AliExpress is a global online marketplace based in China. This is a popular choice for ecommerce companies that want to source inventory at wholesale rates using a dropshipping business model.
It’s a solid alternative to other marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. The products on AliExpress range from clothing to jewelry, electronics, beauty products, home improvement tools, and so much more.
While there are plenty of advantages to using AliExpress for ecommerce, there are definitely some caveats to be aware of before you get started. Compared to other dropshipping companies on the market, AliExpress typically requires additional software to streamline and scale your process. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, there can also be some issues with product quality on items purchased through AliExpress.
Make sure you read this in-depth guide to learn more about the pros, cons, pricing, and other information about AliExpress. This will help you determine if AliExpress is right for you.
Compare AliExpress to the Best Dropshipping Companies
AliExpress did not make our list of the best dropshipping companies. With that said, many of the top dropshipping solutions on the market can integrate with AliExpress for wholesale purchasing and dropshipping. So you can still source your inventory from AliExpress if you’re using the right tool as an extension of your ecommerce platform.
After extensive research and testing, our team narrowed down the best dropshipping options for businesses of all shapes and sizes. We condensed our research into a single review that contains the pros, cons, and pricing of each company along with a buyer’s guide for narrowing down your options. See all of our top picks here and find out if it makes sense to invest in dropshipping.
AliExpress: The Good and The Bad
Cheap Inventory: Arguably the biggest draw of using AliExpress as a dropshipping supplier is its rock-bottom prices. When you compare the prices of items against other marketplaces like eBay or Amazon, you’ll quickly see that AliExpress has lower prices in nearly every category. So if quality isn’t your top concern and you just want to buy wholesale goods at the lowest possible rates, you’ll love the selection and pricing available through AliExpress. Some products, like USB cables and sunglasses, start as low as $0.01.
Low Startup Costs: Getting started with AliExpress is easy and free. Unlike other wholesale marketplaces, you don’t need to have a paid membership, and there aren’t any monthly or annual subscription fees to access wholesale pricing. If you’re using AliExpress for dropshipping, you never actually have to handle the goods on your own. This means you don’t have to pay for extra shipping labels and boxes or rent a warehouse for storage.
Extensive Product Catalog: In terms of versatility, AliExpress is second to none for what they offer. Many other wholesale dropshipping suppliers just specialize in a single category, like jewelry, clothing, or electronics. AliExpress has all of those items, plus additional categories like toys, bags, shoes, pet supplies, home improvement, auto parts, sports equipment, and so much more. This is great for anyone that wants to start multiple ecommerce sites or wants to target consumers in different niches.
Ships Direct to Consumers: Even if you’re not using a third-party solution to automate ecommerce orders on your site to AliExpress, you can still get the AliExpress suppliers to ship items directly to your customers. Once a customer orders something through your ecommerce site, you just need to purchase the item through AliExpress and provide that customer’s details.
Integrates With Other Tools: AliExpress works at its best when combined with other software in the ecommerce space. You can use popular Shopify extensions like Oberlo or Dropified to streamline your ordering workflow between AliExpress and your ecommerce site. With a single click, you can import all of the items from AliExpress that you’re selling and put them directly on your site. When a customer orders something, the information will automatically get sent to AliExpress for fulfillment—eliminating the need for you to complete this step manually and making it much easier for you to scale.
Detailed Product Images: The vast majority of products sold on AliExpress have highly detailed product images that can serve two purposes. First, it gives you a chance to see what you’re buying from different angles. But even better, all of the product images on AliExpress are open source—meaning you can repurpose them on your website for customers to see.
Supplier Ratings and Feedback: You have the opportunity to do some digging on the supplier you’re considering before you order anything from them. The first thing to look at is the positive feedback percentage, which is ranked on a 0-100% scale. Then you can verify their feedback history to see how many ratings they’ve received in the past month, three months, and six months. AliExpress also has seller ratings for communication, shipping speed, and items shipped as described on a five-point scale—making it easier for you to trust suppliers with the best feedback.
Supplier Messaging: Once you have an AliExpress account set up, you can connect with suppliers directly through the AliExpress product details page. Just click the contact button to open up a direct message between you and the supplier. This type of communication can help you qualify different wholesalers based on their response times. It’s also fairly easy to tell if you’re getting a genuine response from a real person or just an automated response from a bot.
Free Shipping: Most products on AliExpress are available for free shipping, which is a nice way to save some money, even when you’re ordering cheap products at wholesale prices. With that said, most free shipping times can take 20 or 30+ days to ship. If you don’t want to wait a month for products to ship, you can always just pay for expedited shipping and pass those costs along to your customers. So you’ll need to weigh that extra cost against the speed at which you want items delivered to your customers.
No Minimum Orders: Unlike other wholesale marketplaces, AliExpress doesn’t require minimum order quantities or prices. Not only is this great for your customers, but it can really help you out when you’re first getting started and trying to find the best possible suppliers for your products. You can order the same item from multiple suppliers to test it out yourself and get a sense of the quality before adding the item to your ecommerce platform.
Long Shipping Times: You need to remember the fact that most of these suppliers are based in China. So with standard or free shipping, it can take anywhere from three weeks to two or months for your products to be delivered. Many suppliers do offer faster delivery solutions through FedEx or DHL, but these alternatives can be a bit expensive. So you either need to be transparent with your customers about the shipping times or pay extra to ensure the items are delivered in a reasonable timeframe.
Complex Return Process: If a customer is unhappy with the product and demands a return, sending the item back to the supplier is nearly impossible. This typically means that you’ll have to eat the cost of the product unless your ecommerce site has a really strict return policy. AliExpress does have a buyer protection guarantee, saying that you can get your money back within 15 days if there’s an issue and a refund is required. That said, a quick glance through AliExpress reviews from real customers will tell a very different story.
Quality Issues: When you’re buying wholesale products for less than a dollar, you can’t really expect them to be of the highest possible quality. AliExpress has plenty of great suppliers that manufacture quality products. But the platform also has tons of suppliers that deliver poor quality and defective items. It’s also worth noting that even higher quality products can break or have problems during the long journey from China to your customer’s doorstep.
Knockoff Products: AliExpress does not sell actual name-brand products. So if you think you’re getting real Gucci, Louis Vuitton, or Nike products at 99% markdown, you’re mistaken. Offering knockoff products on your site can not only disappoint your customers but can also get you into trouble with the brand names and logos that you’re infringing upon. Overall, it’s in your best interest to just steer clear of anything that looks like a name-brand item.
Non-Existent Customer Service: If you want to contact a representative from AliExpress directly, there’s a good chance you won’t be successful. Many customer reviews complain about the lack of support from AliExpress for issues and returns. Even if you get a response from the support team, the chances of your problem being resolved are pretty slim.
AliExpress Pricing and Options
Creating an AliExpress account is 100% free. There’s no membership or subscription required.
The only thing you need to pay for is the products you’re buying at wholesale rates. These vary significantly based on the category and supplier. Let’s look at some examples.
If you look through some of the women’s fashion products, you’ll see most items averaging about $10. You can even find some bathing suits, dresses, t-shirts, and blouses starting around $5.
Consumer electronics items are also very popular on AliExpress.Here’s a screenshot of some drones, parts, and cameras for drones to give you a better idea of the cost:
You can find drones with built-in cameras on AliExpress for under $100.
Just be aware of the quality, as some may be defective. Always look at the seller ratings, and ideally, you’ll want to test the products on your own before putting them on your site.
Anyone can use AliExpress for dropshipping. It’s a low-cost and low barrier to entry to enter this market.
You can sign up in seconds with just an email address or log in through one of your social accounts.
To use AliExpress for dropshipping, you do need to have your own ecommerce store hosted elsewhere. AliExpress is not an all-in-one solution.
Unless you’re using a third-party dropshipping tool to bridge the gap between your customer orders and suppliers, you’ll have to manually enter the purchase details on AliExpress each time someone buys from your ecommerce store.
This process isn’t really scalable and it’s also prone to errors.
If you’re planning to use AliExpress for dropshipping and wholesale rates, you should also invest in a solution like Oberlo or Dropified. This helps automate the fulfillment process and syncs AliExpress items with your ecommerce platform.
AliExpress Global Selling
While the vast majority of you reading this review are likely doing so for the dropshipping options, it’s also worth noting that AliExpress does have a solution for suppliers.
They have a dedicated solution for non-Chinese seller registration.
With that said, this isn’t really a viable option for anyone that wants to be a wholesale supplier. You really can’t compete with the prices of your competitors in China.
There are just better alternatives on the market for you to enter the dropshipping space on the manufacturer and supplier side.
How AliExpress Ranks
AliExpress is not on our list of the top dropshipping companies.
While there are plenty of perks to using AliExpress, like the low prices, free shipping, and no membership fees, there are other dropshipping solutions out there that just do a better job all-around.
The biggest drawbacks of AliExpress are the quality issues, slow shipping times, and lack of support. While you might need to pay a bit extra using another provider, the overall experience is generally worth the higher price point.
For alternatives to AliExpress and to learn more about other solutions that integrate with AliExpress, check out our in-depth reviews of the best dropshipping companies.
- Oberlo – Best dropshipping company for most
- SaleHoo – Best pre-vetted dropshipping supplier directory
- Printful – Easiest way to dropship custom apparel and decor
- Worldwide Brands – Best for lifetime product access
- Inventory Source – Best set-it-and-forget-it dropshipping software
- Dropified – Best for beginners using AliExpress and eBay
- Printify – Best for creatives and branded merchandise
- Wholesale2b – Best for unlimited order processing
AliExpress is a solid choice for ecommerce shops seeking low-cost products in a wide range of categories. We recommend it to anyone that doesn’t mind doing some digging and research to source some quality items. But it’s not great for private label manufacturing, brand-name items, or fast shipping. There are other dropshipping solutions on the market that are better than AliExpress.