I often talk about Drop Shipping as though it were the panacea for home-based business models or something. The truth is, it does have disadvantages – one is dealing with stocking levels.
In a drop ship arrangement, inventory is ordered, stocked and managed by someone else – the drop ship supplier. While this is an advantage, it also has a disadvantageous side. When you are dealing with drop ship vendors, other competitors also use them. Depending on the market, stocking levels can change rather rapidly and spending your time checking their stock against what your records show would eat up tons of time every day. Yet if you don’t keep your records reasonably accurate, you run the risk of offering products that aren’t really available. That results in a poor buying experience for the customer.
The best way around this is to automate your web store stocking levels as much as possible. Most drop ship suppliers will supply you with an electronic product file in a common file format such as comma delimited. You can then use a spreadsheet or database product to compare their file to yours and pinpoint any shortages or products to be added. With a little work up front, you can tweak their file to integrate directly with your shopping cart.
For this to work, your shopping cart must offer import/export capability. Yahoo! Merchant Solutions, MonsterCommerce, and FinestShops all offer this capability. This capability will be key to your being to manage and streamline your drop shipper stocking levels.