Source of Goods Review – Quality Dropshipping Hub or Best Avoided?
Anyone that has looked at the dropshipping industry will know there are a lot of service hubs available. Signing up for a membership will provide you access to a long list of products and suppliers, and via the service, you can start a dropshipping business, more or less on automatic.
However, with so many dropshipping services on the market right now, which is the best to use?
First and foremost, it needs to be connected to appropriate suppliers for your intended business. The good news here is that most dropshipping services will allow you free access to their catalog of suppliers. You can research the prospects before jumping in, so to speak.
The service also needs to provide a range of integration (so you can seamlessly connect to platforms such as Amazon, eBay, Shopify, etc to sell the products), as well as other features such as fast shipping times and thorough bookkeeping facilities.
One such service that purports to do all of this and more, is Source of Goods. To continue our recent series of articles looking at the best dropshipping services available today, here is an in depth look at Source of Goods and the pros and cons of using them to dropship.
Who are Source of Goods?
Source of Goods (hereafter abbreviated as SoG) is a wholesale and supply business that provides dropship services to dropship retailers who own virtual retail shops or webstores. Its dropship hub provides an inventory management tool and a dropship automation software that the dropship merchant can use to integrate his/her webstore to the supplier database of SoG.
It was established 15 years ago as a fulfillment entity for big-box retailers such as Quill, Staples, and Barnes and Noble, as well as AMEX Membership Rewards.
With the growth of the e-commerce retail niche, it decided to help merchants in the online resell market to ship their orders to their customers. This provided an opportunity for SoG to create a dropship platform for virtual retailers and offer their service packages at reasonable prices to these retailers.
A Brief Overview of the Services
Source of Goods (SoG) is a wholesale and supply business that provides dropship services to dropship retailers who own virtual retail shops and webstores.
Its Cloud-based dropship hub SaaS provides an inventory management tool, access to supplier/vendor database, and a dropship automation software that the dropship merchant can use to integrate his/her webstore to the supplier and product databases.
This SaaS also provides a sales channel for initiating and processing transactions through seamless back-ordering. Relatedly, the SaaS provides a multi-channel sales platform, automatic order processing, catalog manager tool, and full product data integration.
SoG aims to allow online resellers to increase their sales volume using the dropship fulfillment model. Expectedly, the online reseller does not physically stock the products nor handle packaging or shipping, while automated inventory management is provided for the virtual retail shop.
SoG dropship SaaS allows for the integration of the webstore to 2 marketplaces, eBay and Amazon. This SaaS uses an EDI-based integration framework to establish a communication link between the sales channels of the webstore and the vendors supplying the products.
Likewise, integrations also allow the dropship automation software to upload the product image along with its SKU details to a webstore, route customer orders from the webstore to the vendor, and synchronize the retail inventory of the merchant based on items available in the SoG catalog.
About the pricing of membership plans. SoG describes its membership plan as a seller level, and it is tied to the maximum number of SKUs the dropship merchant can have in his/her SoG inventory per month.
There are 6 seller levels – the free STARTER level, and 5 paid levels: the BASIC, ENTREPRENEUR, ADVANCED, PREMIUM, and ENTERPRISE levels.
The product limits for these 6 levels are 20, 100, 1000, 10000, 100000, and 2184000+ products respectively, (more on the implications of this below).
Source of Goods in Detail
As an experienced provider of dropshipping services, SoG assigns each product in its inventory a stock keeping unit (SKU) code, which allows for easy inventory management.
An SKU is basically used to identify a product as available for sale, as well as differentiate it from another product. This means that 2 items with different SKUs are 2 different products on sale. Usually, vendors in SoG use the model number of a product as the unique item identity that allows this item to be assigned an SKU.
SoG is a fulfillment entity – not a fulfillment house nor a fulfillment center – and as such, it supports back-ordering of transactions initiated by customers through the virtual retail shop.
Also, as a fulfillment entity, the orders from the dropship merchant are routed to wholesalers and suppliers who physically stock the items requested by the customer.
Its key merit is that it allows dropship retailers to order retail quantities of products, usually at wholesale prices. This means that the dropship merchant who has signed up to any of its 6 membership plans does not need to place bulk orders to the suppliers.
- Related Content: Pros & Cons of Using a Dropshipping Hub
In SoG, the supplier is described as the vendor. SoG has over 10,000 vendors. These vendors can be integrated vendors or non-integrated vendors, and for the dropship merchant using SoG (referred to as an SoG member), this provides a wide variety of wholesalers and suppliers to source goods from.
It is also for this reason that SoG chose the name Source of Goods, as its vendor network allows the SoG member to get almost any retail product that (s)he needs to sell.
The term vendor network describes the full range of vendors who can supply items to SoG members, and these vendors are registered in the supplier database.
The supplier database has two key components:
This is a list of all the businesses that can stock and supply physical goods, as well as ship them when required. As mentioned, this supplier or wholesaler is called a vendor, and currently, there are over 10000 vendors on the supplier list.
Each vendor provides a catalog of the items it has in stock. SoG then collects the catalog of each vendor, and thereafter curates and collates them into a single SoG catalog that groups all the products being sold by the vendors into product categories.
This allows SoG to create an inventory based on the products availed by the vendors, and this inventory allows for the creation of the global SoG product list (or global catalog) where the dropship merchant (or SoG members) can search for a product.
Therefore, during product searches, one searches all the vendor catalogs, not just the catalog of a single vendor.
Altogether, the global product catalog has over 2 million products, including top brand products that the virtual retailer can sell to his/her customers.
The SoG product catalog is divided into 21 categories and 3600 sub-categories. This also allows for the introduction of filters that allow the dropship merchant to refine product search.
Pricing of the membership plans is based on the maximum number of products each plan is given access to, with the topmost tier plan – the Enterprise plan – being the only plan that gives the merchant access to all the 2+ million products.
Source of Goods, Amazon, and eBay
As mentioned, SoG works with webstores, and thus established retailers with brick-and-mortar businesses who want to use SoG services must first create a webstore that will serve as a virtual retail shop. If this is not possible, they can use two leading e-commerce marketplaces – Amazon and eBay – as their webstores.
For a virtual retailer and online reseller, a vendor account in Amazon or eBay, or both, serves to increase the online visibility of his/her webstore.
Further to support this, SoG provides a dropship automation and inventory management software as a cloud-based app that can be used to link the Amazon or eBay account to the SoG account of the dropship merchant, and this allows the merchant to easily add product details from the vendor database directly to his/her Amazon or eBay account.
This is possible because of the use of integrations.
An integration is any communication link established between the sales channel of the merchant (SoG member) and the vendor who supplies and ships the items for the merchant.
In SoG, the sales channel is the platform that allows a customer to initiate a transaction in the webstore and for the merchant to process this transaction and back-order the requested items.
The integration platform used in SoG provides electronic data interchange (EDI) as the medium of integration. This means that EDI is used to establish the communication link that serves as the integration.
This integration allows the dropship automation software to upload the product image – along with its SKU details – to the webstore, route customer orders from the webstore to the vendor, and synchronize the retail inventory of the merchant based on items available in SoG catalog.
Relatedly, SoG provides multiple sales channels to its dropship merchants, and the EDI used for integration is the secure direct point-to-point EDI that allows the merchant account to establish a secure connection with the vendor.
There are also integrations for shopping carts such as eBay Prostores, as well as integrations for the 2 marketplaces mentioned above – Amazon and eBay.
In fact, SoG is fully compliant with the terms of service of both Amazon and eBay as it pertains to online resellers.
This allows the eBay seller account or Amazon Seller Central of the dropship merchant to be integrated into the product database of SoG, which enables the merchant to uploads products in bulk numbers from the product database to the seller account using either eBay or Amazon Fast Track option provided by SoG.
A close look at the Source of Goods SaaS App
As mentioned, SoG provides services to online resellers. These services are packaged in software that bundles dropship automation and inventory management into a single cohesive program.
Operating this program ensures that automated dropship is directly linked to automated inventory management.
This software is hosted in a remote server that is owned, operated, and managed by SoG, and for the dropship retailer to access this app, (s)he needs to sign up through SoG’s website and when the merchant account is created, (s)he can be redirected to the thin client versions of the app that can be run on a browser.
Therefore, this app can be accessed through the browser, and hence can be called a web-based app. Likewise, because it is accessed from the cloud, and it is deployed using the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, then this web-based app can be called a Cloud-based SoG SaaS app.
The app has a number of useful features:
Product Data System (PDS)
A data management system for the products availed by the suppliers/vendors. This forms the product data system, and it contains a catalog of all the items that vendors are selling through SoG.
The vendor shop must use an EDI integration to link with this system so that the vendor’s product catalog can be imported and processed into the SoG product database.
The vendor/supplier whose EDI has been linked to – and accepted by – the PDS is called an integrated vendor. It is from this product database that dropship merchants fetch their products, and then add them to their online retail stores.
The product data system feeds information to the product database, and there is a need for a tool to categorize this product information into the 21 available product categories and sub-categories.
This is done by a catalog management tool that provides for product categorization based on product details.
This categorization allows for product grouping, as well as allows the merchant to set the filters that the customer will use to refine the search when searching for specific products.
Moreover, product categorization allows for easy assigning of SKU values to products in the product database. For the merchant, it allows him/her to manage how products are presented in the webstore.
Likewise, it allows for the introduction of filters that allow the dropship merchant to refine product search.
- Related Content: Wholesale2b Review – My Experience Starting a Drop Shipping Business
To access the product database where the product details are stored in tables, the merchant needs to use a graphical shell.
This shell provides a graphical user interface (GUI). This GUI provides an easy-to-navigate and easy-to-use panel that allows the product database to be linked to the sales channel of the merchant account.
This enables the merchant to fetch products from the PDS and upload their details to the sales channel in the webstore, eBay, or Amazon account.
Additionally, this app features a built-in sales ranking system that provides reporting and graphed analytics data.
SoG provides a pricing tool that allows the merchant/member to set markup prices. As anticipated, the markup price must be set before the product appears in the webstore as available for sale.
Also, one should remember that it could take up to 24 hours for the product to show up in the webstore after the markup price has been set.
This tool can be used to set price multipliers, as well as define global pricing rules for the dropship products.
Webstore Auto Updates
The SaaS app provides for editable auto-updates. This means that the merchant determines how information about products in the webstore are updated from the PDS.
This applies most to out-of-stock products in the inventory of the supplier, and the auto-update can be set to work in one of two ways: the first is to unpublish the item from the webstore, and the second is to set item quantity to 0 (null/zero).
This auto-update feature can also be used to track changes in markup prices and manage sale offers and discounts. This is possible because changes in wholesale prices can be communicated to the pricing tool.
Moreover, the SaaS app allows the merchant to remove image backgrounds in the product images. This allows the merchant to maintain a consistent image theme in the storefront, as well as prevents reverse-searching of the product using the image presented in the store.
Shipping & Returns
SoG is based in the US, and its services are tailored for an American client base. Most importantly, one must note that SoG only ships its products to the 48 contiguous states, which means that it does not do international shipping, nor does it ship items to Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.
Likewise, because it is based in the USA, it prefers the vendors to be based in the USA as well. This minimizes the need for the dropship merchant to deal with inter-country logistics.
Additionally, SoG provides email support and US-based customer service for its members.
Dropshipping by its very nature can cause issues between vendor and customer communication. (You have sold the product on behalf of the vendor so you do not necessarily have all the details of the shipping.)
In order to overcome the possible disadvantage of poor vendor-merchant communication, Source of Goods uses EDI integrations which allows the merchant to be notified by the vendor about any shipping delays.
SoG has a return policy that allows customers to return damaged or wrong orders. This 30-day return policy enables a customer to first return the item to the retailer, who then uses the return merchandise authorization (RMA) clause to notify SoG that an ordered item is being returned back.
This item is then sent to the return warehouse with either SoG or the member (dropship retailer) paying for the shipping cost.
As expected, the shipping label on the returned item must feature the RMA number so as to make it easy to process the returned order.
Multi-routed order processing
The app strives to eliminate the problem of multi-routed order processing. Multi-routing of the order occurs when the retailer sources goods from multiple fulfillment entities, as each entity has its own unique shipping solution with its own unique shipping charges and waiting time.
Likewise, each fulfillment entity has its own unique order processing and billing structure.
Therefore, if one sources the products from a single customer order from different fulfillment entities, then there varied shipping solutions, and cumulative shipping charges increase the cost of shipping and delays order fulfillment.
SoG aims to minimize these challenges by automatically routing the customer orders to vendors chosen by the merchant and then allowing the merchant to estimate the cumulative shipping charges, as well as estimating how long each item will take to reach the customer.
Source of Goods Membership Levels
The membership plan offered by SoG is called a Seller Level. Because there are 6 membership plans, then it follows that there are 6 seller levels that are described below:
This is a free membership plan that comes with email support and allows the member to upload up to 20 products in his/her webstore from the PDS.
This is charged at USD5 per month, and offers all the benefits of the Starter level while allowing the member to sell up to 100 products from SoG.
This is charged at USD9 per month, and it comes with all the benefits of the Basic level while allowing the member to sell up to 1000 products from SoG. It also comes with a 90-day free trial period.
This is charged at USD29 per month, and it comes with all the benefits of the Entrepreneur level while allowing the member to sell up to 10000 products from SoG.
It also comes with US-based phone support, in addition to email support. Even so, it does not offer a free 3-month trial like in the Entrepreneur level.
This is charged at USD99 per month, and it comes with all the benefits of the Advanced level, including US-based phone support. It allows the member to sell up to 100000 products from SoG.
Like the Advanced level, it does not offer a free 3-month trial like in the Entrepreneur level.
This is the topmost tier level, and its price is negotiable because one is assigned an account manager who helps him/her negotiate a price that is commensurate to his/her dropshipping needs.
As expected, it comes with all the benefits of the Premium level, including US-based phone support.
However, unlike the aforementioned seller levels, this level allows the member to sell over 2,184,000 items in the virtual retail store.
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The Pros and Cons of using Source of Goods