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Launched back in 2010, AliExpress is one of the biggest and oldest e-commerce marketplaces for dropshipping.
You can find all kinds of dropshipping suppliers in this marketplace, both manufacturers and resellers, for just about any kind of product you are looking to sell on your Shopify store.
Its more famous parent company Alibaba is more suited for businesses looking to place huge quantity orders directly with manufacturers to secure the cheapest price per unit possible.
AliExpress on the other hand caters mostly to retail buyers looking to buy goods in lower quantities at factory prices.
Why AliExpress Is So Great For Dropshipping
This is why you will mostly find manufacturers and wholesalers on Alibaba and on AliExpress you will mostly find trading companies and smaller distributors.
There is no shopping cart on Alibaba; you have to negotiate directly with manufacturers for a price and minimum order quantity. Meanwhile, AliExpress has a shopping cart just like any other retail e-store and you don’t have to negotiate with suppliers.
While AliExpress obviously doesn’t offer rates as cheap as those on Alibaba, the minimum order quantities are not as large either.
This makes it perfect for any entrepreneurs looking to dip their toes into the e-commerce pool. It has become particularly synonymous with the concept of dropshipping. Not only can you find everything you need at extremely competitive pricing compared to other platforms, but dropshipping with AliExpress is also comparatively easy.
There’s no upfront cost or fee, allowing you to try out dropshipping products without having to make a hefty financial commitment.
You can also use the Oberlo tool to find and add AliExpress products to your Shopify store with just a few clicks and use the Debutify theme to easily give your store a beautiful, easy-to-navigate layout.
However, despite the low barrier to entry and the ease of finding products to sell, AliExpress requires a significant investment of research time in order to find the right suppliers to source the products from.
Finding the right dropshipping supplier is absolutely critical to the success of your Shopify store in 2020. Here is a list of the 5 top tips to keep in mind for finding dropshipping suppliers on AliExpress in 2020.
1. Go To The Manufacturer First
This is particularly recommended if you're looking to sell branded items on your Shopify store and you are able to meet the manufacturer’s minimum order requirements.
If your order is too small for their requirements or if they are contractually obligated to only sell through certain exclusive distributors, ask them for a list of their certified distributors that you can reach out to for their genuine products.
By going straight to the source, you will secure the lowest price point possible for the product you’re interested in. The fewer people you have to deal with, the less you have to pay, and hence, the more competitive your pricing can be.
At the very least, you will secure a list of the most reputable, verified distributors for you to use as a starting point in your search for the right dropshipping supplier.
2. Select Reputable Sellers With Great Feedback
This is one of the most critical things to take into consideration when choosing dropshipping suppliers on AliExpress.
Reputation can be gauged using the “Feedback Score” which shows the seller’s sales volume and the feedback the supplier has received can be evaluated using the “Positive Feed Rate”.
Sort products by seller rating and aim to deal with suppliers who have a Feedback Score of at least 2,000 and a Positive Feed rate of at least 95%. Also, pay attention to how long they have been in business.
3. Compare Prices To Weed Out The Sams
“If it looks too good to be true, then it probably is.” This saying is particularly true on AliExpress which has a reputation for offering the most competitive prices on many e-commerce products.
It’s quite common to come across new suppliers with little to no feedback severely undercutting the competition.
It’s absolutely critical to moving with caution in such instances. Occasionally, significantly lower prices are a way for a new supplier looking to make a splash in the marketplace and get their name out there.
However, in most cases, it’s either an outright scam or there is a remarkable drop in product quality. This is why it’s important to compare different suppliers.
If most suppliers are in more or less the same price range for the same product, but one is offering it at a significantly cheaper price, the chances of the product not being genuine are high.
Also, if a supplier is charging some kind of recurring fee for you to do business with them (such as a monthly membership or service fee), they are most likely a scam.
4. Verify Product Authenticity
The issue of fake products continues to plague both Alibaba and AliExpress and filtering them out can be quite an uphill task.
Beyond checking the Feedback Score and comparing competitor prices as discussed above, another way to check product authenticity is to check what other products the supplier is selling.
You can do this by checking “Seller’s Categories” in the left sidebar. A supplier who has only one type or brand of products on sale is likely to be more authentic than one who offers just about everything.
You also check seller warranties in the “Seller Guarantees” tab on the product page. When buying a branded item make sure to look for a “Guaranteed Genuine” tag as this ensures that you get a full refund (including shipping costs) should the product turn out to be counterfeit?
And you can also simply try ordering a single sample product to ascertain quality and authenticity for yourself in person.
5. Take Note Of Responsiveness To Your Communication
Write to the supplier with any questions you have about the product’s specific details, shipping, minimum order requirements, and bulk prices.
Keep your message friendly, short, and to the point. Remember to be honest about your purchasing capacity, no need to try sounding “bigger” than you are. After you send the message, pay attention to quickly the supplier responds to your query.
A seller who can’t respond both quickly AND clearly to your requests is unreliable as a business partner. However, make sure to keep local China time (UTC +8) in mind before as you take note of this responsiveness.
The first dropshipping supplier on AliExpress that you end up doing business with doesn’t necessarily have to be your lifelong vendor.
Setting up the perfect supply chain for your Shopify store to become an e-commerce success is not a one-time event but rather a never-ending journey with various rest stops.
It’s a perpetual evolution that involves a lot of trial and error. The key is to find a solid footing for you to make the first step and then take it slowly from there.
All you need from your first dropshipping supplier on AliExpress is a genuine product that you can ship at a profit.
It may not necessarily be the best wholesale price that you can secure but as long as your customers’ orders are being shipped on time and you’re making enough profit to stay solvent, you can always carefully try out other suppliers with time.
Written by Ricky Hayes
Ricky Hayes is the Co-Founder and Head of Marketing at Debutify - free Shopify theme, helping dropshippers build high-converting stores in minutes. He is a passionate entrepreneur running multiple businesses, marketing agencies and mentoring programs.
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