When you first looked into dropshipping, you probably heard that the most significant drawback is the extended shipping times.
When buying from a dropshipper, the customer will likely have to wait 30+ days for their product to arrive. Long shipping times dramatically increase the refund rates and the level of complaints a dropshipper has to deal with, harming their bottom figure.
What if we told you that this doesn't have to be the case?
What are the best shipping methods for dropshipping?
Ready to see the most common shipping methods used by dropshippers and why they are preferred?
And yes, we will also cover options if you're not dropshipping from China!
1. China Post
Pros/Cons: Cheap and cheerful, but expect a long wait and have no/poor tracking provided.
As many dropshippers are doing so from suppliers based in China, the cheapest solution would be to use China Post. Many suppliers will include the cost of shipping within their product price due to China Post being so cheap.
China Post is a perfect solution for dropshippers who want to provide free shipping.
Unfortunately, you will get what you pay for; dropshippers may encounter numerous problems when the product is shipped internationally and switches over to different couriers.
Tracking isn't always offered with China Post, and it can also be spotty even when provided. Additionally, items sent from China to the US can sometimes take anything between 4-8 weeks.
However, Tracking more has their average delivery time to the US down to a more respectable 25 days.
Pros/Cons: Tracked delivery and average shipping times, not as cheap as it used to be.
Epacket was the preferred shipping method for most dropshippers up until 2020; however, not so much nowadays.
The decline in the use of ePacket for dropshipping is down to a few reasons, all covered in a separate article Can You Still Use ePacket for Dropshipping in 2022?
Epacket is still being offered as a shipping method in 2023, but it isn't as cheap and reliable as it used to be. Tracking is always provided on ePacket, which is a huge bonus, and it will take 24 days on average from China to the US. This used to be 14 days.
AliExpress Standard Shipping
Pros/Cons: There is simplicity in the pricing as usually included in the product cost, above-average delivery times, and complete end-to-end tracking.
Of course, this is only available when dropshipping through AliExpress, which many of you will be.
As ePacket's price and delivery times have slowly declined over the last few years, AliExpress' standard shipping has gone from strength to strength both in price and promptness.
Many AliExpress suppliers will even include the shipping within the product cost for added simplicity.
Typically, we're looking at 19 days average from China to the US, and the delivery will be fully tracked throughout.
Pros/Cons: Expensive shipping costs but speedy delivery, preferred for high-ticket items.
This shipping method can be very costly, and we would only recommend using it with very high-ticket items. Otherwise, the shipping cost may outweigh the product cost in most cases.
This shipping method is the fastest, boasting an incredible five days from China to the US, and offers full tracking.
Pros/Cons: High shipping costs and relatively fast delivery, also preferred for high-ticket items.
Standing for Express Mail Service, EMS is a courier explicitly catering to international delivery.
EMS delivery can be a little on the expensive side. In this case, you may find yourself in the same predicament as above, only utilizing it on the higher ticket items.
Delivery from China to the US can take between 7-10 days. EMS also operates from Indonesia and Singapore, boasting equally fast delivery times to the US and Europe.
Finding a supplier with a regional warehouse
Pros/Cons: High shipping costs and reasonably fast delivery, also preferred for high-ticket items.
This is by far the most well-rounded shipping method, providing your supplier offers it.
Some suppliers are so big that they have regional warehouses, reducing both the cost and time of shipping their products.
Suppliers can often price their products slightly more to offset the cost; however, they will also be able to ship the product to or even within your country in a much faster time frame and usually at a lower shipping cost.
Hiring a dropshipping agent
Pros/Cons: One less thing for you to worry about but this, of course, comes at a cost.
Perhaps all of the above sounds a little overwhelming, and you're unsure where to begin. Or maybe you want to outsource the logistical headache to someone with boots on the ground in your supplier's country.
In either case, a dropshipping agent may be just the thing for you as they will be able to negotiate the quickest shipping routes for the lowest cost possible.
A dropshipping agent can also ensure product quality, personalized packaging, and product branding.
If you are already making plenty of sales, this may be the next natural step to take your business to the next level.
We have a separate article on 6 Reasons to Use a Dropshipping Agent for Your Online Store, so check it out to learn more on this!
Plus, you will find the best dropshipping agents in 2023 in this article!
This is a fantastic tip here; if you were wondering where we got all of our average delivery times from, you could check them out with numerous couriers and locations by using the TrackingMore shipping calculator.
It collates all of the tracking data they have at hand to give a broad insight into delivery times with different couriers.
What to look out for in shipping methods
There are three key factors to consider when selecting your shipping method when shopping.
Let's go over them now:
The shipping cost is naturally a key factor when dropshipping. You are already going to be working with wafer-thin profit margins and will be relying on a large volume of sales to remain profitable.
Having low shipping costs will undoubtedly help your dropshipping store remain profitable, allowing you to focus your funds on the more critical aspects of running your store.
2. Estimated delivery times
Knowing the estimated delivery times from your supplier to your target countries is essential. Many will openly advertise this on their product page, so you don't have to do much research to find this out.
Additionally, if you don't like what you see, you can shop between suppliers to see if anyone else can offer faster delivery. You can then add your estimated delivery times into your shipping policy.
The final point on this topic is that there is nothing wrong with asking suppliers to provide you tracking numbers of completed orders to your target countries to corroborate their claims on delivery times.
If a customer is going to be waiting a few weeks for their order to arrive, then it's a good idea to go with delivery methods that include tracking.
Tracking is primarily to give your customer peace of mind that the order is on its way and where it is currently.
Having an order tracking page on your store will dramatically reduce customer queries and refund requests. Tracking also becomes more critical when dropshipping medium to high-ticket items.
Even if the delivery method that comes with tracking costs a little extra (which it usually does), it makes excellent business sense to go with them for the above reasons because it practically pays for itself.
Shipping methods for dropshipping FAQs
That was awesome, right?
Before we end the article, let's go over some frequently asked questions dropshippers have about shipping methods!
How does shipping work with dropshipping?
In a nutshell, as a dropshipper, you'll never physically hold inventory.
So when a customer orders from your store, this order goes directly to your supplier. Your supplier will then ship the product directly to your customer.
Who pays for the shipping costs?
The shipping costs will be for you to pay. If it's being advertised as free shipping by your supplier, then it's likely that they have already factored this into the product cost.
You can find more information about this in this article here!
How can I get fast shipping when dropshipping?
If you can find a large supplier that offers international shipping, they may have regional distribution centers to get the product to your customer in around seven days.
Fast shipping is something that you will have to shop around for to find out which suppliers offer the quickest shipping and the best price. Doing so is worth the time. It's far better than the 30+ days you may have initially heard about.
You can learn more about getting fast shipping in this article here!
How do I factor this into my sale price?
The most straightforward method is simply offering free shipping on all deliveries and then just writing the cost into your product sale price.
Free delivery is a great way to entice a visitor to your store into becoming a customer, even if the delivery isn't technically free. Additionally, most customers prefer the simplicity of not getting to the check out to see how much the shipping will cost.
So let's say, for example, the product costs $5, the shipping is also $2, and you intend to double your money on each sale. You would combine these two costs and then double them to get your sale price.
($5 Product Cost + $2 Shipping) x 2 = $14 Sale price
The above is a very rough formula, but the point is this can and should be priced into your sale price.
For a full pricing strategy guide, check out this article here!
So, which shipping method is the best for dropshipping in 2023?
We have gone through different couriers and used delivery from China as a benchmark; this will usually give you the most extended delivery times, but not all dropshippers will be doing so from China.
On this note, it's difficult to say which is the best shipping method as every business has different needs and different operating costs, but let us assist you further in deciding.
If you want a cheap shipping method and are okay with your customers waiting a few weeks, China Post may be your solution. Be aware tracking (if provided) can be pretty poor and usually written in Chinese; your customers may not appreciate this.
Epacket and AliExpress Standard Shipping both have relatively low shipping costs and offer end-to-end tracking. They also take between 19-25 days to deliver.
FedEx and EMS will be much costlier to ship, and you should only consider this for higher ticket items. However, they both offer swift delivery times with full tracking throughout.
There are a couple of other options, such as finding a supplier with a regional warehouse, which will ultimately drive down the shipping cost and delivery times. These suppliers are few and far between, so you will have to shop around to find them.
Of course, the final option is to outsource all of this to a dropshipping agent who will have more expertise. This should only be considered if you are already generating significant sales or have a hefty start-up capital for your dropshipping business.
So we have gone through the pros and cons of different shipping methods for dropshipping in 2023, and you will now have to decide which one best suits you and your business needs.
Don't forget to let us know which method you opted for and why in the comments section below!
Want to learn more about dropshipping?
Ready to move your dropshipping store to the next level? Check out the articles below: