I'm about to start up an eCommerce site for health products. However, I'm unsure of how to structure the company, in particular reference to shipping of product. Should I buy my own product, stock it, and then ship it out when a purchase it made online? Or, is there a way to automate shipping from a warehouse? If yes, how is that done?
Thanks for your time.
I think you're at the mercy of the manufacturer or distributor. The manufacturer may not want to deal with small orders let alone drop ship them for you. Distributors are more likely, but then your markup is going to be less. Small boutique suppliers may be more accomodating.
Either way, they usually dictate how you can place orders. They'll accept anything from a phone call, fax, email, enter on their website, or some sort of other electronic transfer. They're all different. I worked with a distributor and eventhough it was a specific industry, it was a mess. That's why they exist because they make it easier on the end customer.
You can outsource the whole thing if you want (And enjoy your 4hr Work Week), but the margins get thinner. Maybe the products you want to sell are unique, so the web competition isn't heavy enough to drive prices down.
i think you should check out shipwire.com (i'm not affiliated in any way).
I have also just started my own eCommerce site and we decided to stock all of our own products at home. For companies who drop ship, we just forward those orders to them. As we get more business, we will start stocking that merchandise at our place as well. One thing I like about shipping myself is that I can control the entire user/buyer experience which I feel like is an edge I can have. It also allows me to keep a greater percentage of the profits which is key for us in this early part of the process. Eventually if we are successful we will most likely switch to a fulfillment service.