The “AliExpress Plus One” Approach Every Serious Dropshipper Should Know About
Updated: Jul 6
Any experienced dropshipper would have experienced some key benefits of AliExpress:
1. Cheap for product testing
Even though Aliexpress shipping may be slow, it is a great platform to test for your winning product. It doesn’t require you to fulfil a Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ) before testing a new product. This in turn allows you to test multiple products at once without incurring inventory costs initially. Once a winning product is confirmed, then you can look at scaling with some inventory.
2. Great for product research
With the multitude of products available on the platform, the potential is endless. The orders section gives you an idea if the product is picking up in demand which you can consider for your new product. To dive deeper, you can also look at the review section to understand the pros and cons of the product without being a user yourself. This gives you insights on the customer experience which will help you to improve on the existing product. If a better version of the product is not available right now, you can work with the supplier to improve on it and potentially create your own brand.
However, any experience AliExpress user would have or will soon receive reviews such as “shipping took longer than expected” or “my item finally arrived after xx days”. To manage the issue, you would then spend additional effort on customer service to pacify your customer or pre-emptively manage their expectations for slower shipping speeds upfront. If you do not actively spend time managing this, your customer may request for refunds or chargebacks. In the worst-case scenario, unhappy customers can result in your payment processor freezing your account and restriction of your Facebook advertising rights.
To understand why shipping time from AliExpress is slower and sometimes inconsistent, we need to know who sells on AliExpress. This may come as a shocking truth – AliExpress sellers are NOT your actual suppliers. Why? An actual supplier producing tens of thousands of units daily is unlikely to set up a store on AliExpress to sell in small quantities. Then who are the AliExpress sellers? Usually, AliExpress sellers are Chinese dropshippers who resell on AliExpress by dropshipping from bigger suppliers and wholesalers.
Due to the low barriers of entry to become an AliExpress seller, the profile of an AliExpress seller can be varied. Many AliExpress sellers are solo entrepreneurs or a small team handling the entire operations from sales to fulfilment. Some are even students doing dropshipping part-time. We have met several students who have to set up a store as part of the university coursework.
“Yes, I am sure your order is here somewhere.”
AliExpress sellers fitting the profiles above should find it easy to handle small orders, assuming they are familiar enough with the entire operations. But as you ramp up your ad spend to scale your business, it can be challenging for them to fulfil the increased orders timely and smoothly. Any increase sales could potentially impact your order fulfilment speed. In addition, such AliExpress sellers typically (1) order from bigger suppliers, (2) send customers’ orders to a forwarding warehouse which in turn (3) sends to a third-party shipper’s warehouse before it is on the way to the customer. Delays can happen at each step and affect the overall shipping timing. Even if the processing speed is smooth, AliExpress orders are usually fulfilled by AliExpress Standard Shipping. While it is cost effective relative to other options presented on AliExpress, the shipping timing (usually 20-40 days) will turn off all but the most patient customers.
Looking beyond AliExpress, you need a professional dropshipping company with an established team and warehouse support catered to handle your needs. A professional dropshipping company will typically require a minimum daily number of orders (e.g. 5 and above) as they typically serve large mature dropshippers or even augment major eCommerce sellers to broaden their catalogue. Such dropshipping companies will have processes in place to ensure that operations are smooth and not too heavily dependent on any individual. Orders should be processed daily to keep up with your customers who purchase from your store every day. This will be most suitable for dropshippers who have consistent orders and are looking to scale.
To provide sufficient support, the dropshipping company should also offer warehousing. Warehousing offers 2 distinct advantages:
1. The ability to order in bulk – thereby reducing per unit cost
2. The ability to fulfil orders immediately upon having a sale – compared to having to order from the supplier
As English is not a native language in China, 2 scenarios might occur:
1. Communication and actual execution may differ due to messages lost in translation. (We all experienced weird outputs when we tried Google Translate)
2. Special order requests taking longer to communicate to ensure understanding. They may engage a third party to respond to enquiries which delay response time.
Given the above, the right strategy for the serious dropshipper is to play an “AliExpress Plus One” strategy. We encourage you to maintain your AliExpress account for products that you are still unsure of and to use for your research. We also hope we can be your “Plus One” that can be trusted with your products that you cannot afford to mess up and where you need operational certainty.
In addition, we understand the pains of needing to find new winning products once more people start to sell the exact same item that you found. Thus, for clients with larger regular orders, we also offer custom branding and private labelling to help you create brand value that is more resistant to price competition.
We currently serve dropshippers based in the US, UK, Germany, Italy, France, Singapore, Australia, Brazil and many other locations. And we help these clients ship to their buyers globally. This means all over Asia and the Pacific, North and South America, Eastern and Western Europe, as well as Africa.
The journey in dropshipping is not easy. We hope to have provided you with some insights that would help you along. If you would like us to help you scale your dropshipping business, please fill in this form and we will get back to you in the next 2 business days.
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