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The number of sellers who use Shopify with Ali Express for dropshipping merchandise is growing, for good reason. As one of the world’s top three marketplaces and a conduit to millions of low-cost manufactured goods coming from China, there’s plenty of profit to be made there.
Here is a rundown on the bases you’ll need to cover and think about if you want to run your store on Shopify with Ali Express as your source for products.
First, what makes Ali Express so cheap?
Products are usually dirt cheap on Ali Express because all of the merchants selling there get their products directly from Chinese manufacturers. Prices are so low in this business model that the sellers can often afford to make shipping free, too. But it’s still a long, slow delivery chain that literally relies on ships for the journey from China.
What is the competitive advantage when you use Shopify with Ali Express?
If someone can just as easily buy something directly on Ali Express without your markup, why would they buy from you?
When you run an AliExpress dropshipping business, your competitive advantage isn’t about price or having unique products. It’s about marketing, fulfillment, and customer service. You’ll reach your customers faster and give them better information. You’ll win the sale with superior marketing, operations, and support.
Through good marketing, you will help customers find, evaluate, purchase what they need. They will have a better customer experience all around, from the content on your store’s website to the order fulfillment processing. You can build your own brand, use a great domain name, and offer creative, even entertaining content with navigation that makes it easy for customers to find what they’re looking for. Your cart and checkout pages will be easy to understand, with simple 1-step payment processing. These are all competitive advantages when you consider the comparable customer experience for those shopping directly on Ali Express.
You can also offer superior customer service by quickly answering questions and resolving customer issues that can prevent conversions.
How to evaluate products to sell from Ali Express
The AliExpress Dropshipping Center is one good place to start looking for products. You can evaluate products before you start selling them and connect with different AliExpress suppliers who may not be featured on the main app.
Once you’ve found a filtered list you like and start browsing, keep in mind these criteria for selecting products that won’t cause you future headaches.
Avoid the Knockoffs trap. If you avoid products that have existing branding, you won’t get trapped into accidentally reselling fakes and knockoffs. If you want to sell branded products, you must work out a legal partnership with the brand in question and make purchases through their authorized sources. Depending on the product, going that route may still be worth it but it’s more work on your end. On the other hand, it’s easier if you stick to product categories where a recognizable logo is less important, such as electronic accessories or clothing.
Shippers using ePacket delivery. Strive to resell products that offer free ePacket shipping. A majority of products on Ali Express come from China or Hong Kong. For those points of origin, ePacket delivery is economical and also one of the quickest options for shipping small goods to the United States. In many cases the seller will offer it for free, but even if there is a fee it is still going to be the lowest cost you’ll find. It’s not only cost-effective but also one of the most reliable shipping options available.
Products with high-volume orders. A product that generates lots and lots of orders is a winning product. There’s high demand for it. And suppliers able to handle such volumes (>300) are more reliable than average, and probably make repeat sales to the same customers. Sourcing software made specifically for dropshippers on Ali Express lets you filter searches for products by the highest number of orders.
At least a 4.5-star rating. To achieve consistent repeat business from your own customers, look for a high product rating (over 4.5 stars), and for sellers with mostly positive feedback. You can use a Chrome extension called AliExpress Seller Check to read feedback about sellers and find product ratings. It’s more complete than what you’ll find on the Ali Express rating system.
Quality, original product photos. Do some due diligence. Some sellers just steal others’ photos rather than providing them from the manufacturer’s supply. A quick Google image search will reveal if the product photos are from another brand and retailer, or from the manufacturer themselves.
Managing your dropshipping operations
Oberlo is one of the most popular software tools for dropshippers. Most people use this app when they start with Shopify dropshipping. It helps them find products to sell, vets the suppliers with detailed reviews, and organizes your dropshipping orders so that you get paid by customers even before having to pay the suppliers for the products you’ve sold. There is a free version for Shopify users.
If you don’t prefer Oberlo, you can find a variety of Shopify extensions for dropshipping with Ali Express in the Shopify App Store.
My mission at Shoppingfeed is explaining how to leverage e-commerce platforms and SaaS technology to e-merchants who just want to run their business and make more money.
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