Despite competition from other online marketplaces, AliExpress continues to be a popular choice for dropshippers. The sellers here are well aware that most of their visitors are resellers, making it easier for entrepreneurs like you to find reliable (and experienced) suppliers and score products at fair prices.
AliExpress dropshipping has its advantages and disadvantages. It’s up to you to decide if the pros outweigh the cons—which you can do with the help of this guide.
Keep reading to learn more about how you can take advantage of this marketplace for your dropship store, what tools you can use, and more.
Recommended Reading: How to Start Dropshipping: A Definitive Guide
Table of Contents
How AliExpress Dropshipping Works
To dropship through AliExpress, you first need to set up a store where your products will be listed and through which customers can buy from you. Some of the popular options include Amazon, eBay, and stores made through Shopify and other eCommerce platforms.
You can use AliExpress in two ways. One is by manually ordering products from your chosen supplier every time your store gets a sale. The other one—which is the more efficient and more ideal one—is by using an AliExpress-compatible software or program that helps with product research, importing, fulfillment, and other tasks.
AliExpress Dropshipping Center
Although AliExpress wasn’t originally designed for dropshippers, the demand for dropship products led the platform’s owners to create a system specifically for dropshippers: the AliExpress Dropshipping Center (ADC).
You may access ADC free of charge using your AliExpress account. It has two core functions: product research and product analysis.
Here’s how AliExpress product research traditionally goes: dropshippers scour the website, view products that may or may not be available for dropshipping, and then check with the suppliers before listing products on their store.
With this method, it’s not uncommon for sellers to spend time learning about a product only to find out later that its supplier doesn’t even dropship.
But now, with a program dedicated to the dropship business model, you can find ideal products instantly as ADC filters out the AliExpress products that cannot be dropshipped.
Another great feature of ADC is its advanced search options. You may search for products according to their category, and you may filter the results according to your desired price range, delivery time, country of origin, and availability of ePacket, among others.
These time-saving features of ADC are very useful for dropshippers. However, note that ADC is a part of the AliExpress website—not an app or a plugin you can install onto your computer or your online store.
You may, however, integrate it with plugins, such as DSers and Shopmasters, that work with platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce.
On top of these features, ADC also gives other perks you won’t find on the main AliExpress site. These include discounts and product statistics that can help you determine whether a specific item is worth adding to your store.
The ADC provides discounts to sellers scaling their dropship business through the platform. The discount percentage depends on the amount of money you spend on orders, excluding canceled and refunded transactions.
Below are ADC’s discount levels, which are automatically applied to sellers who fit the amount spent requirement.
- Normal – 6% discount with less than $1000 spent
- Level A – 6% discount with $5000 spent
- Level B – 4% discount with $2000 spent
- Level C – 2% discount with $1000 spent
The ADC analyzes products so you can assess if they can be profitable for your store. When you use the “Find Products to Sell” feature, you’ll see important product details like the number of orders, rating, and sales performance.
Additionally, you may click on the “Analyze” option to access ADC’s assessment of the supplier’s logistic reliability plus visualization of the product’s sales trend.
The numbers shown are straight from the product supplier’s account, ensuring better data accuracy.
Pros of AliExpress Dropshipping
AliExpress is an eCommerce giant known for its wide selection of products and for being budget-friendly. It doesn’t charge upfront fees, doesn’t impose minimum order requirements, and even provides buyer protection. Let’s talk about all these benefits in the sections below.
No Upfront Fees
AliExpress will not charge you any upfront costs when you sign up. Because of this, you can confidently source products for your eCommerce store without worrying about big expenditures.
And even if you don’t end up sourcing products from AliExpress or ADC, you may still use the platform as a free niche and product research tool.
Variety of Products
Being one of the world’s largest marketplaces, AliExpress grants you access to more than 100 million products across a wide variety of categories.
You’ll never run out of product ideas, regardless of whether your store is a general or niche store. You may also find products that sell well during holidays to take advantage of shopping peak seasons.
No Minimum Order Requirements
AliExpress has no minimum order requirements, which means dropshippers can purchase one item from a supplier and have it shipped directly to the customer who ordered it.
This saves you from the risk of purchasing a huge number of products only to find that the demand isn’t enough to sell out your inventory. Plus, this can also help you save money, especially during the growing stage of your business.
Low Product Prices
Suppliers in AliExpress generally charge low prices because they’re either the actual product manufacturers or they’re vendors at the top of the supply chain. Unlike most resellers in other platforms, AliExpress vendors don’t mark up their goods too high to give their buyers healthy profit margins.
Note, however, that cheap products aren’t always the best. In some cases, vendors have to cut corners on product quality to sell at low prices.
Even as a dropshipper, you can guarantee fast shipping to your customers, thanks to the ePacket Shipping option on AliExpress.
ePacket is currently available in over 30 countries. It cuts delivery time to seven or 10 days instead of the usual 30 days, depending on your buyer’s location. The shipping time may take longer for some locations outside of the United States, but if you’re selling mainly to tier-1 countries, then you shouldn’t have any problem.
To help manage your customers’ expectations, be sure to ask your suppliers about their usual delivery times and then add a couple of days or so when posting shipment details on your store.
Currently, AliExpress offers the following payment methods:
- credit card payment (via Mastercard, Visa, American Express, and Maestro cards)
- bank transfer
- Alipay (the platform’s own electronic wallet)
If you’re paying via bank transfer, do note that this method only works for orders above $20. It may also incur extra charges for international transfers.
PayPal, on the other hand, is not available for all products. It entirely depends on the merchants if they want to offer it. If you want to use PayPal, be sure to consider its processing fee.
AliExpress provides buyer protection through guarantees like refunds for no-show orders, deliveries delayed due to reasons within the sellers’ control, products listed with inaccurate descriptions, and products found to be counterfeit.
Depending on your agreement with your suppliers, you may offer the same buyer protection on your store. Doing so can help boost people’s confidence to buy from you.
Cons of AliExpress Dropshipping
There’s no perfect marketplace. Just as AliExpress has its advantages, it also has some drawbacks, including the lack of item bundling features, language barriers, and delays in processing appeals or disputes.
No Item Bundling
AliExpress lacks the option to bundle items ordered from different stores. Because of this, customers who ordered multiple products will not receive their items all at once. This also implies more expensive shipping fees, which could lead shoppers to abandon their carts.
To avoid this inconvenience, what most dropshippers do is include shipping fees into their product cost and then offer free shipping to their buyers. This strategy could work, except that it doesn’t solve the issue of separate deliveries.
If you want to insist on item bundling, you can tap third-party logistics providers who can help you out. One example is Wiio. Wiio can source products from multiple suppliers on your behalf, bundle them, and then send them to your customers in a single package. Opting for an option like this entails additional costs, but it could be worth it if it results in customer satisfaction, repeat buyers, and positive reviews.
Since AliExpress is largely populated by Chinese suppliers, there’s a chance that the suppliers who offer your chosen products might not be fluent in English. This language barrier could cause miscommunication or missed business opportunities, which is why most dropshippers prefer vendors who can speak and understand English.
Appeal Processing Time
AliExpress accepts appeals on closed orders and deactivated accounts. However, the site’s representatives take two to five days to resolve a case, which is too long for most sellers and shoppers.
You may try to expedite the process by using the platform’s live chat feature, but it might not be enough in some cases.
Setting Up Your Dropship Store
To set up your dropshipping store, you first have to choose what product category or categories to sell in and then find products and suppliers. You’ll also need to write compelling product descriptions, price your products correctly, and create a store policy.
There may be other tasks you’ll need to do as you go along, but the ones mentioned are the most important for starters.
Choosing a Niche
Even if you plan on creating a general store (which is ideal for beginners), you’ll still have to pick one or a few niches to guide your product research. The key is to find items with considerably high sales and search volumes, which you can do by using apps and online tools.
It’s also advisable to do market research and get insights on why your chosen products are doing well. People might be buying them because they solve a specific problem, have limited availability, or are cheaper compared to rivals.
You may check out this post on how to find profitable dropshipping niches for a more in-depth guide.
Finding a Reliable Supplier
You can tell that a supplier is reliable if they have a good rating and loads of positive reviews. You can find a vendor’s rating by opening their seller page or any of their product pages. Same goes with customer reviews.
It would be ideal to pick a supplier who’s been selling on AliExpress for at least one year. This way, you’re guaranteed that they have a good grasp of how the platform works, its policies, and how to work with dropshippers.
You may also check if a supplier has ISO 9001 certification. Having this certification means that they are audited regularly to ensure compliance with the standard, including having the capacity to deliver quality products consistently.
Writing Product Descriptions
Once your products are up and you’ve secured images from your supplier, the next step is to populate your product pages with details that will answer your potential buyers’ questions and objections.
People look at product descriptions when comparing or shopping items, so make them compelling to generate a sale.
By pairing well-written product descriptions with visually appealing product photos, your store can stand out and will be more likely to convert.
Pricing Products Appropriately
Maintain a balance between making a profit and offering reasonable prices so your dropshipping store can flourish. You can price your products appropriately by monitoring other stores’ rates, but try not to go lower than a 50% profit margin to cover your marketing and operational costs.
Creating a Return and Refund Policy
A return and refund policy protects you and your buyers. But don’t just go about creating one from scratch. You’ll have to coordinate with your suppliers and be on the same page with them.
While AliExpress has a Buyer Protection Program, not all their vendors can guarantee that they’ll accommodate your buyers’ return or refund requests. With that, you have to invest some time and effort into creating a policy that your suppliers agree with and your buyers can rely on.
Software and Tools for AliExpress Dropshipping
There’s an assortment of tools you can use to take advantage of AliExpress’ features. These tools can help you find trending products, import and optimize product information, manage your online store, and perform other tasks. You can even find tools that can create a store for you.
Following are some of the most popular tools that you can consider for building and scaling a dropship business.
The Wiio app works with AliExpress and other popular eCommerce platforms, such as Shopify and WooCommerce. It’s one of the most convenient dropshipping services to date—offering everything from product sourcing, purchasing, warehousing, quality checking, and fulfillment. You can create an account on Wiio 100% for free. Once that’s done, you can then connect the app to your store and then watch all your product information sync up.
Wiio will not charge you anything upfront. Before you finalize an order, you’ll be given the option to ask for a quote so you know how much you’ll need to pay exactly. We also require no minimum order requirements or MOQ, which is highly beneficial for dropshippers who are just starting out.
Alitools is a free price tracker extension that you can use while browsing products on AliExpress. This tool can monitor a product’s price history, evaluate seller trust levels, display product reviews, track parcels, and suggest similar products from other sellers.
Alitools is also available as a mobile app, which both iOS and Android users can download.
Ali Inspector 2
A new iteration of the former Ali Inspector software, Ali Inspector 2 provides keyword generation, product search, and bestselling products analyses. It’s a tool compatible with two of the most popular eCommerce platforms, namely Shopify and WooCommerce.
It has a Deep Search function that accesses niche keywords to help users with SEO. It also has a product link scraper that can retrieve data from any search results page containing AliExpress product links, be they on Yahoo, Google, AliExpress, or any other search engine.
Once you’ve homed in on a product, Ali Inspector 2 can analyze the product’s sales from the last 14 days, giving you fresh insights about the product demand.
You may access Ali Inspector 2 by registering for a Personal License or a Commercial/Outsource license, both of which charge a one-time fee.
WooDropship merges WooCommerce and WordPress to create an online store. You may order a custom dropship store from WooDropship. But if you already have one or you prefer a different eCommerce platform, you have the option of connecting the WooDropship tools to your existing store.
Among other functions, this software lets you import AliExpress products to your store and edit details like product titles and descriptions. You may also use it to edit product photos and watermark them with your brand’s logo.
WooDropship offers a 7-day free trial, after which you may take advantage of any of its paid plans.
AliExpress is one of dropshippers’ favorites for several reasons. It’s a place where you can find many dropship suppliers, browse over 100 million products, and score competitive wholesale prices.
Not only that, but there are also plenty of tools you can use to easily import AliExpress products to your online store, instantly fulfill orders, and many more.
If you’re determined to dropship through AliExpress, be sure to use the tips outlined in this guide. Take note of the platform’s pros and cons, how you can use its Dropshipper Center, and how you can save on orders by opting for payment methods that don’t incur a big transfer fee and by taking advantage of ADC’s special discounts.
By keeping these tips in mind while dropshipping with AliExpress, you can give your dropship store a competitive edge over its competitors.
Wiio Dropshipping is a one-stop dropshipping platform that sources, purchases, warehouses, quality checks, and fulfills dropship orders from mainland China on your behalf. Visit our FAQ page to find out how you can sync Wiio with your AliExpress account.