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.
With Oberlo, you don’t need to think about storing, packaging, or shipping your products. So, you can focus your limited time and energy on growing your brand, marketing your products, and making those all-important sales.
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!
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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.
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What If I Don’t Want to Use Shopify?
If for whatever reason you don’t fancy using Shopify, WooCommerce is a fabulous alternative — especially, if you already have a WordPress website.
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
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.
So, basically, it’s the WooCommerce version of Oberlo. How awesome is that?
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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!
If your plan for building a business doesn’t work out, then you don’t have to risk losing all the money that you initially put into starting your business. Compared to retailing, where you lose all the investment you’ve put into products in your inventory, dropshipping enables you to pay only when you have received an order from a customer.
The small amount of risk in this kind of business operation is ideal for companies that would otherwise struggle to get financing and support for a company’s growth.
With AliExpress dropshipping, there’s no need to open a brick and mortar store, so you can run your business from anywhere. All you need is a computer and a stable connection to the internet. It’s your choice where you want to run your company from.
If you and your family decide to move somewhere new after you start your dropshipping business, you can pick up your entire company and move it with you, without having to look for new real estate or worry about transporting goods to a new facility.
No inventory management
Buying, storing, and looking after your inventory can be an expensive and time-consuming process, particularly if you’re building a large store step-by-step in the United States. With AliDropship technology and aliexpress.com, you don’t need to maintain any inventory for your dropship store. This means there’s also less risk associated with things like someone stealing your inventory, or your warehouse suffering from damage.
Plus, because you’re not handling the inventory on your end, you don’t have to find people to come and look after your warehouse either.
Aside from a minimal financial commitment initially, running a dropshipping store also means that you have fewer overheads in the form of things like employee salaries, rent, bills, and so on. With dropshipping, there are no overhead costs to worry about. If your store grows to the point where you can’t handle it alone, you can even hire virtual staff.
The minimal overheads could mean that if you’re new to running your own business online, AliExpress dropshipping can give you an easy way to start making some serious cash, without a lot of initial risk and investment. You might not even have to seek out a loan.
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.
AliExpress is one of the most affordable and popular dropshipping suppliers in the current marketplace. No matter what kind of niche you choose, you’re still going to struggle to make a massive impact or stand out from the crowd. There’s already hundreds and thousands of other dropshipping merchants out there just like you.
Lack of control is one of the biggest issues with using AliExpress. You don’t have a lot of control over your suppliers, their fulfillment processes, and anything else they do. You’re going to have to trust that they’ll deliver the kind of quality you expect, and that they’ll provide the items to your customers on time.
This means that you need to spend a lot of time looking for the right person or company to support you in your business.
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!
It’s worth remembering that there are different shipping times available depending on the shipping option you choose. If you take your time sourcing the right supplier, you can reduce your upfront cost and improve delivery outcomes. However, since your products are coming from China, it’s likely that you may need to pay a significant amount if you want much faster deliveries.
Poor profit margins
Depending on your product categories, it is possible to make a decent amount of money with something like AliExpress dropshipping. However, if you have a crowded target market, it’s going to be difficult to get a significant profit margin. Remember, there are going to be a lot of people out there offering items with the same product descriptions as yours.
Usually, because there aren’t any special features or extra bonuses that can set one dropshipped item apart from another, companies need to compete on price, which has a significant impact on your margins. Make sure that there’s enough space for another company to come in and start making a profit in your area before you get involved with dropshipping.
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.
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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?
The simple answer is no — definitely not.
Over the last few years, dropshipping has earned entrepreneurs millions, and there’s still a lot of money to be made. However, you’ll have to be prepared to get a little more creative to stand out in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
The real-life case studies speak for themselves. In 2017, Johnny FD made as much as $203,728.15 in net profits dropshipping, so it’s safe to say this business model certainly isn’t 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.
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Best Aliexpress Alternatives?
There are tons of AliExpress alternatives, here are some of our favorites: