Creating a new eCommerce business can be a highly lucrative venture. However, as the old saying goes, “If you want to make money, you have to spend money.” Especially at the beginning, you may have to invest quite a lot before you start to see any real revenue. This is the challenge that you will need to accept if you are ambitious and interested in starting an online store.
Just consider some of the expenses you may accrue during this process. Someone has to create the goods you are selling, which requires money. Those goods need to be held in storage, and space at a warehouse comes at a price. Once a customer places an order, the purchased items need to be packaged, meaning paying for packing materials, and sent out, meaning paying for transportation.
Luckily for would-be entrepreneurs with more limited resources, you may not need to break the bank. Part of the challenge of entering the world of eCommerce is figuring out what to sell. Getting business-savvy before building your business model can go a long way.
This applies to the aforementioned expenses, which can be covered with little to no cost on your end thanks to an elegant solution: dropshipping. This business model has been surging in popularity online, and you can easily join in and reap the benefits. The main precaution you must take is choosing a trustworthy wholesaler — and that is where we have you covered, with a strong recommendation on where to find one.
Here is some information on the benefits of dropshipping with AliExpress, as well as some detailed advice on how to make the most out of this business model.
What is Dropshipping?
In case you are unfamiliar with the concept, dropshipping is essentially the practice of outsourcing much of the fulfillment process to another company. That other company is typically a manufacturer, or some kind of third-party supplier. The former actually makes the products. Both kinds carry their products in their own warehouses, and you can choose to offer as many as you want on your online store. Any time someone orders something through your site, these companies then take care of delivering the ordered item(s) to your customer’s address.
All this means that you do not have to actually make the products yourself. This not only saves time and money, but also opens up the possibilities of what types of items you can sell through your store. You will not have to worry about paying for inventory space, nor about paying for unused inventory space. The same goes for shipping. While partnering with a third-party company still involves a charge for their services, that cost will likely be more economical — and would definitely be more convenient.
Moreover, by having other companies handle the responsibilities of production, storage, and shipping, the dropshipping method takes most of your duties off your plate. You might never even have to touch the products you sell if you choose to adopt this business model. With the more practical concerns largely in the hands of a wholesaler or distributor, you can focus on the creative side of running your own eCommerce venture: site design, maintenance, marketing, advertising, social media, and more.
Choosing a Dropshipping Partner
If you decide to take your business down the path of dropshipping, a fundamental question you will have to address is which supplier you should contact for a partnership. This is a concern to which you need to give careful thought for a few reasons.
Firstly, when picking potential partners, you must not forget the sheer amount of work they would be performing on your behalf. They may be handling almost every step of the eCommerce process, from the factory’s production line to the customer’s doorstep. As such, you cannot entrust such essential tasks as storage and shipping to just anyone.
Another, more unfortunate factor complicating this search is that there are scammers out there who take advantage of the unaware — and they may not always be easy to identify at a glance. If you are not careful, you may have to start over with your plans for your business. Thankfully, there are far more legitimate dropshipping suppliers out there. You just need to take some precautions and you will find the right ones.
All this is why you need to be thorough when trying to choose a dropshipping supplier. Ideally, you should be thorough with every decision you make regarding your business. Even then, the consequences of choosing an illegitimate supplier, or even a legitimate one with terms that are not fair to you, can be quite costly. On the other hand, the rewards for finding a good partner can be a boon for your burgeoning business.
To help you make a great choice and speed up the search, here is some information on one popular dropshipping resource: AliExpress.
What is AliExpress?
Launched in 2010, AliExpress is an eCommerce service that directly connects both online businesses and individual retailers with customers from around the world. If the name seems to ring a bell, that may be because the service was created by eCommerce conglomerate Alibaba Group. While Alibaba.com is their business-to-business (B2B) ecommerce service, AliExpress.com is more about business-to-consumer (B2C) transactions.
AliExpress is often compared to eBay in how the system works. Vendors create individual posts for their products and either set a fixed price or make it available to the highest bidder. Visitors can check out these posts by perusing a wide variety of categories or searching for specific keywords. To make another comparison, AliExpress is much like an enormous virtual marketplace with thousands of stalls selling just about anything you can imagine.
To say that the site is massively popular would be an understatement. More than 10 million merchants peddle their wares on there, and the number of users they serve, all around the globe, now exceeds 100 million. As of this writing, Alexa Internet‘s website traffic statistics claim that AliExpress is in the top 40 most frequented websites on the planet. Its global rank is higher than Microsoft’s official website, Bing, and — most notably here — eBay.
After reading all this, running your own storefront through AliExpress may sound like a great idea to you. However, just like the corporation behind it, this platform is based in China, and all of the manufacturers and retailers on this portal are from the country. While customers from around the world are free to conduct their online shopping on there, no one can be on the other end of the transaction if they do not come from the People’s Republic.
Thankfully, you can still find a way to profit from AliExpress’s system. The site is excellent for creating connections between resellers and online stores, and you can easily find a dropshipping partner through this marketplace. Everyone benefits: small business owners in China now have a potential audience of millions, while small business owners outside of China can order merchandise from suppliers in the country — something that only corporations could do before the internet flattened the playing field.
Importing AliExpress Product Listings to Your eCommerce Store
The pages on your website listing your inventory cannot simply contain a list of URLs for that other website’s product listings. That would just serve as free advertising for another vendor, and you would not get any cut of what they make from your visitors.
If you wish to sell products that you find on AliExpress, you must connect the postings to your online store the right way. By that, we mean the way that still results in your store being the middleman in this transaction, and the revenue from your customers’ purchases still going directly to you (even if some will inevitably go to the vendor actually selling the product on AliExpress).
What this means is that you have to directly incorporate those AliExpress listings into your own store, so people can still see them. Some eCommerce platforms give their users the ability to do this, and you will have to find out what the platform that you use to run your site has to offer. For example, 3dcart has its own program specifically for the Google Chrome browser, called the 3dcart AliExpress Importer Extension. Once you install this plug-in, you can go through that site and import any products you see onto your store, which enables you to offer them through your own business.
When you import these products, you also import the information and images that the vendors provide for it on AliExpress. This does not mean that you cannot personalize the listings in any way. As part of the import process, you can also edit the information sections to your liking, and you should take some time to do so. You can boost your site’s SEO value by editing the meta tags and meta descriptions, as well as writing your own copy. The category field is always left blank so you can customize it for your own website’s categories. Best of all, there is a section for markup, so you can control how much profit you make from each purchase (the original price of the product is displayed close by so you can quickly compare).
The idea is that people will still be able to add the items to a shopping cart, go through the checkout process, and place an order, all without ever having to leave your site or visit AliExpress. In fact, they do not even need to know anything about where these products come from. (In truth, it may be preferable not to inform them that they can get the same product for less on that website.) All they really need to know is that they can get it through your online store.
Placing AliExpress Orders on Your Customers’ Behalf
The importing feature can do more than just give you the power to add AliExpress product listings to your site. It can also enable you to take the information from any order made on your site and process it as an order on AliExpress. Once your customer makes a purchase and you receive the money, the importing feature’s exporting function can take you straight to the checkout page for AliExpress, with the required data — the customer’s address and payment information — already filled in. Through this checkout process, you give the vendor a piece of your customer’s payment and pocket the rest from the markup.
After you place your order with the AliExpress seller, your involvement in the process is pretty much finished. The vendor in question will then package any items the customer ordered from them and ship them to the address they were given. If you partner with these resellers and wholesalers, they may accept requests and customize the packaging.
As your business grows and the number of purchases on your website increases, transferring each individual order through AliExpress one at a time may grow a bit tedious and repetitive. Thankfully, your resources will also grow and the capabilities of your business will expand. You may want to consider buying more popular products in bulk from your trusted vendors, which will let you fill orders more quickly. You could also look into the possibility of automation software, so your eCommerce site’s programming can take care of exporting orders to AliExpress without need for your input.
Benefits of Using AliExpress
There are more than a few reasons for why over 100 million users, including an untold number of eCommerce businesses, prefer to place orders on AliExpress. Here are some of the benefits to creating a relationship with a dropshipping supplier on the site.
Chinese-Made Goods Can Be Inexpensive
As we mentioned earlier, Alibaba Group created this platform with the goal of connecting international consumers with Chinese businesses. They had reason to be confident that people would be interested in such a service. As larger corporations have known for a long time, goods manufactured in China tend to cost much less than if the same goods were manufactured in, for example, the United States. These factories’ mass production practices have long attracted big businesses, and thanks to AliExpress, humbler store owners can now learn this for themselves.
High Mark-Up, But Still Fair Pricing
With an AliExpress dropshipper as a business partner, you will be able to not only pay far less, but also earn far more. The cost of acquiring the products that comprise your store’s inventory is much lower than you can find elsewhere. That seems like enough of an advantage on its own, but perhaps better still is that you can mark up their prices far higher than usual, all while still giving your customers a fair price compared to your rivals in the industry. You can make back your investment many times over and still be competitive.
AliExpress Has Just About Everything
We mentioned this earlier, and we mention it again here — and not just because it is a major part of AliExpress’s appeal to consumers from all parts of the planet. The millions of vendors on the site collectively offer hundreds of millions of different items. All of them are spread across a myriad of categories and subcategories. You truly can find at least one person selling just about anything you want to buy, or in this case, anything you want to sell. This allows you to be as broad or as specific as you desire when it comes to what kinds of products your online store offers.
Follow the Trends Without Losing Time
This also means you can always stay on top of the latest trends — and maybe make a profit off of them. AliExpress merchants are quick to offer products based on hot new crazes, and you can ride the wave with them. For example, you could add merchandise for new blockbuster movies or popular TV shows to your inventory, then offer promotions and run marketing campaigns to attract the fans. Alternatively, you could latch onto the newest fads that the young and hip are embracing. However you approach the latest trends, you can quickly and easily import those product listings to your store in no time, and start cashing in while they are still in vogue.
Tips for Getting Started with AliExpress Dropshipping
Now that you know some of the advantages of dropshipping with AliExpress, you may be interested in trying this out for yourself. Before you begin, you may want to listen to some advice. Here is some advice for approaching dropshipping with AliExpress.
Find and Fill a Niche
With hundreds of millions of distinct products available on AliExpress, you may find it tempting to offer many of them on your site as well. However, while this may seem like a method for printing money, it is too good to be true. Creating an eCommerce website that sells everything puts you in competition with other websites that sell everything. That includes Amazon, Wal-Mart, and other eCommerce giants. People will gladly ignore your significantly lesser-known business in favor of them — and they may be far less inclined to trust your site, let alone abandon these more famous options for you.
There are some benefits to starting out smaller. When you sell more specific types of products as your business, the people interested in those types will gravitate towards your site. With AliExpress, you can easily find products within that niche and build a potentially enormous selection that dwarfs your competitors. Once your reputation as a reliable merchant becomes more common knowledge, you can gradually introduce other types of products. Alternatively, you may even find success and satisfaction within the fields you chose.
Catering to a niche like this can serve as a strong launchpad for your eCommerce start-up. After all, before becoming the biggest business on the planet, Amazon started life as a humble bookseller.
Test Your Suppliers
Your partners within the AliExpress community will handle much of the eCommerce process in your stead. While this means much less labor on your part, it also means you would not know how exactly the product and its package will look like once it reaches your customers. If you hand over control of these parts of the process to someone else, you still have a vested interest in knowing their approach.
Your online store remains the face of this business, especially if you elect not to inform them about your connection to AliExpress. If your customers are dissatisfied with anything, you will be the one who has to address their concerns. To make sure that anyone who purchases anything on your site has a pleasant experience, you may want to put yourself in their place.
One way to do this is to order the products yourself and have it sent to your address. Once you place the order, pay close attention and answer the questions that would most concern your customers:
- How long does it take to ship? (Remember: you will know that the products are coming from China, but your customers might not.)
- Once it arrives, how professional does the packaging look?
- Is the product itself undamaged?
- Perhaps most pressingly: does it look and function as advertised?
If the merchant’s handiwork would not meet the standards of the audience you are trying to attract, then find someone else who would.
Dropshipping with AliExpress can be a highly profitable, convenient, and satisfying approach to running an eCommerce business. If you try it while starting out and find that you like it, you can grow and maintain a long, rewarding relationship with your suppliers on the site. If you like it but want to expand your business even further, you can parlay your connections into something greater and bring the customers you gained along the way. No matter what course you decide to take, the potent combination of AliExpress and the dropshipping model can be an excellent springboard for the ambitious and adventurous online entrepreneur.