If you’ve thought about starting your own ecommerce store, you may be wondering how you’ll get access to an inventory of products, or where you’ll store them.
Under the traditional business model, retailers are responsible for the order fulfillment process from start to finish. That often means leasing warehouse space for products, handling supply chain and inventory management, and managing shipping costs.
However, there’s an alternative business model for fulfilling customer orders placed through an online store: dropshipping.
Table of Contents
What is dropshipping?
Dropshipping is an order fulfillment method where a business doesn’t keep the products it sells in stock. Instead, the seller purchases inventory as needed from a third party—usually a wholesaler or manufacturer—to fulfill orders.
The biggest difference between dropshipping and the standard retail model is that the selling merchant doesn’t stock or own inventory—they act as the middleman.
What is a dropshipper?
A dropshipper is a person or business that uses the dropshipping model of buying inventory and fulfillment logistics from a third party, instead of warehousing and shipping the products themselves.
Because dropshipping relies on a third-party supplier to handle inventory warehousing and order fulfillment, a dropshipping operation may be managed by dozens of employees or a single business owner.
How does dropshipping work?
The dropshipping process is essentially a relationship between a customer-facing store and a supplier.
There are two common approaches to adopting a dropshipping business model. The first is to seek out one or more wholesale suppliers located in North America (or anywhere else in the world) on your own using a supplier database. Examples of popular online supplier databases include AliExpress, SaleHoo, and Worldwide Brands.
If you’re not interested in finding suppliers for all of the products you plan to sell, you can use an app that connects you and your store to thousands of suppliers. For this, we recommend DSers, a Shopify app that helps independent business owners find products to sell.
With DSers, you can browse AliExpress and import the products that pique your interest directly to DSers—which is connected to your Shopify store—with the click of a button. Once a customer buys a product, you’ll be able to fulfill their order in the DSers app.
Fortunately, DSers automates most of the dropshipping process. As the store owner, all you have to do is check that the details are correct and click the order button. The product is then shipped directly from the AliExpress supplier to the customer—wherever in the world they may be.