This article is a piece of personal opinion.

In my past, I worked for a small publishing company for nearly four years. The company printed and sold its own books, as well as a number of books from other publishers, and cooperating companies, some of whom had their own websites. Because it was a little earlier in the history of the internet, and because each of these companies had clients that relied more on personal connection than price, they utilized a system called drop-shipping with eachother.

Drop shipping is the process of one company maintaining stock, logistics support, and order to door shipping service, but providing the service for another company’s customers, for a fee, or by sharing the revenue of the sale. In other words, if one company has a popular website, or a strong stream of clients, when they get their clients to purchase products, a second company will completely fulfill the order, and share a cut of the revenue with the first company who doesn’t lift a finger except to maintain their site and email over the order information. While this presents a great opportunity for those with a great website, or a good marketing scheme to rack up lots of money with little to no investment, it has generally been poor for consumers. Money paid out to affiliates means higher prices overall for the same products, and the affiliate receives extra money with no value added into the economy, other than an extra website, sometimes with a higher price.

I assumed that with stronger usage of google (to compare prices), competitive online pricing, and more savvy consumers, drop shipping had all but disappeared, until I accidentally bought something from one recently.

If one uses instagram or facebook, you’ll have seen the significant increase in not only targeted ads for brands and companies, but for tailored products. Some of the companies seem small and niche, and there was one apparel group that caught my eye. Their deceptive marketing techniques screamed desperate, but their products seemed fairly unique. The exorbitantly high prices and well designed website seemed to indicate that they were a professional company, doing small run apparel. I would probably have been happy with my purchases, had they not been delayed, and had I not, out of curiousity, googled the products.

I looked at the terms of shipping, and they mentioned:

  • If ordering multiple items, you may receive more than one package and/or receive one package before another. This is due to our various supply chains.

After seeing this, and understanding how many online stores work, I immediate became suspicious that they were not actually in control of their own supply chain, and googled some of the units I had purchased.

At first, I was surprised, and then I became angry. The website was deceptive, and had flat out lied. Their limited supplies, which I assumed means small run clothing manufacture, were actually large run mass market Chinese apparel collections. The same jacket, for instance, on direct to distributor websites like aliexpress was less than half the price I paid, including “free shipping.” This was a markup, including the cost of shipping, of upwards of $35 USD per unit.

Then, I found other dropshippers. They also had markups, although nowhere near as large as this one. When a customer can do a google search and buy directly from another online store for less than half the price, it is the only through the sheer stupidity of the customer that these websites continue to exist. A better designed page and good instragram marketing aren’t worth a doubling of a products MSRP.

It is a frustrating case of buyer beware, and all consumers should be urged, to not naively fall for claims about limited runs. This isn’t fraud, but it is bad business practice. Price gouging and deceptive claims are poor ways to conduct business. Consumers should compare prices whenever possible, and if possible, avoid buying from dropshippers unless the convenience or price warrant the better service sometimes received.

Here are some example screenshots of some sample products. Buyer beware…

The original listing is above, $65 USD with free shipping. Note the highlighted text

The aliexpress listing is above, the full consumer price is just over $30 USD, including shipping, from China to TW.

The alternative dropshipper is above, the price is higher than aliexpress, but only marginally. Also includes free shipping, and $30 less than

Be a responsible consumer, and compare prices folks. Google is your friend.

Author: Staff writer