AliExpress offers the most vast and comprehensive range of dropshipping suppliers available on the intergalactic planetary mass that we call Earth. From fidget spinners to exotic lingerie, 1:43 scale model cars to luxury writing instruments, AliExpress can offer a plentiful selection of products in any niche from multiple suppliers.
If you are just getting started out with dropshipping I can confidently say that you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better supplier to get you off the ground and generating some revenue, than with AliExpress. Read this article to find out exactly why…
What is Aliexpress?
AliExpress is an online retail marketplace based in China. It’s owned by world-renowned retailer Alibaba, one of the most influential online retail businesses of our generation. Launched in 2010, AliExpress is true marketplace, made up of small businesses predominantly based in China, as well as other markets including Singapore. The AliExpress platforms offers products for sale to international buyers via online channels including the AliExpress website, app and product feeds. It allows small businesses, predominantly based in Asian nations, to sell to customers worldwide, and as I mentioned earlier one can literally find almost anything for sale. I challenge you to search AliExpress this very second for a product, if it’s not there, well I’ll be darned.
AliExpress is often compared to eBay, as the sellers who appear on this online marketplace are largely independent, using AliExpress as a means to gain access to the market and sell to consumers and other businesses.
The key difference between AliExpress and a marketplace like eBay however, is that AliExpress aims to directly connect Chinese businesses with international business buyers, not international consumers.
How is Aliexpress different from Alibaba?
There’s no denying it, Alibaba.com is a powerhouse. In fact, it’s one of the greatest and most profitable tech companies that will ever grace our lifetime, one that could end up making Facebook jealous! Alibaba is leading platform for global wholesale trade, serving millions of buyers and suppliers all over the world. It’s no mistake that most of Alibaba’s members are manufacturers, trading companies or resellers who trade in large order quantities, as this has been the recipe for their large-scale global success. They make their profits through selling in high volumes, and thus, they have had no reason to allow for orders of small quantities.
That’s why AliExpress came into the picture. AliExpress is a global retail marketplace designed to offer quality products at factory prices in smaller quantities. Your order amount can be as low as 1 item. And this is where AliExpress’s appeal as a dropshipping supplier begins – with low order quantities and wholesale pricing, combined with a huge product offering, you’ll be hard pressed to find better suppliers for your dropshipping store.
How to use Aliexpress for Dropshipping
Although it’s not promoted as a dropshipping platform, the worst-kept secret by AliExpress users is that virtually all of the suppliers know about dropshipping and are ready to work directly with you as a dropshipper! The reality is, however, that some suppliers are more experienced and better at customer service (both for the dropshipping retailer and the end customer) than others. It’s up to you to sift out the good ones from, ahh how do I put it politely, the ‘not so good ones’. I’ll leave that challenge with you to work through….
Tips when using Aliexpress to fulfill your dropshipping store
- Write your own product descriptions. You’ll quickly notice that the product descriptions for most product on Aliexpress are not written with your consumer in mind. They weren’t written by copywriters focusing on retail, and heck, they may not have been written by copywriters at all. Needless to say, most product descriptions are not written with the intention of fully explaining the product benefits, finer features and unique details. If you choose to dropshop from Aliexpress, you absolutely must write your own product descriptions from scratch. By having your own unique descriptions of products, you’ll not only delight your customer with the intricate details of your product, but you’ll also delight Google (who ignores duplicate content in favour for unique content) and ultimately you’ll attract more traffic which will convert better to sales.
- Let your customers know about the longer delivery times. Yes, most suppliers on AliExpress are located in China. Yes, shipping times from China to most countries are longer than local options (in fact, your customers may need to wait up to 20 days to receive their products). Don’t hide the fact, state it upfront. It will save you a lot of pain in the long run.
- Order tracking apps are cool. Even though you’ve probably let your customers know, loudly and clearly, about the longer shipping times you’ll still receive emails from customers asking where their purchase is. If you are using Shopify as your eCommerce engine, consider implementing an order tracking app from the Shopify App store to keep customers informed of their orders’ whereabouts.
- Offer free shipping. The world’s leading retailers all do it, and as a result, consumers are conditioned to expect free shipping. That said, some of your competitors probably still charge for shipping (get with the times dudes!) so this can become one of your store’s competitive advantages. I highly recommend offering free shipping to your customers, you’ll just need to absorb the costs within your price and take advantage of the low cost shipping offered by many AliExpress sellers such as ePacket (which has recently become one of the most reliable options for for cheap yet relatively fast shipping).
- Price products to make money. It’s a bold statement, but consider pricing your products at about twice the cost, or even more. Shooting for at least a 50% margin will make running the business worthwhile in the long run, as marketing costs in the first few months will absorb 20%-30% of your margin at the very least. This is why the price-point and amount competition in your niche is so important – if you can find a product range with a minimal number of competitors you have a greater opportunity to increase experiment with your margins and therefore maximise profit.
If people can buy direct from Aliexpress, why is your dropshipping store better?
First off, you have to believe it is simply better by creating a genuinely better experience for your customers!
This means a better user experience, through a better and more enjoyable website, better product descriptions, and more time invested by you (in comparison to the supplier) in providing quality information and imagery in order for your potential customer to confidentially make an informed decision to commit to purchase. The value is in the expertise offered, not just the pricetag, ok?
Secondly, with your dropshipping business, you will be reaching your customers before Aliexpress does. With some great marketing reaching customers before anyone else does is your supreme advantage.
Finally, it goes without saying that providing awesome customer service will keep your customers happy (most of the time….there’s always one that will want to whinge for seemingly no reason at all!).
How to get started?
Jump onto Aliexpress and find some wares that are either:
- Unique to the market, or
- Something that you can put a unique spin on
Once you have, set up your store (in my experience Shopify is the quickest and easiest way to get started) and get selling!