What Is the Distinction? (Professionals & Cons)


Questioning what is the distinction between dropshipping and 3PL?

Whereas the 2 could be simply combined, they’re fairly completely different in apply.

The primary distinction between dropshipping and 3PL is that dropshipping doesn’t contain shopping for stock upfront, whereas 3PL entails working with a third-party accomplice and delivery stock to them upfront.

On this article, we are going to go into this subject in additional depth, clarify the professionals and cons of every, and enable you to resolve which method is the suitable selection for you.

Overview: Dropshipping vs. 3PL

Let’s begin with an outline of dropshipping and 3PL!

Right here is an evidence of what dropshipping is:

Dropshipping is an ecommerce enterprise mannequin through which a web based retailer doesn’t retailer stock however acts as a intermediary between the provider and the client.

Each time a buyer orders an merchandise, the shop sends the order on to the dropshipping provider, who then ships it to the client.

And right here is an evidence for 3PL:

3PL stands for third-party logistics, which signifies that an ecommerce web site depends on a third-party achievement firm for order storage, packaging, and delivery.

3PL companions don’t work immediately with the factories or manufacture the merchandise, so the vendor is chargeable for doing the majority order and sending the stock to the 3PL accomplice.

Each of those achievement strategies have their professionals and cons, and right here is an outline of them:

Professionals of dropshipping Cons of dropshipping Professionals of 3PL Cons of 3PL
Simpler for rookies A much less dependable possibility for scaling Can deal with elevated order volumes Extra superior possibility for rookies
Much less upfront funding Longer delivery instances Quick and constant delivery instances Extra upfront prices
Decrease overhead bills Potential high quality management points Dependable with minimal high quality management points Extra overhead bills
Entry to extra merchandise Potential points with buyer satisfaction Increased buyer satisfaction Extra restricted product catalog

What’s dropshipping?

Dropshipping is a enterprise mannequin the place you promote merchandise in your on-line retailer with out holding any inventory your self. With dropshipping, you’re employed with a dropshipping provider who will deal with your inventory, course of your orders, and ship them out.

Listed below are 4 steps of how the entire course of works:

  1. You obtain an order in your on-line retailer after which place that order together with your dropshipping provider.
  2. Your provider ships the product from their warehouse.
  3. Your buyer receives their package deal immediately from the dropshipping provider.

Now that you realize the fundamentals of the dropshipping mannequin, let’s dive into 3PL to make the variations even clearer!

What’s 3PL?

3PL, or third-party logistics, is a type of achievement the place you, the vendor, depend on a third-party firm to deal with warehousing, packaging, and delivery of merchandise.

Yow will discover 3PL companions from everywhere in the world, however most are situated within the US, Canada, Australia, the UK, and the EU. Many main 3PL firms, like ShipBob, have warehouses in all of those nations.

Here is what the method of utilizing 3PL appears to be like like:

  1. You supply or manufacture the merchandise, negotiate the majority order deal, and discover the sizes, colours, and variants. This may be performed from Alibaba, for instance.
  2. You ship a bulk order of your merchandise to the 3PL achievement heart for storage. Relying on what sort of deal you make, your 3PL accomplice fees you a charge for storing the merchandise of their warehouse.
  3. When a buyer locations an order in your on-line retailer, your 3PL accomplice ships the product on to them.
  4. Your buyer receives the package deal from the 3PL accomplice.
  5. You retain monitor of the stock to ensure your 3PL accomplice at all times has merchandise in inventory to ship. When the merchandise are operating low on inventory, you place a brand new bulk order out of your producer.

The professionals and cons of dropshipping vs. 3PL

Essentially the most obvious distinction between dropshipping and 3PL is how merchandise are fulfilled.

With dropshipping, you do not spend money on any stock since your provider fulfills on an order-by-order foundation. In distinction, with 3PL, you are chargeable for sending sufficient stock to your 3PL accomplice to allow them to hold fulfilling orders.

Apparently, 3PL could possibly be thought-about a type of dropshipping because you, as the vendor, will not be holding any stock.

For this professionals and cons part, we are going to evaluate the 2 strategies of their commonest kind:

  • Dropshipping. Promoting merchandise in your on-line retailer with the assistance of a dropshipping provider.
  • 3PL. Promoting merchandise in your on-line retailer with the assistance of a third-party logistics firm.

Professionals of dropshipping (or cons of 3PL)

Let’s begin with the professionals of dropshipping, that are additionally the cons of 3PL achievement.

1. Simpler for rookies

The largest benefit of dropshipping is that it is a lot less complicated to get into than 3PL.

A man lying on the beach

With 3PL, there are extra steps, and it is a bit extra superior for somebody new. Plus, it would not make a lot sense to begin with 3PL you probably have no earlier expertise dropshipping or have not validated your product concept.

It’s because in case your product would not find yourself promoting properly, you might have wasted cash on the stock that sits unused.

2. Much less upfront funding

With dropshipping, you do not have to spend money on shopping for stock upfront, which provides you enormous financial savings.

Not like with 3PL, you must spend money on a inventory, and often, 3PL firms have a minimal order amount that you must meet.

A women throwing money in the air

For instance, if the minimal order amount is 100, you should ship 100 merchandise to your 3PL accomplice simply to get began.

Dropshipping suppliers usually do not need a minimal order amount.

3. Decrease overhead bills

If you wish to get a greater concept of what prices are precisely concerned with dropshipping, we’ve got written a whole article on it:

How A lot Does It Value to Begin Dropshipping in 2024

The above prices are calculated for those who simply use a fundamental dropshipping provider. It’s means cheaper for those who evaluate that to utilizing a 3PL accomplice.

You could surprise in regards to the completely different overhead bills concerned with 3PL and why it prices cash. ShipBob has made an incredible desk that showcases a typical 3PL pricing mannequin:

As you possibly can see, there are numerous charges related to 3PL firms, together with fees for receiving your merchandise and including them to the self-storage unit, month-to-month storage charges, delivery, and pick-and-pack charges.

Many firms even have a minimal achievement spend for every month. For ShipBob, it is $275, that means you possibly can’t spend any lower than that for those who use their 3PL providers.

Then, on prime of this, you must add the opposite charges, like the price of producing the merchandise, your month-to-month ecommerce charges, and any third-party apps you employ.

Including all these up, you possibly can be sure you have many bills each month, and for those who’re not making any gross sales but, it could possibly go mistaken shortly.

4. Entry to extra merchandise

There isn’t any doubt that dropshipping provides you entry to extra merchandise than 3PL achievement.

Since you do not have to purchase any stock upfront, you possibly can just about check limitless new merchandise till you discover a profitable one.

That’s actually not doable with 3PL since you must purchase a inventory for each product.

Technically, it is doable, however it might be a waste of cash to purchase inventory for each product as a result of not every little thing you attempt will promote properly.

Cons of dropshipping (or professionals of 3PL)

Subsequent, let’s look into the cons of dropshipping, that are additionally the professionals of 3PL!

1. Much less dependable for scaling

In case your dropshipping enterprise is worthwhile and also you really need to begin scaling, 3PL achievement can be extra dependable than dropshipping achievement.

One purpose for that is that 3PL companions have actually excessive accuracy price, and their delivery is quick. To make use of ShipBob for example once more, their accuracy price is 99.95% for all their clients.

Shipping accuracy of ShipBob

What this merely means is that just about 100% of the purchasers have acquired the right merchandise.

That is one thing dropshipping suppliers cannot provide at this excessive degree.

Do not get me mistaken, many of the prime dropshipping suppliers do have excessive accuracy when it comes to how precisely the orders attain the purchasers.

Additionally, 3PL firms are usually extra reliable, particularly for superior wants like omnifulfillment when scaling.

Omnifulfillment of ShipBob

2. Longer delivery instances and fewer management over them

Dropshipping suppliers, even these from China, have improved their delivery speeds.

When you use options like CJdropshipping, you may get your merchandise shipped worldwide inside 7 to 14 days.

Nonetheless, these supply instances are nonetheless quite sluggish in comparison with what 3PL companions can provide. ShipBob, for instance, is thought for its two-day delivery throughout the US, which is unparalleled by dropshipping suppliers.

Additionally, since 3PL firms often have warehouses on most continents, they will get merchandise shipped worldwide inside two to seven days.

One other issue is how a lot management you might have over your delivery.

With 3PL, you might have extra management over how issues are shipped, what packaging to make use of, and even placing in your personal advertisements or messages. It’s because you’re employed immediately with the folks dealing with your objects, so you possibly can inform them the best way to handle your merchandise.

Then again, most dropshipping suppliers often provide restricted delivery choices.

You possibly can’t actually resolve on packaging or how briskly issues ship except you might have an excellent relationship with the provider and are making sufficient cash for them to think about any particular requests.

3. Potential high quality management points

Anybody who has used AliExpress sellers as their suppliers could also be accustomed to the standard management points.

Quality control issues

When you have used AliExpress for a very long time, it’s fairly probably that a few of your clients will obtain low-quality or broken merchandise. When this occurs, it may be arduous to contact AliExpress sellers and obtain any assist with returns and refunds on the product.

Utilizing a extra well-known dropshipping provider, comparable to Syncee or a personal dropshipping agent, will partly resolve this drawback since they’ve higher high quality management processes.

Nonetheless, essentially the most dependable answer can be a 3PL accomplice since they’ve essentially the most strict high quality management processes.

4. Potential points with buyer satisfaction

One of many issues with dropshipping is potential points with buyer satisfaction.

To be clear, this isn’t at all times the case, however clients could also be sad in case your delivery takes too lengthy otherwise you can’t present monitoring numbers since you use some lesser-known delivery firm.

So long as your product is of top quality and also you’re additionally doing different issues proper, you’ll not face this drawback when utilizing a 3PL accomplice.

3PL companions present monitoring numbers to clients, and since they ship so shortly, there may be little or no likelihood that clients will complain.

Which enterprise mannequin is best for you: dropshipping vs. 3PL?

A person tracking his profits

When you’re nonetheless undecided which of those two achievement strategies is the suitable possibility for you, this part will assist.

Dropshipping stands out as the proper possibility for you if:

  • You do not need to make investments some huge cash upfront.
  • You need as little overhead bills as doable.
  • You do not need to cope with shopping for stock upfront.
  • You need entry to as many merchandise as doable.
  • You need extra affect in dealing with and delivery your merchandise.

3PL achievement stands out as the proper possibility for you if:

  • You need to make the most of two- to seven-day delivery instances worldwide.
  • You are already making gross sales together with your ecommerce model.
  • You are able to spend money on inventory to extend your buyer satisfaction.
  • You need as little as doable issues with high quality management.

Additionally, simply so as to add an essential level.

What we suggest doing for most individuals is beginning with dropshipping achievement after which regularly switching to 3PL for those who really feel prefer it.

For instance, you would begin utilizing the CJdropshipping China warehouses and ship your merchandise from there. When you get a constant quantity of orders each month, additionally they have warehouses around the globe, which you’ll then begin utilizing if you need.

This fashion, you are capable of hold the prices down whereas nonetheless rising your enterprise!

Examine different enterprise fashions

Undecided but if dropshipping or 3PL is the suitable match for you? Take a look at our different comparability articles beneath:


Earlier than we go to the conclusion, we have created a fast abstract of this text for you, so you possibly can simply keep in mind it:

  • Dropshipping is a enterprise mannequin the place the vendor sells merchandise of their on-line retailer with out holding any inventory themselves.
  • 3PL is a type of achievement that entails the vendor counting on a third-party firm to deal with warehousing, packaging, and delivery.
  • The primary distinction between dropshipping and 3PL achievement is that with dropshipping achievement, you do not have to purchase stock upfront, whereas with 3PL achievement, you ship stock to a third-party accomplice.
  • Dropshipping achievement stands out as the proper possibility for you if you wish to get began with minimal upfront funding, low overhead bills, and the power to check many merchandise.
  • 3PL achievement stands out as the proper possibility for you for those who’re able to scale your ecommerce enterprise and need quick delivery instances, a dependable achievement system, and extra glad clients.


That wraps up our comparability between 3PL and dropshipping!

Consider dropshipping as a place to begin, good for if you’re simply starting. As your enterprise grows, you would possibly discover 3PL a greater match due to its quicker, extra dependable delivery and fewer points with product high quality.

Did we miss any essential factors on this article? If that’s the case, be at liberty to tell us!

When you have any questions on these two achievement strategies, keep in mind that you may at all times depart us a query down beneath!

Good luck!

Need to study extra about dropshipping?

Prepared to maneuver your dropshipping retailer to the subsequent degree? Take a look at the articles beneath:

Plus, don’t overlook to take a look at our in-depth information on the best way to begin dropshipping right here!

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