If you’ve been thinking about learning about dropshipping, then you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re just starting out with your ecommerce business, or you’re a seasoned veteran looking to switch up your business model, we’ve created the ultimate guide to dropshipping business using Shopify and AliExpress dropshipping.
If any of you have doubts that you can create a successful ecommerce business with AliExpress dropshipping, I will change your mind in this dropshipping guide.
Without further delay, this is the ultimate guide to dropshipping with AliExpress.
- The Ultimate Guide to Dropshipping
- How to Select Trustworthy AliExpress Suppliers
- How to Pick the Right Product to Sell
- The Key to Using AliExpress Successfully
- What Is Oberlo?
- Want to Learn More?
The Ultimate Guide to Dropshipping
If you’re looking to become an ecommerce entrepreneur, dropshipping is one of the easiest methods you can use to start your online business. But, why?
- It doesn’t require much capital to get started. In fact, we wrote a guide detailing how you can start an ecommerce business with $0.00.
- You don’t need a physical store. Since we’re talking about ecommerce here, you can run a successful dropshipping business from anywhere in the world. As a digital nomad, you’ll be able to travel the world, while making sure you have no regrets. You also don’t even have to stock any of the inventory yourself.
- Everything you might need to learn is available for free online. You can use the vast number of articles, videos, and other educational material to learn on the go and achieve ecommerce success.
In this post, we’ll make sure to cover all major aspects of dropshipping.
Why You Should Try Dropshipping
Let’s say you’ve decided you want to start an ecommerce store. What are your next steps? Most entrepreneurs try to come up with a product idea, look for suppliers, pay for the products and get them into your real-world store. Then, once you receive your merchandise, you’ll try hard to make sales.
The problem is you don’t really know what will sell well, or if you will be able to sell the product at all. There’s a lot of risks involved in the traditional business model.
Here’s an example:
- Elena buys 100 units of a particular product line, paying $1,000 in total.
- She only sells 10 products and brings in $200 in sales.
- Elena quickly realizes that nobody likes her products and decides to close her store.
- She experiences a loss of over $800.
Alternatively, if she had tried dropshipping, she would have made $100 in profit in spite of failing to pick the right products at first. Here’s an illustration of this scenario:
- Elena uses dropshipping, so she doesn’t buy products in advance;
- She only manages to sell 10 products and brings in $200 in sales;
- Elena orders the products from her suppliers and has them shipped directly to her customers;
- She quickly realizes that nobody likes these products and decides to try a different niche or product instead;
- Elena is still happy because she just made $100 in profit.
That’s how two very similar situations can bring very different results, with the key difference being dropshipping. Of course, if everything went well, she would have made $1,000 in profit in the first scenario. But don’t forget that people often overestimate their ability to create a successful ecommerce business, especially if it’s their first time. If you believe in numbers, more than 50% of Shopify store-owners never receive a single order at all.
So here’s the beauty of dropshipping. You don’t have to buy a product before selling it, so you don’t spend your precious budget on stock inventory.
You don’t even have to take our word for it that this system really works at little risk to you. You can read more about ecommerce entrepreneurs who use AliExpress dropshipping successfully here: The Huffington Post, The Next Web, Forbes.
What is AliExpress?
AliExpress dropshipping is one of the most popular marketplaces for ecommerce entrepreneurs using the dropshipping business model. You can import the product content and images from AliExpress.com directly to your store, choosing from millions of different items right at your fingertips. You’ll also have the freedom to set your prices and markups. The best part is that after you sell a product, you purchase it from a supplier on AliExpress and then have it shipped directly from their warehouse to your customer. AliExpress dropshipping is simple, easy, and low risk for new ecommerce entrepreneurs.
How to Dropship With AliExpress
While we’ve already covered many of the benefits of dropshipping with AliExpress, this process can still be a bit difficult to grasp. So, before we go on, let’s explore how it works step by step.
How to utilize AliExpress dropshipping,
- Firstly you’ll set up your online store using a platform such a Shopify.
- Next, using an app like Oberlo, you’re ready to start importing products from the AliExpress Marketplace. Oberlo helps you to streamline and sync your imports from AliExpress with your Shopify storefront by notifying you of any inventory or price changes from your supplier, and it can aid you in sending tracking codes to your customers once their orders have been dispatched.
- Finally, when a customer places an order with your store, you’ll then go to your supplier and order that exact same item to be shipped directly to them.
The infographic below offers a good visual representation of how AliExpress dropshipping works.
Why AliExpress Dropshipping?
Although AliExpress suppliers are retailers themselves, the vast majority of users on the AliExpress platform are resellers and this is a well-known fact. Because of this AliExpress dropshipping is super simple as suppliers have already worked with dropshippers before and are willing to work to your needs.
To dropship from AliExpress there’s no upfront cost or fee so you can test out products without any financial commitment. Using the Oberlo app with Shopify you can find, import, and sell AliExpress products on your store with only a couple clicks.
FAQs About AliExpress Dropshipping
Now that this dropshipping guide has helped you understand the basics of dropshipping with AliExpress, you might still have unanswered questions. After all, dropshipping isn’t a traditional way of doing ecommerce, and there are additional steps involved in the process.
I work at Oberlo, a software app that helps ecommerce entrepreneurs automate their AliExpress dropshipping businesses. We receive hundreds of questions from budding ecommerce entrepreneurs every day. Here are the three most frequently asked questions we receive, along with the answers.
For a full list, check out this article.
Will My Customers Know If the Products Are Dropshipped From AliExpress?
Unlike other marketplaces (Amazon, eBay, Etsy), AliExpress has a very unique infrastructure that is most conducive to dropshipping. I’ve talked with dozens of suppliers using AliExpress. They all dropship, so you’ll find many suppliers who are reliable and familiar with this business model and their role in it.
Thousands of new merchants sign up with Oberlo every month, demonstrating the growing popularity and feasibility of dropshipping. While it can be a leap of faith to put your order fulfillment in the hands of suppliers, rest assured that there are rarely any promotions or invoices in the packages your customers receive. You can even tell your supplier not to include any of these materials to be on the safe side. In addition, you can even arrange for custom packaging and the AliExpress premium shipping known as ePacket. Do keep in mind that the packages your customer receives will have Chinese shipping labels.
Why Should Someone Buy From Me If They Can Buy the Same Product From AliExpress Cheaper?
This is an easy one: because you can do it better! You might be a superior marketer who reaches potential customers first. Also, you might create a more trustworthy brand that people feel safer buying from. In addition, you may also provide extra services or content that builds a relationship with your customer. Remember that the concept of merchants buying products from suppliers for lower prices and stocking them in their stores long predates dropshipping itself. Most stores in your own community likely do the same.
Regarding dropshipping, choose your battles wisely. There are strategies that are more likely to set you apart from competition than others. For one, don’t try to compete on price you will never be the cheapest. Especially with lower-priced products (<$100), the price is not the determining factor at all.
Look at the same product on several popular websites such as Milanoo.com, LightInTheBox.com, DHgate, and AliExpress. These companies are all multi-million dollar businesses. Are these companies price competitive? No. Are they out of business? No! Instead, focus on your marketing strategies and building an awesome brand.
AliExpress Shipping Takes Too Long, My Customers Won’t Wait. What Can I Do About It?
That’s just an assumption on your part, and I strongly suggest you test it. You’ll find that many customers are fine with waiting as long as you make the shipping times apparent on your site so that they know what to expect. While as mentioned above, you shouldn’t look to compete in terms of pricing, it is likely that you’ll be able to offer customers a pretty good deal on products sourced from AliExpress dropshipping even with a markup. People are willing to wait if it means attaining a discount.
Alibaba made over $17.7 billion in sales in one day. Customers of other businesses listed in the price comparison example don’t seem to be concerned with long delivery terms either.
As an ecommerce entrepreneur, your task is to establish clear expectations, define your shipping policy, and display it in the relevant areas of your online store. Seeing that information, some people might leave your site, but you’ll be surprised how many people really don’t care about that.
Another way to mitigate any distaste among customers over long shipping times is to offer free shipping on all of your products. Often, this alone will indicate to them that it’ll likely take a little longer to receive their product. You can account for the shipping costs in your product markups.
AliExpress Premium Shipping
With the AliExpress premium shipping ePacket delivery option, it takes only 7-14 days for most shipments to reach the US, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and multiple other countries with bustling economies. We strongly recommend opting for ePacket whenever possible. It’s the perfect shipping option to help you achieve ecommerce success and higher customer satisfaction when you’re dropshipping from AliExpress!
How to Select Trustworthy AliExpress Suppliers
With AliExpress dropshipping, you can easily lose control over the customer experience because you never see the product since it’s shipped directly from your supplier’s warehouse to your customer.
If you’re trying to provide top-notch customer service, which is a must, dropshipping could become a liability. Although AliExpress as a marketplace handles improper suppliers as best as it can, we still suggest being very careful when selecting your dropshipping suppliers.
Here are some top tips from our dropshipping guide on how to select the best suppliers:
- Don’t Always Go for the Lowest Price
Here’s an example of how the AliExpress dropshipping marketplace works:
A supplier called Original Hoodies starts selling a high-quality product named “blue hoodie” at $40. Then, another supplier named Competitive Hoodies manufactures the same hoodie but reduces its price to $15 by adding more polyester instead of cotton.
When a merchant such as yourself searches for a blue hoodie, he sees two that look the same, but one is selling for a lower price. In most cases, the merchant will pick the cheaper one. The first supplier, Original Hoodies, becomes unhappy with her sales and also replaces her “blue hoodie” cotton materials with polyester and reduces the price to stay competitive.
While opting for the lowest priced product might seem like the obvious choice, it’s key to remember that this kind of competition can cause the quality of marketplace products to go down. Suppliers try to be price competitive, and each product usually has a number of very similar variations, often at artificially reduced prices.
In short, the price on AliExpress.com goes down with the quality. If you’re trying to create a successful ecommerce business, then you’ll need to research and compare the prices offered from different suppliers. If a number of sellers have similar prices on the same product, but one supplier has a significantly lower price, this usually indicates that they have compromised on the quality of the product.
Here’s a guide that will help you decide what price is right for your products.
- Buy From Suppliers That Have 95% and Higher Positive Feedback
A way to generally assess an AliExpress dropshipping supplier is through their positive feedback ratings. The rating systems for products and sellers are extremely important to every marketplace. Imagine you’re walking through a flea market, and someone shouts that the guy in next booth is a scammer. Would you buy from him? Probably not.
The same applies to the virtual AliExpress marketplace. Listen to what other merchants say about each supplier, and learn from that feedback. Essentially, look for the highest-rated suppliers in order to identify the most reliable ones.
Find the feedback ratings by navigating to a given supplier page on AliExpress.com and clicking on the feedback tab. The scores listed here are broken down as follows. The Feedback Score indicates the seller’s sales volume, while Positive Feedback represents the feedback rate the supplier has received. When you’re sourcing products for your store, you should always aim for a 95% or higher in positive feedback and at least a 2,000 feedback score. Also, don’t forget to look at customer picture reviews.
- Be Careful With Branded Products
Known luxury brands on AliExpress.com are very rare. You can’t even search for Versace or Chanel products because these search keywords are blocked. If you notice a copyright infringement or a counterfeit item being sold on AliExpress, you should report it here. This could include items that are questionably similar in design to well-known brands or that include logos resembling those of more established ones.
However, it’s also important to note that not all branded products are fake. AliExpress often organizes partnership promotions with brands such as Lenovo as well as others. Just remember to exercise caution, and use your best judgment on this in order to avoid any problems.
- Pay Attention to the Responsiveness of the Supplier
To test this, you can even make up an urgent issue and message a supplier about it to see how he or she responds. Things to take note of include the supplier’s response time and his or her command of English, along with the supplier’s ability to understand your problem and provide you with clear information. If he or she just responds with a generic, meaningless message, you can cross that supplier off your list.
After all, chances are good that at some point, you’ll have a real situation like the one you made up, and you’ll want to know your supplier will handle it correctly. When you’re trying to create a successful ecommerce business with AliExpress dropshipping, your suppliers are essential, so always choose wisely.
- Look for ePacket Delivery (The Aliexpress Premium Shipping Option)
The delivery time associated with dropshipping with AliExpress is a sensitive topic, especially for new ecommerce entrepreneurs. It is true that this is a common hurdle that most dropshipping ecommerce entrepreneurs must figure out how to deal with. To do so, start by always keeping your eye out for AliExpress dropshipping suppliers that can offer the best delivery options possible for your ecommerce store.
AliExpress Premium Shipping is the best balance between cheapness and speediness. ePacket, also known as AliExpress Premium Shipping, is ideal. With ePacket, delivery takes around 14 business days door-to-door and includes a tracking code, which your customers can use to check for the location of their order.
Pro Tip: Oberlo’s Free Chrome Extension offers a handy feature to identify products with the ePacket delivery option.
- How to Dropship With Aliexpress: Order Samples
If you’re trying to achieve ecommerce success, then you may want to make sure that all of your products are as described online by ordering samples for yourself. While this may seem like a perfectly logical ideal, I don’t recommend doing it. If you’re importing 100+ products into your store it isn’t cost-effective to order each and every one of them to check for quality.
Instead, only order samples of products that you’re going to use in your advertising campaigns. Let’s say you have two or three items on which you are currently offering the best deals. You know they’re great, so you plan to use them in your Facebook or Instagram Ads to attract many visitors to your store. Order samples of these ones for sure. Savvy ecommerce entrepreneurs would order samples of these products to ensure that they are of the highest quality. If your top selling products are of great quality it will speak volumes about your store, and you’ll be more likely to gain some valuable social proof.
Since you’re only ordering a few items, pick the Express Delivery option and receive them within a few days.
AliExpress Refunds and Returns?
AliExpress suppliers normally don’t offer returns for orders so this means you will need a plan of action and a returns policy of your own. Two of the most obvious use-cases for returns are:
- Your customer never received their order: In this instance, you must deal directly with your AliExpress supplier to resolve this issue as this cannot continue happening. Choosing a different delivery option could be a resolution for this issue. In the case that this does happen you can discuss with your customer if a refund or replacement is the best option for them.
- The product was damaged in transit: In the unfortunate case where a product is damaged on it’s way to a customer, it is best to request images of the damaged goods and to issue a refund to the customer. Again speaking with your AliExpress supplier is a good idea if you feel the packaging is not sufficient for the product.
How to Pick the Right Product to Sell
Picking the right products is a key aspect of understanding how to dropship with AliExpress. One article is definitely not enough to answer this question. We created this useful guide for selecting products for your dropshipping business to get you started.
In the midst of all these in-depth materials, however, my approach is very simple. I try to generate a huge list of product ideas and then cross out the ones that aren’t worth testing. Once that’s done, I’m left with a few winners to use in my ads, and then I add some other related products to my store to give it a large enough selection that it looks natural.
Here are the top three sources I consult for finding product ideas:
- Whether or not you realize it, your mind is already filled with great product ideas. Think about your own hobbies, products you like, and the trends you observe around you. Take some time to brainstorm, and write down everything that you can think of. At this stage in the process don’t worry so much about whether you think a product will be a bestseller or not. Just add it to your list for now.
- Also, be sure to check out other stores for inspiration. Glance through their offerings, best selling lists, and promoted products. The big online retail sites have tons of data to draw from, and they typically employ entire departments of people dedicated to picking their products and organizing sales. Use this information to your benefit as well. The following links are worth checking out on a regular basis: AliExpress Most Popular Products (Weekly), Amazon Best Sellers, eBay Daily Deals, Lazada Top Sellers, LightInTheBox Top Sellers List.
- Third, don’t underestimate the power of social shopping sites such as Pinterest, Polyvore, Fancy, and Wanelo. These platforms feature hundreds of millions of different products. This might not be the first place you think to look for product ideas, but they are very valuable as social media, in general, becomes a more dynamic part of our lives. To get the most out of using these sites, create an account on each and subscribe to categories and lists of interest and keep an eye on trending product feeds. See if you can decide what people like the most and then add these items to your list.
Dropshipping Guide to Filtering Product Ideas
When you’re satisfied with the length of your product list, it’s time to refine it down so it only contains the very best ideas.
- Look for niche products that are not as readily available on mainstream ecommerce sites or in stores. This will help ensure that you create a successful ecommerce business with products that actually in demand. For instance, even if there is no specific market to pinpoint for selling a regular belt, you can easily draw the conclusion that cycling gear will be of interest among cycling enthusiasts. Find your niche!
- There are a few different product categories that have grown to large proportions in the last few years. Odds are a mixture of large scale marketplaces and smaller shops have already seized the opportunity to sell these products. To avoid markets that are already saturated, cross off the following categories from your idea list: jewelry, books, clothing, and electronics. At this stage in the ecommerce game, you’ll need to be more specific in order to find a lucrative niche.
- Now, let’s talk about product pricing. In my experience, the sweet spot for a price is between $40 to $60 (with a 200% markup). I arrived at this price range based on the fact that the lower the price, the better the conversion rate. Simultaneously, the higher the price, the more customer support you will be expected to offer.
- Scan through your product ideas and enter each one as well as variations on its name into the Google Keywords Analysis tool. Select ‘Keyword Ideas,’ and check how many searches each Low Competition Keyword receives. When using Google Adwords or search engine optimization (SEO), though I personally suggest advertising with Facebook and Instagram, avoid product categories that have little or no search traffic. The key is striking the right balance between keyword competition and search traffic.
- Next, go to trends.google.com, search each of your product ideas, and look at the trends. Is the trend increasing or decreasing? Are there any other patterns worth noting? Where are the spikes occurring? Cross out products whose trends are fading as well as seasonal items.
After crossing off any ideas that don’t prove to be worth testing, you’ll be left with a few potential winners. Now it’s time to open a store, and try them out! We’re sure that you’ll find success, especially after reading our guide to AliExpress dropshipping.
A Few Product Ideas I Like
We all know how fragile the screens of our precious smartphones typically are. Therefore, it’s not surprising that phone grips are currently catching on like wildfire in the world of ecommerce. According to trends, it’s a good time to incorporate these into your store’s inventory.
There’s no product like magnetic eyelashes to serve as a reminder that we live in exciting times! Who knows what they will think up next? This item is very in right now, and lots of people are searching the web in order to buy a set or two of their own.
Fitness Bras and Leggings
Fitness activities and clothing associated with them are both trendy areas to explore as you come up with product ideas. Thanks to new technologies that make sports more social, there is a massive social impact from Instagram and apps like Endomondo or Nike+. It’s a strong business idea for ecommerce entrepreneurs.
A top watch brand available via AliExpress dropshipping offers affordable watches with a look of luxury, and they are well received all over the world. You can find a number of great reviews on Youtube and Instagram to prove the quality.
If you’re looking for other ideas on what to sell, it might help to look here.
At this point in our dropshipping guide using Shopify and AliExpress, you now have the basics for understanding how to dropship with AliExpress, along with tried and true strategies for selecting products. This, however, isn’t the full story. There is one missing piece we have yet to consider.
The Key to Using AliExpress Successfully
I work at Oberlo, the company who created the aforementioned dropshipping automation app. Before launching Oberlo, my brother and I were running a standard dropshipping business and managed all our orders through email. Needless to say, it was tedious! Weary of communicating with dozens of different suppliers, we wondered why we didn’t just add products to our online store directly from the AliExpress marketplace. All the suppliers we were in contact with sold their products there anyway, and we could avoid all the hassle related to email communication, orders getting lost between Excel files, and not having any way of ensuring our suppliers would fulfill the orders.
So, we started adding items to our story directly from AliExpress and were immediately impressed with the results. We soon had 2–3 full-time employees manually placing orders on AliExpress, but even after making this change, things still didn’t feel quite as efficient as they could be. It was extremely time consuming, and we had problems with selling products that turned out to be out of stock.
My colleague was a developer, and we discussed how we could try building a tool to automate the AliExpress dropshipping method to eliminate some of the common errors and tedium associated with it. We had a working prototype within a few weeks of that discussion, and once we began using it, everything started falling into place.
Fast forward a few months, and we sold the successful ecommerce business to our partners in China, which left us with the tool that made the business possible. We launched it publicly in October 2015 and now we call it Oberlo.
We’re extremely happy to have helped thousands of entrepreneurs sell over 2,000,000 products through AliExpress dropshipping since then.
That’s pretty much how dropshipping with AliExpress got started. Oberlo is an invaluable partner in your ecommerce journey because it was built by people like you in order to power ecommerce businesses like yours.
If you plan on using AliExpress dropshipping as part of your business model, we strongly recommend giving Oberlo a try. The app helps you to add hundreds of products to your store, and ship your orders with just a few clicks. In addition, you can track your order delivery information with ease. On top of those great features, you also get full support from our experienced customer success managers.
What Is Oberlo?
Oberlo is a marketplace that makes it easy to find awesome products to sell online.
With Oberlo you can access a huge variety of different products with just a few clicks. Whether it’s fashion, electronics, toys, beauty, or the next trending product – Oberlo makes it easy for you to find products from suppliers all over the world and instantly add them to your own online store.
Once you’ve made a sale your supplier will ship the products from their warehouse straight to your customer’s doorstep – you’ll never need to worry about storing, packaging, or shipping your products. Instead, you can focus on the things which really matter – growing your brand and making sales.
With Oberlo, it costs nothing to add products to your store – you can select the forever free plan to start dropshipping today.
Want to Learn More?
- Here Are the Biggest Dropshipping Niches in the Biggest Markets
- Print On Demand Vs. AliExpress Dropshipping: Which is More Profitable?
- 16 Dropshipping Tips for New Entrepreneurs You Need to Know
- The Ultimate Shopify Dropshipping Guide
Is there anything else you’d like to know more about and wish was included in this article? Let us know in the comments below!