The traditional way of doing business consists of several steps. You decide on a product you want to sell, you source a supplier for that product, you purchase several units of the product, you maintain inventory, and you sell that product (at a markup, of course) to your customers. But what if you buy too much and you can’t sell them? What if you don’t have the physical space to maintain inventory?
The rise of drop shipping and e-commerce has streamlined this process considerably, because you don’t need to invest hundreds or thousands of dollars in unsold inventory. You simply pay for the products your customers have actually purchased, and the suppliers ship those products directly to your customers. This is much easier and less risky to boot. And AliExpress is home to a great number of manufacturers and suppliers for a broad range of product.
So, how do you get started and how do you position yourself such that you have the best shot at success? Oberlo, one of the top e-commerce drop shipping tools, recommends the following tips. Its users are already generating over $42 million in sales every month!
Let’s get started, shall we?
1. Don’t Compete on Price
When setting up your online business, you’ll need to carefully consider many factors. You’ll want to think about the types of products you want to sell, what storefront technology you want to use to power your e-commerce site, what marketing tools or tactics you want to employ, and so forth.
And one other major factor is how you decide to price your merchandise. Oberlo recommends that you should never try to compete on price alone, because you will never be the cheapest. Someone else is willing to cut more corners and take a smaller margin than you. Someone is able to push more volume than you can to make up for those smaller margins.
Instead of focusing your energies on trying to be the cheapest, refocus your energies on your marketing strategies and building an awesome brand.
2. Be Clear About Shipping Times
One of the more common concerns that prospective e-commerce businesses have about dropshipping with AliExpress is the length of time it takes to ship a product to a customer. Remember that AliExpress is based in China and the suppliers are almost exclusively located there too. This means that shipments will be sent from there.
What this means is that it would be utterly unreasonable to expect the same kind of “overnight” or “two-day” shipping that some customers might get through somewhere like Amazon Prime. However, this doesn’t need to detract from the customer experience and deter potential sales. All it means is that you need to be up front and clear about the shipping times on your website.
This way, customers have clear expectations about expected shipping windows. You define your shipping policy clearly and display it in the relevant areas on your website. To further help reduce the sting of potentially longer shipping periods, you can offer free shipping. Just account for those costs in your product prices.
3. Consider ePacket Delivery
If you’re really worried about those shipping times, then you might want to consider the ePacket delivery option from AliExpress. This is a premium shipping tier where most packages take somewhere between 7 and 14 days to reach most customers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and other global destinations. It’s well worth it when it is available, because it generally leads to higher customer satisfaction overall.
And an added benefit, ePacket delivery also allows you to arrange for custom packaging for an even more professional look. The packages will still have Chinese shipping labels, but the custom packaging adds another layer to the experience. Among the approximately 2.1 million orders shipped by Oberlo users each month, the majority do not include promotions or invoices in customer deliveries.
4. Don’t Skimp on Quality
Just as you shouldn’t try to compete on price when selling products to your customers, you shouldn’t look to price as the sole determining factor when deciding on products to sell and the suppliers to source them from either. In fact, if several sellers are offer a seemingly similar product and one of them substantially undercuts the rest, there’s a reason.
Chances are that this supplier has compromised on the quality of the product in one way or another. They may use cheaper materials, they may have poorer quality control, or they might be more inconsistent. Given this, you should strive only to buy from suppliers with at least a 95% positive feedback rating and a feedback score of at least 2,000. The former refers to the ratings that the supplier has received from buyers, whereas the later refers to the total amount of feedback the supplier has received.
This is really no different than other similar marketplaces. Sellers with lower ratings on eBay should generally be avoided, and looking for suppliers on AliExpress works in much the same way. Work only with the best and check those customer reviews carefully.
The good news, is that there are ways to improve product decision process through the use of more-detailed product descriptions and better product images. Other areas for improvement include creating blog content or product reviews, and also having an effective content creation and promotion plan in place. You can learn about each of these methods in detail here.
5. Order Samples for Yourself
Remember that the products you list and sell through your online store, even if you don’t actually make or ship them yourself, will reflect directly on your brand and your brand’s reputation. If a customer buys a “bad” product from your website, they’re not going to know that the poor quality is reflective of the no name supplier in China. They’re going to think that you are responsible and they could quickly sully your brand through bad online reviews and negative comments on social media.
This is why it is of such critical importance that you inspect the quality of the products you intend to sell yourself. Order samples of everything you plan to offer so you can get some first-hand experience with the product. Does it really align with the AliExpress description? Is it worth the price you plan to sell it for?
An alternative method to avoid wasting time and tests is Oberlo’s verified suppliers list. They have their own approval process in place to make sure that suppliers who don’t meet their dropshipping criteria are out!
While AliExpress is one of the more popular sources for finding drop shippers online, they do not have the additional features, support, and supplier verified lists that Oberlo has.
6. Check Responsiveness
Checking on the quality of the products you source through AliExpress for your drop shipping business is one thing. It’s another thing to check on the quality of the suppliers themselves too. You really need to pay attention to the responsiveness of the suppliers you choose.
A great opportunity is when you pick up samples of the products you intend to sell. Message the supplier about it, even mark it urgent if you want, and see how he or she responds. If the response is timely and organic, you’re in good hands. If the response seems like it’s coming from an auto-responder or the reply lacks a reasonable grasp of the English language, you might want to steer way to avoid potential future complications and conflicts.
7. Synchronize Your Imports
The whole point of utilizing AliExpress dropshipping in the first place is to streamline the e-commerce process. You don’t need to order product ahead of time, you don’t need to stock inventory, and you don’t need to deal with the logistics of the actual shipping itself. You can make this process even easier.
Once you’ve got your store set up through a platform like Shopify, consider using an app like Oberlo to sync your imports. The products that you buy from AliExpress can be synchronized with your Shopify online store such that you are notified of inventory changes, price adjustments, and so forth. You can add products directly and this can even help with sending out tracking codes to your customers after their orders have been sent out.
It’s easier than ever before to get started with AliExpress drop shipping. At the same time, don’t forget about how effective adding a blog to your eCommerce site can be. Not only will this help with better content on your site and product descriptions and engagement with your audience, it can also open up a whole new world of referral traffic from Google, social platforms and individuals sharing content from your site.
Now it’s time for you to implement each of these top tips and drop shipping methods to further improve your business online!