18 votes

Inside the weird, get-rich-quick world of dropshipping

6 comments

  1. mrbig
    (edited )
    Link
    That’s a very good article that addresses a business model that’s on the edge of being a scam while remaining nuanced about the individuals involved. Thank you for sharing. That’s some great...

    That’s a very good article that addresses a business model that’s on the edge of being a scam while remaining nuanced about the individuals involved. Thank you for sharing.

    Around us, statue-like men wander in and out of steam rooms (CrossFit is big here), talking about e-commerce and intermittent fasting

    That’s some great writing, and a remarkable way to say “this is 2020”.

    5 votes
  2. [5]
    Atvelonis
    Link
    This is a fantastic read, thank you for sharing. What I find the most troubling is the stratification that exists among these "dropshippers." For an article about something set in Indonesia, it's...

    This is a fantastic read, thank you for sharing. What I find the most troubling is the stratification that exists among these "dropshippers." For an article about something set in Indonesia, it's unusual that all of the people who the author interviews are Western. Chicago, Virginia, Israel, France—she comments herself on this:

    Over smoothie bowls and lattes, western immigrants – expats, as they prefer to be known – talk about themselves, loudly. [...] In Canggu’s cafés, barefoot westerners run fledgling companies from MacBook Pros. When not talking Facebook ads or cost-per-click, they socialise exclusively with each other.

    I'm not one to hate on hippy millennial fashions and lifestyles, but the fact that they're being imported abroad in such a disingenuous way is incredibly unethical. The imagery in the article says a lot. Vestil's body language? His Wi-Fi router name? And this, too, is highly problematic:

    In real life, Vestil is less obnoxious, albeit grandiose and prone to speaking in a mixture of pop psychology, corporate jargon and quasi-Buddhist philosophy. At one point, he starts talking about seminal 1937 self-help book Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill. “There’s this thing called sexual transmutation,” he says, explaining Chapter 11 of Hill’s book. “Instead of spilling your seed, you transmute it into creativity, into passion, into liveliness, into charisma.” My eyes flick once more to the lightbox.

    I live for the time being in a pretty insulated environment, a liberal bubble in a world that is on the whole decidedly less so, but I'll be damned if this is anything but a sexist interpretation of the creative process. Paired with the author's description of these dropshippers, seemingly few of whom are women, as "statue-like" or simply "statue-men" (wow!), I can see the fad as a whole as almost nothing but self-serving and chauvinistic, in about two senses.

    I see from the stories that the dropshippers tell just how easy it is for people to end up in their position, and to some extent I sympathize; "kids [with] baggage tags on their backpacks and dollar signs in their eyes," seeking a refuge from parental expectations or corporate oversight. However, the article explains so much better than I can that the way this business model manifests is far beyond ethical.

    4 votes
    1. [4]
      vord
      Link Parent
      Dropshippers are a symptom I think, of the broader impatience present in modern society. The only reason they can make their money is because people are too impatient to order directly from the...

      Dropshippers are a symptom I think, of the broader impatience present in modern society. The only reason they can make their money is because people are too impatient to order directly from the other country for cheaper.

      Amazon was super convenient when they still had 3+ day delivery times. Now they have same-day delivery. Is that really necessary? Nothing we order online should necessitate < 2 day delivery times.

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        Kingdud
        Link Parent
        I'm not really too impatient to order from China. Rather, I don't speak Chinese, I don't get the nuance of the culture, and I can't be bothered to learn. Impatience is an lack of willingness to...

        I'm not really too impatient to order from China. Rather, I don't speak Chinese, I don't get the nuance of the culture, and I can't be bothered to learn. Impatience is an lack of willingness to invest an hour. Not wanting to invest a year or more is...well, that's not impatience. It's not even laziness. It's a business opportunity for someone who can speak the language and does understand the culture. It's also a huge trap for people arrogant enough to think they don't need both of those things to be successful; which is exactly what this article points out.

        4 votes
        1. vord
          Link Parent
          The article clearly states the most common path for this is: Find product on aliexpress.com (which is in English and ships to USA) Prop up sites to order from. When orders come in, order from...

          The article clearly states the most common path for this is:

          1. Find product on aliexpress.com (which is in English and ships to USA)
          2. Prop up sites to order from.
          3. When orders come in, order from aliexpress and deliver direct to customer.

          It's actually worse than my commentary, as they're providing even less value, and are just exploiting that people don't know aliexpress exists.

          1 vote
      2. skybrian
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        That doesn't seem to be the case? Someone who holds inventory locally so you can get stuff in a few days rather than a month is doing something useful. The time it takes to get parts matters....

        That doesn't seem to be the case?

        At this point, you’ll wait up to a month for delivery – lengthy order processing times are a dropshipping tell – because the item is being shipped from China.

        Someone who holds inventory locally so you can get stuff in a few days rather than a month is doing something useful. The time it takes to get parts matters. Imagine how long a project would take if you couldn't just go to the hardware store to get a part you forgot? You couldn't do anything in a weekend unless your planning was perfect.

        For my electronics projects there's a lot of waiting as I figure out what parts I want and have them shipped.

        But these folks don't seem to be doing anything to cut down shipping times. At best they're spreading awareness of interesting products.

        2 votes