What exactly is Dropshipping, and Is It Best for Your web Retail Business?

As an online retailer, you might have many options for fulfilling orders through customers, so it’s important to figure out which usually business model is best for your goals.

In this article, we’ll cover the between dropshipping and other order-fulfillment choices. We’ll also detail the pros plus cons of each order-fulfillment method so that you can decide which option is right for your business and preferences.

Before we jump in, let’s clarify a few meanings of the key terms you’ll need to understand, beginning with order fulfillment, which refers to the system associated with receiving, processing, and delivering purchases.

And the following are usually types of order fulfillment:

  • Merchant fulfillment refers to sellers’ managing their very own order-fulfillment process. That means the retailers (sellers) buy their own inventory, shop their products (in a warehouse, storage space facility, or even in a home), procedure orders, and ship products in order to end-customers.
  • Third-party fulfillment refers to the outsourcing order fulfillment to an individual entity. This option still involves the particular sellers’ buying their own inventory. Nevertheless , in this case, the they store goods in a warehouse owned by a third-party fulfillment company, which manages the storing inventory, processing orders, plus shipping products to end-customers.
  • Dropshipping refers to a far more hands-off process for your seller. In this case, the seller markets companies collects orders from customers in a retail rate. Once an purchase is received, the seller forwards the sales order to the product producer at a wholesale rate. Then, the maker processes the order and boats the products to the end-customer. The retailers, in this case, charge a retail cost, allowing them to keep the profits from their purchase, but they outsource the rest of the process towards the dropshipper (supplier). Ultimately, the retailers do not have to own inventory or actually touch the products they are selling.

You may be thinking, “Awesome, now I know which option is right designed for my business! ” But you can find more details to consider to make an informed choice.

Let’s talk about the pros and negatives of each order-fulfillment method.

Merchant Fulfillment


  • More immediate control of your own sales and order fulfillment procedures. Because you store your personal products and manage your inventory, you will see when you need to order more of a certain product.
  • A lot more control over resolving shipping mistakes. Because you have products accessible, you can quickly and easily determine how you will rectify shipping errors and flaws (such as sending the wrong item, items broken in transit, plus returned orders).
  • Ability to easily customize orders. Want to add a special present or a handwritten thank-you note? Since you fulfill orders on-site, you have the strength to do as you wish.


  • Requires a substantial investment in advance. You’ll have to purchase your own inventory before you can sell your items, and you’ll have to determine where likely to store your inventory and delivery supplies.
  • Needs manual labor for you or your own team. Who is likely to receive the inventory, process sales, package orders, and ship the deals? Many small business owners (especially solo entrepreneurs) end up doing it all, which requires time away from other important company activities. What if you or your own shipping employees get sick or even go on vacation? Without someone over the team to fulfill orders, your business can come to a halt.
  • Not really easily scalable. Product owner fulfillment makes it more difficult to range your business. Why? Because increased product sales will require you to purchase higher levels of inventory, which requires more forward costs, larger storage space, and more stockroom workers.
  • Needs expertise in many areas. To be successful at merchant fulfillment, a person (or your team) must be proficient at every aspect of running a product-based business: marketing and advertising, sales, operations, supply chain administration, inventory management, packing and shipping orders, customer service, processing profits, etc . There are many options for technical options, such as CRM systems; however , these people still require you to do the work your self or hire people to fulfill the needs of each of these roles.

Third-Party Satisfaction


  • Uses a current infrastructure. With an current warehouse (or many), third-party fulfillment companies allow your business to get products in strategic locations so that you save money on shipping costs . These businesses also specialize in order fulfillment, meaning they are set up to efficiently deal with storage and shipping.
  • Uses a team of specialists. Instead of learning all of the necessary skills to be efficient from order fulfillment, you can outsource this responsibility to a team associated with professionals who understand how to pack purchases in a way that keeps shipping costs down and reduces the chance meant for product damage in transit.
  • Enables your business in order to scale easily. Due to the fact third-party fulfillment services have a big infrastructure, they can store more stock than most small businesses can afford to accommodate. That enables your business to focus on marketing and promoting more products, and you have the self-confidence of knowing that the fulfillment procedure will be handled by a team associated with specialists.


  • Charges for storage. The main reason many small businesses choose to fulfill their very own orders is that they want to avoid charges and costs. Some third-party satisfaction companies— such as Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA)— charge high common storage fees (and even increased long-term storage fees for slow-moving stock ).
  • Less ability to customize orders. Because you’re not hand-packing purchases yourself, you lose the ability to add a “personal touch” to shipped orders. For instance , you can’t add a handwritten note or even draw a smiley face for the package. However , some third-party satisfaction companies do incorporate ways to include a personalized note or insert advertising materials, such as flyers, stickers, along with other bonus goodies.
  • Requires a substantial investment up front. You’ll still have to purchase your stock before you can ship your products towards the third-party fulfillment company or market them to consumers.



  • Low investment up front. In this scenario, you do not need to buy inventory before you promote and sell this. You will have fewer costs to start your business. Those costs may include buying a domain and paying for website hosting (if you want to sell products on your own website ), or paying fees in order to list your products on a market (if you want to sell on Amazon . com, Jet, or eBay , for example).
  • Enables your company to scale more easily. With dropshipping, you can automate most of the processes in your business, such as forwarding orders to the product supplier therefore it can fulfill the sales orders.
  • Location freedom plus low labor requirements. You can truly operate a dropshipping business from anywhere in the world (as lengthy as you have Internet access). An individual own or store inventory, and also you get to be completely hands-off of most procedures. Basically, you’ll be responsible for marketing, marketing, and customer service (all of which may also be outsourced).
  • Reduced commitment and diversity of item selection. Want to give a new product to your website? Easy! Want to get rid of a product from your offerings? That’s simple, too! Because you’re not pre-purchasing stock, you aren’t committed to any specific item. You can sell as many products when you want when you dropship— with fairly low risk.


  • Low profit margins. Since you are outsourcing almost the entire procedure, the dropshipper (supplier) will charge a person for the product, the packing plus fulfillment, and the shipping costs. Revenue can be extremely low in this business model, which makes it difficult to truly grow a lasting business and brand.
  • Highly competitive market. Your supplier is offering many sellers, which means you are contending with other brands selling identical items to yours. This can become a “race to the bottom, ” where each seller tries to position its item at a slightly lower price until the income become nonexistent for everyone, resulting in a setting that is not conducive to developing a solid brand or a sustainable business.
  • Less brand commitment. If your customers could get an identical product from many other retailers, that makes it far more difficult to gain basics of loyal customers and do it again purchases. The cost for acquiring a client can become very high, and the lifetime associated with a customer (the amount of money a customer usually spends with your business throughout their romantic relationship with you) will likely be fairly reduced.
  • No concrete control of your order-fulfillment process. Because you don’t have access to your personal inventory, you won’t easily know whether or not a product is backordered by the producer. The result may be lengthy delays so as fulfillment, which can cause a customer service headache for your business.
  • Less control over resolving shipping errors. Because you don’t have items on hand, it’s more difficult to fix shipping errors. Ultimately, if there is an issue with a customer’s order, you may turn out refunding the customer or shipping a brand new order in an effort to keep your customer content.
  • No capability to customize orders. Since you aren’t involved in the order-fulfillment process whatsoever, it’s basically impossible to add within a special gift or a handwritten notice. You won’t have the ability to add a personal contact to your customers’ orders.

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Now that you understand the advantages and disadvantages of each order-fulfillment method, which method is befitting your business goals?

Augustin Kennady is the media relations director to get ShipMonk , an e-commerce satisfaction company operating at the intersection associated with technology and logistics. Ask your pet questions on Quora .  

LinkedIn: Augustin Kennady    

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