AliExpress is a well-known dropshipping platform, but can you trust it? We take an in-depth look at how to use it best for your business.
Are you new to dropshipping or interested in beginning to scale the small success you’ve managed to cultivate? You likely have heard about AliExpress as a low-cost dropshipping platform, but you may have also heard a lot of criticisms and warnings about using the service.
Yes. AliExpress is fine for starting out or testing new products. Their budget-friendly costs make a low barrier of entry ideal for new or up-and-coming dropshippers. As your business grows and you become interested in scaling up your business or solidifying your brand, you will want a private dropshipping agent (like us!). However, if your online stores are running around 50 daily orders or less (or if you are just getting started), AliExpress can help get you started without busting your budget.
However, as with any budget service, you’ll need to follow specific steps to make sure you don’t fall victim to a low-quality seller. The following steps can help you find great, low-cost sellers and build successful long-term relationships with them until you are ready to move to a dropshipping agent.
Search the platform for multiple sellers that all sell the same product you’re interested in. Ideally, you want at least 5-10 sellers that you can compare. Depending on your specific product, this may not always be possible. However, sellers on AliExpress are quick to stock inventory for trending products. Even if you are trying to sell a relatively new trending product, you should have little trouble finding multiple sellers with it available.
Remember, be sure to look at the product carefully. You want to be selling the genuine product, not a knock-off that looks similar. Accidentally selling lower-quality versions of products out of your store can bring your growth to a screeching halt.
Once you have a solid pool of sellers that offer your product, it’s time to compare their reviews. You’re looking to narrow down to the top 3-5 sellers for your product. The more positive reviews a store has, the better.
You may find that the product itself has very few reviews, especially if you are selling a trending product. A lack of product reviews on a trending product is ok as long as the store selling the product has several hundred reviews with an overall high rating. Experienced AliExpress sellers will regularly stock inventory for new, trending products. If the store you have chosen is clearly a well-established store, you will generally be fine choosing a newer product with them.
There isn’t an exact formula for a rating cut-off for stores in consideration. However, you will usually be looking for an overall store rating of around 97% with several hundred reviews.
Remember, the sellers are AliExpress are real people. Before making an investment with any given seller, you should try communicating with them. If they don’t respond or the way they respond makes you feel uneasy, it’s an easy way to further whittle down your list of potential sellers. This is also a great way to vet a store that looks promising but is right on the line of an acceptable store rating.
Any seller worth doing business with should at least attempt to provide an answer to the following questions:
It’s important to note that you may not be able to trust all of the information your sellers give you (especially in regards to their inventory). However, getting any kind of response will help you further narrow down your list of potential sellers. Compare how quickly they respond and how well they communicate in addition to the content of their answers. This should get you down to one (maybe two) sellers that you can choose.
The fulfillment business is a demanding, high-stress field, and whether or not a seller is good depends on whether or not they end up working hard for you. So, give them a reason to work hard for you.
As you begin scaling, communicate with them so they are prepared for your increasing orders. If they do something great, give them some praise. If you make them feel like they are partnering with you they will be more likely to prioritize your orders over others.
Get WeChat. It is the number one messaging app in the Chinese market and your seller almost certainly uses it. It functions much better than the built-in communication services on AliExpress. And the emojis are great :D.
As you begin to grow your business with a seller and sales start to become more consistent, start asking them for ways to improve the overall process. Many will provide CSV fulfillment or help with a simple branded insert. Simply asking them can provide you with services that normally only a dropshipping agent would provide.
Sellers on AliExpress can also help you expand your product portfolio by giving leads on similar trending products within your niche. They likely have lists of hundreds or thousands of products that you could cross-sell with your current product line or upsell from your current products.
If you have a dropshipping agent, they won’t (or shouldn’t) provide this service. We consider it bad taste to give away successful client products. However, this is a pretty normal practice through sellers on AliExpress, so take advantage of it!
AliExpress isn’t terrible. It is simply a platform. You can find terrible sellers there, but you can also find great sellers. Do your due diligence in finding a quality seller before jumping into selling and you can find enough success before you’re confident to take it to the next level! Once the foundation is laid with these entry-level sellers and you are ready to scale up sales and solidify a brand, it will be time to start looking for a dropshipping agent to really grow your business. Once you’re hitting at least 50 orders a day and want to work with the best, contact us!
While you want to be mindful of a seller price-gouging you, the competition on AliExpress is fierce and they are usually priced close enough. The difference in $.25 on a $6 product is far less important than days or even weeks worth of difference in shipping, great communication, fast replacement for lost or stolen goods, or any other factor that makes the customer experience better and more reliable.
You can, but it doesn’t mean you should. Any given seller is going to have some wiggle room within their margins, but the less money they make from you, the less likely they are to go the extra mile to make sure your business is successful.
Once you are well-established with the seller and have 30-50 daily orders, then consider negotiating on price. However, once your sales volume reaches this amount, you should be considering a dropshipping agent to further scale.
Unfortunately, this is going to be a fact of life with working with the vast majority of sellers through AliExpress. Even if their English seems great at first, most will be communicating through language software that will make more complex communication difficult. Of course, there are some tips you can follow to make communication between you and the seller easier, regardless of their level of English:
In general, no, especially if you are trying to scale. One of the biggest problems they face is that they use 3rd party warehouses that they have no direct control over. If you do a test order or a very small amount of orders with them, they seem fine at first. As you start to get more sales, however, it becomes clear that their inventory is quite limited and that restocking takes a very long time. This means you can expect very unhappy customers with orders that are delayed by weeks or even months. In general, these sellers are not worth the risk and should be avoided.