I’ll look at this question (What is the difference between affiliate marketing and dropshipping) from a few different perspectives. In very quick terms, Dropshipping is selling a physical product through an ecommerce store and having the product shipped to the customer, and affiliate marketing is recommending someone else’s product and linking to their website; when that person buys, you get a commission.

Price Setting

In affiliate marketing, you have absolutely no control over the price of the product, as it is set by the vendor. The commission is also set by the vendor although you may have a small amount of room to negotiate this.

For Dropshipping, you have full control over where you set the full retail price at. The supplier will ship it for you at a wholesale price + shipping, and you can pocket the difference. If you’re clever and selling plenty of units you should be able to negotiate a good wholesale price from the manufacturer.

Customer Service

Almost definitely for affiliate marketing you will not have to worry about customer service. You are merely referring customers to a vendor who makes the sale and maintains the customer relationship. This has both pros and cons; you don’t have to appease the customer, but also vitally you lose the ability to be able to contact them again. It is possible to retain customers details if your clever however, for future email campaigns using a lead magnet or offer of your own. I look at this in my article email affiliate marketing.

Dropshipping will require customer service, typically following up tracking numbers for products and where in the world the package ha gotten too. There will almost certainly be necessity for refunds and returns at different stages. You will be able to retain customers details because of this for future marketing.


For dropshipping you will definitely require an ecommerce website, the complexity of which is up to you. Through something like Shopify a non-techno wizard will be fine, though you really can get some wizardry into your ecomm if you like.

Affiliate Marketing does not explicitly require a website though personally I would recommend the use of one, due to the level of full control you have over your own website. You can post your links on some forums, social media platforms (eg youtube) where you can create attractive content. However, you’ll be at the mercy of the platforms rules and regulations.

That’s the difference between Affiliate Marketing and Dropshipping

I hope this simple post helped by breaking it down into a few key points of difference. My main article on this subject, affiliate marketing vs dropshipping, is well worth a look.

Affiliate Disclaimer: In case you were in any sort of doubt, yes, I’m an Affiliate in some manner for some of these programs and products. I like to practice what I preach. If you are intending to utilise any of these offers I’d love if you went through one of these links to support my site.