If you're scouring the web for a comprehensive AliExpress dropshipping guide, then you're in the right place. During this post, we're going to explore everything you need to start selling online with the help of this fabulous platform.
Does that sound good to you? Perfect. Let's dive straight in!
If you're new to the sphere of e-commerce selling, you might be a tad unsure of what dropshipping actually is.
In short, it's just a business model that empowers you to sell online. However, when a customer buys something, your supplier then ships the product directly to the shopper on your behalf.
It almost goes without saying that you'll sell your suppliers products at a profit (which obviously, is how you'll make your money!)
Generally, you can market and sell a $5 item you've purchased via AliExpress for as much as $20 — that's a massive ROI.
It's the potential to make a huge return on your investment, that makes dropshipping more appealing than other business models, say, affiliate marketing. For those of you who don't know, when you sell affiliate products, you earn a commission pre-determined by the supplier. Whereas, as we've just said, with drop shipping, you have the freedom to price your own products (which provides the opportunity for generating higher profits).
Dropshipping is also easier than opening a traditional brick and mortar store. Like the ones you see lining the high streets. With an in-person shop, the entrepreneur has to come up with winning product ideas, find suppliers and/or manufacturers; then shell out for products and their shipping. That's not including the hassle and expense of marketing the brand to achieve those all-important sales.
Sadly, you could easily waste all this time and money to then to realize your chosen products don't sell very well, if at all. That's the risk you take with traditional commerce. Whereas with the ecommerce dropshipping model, you don’t (necessarily) have to squander your precious budget on any of the above!
Image credits: Shutterstock
Why You Should Start Dropshipping
We've only just scratched the surface on the perks of drop shipping. So, before we delve into the nitty-gritty of AliExpress, we thought it would be useful to hammer home why so many entrepreneurs utilize this business model…
Enjoy Location Freedom
Just like the large majority of other online businesses, you can run your dropshipping venture from virtually anywhere around the world.
So, if you fancy being a digital nomad, dropshipping could be a perfect way of transforming this dream into a reality.
There's Lots of Money to be Made
As we've already alluded to, when done well, there's lots of money to be made from dropshipping. Take Tim Kock for instance. He created a dropshipping store and generated a whopping $6,667 in under eight weeks!
Obviously, not everyone who launches a dropshipping business will have a success story quite as impressive as that, but you get the idea. There's a lot of potential to make serious money.
Plus, a massive budget isn't necessary to get started. Even when it comes to ‘learning the ropes' you won't have to fork out hundreds of dollars on fancy courses sold by ‘gurus.' Instead, there are tons of blogs posts, podcasts, and video tutorials. Within days you'll be able to learn the foundations of how to set up and launch a successful ecommerce venture without spending a penny!
The Internet is Your Oyster
With over three billion people online and a seemingly limitless number of products to sell on your store, there's a good chance you'll find a profitable market. The internet is your oyster, so go out there and find your niche. There's no limit on your creativity!
What's AliExpress Dropshipping?
So, what's AliExpress Dropshipping?
In short, AliExpress is a massive online retailer based in China, owned by the Alibaba Group. Launched back in 2010, it comprises thousands of merchants selling products to business owners all over the world.
👉 At the time of writing, AliExpress' website is currently available in the following languages:
With so many languages catered for, you can quickly see why AliExpress is so popular with entrepreneurs across the globe!
Why Dropship Using AliExpress?
Yes, there are tons of online retailers you could use to kickstart your dropshipping business. But, AliExpress is the most popular platform — and for good reasons.
As we've just hinted at, AliExpress lists hundreds, if not thousands, of reputable vendors selling products at extremely reasonable prices.
Plus, masses of business owners have used AliExpress for years, sp suppliers are well-versed with the needs of entrepreneurs and as such (usually), try to accommodate your wishes.
Best of all, there isn't an upfront charge to sell AliExpress products. So, you have the freedom to test a variety of merchandise without the fear of wasting hard-earned cash.
Once you delve further into the practicalities of AliExpress dropshipping, you'll find plenty of apps that can import product details and images from AliExpress product listings to your store. It doesn't matter whether dropshipping is a side hustle or your full-time gig; time is money. So, automating the majority of your business with plugins like these is an absolute must (but more on that later).
Hold your horses; they're not the only things entrepreneurs love about AliExpress…
Their Products Are (Usually) Excellent Quality
Yes, like most other online retailers, AliExpress also sell their fair share of ‘dud' products.
However, the key difference with AliExpress is how easy they make finding the cream of the crop. Due to the vast quantities of people using their services, their “review section” is on fire!
So, use this to your advantage.
👉 To increase the likelihood of finding and using a supplier selling high-quality products, do the following:
- Only work alongside suppliers boasting a positive feedback rating of 95% (or higher).
- For a more accurate feel for how suppliers perform, only use merchants with a feedback score of 2,000 (or more).
- Look at the written reviews section at the bottom of the product listing. It's essential to take on board what other e-commerce merchants say about suppliers. If you don't, you run a much higher risk of relying on AliExpress suppliers who are unreliable. Your brand's reputation is only as good as your suppliers. So, don't run the risk of doing business with vendors who haven't been tried and tested!
As you can see, within minutes, you'll get a feel for which products showcase superior quality.
📢 Top Tip: On the AliExpress product listing, click on the feedback tab. This provides a full break down of the supplier's feedback score.
Handy Hack: The ‘Feedback Score' refers to the seller’s sales volume, whereas the ‘Positive Feedback' score indicates their feedback rate.
Any Other Advice?
Don't just opt for the supplier offering the lowest price. Although it's tempting, remember, if everyone used the cheapest merchandise, albeit inferior quality, the overall standard of AliExpress products would decline.
Instead, we suggest researching and comparing the prices of different suppliers who offer similar products. If several sellers market their goods at roughly the same price point, but one or two merchants offer a significantly lower price, there's a good chance they've compromised on quality. So, avoid them like the plague. You don't want a reputation for selling shoddy products!
AliExpress Shipping is (Usually) Budget-Friendly
Despite the majority of products on AliExpress coming all the way from China, you might be surprised to hear that most shipping costs are either free or exceptionally cheap.
This is a massive perk.
Offering customers free shipping often sweetens the deal and could be that all-important incentive that convinces the shopper to complete their purchase.
However, if you want customers to receive their products quicker than free shipping allows for, use AliExpress' premium shipping option (also known as ePacket).
When you opt for ePacket shipping, it usually takes between seven to 14 days for orders to reach the US, Canada, Australia, or the UK. Sometimes you'll find taking a slight hit in profit so you can offer quicker shipping times is worth it. After all, higher levels of customer satisfaction are essential for bolstering brand loyalty.
📢 Top Tip: You can use Oberlo (more on this later) to help identify in seconds which products in your niche have an ePacket delivery option.
How To Start Dropshipping with AliExpress
So, having read all the above, you probably want to get going.
👉 Here's how to get started.
1. Pick A Niche
First things first, select a niche.
Unsure what a niche is?
In short, a niche is a specific section of an industry. For instance, pet products, gym gear, baby accessories — these are all fabulous examples of niches.
If you're not sure which niche to specialize in, browse through AliExpress and take a look at other digital stores to glean inspiration. As you do, make a list of niches you like the sound of.
Failing that, the following places are all fabulous for kickstarting your product research:
- AliExpress' Weekly Most Popular Products
- Amazon's Best Sellers
- eBay Daily Deals
- Lazada's Top Sellers
- LightInTheBox's Top Sellers List
📢 Top Tip: Find a niche you're passionate about. For example, if you love yoga, consider selling yoga mats, exercise clothing, sports bottles, etc. You'll find creating content and marketing your store a much easier process.
Plus, a genuine passion for the products you're selling will help keep you motivated once the initial novelty of running a business wears off.
💡 A word of advice: Find a niche with plenty of merchandise options. Ideally, you want products that aren't readily available in high street stores or mainstream ecommerce shops. It stands to reason; there's a higher demand for these kinds of items (so they're easier to sell).
Take your list of niches and product ideas and type them into Google's Keyword Planner.
Then, select ‘Keyword Ideas.’ This will show how many people are searching for the product (and other relevant keywords). With this info, you can avoid picking a niche with little or no traffic.
💡 Handy Hack: The secret to conducting effective keyword research is striking a balance between competition and search traffic — which can be a hard line to follow. Ideally, you want keywords with the lowest possible competition, while still boasting lots of searches. If you're struggling with this, AHREFs could help (this is a fabulous tool for identifying high-converting keywords).
We also recommend using trends.google.com.
Copy and past potential products and see whether its demand is increasing or decreasing — are there any noticeable patterns? Avoid niches where products are dwindling in popularity, or if the majority of merchandise is seasonal. Otherwise, you'll find marketing your store way harder!
Product Ideas to Fuel Your Inspiration
How many times have you accidentally smashed the screen of your smartphone? Probably at least once, especially if you're an iPhone user. Phone grips present an ideal solution to a genuine consumer problem. Plus, there's a decent mark up to be had, making it easy to market and profitable — win-win!
Fitness clothing of all guises, especially leggings, tend to sell well. Tons of brands have jumped on the health and fitness bandwagon, and for a good reason — it's profitable!
Like we've already said, when it comes to choosing ecommerce products to sell, the nicer, the better — and magnetic eyelashes certainly fall into that category!
2. Get the Tools You Need
Shopify's an online store builder used by hundreds of dropshippers. Within hours, you can create beautiful looking digital stores and start selling.
However, you'll have to pay for this software (after a two-week free trial). Plus, you'll need to populate your site with products — which is where Oberlo comes in.
As we've already a said, a lot of your dropshipping business can be automated, which is where Oberlo comes into play.
👉 This is how it works:
- Download the Oberlo extension onto your Shopify store.
- With just a click of the button, import the AliExpress products you want to sell.
- A customer buys your product(s)
- Shopify sends payment via your PayPal account.
- Oberlo finds the item on AliExpress on your behalf, and automatically fills out the customer details, and buys it from the necessary AliExpress supplier.
- The AliExpress supplier then ships the order directly to the seller’s address.
- Once the order's dispatched, Oberlo sends the customer a tracking code on your behalf.
Voila, it really is as simple as that.
Thousands of new merchants sign up to sell their goodies via Oberlo each and every month — so you'll have an abundance of products to choose from across an array of niches. From fashion to electronics, to toys and beauty…and everything else in between, you're bound to find something that appeals to your audience.
Best of all, you can whittle this process down to just two clicks: one to order, one to finalize!
If you're working with a tight budget, never fear. For Shopify users, Oberlo's entirely free for the first 500 products — which when you're starting out is plenty!
Last but not least, Oberlo also notifies you if there are any changes to the inventory or price of the products you're selling. So, in theory, you'll never be caught short!
3. Order Samples
You can never be too careful with dropshipping products. Don't be tempted to sell anything without inspecting it first.
So, order a sample.
This is the only way to ensure your e-commerce store sells products your customers can depend on.
📢 Top Tip: If you're ordering a few items, opt for Express Delivery. That way, it should be with you in a few days. When it comes to samples, the quicker, the better, so you can get up and running as soon as possible!
Image credits: Shutterstock
A Few Dropshipping Tips
As a bonus, we've added a few dropshipping tips to help you hit the ground running.
Setting Product Prices
As we've said time and again, dropshipping gives you the freedom to set your own product price. But be warned, don't be tempted to overprice your items. Today's online shoppers are savvier than ever before, so they'll know if they're being ripped off. Price your products too high, and you'll run the risk of consumers clicking off your site and heading to your competitors.
Be Wary of Branded Products
Genuine luxury brands on AliExpress are few and far between — so don't risk selling them. There's a good chance they're counterfeit products and you could run into copyright issues. AliExpress strongly discourages their suppliers selling these kinds of goods. So much so, you can’t even search for Versace or Chanel, because they've blocked these keywords.
Only Use Responsive Suppliers
Before you commit to using an AliExpress vendor, send them over a message. Take note of how long it takes for them to respond. You'll also get a feel for how well the supplier speaks English. Needless to say, this skill is essential for effective communication (presuming you can't speak Mandarin).
If the supplier takes weeks to respond, or they send you a useless response, they're probably not worth doing business with. After all, if you have to contact them urgently, and they're unable (or unwilling) to get back to you with a helpful solution, you'll inevitably run into problems.
Learn the Art of eCommerce
Yes, launching a dropshipping business is relatively straightforward — but there are a few things you'll need to learn. Namely, how to drive qualified traffic to your store.
Without traffic, you won't make sales, period.
There are tons of traffic generation methods you can use to drum up customers, so take some time to research them.
👉 We urge you to learn the basics of:
- Social media advertising (Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.)
- Email marketing
- Pay per click ads
Typically, a mixture of all the above will help your store gain enough traction to secure your first few sales. Over time, you'll then be able to look at your stats and get a feel for which marketing method works best for your niche. Then hone in on that. Let the data guide your marketing methods!
📢 Top Tip: If you don't want customers to receive promotions or invoices from your suppliers inside their package, just tell them that, and they'll usually abide by your wishes (to be fair it's only a very few suppliers who do that anyway, so you should be fine)!
💡 Handy Hack: You can even request custom packaging. So, contact your dropshipping suppliers directly to see what they'll do for you.
What If I Don't Want to Use Shopify?
In short, WooCommerce is a plugin you can download that allows you to set up your own e-commerce store from the convenience of your WordPress site.
👉 Similar to Shopify, it's both a wallet-friendly and intuitive option that enables you to:
- Sell both digital and physical products
- Manage inventory and shipping tasks
- Make secure payments
- Sort taxes
⭐ Fun Fact: WooCommerce fuels a whopping 42% of all online stores.
Just like WordPress, WooCommerce is both free and open-source. So, you can download the plugin and modify it as you wish without paying a penny!
But never fear, although it’s incredibly powerful; it’s very beginner-friendly — you don’t need any coding knowledge at all.
Now, that we've covered what WooCommerce actually is, you're probably wondering: ‘how can I start dropshipping with this solution?'
The answer: WooDropship.
So, what does WooDropship do?
👉 Well, in answer to your question, this extension allows you to:
- Add and sell AliExpress products
- Ship products directly to your customers.
- Set the price of your products — You can even set how much profit you want to make from each AliExpress item you sell and edit the pricing of your products in bulk.
- Access to inventory and price syncing tools — so when a product price changes or a product goes out of stock on AliExpress, WooDropship will automatically update your sales pages.
- An inbuilt image editor — With just a click of the mouse, you can easily remove any watermarks printed on AliExpress product images.
- Customize your product details — You can modify your product titles, descriptions, images, variants, etc. to ensure all your sales pages reflect the aesthetic of your store.
Pros and Cons of AliExpress Dropshipping
Like everything else in life, there are a few pros and cons to AliExpress dropshipping. So, let's explore these in greater detail.
We'll start with the positives…
You Can Buy Cheap Products
This is the most notable benefit to dropshipping with AliExpress. The majority of products retailed on AliExpress are incredibly cost-effective, as is the shipping. Like we said earlier, this is usually either free or incredibly cheap. So there's a good chance you'll be able to make a decent markup on these items.
It's Easier to Sell High-Maintenance Products
It goes without saying, some products cost more to stock and ship than others. As such, the harder the product is to ship to customers, the handier it is to dropship them via AliExpress.
By ‘hard-to-ship' products, we mean:
- Heavy products: The weightier the product, the more it costs to ship (often making them too costly to make a profit).
- Larger products: Merchandise that takes up tons of space to store.
- Valuables: High-value items that need additional security and insurance.
- Fragile products: Goods requiring special care whilst ship.
On the whole, it just doesn’t make sense to pay for extortionate storage and shipping fees when you can dropship these goods directly from AliExpress at no extra expense!
Now for the downsides to AliExpress dropshipping…
Beware of False Advertising
This is hands down the worst thing about AliExpress.
By ‘false advertisement,' we're referring to the fact that a product on AliExpress may look fabulous online, but in reality, the quality of the product doesn't match either yours or the customer’s expectations. To limit the chances of falling foul to this, follow the tips we gave you earlier on how to find a reputable AliExpress supplier.
Much Longer Shipping Times
As we've already said, AliExpress' merchants' turnaround times vary greatly. Some ship orders as quickly as one week and others can take as long as 60 days. This may put some customers off, especially when other ecommerce giants like Amazon Prime can deliver orders by the next day!
Returns Can Be a Nightmare
Since all products on Aliexpress are sourced and shipped from China, it can be a real hassle to return your customers' orders to the original AliExpress seller and get a refund.
Some AliExpress suppliers offer a small refund to get you to just keep the product. Namely because shipping it back to them usually costs too much time, money, and hassle for it to be worth it! Again, refunds and returns are another thing you should consider discussing with a potential supplier before committing to doing business with them.
📢 Top Tip: If you feel you're entitled to a refund from your AliExpress supplier, and so far you've been unsuccessful, contact Aliexpress' customer support team directly. Depending on the product and the merchant, they sometimes offer refunds. But, be aware this isn't likely.
AliExpress Dropshipping: FAQ's
Has reading the above sparked a few questions? Continue reading to find the answers to frequently asked questions about AliExpress dropshipping.
Why Would Someone Buy From Me If They Can Get the Same Product From AliExpress Cheaper?
Ahh. This one's simple.
When you think about it, retailers have been buying products from suppliers for lower prices and selling them on at a profit for decades! This is how traditional brick and mortar stores have always conducted their business!
So, just like an in-person shop, with a bit of time and effort, you can easily create a better shopping experience than AliExpress. Period.
With tools like Shopify and Oberlo, you can create a trustworthy store that shoppers feel more comfortable buying from.
Couple this with providing customers with valuable content and you have a winning combination! Perhaps you could publish a blog or offer a free e-book for shoppers to download? This works wonders for helping you build trust with your audience while establishing yourself as an authority in your industry.
AliExpress Shipping Takes Too Long: What Can I Do?
You’ll be amazed at how many shoppers are comfortable with longer waiting times. The stats speak for themselves: Alibaba made over $17.7 billion in sales in just one day. So, clearly, there are people out there willing to wait a little longer to receive their products!
As long as you make your delivery times VERY clear on your sales pages, you should be okay.
It's all about setting realistic customer expectations. Plus, if you're selling your products at a competitive price, you'll often find people will put up with waiting…if it means getting a discount.
I Need to Return an AliExpress Product: How Do I Do That?
On the whole, AliExpress suppliers don't typically accept returns. As such, you'll have to figure out how to handle returns and refunds on your own.
So, as you may have already guessed, this means writing and publishing a clear returns policy on your store.
📢 Top Tip: Do a quick Google search for ‘template returns policies' and you should find one you can modify to suit your needs.
As you're creating your refund policy, think about why customers might want to return your products.
👉 On the whole, if a shopper wants a refund, it's usually because either:
1. They didn't receive their order
If that's the case, you'll need to contact the AliExpress supplier directly and get the issue resolved. It's imperative you nip these sorts of mistakes firmly in the bud because it could damage your brand's reputation.
2. The product was damaged on route to their delivery address.
In the unfortunate event that a product gets damaged on it’s a way to a customer, we suggest asking the consumer to take a picture of the damaged goods. That way you can query it with your supplier more effectively. Then go ahead and issue the shopper with a refund.
Does Amazon Allow dropshipping? How Does It Work?
No, Amazon doesn't permit traditional dropshipping on their platform, but that doesn't mean you have to fulfill orders yourself,
Instead, you can turn to Fulfilment By Amazon (Amazon FBA), which just like regular dropshipping, takes the picking, packing, and shipping of orders out of your hands.
This is how it works:
- Set up your Amazon FBA account.
- Create your product listings
- Ship your products to Amazon, and they'll take care of the rest.
By ‘the rest,' we mean:
- Selecting, packing, and shipping your merchandise.
- Providing customers with tracking info.
- Customer service (including returns)
However, you’ll have to factor in Amazon’s fulfillment fees, which vary depending on the size of the items you're shipping and the time of year. But on the whole, prepare to pay $3+ for lightweight items.
Yes, it really is as simple as that.
You can also add Amazon as a sales channel on your Shopify store using the Amazon plugin. This tracks your inventory and notifies you in your Shopify dashboard when there are outstanding Amazon orders to fulfill.
Is AliExpress Dropshipping Dead?
Is Dropshipping from AliExpress Profitable?
Again, yes, dropshipping from AliExpress has the potential to be extremely profitable. You just need to hold yourself accountable by writing down how much you want to earn and then working out how many products you need to sell to meet this target. Clear goal-setting is essential for keeping an eye on your profits.
Is AliExpress a drop shipper?
No — you're the drop shipper.
A drop shipper is the store owner that “dropships” the products from the supplier on the Aliexpress platform.
Are There Any Decent Aliexpress Alternatives?
There are tons of AliExpress alternatives, here are some of our favorites:
Salehoo. This is another fabulous AliExpress alternative that supports the dropshipping business model.
Like the others in this list, Salehoo also offers dropshippers a large selection of trusted suppliers. Best of all, Salehoo provides a few training videos on how to make the most out of their marketplace, so you'll be able to do business with them in no time. Not to mention, users also report that Salehoo's customer support is both friendly and helpful.
Unlike AliExpress, Wholesale2B is a US-based wholesale supplier directory.
They have as many as two million products on offer, spanning over 120 categories — which they add to each and every day.
Needless to say, if you're based in the States, this is a fabulous AliExpress alternative.
Wholesale2B is best described as a ‘one-stop-shop' for dropshippers. In addition to reliable suppliers, you can also get advice on how to to set up an online store. Wholesale2B integrates with the majority of eCommerce platforms including Amazon, eBay, BigCommerce, Shopify, and WooCommerce — just to name a few! So there's a good chance you'll be able to use Wholesale2B.
To give you a feel for the sorts of products you'll find over there, here are a few examples of Wholesale2B's products categories:
- Baby Products
- Exercise and Fitness
- Health and beauty
Wholesale2B makes ordering and inventory control very simple through their dashboard. With just a click of a button, you can automate both. They'll also handle returns and exchanges on your behalf. However, they charge a whopping 3% + $2.50 transaction fee for every sale you make.
DHGate is a very similar marketplace to AliExpress, a lot of their products overlap so you can compare prices on both of these platforms to ensure you're making the most profit. They also use ePacket shipping.
With over ten million products for you to choose from, sold by merchants located in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other Asian countries, you're bound to find something that interests your audience.
DHGate has products in all the following categories:
- Watches and Jewelry
- Toys and Hobbies
- Outdoor and Sports
You can pay for items on DHGate via PayPal.
Last but not least, we have Banggood. This is another ecommerce marketplace boasting low-price products. With over four million products listed from China, Hong Kong, and the US — you'll be spoiled for choice. Best of all, not as many people know about this site, which makes it great for trying to find something fresh to sell your audience.
You'll find products listed in the following niches:
- Drones and Robots
- Smartphones and Computers
- Home and Beauty
- Outdoor and Sports
- Garden and Outdoor
Just like AliExpress, Banggood also offers ePacket and Air Parcel shipping. This can take anywhere between seven and 30 days to reach your customers.
You can pay for your goods via Visa card or PayPal.
Are You Ready to Start Aliexpress Dropshipping?
We hope that having read this comprehensive guide, you now feel ready to start AliExpress dropshipping!
Have you ever tried AliExpress dropshipping before? If so, we'd love to hear about it in the comments box below, as well as any other handy hints and tips you think our readers could benefit from. Speak soon!
Image credits: Shutterstock