Drop shipping is a complicated topic, especially when it comes to drop shipping with Amazon. There’s a lot of confusion about the difference between Amazon FBA, Amazon Associates, Shopify’s Amazon Sales Channel, etc., and how they relate to drop shipping.
We’ll break all that down in this post, but we’re not about scamming people or building fly-by-night burner stores. So if your drop shipping plan involves any of that, get on outta here.
If, instead, your goal is to build a long-lasting business that will grow over time and continue to support you into your old age (or at least until the world is destroyed by aliens or Instagram influencers or whatever), read on, friend.
What is Drop Shipping?
Drop shippers never actually hold inventory in stock. Instead, when they make a sale, they purchase the item sold from a third party and have it shipped directly to the customer’s address. They never actually touch the item themselves.
So the main difference between that and traditional sellers is that drop shippers don’t own any inventory. They simply purchase inventory as needed from other sellers.
Sounds awesome, right? It totally is. As long as you follow Amazon’s rules and keep everything on the up and up.
What is “White Hat” Drop Shipping?
If you have a supplier that’s willing to ship items for you while following the guidelines of the platforms you sell on, that’s totally cool. They could be a manufacturer, a wholesaler, or even another retail seller who just wants to get more sales.
It’s also okay to buy a product for $10 on another public, easy to find online store and sell it on your online store for $40. Sucks for the buyer, but it’s not your fault that they chose not to find a better deal.
What is “Black Hat” Drop Shipping?
Using the same example, if you sell that product for $40, but the packing slip comes from the other store and shows the actual price as $10, that’s not cool. You’ll leave a bad taste in your buyer’s mouth, and likely won’t get any repeat business from them. Plus, you’ll be violating Amazon’s terms of service. No bueno.
Some dummies use their Amazon prime account (buyer’s account) to drop ship. They simply enter the buyer’s address as the shipping address when they place the order on Amazon. But again, that’s against Amazon’s terms of service and a great way to get your account banned.
Can I Drop Ship from Amazon to Shopify?
Let’s say you’ve created a Shopify store, and now you want to add Amazon product listings to your store. The problem is that scraping product listings from Amazon is against their terms of service. You can access limited product data through certain Amazon APIs, but you’re not going to get high-res images, updated prices or a lot of other important info.
Plus, it can be a violation of copyright or intellectual property laws. A lot of brand name products require that you get their permission before selling their products (especially true with high-priced, luxury goods). Those brands have legal departments whose entire job is to find people selling their stuff without permission and take them down. Once Shopify receives proof that you don’t have permission to sell the brand’s items, your store will be closed, and you’ll likely be banned from selling on Shopify.
Yes, there are apps in the Shopify app store that say you can use them to drop ship from Amazon to your Shopify store. But just because an app is available in the app store doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to use it.
For example, the AmaZone DropShipper app has you login to Amazon and manually enter each order yourself. That’s not true drop shipping. Plus, if you’re planning on getting more than a handful of orders, it’s going to be a huge pain in the ass. Other apps clearly violate Amazon’s terms and have gotten multiple sellers banned (*cough* Spreadr *cough*).
But Amazon DOES allow drop shipping. They simply require that you be the seller of record for your products, ensure all packing slips and other info identifies you as the seller (not the drop shipper), and you process your own customer returns. Read their full policy here.
Another thing you’re allowed to do is use the Amazon Associates program to display products on your store and then redirect customers to Amazon to complete checkout. It’s basically an affiliate program, so you get a commission for each completed sale.
Can I Drop Ship from Shopify to Amazon?
So what about using a drop shipping app like Oberlo to get products on your Shopify store, then pushing those listings to Amazon via the Amazon Sales Channel?
First, using apps like Oberlo is against Amazon’s terms of service. Shopify does allow you to add Amazon as a sales channel so that you can push your Shopify product listings to Amazon. But in order to do that, you have to have an Amazon seller account. And many popular product categories (like clothing and jewelry) require approval from Amazon before you can sell in them. You’ll also have to pay Amazon’s seller fees, which will cut into your profits.
Remember that most Amazon sellers are using the FBA program, which means they own their own inventory. That often means their product costs are lower than drop shippers’. Plus, their products are eligible for Prime shipping, making them far more attractive to Amazon buyers.
There are plenty of people using black hat drop shipping techniques. But sooner or later, they will get caught and Amazon will ban them from selling on the platform. If you’re just after a quick buck and you’re an unethical douche canoe, go for it. Just be aware that you could get sued, which will cost you far more than the few bucks you’ll make.
If you’re trying to build a lasting business that can grow to fully support you, make sure you follow Amazon’s terms of service and keep everything above board. Also, be sure to double, triple and QUADRUPLE check your numbers. It’s incredibly difficult to turn a profit by drop shipping with Amazon.
You’re much more likely to make a profit by purchasing your own inventory and using the FBA program. Then you can simply use the ByteStand and FBA Shipping apps to import your Amazon product listings into Shopify and automatically send your Shopify orders to Amazon for fulfillment. No worrying about getting banned or sued or any of that mess.
About the Author
Gennifer is the Customer Support and Marketing Manager at ByteStand, where she lives and breathes customer service education while sipping coffee in her pajamas.