3 dropship data feeds that will make your life easier
Drop shipping has quickly become a top asset in the eyes of many retailers. By selecting the right drop ship partners, retailers can expand their product offerings while effectively making a profit from the difference between the retail and wholesale price for products and shipping, all without touching or seeing any product.
However, drop shipping is not something that retailers can just pickup and run with. Drop shippers are maintaining the actual inventory in their warehouse and shipping orders to the retailer’s customers and providing the retailer with UPS tracking codes. This requires a certain level of order, inventory, and product communication between the drop shipper and the retailer to minimize fulfillment errors, improve inventory and order visibility, and deliver a better customer experience. With drop shippers doing all the heavy lifting, drop ship integration has never been more important to retailers who want to ensure their brand is well represented.
As merchants look to make product management, inventory management and order management a more seamless process, they should seek to integrate the following drop ship data feeds:
1. Product Feeds
Because retailers do not see or touch the products they are selling, it is critical that drop shippers provide detailed and accurate product information so merchants can present and sell these products online that will meet customer expectations. First retailers must decide what parameters and attributes of products they want to insert, and what the drop shipper will provide. Frequent parameters are SKU, UPC, name, category, brand, description, images, minimum advertised price, weight and handling costs. With integration, product files can be fed into a product information management system to update the respective product fields and then publish the products to the online channels. Typically drop shippers provide product feeds less frequently than inventory and order feeds.
2. Inventory Feeds
To ensure inventory available for sale is always up-to-date on sales channels, retailers will want to pull inventory feeds with drop ship integration. Drop shippers may provide inventory updates in different intervals – some may choose to update inventory in bulk at the end of each day, while others provide a constant inventory update that reflects inventory adjustments and price updates throughout the day. With this type of feed, retailers should define in advance what should happen when inventory isn’t available at drop shipper stock because this type of integration gives retailers a leg up on identifying problem orders before they occur. Those retailers with drop ship inventory integration will have the most visibility as to what is in stock and when stock will become available.
3. Order Feeds
This type of feed is two-way. Because the drop shipper does not know it must fulfill an order until the retailer gives notice, order feeds are paramount for retailers who want to ensure speedy order delivery. Because the retailer does not know an order is received, fulfilled, and shipped until the drop shipper gives notice, order feeds are also critical for retailers to detect delayed shipments and for customer service to respond to customer order inquiries. The more manual steps involved with sending the order, receiving confirmation of receipt, and updating the shipping information, the more likely poor communication will occur. Retailers must directly integrate with drop shippers to keep tabs on the status of order fulfillment.