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What is Dropshipping & How it Works?

Published on Feb 2, 2024Updated on Mar 7, 2024

What is Dropshipping & How it Works?

Dropshipping, an e-commerce retail model, enables stores to sell products without maintaining physical inventory. In this setup, the retailer sells to the customer, forwarding the sales order to a third-party supplier for direct shipment. This model eliminates the need for inventory investment, warehouse space, and fulfilment management, allowing sellers to focus on marketing and sales rather than logistical challenges.

Dropshipping provides a low-risk entry into e-commerce, as retailers only purchase products after making a sale. The streamlined process makes it an attractive option for entrepreneurs seeking to start an online business without the complexities of traditional retail logistics.

This article will delve into what a dropshipping business is, its features and how to start this type of business.

How Dropshipping Works

Dropshipping is a retail fulfillment method where a store doesn't keep the products it sells in stock. Instead, when you sell a product, you purchase the item from a third party and have it shipped directly to the customer.

The Basic Concept

Dropshipping involves third-party suppliers creating products just-in-time for each order. Retailers, upon receiving an order, share specifications with the supplier who manufactures the product. It's commonly used in e-commerce and can supplement traditional retail models for market testing without excess inventory. To set up a dropshipping agreement, a formal contract is typically drafted between the retailer and the supplier.

Key Players in Dropshipping

Leading dropshipping companies in India include Shopify, IndiaMART, Baapstore, Wholesalebox, Seasonsway, Hothaat, SaleHoo, Meesho, Snazzyway, and Printrove. These platforms facilitate seamless dropshipping, allowing businesses to sell products without handling inventory. Each company brings distinct features, providing a range of solutions for entrepreneurs venturing into the Indian dropshipping market.

Dropshipping vs Traditional Retail

Dropshipping differs from traditional retail as it eliminates the need for inventory stocking and order fulfilment. In dropshipping, retailers sell products without physical possession, relying on third-party suppliers. Conversely, traditional retail involves purchasing and managing inventory, with the retailer responsible for storage, packaging, and shipping.

Advantages of Dropshipping

The advantages of dropping are as follows:

Low Startup Costs

With dropshipping, there's no need to invest heavily upfront in purchasing and managing large product inventories. Instead, you can fulfil orders as they come in, minimizing your initial financial commitment and allowing for a more flexible and cost-effective business start-up.

Reduced Inventory Risks

Dropshipping eliminates the necessity for significant upfront investments in inventory and storage, reducing overhead costs. This low-risk model ensures businesses only purchase products as orders are received, providing financial flexibility and making it an ideal option for market testing and risk mitigation.

Flexibility and Scalability

Opting for dropshipping enables running an online store remotely, devoid of location constraints. This flexibility not only supports seamless operation from anywhere but also enhances scalability, facilitating the potential for business expansion without the constraints associated with a fixed physical location.

Global Reach

With dropshipping, your store doesn't need a global physical presence to ship products worldwide. This model allows you to reach a global customer base without the need for establishing multiple locations, expanding market reach and potential customer engagement on a global scale.

Low Risk

Dropshipping minimizes the risks associated with stocking unsold inventory. Unlike traditional models, where inventory management is crucial, dropshipping allows you to purchase products only when orders are received. This reduces the risks of inventory management, storage issues, and potential losses from unsold goods.


With a dropshipping business, you can test product demands and selling capabilities without committing to large orders. This flexibility enables you to assess the market and your target audience's response before making significant commitments.

Challenges in Dropshipping

Supplier Issues

Dropshipping may face supplier issues such as quality control challenges, stock availability concerns, communication delays, varied shipping times, and limitations in product range. Careful supplier selection and effective communication are crucial to navigating these challenges and maintaining a streamlined dropshipping operation for retailers.

Quality Control

Another challenge in dropshipping is ensuring product quality. As retailers don't physically handle inventory, verifying the quality of products can be challenging. Sourcing high-quality items becomes crucial to avoid credibility loss, negative reviews, and potential customer attrition, emphasizing the need for meticulous supplier vetting and quality control measures in dropshipping operations.

Customer Service Challenges

Since retailers don't handle the fulfillment process, addressing customer inquiries, concerns, and handling returns can be complex. Delays in communication with suppliers may lead to extended resolution times, impacting customer satisfaction. Establishing effective customer support strategies and maintaining transparent communication become crucial to mitigating these challenges.

Market Saturation

Dropshipping faces the challenge of market saturation, where an oversupply of similar products or a high number of dropshipping businesses in a niche can lead to increased competition, reduced profit margins, and diminished opportunities for new entrants to gain a foothold in the market.

Branding Limitations

Establishing brand awareness and recognition becomes difficult, as competition is fierce and similar products are prevalent. Standing out is a hurdle when many dropshippers offer identical catalogues. To succeed, finding distinctive and appealing elements that set the business apart from competitors is essential.

Data Privacy Concerns

Dropshipping may pose data privacy issues as retailers handle customer information, and communication with third-party suppliers involves sharing sensitive data. Ensuring secure data transmission, storage, and compliance with privacy regulations are crucial to protecting customer information and maintaining trust in dropshipping operations.

Hidden Costs

Dropshipping may involve unforeseen expenses, including additional fees from suppliers, transaction costs, or unexpected shipping charges. Identifying and understanding these hidden costs is crucial for accurate financial planning and preventing budget overruns in the dropshipping business model.

How to Start a Dropshipping Business in 2024

Starting a dropshipping business in 2024 is achievable by following specific steps and adhering to guidelines. With niche selection, a robust brand identity, and a reliable platform, along with legal compliance and effective marketing, it's an accessible venture. Prioritize customer service and stay informed on industry trends for a successful dropshipping journey.

Choosing a Niche

Select a niche (specific area) aligned with your expertise and audience. Identify products and target markets to define your business focus in the dropshipping model.

Finding Reliable Suppliers

Research and select a trustworthy supplier with a strong track record in your chosen niche. This ensures product quality and timely fulfilment, forming a solid foundation for a successful dropshipping venture.

Selecting a Platform or Marketplace

Choose a platform or marketplace that aligns with your business goals and target audience. Assess factors like user-friendliness, features, and fees associated with platforms like Shopify or marketplaces like Amazon.

Design & Pricing

Build a strong brand identity by crafting a unique business name, designing a memorable logo, and selecting a fitting colour palette. Align these elements with your brand values to enhance recognition, resonate with your audience, and establish a compelling presence.

Creating a Professional Online Store

Establishing an online store involves selecting a hosting provider and a platform like WordPress or a website builder. Choose a hosting service that suits your business needs and a user-friendly platform for website creation. Building a seamless online store enhances your digital presence.

Business Finances

Ensure financial stability by setting up a dedicated business bank account. Factor in taxes and fees while determining product pricing to maintain profitability. This financial approach fosters transparency, compliance, and sustainable growth in your dropshipping venture.

Customer Service

Prioritize exceptional customer service in dropshipping. Establish clear communication channels, promptly address queries, and provide efficient order tracking. Resolving issues promptly enhances customer satisfaction, builds trust, and fosters positive reviews, contributing to long-term success in the competitive dropshipping landscape.

Legal Considerations

Ensure compliance with business registration, tax regulations, and consumer protection laws. Craft transparent terms of service, privacy policies, and refund procedures and consult legal professionals to address jurisdiction-specific regulations.

Must Read: Top 10 Best Business Ideas In Delhi in 2024

Legal and Ethical Considerations

Legal considerations in dropshipping include taxes, business licenses, copyright concerns, and insurance. Ethical issues such as transparent return policies and clear advertising also play a crucial role. Ensure compliance with these aspects to establish a legally sound and ethical dropshipping business.

Understanding Legal Requirements

Comply with tax obligations, obtain necessary business licenses, and prevent copyright infringement. Ensure legal clarity to build a foundation for a secure dropshipping venture.

Ethical Considerations in Dropshipping

Maintain transparency in advertising and establish clear return policies to uphold ethical standards. Prioritize honesty and fairness to foster trust among customers.

Handling Returns and Refunds

Efficiently manage return processes and refunds, demonstrating a commitment to customer satisfaction. Clear communication and fair handling of returns contribute to a positive customer experience.

Must Read: What is the Impact of MSME on the Indian Economy


In summary, dropshipping is an e-commerce business model that has gained significant traction for its low entry barriers and flexibility. The competitive nature of the dropshipping landscape underscores the importance of niches and targeted marketing to stand out. While the model allows for scalability, it also poses challenges that should be expected. Adaptability is crucial in the dynamic e-commerce landscape, as trends and consumer preferences evolve rapidly.

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* Please note that this article is for your knowledge only. Loans are disbursed at the sole discretion of SMFG India Credit. Final approval, loan terms, disbursal process, foreclosure charges and foreclosure process will be subject to SMFG India Credit's policy at the time of loan application. If you wish to know more about our products and services, please contact us


What is the Difference Between Dropshipping and Retail?

Dropshipping involves selling products without holding inventory, while retail requires purchasing and stocking products. Dropshippers source products as orders are received, reducing upfront costs and inventory management.

How Can I Find Reliable Dropshipping Suppliers?

To find reliable dropshipping suppliers, identify trustworthy suppliers by researching reviews, evaluating their track record, and requesting product samples. Ensure clear communication and fulfilment capabilities for a reliable partnership.

Are There Any Legal Requirements for Dropshipping?

Legal requirements for dropshipping can generally be followed by adhering to tax regulations, obtaining necessary licenses, and addressing copyright concerns. Comply with consumer protection laws and draft transparent terms of service to establish a legally sound dropshipping business.

What Marketing Strategies Work Best for Dropshipping?

Marketing strategies that work best for dropshipping include leveraging social media advertising, influencer partnerships, and SEO to drive traffic. Create compelling product descriptions and emphasize unique selling points to attract and retain customers in the competitive dropshipping market.

How Can I Handle Customer Service in Dropshipping?

Customer service in dropshipping includes establishing clear communication channels, promptly addressing queries, and ensuring efficient order tracking. Resolving issues promptly enhances customer satisfaction and builds trust in the dropshipping business.

What are the Common Challenges in Dropshipping?

Challenges in dropshipping include quality control, supplier issues, market saturation, and managing customer service efficiently. Dropshippers must navigate these hurdles with careful supplier selection, effective communication, and strategic planning.

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