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Amazon FBA vs Dropshipping: What’s the difference?

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  • 7 min read

Entrepreneurs constantly seek the most efficient and profitable ways to start and manage their online businesses. Two methods that have become quite popular for achieving this are Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) and dropshipping. Both offer unique advantages and challenges, making it essential for aspiring online sellers to understand their differences before deciding which approach suits their needs best.

This article discusses what Amazon FBA is, what dropshipping is, their pros and cons and the key differences between them.

What is Amazon FBA?

Fulfilment by Amazon, or FBA, is a service offered by Amazon that takes care of everything from storing your products to handling orders, returns, and customer inquiries. It’s hugely favoured by sellers, with 89% of them opting for this service. Whether you’re selling your own branded items or reselling products you’ve sourced through various means like retail arbitrage or wholesale, FBA streamlines your Amazon business operations effectively.

Also read: Amazon FBM vs FBA: Key Differences

What is Dropshipping?

Dropshipping is a method where a seller lists products for sale online but doesn’t buy any inventory upfront. Instead, when an order is placed, it’s fulfilled and shipped directly from a supplier or manufacturer. This approach is popular among sellers on platforms like Amazon, eBay, and Shopify because it’s easy to start and doesn’t require a big initial investment.

However, when dropshipping on Amazon, there are strict rules to follow. For instance, Amazon doesn’t allow sellers to fulfil orders from other retailers like Walmart. Also, sellers need to make sure their identity is clear on all invoices, packing slips, and packaging, without mentioning the supplier or manufacturer. Failure to comply with these rules could result in Amazon suspending your account.

Pros and Cons of Amazon FBA

Here are a few pros and cons of Amazon FBA:


  • Convenience: With Amazon FBA, sellers simply send their inventory to Amazon’s fulfilment centres, and Amazon takes care of all the tasks involved in fulfilling orders, including picking, packing, and shipping.
  • Prime benefits: When Amazon ships your products, they automatically receive the Prime shipping badge on your listings, signalling to customers that they’re eligible for fast shipping.
  • Customer trust: Seeing the Prime badge on your listings instils trust in customers, as they know they can count on receiving their products within two days, thanks to Amazon’s efficient shipping services.
  • Customer support: Amazon handles all customer service inquiries for orders fulfilled by them, providing sellers with peace of mind and freeing up their time.
  • Returns management: In case a customer needs to return an item, Amazon handles the process of receiving and managing returns, simplifying the seller’s workload.
  • Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF): Sellers can leverage Amazon FBA to fulfil orders from other e-commerce platforms using multi-channel fulfilment, streamlining their fulfilment process across multiple sales channels.


  • Fees: Amazon applies different charges for storage, handling orders, and additional services, which may reduce profits, particularly for items with low prices.
  • Restock restrictions: Amazon imposes restock limits for each storage category, which means you might not be able to send in as much inventory as you’d prefer.
  • Inventory management: Sellers must maintain sufficient stock levels in Amazon’s warehouses to prevent stockouts, as this can result in lost sales and a decline in visibility in search results.
  • Competition: The Amazon platform is extremely competitive, making it difficult for newcomers to distinguish themselves unless they offer something unique or have a standout marketing approach.

Also read: Nvidia RTX 4070 vs RTX 4070Ti: Key Difference

Pros and Cons of Dropshipping

Here are a few pros and cons of Dropshipping:


  • Low startup costs: Dropshipping requires minimal upfront investment since you don’t need to purchase inventory upfront. This makes it an attractive option for new entrepreneurs with limited capital.
  • Wide product range: Without the constraint of stocking inventory, you can present a broad array of products to your customers without having to buy or store them in advance.
  • Freedom of location: With dropshipping, you can operate your business from anywhere with an internet connection. This flexibility allows you to work from any location you choose.
  • Easy to get started: Starting a dropshipping store is relatively straightforward, thanks to the variety of e-commerce platforms and tools available that simplify the setup process.


  • Quality control: Since you’re not handling the products yourself, you have little control over product quality, shipping times, and customer service, which can lead to negative customer experiences.
  • Lower margins: With dropshipping, profit margins are typically lower compared to traditional e-commerce models due to increased competition and the need to pay suppliers.
  • Supplier dependence: Your business is reliant on your suppliers’ ability to fulfil orders promptly and maintain product quality. Any issues on their end can directly impact your business.
  • Shipping challenges: Dropshipping from international suppliers can lead to longer shipping times and increased shipping costs, which may deter customers looking for quick delivery.

Key differences between Amazon FBA and Dropshipping

Here are the key differences between Amazon FBA and dropshipping to give a better understanding:

Inventory management

  • Amazon FBA requires sellers to send their inventory to Amazon’s fulfilment centres, where it is stored until sold. This means sellers have to invest in inventory upfront and manage stock levels.
  • Dropshipping eliminates the need for inventory management since the seller doesn’t hold any inventory. This reduces upfront costs and eliminates the risk of being stuck with unsold inventory.

Shipping and fulfillment

  • With Amazon FBA, Amazon handles the shipping and fulfilment process, including picking, packing, and shipping orders to customers. This offers sellers a hassle-free experience but comes with fulfilment fees.
  • With dropshipping, the supplier ships the product directly to the customer. Although this lowers the seller’s initial expenses, it could result in longer shipping durations and less influence over the order fulfilment procedure.

Control and branding

  • Amazon FBA provides sellers with less control over the fulfilment process and customer experience since Amazon handles shipping and customer service. However, sellers can still build their brand presence on the platform.
  • Dropshipping allows sellers to have more control over the customer experience and branding since they manage their store and customer interactions. This enables sellers to create a unique brand identity and customer experience.

Costs and margins

  • Amazon FBA involves fees for storage, fulfilment, and other services provided by Amazon. While these fees can eat into profit margins, FBA sellers benefit from access to Amazon’s vast customer base and Prime eligibility.
  • Dropshipping typically has lower upfront costs since sellers don’t need to invest in inventory or storage. However, profit margins can be lower due to intense competition and the need to mark up prices to cover supplier costs and shipping fees.

Scalability and growth potential

  • Amazon FBA Offers scalability through access to Amazon’s vast customer base and infrastructure, allowing sellers to reach a larger audience and potentially grow their businesses more rapidly.
  • Dropshipping can be scaled relatively quickly, it may be more challenging to build a strong brand and customer base compared to selling on a platform like Amazon.

Also read: Is Dropshipping a scam?

Akash Singh

Akash Singh

Akash is a law graduate who likes to go for bike rides on the weekends soul-searching for answers to his many existential questions. You can contact him here: