Abound is the latest B2B site to announce that it is going to stop selling wholesale.  But in this case, there is a twist – on June 9th they are switching to a new business model offering drop shipping. The new program, which will be called Droply, is currently in a limited beta mode. But it’s a pivot worth learning more about.

What is drop shopping? (By the way, you can spell it as two words, one word, or put a hyphen in to make Merriam-Webster happy.)  Drop shipping is when a retailer sells goods online – or by displaying a sample in their store – without stocking them. Orders are fulfilled by the vendor, and sent directly to the customer. 

According to the Abound website, on Droply retailers “will be able to seamlessly browse products from high quality brands and add them to [their] online storefront in just a few clicks. The brands we have chosen to be apart of this program will fulfill the orders directly to your customers.”

The program will work best for retailers who use Shopify for their online store, because the program is set up to link automatically to that platform. The integration with Shopify – and the fact that investing in inventory is avoided by having the vendor take care of the shipping – are what makes the program potentially appealing. Those with bricks and clicks stores may find the model a bit frustrating for their in-person shoppers, since the goods featured through Droply are not likely to be in the store.

The usual downside to drop shipping is that vendors don’t offer a traditional wholesale discount (50%) on orders that they fulfill.  According to Abound, for most products on this new platform you will pay 50% off the MSRP.  The platform will also allow retailers to set their own prices at higher than standard markup.

In the information provided for wholesalers, Abound mentions that they will be pre-selecting the retailers to make sure they have a strong online presence. They’ll also use their existing platform to offer the vendors’ full catalogue to potential shops, although some adjustments will undoubtedly be made to make the listings consumer-focused.   

The downside for vendors, of course, is that they now have to ship out small orders. (Abound tells them it will be “quicker & easier for more customers to learn to love your brand” – in part because the vendor is doing the physical work.)  But quite a few wholesale vendors are already also selling directly to consumers. This new platform may be a good way for them to support their retailers instead of competing with them.

Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder