVs to bedsheets to blenders through its new online marketplace dubbed MarketLink.
‘Why would Bunnings be selling bedsheets?’ you may be thinking. But the real question isn’t ‘Why?’, it’s more like ‘Why not?’. Which business has ever wanted to miss out on a new revenue stream? And dropshipping might even be able to give big brick and mortar retailers a much-needed win. Here’s why.
As a general rule, people don’t usually do much research when buying low-ticket items, which is why individuals starting dropshipping businesses only tend to sell low-ticket items. Trust just isn’t as important as with big-ticket items. If I lose $10 on a product that turns out to be pretty rubbish, it’s no big deal in the grand scheme of things. But you can bet your bottom dollar I’m doing my research before buying a new $1000 bike online, and there’s no way I’m buying it from a seller that seems less than reputable.
Thanks in large part to their physical presence, brick and mortar retailers like Bunnings have already spent years building trust, and this credibility means they can dropship higher-ticket items with no problem.
Bunnings has done it really well. They’ve only picked categories that are relevant to their existing brand image as the home of home improvement, and they’re being completely transparent about the whole process, clearly listing on their website exactly who will be fulfilling your purchase (the manufacturer).
As the saying goes, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. After fighting the online beast for so long now, we expect we’ll be seeing a heap of brick and mortar retailers beginning their foray into dropshipping in the coming years. Interesting times ahead.