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How to mitigate the initial catch 22 of long shipping times but needing the sales to engage an agent?

Hi, all – I'm starting an ecomm website, dropshipping initially (solely for product testing) before hopefully getting the sales numbers and capital to engage an agent.

I keep coming back to this catch 22 situation where dropshipping without an agent means extremely long shipping times, which will massively harm brand rep / sales – while not having those sales figures prevents me from engaging with a proper 3PL / shipping agent.

Some have suggested contacting the suppliers directly and outside of any marketplace platform for example, in order to try and garner better shipping times off the bat, however with many suppliers, each with many products – and all the other variables in play, this isn't necessarily a complete solution.

From what I gather – that initial step is one of the hardest – if I can grow the brand enough to have an established agent on board and solid shipping, customer experience will be much better and the process on the whole, including growth from there will be a lot smoother – the flywheel will be in motion!

I'd really love to hear your thoughts on this, and how to mitigate this seemingly critical issue at the outset?

Many thanks!

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