Supplier Quick Start Guide

Introduction

Mothership adds additional functionality to Shopify's ecommerce platform that makes it easy for Shopify customers to supply products to and accept orders from other online retailers. 

Mothership is comprised of two related apps:

  • Mothership is the supplier app is used by Shopify merchants to drop ship their products for other retailers. This quick start guide is written for users of this app. This app is available through the Shopify App Store and is used to publish feeds of their product catalogs, manage retailers, and place order on behalf of your retailers.
  • Mothership Connect is a free web and Shopify-based app for retailers who want to sell products supplied by merchants using Mothership. For retailers that use Shopify, Mothership Connect is available in the Shopify App Store. Retailers that use other ecommerce platforms can connect to Mothership-based suppliers using Mothership Connect's web interface available at https://retailer.mothership.fm.

What is drop shipping? 

In many ways, supplying products to drop shippers is similar to selling wholesale. As the supplier, you make your products available at a discounted rate to other merchants. With a typical wholesaling relationship, the supplier sells in bulk and ships all of the inventory to the retailer, who then in turn sells the products on their site. This kind of a relationship requires a substantial investment from the retailer in order to purchase a sufficient quantity of stock. Furthermore, since the retailer is on the hook for products if the stock does not sell, retailers are reluctant to experiment with new product lines. 

In many ways, a drop shipping relationship functions differently. As the supplier, you function as sort of a middle man. make your product data available to the retailers, who in turn sell your products on their site. When a customer places an order with one of your retailers, the retailer will in turn place an order with you. You then fulfill the order and send it to the original customer. Instead of charging the end customer for the order, you charge the retailer. 

As a drop ship supplier, this kind of an arrangement has a couple of notable advantages. Instead of purchasing all of the stock upfront, your retailers buy products from you in a piecemeal fashion and only once they have a need for the product. By minimizing the upfront investment, you make it easier for retailers to partner with you. Retailers will be much more willing to experiment with selling your products, and will be able to carry a larger assortment of your products, too. Additionally, since the relationship requires you to maintain inventory and handle the order processing, you can charge a higher margin to the retailer than you would in a traditional wholesaling operation. 

What is Mothership and how does it help me? 

Mothership makes it so you can use your current Shopify store to drop ship for other merchants on Shopify or other ecommerce platforms. Mothership makes it easy to create and publish product catalogs and product data, manage retailers, and accept and fulfill orders. Mothership offers a great way to grow your business by helping you put your products in front of more potential customers.

Setup and Configuration

Follow the steps below to get up and running with Mothership quickly. 

  1.  Install Mothership through the Shopify admin store. You can do that here: https://apps.shopify.com/mothership. You'll be asked to authorize Mothership to access and modify data in your shop. 
  2. Next, you'll be asked to apply to sell on Mothership. Please tell us about your business by filling out and submitting the form. We'll reach out if we have any questions about your application. Generally, we'll review your application within 24 hours.
  3. Once your application is approved, please select a billing plan and authorize Mothership to issue usage charges. 
  4. On the following page, please review Mothership's privacy policy and terms of use. 
  5. Next, Mothership needs to know some basic information about your shop in order to function correctly. Please confirm your email address is correct. Nexte and then select the default weight unit for your shop. This information is used in order calculations, so ensure that it is correct. 
  6. Next you'll be taken to the onboarding page, which details the steps that need to be completed in order to setup Mothership. These steps will need to be completed in order. You will not be able to start on a later step until it's previous step has been completed. 
  7. Step 1 is to create your first product catalog.  A product catalog is a collection of products that you make available to your retailers through product feeds. Each of your retailers will subscribe to a catalog. You can have multiple catalogs. Once your product catalog is setup, return to the onboarding page. 

    For more detailed instructions on setting up a product catalog, please checkout this article:  http://supplier-support.mothership.fm/article/19-how-do-i-setup-my-product-catalogs
  8. Next, add a product to your product catalog. You will need to leave Mothership to do this. Go to the products section of your Shopify admin panel. Select a product from the list and go to the product's configuration page. Click on the 'Apps' button in the menu bar at the top of the window and then select 'Configure in Mothership'. Follow the prompts to add a product to the catalog and then return to the onboarding page. 

    Please see this support post on how to add a product to your product catalog:  http://supplier-support.mothership.fm/article/29-how-do-i-add-a-product-to-a-catalog. You can also bulk import products to a catalog by following the instructions here: http://supplier-support.mothership.fm/article/43-how-do-i-bulk-import-products
  9. The next step is to configure your shipping options. Mothership has imported your Shipping zones and rates from your Shopify store. If you would like to offer different shipping rates to your retailers, you can edit the imported shipping rates or create new shipping rates here. Like Shopify, shipping rates are based on price or weight. Mothership does not currently support 3rd party shipping services.

    Confused about your shipping options? We go into further detail here:  http://supplier-support.mothership.fm/article/20-how-do-i-setup-shipping
  10. Next, review some basic information about your potential tax liabilities. In short, selling to drop ship retailers can result in substantial tax liabilities if you do not collect the appropriate documentation from your retailers. Since tax regulations and requirements vary by jurisdiction, you should talk to an accountant or a tax professional in order to ensure that you comply with all of the applicable requirements. 

    Looking for additional info on your potential tax obligations:  http://supplier-support.mothership.fm/article/21-what-do-i-need-to-know-about-taxes
  11. Finally, return to the on-boarding page and click the link to invite a retailer to connect to your Mothership account. Here, you will need to specify the frequency with which you want to invoice the retailer. You can chose to invoice them on a per-order basis or on a periodic basis. Checkout the section below for a more detailed discussion on invoicing.

    Retailers that use Shopify can connect to your Mothership account through our  Shopify Mothership Connect app available in the Shopify App Store. The Shopify-based Mothership Connect app is a 1-click integration and will automatically import products, update inventory, and place orders in your store on behalf of your retailers. 

    Retailers that use another ecommerce platform can use  web-based Mothership Connect app to access your product feeds. These retailers will need to use one of several 3rd party apps to consume your product feeds and import your products into their store. 

    Since you likely do not have a retailer to invite just yet, create an invite and send it to yourself. This will give you an opportunity to see how your retailers will interact with Mothership. Check your inbox for the invite email and follow the link. You will need to create a free account on Mothership's retailer site. You can do that here:  https://retailer.mothership.fm/. Once you create an account, enter the key contained in the invite email. 

    We've created a great resource that outlines how to invite a retailer to join your Mothership account here:  http://supplier-support.mothership.fm/article/22-how-do-i-connect-with-retailers
  12. Return to the Mothership in your Shopify admin panel. Mothership is now setup. You should see the Dashboard that lists recent orders for your shop.

Product Feeds

For retailers that connect to your account through our web-based Mothership Connect app, Mothership publishes your product catalogs as feeds that are available to download or through our API. 

Product feeds export your product data in a convenient format so that your retailers can import your products into their e-commerce stores. Each retailer is give access to a product feed based upon the product catalog to which they are assigned. This allows you to customize the selection of products, pricing, and availability of products for each retailer. Additionally, product feeds contain up-to-date inventory quantities that let your retailers know how much of given product is available to be sold. You can even configure an inventory buffer that ensures that your inventory will never drop below a certain threshold as a result of sales through Mothership. 

You can download your current product feeds by going to the catalog configuration page and clicking on the 'Active Product Feed' and 'Deleted Product Feed' links in the 'Product Feed' section.

Placing Orders

Once you have Mothership setup and you're connected to a retailer, you're ready to start receiving orders from their store.

Automatic Order Placement
If you're retailer is connecting through our Shopify Mothership Connect app, then Mothership will automatically place an order in your store on behalf of the retailer whenever they receive an order containing products you supply to the retailer. 

Manually Placing an Order
Retailers connecting to your account using our web-based Mothership Connect app will generally be relying on 3rd party software to consume product feeds and route orders to the correct supplier. With this type of arrangement, most retailers will place their orders by sending you an email. This will require you to manually place an order in Mothership. 

Once you receive an order from a retailer, you can place the order by clicking on the 'New Order' button in the top menu bar of the Mothership dashboard. Select the retailer placing the order, add the products, provide a shipping address, and choose a shipping method. When you submit the order, Mothership will import the order into Shopify, charge the card your retailer has on file, and notify the retailer that the order has been placed.

Invoicing your Retailer

Mothership invoices your retailers whenever they place an order with your shop. Retailers can be invoiced in one of two ways:

Per Order Basis 
When a retailer is invoiced on a per-order basis, they are sent a draft order that they must pay before the order is placed in your store. Once paid, the draft order is converted to a regular order that you fulfill and ship to the end-customer.
Periodic Basis
Instead of paying every time there is an order, you can invoice your retailers on a 7, 15, or 30 day basis. When the retailer is invoiced on a periodic basis, incoming orders are automatically placed in your store and marked as paid. Next, a record of the items purchased on the order are stored as custom products in a draft order. The draft order is automatically updated whenever a new order comes in. When the invoice period expires, the retailer is sent the draft order which they then pay in order to satisfy their account. 
I highly recommend you checkout our article on  Invoicing your Retailers for further discussion of how Mothership's invoicing system works.

Fulfillments

To fulfill the order, follow your normal fulfillment process. Mothership will automatically update the retailer when a fulfillment takes place. Mothership will also notify the retailer of the shipment tracking information if you supply a tracking number during fulfillment. If your retailer uses the Shopify Mothership Connect app, Mothership will automatically update the fulfillment in their store.

Returns 

You will need to establish a return process with your retailers. When a return occurs, Mothership will refund the applicable charges to the retailer's card when you initiate the refund process from the order management screen in your Shopify Admin panel.

Support

If you ever run into problems or encounter a bug, please do not hesitate to reach out to  support@mothership.fm.

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