If you’ve been thinking about learning how to dropship from AliExpress then this dropshipping guide is perfect for you. We’ve created the ultimate guide to dropshipping so you can use AliExpress dropshipping and AliExpress premium shipping to become a successful ecommerce entrepreneur.
The Ultimate Guide to Dropshipping
If you’re looking to become an ecommerce entrepreneur, dropshipping is the easiest way for to start your online business. AliExpress dropshipping is the new ecommerce trend for good reasons:
- It doesn’t require much capital – in fact, I wrote a guide on how to start an eCommerce business with $0.00.
- You don’t need a physical store – it’s an Internet business, so you can run a successful AliExpress dropshipping business from anywhere in the world.
- Everything you need to learn is available for free online – You can use the vast number of articles, videos, and other educational material to achieve ecommerce success.
If any of you have doubts that you can create a successful ecommerce business with AliExpress dropshipping, I will prove you wrong. Oberlo users now receive over 50,000 orders that equate to $1,400,000 in sales, each and every day. That’s around $42,000,000 every month!
This is the ultimate guide to AliExpress dropshipping. Here’s how it works:
How does it AliExpress dropshipping work?
Let’s say you’ve decided you want to start an eCommerce store. What are your next steps? Most ecommerce entrepreneurs try to come up with a product idea, look for suppliers, pay for the products and get them into your real-world store. And after you get your products, you’ll try hard to sell them.
The problem is you don’t really know what will sell well or if you will be able to sell the product at all.
Here’s an example:
- Elena buys 100 units of a particular product line, paying $1,000 for them;
- 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.
In the above scenario, Elena invested $1,000 to open her store, but quickly realized the product line she decided to sell is not popular or she just doesn’t know where to find the people who do want that product. She only makes $200 in sales and is forced to close her store with an $800 loss.
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 for that:
- 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 realize 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 buy a product before selling it, so you don’t spend your precious budget on stocking inventory.
Dropshipping Guide: Drop shipping with AliExpress
AliExpress dropshipping is one of the most popular dropshipping models for ecommerce entrepreneurs. You import the product content and images from AliExpress.com directly to your store. You’ll also have the freedom to set your prices/markups. The best part is that after you sell a product, you purchase it from a seller on AliExpress and have it shipped directly to your customer. Dropshipping from AliExpress is simple and easy for new ecommerce entrepreneurs.
The FAQs about AliExpress dropshipping
Now that this dropshipping guide has helped you understand the basics of AliExpress dropshipping, you might still have unanswered questions.
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 which it has developed around dropshipping. I’ve talked with dozens of suppliers using AliExpress. They all dropship.
Oberlo users ship over 450,000 orders every month and we haven’t heard any reports of unhappy customers. There are rarely any promotions or invoices in the packages your customers receive. You can even tell your supplier not to include it to be on the safe side. In addition, if you’re doing well, you can even arrange for custom packaging and the AliExpress premium shipping known as ePacket.
Why should someone buy from me if you can buy the same product from AliExpress cheaper?
Because you’re better!
You might be a better marketer who reaches the potential customers first. Also, you might create a more trustworthy brand that people feel safer buying from. In addition, you might also provide extra services or content that builds a relationship with your customer.
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!
AliExpress shipping takes too long, my customers won’t wait.
That’s just an assumption on your part, and I strongly suggest you test it.
Alibaba made over $14 billions 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.
If customers receive free shipping, they understand that it’ll likely take a little longer to receive their product.
Moreover, with the now 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 few other big countries. It’s the perfect shipping option to help you achieve ecommerce success 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; it’s shipped directly from your supplier’s warehouse to your customer.
If you’re trying to provide top-notch customer service (a must), dropshipping could become a liability. Although AliExpress is taking care of improper suppliers itself, 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 how a marketplace like AliExpress 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 buyer searches for a blue hoodie, he sees two hoodies looking the same but for different prices and in most cases he picks 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.
That’s why the quality of marketplace products goes down. Suppliers try to be price competitive and each product has a number of very similar variations, often at artificially reduced prices.
In short, the price on AliExpress.com goes down with the quality. A lot of sellers offer similar products on AliExpress.com. If you’re trying to create a successful ecommerce business then you’ll need to research the prices of 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.
Buy From Suppliers That Have 95% and Higher Positive Feedback
The rating systems for products and sellers are extremely important to every marketplace. Imagine you’re walking in a street market and someone shouts that the guy in next booth is a scammer. Would you buy from him? Probably not.
The same applies to a virtual marketplace. Listen to what other buyers say about each seller and learn from that feedback. Look for the highest-rated suppliers:
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 Brand 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, you should report it here.
However, not all brand products are fake. AliExpress often organises partnership promotions with brands such as Lenovo and others.
Pay Attention to the Responsiveness of the Supplier
Make up an urgent issue and message a supplier about it to see how they respond. Check their response time, command of English, and their ability to understand your problem and provide you with clear information. If they just respond with a generic, meaningless message, you can cross them off your list of potential suppliers. After all, chances are good that you’ll have a real situation like this once in a while and you want to know they will be handled the right way. When you’re trying to create a successful ecommerce business with dropshipping your suppliers are essential– choose them wisely.
Look for ePacket Delivery (AliExpress Premium Shipping Option)
The topic of long delivery times is a sensitive one, especially for new ecommerce entrepreneurs. As an ecommerce entrepreneur, you should always look for dropshipping suppliers who can offer the best delivery options for your ecommerce store.
The best delivery option (the cheapest and the quickest) is ePacket, or AliExpress Premium Shipping, which 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 from AliExpress: Order Samples
If you’re trying to achieve ecommerce success then you may want to make sure that all of your products are perfect by ordering samples for yourself– I don’t recommend this. If you’re importing 100+ products into your store it isn’t cost-efficient to order each and every one of them to check for quality.
Instead, order a sample of those products that you’re about to use in your advertising campaigns. Let’s say you have two or three products that are the best deals on your store. 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 the samples of them. Savvy ecommerce entrepreneurs would order samples of these products to ensure that they are of the highest quality. If your top selling products are high quality it will speak volumes about your store.
How to pick the right product to sell?
An article is definitely not enough to answer this question. Shopify went as far as writing a book about it: LINK
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 I use in my ads, and throw in other related products to my store so they are there just to make the store look robust.
Generating Product Ideas
Here are the top three product idea sources that help me. For a full article on how I generate product ideas, read here.
- As an ecommerce entrepreneur, your head is already full of good ideas, including your hobbies, products you like, trends, exciting products you’ve heard of, and so on. Write everything down that comes to mind. It doesn’t matter if you think the product will be a best seller or not. Trust me — write it down!
- Browse other stores and look at their offerings, best selling lists, and promoted products. Many stores have a tremendous amount of data and employ entire departments to organize their sales and pick their products. Use that information to your benefit. Here is a link list worth spending time researching: AliExpress Most Popular Products (Weekly), Amazon Best Sellers, Ebay Daily Deals, Lazada Top Sellers, LightInTheBox Top Sellers List.
- Social Shopping Sites like Pinterest, Polyvore, Fancy, Wanelo have hundreds of millions of products. People often overlook these sites in their research, but they are very valuable. Set up an account at each one, and subscribe to different categories and lists, and trending product feeds. Follow what people like the most and add it to your list.
Dropshipping Guide to Filtering Product Ideas
Once your list is full and there is nothing left you can add to it, narrow it down so it contains only the very best ideas.
- Look for niche products that are underserved by larger players– this will really help you to create a successful ecommerce business. For example, there is no specific interest group for a regular belt, but you can easily tell that cycling gear will resonate well with cycling enthusiasts. Find your niche!
- Some product categories have grown significantly over the last decade and there are already many strong players and smaller shops out there supplying these products. Cross off the following general categories from your idea list: books, jewelry, electronics, and clothing — you will need to be more specific to find a lucrative niche.
- In my experience, the sweet spot for a product price is $40 to $60 (including a 200% mark-up). There are a few general rules to remember: The lower the price, the better the conversion rate. The higher the price, the more support you will need to provide.
- Go through your product ideas and enter each product name and variations into the Google Keywords Analysis tool. Select Keyword Ideas and look at how many searches each Low Competition Keyword receives. Notably, if you plan to use Google Adwords or SEO (though I recommend Facebook and Instagram), avoid product categories that have little or no search traffic.
- Go to trends.google.com, enter each of your product ideas into the search and look at the trend. Is the trend increasing or decreasing? Are there any patterns? Do you see any spikes? Cross out the fading-trend product and seasonal items.
After crossing out the ideas that aren’t worth testing, you should be left with a few potential winners. Open a store and try them out! We’re sure that you’ll find success, especially after reading our dropshipping guide!
A Few Product Ideas I Like:
Fitness Bras and Leggings
Fitness Activities and Fitness Clothing are trendy. 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.
This seasonal product is constantly ranked among AliExpress top sellers.
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.
How do I know about this stuff?
I work at Oberlo, 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 from communicating with dozens of different suppliers, we wondered why we didn’t just add products to our store directly from AliExpress. All suppliers 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 protection guarantee.
So we did it and were immediately impressed with the results. We soon had 2–3 full-time employees manually placing orders on AliExpress, but it still didn’t feel quite right. 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 this AliExpress dropshipping method to be less stressful. We had a working prototype within a few weeks of that discussion and everything started falling into place.
Fast forward a few months 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 AliExpress dropshipping got started. And that’s why Oberlo is an invaluable partner in your eCommerce journey — it was built by people like you, to power eCommerce businesses like yours.
Also, it helps you 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. Lastly, on top of those great features you also get full support from our experienced customer success managers.
Not ready yet?
Download a free eBook “The Ultimate Guide to Starting Your #1 eCommerce Store” (at the bottom of the page)…
and join fellow dropshippers on our community forum.
If you have any questions about our dropshipping guide, or anything else ecommerce related, you can always get in touch with me on Twitter or with Oberlo Customer Success managers at firstname.lastname@example.org.