Alternatives to AliExpress DropShipping

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When you’re thinking about starting a business DropShipping, you won’t get far doing your research before you stumble on something about AliExpress. Given that it was designed to give access to millions of low priced products from China, AliExpress has a lot to offer retailers – and there have been many businesses that have used AliExpress, and the big brother, Alibaba, to great success. But it isn’t right for every business, and so today we’re going to take a look at the alternatives to AliExpress DropShipping.

What is AliExpress?

Set up in 2010, AliExpress is a part of the powerhouse that is the Alibaba Group that was created by Jack Ma, and is a China-based eCommerce marketplace. Businesses can list their products for customers around the world, with multiple categories, and at the price that makes sense for them – although generally, products are as close to wholesale price as you can get without actually buying wholesale.

What is the difference between AliExpress and Alibaba?

AliExpress is an eCommerce marketplace that anyone – your customers included – can buy from. There are loads of different ways to automate sourcing from AliExpress, and so if it is the right move for your business, then you can make your life easier by using one of the many AliExpress tools. We’ll get to talking about those tools in a moment.

Alibaba is a B2B platform, and is aimed at retailers who want to buy products wholesale. To buy from Alibaba and to get wholesale prices, you’ll need to be buying a lot of products in one go, and have them delivered to a single location. It is possible to do dropshipping from Alibaba, but it is much trickier, and there isn’t the automation that AliExpress has.

What are the benefits of DropShipping from AliExpress?

DropShipping from AliExpress clearly has some advantages – otherwise businesses wouldn’t be doing it. Let’s take a quick look at the benefits of sourcing your products from AliExpress.

You don’t pay up front

As with all types of DropShipping, sourcing your products directly from AliExpress won’t cost you anything, since it is a marketplace, just the same as Amazon or eBay. When you receive each order from your customers, you simply place the same order with a seller on AliExpress and pay for it – AFTER you have received payment from your customer. Depending on which sales channel you’ve made the sale on, you may need to use your credit card to place the AliExpress order, but you’re not making the payments upfront like traditional retailers do when they buy stock in.

Huge range of products

China has a population of over 1.4 billion people, and so there’s little wonder that there are a lot of people involved in eCommerce too. You’ll find hundreds of thousands of businesses that you can source from on AliExpress, with a massive range of products in so many different categories that you can source from.

You can start and stop selling items instantly

Customer demand can be easy to predict for some items – seasonal holiday merchandise is simple! But when there is sudden, unexpected demand for certain types of products, and you don’t know how long those trends will last, you are unlikely to want to invest in stock. But with DropShipping, you don’t have to take the risk, and when sales drop off, you can simply stop listing those products – you’re not tied to selling those products, and you don’t have to worry about clearing stock.

You can set your profit margins

Products on AliExpress are typically super cheap, and so there is potential to make a decent profit margin on each item. However, remember that you’re not going to be the only person that is sourcing those items, and so you’re going to need to do plenty of research, and get right.

What are the issues when DropShipping with AliExpress?

There are some great reasons to source from AliExpress, but like most things in life, there are issues you’ll need to be aware of before you get started. Being aware of these will ensure that you can avoid these stumbling blocks, or make provisions for them.

Customers can buy directly from AliExpress

This is a huge issue when you’re DropShipping from AliExpress – and there really isn’t much that you can do about it. There is absolutely nothing stopping your customer from going directly to AliExpress and ordering their products from there.

The thing that makes it worthwhile DropShipping from AliExpress is that there are still a huge number of customers who are sceptical about ordering products from China. They may assume that AliExpress is a scam, because they aren’t aware of the site, or because they don’t trust that their order will arrive, and so want to order from a UK seller – even if it means they pay a little more. They won’t know that you will be ordering from AliExpress on their behalf, of course.

Long delivery times

This is a major issue that can stop many businesses that try and do DropShipping from AliExpress. Despite ePacket, and express delivery options, delivery from China simply can’t match the speed of Amazon Prime – which is what many customers are looking for. That means you’ll have to be crystal clear about the speed of delivery, so that customers will know when to expect – otherwise you’re likely to receive complaints, cancelled orders, and poor reviews.

Parcels are likely to be delivered separately

When customers are ordering more than one item from you, they’re likely to expect that their order will arrive together. Unfortunately, there’s very little chance that this will be the case, because you’ll be sourcing from multiple sellers on AliExpress.

You can counter this to some extent by making a note on your website about packages being shipped as soon as products are available and so they may arrive separately. But where customers are ordering for time-sensitive occasions such as birthdays, this may deter them from placing their order with you.

Communication could be slow

The majority of AliExpress sellers have at least basic proficiency in English today, but when you consider that most sellers on AliExpress are based in China, there may be delays for sellers coming back to you if you contact them. If you need a return or refund request dealt with, you need super-prompt service from them, so that you can give your customer the same – you don’t want to wait until the next morning, or whenever they get back to you.

AliExpress sellers come and go

Sellers don’t have to stick with AliExpress, and much like other marketplaces such as Amazon, businesses join AliExpress and leave again overnight. That inconsistency can be a real problem if you’re sourcing rarer products – you might not be able to find the product you’re selling at a reasonable price, so you end up making a loss on orders, or you need to stop selling the item. If that item is a big seller for you, that is going to be a problem.

Tools to help automate AliExpress DropShipping

Sourcing products from AliExpress manually isn’t sustainable, especially when you want to scale your business quickly, but luckily, there are plenty of tools that you can make use of for sourcing and DropShipping from AliExpress. Oberlo was the best known one that reigned for a long time, but their owners Shopify retired the tool this year.

When you’re choosing a tool for automating your AliExpress DropShipping, you’ll need to check what sales channel integrations they have, so that you can make sure you can list on the sales channels your customers are, and that they have the automation you want and need.

Here’s three of the best tools for AliExpress DropShipping:

DSers

Since so many start-up businesses head to Shopify to create their websites, it stands to reason that Shopify promotes a particular solution for AliExpress DropShipping – it enables more businesses to start DropShipping easily. Since Oberlo shut down, DSers is the solution that they now recommend for their users.

DSers has a forever free plan, which means it is a great option if you’re on a mission to start DropShipping from AliExpress for free. Subscriptions then move from $19.90 to $49.99, and there’s an enterprise plan from $499 per month.

Integrations include: WooCommerce, Wix, Shopify, PayPal

AutoDS

AutoDS has a lot to offer businesses that want to get started with their DropShipping operations. There are features including a product research tool, automated orders, and price optimisation as well as a Fulfilled by AutoDS feature that allows you to have your DropShipping handled for you – great if your DropShipping is a side hustle.

Pricing starts from $9.90 for 200 products on a sales channel, although there’s a $1 trial available too.

Integrations include: eBay, Shopify, Facebook Marketplace, Wix

Dropified

Dropified is a popular DropShipping service for businesses wanting to source and sell from AliExpress. There are listing tools, automated orders, and rules including buy one, get one free. There’s also an advanced product research tool, and you can import product reviews from AliExpress vendors, so you can build trust with customers quicker.

Pricing starts at $39.17 per month, but they run limited time special deals that mean you can get lifetime access for a certain amount – at the time of writing, there is a $62 one time fee offer available.

Integrations include: BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Shopify, CommerceHQ, GrooveKart, Facebook Marketplace

Alternatives to AliExpress DropShipping

AliExpress DropShipping can be a good option, but as we’ve seen, it isn’t without issues – even with the tools and automation to give you a hand. If AliExpress DropShipping isn’t for you, then you’ll be looking for an alternative, especially if your goal is to source products that are already in-country.

Avasam

We know – we’re recommending ourselves here. But we set up Avasam with the intention that sellers and retailers would be able to make the most of DropShipping from UK-based suppliers (and we have plans for Europe and international suppliers in the works) with all the automation that is required to streamline processes.

What automation are we talking about? So far, we’ve automated product sourcing, order processing, payments, dispatch and shipping confirmations, and inventory synchronisation as well as returns and refunds. That’s in addition to bulk sourcing, product listing tools, and a listing manager to help you scale your business quickly, and pricing rules to keep your processes running smoothly without you needing to handle them manually.

There’s a free account to explore the features, with subscriptions starting at just £15.57 per month to source 100 products and to make 50 orders per month with two sales channel integrations. For unlimited everything, it is just £74.99 per month – which makes it one of the most affordable ways to source and sell from UK suppliers with the most automation.

Integrations include: BigCommerce, Shopify, OnBuy, WooCommerce, eBay, EKM, Amazon, Wish, Linnworks

SaleHoo

There are several aspects to the SaleHoo offering – the SaleHoo Directory, SaleHoo Labs (a market research tool), SaleHoo DropShip, and training. The Directory has been around since 2005, and it is well renowned, with more than 8,000 wholesalers and suppliers having been approved.

If you’re looking for reliable suppliers, the SaleHoo Directory is the place to start – and access is just $67 a year, or $127 for lifetime access. For businesses that want to access AliExpress suppliers too, you can add SaleHoo DropShip for just $27 per month.

SaleHoo DropShip is integrated with Shopify, while SaleHoo Directory gives you access to suppliers who may be able to integrate with certain sales channels – otherwise you may need to handle listings, product information, and orders manually.

Spocket

Spocket allows sellers to source products from suppliers that are in the US and Europe, as well as having a tool that can import AliExpress products to your inventory too – so it could be a good option for you if you want the best of both, and to source worldwide. Spocket has also included is the ability to order sample products, allowing you to test products and be confident that you’ve found the right supplier for your business.

Spocket has a free plan that allows you to browse the Spocket catalogue, and access AliExpress DropShipping. When you want to start sourcing products from Spocket suppliers, plans start from $24.99 per month for up to 25 unique products, through to $99.99 for 1000 products and 1000 premium products.

Integrations include: Shopify, Wix, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Alibaba, Felex, Squarespace, Ecwid, and Square

The Takeaway

When it comes to product sourcing, AliExpress DropShipping can be one answer – either wholly, or in part, for some businesses; while for others, it simply doesn’t make sense. If AliExpress DropShipping is right for your business, then finding automation will just make your business run much easier, so be certain to choose the right tool that has the sales channel integrations that you need. Do your research, of course – but the tools we’ve mentioned here are likely to be a good place to start.

For businesses that AliExpress DropShipping simply doesn’t work for whatever reason, there are some great options available. If you’re targeting customers in the UK, try Avasam – our verified suppliers have thousands of products, and fulfil orders to our strict SLAs, meaning your customers receive their orders within a day or two. When you have to deal with them, you’ll love how simple our automated returns and refunds process is – and you won’t be left out of pocket, unlike with AliExpress DropShipping. sign up for a free account here, and start sourcing today.

Dawn Matthews
Dawn has worked in technical and customer supporting roles for over 20 years. Most of her career was spent in technical services at top rated UK universities, which has given her a keen eye for detail. A lucky escape led her to the field of eCommerce in 2017, and she’s never looked back. Dawn studied in the field of social sciences with the Open University, achieving an MSc in Forensic Psychology at the same time as working two jobs. She regularly applies principles of psychology from her studies to her work, and outside of her role at Avasam she is busy writing her second book. Follow Dawn on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/dawn-matthews

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