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Dropshipping vs Brick-And-Mortar: Which Method Is Better?

The business landscape has evolved dramatically, giving rise to various models from which entrepreneurs can choose. Two prominent options are dropshipping and brick-and-mortar stores. Understanding the differences is crucial to finding the most suitable method for your business. Here is an overview of each system.

Dropshipping vs Brick-and-Mortar Quick Comparison

What is it?

Dropshipping is a business model where the retailer does not keep products in stock. Instead, they partner with suppliers who handle inventory storage, packaging, and shipping directly to the customers. It eliminates the retailer to focus on marketing and customer acquisition without the need for physical infrastructure.

On the other hand, brick-and-mortar stores refer to traditional retail establishments that operate physically at a fixed location, stocking and selling products directly to customers. Customers frequently have the opportunity to interact with products in these stores before making a purchase, creating an immersive shopping experience.

Who is it right for?

Dropshipping tends to cater well to online shoppers, particularly those seeking convenience and a wide range of product choices. The model aligns with the growing trend of e-commerce and attracts customers who value flexibility and speed of delivery. Additionally, the online nature of dropshipping allows businesses to target a global audience, expanding their market reach beyond geographic limitations.

Brick-and-mortar stores appeal to customers who enjoy a tactile shopping experience, personalized service, and immediate gratification. These physical stores create a sense of trust and authenticity, attracting customers who prefer to see, touch, and test products before purchasing. Local communities also play a significant role in supporting brick-and-mortar businesses by fostering a sense of loyalty and community engagement.

Which Model Is Better?

Advocates of dropshipping emphasize its low startup costs, flexibility in product selection, and the ability to operate remotely. They argue that the absence of inventory management and reduced operational complexities make it an attractive option for new entrepreneurs.

Nevertheless, proponents of brick-and-mortar stores highlight the importance of physical presence and immersive customer experiences. They contend that the capacity to directly manage the quality of the products, deliver individualized service, and develop substantial local client bases builds brand loyalty and facilitates long-term success.

While both models have their merits, it is fundamental to consider individual circumstances, business goals, and target markets to determine which approach aligns best with a specific venture. Before making a final decision, it is vital to weigh the pros and cons of each model and consider various factors such as budget, market demand, operational preferences, and growth potential.

When to Use Dropshipping


+ Low Startup Costs

+ Freedom of Business Location

+ Flexibility in Product Selection

+ No Inventory Management Required


– Long delivery times

– Communication difficulties

– Limited Control over Fulfillment Details

– Higher Competition due to Low Entry Barriers

Dropshipping is best for:

New business owners with low market confidence: Dropshipping allows entrepreneurs to test multiple products or niches without significant financial risk. Before investing in additional inventory or a brick-and-mortar location, companies can confirm the product’s feasibility by analyzing initial sales data to determine market demand and client preferences.

New business owners who want a side job: Dropshipping offers the opportunity to operate a business from any location with an internet connection, making it an excellent choice for digital nomads, individuals desiring location independence, and those who manage businesses as a side venture alongside their full-time employment. The capability to work remotely and automate specific tasks contributes to a more flexible lifestyle.

When to Use Brick-and-mortar


+ Physical Presence and Customer Experience

+ Ability to Build a Local Customer Base and Brand Loyalty

+ Direct Control over Product Quality and Customer Service


– Limited Geographical Reach

– High Upfront Costs for Rent, Inventory, and Employees

– Increased Risk During Economic Downturns

Brick-and-mortar is best for:

Traditional retailers hope to provide product experiences and demonstrations: Certain products, such as furniture, clothing, or electronics, benefit from in-person experiences where customers can try them out, assess quality, and seek expert guidance. Brick-and-mortar stores allow businesses to provide this tactile experience, which can significantly influence purchasing decisions.

Traditional retailers with community-oriented business experiences: Local businesses that rely on community support and engagement, such as small boutiques, specialty shops, or cafes, often thrive in a brick-and-mortar environment. By establishing close connections with customers, participating in local events, and customizing offerings based on community preferences, these businesses can build strong brand loyalty that sustains long-term success.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Models

Target audience and market demand

Consider the target audience and their preferences when it comes to shopping. Some customers prefer the convenience of online shopping and may appreciate the vast product selection offered by dropshipping. Others might value the in-person experience and personal interaction that brick-and-mortar stores provide.

Budget and financial resources

Financial considerations play a vital role in choosing a business model. Dropshipping typically requires lower startup costs as there is no need to invest heavily in inventory or physical store space. On the other hand, brick-and-mortar stores require significant upfront investments in rent, stock, and personnel.

Intermediate costs and additional risks

Apart from the initial investment, it is crucial to account for ongoing costs and potential risks associated with each model. Dropshipping may involve relying on third-party suppliers, which can introduce risks such as product quality issues and shipping delays. Brick-and-mortar stores may incur costs related to maintaining the physical space, employee salaries, and utilities.

Operational preferences and skills

Consider individual operational preferences and specific skill sets when choosing between dropshipping and brick-and-mortar. Dropshipping requires skills in digital marketing, website management, and customer support. By comparison, brick-and-mortar stores demand skills in inventory management, visual merchandising, and face-to-face customer service.

Recommended solutions for dropshipping

Dropshipping Copilot is a popular dropshipping solution owned by AliExpress, our top-recommended e-commerce platform.

Dropshipping Copilot can assist you in quickly establishing a direct shipping platform from multiple perspectives and obtaining support through various channels.

With the help of its conversational AI, you may find the dropshipping products you want from the tens of thousands of products on AliExpress.

After you confirm the product, the one-click SEO-driven AI-generated tools will save you the hassle of completing the product description pages, and instead provide more user traffic and a better user visual experience.

Moreover, you can benefit from AliExpress’s worry-free after-sale customer support by purchasing a professional plan.

Bottom Line

Dropshipping offers low startup costs, as there is no need to invest heavily in inventory or physical store space. It also eliminates the need for inventory management and provides flexibility in product selection. However, dropshipping relies on third-party suppliers, which can introduce risks such as communication difficulties and shipping delays. Apart from that, the low barriers to entry in dropshipping lead to higher competition.

As opposed to that, brick-and-mortar stores provide a physical presence and offer a unique customer experience that cannot be duplicated online. Store owners have direct control over product quality and customer service, allowing them to build strong relationships with local customers and establish brand loyalty. However, brick-and-mortar stores require high upfront investments for rent, stock, and personnel. They also face limitations in geographical reach and are susceptible to increased risk during economic downturns.

In conclusion, there is no definitive answer to which model is better, as both dropshipping and brick-and-mortar have both advantages and disadvantages. It is essential to assess individual circumstances and base decisions on specific goals, target audiences, financial constraints, and operational capabilities. By carefully considering these factors, businesses can find the approach that best suits their needs and maximizes their chances of success.

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