While attending the University of British Columbia as a pre-med student, Spocket founder Saba Mohebpour decided to try his hand at ecommerce. But while trying to start his own dropshipping store in early 2017, Saba quickly grew frustrated by the tedious nature of the venture. He found himself approaching suppliers one by one to negotiate terms and track down product information and images. There was no central clearinghouse to make it happen, and it was intensely time-consuming. Reliable supply was also a problem—he wouldn't know whether the products were going to be in stock when he took orders for them.
That’s why, in late 2017, Saba started Spocket, a platform that allows dropshippers to quickly and easily hand-pick products to sell from thousands of dropshipping suppliers all over the world.
Believe it or not, there was a time in thenot-so-distant past when opening a retail store had significant barriers toentry for an entrepreneur, not the least of which was the investment requiredto purchase and warehouse inventory. Even online stores couldn’t escape thatinevitable cost of doing business.
Technological advancements in the ways buyersand sellers connect and sell goods online have spawned a new wave of ecommercesolutions that have eliminated the requirement for retailers to carryinventory.
Such was the rise of dropshipping inecommerce. But as we saw from Saba's story above, the process one must gothrough to dropship goods is a daunting one. From vetting suppliers to contractnegotiations, setting up a dropshipping operation just isn't as easy as itsounds. But now, that's all changing.
Spocket—short for "store in yourpocket"—is riding the wave of change in the ecommerce and dropshippingindustry. From their headquarters on Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver,Spocket has set up a platform that is currently being used by 20,000 retailersin 28 countries. Currently, its top-selling retailers are focused on selling inthe USA, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Germany. Spocket allowsthese retailers to select the country of origin of their goods in the US andEurope, making it possible to deliver products to customers much more quickly.
I spoke with Spocket’s Strategic PartnershipManager, Boris Mestrovic, who explained the platform’s benefits in more detail.
"Retailers can choose the country of origin of their goods," Boris says. "The customers get their order in two to five business days. We found that it took two to four weeks for traditional dropshipping, especially with goods coming from China. And then if they weren't lost and finally arrived, they would be in questionable condition and maybe not as advertised. So we're trying to focus on local drop shipping and vetting the suppliers to ensure that they are going to ship it out when they say they are going to ship it out. We want to ensure that the product is going to be as advertised and that it will be maybe a bit more unique because about 45 percent of our suppliers are from Etsy. So it's not just mass-produced goods that are available on 100,000 other sites."
To keep business moving smoothly, Spocket offers 24/7 customer support and has implemented automated order tracking and inventory updates. Retailers are quickly notified if items are out of stock or discontinued to prevent orders going unfulfilled. Many products are sourced from suppliers in North America and Europe to ensure speedy shipping.
Spocket does all the vetting for retailers andBoris says that each wholesaler is checked out thoroughly.
“The process begins with an application,” saysBoris. “All suppliers have to fill out a detailed form with information such astheir shipping time, the discounts they’ll provide, and their location.Essentially, all information that’s relevant in the business.”
Then Spocket’s supplier team determines whichof the suppliers are the best, with an additional focus on the kinds ofproducts they bring to the platform.
“The second step is an interview,” Boriscontinued, “then our team creates a basic contract to hold suppliersaccountable. After that, we often order samples to test the product outourselves, we check out the supplier’s customer reviews, and if everythingworks out, we bring them on for a probationary period.”Spocket knows it's vital to have dependablewholesalers because the dropshipper is invisible to the end consumer. If theproduct quality is lacking or the shipping is inconsistent, it reflects on theretailer, not the dropshipper. "They're representative of yourbrand," says Boris. It's done that way on purpose. Spocket requireswholesalers to not use their branding on any of the packaging. Shipping labelsand invoices are printed with the retail store's logo and name."
That branding is a desirable feature for entrepreneurs working to build up customer loyalty and patronage, as this Spocket reviewer reports: "My favorite thing is the branded invoicing, which is very neat. My customers get a printed invoice from my brand with my beautiful logo, which has helped me to bring many customers back to my store.”
Of all the challenges presented bydropshipping, thin profit margins tend to be the toughest to navigate. Spocketaddresses this by negotiating with suppliers to provide a whole host ofbenefits for their retailers.
"We negotiate shipping prices and product prices with suppliers beforehand,” Boris told me. “We gather all the needed permissions for resale as well, so retailers can just jump in and start selling. And another unique thing that we've done is that we went to these suppliers, particularly the Etsy ones, and we’ve pre-negotiated discounts for the retailer. So instead of us taking any sort of cut, we basically said, ‘hey, we'd like to have your stuff on in our marketplace, but if you could just give the retailer a 20–60% discount, or sometimes even more, that way the retailer can make a margin and your product will move.' And that ended up working out really well for everybody involved."
Saba may not be a student anymore, but thatdoesn’t mean he’s finished with education. In fact, now he and his team atSpocket are the ones providing it.
“Right now one of our main focuses is starting the Spocket Academy,” says Boris. “It’s going to be a full educational resource for our users and anyone else who wants to delve into ecommerce and learn how to succeed. It will be open to the public. We’ll be setting up courses for absolute beginners as well as for people who are completely established and looking to learn more nuanced skills, like email marketing or branding–whatever the case may be.”
Boris says that Spocket will bring inexperienced third-party instructors to teach the courses, those who alreadyoffer classes on platforms like Udemy and Skillshare. He also says while someclasses will be free, many will be paid.
“We want the people that are creating the courses to get paid,” says Boris, “because that ensures quality. But the prices will be low, something between $5 and $15.”
I’m not a dropshipper, but if I were, Spocketwould be a dream come true. Who wouldn’t want a simple product sourcingplatform that vets suppliers, offers shipping from the US and Europe, ensuresyour branding is on the packaging, andthat negotiates discounts for you?
If you’re looking to start a dropshipping store, or already running one, be sure to check out Spocket now. It’s a game changer.