In this article, I will cover everything that you need to know when you want to get started with AliExpress dropshipping. I will start by answering some questions you might have regarding this business model, and then after that, you can follow me step-by-step on how to create your own AliExpress dropshipping store in 2021!
One thing to note, this complete guide will guide you on anything AliExpress dropshipping related, but if you want to go more in-depth on how to create your own Shopify dropshipping store, then I suggest reading this article here. That guide covers everything from picking a store name to advertising your dropshipping store!
What is dropshipping and why do people do it?
Let’s start by understanding what starting a dropshipping business means.
If you already understand it, then you can click here to scroll down! If not, I will explain it really simply to you:
- You’ve got an online store where you sell products, but you don’t have any of these products in your storage or in your house.
- When someone places an order on your dropshipping store, you place that same order directly with your dropshipping supplier. Don’t worry. There are a lot of apps out there that help you with automating this. For example, Oberlo, or these 15 Oberlo alternatives.
- Then your dropshipping supplier will handle the rest. Think about preparing the package and sending the order straight to your customer.
- Now your customer will receive the package straight from your dropshipping supplier, and you never touched the product in between!
To make it even more clear, here is an infographic of ours that does a great job of explaining the concept of dropshipping:
The most common question people have now is: “Won’t my customer know that the package didn’t come from me?“
For example, aren’t there any advertisements or receipts from the supplier in the package?
You just need to make sure that your supplier accepts dropshipping and blind dropshipping.
You can learn more about blind dropshipping by reading this article here.
Alright, but why are people interested in dropshipping? And why do people want to dropship?
Most people that are researching dropshipping and want to start/are running a dropshipping store do this for one or more of these reasons:
- Earning more money. If done right, dropshipping could earn you a lot. Just take a look at these success stories.
- Being their own boss. Some people don’t like to work for a boss, so they search for other ways to earn an income.
- Location-independent work. A dropshipping store can be run from just about anywhere with an internet connection. As long as you can communicate with suppliers and customers easily, you can run and manage your business. This is also called being a Digital Nomad.
If you’re interested in learning more about dropshipping, I suggest reading this article written by me:
AliExpress dropshipping: Most asked questions
Alright, let me start this complete AliExpress dropshipping guide with answering some of the most asked AliExpress dropshipping questions!
Don’t worry, these are just some basic questions people have before they open their AliExpress dropshipping store.
After this, I will guide you step-by-step on how to open your own AliExpress dropshipping business.
From picking the best AliExpress suppliers to finding your winning products!
1. How does AliExpress dropshipping work?
I will try to explain this really simply for you!
You will create your own online store.
After that, you will go to AliExpress to find products that you want to sell in your store (product research).
When you have found a few products that you want to sell, you import these products to your store with a dropshipping app like Oberlo.
I suggest having between 5-20 products in your store. (Source)
Then it’s time to make your product page look awesome (this is the page where people can buy the product that you just imported from AliExpress).
Alright, now you have an online store and a few products from AliExpress.
Of course, don’t forget to give some attention to the design of your dropshipping store. You don’t want to look like a scam site, right? (You can use my Shopify checklist here.)
See, for example, this Facebook Ad:
If someone visits your store now and purchases one of your products, you will go to your dropshipping app and place the order.
The dropshipping app will go to AliExpress, add all the products from that order into your cart, fill in all the details from your customer, and after that, you press pay!
Now everything that’s left, after product costs, advertisement costs, and any other costs, is yours! Profits!
If you want to learn these steps in more depth, keep on reading below and follow me step-by-step!
2. Can you make money dropshipping with AliExpress or is it too late to start in 2021?
Yes, you can still make money dropshipping with AliExpress.
See, for example, these success stories on the AliDropship blog.
Or you can read these success stories on Oberlo.
These are all people that made money with dropshipping, and most of them made money with AliExpress dropshipping!
I’ve just got one thing to add to this.
Please don’t open your store in a few minutes and start advertising your products already.
It’s 2021 now.
A lot of people are interested in dropshipping and starting a dropshipping business.
The only way to beat them is to put time and effort into your AliExpress dropshipping store.
Make sure your store looks legit! This will increase the chance that people trust your dropshipping store, which can then increase your conversion rates.
You can find more information about the profitability of dropshipping in my other article here:
3. How long does the AliExpress dropshipping shipping take?
The typical shipping times at AliExpress differ a lot. It could be anything between 12-60 days.
This depends on which country you’re shipping to and which shipping method you choose.
So, for example, if you want to ship to the United States, it will take between 19-39 days. If you choose ePacket as your shipping method, it will take between 12-20 days.
Trust me, long shipping times don’t matter that much if your product is worth waiting for and if you correctly communicate to your customer that the delivery date isn’t the next day!
If you still think that’s a long time, then keep on reading to learn ways to deal with the long AliExpress shipping times. I will also show you how to best communicate the long shipping times to your store visitors and customers.
4. How to handle customer service and refund requests when dropshipping with AliExpress?
This might sound like a small question, but a lot of people are stuck here.
I think that a lot of people have even decided not to dropship anymore because they just didn’t understand how to process refunds and returns with AliExpress dropshipping suppliers.
But what about the everyone else that doesn’t understand customer service, but still decide to open a dropshipping store?
You can see below what will most likely happen to these people.
Or this one:
If you want to learn more about this, and trust me, it’s not that hard to understand, I suggest reading the articles I’ve linked below:
- Dropshipping Returns & Refunds: Everything You Need to Know
- Customer Service for Dropshipping Stores – Complete Guide!
5. Should you inform AliExpress suppliers before dropshipping?
This is another great question that comes up a lot: should you tell your suppliers that you intend to dropship their products?
And will they treat you any different after you have told them?
If you’re looking for a short answer, then here it is:
Yes, you do need to inform your AliExpress supplier that you’re dropshipping.
Doing this will prevent any invoices or promotions from being in your customer’s package.
Another advantage is that you get to build a relationship with your supplier. With good communication, you will be able to ask questions, solve problems, negotiate discounts, and much more!
If you’re looking for more details, check out the article I’ve linked below:
That article also contains a message template that you can send to your AliExpress suppliers (more about how to find them below).
6. Does AliExpress allow dropshipping?
Although AliExpress is just a platform with different sellers.
So, before you start dropshipping from a certain AliExpress seller, you will need to ask them if they accept dropshipping!
Otherwise, it might cause you trouble later on when people are finding advertisements and receipts in their packages.
When sellers accept dropshipping, you can ask them to do blind dropshipping (click here to learn more about that).
7. Does Alibaba do dropshipping?
At first, AliExpress was the go-to place for dropshipping, but now Alibaba has opened its doors for dropshipping as well.
If you’re interested in learning more about Alibaba and if it’s the right choice for your business, then check out the article I linked to below:
1) Put your mindset right
Alright, let’s start with creating your own AliExpress dropshipping store!
First off is putting your mindset right.
If you’re new to dropshipping, you probably think something like “dropshipping with AliExpress equals getting rich fast” or “dropshipping equals easy money.”
Let me burst those dreams for you; I’m sorry…
A lot of so-called “YouTube gurus” talk about this, but do you know what they all have in common?
They’ve got a “cheap” course.
Maybe you should buy their course and follow them step-by-step to get rich, right?
Here is more information about these “gurus” and why they are selling courses.
Then what can you do?
First off, you can learn dropshipping for free. See, for example, my free resources below:
- Top 10 Dropshipping & Ecommerce Blogs
- The 17 Best Free Dropshipping Courses
- How to Start Dropshipping for Free in 2021? (5 Unusual Tips)
And secondly, let’s change your mindset to the correct mindset you should have when you want to open an AliExpress dropshipping store.
Instead of thinking you will be rich the next day, you will need to start treating your dropshipping store like a real business (which it is)! And you will need to start looking at what your customers want and not what your pockets want.
Put your time and effort into it instead of opening a store in a few hours, importing a few products, and starting advertisements already without trying to be unique at all.
If you’re interested in learning more about having the right mindset before opening your dropshipping store, then check out these six tips here.
If you’re worried now, please don’t be!
I will guide you below on how to create your first (or maybe second) successful AliExpress dropshipping store!
Also, if you were thinking of buying a premade dropshipping store, I recommend you to read this article here first.
2) Let’s get some inspiration from other AliExpress dropshipping stores
Before we get started with the most important steps of opening your own AliExpress dropshipping store.
I suggest you take a look at some of my dropshipping example articles first.
Most of these dropshipping stores use AliExpress to source their products.
- 5 Bad Dropshipping Store Examples & What They Can Improve
- 8 Product Description Examples for Ecommerce (+ 5 Tips)
- 9 Awesome Dropshipping Facebook Ad Examples
- 14 Awesome Shopify Homepage Examples
- 16 Winning Dropshipping Product Examples
- 23 Awesome Shopify Dropshipping Store Examples
Plus, this one is entirely focused on AliExpress dropshipping stores:
This way you will hopefully have some inspiration for your own AliExpress dropshipping store already!
3) Decide if you want to have a general or a niche AliExpress dropshipping store
There are upsides and downsides to having both a general store and a niche store.
But one tip I can give you already is that if you pick a niche store, please pick a niche that you’re at least a bit interested in.
This is another big reason why people fail with their dropshipping store. They pick a niche for their dropshipping store just because they can earn money with it.
They don’t think about the future, “the grind”, the time that they need to work, and work on their store before they see success (if they ever do) — for example, the time before you see your first sale might be a while.
If you’re not interested at all in your niche, then this period will be really hard for you.
A lot of people give up after some time, simply because they are bored with their niche.
For example, don’t pick gardening as your dropshipping niche if you hate gardening yourself.
You will have a hard time communicating with your customers, maybe making blog posts, coming up with newsletters, or simply writing product descriptions that convert your target audience (people that love gardening).
If you think you’re going to be stuck on this step, then I suggest reading my other article here.
That article covers all the upsides and downsides to both, and I will give you my recommendation if you’re just beginning with dropshipping!
Once you have decided if you’re going with a general or a niche dropshipping store, it’s time to move on to the next step!
4) Decide if you really want to dropship from AliExpress
This step is here for you to make you aware of all the upsides and downsides to dropshipping with AliExpress.
Let’s see if you’re still want to follow this business model!
Upsides and downsides to dropshipping with AliExpress
Below you will find an easy to follow list on what the upsides and downsides are to dropshipping from AliExpress. You can also read these 8 disadvantages of dropshipping here.
Upsides to dropshipping with AliExpress
Let’s start off with the positive things!
- Super easy to get started with. You open your dropshipping store, get an app that has a connection with AliExpress (like Oberlo), import your products from AliExpress, and you can start selling already.
- It’s cheap. Not everyone has a big budget to import products in bulk. That’s where dropshipping from AliExpress comes into place. The products on AliExpress are cheaper in comparison to the products you find in retail stores in the western world. Just check out AliExpress, and you will find this out yourself.
Downsides to dropshipping with AliExpress
You probably guessed it already, but,it’s time for the negative things!
- The quality of the products. Most products that are sold on AliExpress will be made in China. China is not that high on the list when it comes to product quality. You probably know that yourself as well; although, a lot of products are made in China! I suggest you check your AliExpress suppliers and their products carefully (learn more here).
- The long shipping time. Another downside to dropshipping from AliExpress is that the shipping times from China are long. You can learn ways to deal with that here.
- The suppliers. This counts for most AliExpress sellers. English is not their first language, and you will see that when you try to communicate with them; there are expectations everywhere! That’s why I suggest you contact your AliExpress supplier first before you import their products to your dropshipping store.
In case you don’t want to dropship with AliExpress anymore, or you just want to see some alternatives, I’ve got a great article for you here that includes 14 alternatives to dropshipping with AliExpress.
And if you’re interested in learning more about the pros and cons of AliExpress dropshipping, I suggest checking out this article here.
5) Decide how you’re going to host your AliExpress dropshipping store
Next up is deciding if you want to host your AliExpress dropshipping store yourself or not.
You can either go with an ecommerce platform that includes hosting, or you can use WordPress or WooCommerce and host it yourself.
Both have upsides and downsides.
This step is important because, without any hosting, your dropshipping store can’t be online, and you can’t sell any products!
You can find more information about this in my other article: How To Get Your Dropshipping Store Online in 5 Steps? (2021)
Upsides and downsides to using an ecommerce platform like Shopify
Opening a dropshipping store on an ecommerce platform is basically the same as renting a stand on a flea market.
That brings me directly to the first downside to using an ecommerce platform.
If you stop “renting the stand,” you can’t use it anymore because it’s not yours!
The same goes for your store if you cancel your subscription. You can’t use it anymore after that. If you use Shopify, they will remove your store if you stop paying them.
If you host your dropshipping store yourself, you have full control over it, and nobody will remove it.
The big upside, if you use a platform like Shopify, is that you don’t have to worry about a lot of things, like hosting. And a lot of things are pre-made for you and are easy to use for beginners.
But the downside is that it is expensive, definitely when you’re just beginning.
You’re looking at around $29 per month for the cheapest Shopify plan.
Another upside is that there are a lot of Shopify apps available, but you will need money for a lot of these apps. (Except if you read this article.)
If you’re going for an ecommerce platform, I highly suggest you pick Shopify. Most people that are dropshipping use Shopify!
If you don’t want to use Shopify, but you still want an ecommerce platform for your dropshipping store, then I suggest reading 13 Shopify Alternatives for Your Dropshipping Store.
Upsides and downsides to hosting your dropshipping store yourself
The big upside to hosting your dropshipping store yourself is that you don’t have that many monthly fees like with Shopify.
You just need to pay for hosting.
Which means you will need a bit more money upfront.
But yeah, Shopify for 1 year will be around $29 x 12 = $348 or around $312 if you pay yearly.
And hosting costs will be around $50-$100 per year, depending on which host you pick.
Another great upside is that you will have way more freedom if you host your dropshipping store yourself with WooCommerce.
If you’ve got a Shopify dropshipping store, you need to live by Shopify’s rules on how something is supposed to look.
It’s hard to change it without the help of expensive developers, or you’re lucky and you found your perfect theme!
This is totally different with WordPress and WooCommerce.
You will have all the freedom you need to create something amazing.
6) Pick your “AliExpress connection” app
Dropshipping with AliExpress is much easier to do if you’ve got a “connection” app.
If you compare having an app like that to manually filling in all the information yourself, you will have a clear winner!
Indeed, having an app will save you a lot of time.
Otherwise, you need to go to AliExpress yourself every time, add the products to your cart, and fill in the information from your customer yourself.
And that’s for every single order that you get.
Imagine having 1000s of orders every day!
Most people that start with AliExpress dropshipping have a Shopify store using Oberlo because they offer free unlimited orders (in the past that was just 50) on their free plan.
If you don’t want to use Oberlo on your Shopify AliExpress store, I suggest reading my other article here. That article contains 15 awesome alternatives to Oberlo.
If you’re going to host your AliExpress dropshipping store yourself and you’re going to use WordPress or WooCommerce, I highly recommend you take a look at AliDropship.
AliDropship is just a one-time payment. No monthly fees at all!
That article also contains a discount code in case you’re interested in buying the AliDropship plugin.
7) Let’s do product research
I will explain this step really well by linking to one of my bigger articles!
This article contains 15 awesome product research methods to find winning dropshipping products for your store.
The best thing about that article is that you can use most of these methods for free!
If you’re ready to find some winning products for your AliExpress dropshipping store, then click on the link below:
if you don’t want to do the product research yourself, I suggest reading this article here.
That article contains the 17 best dropshipping product research tools in 2021!
8) Select the best AliExpress dropshipping suppliers
After you have found some AliExpress products that you want to sell in your store, it’s time to learn how to find the best AliExpress dropshipping suppliers.
Let me ask you this question first: do you want the person who handles the production of your products and the shipment to your customers to be reliable or not?
Most people who start with dropshipping pick their suppliers based on price. They go to AliExpress, sort by price, and pick the lowest one.
Because this will make you rich, right?
Wrong; although this may work for you in the short-term, it will definitely haunt you in the long-term.
What if your supplier doesn’t respond to your messages asking where their package is? What if your supplier cannot keep up when you’re getting hundreds of orders each day?
If you want to learn how to find the best AliExpress suppliers, I suggest reading the article I’ve linked below:
Plus, I suggest reading this article here if you’re interested in finding local dropshipping suppliers on AliExpress.
9) Learn how to import AliExpress products & process orders
This subject might be easy for some people, but some people really struggle with it and don’t understand it at all.
I will cover everything in the article I’ve linked below. From importing AliExpress products to explaining what happens when you get an order on your dropshipping store.
I will also explain what steps are there to take when someone purchases a product in your dropshipping store so you don’t have to worry about anything:
10) Learn how to deal with the long AliExpress shipping times
Next up is learning how to deal correctly with the long AliExpress shipping times.
As you might know, the shipping times from AliExpress could take between 2-4 weeks.
That’s a long time!
But don’t worry, in the article below, I will cover five methods in dealing with long shipping times when dropshipping with AliExpress:
Also, if you have already researched the AliExpress shipping time and you’re not okay with letting your customers wait so long, then I suggest reading my article here.
That article goes over the subject of how to have fast delivery times when dropshipping and why fast delivery times matter in 2021.
11) Learn all the ways to increase your dropshipping profit margins
This one is really important if you want to keep your dropshipping store alive. You will need to understand why your profit margins might be tight when you’re dropshipping.
If you read my article below, you will learn all the ways to increase your profit margins. That means you will have more money in your pocket.
How awesome is that?
12) Enable AliExpress Dropshipping Cashback
This is one way to increase your profit margins that I covered in the article above.
But not many people know about this, or they don’t know how to set it up.
That’s why I made it a different step in this complete AliExpress dropshipping guide!
You can get around 4.3% – 5.9% cashback by just signing up for a cashback program, like Admitad.
That’s awesome, right?
I will teach you how to signup for the AliExpress cashback program and how to add it to your dropshipping app (like Oberlo) in the article below:
13) Enable the AliExpress Dropshipping Center or Booster Program
The AliExpress Dropshipping Center (or Booster Program) is the tool that AliExpress made to make dropshipping with AliExpress easier.
You will get a lot of amazing tools inside the AliExpress dropshipping center.
In case you don’t know anything about the AliExpress Dropshipping Center or you don’t know how to enable it on your AliExpress account, then I suggest reading my other article here.
The great thing about it is that it’s free to use, and it gives you some basic product research options!
Dropshipping with AliExpress: Conclusion
So, there you have it! The complete guide to dropshipping with AliExpress for beginners.
I hope this guide helped you to get started with your AliExpress dropshipping business.
If you want to learn more about how to set up your Shopify store correctly, I suggest reading these articles below:
- Shopify Dropshipping Complete Guide 2021: Create Your Store!
- 18 Things to Know Before Starting a Dropshipping Store
- Shopify Dropshipping for Beginners: Setting up your Store (Checklist)
The first one will go into more in-depth on how to create a successful Shopify dropshipping store. For example, I will cover how to pick a name for your store and how to advertise your dropshipping store.
It’s like a complete dropshipping course, but for free! Sounds good, right?
Additionally, if you think you’re stuck in the research phase and not sure if you can start or not, then check out this article here.
And last but not least, if you don’t have a Shopify store yet, then you can click here to get a free 14-day trial!
Don’t forget to check out the rest of our blog. It contains everything you need to know to start your own successful dropshipping store.
If you’ve got any questions regarding dropshipping, let me know by commenting below or contacting me directly by pressing the “Contact Us” button at the top!
Good luck with your AliExpress dropshipping store!