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Drop shipping is a supply chain management technique in which the retailer does not keep goods in stock, but instead transfers customer orders and shipment details to either the manufacturer or a wholesaler, who then ships the goods directly to the customer. As in retail businesses, the majority of retailers make their profit on the difference between the wholesale and retail price but some retailers earn an agreed percentage of the sales in commission, paid by the wholesaler to the retailer.
Benefits – Two significant benefits of drop shipping are the elimination of upfront inventory and a positive cash-flow cycle. A positive cash flow cycle occurs because the seller is paid when the purchase is made. The seller usually pays the wholesaler using a credit card or credit terms. Therefore, there is a period of time in which the seller has the customer’s money, but has not yet paid the wholesaler.
Risks – As in any business, some risks are involved in drop shipping. For example, backordering may occur when a seller places a shipment request with a wholesaler, but the product is sold out. Backordering may be accompanied by a long wait for a shipment while the wholesaler waits for new products, which may reflect badly on the retailer. A good wholesaler will keep retailers updated, but it is the business owner’s job to be aware of the quantities that the wholesaler has available.
Developments – Major drop shipping suppliers and fulfillment services are primarily based in the USA. Many drop ship companies have emerged in China, many of which offer wholesale and drop shipping services to both companies and
individuals. This is largely due to the increasing ease of e-procurement and the growing part that the internet is playing in e-commerce. Drop ship suppliers based in China have increasingly been able to compete with same-country distributors because of improved logistics for small packets and the easing of trade barriers.