If managing inventory and tracking seems like too much of a hassle and as a much dreaded hurdle for you at the start of an e-commerce business, then dropshipping is just for you. All you have to do is find your niche, list the products on your site and contact the third-party supplier when your customers order the listed product.
The real challenge arises when you have to find a quality supplier that is reliable. This article is mainly about how to effectively use AliExpress to go about your dropshipping business.
These are some of the charts in 2021 that I had shared. Now
How is the trend in 2023? Based on Google Trends, dropshipping hit a peak in January 2023 in the US.
This means it’s still popular and people are searching for it. But DOES the mechanics work for it?
Dropshipping might work, but Dropshipping with Aliexpress, now that’s a whole new ball game. If you want to get into the specifics of how to do it, you can check out the entire guide below.
Why Aliexpress is Dead for Dropshipping in 2023
There are a few reasons and this is my experience. I’ve been a consumer of Aliexpress’ offerings over the past 7 to 8 years. Now the truth is, there has been competition increasing in the form of Dhgate, Temu and Shein to name a few who have bitten a chunk of Aliexpress’ business through super competitive pricing and better offerings.
Aliexpress is NOT the king of best pricing anymore. They are STILL cheap than 90% of retail offerings there and it’s still good to SHOP on ALiexpress. But if you are looking to make a business out of it, where you are buying from Aliexpress and reselling, you WON”T be competitive anymore.
An alternate I suggest? Just speak to direct manufacturers. Most of the sellers on Aliexpress are all middlemen. Start a business legitimately and invest in inventory if you are super bullish about your business. If not, you can still use Aliexpress to sus out your market.
Another reason why dropshipping with Aliexpress doesn’t work are the shipping options. HOW bad have they got? I was stunned to see in the pandemic, e-Packet taking a massive hit and they are resorting to Fedex and DHL which are exorbitant. If I need to buy a mouse from Aliexpress costing $14.95 and I end up paying a shipping cost of $10. It’s absolutely not worth it. Not even a cent.
For these two reasons I’m not too bullish on Aliexpress for DROPSHIPPING.
The thing is, everyone is aware of the concept now and wants to begin dropshipping. So it will take time and a lot of effort to see it become successful. Here’s how.
Why use AliExpress dropshipping for your online business?
Every seller on AliExpress is familiar with the notion that most people who buy on a wholesale basis from AliExpress are resellers, therefore open to the idea of dropshipping and familiar with the concept as well.
Once you have vetted your AliExpress supplier, ordered a sample and think you’re good to go, you can establish a relationship with your supplier via another channel. Once you get enough orders in, you can also convince your supplier to let you put in some personal branding or name of the site along with the product in the packaging. This personalization is what sets you apart from the AliExpress sellers.
Besides, dropshipping from AliExpress is almost too simple. When you receive an order, you place an order with the AliExpress seller and enter the buyer’s address. It’s basic online shopping.
How to Use AliExpress to Dropship
What to take care of when you are setting up your AliExpress dropshipping store?
You’re taking a chance and starting something from scratch. There are many things to do but only one way to do it — to do it meticulously and to do it right.
Choosing the wrong seller can create a bad reputation for your own brand. So you do everything right, we have laid down a step by step to help you find the right product from the right sellers or you!
Finding your niche
Finding a niche is more than just branching out in a particular segment and selling products that go along those lines. It’s a type of brand positioning, something that AliExpress sellers often lack and you (will) make up for.
There are countless product categories on AliExpress, simply choose one or many that call out to you. You must have an interest in what you’re choosing because you have to feel confident about selling it. In this article, I’m going to be using bags as an example to describe what to do and what not to do.
Choosing your product
This is probably the most crucial step in kickstarting your dropshipping business. Do this right from the get-go, and it will pay off.
Check for knockoffs
I usually avoid products with any logo on them, especially those that are recognisable. If you do choose to dropship those products, you have to become a licensed reseller and also share your profits. It is simply not worth it. If you try to eliminate that step, there could be legal ramifications that will just tie you up if you get found out.
This ultimately does limit your options, but you just have to look harder. Unrecognizable and no logos are your best bet.
Number of orders
A single product that has had at least 200-300 sales are the ones you should ideally go for. This means this product has been tried, tested and liked by those many people. It also means that there are many reviews that you can read and understand whether or not it’s worth putting up on your site.
Once you enter your product on the search bar, you can sort your entire search result by order to avoid endless scrolling
Looking for products that have professionally shot photos of products you want to sell. It will bring you up a notch and make you look like a serious seller. If the products don’t have that, look for images that at least have clear images and less shabby backgrounds. It’s not worth buying the products and investing in the product.
The best indication of whether the store is performing well is by checking their main stats. What the overall store rating is, whether they are indicated by green or red, whether they are at least above average.
If you hover over their store name, the ratings will drop down and you can see their item exactness, communication by the seller and shipping speed all in a nutshell and choose whether or not to shortlist this seller as your supplier.
Protip: To save time and energy, install a simple Google Chrome extension called Ali Tools. This extension is magic. It gives you every single piece of data about the seller you’re thinking of onboarding as a supplier and also a particular product you’re looking for.
The bar below indicates the price graph, the overall seller standings, all the reviews and images as well as products similar to the one you’re looking at. You can see the seller summary at a glance.
The price graph will help you understand whether or not the discounts the seller offers are fake. You can check if the products are sold at a higher rate. If they did, you can always use that as a profit margin for yourself after asking your dropshipping business supplier for a price match.
Lastly, if that seller doesn’t work out, you could easily find the product you set your heart on with the similar product finding feature with this extension.
Shipping Types Offered
Choosing a product on which epacket delivery is offered is a wise choice. Not only is e-packet delivery the quickest, but it is also the cheapest option when shipping from China to the US or UK. Those that are free are even better.
The only way you’ll make a profit in your dropshipping business is if you position the same product you find on AliExpress for a higher price. There are some products that are extremely cheap on AliExpress, and also look cheap. If you price them higher on your site, it is likely that they won’t sell.
But premium looking products that can be found between the price range of $0 – $20 can be sold for twice their price or any higher margin.
This product for example can be found at 10$, but if you try to sell it for $20 with proper marketing, you are making a $10 profit on each sale. Let’s get real, people would kill for this Bottega Veneta dupe. Getting it for a 1000% discount is a steal!
A big red flag is an unresponsive seller. Supposedly, you get complaints from your buyer, you need to be able to contact your supplier immediately to respond to your buyer. If you’re not able to do that dude to your unresponsive seller, it is going to cause a chain reaction of frustration and you’ll lose the customer.
Ask them questions and clear all your queries before getting in business with him.
Adding products to your store
Write your own product descriptions
I can’t stress enough how important this is. On AliExpress, even if you find visually attractive, quality products, it can be quite the turn off to see it isn’t detailed. A person who is spending their own money on something would like to know what makes the product worthy of buying.
A good, detailed but not too detailed, product description with snazzy writing can go a long way. They don’t need to know you’re selling the product at 100% – 150% markup. But make the product seem like it always was with that markup.
Track All Orders
Everything that you’re ordering for your own buyers needs to be continuously tracked so you can give your buyer an update. Your customers may email you in order to know the status of their purchase.
Communicate with your customer about delivery
Along with the product listing on your website, make sure to also mention how long the delivery will take. This removes a lot of anxiety from the buyer’s mind and they’ll be prepared for a range of time frames.
To successfully manage your business, makeup for marketing costs and everything SEO, you’ll need to keep at least a 50% markup and if you deem it as appropriate increase your profits. Whatever it is, make sure all your expenses are being covered.
One of the most simple strategies you can use to take off as a new business owner, AliExpress dropshipper or not, is to give free delivery even if your e-packet is costing you a little bit. If it’s too much, you can take some of it and count it as business overhead. I personally have left many products in the cart by small business owners simply because of the shipping fee.
Guide to dropshipping with Aliexpress
This is the most important part of your business. After understanding how your backend would work, you need to know what to do with all the products you selected and the business relations you made with the supplier.
Once you’ve added your products to the store and marketed your products through ads and social media platforms, at one point you’re bound to have orders flowing in. What then?
It isn’t complicated at all. Depending on what product you get the order for, you find that product on AliExpress (the product you have already verified) and you place an order with the seller. In the order, you’ll mention your own customer’s name and address.
To make this process seamless for you, and also trackable, it makes sense to keep a log of the seller details, links to the product, the retail price and the price you are selling at to keep track of how much you are selling and how much profit you’re making. If it helps you, develop code names for each of them for a better understanding of your own. This process makes it easy fr you to quickly find the product and make the order.
It is always a good idea to let your supplier know that you’re a dropshipper so he can avoid putting in any invoices or proof that the order is actually being fulfilled fromALiExpress. Since dropshipping is common on AliExpress, it shouldn’t be a problem. This can be done in the checkout section of your order where you’re allowed to leave a custom message.
I already mentioned this but using e-packets should be the most economical option for you. The best part about this option is that more often than not, this is a free shipping option. If you’re using a third-party tracking site like Oberlo or Sprocket, they’ll automatically choose an e-packet while making your order.
The next step would be to wait for your seller’s confirmation about the product being shipped. Soon after it is, you’ll receive an email with the same information. Once you open the email, you’ll be able to see a link that will take you to your order.
Go to your site and make sure to update those details on the orders page and remember to put in the tracking URL for your customer.
As simple as that folks! All you need to do now is wait for your customer to receive the order. After your order has been delivered you’ll be sent an email from AliExpress saying the same, asking for you to confirm the receipt. I’d suggest you wait for a few days to mark that. You have a 15-day window to do that.
In case your customer comes back to you with issues, you can raise a dispute with AliExpress and hopefully solve the issue on time and avoid the repetition of the same.
Why would someone buy from your store if they can buy the same products on AliExpress?
It’s a fair question. I mean the products are cheaper, right? Why not just buy it from AliExpress. But you have to realize that your competitive advantage here is not the price. It is how you position yourself and how approachable you are to your customers.
So, to put your mind at ease — I tried looking for a pink suede tote bag online on Google. And do you know how long it was before I saw an AliExpress listing? I didn’t. Not a single one, even on the 13th page.
Only if your customer has to reverse image search the product will they find that AliExpress bag. But usually customers who are looking for something don’t even go past two pages of search results. So I think we’re good.
Thanks to the fact that AliExpress sellers don’t make an effort to market it and the premonition that AliExpress has subpar quality stuff, you are good to go.
Communication and Trust
One of the biggest unique selling propositions you offer is the amount of time you invest in your customer as well. You talk to them every step of the way, when you’re operating through your marketing and your products, you are doing more than just selling a product, you are selling an experience.
Last Mile Experience
Let’s be honest here, shopping through AliExpresscan be a frustrating experience. Those that can afford it would rather buy from a seller that offers them constant communication, inform them if something happens and end the sale on a good note. You don’t get that experience by shopping on AliExpress, even though it’s cheap.
Dropshipping AliExpress Products to Amazon
Dropshipping AliExpress products on AliExpress is not the most ideal thing to do because it can be extremely hectic. You have to comply with Amazon’s dropship sellers policy. Besides, you have to make sure that your supplier has the resources, time and capability to comply with those. It can be a big ask and the supplier may not like it.
But if you still want to do that, you can go ahead and carry these steps out:
- Find a supplier that dropships products of your niche from AliExpress
- Talk to the supplier about how you want to dropship via Amazon and check if the seller meets all the necessary requirements of Amazon’s dropshipping policy. The policy also requires the seller to remove any relevant third-party information.
- Create an online store that lets you connect to an app that sources all your ALiExpress inventory.
- Add all those products to your store.
- Also, add an Amazon Sales Channel to your store.
- From the admin and dashboard of your online store, manage your Amazon listings.
Refunds and returns with AliExpress dropshipping
A lot of your suppliers may not have the option for you to return the product. In those cases, just offer your customer a refund with your spinning address, unless you can work something out.
There are two reasons why your customer would want to return or would want a return.
The product didn’t arrive
Safe to say, in such cases, you just have to contact your supplier and ask for details. If that doesn’t work, you can file a dispute and use Aliexpress’ Buyers Protection.
Not satisfied with the product
Their dissatisfaction with the product usually means that it didn’t meet their expectations. You can’t use the ‘you get what you pay for’ argument because you are charging more. You could just ask them for feedback and ask them what they didn’t like about it then give a refund.
Furthermore, you can implement those in your marketing strategies and also communicate the problems with the seller. Make sure to ask your customer for pictures so you can use them as feedback with the AliExpress supplier.
Will my customers find out of my products are being dropshipped from AliExpress?
It can be quite a disaster if your customer finds out that your actual product is from AliExpress. Not only will you lose that customer, but your store’s reputation will also take a hit. Make sure to build a relationship with your supplier. A lot of dropshippers take to Skype to get in touch with the suppliers for relationship building.
I mentioned earlier in one of the sections about adding a custom note to the seller. This is a standard template for when you want to inform the seller the product is being dropshipped — “We’re dropshipping. Please don’t put in any promotions and invoices”.
This way everyone’s none the wiser and you’re good too.
Common FAQs about dropshipping on AliExpress:
What is the AliExpress dropshipping centre?
This is a relatively new feature that ALiExpress added. All you ALiExpress dropshippers in 2021, your life got a whole lot easier. The AliExpress Dropshipping Centre helps you find products on Aliexpress you want to sell.
The best part about it is that it’s free and works even outside of ALiExpress with sites like Shopify. Technically, you need a whole other article for this, but I’ll help you explain in short anyway:
With this tool, you could see what the best selling products are, what their orders are, how many of those are being dropshipped and how it’s performing. You can further analyse each store’s rating, all under one tool.
This tool for dropshippers on AliExpress allows further customization by means of filtering. You can filter it by the niche of course, but you can also filter it by the amount of time it takes to deliver a product.
Keep in mind that not all shipping methods will have a shipping time as low as 10 days. It just means that one of the options, the quickest one is 10 days. You’d have to individually check it. But at least you’ll know the minimum.
Finally, if you’re looking for similar, cheaper options, this tool also helps you search by image. So, everything you did, all the extensions and time you spent can be done by you individually using a third-party application, or you can do it under AliExpress’ roof.
Is AliExpress reliable for dropshipping?
Considering AliExpress has its own extension now and the fact that there are many buyer protection clauses, I’d say yes, it is reliable. But you have to make sure to communicate with the seller first and come to an agreement. I’d personally recommend going as a user or an outside dropshipper, not an AliExpress dropshipper using AliExpress dropshipping. You don’t want a price war.
Is AliExpress dropshipping profitable?
There’s no way to answer this but diplomatically. If you do it smartly, you can make your AliExpress dropshipping business a profitable one. Implement thought out marketing strategies, spend time on visuals, write quality descriptions and communicate with your customer. A mix of this will make you successful and profitable.
Is it illegal to resell from AliExpress?
Not at all. It is perfectly okay to sell the product you have rightfully purchased. As a dropshipper, even if the product doesn’t come to you, you are buying it. The manufacturers have no control and don’t have the right either to decide what goes where. The only exception to this rule are branded products, for which you have to be a licensed reseller. You’ll be fine if you’re fine with the risk of getting caught.
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