Drop shipping is a supply chain management method in which the retailer does not keep goods in stock but instead transfers the customer orders and shipment details to either the manufacturer, another retailer, or a wholesaler, who then ships the goods directly to the customer. As in retail business, 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
To enable customers to review items similar to those they can purchase, a drop shipping retailer might keep "display items" on display in a physical "brick and mortar" store, or provide a product catalog as either hard copy or online, or even some combination of all these methods
Retailers that drop ship merchandise from wholesalers can take measures to hide this fact or keep the wholesale source from becoming widely known. This can be achieved by "blind shipping" (shipping merchandise without a return address), or "private label shipping" (having merchandise shipped from the wholesaler with a return address customized to the retailer). The wholesaler might include a customized packing slip, including details such as the retailer's company name, logo, and contact information
Drop shipping can occur when a small retailer (that typically sells in small quantities to the general public) receives a single large order for a product. Rather than route the shipment through the retail store, the retailer might arrange for the goods to be shipped directly to the customer. Drop shipping is also very common with big ticket items like steel buildings, where the retailer will take a deposit and have the steel shipped directly to the buyer's building site from the supplier's manufacturing facility.
One effect of drop shipping is that customers who receive a drop-shipped package will realize that they overpaid for the item on eBay, return the item to the manufacturer, then reorder the identical item directly from the manufacturer. The cost of processing the return and the loss of the unsellable returned product can result in significant losses to the manufacturer
An emerging trend in the drop ship business is private label drop shipping, in which a manufacturer produces a custom item for a retailer and drop ships it. The range of private label drop shipped items available includes, for example, simple keepsakes, apparel with custom logos, pictures, and customized formulations for vitamins and nutritional supplements