Does dropshipping with Aliexpress still work?

After a few years of craze, we take stock. Does Dropshipping with Aliexpress still work? Our answer here.
diagram explaining the dropshipping business model with suppliers like aliexpress
Table of contents

You can't miss it: the phenomenon of dropshipping phenomenon is everywhere. This business model suffers from bad press. What's worse? It's not the business model that's at fault, but the proliferation of training sellers on the dropshipping. These dream sellers, who promise students an easy fortune, are based on the same principles without differentiating themselves. As a result, individuals have been inundated with dubious advertisements, based on the same techniques and selling the same products. Fortunately, trade is simply a balance between supply and demand.

We will therefore analyse how the dropshipping with Aliexpress can be a virtuous business model. First, we will see the advantages and disadvantages of choosing Aliexpress as a sales source. Then, we will set out the objectives for rebalancing the balance between supply and demand. Finally, we will explore ways to make the dropshipping with Aliexpress sexy, both for the seller and for the end customer !

An image showing a computer keyboard with an Aliexpress key instead of the Enter key
Dropshipping with Aliexpress has not said its last word, but improvements need to be made to this overused business model.

The advantages and disadvantages of sourcing at Aliexpress

Is buying from Aliexpress a good idea for setting up an e-commerce business? Let's weigh the pros and cons of the Chinese giant!

The advantages of Aliexpress

If the dropshipping has become such a phenomenon in today's economy, there are reasons! What are the advantages of using Aliexpress to open a dropshipping e-shop? dropshipping ?

Its wide range of products

It's a fact: there's everything at Aliexpress. Whatever the product you are looking for, you can be sure to find a sourcing among all the suppliers dropshipping on the platform. From gadgets to luggage, sports equipment to car parts, the choice is huge. 

In addition to having a choice in each category, dozens of different sellers offer the same products. You can then choose the best sourcing solution for your business by dropshipping. You can also read some recommendations to choose the best Aliexpress seller.

The advantage of having this wide range of products is that you can :

  • Offer a complete catalogue
  • Regularly vary the products offered
  • Maximise testing to purify the catalogue and keep only the bestsellers.

Competitive prices

With few exceptions, the prices charged by the Chinese market are unmatched by those of European suppliers. This major difference allows you to control your margin. However, this undeniable advantage needs to be qualified. Before building your offer in dropshipping on Shopify or Wocommerce, take into account the hidden costs. Unforeseen, they can be substantial and put the profitability of your business in question. 

We have become accustomed to thinking about customs costs, but these can never be accurately estimated. Also, as you will see in our analysis of the disadvantages, return costs and refunds will weigh on your profitability and your reputation.

Its reassuring litigation system

If a product is defective or does not arrive at its destination, you can rely on theAliexpress guarantee to settle the dispute in an accompanied manner. An internal Aliexpress agent will resolve any dispute between buyer and seller in an impartial manner.

In general, the Chinese giant offers strong protection to the buyer and seller at every stage of the sales process. Aliexpress ultimately has a vested interest in managing the legitimacy of the suppliers dropshipping suppliers it hosts and the security of the end customer .

The Aliexpress dropshipping center

What is theAliexpress dropshipping center ? This service allows you to save precious time in your search for reliable suppliers and to find your winning product. In concrete terms, this tool helps you free of charge to :

  • Evaluate the popularity of a product: this way you know if it is the right time to promote it in the case of major trends;
  • Find your winning product catalogue. The search engine of the dropshippingAliexpress center search engine is powerful enough to allow you to build your catalogue according to your own filters: rating, theme, price, delivery time orshipping country, for example.

Be sure to read our article on the subject: "Product winner: how to find it?"

Weaknesses of Aliexpress

The Chinese e-commerce platform does not only have advantages. Some disadvantages can even become prohibitive when you want to make a living from selling products dropshipping. What are they?

Difficulty in communicating with the supplier

The language barrier is a major obstacle in a good commercial relationship. A misunderstanding can take on unexpected proportions in an international business! Forget French: the sellers on Aliexpress will speak to you in English, often translated literally. On the other hand, be patient: Aliexpress is a marketplace where sellers are constantly being contacted by message. It is therefore very likely that your reply will be delayed.

A picture showing an e)commerce boss negotiating with his supplier without understanding each other.
Being potentially misunderstood and not trading smoothly can be a serious disadvantage in building a serious and sustainable e-commerce business

The costly and complex return policy

This detail can become a real headache for your business. If the end customer requests a return, the transport costs are extremely expensive. It is financially more interesting to leave the product with the customer and send him another one for free. Moreover, in the event of a refund, you still lose out, since this additional expense will not have earned you anything...

The disparity in quality

Product quality, misleading photos or non-standard sizes are all bad surprises for you and your end customer . We have already seen users show the difference between a normal sized carpet they ordered from a photo and the credit card sized item they received.

Surprisingly, the same product can be found in different quality levels among Aliexpress suppliers. To ensure that your customer receives a quality item that matches the product description, choose your vendor carefully and read the product reviews. Remember to cross-check the information, this is the only way to have an objective view of the offer you wish to offer in dropshipping.

The challenge for dropshipping with Aliexpress is to correct the existing flaws

As we have seen, while not everything is perfect when you become an Aliexpress partner, not everything is a waste either. In fact, in order to set up a business that is dropshipping In fact, in order to build an ethical and sustainable business, the flaws in the business model must be corrected. What are the biggest flaws to correct?

Restoring the reputation of the business model 

Say the phrase " dropshipping with Aliexpress " among your friends and family and you will see immediate and very strong reactions. Consumers have been drowned in offers of dropshipping dubious and worse, offers of training in dropshipping. However, this business model is indeed legal. It is up to the dropshipper to make the difference in his marketing and his catalogue. The bad reputation of the business model should not prevent you from being the exception that proves the rule and from (really) standing out from the crowd!

Develop strong branding

What is sorely missing in the dropshippingis a brand identity. Do you remember the name of the brand in dropshipping that tried to sell you something? Chances are you don't. Rather than relying on ephemeral marketing that puts price at the centre, shift the focus and carefully build your branding.

Yes, it does involve work. But no business, dropshipping or not, will make you rich in the blink of an eye, despite the dream sellers who occupy the advertising spaces on social networks!

A screen representing the reputation of a brand defined by its branding and awareness
Branding is vital to building your brand and, by extension, your reputation

Adding value to the products sold

For several years, the trend in dropshipping was to sell large volumes without personalising the customer experience. No effort was made to provide a clean offer: photos taken directly fromAliexpress and vulgarly photoshopped were used as product sheets. Of course, the copywriting was totally absent and the whole business did not respond to a clear and solid marketing strategy.

Today, thankfully, the consumer is educated and demands a little more form to become a satisfied customer . We'll give you some ideas for improvement in a moment, but first, let's tackle one of the biggest problems of dropshipping s biggest problems: the endless delivery times.

Reduce delivery times

It is obviously this point that will be the most difficult to correct, since the time it takes to process the order and the delivery time is not up to you, but to the seller. Orders are prepared in 2 to 3 days. Often it takes the same time for the package to be sent and the transit period takes several weeks.

Ways to adapt to the new e-commerce standards 

We have just reviewed the main issues to make dropshipping a reliable and sustainable business model. dropshipping with Aliexpress a reliable and sustainable business model. Let's look at some of the possible solutions.

An image showing an unbranded dropshipped package in transit through a processing centre
Aliexpress will never allow you to customise your packaging. Your packages will look like all the others

Putting branding back at the centre of your business strategy

Start with one to three key values, those that also speak to your target. Build your company's story. The best marketing is the one that tells the best stories. The era of the easily replaceable anonymous company that seeks to make maximum profit with minimum work is over. Be present on all social networks in multiple formats. This content creation is a lot of work (not to mention community management), but it is essential to develop your reputation and credibility with the general public. 

Personalise the customer experience at different stages of the purchase

Even if you're selling Aliexpress products, there's still time to add value to an item. It's no longer enough to install a chatbot on your Shopify site to make the customer think they are being listened to. Small actions can make a big difference:

  • Negotiate with your most regular partners for branded packaging, a simple ' branded ' package on the original product may suffice.
  • Think of small, inexpensive touches in the packages you send: a handwritten note, a thank you with a promo code or QR code... All these ideas can clearly set you apart from your competition, without spending huge budgets.
  • Think about your communication strategy, for example by setting up email scripts for your customers. Here is a simple diagram:
    • Order confirmation ;
    • Confirmation of shipment with estimated delivery time ;
    • After the delivery time to find out if the item is as expected;
    • After a few weeks, re-launch to invite a new purchase.

All these "attentions" are added value and will bring you more than they cost you in the medium and long term!

Building customer loyalty to increase turnover

It is well known that a customer who has already bought costs less than a customer who needs to be won over. It is therefore very important to retain your existing customer base. Put them at the centre of your strategy. Since you will be present on all social networks, engage them and make them feel that they are important to your business. Set up rewards for their loyalty, ask for their opinion on an upcoming item or their customer experience. They are the ones who will give you the best keys to improve your business.

Pro tip: To go even further, get your customers to act as ambassadors by installing a sponsorship system on your business model. Satisfied customers will be the most likely to win over new customers who are willing to buy. For example, after a purchase, you can create an affiliate link on the items in your customer's order. They can share it in exchange for a fee per sale. It's a win-win situation!

This loyalty solution is a real sales lever to increase your orders without increasing the acquisition price.

Overcome delivery time and communication constraints with a hybrid system

With the experience of your business in dropshipping with Aliexpress, you will quickly notice that some products sell better than others on your Woocommerce shop. Move these products to a sourcing agent. The sourcing agent will take care of sourcing the best selling products and reduce the processing time by sending them directly to your customer as soon as the order is placed.

Photo of a large warehouse of a dropshipping supplier
Using an "agent" allows you to benefit from their logistics and fine-tune key elements of the customer experience

In addition to optimising this time and your costs, you will be able to have your packaging personalised before shipping by this intermediary agent. Keep the classic process for products in testing. This hybrid system will give you more flexibility. Eventually, the objective will be to have a catalogue of best-sellers to entrust all your logistics to a sourcing agency. Your delivery processes will be improved, the customer will be satisfied and easier to convince to order again via your dropshipping ethical shop!

How to choose your supplier on Aliexpress: the criteria that are not misleading

With the plethora ofAliexpress on offer, choosing a supplier can be a daunting task. Rest assured, even if it is a time-consuming task, it will be fruitful if you adopt the right reflexes from the start. Here are some indicators that you can trust the Aliexpress vendor. 

Check the seller's overall rating

Even as a consumer, we all have the reflex to look for social proof before taking action. To build a dropshipping site with Aliexpress, you will have to go through this analysis. Read the seller's data sheet carefully: from 95% satisfaction, you can consider you are dealing with someone serious. 

Investigate the frequency and volume of its sales

How long has the company been in existence? How many sales does this potential partner have? Do they sell continuously, or do you see a break in feedback, for example? Get an idea of sales volumes and frequency. If they sell a lot and regularly, this is a good indication of their reliability.

Read customer reviews of its products

No one will speak better of your product than a satisfied customer . To find out if you are dealing with a serious Aliexpress supplier, take the time to read consumer reviews. A satisfied customer will be less likely to report a positive review on a platform like Aliexpress (at least, less likely than a dissatisfied customer ). If you see a lot of positive reviews under the Aliexpress productsof the supplier you are analysing, there is a good chance that he is a reliable partner who delivers items that meet the end customer 's expectations!

Getting information from the source: ask the seller questions

Finally, the best way to complete the analysis of a future Aliexpress seller is to contact them directly. Send them a message in English to find out more about their products, their processes, their shipping prices and their ease of communication. This will give you the opportunity to judge the responsiveness of their response before giving them a place on your Shopify shop.

Conclusion: dropshipping with Aliexpress, outdated or to be developed?

In conclusion, yes: the dropshipping with Aliexpress still works, but...

Supporting your entire business with Aliexpress sellers has some major advantages and disadvantages. We have had the opportunity to demonstrate why the dropshipping system as we know it is not an option if you want to prosper with your e-commerce. There is no longer any room for training vendors in dropshipping There is no longer any room for training vendors selling copy/paste and static techniques. 

You will need to stand out from the crowd to give your Aliexpress product shop credibility. To improve the development of your business with dropshipping with Aliexpress, here are 5 areas to work on:

  • Develop your brand image: branding, presence on social networks, personalisation of the customer experience. The customer must be at the centre of your strategy.
  • Use levers to optimise your costs: source your bestsellers from an agent to reduce delivery time, build customer loyalty by offering sponsorship and affiliation systems.
  • Build your catalogue carefully with the help of tools such asAliexpress dropshipping center.
  • Cover your bases to avoid unpleasant surprises and learn from every experience, even negative ones.
  • Choose your suppliers carefully to ensure that your customers are satisfied. Explore different criteria and contact them directly to get an idea of their reliability and the quality of their products.

After reading this article, you will be prepared for the pitfalls of dropshipping with Aliexpress. Ready to build your e-commerce site? Here too, you need to be well supported: your digital agency specialising in Wordpress can help you build a profitable and sustainable business with Woocommerce or Shopify solutions. Contact us now for a personal consultation!

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