The following tips we’ve had to compile and share with our readers and potential customers because we unfortunately receive phone calls from people saying I placed my order with “X” and this is what happened…
Think Twice Before Ordering From a Drop-shipper! Here’s Why:
1. Cheapest Price = Cheaper Grade Wood
Drop-shippers sometimes offer slightly lower prices per linear foot for Ipe wood to suck customers in and get their money.
As with anything you purchase in life, the cheapest is never the best. Don’t expect your Ipe wood order to be the one thing that defies this rule.
Drop-shippers do not move the volume so they often get lower quality materials while their broker pushes better grades to their top customers.
The most recent trick we have seen is to offer the cheapest price Ipe wood as their standard grade when in reality they are shipping you B grade or worse.
2. Deceiving Shipping Information
Some drop-shippers have published pages on their website deceiving buyers with the grand illusion they have hundreds of locations you can pickup your order.
Tricking potential customers by sugar coating the wording on your website is deceptive.
The truth is they have your order dropped off at the closest freight terminal for you to pick up. This is the cheapest option they can offer since they don’t ship enough volume.
With Freight shipments the more volume a shipper moves the more of a discount they receive. Therefor they can not offer you an 87% discount on freight or free shipping on some orders like we do.
Shipping direct to your job site or home would cost more for a drop shipper as its one more trip the freight company has to make. Shipping direct also creates more headaches scheduling deliveries and tracking orders for drop-shippers so they avoid this.
This leaves you trying to pickup an order that weighs thousands of pounds and upwards of 20ft long from a freight terminal with loading docks made for semi-trucks.
If time, additional labor and equipment needed to pickup your order are not important to you this may not be an issue for you. Figure out how much it will cost you to pickup your order if you plan on going this route.
We ship all orders direct to your home or job site.
Additionally we have seen drop shippers offer shipping insurance as an “up sell” to ensure you receive your order.
Trying to pass fees like this off to your customers is very shady. All of our orders are insured. When a customer gives you money for goods a business is obligated to deliver what the customer paid for.
3. Packaging Up Charges
We’ve seen some suppliers try to pass packaging charges on to their customers for upgraded better packaging to help ensure the order gets to them undamaged.
We custom build shipping skids that run the entire length of your decking order, we double steel band the wood to the custom made skid and wrap the entire skid in cardboard and shrink wrap the entire package at no additional cost to our customers.
4. Verify Your Suppliers Locations
Google search your suppliers business address. Middle men drop shippers are often operating out of small rented offices. Use Google maps and street view for this. It’s easy to spot someone operating from a shared office with other businesses and no warehouse.
Some even operate from a postal mail box with a suite number to make it look like they have an office when they are really running out of their home.
Why is this a bad thing? We’ve been in business for nearly 30 years in that time frame we have seen many of these internet drop-shippers close up shop leaving some customers shafted in the process.
It’s very easy to close up a rented mailbox or small office lease when you run into financial trouble, lawsuits and etc…
Make sure your supplier is transparent and allows you to visit their factory and inspect the wood. Drop-shippers pretend they have warehouses full of inventory when they don’t.
We’ve even seen videos and pictures they take from their broker and publish them to their website pretending it’s their warehouse.
Please visit our contact page on our site. We are very transparent about our warehouses and welcome customers to stop in during business hours.
5. Place a Small Test Order
Place a small test order first. We routinely sell people a couple boards to build a bench or an Adirondack chair first.
Many people have never used a wood like Ipe before so this allows them to get familiar with the wood.
It is also a great way to test out a supplier, you can buy ipe wood online directly from us. Order one board if you prefer or a whole truck load.
6. Minimum Orders
If an Ipe supplier has a minimum order quantity this is usually a strong indicator they are drop-shipping. Their broker that fulfills their orders does not want the headaches of packaging and shipping a $2,000 order.
Now imagine getting a few replacement boards that you need if you are short. Often customers change their plan in the middle of your job or you will end up with more cuts and waste then planned for.
Additionally if you’ve ever shipped thousands of pounds of lumber through LTL freight you’ll know sometimes a few boards will get damaged. We go through extensive efforts into packaging an order but occasionally damage still happens.
Having 4 stocking warehouses in the US and 2 in Brazil allows us to get your replacement boards out the same day.
A drop-shipper is left trying to beg his broker to send out a few boards if they still have them. This is usually an issue since they have minimums.
We’ve heard of some sellers just trying to give partial refunds for the damaged boards. This still does not get the customer the new replacement wood they need to complete their job.
Drop-shipping Ipe suppliers don’t have inventory, they don’t know what they can supply you with so they take your money to lock in your order.
After they have your order they frantically call brokers trying to fulfill your order. However most drop-shippers don’t have access to real time inventory from their brokers.
The broker is constantly selling off their stock so the inventory list the drop-shipper had in the beginning of the week quickly becomes outdated.
These inventory issues have caused major setbacks for homeowners and especially large commercial projects.
As a result it can be common for these brokers to sneak in B grade boards or boards with defects to try and fulfill an order.
We have seen some drop-shippers publicly admit to using their personal home computers that contain their personal information and personal pictures to run their drop-shipping operation.
Data breaches occur with some of the largest brands online. Using your personal computer that your children and family are using to run your business with your customers sensitive information should never occur.
Unfortunately some drop-shippers lack the business resources to ensure your data is properly secure.
We have 4 warehouses in the US and two in Brazil – We own the mills and sell direct to ensure the highest quality and that all legal paperwork is documented properly to meet Lacey act standards as well as IBAMA standards in Brazil.
Each one of our factories is FSC certified by the Rainforest Alliance. This is a lengthy and expensive process.
These certifications further ensure you are buying legal and sustainable wood. Verify your Ipe suppliers chain of custody certificate directly on FSC’s website here: https://us.fsc.org/en-us/market/find-products/fsc-certificate-database
Only legitimate companies will have this opposed to using counterfeit documents.
10. Verify Online Reviews
Search “Company Name reviews” on Google and Facebook. A lack of reviews or very low number indicates a very low trust score.
Some drop-shippers get a few friends or family members to post a few positive reviews about their business.
The margins for a drop-shipper are lower and can be as little as 10% so if something goes wrong with an order they often can not afford to fix the problem.
We have always gone above and beyond to make our customers happy even if it means that we lose money on that order. Our reviews speak for themselves.
Many drop-shippers don’t have experience in the wood industry or with wood products. If you are somewhat new to working with a wood like Ipe you will have some questions.
It’s best to get answers from someone that’s a veteran in the wood industry opposed to someone who has… been outsourcing B2B web-development to India.
We have unfortunately seen some sellers advise their customers very wrong for certain applications. Hardwoods like Ipe are some of the most dense and durable woods.
When they are used properly most applications will outlive the customers that purchased them.
The practice of drop-shipping is not bad, we routinely supply some of the largest building material box stores in the world.
We have done business with the largest box stores for years because they know and trust our company as the most reputable Ipe supplier. They know the quality of the products we deliver and rely on our company to meet their customers expectations.
Many customer insist on using big box store because of the volume of other building materials they purchase and have established line of credits with these stores. We understand this and have happily been apart of their supply chain for years.
You should be very cautious of some online sellers deceptive advertising and marketing practices.
The “fake it until you make it” approach that some drop-shippers use has cost contractors and homeowners major set backs and more money in the long run with their projects.
I have been using Hardwood decking since 2008. My first purchase was from an independent supplier who happened to be going bankrupt and getting a divorce as my credit card charge was being processed….remember that recession? My project was a 30 x 30 deck overlooking the West branch of the Feather river, in Paradise, California. We had ordered Garapa 5/4 x 6 inch decking. Lets just say many years went by that included law suits, etc. I won but then ultimately resolved the issue by ordering the equilvalent material from Advantage Lumber…and I love all this wood.
Because my ordering hardship has nothing to do with the second part of the story. Let me say…Paradise, California…Camp FIre. I eventually installed a new mobile home. Because of fires in these areas, California implemented WUI standards. This basically means no more Redwood decks…only fiberstuff or hardwoods. The specifications of WUI required a complete skirting of any deck to deter embers going under a deck and igniting it…but wait, I just skirted the Mobile Home? So I need to skirt a skirt? There is an exception; if the underlining structure is built with timber…then the second skirt is not required. By California code though..timber varied..but the FIre Marshall in small print declared that anything over 4 inch nominal was considered “Timber”. I then redrew my plans with 24 inch, 4 x 6 joists and avoided the extra skirting….the tigerwood allowed that span.
More importantly, while our Yurt deck survived the 2017 Saddle fire where the flames reached within 2 feet of the structure…more impressive is the Camp Fire. The back side of the deck touched within 6 inches and burned decking 1 foot x 6 feet and apparently self extinguished. The joists below burned as well. The fire was hot enough that it propelled lava rock projectiles though the side of the yurt.
Another note: This stuff is so hard that I tapped and threaded and bolted many items in the deck I built. That is how hard this stuff is…I actually wore out a tap!!
I love all these woods and even keep scraps…I use them for custom hangers, shims, woodworking projects…the list goes on and on.
Advantage Lumber resolved my issues with my previous supplier by providing superior product. I even kept the crating and stickers!