AliExpress is a gigantic marketplace with a wide selection of products. Because most of the AliExpress sellers are overseas manufacturers, their prices are very competitive. Within AliExpress, you’ll find products ranging from women’s clothing and jewelry, to electronics and home decor.
AliExpress makes it easy to find products to sell on your store without having to worry about inventory or shipping. Add the products you’d like to sell from AliExpress onto your store, set a price with a markup, and whenever you receive an order, you pay for that product at wholesale cost and the AliExpress seller ships the orders directly to your customer.
While AliExpress may position itself as an online retailer, most sellers on AliExpress understand that a large number of their customers are resellers and are much more interested in dropshipping.
Dropshipping with AliExpress is also comparatively easy. There’s no upfront cost or fee, so you can test out products without a significant financial commitment. You can start dropshipping today, for free, by using Oberlo to find and add AliExpress products to your store in only a few clicks.
Many sellers on AliExpress have existing product photos you can use on your store, and basic product descriptions are provided as well. However, when selling a commodity product don’t forget the importance of differentiated through positioning and how you polish the small details—it’s usually worth your time to invest in better photos and handwritten product descriptions.
Lastly, dropshipping using AliExpress is as simple as ordering the product on AliExpress after getting an order and inputting the customer’s address.
Below, we’ll share in more detail what to look for in a product and seller and how to position yourself for success, but truthfully it’s not any more complicated than what I described above. Dropshipping through AliExpress is a great way to get started selling online once you have everything setup.
With an AliExpress dropshipping business, your competitive advantage won’t be your price or unique proprietary products. Your competitive advantage will be reaching and serving your customers faster and better than your current competition—in other words, marketing, operations, and support are how you win.
Good marketing alone is a competitive advantage. Marketing is how you help customers find, evaluate, and buy your product; it’s meant to improve a customer’s experience with your store in addition to driving revenue. Marketing is also the umbrella of activities you do in pursuit of building a brand, like creating content that’s helpful and entertaining.
Last but certainly not least is your customer support—a key differentiator, especially if your current competition provides lackluster service, or has a frustrating shopping experience. You can significantly improve your level of service by quickly answering customer questions and making it a priority to help them fully solve any issues they run into when buying from your store.
Setting up your AliExpress dropshipping store
Now that we understand how AliExpress can help you source products as a dropshipper, and why it’s important to correctly position your store, let’s move on to getting your store set up.
How to choose which dropshipping products to sell
The first part of setting up your store is selecting a niche, or the selection of products you’re going to sell. If you don’t know where to start, start with the product categories AliExpress has and begin listing options based on what interests you the most or what you’d feel the most confident selling.
Once you have a distinct niche in mind, it’s time to start choosing a few products you want to resell on your store. In this example, I chose running shoes as my store niche.
As with many categories on AliExpress, there’s a huge selection of products to choose from. It can be overwhelming, and may lead to headaches if you don’t select a quality product from a reliable supplier.
While it isn’t perfect, I’ve developed a list of criteria for choosing a product. There’s no science to it, but so far it’s helped me select reliable sellers. Here are a few things I look for when selecting a product on AliExpress to dropship:
No brands, fakes, knockoffs. I skip products with any existing branding to avoid accidentally reselling fakes and knockoffs. Since you won’t be a licensed reseller unless you work out a legal partnership with the brand in question, the risk of selling a product with anyone else’s logo on it is not worth it, even if the product is legitimate. Yes, this may ultimately limit your choices, but it will also save you a lot of trouble, so stick to product categories where a recognizable logo doesn’t matter so much, such as with electronic accessories or clothing.
ePacket delivery with free shipping. Wherever possible, I focus reselling products that offer free ePacket shipping. Because a majority of products on AliExpress come from China or Hong Kong, ePacket delivery is not only the most economical, but one of the quickest options to ship small goods to the United States.
It’s important to mention that even if a seller offers ePacket shipping but it’s not free, I’d rather choose a seller that offers it over a seller that doesn’t. It’s simply the most cost-effective and reliable shipping option currently available to get products from China to the Americas and Europe.
Over 300 orders. A product with a lot of orders tells me a few things. First, that there’s demand for the product. Second, it tells me the supplier is more reliable than average, as that volume of orders means it’s likely that at least a few are repeat purchases. Sometimes when looking for a new product, I’ll start by sorting products by the most orders.
Over 4.5 stars rating. I also like to ensure the products I plan to resell have a high product rating (over 4.5 stars), and that the seller has mostly positive feedback as well. Just to get a second opinion on sellers on products, I use a Chrome extension called AliExpress Seller Check.
Using a third-party tool, I’m able to get an at-a-glance overview of a seller that’s more candid and unbiased. I’ve found this to be much more reliable than simply using AliExpress’ rating system.
Low price with a high margin potential. Depending on the product I want to resell, I like to stick with purchasing products within a $1-$20 price range. This gives me more wiggle room around spending marketing dollars to acquire a customer, as these products can be priced at $20-$50 or more. For example, I can find running shoes on AliExpress for around $20 and sell them for $50, which leaves me with a 60% profit margin before accounting for my marketing costs.
Lots of great, unbranded, product photos. Do your due diligence to ensure the photos are actually from your manufacturer and not taken from another retailer online. Doing a quick Google image search will help you see if the product photos are of a real brand and retailer or from the manufacturer themselves.
Communicative, helpful seller. Don’t be afraid to ask the seller questions before placing an order with them. A good reliable seller will answer all of your questions quickly. If a seller doesn’t respond to messages, that’s a big red flag.
Adding products to your store
Once you setup your Shopify store and have a product category and supplier in mind, it’s time to start adding products to your store. This step is important to cover in detail because it’s not as simple as using the images and description of the AliExpress listing and placing that on your website.
Instead, if you want to position your store for success, there are a few things you should consider.
Write your own product descriptions. The product descriptions for many of the products on AliExpress were not written by copywriters or with the intention of fully explaining the benefits of the products. Having your own unique content will serve your business better in the long run and will help you better convert visitors to customers on your product pages. Finally, you’ll avoid any duplicate content risks if you write original copy across all of your store’s pages.
Let customers know about delivery times. It’s a good idea to include on the product page (or elsewhere on your store) that your customers may need to wait up to 20 days, depending on the supplier, for their order to arrive. Since most suppliers on AliExpress are located in China, shipping times can be longer than average.
Use an order tracking app. With longer shipping times than most people are used to, you may receive emails from customers asking where their purchase is. Use an order tracking app from the Shopify App store to keep your customers up-to-date with the status of their purchase.
Tracktor is an app on the Shopify App store that can enable real-time order tracking and status lookup to your online store.
Offer free shipping. Competitive shipping prices can become one of your competitive advantages, so I highly recommend offering free shipping to your customers by taking advantage of the free/low cost shipping offered by many AliExpress sellers.
Price products appropriately. Consider pricing your products at about twice the cost. Shooting for a 50% margin will make running the business worthwhile, as well as cover necessary expenses like marketing and support.
Add products to your store with AliDropship. Instead of manually adding products from AliExpress to your website, you can use Alidropship to quickly add products to your store.