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Start Dropshipping Now on AliExpress: 2023 Playbook

Dropshipping with AliExpress is an accessible way to start an ecommerce business. With no inventory or shipping to manage, dropshippers can focus on building an online store and selecting popular products to sell.

While starting a dropshipping business is a great way to enter the world of ecommerce, finding reliable suppliers can be tough. That’s why so many entrepreneurs choose to dropship with AliExpress, using automation tools like DSers to simplify order processing.

What is AliExpress?

AliExpress is an enormous marketplace, with more than 100 million products available for sale. It was founded in 2010 and is owned by China-based Alibaba, one of the world’s largest ecommerce companies.

AliExpress homepage with banner showing a car parked on a lake shore next to a collage of car accessories
AliExpress Homepgae

Most AliExpress sellers are overseas manufacturers, which is why you can often find trending products at a lower price. AliExpress products range from women’s clothing and jewelry to electronics and home décor.

Unlike other marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, AliExpress’s infrastructure is highly suitable for dropshipping order fulfillment.

Does AliExpress allow dropshipping?

AliExpress allows dropshipping. It is easy to find products to sell in your ecommerce store without having to worry about inventory or shipping. You can start dropshipping for free by using DSers or other dropshipping apps to find and add AliExpress products to your store in a few clicks.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Add the products you’d like to sell from AliExpress to your store
  2. Set a price with a markup
  3. When you receive an order, pay for the product at wholesale price
  4. The AliExpress seller ships the order directly to your customer

How much does it cost to dropship on AliExpress?

It’s free to dropship through AliExpress. Competitor marketplaces like Doba and Worldwide Brands charge monthly fees to access their suppliers. If you’re starting a dropshipping business with no money, it’s easy to find products to sell on AliExpress with zero startup costs.

What are the benefits of dropshipping on AliExpress?

While AliExpress may position itself as an online retailer, most sellers on AliExpress understand that a large number of their customers are resellers, more interested in dropshipping.

Many sellers on AliExpress have existing product photos you can use in your store, as well as basic product information. However, it’s usually worth your time to invest in better photos and product descriptions.

Essentially, dropshipping through AliExpress is as simple as buying a product from the site and inputting your customer’s address after receiving their order.

💡 Discover more in the ultimate guide to dropshipping.

Why would someone buy from your store if they can buy the same products on AliExpress?

With an AliExpress dropshipping business, your competitive advantage won’t be your price or unique proprietary products.

Your competitive advantage will be reaching and serving your customers faster than your competition. In other words, successful dropshipping is all about marketing, operations, and customer support.

Good marketing alone is a competitive advantage. Marketing is how you help customers find, evaluate, and buy your products. It’s also the umbrella of activities you complete to build your brand, such as creating content that’s helpful and entertaining.

Customer support is another key dropshipping differentiator, especially if your competition provides lackluster service or a frustrating shopping experience. You can maintain a high level of service by answering customer questions promptly and making it a priority to help them solve any issues they run into when buying from your store.

Can you dropship products from AliExpress to Amazon?

You can dropship AliExpress products on Amazon by connecting both marketplaces to a Shopify store. Here’s how:

  1. Use an ecommerce platform like Shopify to create an online store.
  2. Add the DSers app to your store, which sources inventory from AliExpress.
  3. Import AliExpress products from DSers to your Shopify store.
  4. Add an Amazon integration to your Shopify store.
  5. Use the integration to create and manage Amazon listings from your Shopify admin.

Once you set up DSers, you can also create Amazon listings out of existing products in your store or create offers for existing Amazon products if you’re already selling on the platform. Shopify will automatically update your Amazon listings to match your inventory in your store.

💡 Find out how Amazon dropshipping works.

Setting up your AliExpress dropshipping store with Shopify: step-by-step

Here are the steps you need to take to get your AliExpress dropshipping store set up.

1. Choose the right AliExpress dropshipping products to sell

The first part of setting up your store is selecting a niche, or the selection of dropshipping products you’re going to sell.

If you don’t know where to start, take a look at AliExpress’s product categories and think about what interests you the most or what you’d feel the most confident selling.

AliExpress categories menu with icons to represent each category
AliExpress’s extensive product categories.

Once you have a niche in mind, it’s time to start choosing products to resell in your store. With such a large range of products and suppliers to pick from, making selections can be overwhelming.

To help, here are five criteria to consider when choosing a product from AliExpress to dropship:

No brands, fakes, or knockoffs

Skip products with existing branding to avoid accidentally reselling fakes and knockoffs. Since you won’t be a licensed reseller (unless you specifically partner with brands), the risk of selling a branded product is not worth it, even if it’s legitimate.

While this may limit your product choices, it also keeps your store legal. You may decide to stick with product categories where a recognizable logo isn’t so important, such as electronic accessories.

ePacket delivery with free shipping

Wherever possible, focus on dropshipping products that offer free ePacket shipping. A majority of product listings on AliExpress come from China or Hong Kong, therefore ePacket delivery is not only the most economical but also one of the quickest options to ship small goods to the United States.

Even if a seller doesn’t offer free ePacket shipping, it’s still likely to be the most cost-effective and reliable shipping option for delivering AliExpress products from China to the Americas and Europe.

Over 300 orders

Products with lots of previous orders suggest a consistent demand, and show that a supplier is reliable (a high volume of orders means it’s likely at least a few are repeat purchases). You can use the filter options to sort products by the highest number of orders.

AliExpress filter menu with options for sorting and filtering by price, orders, free shipping and rating
Use the simple AliExpress filter menu to narrow down your product selection.

More than a 4.5-star rating

A high product rating (over 4.5 stars) confirms that the AliExpress seller has mostly positive feedback. For a second opinion on product sellers, you can use third-party tools such as AliExpress Seller Check, which may be more objective than AliExpress’ rating system.

Low price with a high margin potential

Many dropshippers look for products with a wholesale price of $1 to $20. These can then be sold for $20 to $50, which provides room for marketing spending to acquire customers, as well as a profit margin.

2. Select a reliable supplier

As a dropshipper, you’ll connect customers with suppliers through your website and marketing. To ensure a good customer experience, those suppliers must have accurate product listings, dispatch products quickly, and maintain high quality-assurance standards.

That means you’ll need a plan for selecting reputable suppliers that goes beyond simply picking the wholesaler with the cheapest prices.

Here are some signals that suggest a more reliable AliExpress supplier.

Check the supplier’s stats

Next to a seller’s name, AliExpress shows a percentage representing their feedback rating. Try to work with suppliers who achieve at least a 95% satisfaction level.

AliExpress search bar above a black banner that contains a seller feedback rating
AliExpress includes both product and seller feedback ratings.

Click the seller’s name to get a detailed breakdown of feedback. You’ll also see how long a supplier has been active on AliExpress. Look for established suppliers with years of experience and good shipping reputations.

AliExpress seller summary dashboard with star ratings for shipping, communication, and item accuracy
AliExpress seller summary dashboard.

Lots of great product photos

Do your due diligence to ensure product photos are from the manufacturer and not from another retailer. A Google image search will help you see if the product photos are original.

Communicative and helpful

Don’t be afraid to ask a supplier questions before placing an order. A reliable seller will answer all of your questions quickly. If a supplier doesn’t respond to messages, that’s a big red flag.

Make a test order

Do a test order before committing to a supplier. This will help you assess the customer experience, including shipping times and product quality.

3. Build your Shopify dropshipping store

Set up your Shopify store using the simple web builder. If you don’t have a Shopify account, you can sign up for a three-day free trial, and then enjoy three months for $1 per month.

Don’t worry too much about branding and design at this stage. You can customize your store and add more complex features later on.

4. Add AliExpress products to your Shopify store

Once you’ve set up your Shopify store and have a product category and supplier in mind, it’s time to start adding products.

This step is not as simple as taking the images and description of an AliExpress listing and placing it on your website. If you want to position your store for success, go the extra mile with your store content.

Write your own product descriptions

The product descriptions for many of the products on AliExpress were not written by copywriters—or with the intention of explaining the benefits of the products. Having unique content on your store will serve your business better in the long run and help you convert customers on your product pages. Also, you’ll avoid any duplicate content risks if you write original copy across all of your store’s pages.

💡 Learn how to write AI-generated product descriptions using Shopify Magic.

Let customers know about delivery times

It’s a good idea to include delivery estimates on product pages (or elsewhere in your store). Since most suppliers on AliExpress are located in China, shipping times can be longer than average—customers may need to wait up to 20 days, depending on the supplier, for their order to arrive.

Use an order tracking app

With longer shipping times, you may receive emails from customers asking where their purchase is. Use an order tracking app from the Shopify App Store to keep your customers up to date on the status of their purchase.

Offer free shipping

Low shipping prices can become one of your competitive advantages. If you’re able to find AliExpress sellers who offer free or low-cost shipping, you can advertise free shipping to your customers.

Price products appropriately

Consider pricing your products at approximately twice their wholesale cost. A 50% margin will make running the business worthwhile, as well as cover necessary expenses like marketing and support.

💡 Save time by adding products to your store with Dsers

Instead of manually adding products from AliExpress to your website, you can use DSers to add them more quickly.

AliExpress product page for portable humidifiers, with a button that says “Add to DSers” highlighted
DSers integrates right into AliExpress.

Download the DSers app or Chrome plug-in to add products to your store directly from AliExpress. This helps automate importing new products as you look for items your customers will love.

How to use AliExpress to dropship

Once your store is filled with products ready to dropship, what do you do when you get your first order?

Dropshipping with AliExpress works similarly to any regular dropshipper. When you receive an order, purchase the item on AliExpress and enter your customer’s name and shipping address. The seller handles the rest.

You can order items manually, or automate the process with a tool.

Manual ordering

If you want to purchase items manually, it might be a good idea to keep a spreadsheet with a list of products on your site, the amount you’re selling them for, the amount they cost on AliExpress, and a link to the AliExpress listing.

That way, whenever you get an order, it will be easier for you to find the supplier on AliExpress, as well as keep track of price changes.

Two lines of a spreadsheet detailing product names, prices, and associated URLs
Dropshippers selling high-value or complex products may find manual ordering easier.

Automated ordering

Alternatively, you can use DSers to purchase orders on AliExpress. An automated approach sets you up for growth, as you don’t need to worry about manually ordering large numbers of products.

Once you add products into DSers, the app does the rest. It will buy the product from AliExpress for you and insert your customer’s details.

List of AliExpress products ready to be ordered through the DSers app
DSers app.

DSers will even let you know when a supplier on AliExpress has changed their price or run out of stock, and suggest other dropshipping suppliers.

Product catalog on the DSers app with a cycling jacket, locket, dress, stroller, and other items
DSers app.

Ordering tips

Let the seller know that you’re dropshipping

When ordering on AliExpress, it’s a good idea to let the seller know you’re dropshipping. This way, the supplier won’t include invoices or promotions in the package being sent to your customer.

On checkout, you can leave a message for the seller. Write something simple, like, “This item is for dropshipping. No promotions or invoices.”

Monitor delivery progress

After customers receive their orders, give them time to contact you in case of any issues with the product or delivery. This way, you can bring up the issue with the supplier through AliExpress, encouraging them to correct it and hopefully solve the problem for future orders.

Refunds and returns

Many AliExpress suppliers don’t offer returns, so you may need to develop your own returns and refunds policy.

When there’s an issue with an order a customer placed in your store, it’s often because the order never arrived. In these cases, you’ll need to bring up the issue with your supplier. Contact the supplier, and if a resolution isn’t possible, use AliExpress Buyer Protection.

If your customer is simply not happy with the product, it’s usually a matter of expectations—what they received wasn’t what they expected. Most dropshippers will accept refunds in cases of dissatisfaction, as a way of building trust with customers.

If a product is damaged, ask your customer to take photos and send them to the AliExpress seller.

What are some of the best AliExpress dropshipping products?

Here are the best dropshipping products to sell for profit in 2023:

  1. T-shirts
  2. Yoga socks
  3. Sweatsuits
  4. Sandals
  5. Water shoes
  6. Quick-dry running shorts
  7. LED face masks
  8. Face rollers
  9. Makeup remover facial wipes
  10. Cruelty-free mascara
  11. Pimple patches
  12. Sunscreen
  13. Insulated mugs
  14. Air fryers
  15. Electric kettles
  16. Portable blenders
  17. Coffee pods
  18. Latte mixers
  19. Organic baby clothing
  20. Teething toys
  21. Hypoallergenic baby diaper wipes
  22. Water-based wipes
  23. Diapers
  24. Stroller fans
  25. Linen bed sheets
  26. Microfiber bedsheets
  27. Pillows
  28. Blackout curtains
  29. Non-slip hangers
  30. Printer paper
  31. Note pads
  32. Heavy-duty packaging tape
  33. Ink cartridges
  34. File folders
  35. Ring lights
  36. USB-C power adapters
  37. Screen protectors
  38. Outdoor smart plugs
  39. Video doorbells
  40. Motion sensors

Growing your AliExpress dropshipping business

Once you’ve made your first few sales, it’s time to think about growing your online business.

Build supplier relationships

Eventually, you’ll begin to identify the quality suppliers in your niche. Among the most repeated dropshipping tips is to build relationships with these reliable suppliers. This will help you get better prices and priority order processing.

Most of the suppliers on AliExpress use WeChat or WhatsApp to communicate. If you see yourself frequently ordering from the same seller, it’s a good idea to set up a meeting to establish a business relationship. Once you’ve demonstrated you can bring in recurring sales, some sellers will allow you to place your logo on products or include custom invoices and branded inserts into shipping packages.

Market your business

Marketing any online business is challenging. Fortunately, there are many different marketing strategies to test and apply to your dropshipping store.

Top tactics include:

  • SEO
  • Email marketing
  • Influencer marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Referral programs
  • Google Ads

💡 Ready to dive into marketing? Here are 17 actionable ecommerce marketing tactics.

Start your AliExpress dropshipping business with DSers

The best part about AliExpress dropshipping is that it allows store owners to quickly test and validate product ideas. Unsure if you’re capable of selling a certain product? Add it to your store and test it! And if it doesn’t work out, you can simply remove the item and start testing something else.

Because you’re not carrying or managing inventory and there’s no upfront cost, there’s little risk to setting up an AliExpress dropshipping business. Use a Shopify free trial to build your dropshipping store today.


AliExpress dropshipping FAQ

Is AliExpress dropshipping dead?

AliExpress dropshipping is not dead. While interest in the term “dropshipping” peaked in early 2023, dropshipping through AliExpress remains one of the most popular business models for entrepreneurs who want to make money online.

How do I start a dropshipping business on AliExpress?

  1. Choose a dropshipping niche for your business
  2. Select a range of AliExpress products within your niche
  3. Find reliable dropshipping suppliers
  4. Create your online store and import your products
  5. Promote your dropshipping business
  6. Get your first purchase and order the product from your supplier
  7. Follow up with customers to confirm delivery

What is AliDropship?

AliDropship is a solution for entrepreneurs who want to start a dropshipping business. You can have AliExpress build you a dropshipping store or use the AliDropship plug-in to easily import bestsellers and new products to an existing store.

Why is AliExpress so cheap?

Items are cheap on AliExpress because merchants selling on AliExpress source merchandise from Chinese manufacturers. This drives costs down and helps them offer low shipping costs.

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