I'm trying to get a low-ticket (<$50 per item) e-commerce site off the ground via Shopify in the US. I like the concept of drop-shipping (low overhead, low risk, low startup costs), and my thought was to side-step these drop-shipping marketplaces and work directly with American manufacturers to drop-ship products directly to customers, but shipping prices these days (at least via UPS) are outrageous. I'd have to mark a $9 product up to $25 just to break even.
So, since that's likely not a viable model, would a 3PL company help me cut those costs and improve my margins? I'd be able to buy from suppliers in bulk, and in theory 3PLs would have better rates negotiated with shippers. Plus, I may be able to avoid hiring a VA tasked with fulfilling hundreds of orders manually.
But, at the end of the day, the cost-per-unit is key. Should I expect to save money using a 3PL instead of attempting to drop-ship inexpensive items one at a time?