Definition of Dropshipping

Dropshipping is an e-commerce business model where a store doesn’t physically stock the products it sells. Instead, when a customer places an order, the retailer forwards the order details to a supplier. The supplier then ships the product directly to the customer, allowing the retailer to avoid inventory and logistics management.


The phonetic pronunciation of the keyword “Dropshipping” is: /ˈdrɒpˌʃɪpɪŋ/.

Key Takeaways

  1. Dropshipping is an ecommerce model where retailers don’t need to handle inventory, as products are shipped directly from the supplier to the customer.
  2. It allows for lower startup costs, reduced risk, and easier scalability compared to traditional retail models.
  3. However, dropshipping can also lead to lower profit margins, potential supplier issues, and less control over product quality and fulfillment.

Importance of Dropshipping

Dropshipping is an important digital marketing term because it refers to a highly efficient e-commerce business model that allows retailers to sell products online without maintaining physical inventory or dealing with shipping logistics.

This reduces overhead costs and mitigates risks associated with holding and managing stock.

Instead, when a customer orders a product, the retailer purchases it from a third-party supplier, who then ships the product directly to the customer.

This enables retailers to focus on marketing and driving sales, while suppliers handle the fulfillment process.

With minimized barriers to entry and the potential for greater scalability, dropshipping has become an increasingly popular choice for online entrepreneurs in today’s digital landscape.


Dropshipping serves as an essential purpose within the realm of digital marketing, as it drastically reduces the financial and logistical burdens faced by online retailers. This e-commerce model allows the retailer to act as a middleman between the supplier and the customer, enabling them to sell products without ever physically handling the inventory or dealing with shipping procedures.

By eliminating the need for warehousing and order fulfillment, dropshipping enables entrepreneurs to focus on marketing strategies and customer service, ultimately contributing to the growth and success of their businesses. The purpose of dropshipping lies in its ability to provide businesses with increased flexibility and agility in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Moreover, dropshipping also benefits the consumers by offering a wide array of product options within a single platform, making it easier for them to search for and purchase items that cater to their unique preferences. Retailers utilizing this model can quickly adapt to market trends and consumer demands by adding or removing items from their inventory at minimal cost.

Additionally, it allows for the seamless integration of products from different suppliers, granting retailers the opportunity to cater to the niche markets or create a diverse product offering that appeals to a broader customer base. Overall, dropshipping serves as a powerful tool in the world of digital marketing, enabling online retailers to focus on increasing customer satisfaction, expanding their business, and driving profit — all without the traditional obstacles of inventory and shipping management.

Examples of Dropshipping

Shopify: Shopify is a leading e-commerce platform that enables entrepreneurs to create their online stores and sell products without holding any inventory. One of the most successful business models on Shopify is dropshipping, in which the store owner lists products from a third-party supplier on their online store. When a customer places an order, the store owner sends the order information to the supplier, who then ships the product directly to the customer. This eliminates the need for the store owner to handle products, inventory, or shipping logistics, allowing them to focus on marketing and customer acquisition. A popular example of a Shopify-based dropshipping store is the fashion retailer “Fashion Nova,” which partners with various manufacturers and suppliers to manage inventory and shipping.

Oberlo: Oberlo is a dropshipping app that integrates with Shopify, allowing store owners to easily find and import products from various suppliers around the world. With just a few clicks, entrepreneurs can populate their online store with products from trusted suppliers and automatically forward orders to be fulfilled and shipped directly to customers. The ease of use and vast supplier network provided by Oberlo has made it an essential tool for many successful dropshipping entrepreneurs.

Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon): While Amazon FBA is not a pure dropshipping model, it shares several similarities. Online sellers can list their products on Amazon and leverage the company’s vast fulfillment infrastructure to store, pack, and ship their products. In some cases, sellers list products from other manufacturers or wholesalers, essentially acting as a dropshipping business. When a customer makes a purchase on Amazon, the seller sends the order information to the manufacturer or wholesaler, who then sends the product to Amazon’s warehouse, from where it is shipped to the customer. This model allows sellers to avoid managing physical inventory and focus on marketing their products effectively on the Amazon marketplace.

Dropshipping FAQ

What is dropshipping?

Dropshipping is a retail business model where the seller doesn’t keep the products in stock but, instead, passes the customer’s order and shipment details to the manufacturer or a wholesaler, who then ships the products directly to the customer. In this model, the seller earns profit from the difference between the wholesale and retail price.

How does dropshipping work?

In a dropshipping business model, the seller lists and markets the products online on their website or e-commerce platform. When a customer places an order, the seller forwards the order details to the supplier, which handles fulfilling and shipping the orders. The seller doesn’t need to store inventory or handle shipping, making dropshipping a low-involved and cost-effective model for starting an online business.

What are the benefits of dropshipping?

1. Low startup costs: You don’t have to invest in product inventory, storage facilities, or handling equipment.

2. Flexibility: You can run your business from anywhere with an internet connection and easily manage your online store.

3. Wide product selection: You can offer a diverse range of products without purchasing them first, and add or remove products as needed.

4. Scalability: You can grow your business without the constraints of inventory or shipping management.

What are the challenges of dropshipping?

1. Lower profit margins: Since you’re acting as a middleman, your profit margins can be lower than a traditional retail business.

2. Dependence on suppliers: Your business relies on suppliers for order fulfillment, so any delay or issues from their side can affect your customers’ satisfaction.

3. Inventory issues: You need to keep up with your suppliers’ inventory and update your store accordingly to avoid selling out-of-stock products.

4. Limited control over shipments: Since the supplier is responsible for shipping, the packaging and shipping times might not be as consistent as you’d like.

How do I find the right suppliers for my dropshipping business?

1. Research: Look for suppliers on dropshipping directories, e-commerce marketplaces, supplier databases, and forums catering to dropshippers.

2. Evaluate: Check the supplier’s reputation, shipping times, product quality, and communication responsiveness by reading reviews and reaching out to them directly.

3. Test: Order product samples to verify the quality and efficiency of the supplier.

4. Compare: Weigh the strengths and weaknesses of multiple suppliers to select the best fit for your business.

Can I use a dropshipping platform to help manage my business?

Yes, there are various dropshipping platforms that help streamline the process of managing a dropshipping business. These platforms often provide integration with e-commerce marketplaces, order management tools, and automation features to make the process of sourcing products, placing orders, and tracking shipments more efficient. Some popular dropshipping platforms include Oberlo, Spocket, SaleHoo, and Printful.

Related Digital Marketing Terms

  • Supply Chain Management
  • E-commerce Platform
  • Order Fulfillment
  • AliExpress
  • Print on Demand

Sources for More Information

Reviewed by digital marketing experts

More terms

Guides, Tips, and More