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Better Than Dropshipping: What is Drop Surfing?

By
Joshua Weatherwax
Table of Contents

If you're looking into starting an eCommerce business, you'll no doubt come across articles about what is drop shipping, how to dropship, and how dropshipping works

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But, what if we told you there's an even better model than dropshipping? It may sound too good to be true, but before you decide to focus on learning how to start a dropshipping business, you may want to look into drop surfing. Drop surfing offers many of the same benefits as dropshipping, but with higher margins (see markup vs margin).

Keep reading to learn more about drop surfing, what sets it apart from normal dropshipping, and why it might be the right choice for your business.

Drop Surfing: What Is It?

Drop surfing is a type of dropshipping where you perform market research and buy products from whatever supplier offers the best price. In essence, drop surfing is an optimized form of dropshipping that is designed to increase margins. Your markup for each product is higher, and you can still sell the best dropshipping products at a competitive price while making more than your competitors. This means it's not a good fit for a reverse dropshipping business.

Here's how it works in practice. Let's say you've gone through your dropshipping business ideas and chosen to sell a specific product, but there are 4 different, reputable suppliers that provide the same product. Rather than just stick with your existing supplier, you choose the supplier with the cheapest prices to maximize your profits. However, if and when that supplier increases its prices, you repeat the process and go with the next supplier that provides the cheaper price.

Is Dropsurfing Better Than Dropshipping?

With that information in hand, you may find yourself asking what is better than dropshipping and is it drop surfing? The answer is a bit complicated, but drop surfing does have a lot of upside when done properly. By seeking out the lowest price for a product, you can limit the amount of money you spend on products while growing your sales. You’ll also be able to compete in your chosen dropshipping niches while maintaining a solid margin on every product you sell.

However, unlike more traditional dropshipping businesses, your relationship with your suppliers is less stable. This means you have to use a wholesale directory to learn how to find vendors that offer the same wholesale products to sell for cheaper. 

Another issue to keep an eye on when drop surfing is buying low-cost products of inferior quality. While these may offer higher profit margins, they can also erode customer satisfaction, cause headaches for your customer service for dropshipping team, and damage your business' image and ability to sell. This is one of the most common dropshipping beginner mistakes. In the late 2010s, many new dropshippers took this approach and caused many to ask questions like, "is dropshipping dead?" and "is dropshipping legal"?

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Dropsurfing vs Dropshipping

Dropsurfing and dropshipping are essentially the same thing. However, there are a few ways that dropshipping and dropsurfing differ. First, dropshipping is a business model that is utilized by hundreds of thousands of businesses to procure products and make sales. Dropsurfing is more akin to a marketing term that defines a particular method used by some dropshippers to maximize the dropshipping profit margin they make from every sale. Simply put, not all dropshippers use drop surfing, but all dropsurfers use dropshipping.

Second, dropshippers usually stick to a few suppliers that they build long-term relationships with. This ensures they're always kept in the loop if there are any issues like increased lead time or production problems. Drop surfers float between suppliers, so their costs are lower, but the relationships are more tenuous. If issues arise, suppliers are more likely to inform their long-term customers first, so drop surfers may have issues with demand planning. If bad enough, this problem can even cause a bullwhip effect throughout your supply chain.

Third, dropsurfers product offerings tend to fluctuate far more than other dropshippers. Since they chase margins, they are often buying the last remaining stock of a given product. Once they sell out, they'll move on to other products. This can make creating dropshipping ads a bit more difficult. Traditional dropshippers stick with products for longer periods of time, particularly when they come upon products that they can continue to sell large quantities of.

How to Find Drop Surfing Suppliers

Since drop surfing requires checking out multiple suppliers' prices for every product you want to sell, a lot of the work in this model comes from seeking out these suppliers. That's why using an online marketplace to sell online is your best bet. Here, multiple businesses list their products for sale, and you can easily compare them without having to jump around online or in person. You might even want to create some dropshipping jobs where your team just surfs marketplaces for the best deals.

Remember, with drop surfing you'll need to make sure you're flexible in your supplier negotiations. Not all vendors can provide you with the same amount of products and many have minimum order quantities (MOQ). So, do your research and make sure you can quickly and easily add and remove products from your site to avoid issues with any backorder. You need to know how to find dropshipping suppliers that are reliable and use a dropshipping website builder and automated dropshipping tools to make a site you can easily change when your product offerings change.

BlueCart Marketplace is a great choice to find food suppliers or to sell your own products direct to consumer, B2B, or both. With over 92,000 buyers, BlueCart offers one of the best dropshipping platforms on the market, and we can help you take your business to the next level with exposure and access to buyers and sellers alike.

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Drop Surfing U.S.A.

Drop surfing is a great way to take an already successful dropshipping business and eke out a little more of a margin on your product offerings. However, it requires you to invest more time and effort into seeking out the lowest prices for each product. If you know your way around supplier negotiations and are willing to put in the extra work, you can make your business more successful than ever by drop surfing. You can even further increase revenue by looking into affiliate marketing vs dropshipping. Just make sure to include all of your marketing channels in your drop shipping business plan.

For more information on how to make money dropshipping, check out our free drop shipping for dummies guide or try reading dropshipping books and taking dropshipping courses.

Frequently Asked Questions About Drop Surfing

Drop surfing is dropshipping’s lesser-known cousin, but it’s just as effective as the well known dropshipping business model. So, how can you make the most of drop surfing? It helps to have a deeper understanding of dropshipping first. Take a look at our answers to these common questions: 

Should I Dropship from China or US?

Dropshipping from both countries can be profitable depending on your business model. There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches. 

Dropshipping from China is effective because you can source a wider variety of products more cheaply than other countries. One of the disadvantages of dropshipping from China is heavy market saturation, because most business owners get their products from this country. It takes more time to break into this market. 

Dropshipping from the US to other countries gives you the advantage of sourcing higher value products at big profit margins. Many people appreciate American goods for their unique quality and are willing to pay more for them. The dropshipping model you use depends on what you want to sell, your existing resources, your target audience, and your marketing strategy. 

Why dropshipping is bad?

Dropshipping isn’t bad as long as you have a sound business model, source from licensed manufacturers, and use ethical marketing strategies. Though there’s nothing that makes dropshipping inherently illegal, the myth that it’s unlawful still persists throughout the Internet. 

Dropshipping is occasionally seen as a bad practice because it’s comparatively new, but there’s nothing illegal about it. Some people find it strange that businesses can sell products other companies made, but the business world has no such restrictions. Sourcing goods from wholesalers or reselling products is not unlawful as long as both you and your supplier are licensed business entities. 

Can you lose money with dropshipping?

Yes, it’s possible to lose money with dropshipping (as is the case with any business). There are three main reasons dropshipping can be difficult to break a profit with. One, dropshipping has thin profit margins. Instead of manufacturing products yourself, you’re selling someone else’s premade goods. 

Two, dropshipping is already a crowded market. In the early to mid 2000s not many people were doing it, but today it’s easier than ever to dropship. Millions of people now have a dropshipping business, which makes it harder for beginners to gain traction. 

Three, dropshipping is reliant on others’ products by design. Instead of designing a unique product, you’re cutting a profit from someone else’s creation. Because of this, it can be difficult to get noticed in national and global markets. You either need to sell low competition products or have excellent marketing to keep buyers coming back for more.