Iubenda logo
Start generating


Table of Contents

Dropshipping vs Ecommerce: The Pros and Cons

Dropshipping vs ecommerce: undecided between these two business models? Which one is the most adapted for your business? It’s an important step in setting up your new activity! That’s why we have outlined below the pros and cons of each model, to help you make an informed decision.

👀 Let’s get started!

In this post, we explain:

Dropshipping vs Ecommerce: Definitions

Let’s first clarify something in our comparison of dropshipping vs ecommerce. Before going into the definitions of each business model, it is important to point out that dropshipping is, ultimately, another form of e-commerce. In fact, e-commerce covers all electronic commerce.

Dropshipping vs ecommerce: What is dropshipping?

Dropshipping is a retail fulfillment method where a store doesn’t keep the products it sells in stock.

Instead, when a customer places an order on the store’s website, the store purchases the item from a third-party supplier, who ships it directly to the customer.

As a store, you are responsible for marketing and selling the products, while the supplier handles the storage, packaging, and shipping.

💡 Want to go into more detail on how to set up a dropshipping store? We have a great checklist for you here.

Chinese marketplaces like Alibaba, AliExpress or DHGate are typically used as dropshipping suppliers. They offer cost-effective solutions and very cheap prices (especially when bought in bulk or during a flash sale).

Dropshipping vs ecommerce: What is e-commerce?

E-commerce, or electronic commerce, simply refers to the process of buying and selling products and services online through a company’s own website.

By products and services, we mean literally anything: from physical goods like clothing and electronics, to digital products, like software and music.

👋 Looking for an e-commerce platform for setting up your store?

🔍 Check out this list of the best e-commerce platforms!

E-commerce is now the norm for doing business. It has revolutionized the way we shop, allowing consumers to purchase goods from the comfort of their own homes. From the company’s side, it provides invaluable opportunities to reach customers from all over the world.

dropshipping vs ecommerce

Dropshipping Pros and Cons

✅ Pros

  1. Low Startup Costs: no need for purchasing inventory upfront, or any storage space. Minimal risk when starting your business, in case products wouldn’t sell;
  2. Flexibility in Product Offerings: offer a wide range of products without ever being concerned with storage space. You get to see what sells best;
  3. No Need for Inventory Management: a great point for peace of mind! The supplier handles all aspects of inventory management, which removes many of the challenges that come with warehousing and logistics;
  4. Location Independence: you can run a dropshipping business from anywhere with an internet connection;
  5. Supplier vs. Retail Prices: you can usually set your own margins, meaning the price at which you buy the product from the supplier (often cheaper for bulk orders), and the retail price set on your store and charge the customer for.

❌ Cons

  1. Dependence on Suppliers: you are reliant on your suppliers to deliver products to your customers. If your supplier runs out of stock, experiences shipping delays, is closed for holiday, this can negatively impact your business;
  2. Limited Control over Product Quality: you never have the product in your own hands, and therefore can’t check the quality. Plus, you should beware of the quality of some dropshipping marketplaces, it’s best is to first get samples;
  1. Lack of Control over the Customer Experience: the customer experience can be greatly impacted by low product quality, long shipping times, poor customer service – which do not depend on you;
  2. Limited Control over Branding: it’s not so easy to customize your products, be consistent in your brand, and stand out from competitors.

Ecommerce Pros and Cons

✅ Pros

  1. Complete Control over the Customer Experience: you handle everything from the website design, product offering, shipping process and customer service and therefore have more control over how your customers perceive your company;
  2. Ability to Build a Compelling Brand: establish a strong online presence that can differentiate yourself from the competition;
  3. Access to Customer Data: have access to valuable customer data, such as purchase history and preferences – that can later be used for retargeting or email campaigns;

👋 Want to start your e-commerce store with Shopify?

🔍 Make sure not to miss anything with this Shopify checklist!

❌ Cons

  1. Higher Startup Costs: investments for creating the e-commerce store website, for product development, warehousing (for physical products), as well marketing can get quite expensive;
  2. Increased Competition: the e-commerce market is quite crowded. New businesses keep emerging, and it can be difficult for you to differentiate from competitors;
  3. Inventory Management: compared to dropshipping, you are responsible for managing your own inventory, which can be a time-consuming and complex process;
  4. Shipping and Handling Responsibilities: you handle the whole part of shipping and handling products, which means additional costs and liabilities.

Is dropshipping better than e commerce?

Dropshipping is simply a type of e-commerce model. There are pros and cons for both, and it depends on your specific goals, skills and resources.

Dropshipping can be the most cost-effective solution, and it requires a minimal involvement on the inventory management and shipping part, which can be a big plus for you (it is a complex process). With dropshipping however, you lose some control over product quality and are dependent on suppliers.

Depending on your activity, then, you can decide to give more importance to quality, customer experience and branding, which in that case e-commerce might be the best fit for you.

Want to minimize risks for your e-commerce business?

Check out our pre-launch website checklist to make sure not to forget anything!
🛒 Check out our guide on Terms and Conditions and how they can minimize risks for your online store!