AliExpress Dropshipping: Why It’s Better Than You Think
When you run a dropshipping business, your first goal is making money.
However, a close second is having the platforms (supplier platforms included) you can rely on.
After all, dropshipping should always be simple. You find the right products from reliable suppliers, advertise them on your site, and take your cut. Your supplier handles everything else.
And with that in mind, we want to bring you even more ease. That’s why we’re looking into AliExpress today.
We’ll show you what to look for in suppliers and products so you can position yourself for success.
Let’s dive in!
What Is AliExpress?
AliExpress is a major dropshipping platform.
Suppliers, both manufacturers and resellers, advertise their products on the marketplace. Dropshippers and retailers then connect with them when they find products they like.
As far as marketplaces go, AliExpress is one of the oldest. It’s a daughter company of AliBaba, and it was launched in 2010. Where AliBaba is made for wholesaling and there are minimum order quantities, AliExpress is more flexible.
Today, it’s practically synonymous with the idea of dropshipping products.
You can find everything you need on AliExpress. From needles to trains, as the old saying goes. No matter what you sell in your store, you’re bound to find more items like your current products on this incredible marketplace.
Additionally, AliExpress is affordable. The pricing is extremely competitive; you’ll find products for much cheaper than you would on other platforms.
It’s why dropshippers love it so much.
The Benefits of AliExpress Dropshipping
AliExpress dropshipping is a piece of cake.
You find the products you like, and you import them to your store. Once you’ve sold them, you pay the wholesale price, the supplier ships them, and that’s all you have to worry about.
It’s the ideal place to get started dropshipping once you’ve set everything up.
Upfront fees, bye-bye!
You don’t even have to pay a fee to get started dropshipping with AliExpress. You’ll only pay the wholesale price when you sell the product.
The fact that there are no upfront fees significantly reduces your start-up capital. All you need to do is create a website. You won’t have to pay for products or fees to access the products until you start earning money.
And even then, it’s just the wholesale price + shipping.
AliExpress suppliers don’t dictate minimum or maximum prices, either. You can add your markup and set the final price on your own. The wholesale prices on AE are usually very low, so you’ll have plenty of room to work with.
Since AliExpress is a huge marketplace connecting millions of suppliers with hundreds of millions of buyers, you’ll find popular products on there first.
While the rest of the platforms will be sluggish, AliExpress won’t. They depend on being the first and the cheapest.
Keep in mind that the majority of sellers on AliExpress are factories based in China. However, shipping no longer takes a month or more.
With ePackets (made possible because of smaller orders that don’t call for shipping containers) and new shipping methods, your customers will get their packages in 14 days at most.
With that in mind, it’s time to set up your AliExpress dropshipping store.
Selecting Your AliExpress Dropshipping Products
Products on AliExpress are sorted according to categories.
For example, consumer electronics, home improvement, clothing, jewelry, etc. However, you can find your products based on keywords.
There are plenty of product variants on AliExpress. It can be a lot. But don’t panic! All those options (and your marketing) are what is going to help you get more customers than you’ve ever dreamed of.
If you already know what you want to sell, that’s great!
If you don’t, it pays to take a look at trending products.
Then, use those keywords (e.g. “fidget spinner buy”) and plug them into Google Trends to evaluate interest over time. Pay attention to the location, as well.
You can even compare multiple products at once and make sure that you’re selling profitable items.
Even if you don’t sell a thing, it’s okay. Remember: you haven’t paid for a single item that hasn’t been sold.
All you’ve done is synced your store to AliExpress’ catalogue.
Running a business doesn’t get better than that.
You can use the following product tips and tricks to set yourself up for AliExpress success:
- Stock up on seasonal products – If holiday time is coming, you can add seasonal products to your store to make extra money. If you can find seasonal products that fit your niche, that’s even better!
- Think about what your customers want – Know your target audience well. If you sell to men, they might be on the lookout for great gifts for their S.O.’s. If you sell to teens, trendy products are always a hit. If you stocked up on consumer electronics, it might be good to add accessories and peripherals.
- Go the extra mile – In dropshipping, you’re not going to compete based on the price. Not even quality. Plenty of dropshippers can sell the same products you sell in your store. What makes a difference is that extra mile – the additional value you provide your customers. Sometimes, that can be a blog with helpful tips, or extra materials. For example, if you sell fitness apparel, you could have a professional create an exercise routine book showing your customers how to snap on their yoga pants and get ready for the summer sunshine.
- Shipping – Choose products from suppliers who offer free ePacket shipping, not standard shipping. ePacket arrives in 2 weeks at most, standard shipping arrives in 1-2 months.
- Margin potential – You want to earn as much as possible from your products. Pay attention to the wholesale price (+ shipping, unless it’s free) and then conduct market research (Googling works) to see what kind of markup you could add. After all, you’ll need to promote your store. That’s an additional cost that you should factor in.
Finally, it’s a good idea to order product samples.
You can test the quality of the product, as well as take your own product photos. It will significantly help your marketing efforts in the long term, especially if you have consistent branding.
Selecting Reliable AliExpress Dropshipping Suppliers
When you dropship, your store and your business are only as good as your suppliers are.
One of the main perks of dropshipping with AliExpress is that you get access to a vast number of not only products, but suppliers as well.
You can choose the suppliers you think are the most reliable, get quotes from multiple factories, and make the best possible decisions for your business.
Conversely, other platforms offer fewer chances of connecting with different suppliers manufacturing the same products. And if you only have two-three potential suppliers, you’re forced to agree to their terms.
On AliExpress, your business is completely your own.
The platform is just there to offer you plenty of options; from suppliers who offer additional services (e.g. customization), to complementary products.
After you’ve decided on the product(s) you want to sell, it’s time to start looking for suppliers.
Check the suppliers’ product orders, ratings and AliExpress reviews.
The more positive reviews your supplier has, the more reliable they are. Pay attention to what their previous customers mention, as well. Maybe they say the supplier was flexible or provided high-quality service.
Some suppliers are simply there to ship the products, and they don’t pay as much attention to the presentation.
For example, you don’t want the supplier to include your invoice in the package. Great dropshipping is invisible dropshipping.
If you have other requirements, pay attention to reviews mentioning them, as well.
If a supplier doesn’t have a lot of ratings and product orders, it doesn’t have to be a red flag. Visit their profile to see how long they’ve been using AliExpress. If they signed up recently, it’s normal not to have a lot of product orders.
However, if they’ve been using it for a while and you can hear the crickets, keep moving down the list.
The ideal seller has positive feedback, and their products are highly rated.
The quality of your products matters, so make sure you’re working with reliable suppliers producing high-quality items for your store.
Understand the seller’s background.
Has their store been open for a long time? Choose sellers whose stores have been open for at least a year.
Are they a Top Brand?
There are also some sellers on AliExpress who have Top Brand status. It means that they satisfy all the requirements, and have a history of excellence. They’re definitely suppliers you want to shortlist.
Before you choose a supplier, send them a message.
Ask everything that they haven’t covered in their policy statements, and make sure you pay attention to:
- The promptness of their reply – Were you waiting for their reply for a day? Two days? A week? It could be a good sign that they’re not that attentive, and you don’t want the lack of communication to jeopardize your business.
- Their thoroughness – Have they answered all of your questions? Did they answer them clearly? Did you understand all of their terms and conditions?
You should clear everything up with the supplier before you integrate their products into your store.
And once you’re ready, it’s time to set the wheels in motion!
How to Add AliExpress Products to Your Ecommerce Business
There are two ways you can add AliExpress products to your online business:
Manual import is okay if you run a small online store, or plan on selling one or two AliExpress products.
However, if you plan on selling multiple products from the platform, you’re going to need a scalable solution for importing items to your website.
Fortunately, there are a few great AliExpress apps you can use to automate your work and set yourself up for success:
Adding AliExpress Products when You’re Dropshipping with Shopify
If you’re dropshipping with Shopify, you can use Oberlo to import products to your virtual storefront. It comes with a free plan for up to 500 products.
When you want to import AliExpress products with Oberlo, you have two options: using the Oberlo dashboard, or getting the Google Chrome extensions.
From the dashboard, you’ll find the products and add them to your import list.
If you’re using the browser extension, you can add products while you’re on AliExpress.
After you’ve added the desired products to the import list (with the app or the extension), you can modify your product details before uploading them to your store.
If the product you’ve selected comes in different variants, visit your Oberlo Import list and select only the variants you want to sell.
Otherwise, the product will be imported with all the variants.
You can also use Oberlo to automate fulfillment and track product inventory levels.
Adding AliExpress Products when You’re Dropshipping with BigCommerce
If you run your online business on BigCommerce, you can use apps to import Ali Express products to your website.
Currently, CedCommerce’s dropshipping app offers the best pricing and features. Users frequently note ease of use, support, and a seamless process. Your AliExpress products will be displayed in your store in a matter of seconds!
Tips & Tricks
If you want to maximize your store’s success, you shouldn’t just import products and call it a day. Every major integration and app gives you the ability to customize your product details, images, and create your own listings.
You can automatically import details directly from the AliExpress product listing. However, it’s much better to customize your product descriptions for your audience:
- Stand out from the competition: your marketing is a significant differentiator for your store. Don’t hesitate to write your own copy, take your own product photos, or create mockups.
- SEO perks: If you use the same descriptions other dropshippers are using, your website could be flagged for duplicate copy. This can impair your search engine results.
- Suppliers are selling to you, not your customers: Create listings that speak to your unique audience.
If you’re not taking your own photos, then select the photos that aren’t branded by the supplier in any way. This will ensure that the customers associate your products you’re your brand, and not your supplier’s brand.
Make sure you mention shipping on your website.
If your products usually take two weeks to arrive, notify your customers of that before they purchase the product to avoid chargebacks and refund requests.
If you have products from multiple suppliers listed on your website, you should specify shipping times for each product in the product description.
Finally, everyone likes free shipping.
You can always integrate the average cost of shipping into the price, but it’ll sound much nicer for potential customers who are on the fence. It’s an additional perk greatly appreciated by many, and it could bring you plenty of repeat customers.
Dropshipping with AliExpress
You can process orders of AliExpress products manually or automatically.
If you’re dropshipping Ali Express products with Shopify, keep using Oberlo to automatically process orders.
This way, you won’t have to manually enter order specs for every single order that comes through your store.
Instead, the entire process will be automated, allowing you to focus on marketing and selling your products.
Additionally, Oberlo allows you to add order notes.
It’s always a good idea to tell the seller that you’re a dropshipper. This way, they won’t add packing slips or invoices to the shipment.
Make sure you add your request to every order note.
Speaking of branding, if the seller is open to customizing shipments with your thank-you notes or other materials, add that to the order notes.
Finally, select the ePacket option for smaller orders.
Sometimes it’s the default option, other times it’s not. It’s why it’s good to set it as the default option with Oberlo. This way, Oberlo will select ePacket shipping every time orders are processed through the app.
If you’re not using Oberlo, take the tracking info you’ve received and add it to your Shopify order, marking it as fulfilled.
With Oberlo, this is completely automated and completed for you.
The process is similar if you’re dropshipping with BigCommerce. You can use one of the apps in their store to automate the process.
Paying for Products
You can pay for AliExpress products in a few ways:
- Debit cards
- Credit cards
- Wire transfers
- Cash payment in certain countries
- SMS payment in certain countries
- PayPal for certain countries and sellers
AliExpress accepts other country-specific methods, such as German Giropay.
Credit cards are one of the best options. You can easily reverse the transaction if the order isn’t shipped, or if there’s something wrong with the order.
When you first add your credit card to AliExpress, it’ll take a few days for it to be verified so don’t plan on processing orders during that time.
Returns and Refunds
Every supplier’s returns and refunds policy is different.
While AliExpress do their best to protect the buyer, you’ll have to manually check with your supplier regarding refunds and returns.
If you or your customers encounter a problem, you can file a dispute with AliExpress:
- Get photos from your customers
- File a dispute
- Receive a partial refund, refund, or return the product
If the product hasn’t been delivered, you’ll typically have to wait for the standard 45 days to pass, after which you can receive a complete refund.
Again, this is why it pays to select your suppliers carefully. While undelivered or mismatching items are not common, you can ensure there are no problems by carefully vetting suppliers and communicating with them extensively.
AliExpress has a strong Customer Support team and a great Buyer Protection program, so if the suppliers’ policies are matching, you won’t have to worry at all.
Ali Express Dropshipping Best Practices
In addition to the basics, there are a few things you can do to set yourself up for success like many dropshippers running their businesses on autopilot:
As a rule of thumb, if it can be automated, it should be automated.
For example, Oberlo is a great Shopify extension. You’ll save a lot of time by automatically importing products and processing orders. You’ll even get access to real time inventory tracking so you never sell a product that’s not in stock.
Similarly, you can use other automation tools for your marketing activities.
Is the goal chilling poolside while your business runs itself?
And while you’ll always need to create strategies to scale and grow your store, you can make the process a lot easier by using the right tools.
Always ask the supplier not to include packing slips, invoices, or anything else that could ruin your branding. Even if you choose epacket for delivery, blind shipping is available for drop shipped orders.
If you want to scale your business and build a brand your customers are going to love, you can also ask your suppliers to include your thank-you notes and paraphernalia. The manufacturers on Ali Express can sometimes surprise you with the level of customer service they offer.
This way, your customers will be tangibly reminded of your store.
Motivate Your Customers
Around 40% of a store’s revenue comes from repeated purchases. Yep, that means your customers loved your products and they want to buy more.
However, sometimes they need a little push.
You can offer free shipping, promotions and discounts. Especially if the season calls for it. There’s nothing people love more than seeing their favorite store offering a Black Friday discount.
If you want to attract even more customers, offer referral incentives. For example, you could offer your customers and the referee 5% off if the referee makes a purchase at your store.
Since AliExpress gives you access to thousands of suppliers, don’t limit yourself to just one.
Instead, always look for the best ratio of price and quality.
Keep browsing the catalogues for a chance to spot a supplier with a lower price and equally amazing products.
Ready to Dropship?
Dropshipping with AliExpress really is the easiest way to start earning money as soon as possible.
What do you say? Are you ready to import snazzy new products?
Let’s get going!