Before You Start: 10 Things to Know before Starting your first Integration
Ready to start your first integration? Eager to get started in dropshipping?
Here are ten critical things you need to know before you add an integration to your Inventory Source.
1. You must have a reseller account with your chosen supplier.
To list and sell items from an integrated supplier, you must have their permission. Although we mention it frequently, its not uncommon for our customers to sign up for an integration without having approval from their reseller.
Some suppliers can take days, or even weeks, to approve new resellers. Others may not approve you at all depending on their own business cycles, or requirements which you may not be able to meet at this time.
When you start a new integration, you pay Inventory Source upfront for the month and thus, are asking Inventory Source to do the work of connecting your chosen supplier to your sales channel. When we successfully perform that work, we will not be able to refund you if the reason you were not able to make full use of that month was because your supplier had not granted you approval to resell their products. (See also When am I eligible for a refund or credit?)
It's equally important to know about other needed information from your supplier. While Inventory Source does maintain some basic information, you will certainly want to reach out to your supplier first about more detailed information, including their shipping policies, return and refund policies, brand approvals, order processing procedures, any fees such as dropshipping fees, subscription costs, or more.
2. You can (usually) see a list of wholesale prices, product data included, and image quality before you choose a supplier.
If you do not have a chosen supplier yet, using our Supplier Directory is the first place to look at a sample feed to determine if a given supplier will meet your business needs. You can sort and filter by a variety of methods. You can see a sample feed, broken down by product category and other advanced filters. This allows you to see wholesale price ranges (in most cases), general range of products available, the quality of product descriptions, and what other data is available from a supplier such as UPCs, number of images, and ASIN numbers. (Sample feeds are only an indication, and not a guarantee of, the above information).
It's important to note in the directory whether or not your chosen supplier permits you to sell on some marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, and Walmart.
Equally important is for you to determine how much data a supplier provides. Remember: any data not provided by a supplier will have to be augmented by you (or a third-party provider such as Etilize, if available). Inventory Source does not enhance or improve product data from suppliers. However, you can use the Inventory Source app to customize product listings in fields such as product title, description, attributes, images, UPC, ASIN, and more.
For best results, Inventory Source recommends doing market research via other e-commerce sites and search engines to determine the viability of your business concepts prior to starting a new integration.
3. You should have your sales channel or marketplace account ready prior to starting an integration.
If you are using an e-commerce store, such as WooCommerce or Shopify, to sell dropshipping products, you should have your store generally ready prior to starting an integration. Once you start an integration, your Inventory Source app is ready to push product data to your e-commerce store, but if your store is not ready to receive that data, you could be paying us for a service we can't deliver to you yet.
The same is true for marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Walmart. Although those sites are "up and running", if you are still waiting for approval and setup to be completed there, you should wait until you are ready to list and sell products before starting your integration.
4. You may not be able to list every item your supplier carries on some sales channels and marketplaces.
Each marketplace has its own rules and requirements as to what is permissible to be sold there. This can also apply even to certain sales channels, like Shopify.
Some products may not be allowed to be sold at all. Other products may require additional permissions to be obtained from the marketplace before listings are permitted to be published.
Inventory Source is not a party to these restrictions and we do not keep track of them. Also, what might be a restriction for you may not be a restriction for another of our customers. Be sure to be aware for any product restrictions your marketplace or sales channel requires.
5. Inventory Source does not offer "trial periods" for integrations.
It may be tempting for those starting out to try out a number of different suppliers or sales channels to see 'what works best'. We don't recommend this approach.
While we are happy to help you switch suppliers or sales channels should one not work out well for you, we recommend doing as much research on your suppliers and sales channels as possible, prior to asking Inventory Source to connect them via an integration.
Generally, we see customers experience the best results when they have thoroughly researched a given market strategy and stick with it long enough for it to bear good results for them.
Lastly, unless your request falls within these caveats, Inventory Source does not generally refund or credit accounts.
6. You should start slowly and build successfully.
One common piece of advice we offer throughout our documentation and drop-shipping guides is to start slowly.
Inventory Source makes amazing software that can reduce many pitfalls and problems associated with managing an e-commerce business. However, it can sometimes be tempting to use that power to ramp up faster than helpful. If you're new to e-commerce or dropshipping, there can be a lot to learn, as well as learning about your new Inventory Source tool.
Sometimes we see customers attempt to list too many SKUs too quickly, prior to ensuring they have their pricing strategy, market alignment, sales channel or marketplace approval, or other business matters fully in place.
We want to see all our customers be successful. We recommend picking a business strategy for one or two integrations to start and to make sure those are working well for you before adding additional integrations to your Inventory Source account.
Lastly, you can upgrade or downgrade your Inventory Source plan at any time. For instance, if you are just starting out and do not yet have much traffic or sales to your sales channel (website) or marketplace, you may want to start with Order Automation only and later upgrade to Full Automation once you begin to receive a significant amount of orders that automating their processing would be helpful and worth the additional costs.
7. Inventory Source does not control your supplier's products, pricing, image quality, or speed of order processing.
It may be helpful to think of Inventory Source as a "data connector" - a tool that connects data from your supplier(s) to your sales channel(s).
As such, Inventory Source does not 'vet' or control the product data being pulled from your supplier. There are a few exceptions to this:
- Inventory Source customers on our Plus plans do get access to Premium feeds that Inventory Source uses for some suppliers to offer feeds that link parent-child products (known as variants).
- Several technology suppliers offer enhanced product data with a paid subscription through a third-party company called Etilize.
It's important to make sure the product data you need is available from your supplier or elsewhere, or that you have the resources to modify or improve those listings to your preference.
Additionally, for customers using our Full Automation, Inventory Source does not monitor or follow-up on orders once processed by our Order Manager tool. (For additional help on this, you may want to consider using US Direct as a supplier which does offer this functionality).
8. Inventory Source can not guarantee product availability and can not eliminate out-of-stock (OOS) orders.
Per the above, Inventory Source is not able to guarantee that any given product will be in stock. Suppliers choose to integrate their product data with Inventory Source, but we are not a supplier ourselves.
Additionally, although using Inventory Source software can greatly mitigate against out-of-stock (OOS) orders, there are many factors outside our control that can contribute to an out-of-stock order occurring, such as:
- frequency of inventory updates by your supplier
- whether you are on Optimized Sync or Standard Sync
- cyclical, temporal, or seasonal product demand in a given category
- how fast you process orders (if you process them manually), or whether you enable auto order-processing (if you use our Full Automation service)
- warehouse accuracy of your supplier
One additional help you can use is to set your global minimum quantity filter in your Catalog Rules to a number higher than one to help offset the risk of an OOS when inventory quantities reach low limits.
It's important to remember that in most cases you are not the only reseller offering for sale that same SKU from that same box from that same supplier. There may be hundreds of other resellers offering it on the internet through various sales channels. If there are only a few items left on-hand, and there is a sudden spike in demand, you could experience an out-of-stock order even if your store was recently synced.
9. Inventory Source does not provide business or marketing advice.
We do have great guides to running your own dropshipping and e-commerce business, but these are of a general nature.
Our guides provide information on such things as:
- Understanding the "shipping" in dropshipping
- How you can decide which product niche is best for you
- Understanding the most commonly-used acronyms in the e-commerce industry
- What to know about building an e-commerce website
- How to choose the best e-commerce platform
- General posts on e-commerce marketing, e-commerce software and apps, learning to sell on Amazon, learning to sell on eBay, and more from our Inventory Source blog
However, to be fair to all our customers, and for internal business reasons, we are not able to answer the following types of questions specific to your business:
- Which supplier is better? A or B?
- What price should I sell these products for?
- How can I get customers to buy more items from me?
- What are other Inventory Source customers selling that's "hot"?
- How can I make my website more attractive or get more visitors?
- Is it better to sell on marketplace A or marketplace B?
Therefore, be sure to have a marketing and/or business partner that can provide needed feedback and related information for you. Inventory Source wants you to be successful, but on your own merits.
10. Customer support is here for you via the following methods:
- Email support is our primary and most common method of customer support. Email support is provided 24/7/365, including on U.S. holidays. The best method of contacting us by email is to use your in-app help which will auto-populate your account information.
- Troubleshooting and complex issues may require a Zoom screen-sharing call to resolve. Such calls are available by appointment only. You can schedule an appointment here, but it's recommended to first contact us by email as above. Due to scheduling restraints, a same-day appointment may not be available at a time convenient for you. If you have the email addresses of your business partners or third-party contractors, you can add them to be present on the call when you schedule it.
- In rare cases, we may need to reach you via your business telephone. Be sure to have your correct phone number on file here. You can also list an alternate number there.
- At this time, we do not have immediate plans to offer an inbound phone number for immediate calls. As such, please plan your support needs accordingly.