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"The Art of Finding Winning Products"
AliExpress has become a fortified dropshipping goliath, with a seemingly endless resource for dropshipping products and suppliers.
Interestingly enough, it began as a platform where suppliers would only sell to other businesses, but they have diversified to selling directly to customers as well. You can find sellers from all over the world posting their products on AliExpress, but chances are, you’ll be working with a Chinese supplier.
With this guide, you’ll not only have all of your Aliexpress dropshipping queries answered, but you’ll have the tools and know how to start your dropshipping business, and build an incredible product catalogue, in record time.
Let’s get started!
Many of the companies selling on AliExpress are suppliers, which makes dropshipping on AliExpress a simple process. You can find products at prices far below retail and sell them to your customers at retail price. All you’re doing if you’re dropshipping with AliExpress is replacing the retail store in a standard supply chain.
Dropshipping isn’t only supported on AliExpress, it’s encouraged.
For many of the suppliers on AliExpress, dropshipping is a growing part of their business model as eCommerce stores buy their products to sell to their customers. That’s why products like AliScraper are allowed to directly connect with AliExpress. If dropshipping wasn’t supported, apps and features like that wouldn’t exist.
You may have heard about legal issues stemming from dropshipping with AliExpress, but those are just internet myths. Buying products from AliExpress and selling them to a different consumer is completely legal and encouraged within the global economy. In fact, when you’re dropshipping you’re doing the same thing that retail stores do, just on a smaller scale.
Instead of buying hundreds of copies of a shirt and storing them in a warehouse, you’re buying single shirts as you sell them. Both you and the retail stores are buying a product from a supplier and getting it to the customer, you’re just skipping the step where it sits in a warehouse or garage.
First things first, you’re saving money and can pass those savings onto customers. The products you find on AliExpress are often going to cost less than similar products you can find from Amazon or other sources, even if they are the exact same quality.
Dropshipping is always a balance of finding a dropshipping product that you can make a profit off of while also selling it at a reasonable price. The aggressive pricing on AliExpress makes this an easier balance to strike and an easy win for your dropshipping business.
Additionally, like we mentioned above, dropshipping is a growing source of revenue for a lot of the suppliers on AliExpress, which means they are very accustomed to working with dropshipping businesses and are dedicated to making the process smooth as can be.
Now that you know about AliExpress and the fact that customers can buy products directly, why would they buy the item from you and not them?
The first reason is that a lot of customers just don’t know about AliExpress, and even people who know about it aren't knowledgeable about the products you can find there. If you stumble upon AliExpress during a random Google search it can be intimidating and difficult to navigate, so a lot of people avoid it for that reason.
Additionally some consumers may have had poor experiences with AliExpress in the past. Similar to Amazon or any online store, you can accidentally order a low quality product, or purchase from a low quality supplier. Customers who may have had those experiences avoid AliExpress.
Even considering those, the biggest reason customers shop from you is marketing and presentation. Suppliers on AliExpress aren’t worried about advertising their products or nailing their product descriptions because that’s your job. Customers purchase a lifestyle, a story, and a guarantee that they'll be taken good care of.
They’ve probably only seen that product in your online store, and its your job to win their trust and confidence to buy it from you.
To top it all off, Aliexpress doesn't have any guarantees or customer service. Meaning people are basically taking a risk on buying something they might not be able to return or exchange. At least not easily.
This can also be a pain point you can leverage for your dropshipping business.
Aliexpress dropshipping isn’t exclusively upside. Like almost everything in business there are advantages and disadvantages to using the platform. That’s why services like Spocket sometimes focus on North American or European suppliers.
One of the main disadvantages of dropshipping with AliExpress is the shipping time. With most products coming from China, longer shipping times are unavoidable. These longer shipping times can sometimes be too much for a customer, and faster shipping methods are prohibitively expensive.
If you’re dropshipping with AliExpress it’s essential to set customer expectations early and often so they aren’t expecting the product earlier than you can deliver it. Many customers are understanding about shipping times, and are willing to wait longer to get a great price, but they need to know in advance that they will be waiting.
In a world where people are accustomed to 1-2 day shipping, long shipping times are frustrating if you weren’t warned about them.
It’s important to note that this disproportionally affects seasonal and holiday stores.
Any business that is looking to run with a particular timeline in mind needs to consider the shipping times when they’re establishing a business plan. A christmas store dropshipping from AliExpress won’t be able to sell products on December 15th, they have to start promoting October at the latest.
Finally, it’s sometimes hard to separate the good from the bad on AliExpress.
Like we mentioned above there are some imperfect products and mediocre suppliers that appear on AliExpress from time to time. We’ll touch more on how to avoid those products and make sure you’re delivering high quality to your customers.
AliExpress suppliers come in all shapes and sizes, so one of the best ways to start your dropshipping on AliExpress is to find several suppliers to work with and stick with them. This will ensure that you’re never running into supplier issues for a single product while the rest of your store is running smoothly.
When looking for a supplier on AliExpress there are 3 main categories to pay attention to: Supplier Reviews, Shipping Times and their Products
All of this information and much more can be found on a suppliers store page.
Supplier Reviews are often referred to as Feedback on AliExpress, and can be found under the ‘feedback’ tab of a store’s page. This page shows every review that a supplier has gotten for their products on AliExpress. These pages are often a conglomerate of thousands, or tens of thousands, of reviews, all in one place.
Conveniently, feedback on AliExpress is split into three categories:
For customers, Item as Described is the most important, but for business owners like you, all three are equally important.
Unlike Amazon, AliExpress is a world where the overwhelmingly positive stand out. 4.5-5 stars are essentially the only acceptable ratings for a store you want to dropship with.
If a store has less than that, or doesn’t have thousands of reviews, you can try using them as a supplier, but we’d suggest you order some test products first to make sure that they’d get five stars from you.
The Shipping times offered by a store can mostly be determined on a product by product basis. Opening up products on AliExpress will let you see the estimate for how long that product is going to take to get to your country. These estimates can be pretty broad, but it’s essential to keep them in mind.
Generally it’s important to make sure your supplier offers a method of shipping called ePacket. ePacket shipping is the most economical and fastest way to ship products from China or Hong Kong to North America. If your supplier offers ePacket shipping, you’re going to have a much easier time determining shipping times and rates for your store.
Some stores additionally will have their processing times posted on their main store page or in the description of their products. Knowing the processing time for stores on AliExpress is a great step to offering your customers accurate shipping estimates seeing as some stores ask for up to a week to ship your orders.
Finally it’s important to shop around within any given supplier and ensure that they have the kinds of products that you’re looking for, and that they have a lot of those products in stock. The last thing you want is to get a lot of sales and then have your supplier let you know they can’t fulfill all of your orders.
Once you have found some products you enjoy and made sure that the supplier has a lot of those products on hand, it’s time to narrow things down and find the perfect products for your dropshipping store.
Once you have a good supplier on AliExpress, narrowing down specific products is easier, but there are still important things to mark off the checklist before committing to selling a certain product.
Expert tip alert! As a rule of thumb, you can use Aliscraper to identify items that have ePacket and ship to the USA (or your preferred country). From there, an easy but efficient hack would be to sort by Orders, and only choose highly rated suppliers and products with 4.5 stars and above. Keep an eye on those reviews!
This is important enough that we’re touching on it again.
ePacket is the best way to ship products and is going to remove a lot of headaches for you. If a product doesn’t have ePacket it’s a big mark against its viability for dropshipping. Other shipping methods are less consistent when it comes to both time and cost, so ePacket is very important.
Even though AliExpress is a marketplace from China, there are a lot of suppliers on there that have warehouses in the US that they can ship products from. Now, products on AliExpress that can ship from US Warehouses are relatively rare, and one product being available from the US doesn’t mean that all of a suppliers’ products will be.
Like we mentioned above, the long shipping times is one of the biggest weaknesses of AliExpress dropshipping, products shipping from US Warehouses avoid that weakness, so they’re fantastic if you find products you’d like to sell.
On AliExpress, there are two main aspects to seeing a product's reputation, the amount of times it’s been ordered and its reviews.
If a product has a lot of orders that tells you that it’s popular and that it’s already selling. This is a fantastic way to ensure you’re adding winning products to your store. Additionally a lot of orders means more customer reviews.
Product reviews on AliExpress are very similar to store reviews in that they need to be overwhelmingly positive. It’s common to see products with 5/5 stars and those are the products you want to add to your store.
If you find a product that you’ve fallen in love with that doesn’t have a lot of reviews, you can order a sample and see if it’s the right fit for your store. Afterall, when it comes to your dropshipping business you’re the person they need to impress.
Product presentation comes down to 2 categories on AliExpress:
Descriptions and Photography
Product descriptions on AliExpress are always going to need some editing so that they match your business story and voice. Additionally, some of the information included in these product descriptions, like serial numbers or gender, are better suited for selling to business than selling directly to consumers.
That said, even if you’re completely rewriting the product descriptions it’s great to find informative and detailed descriptions of the products you’re selling. The better the original product description is, the better the foundation is for your tailored description.
Product photography on AliExpress is important because not all products are photographed equally. Products with great photos are going to pop on your store and will offer great material for ads and website banners. Products that don’t have good photos will make your store look worse.
When it comes to photos, you can always buy a sample product and take your own pictures, but when you’re just starting a business and looking to keep costs down that can be difficult. It’s fantastic when a product comes with awesome images for you to use right off the bat.
Finally there are a lot of suppliers on AliExpress that add their name to the top right or left hand corner of a product photo, which looks unprofessional on your store. Those logos can be removed with a bit of photoshop or cropping. Alternatively a lot of suppliers offer versions of the product photos without their logo if you look in the product description, or email them asking for a copy.
The easiest way to add AliExpress dropshipping products to your store is by using the AliScraper Chrome extension. AliScraper will let you add products to your store directly from the AliExpress website, which is a lot faster and easier than trying to manually move back and forth from AliExpress and your store.
First things first, when on the AliExpress website, you’ll want to click the AliScraper icon in your toolbar. Once you’ve downloaded Aliscraper, it will ask you to login to your Spocket account.
As soon as you’ve done that, AliScraper is charged up and ready to go! You’ll be able to see the ePacket items highlighted in a green border, so you can easily identify items with fast and reliable shipping.
You’ll also be able to select your preferences right away, such as the country the item is shipping to, and the shipping option you prefer.
Now that AliScraper is turned on, you can search for products you’re looking to sell on your store. If you have a niche in mind, you can simply type in the keywords to discover the products you can sell.
AliScraper can save time through its filter options. AliScraper allows you to filter products by shipping destination and shipping method.
You can use this feature to ensure you’re only searching for products that ship with ePacket, or making it so you only see products that can ship to Canada. The filters are a fantastic tool for streamlining the product search process.
When you have found a product you’d like to import. You can add it to your Spocket account’s import list with one easy step. Just click the Spocket logo on the right hand side of the product listing to send the product to Spocket, where you can review it and officially add it to your store.
Once you’ve added products to your import list there are two paths you can take for adding the products to your store.
The first is adding the product directly from the import list right away. Once you’re comfortable on AliExpress, and you’ve found some suppliers you’re a fan of, this is something you can do quite often to add products to your online store quickly and easily.
The second path takes advantage of the ‘order sample’ button on Spocket. This button will automatically bring you to checkout on AliExpress so that you can have products shipped to your door as fast as possible.
Ordering samples is a fantastic way to ensure you’re selling high quality products. You can also use sample products for product photos, instagram posts, social media giveaways and more to ensure you get the most out of every dollar you spend while starting your dropshipping business.
Finally the last benefit of using AliScraper and Spocket in tandem is that can organize customer orders that include multiple products. Rather than manually going to AliExpress to track down each product you offer, you can fulfill an order from Spocket and it will automatically grab each product from AliExpress for you.
All you have to do is click ‘Checkout.’
Additionally, if you have too many orders on your plate, there is a new option within Spocket to fulfill bulk orders on your store, which is a massive time-saver during the busy months of the year.
That’s it! You have a whole new business model to leverage or to build a new business from. AliExpress dropshipping is a huge market and a great opportunity for entrepreneurs, but there are a lot of steps involved in ensuring that your store is the best it can be.
Luckily, Spocket and tools like AliScraper make the process easier and faster, so there is less guesswork when you’re dropshipping from AliExpress. We're here for you 27/4 if you ever want to chat.
Jackson Haime is a professional e-commerce nerd specializing in everything startup and small business related. After working for Shopify for two years he transitioned to writing about e-commerce full time. Check out his website Jacksonhai.me for more information.