Multimillion corporation Alibaba Group built AliExpress to cater to the growing demands of international buyers. If you’re not familiar with Alibaba, it was launched by rags-to-riches success story Jack Ma – the richest Chinese person alive with a net worth of $37.5 billion (as of 2017).
AliExpress, Alibaba’s sister site, is a platform made for small to big China-based businesses to sell their products to customers around the world. AliExpress accepts credit card payments, but offers a minimum two-week delivery time. Similar to eBay, sellers here are independent and create their online stores under the AliExpress umbrella.
If you’re thinking about building a dropshipping business based on AliExpress, there are 6 things you should work on:
1. Product Research
AliExpress has millions of products, but you don’t have to sell everything you see on the platform. Some of the best dropshipping businesses make it because they specialize on a particular niche. When deciding on products to sell, consider these things:
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- Perform a comprehensive market research (product trends, competition, and AliExpress stock)
- Decide on a niche and stick with it.
- List down products that are extremely hard to find locally.
- Identify customer problems and offer products that would solve these problems.
- If you offer a product, make sure to offer accessories of that product as well.
- Think of what your customers would need, or want. If your dropshipping biz is aimed at backpackers, find quality gear (lightweight durable backpacks, heavy-duty emergency kits, etc.) that would be most valuable to backpackers.
- Don’t just go for the cheapest supplier; Find quality manufacturers as well.
- If your niche allows it, find small or lightweight products that are easy to ship. Shipping costs is one of the biggest factors that would affect your overall earnings. If possible, look for products with free shipping option.
- Of course, the products should offer a good profit margin.
Drop shipping essentially means that you’re selling products you don’t stock yourself. Because of this, it is important you’ve developed a solid logistics and fulfillment plan before launching your store. To do this, you should:
- Determine average time of shipping, handling fees, and shipping restrictions.
- Set simple shipping charges.
- Find suppliers who would ship directly to your customer’s location.
- AliExpress doesn’t have a shipment tracking feature in place, which means you have to create your own. Some AliExpress dropshipping biz owners solve this problem by asking sellers to take pictures of every package (along with the customer’s name and address) before being shipped.
- Be prepared to handle post-fulfillment issues. Returns and refunds are part of the business. Make sure you have a process in place, even if you haven’t received requests for refunds/returns.
Customers won’t just flock to your AliExpress-based online store. You’ll need to invest time and a bit of money to attract your target market to your store. There are two ways you can do this:
- Paid ads – As what this AliExpress dropshipper revealed in his Reddit AMA, he invested $2,000 to $2,500 per day in Facebook advertising to earn $7,500 in daily sales. Buying Facebook ad slots is effective when you want to target a specific market, since everyone knows whatever interest you click on Facebook makes you a potential buyer for that particular niche.
- Free traffic – Another AliExpress dropshipper discloses that he doesn’t spend a cent on Facebook advertising. Instead, he relies on free traffic from social media by using Facebook sharing, and Instagram shout-outs. He does invest in Adwords and Instagram ads, which are lower in cost (compared to FB), but have better ROI.
4. Customer Service
Successful AliExpress dropshipping businesses value their customers. When you think about customers on top of revenue before and after every sale, good karma goes back to you tenfold. Not only are you turning these one-time customers into repeat customers, there’s also a possibility that your business would benefit from positive word-of-mouth reviews.
Automating a dropshipping business is all good, but make sure to keep some human aspect with your business. Communicating with customers, conducting surveys, and even requesting for feedback can all ensure a positive customer experience.
Being able to set up an AliExpress drop shipping store and selling/shipping products successfully is only half the battle. You have to study your business consistently, tracking and monitoring for product trends (what sells, what doesn’t sell), keeping an eye on product layout on your site, switching featured products, and more.
The Bottom Line
AliExpress is a great platform for dropshipping business because there’s less upfront capital, lower overhead, and tons of products to choose from. It is easy to build an online store, sell AliExpress products, and even promote a site, but your success all boils down to execution. If you take these 5 elements of a successful dropshipping business seriously, maybe you can become the next AliExpress dropshipping success story.