By now, chances are you’ve heard of dropshipping, the ecommerce business model that allows entrepreneurs to run their businesses without ever carrying any inventory. And you may have even considered starting a dropshipping business of your own.
But how do you source products to sell? One of the best options is tapping into AliExpress. In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about dropshipping with AliExpress.
Why AliExpress Dropshipping is So Important
The remote work revolution is upon us. But for some, that isn’t enough. They want to be their own boss, set their own hours, and work from anywhere in the world.
For others, opening up a store to sell a product they’re passionate about is expensive, risky, and requires space to house all the products.
Dropshipping solves all of these problems. This ecommerce strategy allows the store owner to not carry any inventory. Instead, when they receive an order from a customer, they simply contact their product supplier, who will then ship the products directly to the customer’s doorsteps.
This business model has several advantages:
- Low start-up costs: Since you don’t need to carry any inventory, you can start your business with little cash on hand.
- No need for warehouse space: For the same reason, you don’t need to worry about where to store products as you wait for orders to roll in.
- Location independent: Because the supplier takes care of shipping products directly to customers, you can run your business from just about anywhere with an internet connection.
Dropshipping reduces the cost of fulfillment, allowing entrepreneurs to focus on other areas of their business like marketing and supplier relationships. And, since all you need is a laptop, you can work from anywhere in the world and generate income with minimal input.
Since AliExpress is one of the largest marketplaces in the world, it’s the perfect platform for dropshippers to find products to sell at excellent wholesale prices.
Let’s take a look at an example.
ShipDirect2You processed orders manually for years. This led to a lot of inefficiencies, like overselling products and not being able to take advantage of bulk discounts.
Thanks to the AliExpress Dropshipping app, the team could import goods from AliExpress and choose whatever they liked from any dropshippers on AliExpress.com.
With AliExpress’s single-click bulk upload feature, they were able to quickly upload products from AliExpress.com into their own BigCommerce store. Now, instead of manually processing orders one by one, they could take advantage of BigCommerce’s streamlined order fulfillment process and ship products directly to customers in a matter of days.
And by tapping into AliExpress Dropshipping’s API, they were able to connect their BigCommerce store to AliExpress.com, making it easier than ever to keep their inventory up-to-date and in sync.
Quick Tips to Improve AliExpress Dropshipping Today
Ecommerce is often a long-term game. But dropshipping with AliExpress allows you to do things today that improve your business. Here are a few quick tips:
1. Select good product photos
One of the best ways to improve your business is to source high-quality product photos. This is one of the most important elements of your product listings and good photos can make a big difference in terms of conversion rate.
While a lot of products will have product photos you can use, you have more control over the quality if you procure each product and shoot some photos of it yourself.
Here are a few tips for doing that well and getting high-quality product photos:
- Use a professional camera: A DSLR camera will give you much higher quality photos than a smartphone or point-and-shoot camera. If you don’t have a DSLR, consider borrowing or renting one.
- Use natural light: When taking photos indoors, try to use as much natural light from the windows as possible, instead of artificial light. This will help your photos look more natural and appealing.
- Use props: Adding props to your product photos can help them look more professional and stylish. Simple props like flowers or books can make a big difference.
- Edit your photos: After you’ve taken your photos, take some time to do some post-processing work to make them look their best. Basic photo editing can be done in a lot of free software and many online services also offer free photo editing tools.
2. Improve your digital marketing
Your dropshipping business will rely heavily on digital marketing to reach potential customers and drive sales. You can use several different channels to reach your target audience, including social media, email marketing, and paid advertising.
Experimenting with different strategies and finding what works best for your business is important.
Once you have a solid understanding of digital marketing, you can start to focus on mastering it.
While digital marketing is more of a long-term play, those who find success in ecommerce spend lots of their spare time understanding how to market their products and business online.
And if you’re looking for some quick wins, here are a few proven digital marketing suggestions you can start doing today:
- Start a blog: Blog content is a great way to bring in new visitors to your web store and build an audience. You can write blog posts about your products, your industry, or anything else that would be of interest to your target audience.
- Promote your site content: Whether a blog, a sale, or anything else, promote your web store’s content on social media, in forums, and through email marketing to reach as many people as possible.
- Invest in paid advertising: Paid digital advertising can be a great way to quickly reach your target audience by showing up prominently in keyword-related searches. Google AdWords and Facebook Ads are two popular and proven options.
3. Optimize your website for search engines
On-page SEO is one of the fastest ways to increase your site’s search ranking and, subsequently, its visibility to potential customers. Inversely, if you have shortcomings in this regard, you could be missing out on lots of valuable traffic.
Look for these common SEO problem areas and make adjustments to address any you find:
- Missing meta descriptions and title tags on pages
- Images missing alt text for accessibility
- Slow load times on pages
- Broken links
- Duplicate content
- Poor site navigation
Most of these things can be fixed in a few hours on your own if you know where to look and how to address these issues. If you’re not sure how to fix these things, read our guide on on-page SEO to learn or consider hiring a freelancer on Upwork or Fiverr.
4. Automate as much as possible
If you are manually fulfilling orders and responding to every inquiry, you are wasting valuable time that could be spent on other tasks, like marketing or making SEO tweaks to your site. The good news is that there are lots of ways to make your business more efficient.
A lot of ecommerce and dropshipping platforms help you automate the routine, like order fulfillment and email notifications for customers. Some even go so far as to supply automated inventory management.
What’s great about opting for AliExpress when dropshipping is how you can integrate its API into your online store, making it possible to automate product ordering, inventory management, listing, and more.
You can also source software to automate or streamline other things, like using a live chat platform to automate customer support through AI chatbots that help you resolve simple customer issues without having to take the time to respond to each one individually.
5. Be aware of drawbacks
The dropshipping model is not all sunshine and rainbows. The reduced overhead costs and low barrier to entry make it an attractive option for entrepreneurs, but there are some drawbacks that you should be aware of before starting such a business.
The biggest downside to AliExpress dropshipping is the long shipping times. It can take between two weeks to a month for some products to reach a customer, depending on where the product is coming from and where the customer is located.
And, because the overhead costs are so low, margins are also low. The supplier will take a lot more of the cost and you’ll likely need to sell a lot of products to make a significant profit, at least at first.
In addition, being so removed from the manufacturing process gives you less control over the quality of the products you’re selling. You’re essentially at the supplier’s mercy, so it’s important to do your due diligence and choose a reputable one.
And then there is the issue of competition. Because the barrier to entry is so low, there are a lot of people dropshipping on AliExpress already. This means that you’ll need to find a way to stand out from the crowd.
Long-Term Strategies for Improving Your AliExpress Dropshipping Business
Like we said before, dropshipping is a long-term game. To build a successful business, you need to focus on creating a brand that customers will love and trust. Here are some strategies you can use to improve your brand and business over time.
1. Understand your brand’s strengths
If you stopped running ads tomorrow, would your business still be profitable? If not, you need to focus on building a brand that can sustain itself.
Some things to consider are:
- Do you have a strong social media presence?
- Do you have repeat customers?
- Do you have any sort of competitive advantage?
- Does your industry consistently perform well over time?
- Is your business safe, even if it is seasonal?
When companies answer “no” to any of these questions, their answer is often to run more ads, double down on marketing, or offer discounts. But this is usually just a bandage solution, not a way to build brand strength.
The real answer is to focus on building a brand that can withstand any changes in the market by doing a few things:
- Creating great site and social content
- Developing a loyal customer base through programs and email
- Offering amazing customer service before, during, and after purchase
- Carrying products that stay relevant with changing customer needs
These are just some of the ways you can make your brand healthier. It’s important to focus on this if you want to build a sustainable business.
2. Learn how customers use your products
Many people think that AliExpress dropshipping is completely hands-off.
In some ways, it is. But those who want to be successful long-term need to understand how customers use the products being sold.
According to the Jobs-to-be-Done Theory, people buy products to fulfill a specific need or “job” they have. For example, someone might buy a hammer because they need to hang a picture on their wall. The customer’s “job” is to find a way to hang the picture, and the hammer is the solution.
In this case, the hammer retailer did not just sell a hammer; they sold a solution for hanging a photo on a wall.
Once you have an idea of the outcomes people expect from using your product, you can begin to quantify them based on profitability.
You can also use this information to improve your product line or add new products that solve other needs your customers might have.
Additionally, you can incorporate those into your marketing strategy.
In the case of the hammer retailer, they might create a blog post guide about how to hang pictures on a wall without ruining the paint . Or, they could sell picture frames along with the hammers to provide a complete solution.
And that allows for new ways to craft ad copy that speaks to customer needs. Instead of just saying “buy our hammer” in a digital ad, it could instead say “the easiest way to hang pictures.”
3. Make your website user-friendly
User experience (UX) is a huge part of ecommerce. It’s one of the main reasons why people shop online in the first place.
But just 1% of users are happy with the UX on most ecommerce websites. The other 99% are left frustrated, annoyed, and ready to leave.
This means that the bar is low, but it also means that customers are tough to impress.
Nevertheless, the bottom line is that you’ll lose customers if your website is hard to navigate or takes too long to load.
The first thing you can do to improve the UX of your website is make sure that it is easily navigable. If your customers are looking for product pages, they should be able to find them easily. And if there are relevant and high-traffic blogs on your site, make them prominent in your drop-down menu.
The second thing you can do is improve the speed of your website. If it takes too long to load, customers will leave before they even have a chance to see what you have to offer.
To improve the speed of your website, make sure that you’re using a content delivery network (CDN) and that your images are compressed. You should also consider using a caching plugin, which will save visitors time by loading pages faster.
And, finally, make sure that your website is mobile-friendly. More than 50% of online traffic comes from mobile devices, so it’s important to ensure that your website looks good on all screen sizes.
4. Drive traffic to your product pages
Your AliExpress dropshipping partner won’t be processing any orders for you unless you have buyers on your site.
To attract them, you need traffic. And to get traffic, you need a marketing strategy.
Start by optimizing your website for search engines. Use a tool like Semrush or Ahrefs for keyword research. You’ll then have to use the right keywords throughout your website, including in your titles, product descriptions, blog posts, and images.
Link building and affiliate partnerships are a great means to drive traffic to your product pages. If you can get other websites to link to your products, you’ll be able to increase the chances of customers finding your website when they’re searching for what you have to offer.
You should also use performance marketing to drive traffic to your product pages. This includes paid search ads, display advertising, retargeting, and email marketing.
When using performance marketing, it’s important to track your results to see which campaigns are working and which aren’t. This will allow you to make necessary adjustments and ensure you get the most out of your marketing budget.
And, finally, don’t forget about social media. If you have a strong presence on social media, you’ll be able to feed organic traffic to your product pages and increase brand awareness.
5. Create an authentic brand
Customers won’t be motivated to buy if your brand lacks a clear, tangible identity. You must create an authentic brand to succeed with AliExpress dropshipping.
Start by creating a logo that reflects your brand’s identity. This will be the face of your business, so make sure it’s something you’re proud of.
Next, create social media accounts and a website that reflects your brand’s identity. Use the same colors, fonts, and logos across all of your channels to create a cohesive look.
Lasr, make sure the products you’re selling reflect your brand’s identity. For example, if you’re selling eco-friendly products, make sure the packaging is biodegradable and its components are sustainably sourced.
Now that you know the basics of AliExpress dropshipping, you’re ready to make your entry into this exciting ecommerce opportunity. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be able to generate revenue. Just keep in mind that success relies on a combination of short-term actions and long-term strategies.
Ready to get started? We have the perfect next step ready for you. Check out our blog post on the best ecommerce platforms to use for your AliExpress Dropshipping business.