Dropshipping With AliExpress has become a very popular topic. For many, it’s touted as a way to make easy money. But in most cases, it’s the “gurus” selling courses who are making all the money.
I began my journey of dropshipping with AliExpress back in November of 2017. I was researching ways to make money online and I noticed a lot of YouTube videos (mostly made by kids who looked 15) who claimed to be making lots of money dropshipping from AliExpress.
At the time, I was completely ignorant of dropshipping and never heard of AliExpress. But it seemed like a simple enough process.
Build your store + Advertise on facebook = Make lots of money
But before you jump blindly into dropshipping with AliExpress, allow me to tell you some things that the “gurus” won’t.
Dropshipping With AliExpress Is Not As Easy As You Think It Is
Now, don’t get me wrong. Some aspects of it are easy.
For example, it’s not that hard to build a store on the Shopify platform. It’s not that hard to put some products on your website. It’s not that hard to run some Facebook ads. But putting it all together and actually selling the products for a profit can be VERY difficult.
In fact, most people I know have tested hundreds of products without finding a winner. A few of us have actually found a winner. And even fewer have found multiple winners.
Don’t believe me? Join some dropshipping groups and take a look at how many people are in the group. Then just ask how many people are currently making money in their dropshipping store. I think you’ll find that it’s a very small percentage of people who are successful.
So before you go believing all the hype about how easy it is to make money dropshipping with AliExpress, keep on reading.
Dropshipping With AliExpress Requires A Lot Of Skills You May Not Be Aware Of
When I first began dropshipping I had a very simplistic understanding of the skills that would be required. This is mainly because the gurus over simplify the process to make it sound easy.
But it was also because I assumed that having a low barrier of entry meant that it was going to be easy. But you shouldn’t go into this thinking it will be easy.
Here is just a partial list of the skills you’ll need to develop to have long term success dropshipping with AliExpress.
- Web Design
- Graphic Design
- Product Research
- General Marketing Principles
- Facebook Advertising
- Email Marketing
- Conversion Rate Optimization
- Customer Support
- Data Analysis
- Revenue Optimization
- Time Management
- Hiring and Training Assistants
I think you get the point.
I don’t say all of this to talk you out of dropshipping with AliExpress, but to open your eyes to the reality of what is required.
Dropshipping With AliExpress Is Not Sustainable Long Term
Most people I know who dropship from AliExpress do not see it as a long term business model, but a short term way to make some money and gain experience.
The reason that AliExpress dropshipping is not sustainable long term is because there are so many problems inherent with AliExpress.
Long shipping times. Often customers are waiting at least 2 weeks to get their products. And when you consider most of them are used to getting packages delivered in 2 days from Amazon, you can see why this might be a problem.
Low Repeat Customer Rates. Unfortunately Amazon has spoiled all of us. We now expect our products to be shipped and delivered in a few days. So when the product you are dropshipping with AliExpress arrives a few weeks later, they no longer see you as a serious business.
Poor product quality. Once you begin testing products you will find that everything is not what it seems on AliExpress. You may buy something with a nice professional looking picture and end up receiving something that resembles a trinket from the dollar store.
Constantly chasing trends. The typical dropshipping store is constantly looking for a new random trending product to sell. When you are constantly chasing the next trend, it’s really hard to dig deep and establish yourself in any particular market. This makes it hard to survive long term.
Problems with their platform. I’ve written before about problems with AliExpress closed orders. But besides this, building your business around the AliExpress platform has inherent dangers. What if they stop allowing dropshipping?
So while I think dropshipping with AliExpress is great because of its low barrier of entry, you should begin this venture planning to evolve over time.
Dropshipping With AliExpress Is Becoming More Difficult On Facebook
Facebook is very protective of it’s brand. It places a high priority on providing a good experience for its users. So when a flood of stores dropshipping with AliExpress give their users a bad experience, Facebook takes action.
The primary way they do this is by giving your customers post-purchase surveys. On these surveys they ask your customers about their experience shopping with your store.
And if your product takes a month to arrive or it looks different than the item advertised, you can guarantee your customers will complain about it.
Facebook gives your Facebook page a score based on customer feedback. If you score falls below 2 (out of 5) then your ads will start being penalized. They’ll be shown to fewer people, lower quality buyers, and your prices will increase.
Or if it’s really bad they may just ban your ad account or business manager entirely.
Some dropshippers deal with this by constantly creating new Facebook pages and abandoning them once they start getting penalized. But that is a losing battle. Facebook will catch onto this and will eventually take action to prevent this from happening.
A much better approach is to look for ways to improve the experience your customers are having by offering them high quality products and taking steps to improve shipping speeds.
But again, you don’t hear much about this from the gurus on YouTube or Facebook.
So Is Dropshipping With AliExpress Worth It?
You may think that I would say say no based on my warnings above. But I actually do think that dropshipping with AliExpress is still a good and viable short term way to grow an online e-commerce business.
If you are just starting out, I would advise you to go ahead and create a store on Shopify, fill it with products, and start advertising on Facebook.
However, view it as a short term way to gain some experience and test product ideas. Once you find a winning product, work on importing it and possibly improving it to make it unique to your brand.
If the product has the possibility of being developed into an entire product line, then you could even attempt to create a new brand built around the product.
One example I saw recently of a business that appeared to have followed a similar path is Lensball.com. The item they are selling can be found on AliExpress for much cheaper. But they have imported the product, created custom packaging and branding, and created a much better experience than if they were still dropshipping with AliExpress.
So if you are just starting your journey of dropshipping with AliExpress, then I would recommend you follow the example of Lensball. Use AliExpress as your testing platform, but then quickly take steps to improve the experience once you find a winner.
Now it’s your turn…
I’d love to hear about your own experience dropshipping with AliExpress. If you’ve already started, share your experience so far in the comments below. What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced so far?