Since the beginning of online ecommerce business, many people tried to get their share of pie and achieved different level of success. Indeed, selling products online from the comfort of your home or office and turning a profit sounds very attractive to a large public.
One of the online ecommerce business models that have been praised by the mass is AliExpress dropshipping. But what is dropshipping exactly? What do you need to get started and how much does it cost? Which platform should you choose? What is the point of AliExpress? How to use it?
- What Is Dropshipping
- How Much Does It Cost to Start Dropshipping
- Choose the Right E-commerce Platform
- What Is AliExpress
- What Is DSers
- How AliExpress Works with DSers
- How to Start a Store
- How to Link Your Store and Start Sropshipping with DSers
- How to Look for the Right Niche
- How to Search for the Right Products
- How to Get Your First Order
- How to Deal with Your First Order
- Potential Refunds and Delays
- Must-Have Plugins
- How to Find a Reliable AliExpress Supplier with DSers
There are so many questions that need answers that we created this AliExpress dropshipping guide to help you better understand the ins and outs of this business model and give you the keys to start your journey.
What Is Dropshipping
Dropshipping is a term that has been flying around for many years. AliExpress dropshipping is often considered as the best way to start an online ecommerce business, but what is dropshipping exactly? Dropshipping is a business model which consists on having an online store, without owning a stock of products.
You work with suppliers, manufacturers or agents to whom you will forward the orders you receive in your online store. Once you sent those order to the product provider, they will then directly ship and send the product to your client. This online business model alleviates the burden of dealing with stock of products and helps to focus on growing your business once you start to have a steady amount of orders.
Like any business, there are pros and cons that should be considered before you launch yourself into the adventure. On the positive side, dropshipping is easy to start as there are hundreds, if not thousands, or dropshipping videos on YouTube and other platforms from which to learn from.
It’s also easy to manage as you don’t have to stock the products you are selling like a regular brick and mortar store or need a warehouse, making the amount of money needed to get started very low! There are also some throwbacks like possible low margins and supplier quality control. Feel free to read on to learn more details about what is dropshipping
How Much Does It Cost to Start Dropshipping
As we saw previously, one of the benefits of AliExpress dropshipping is low cost of entry, but the price for starting a dropshipping online business can still vary greatly depending on many details. One of the first things to take in consideration concerns the platform you will use to create your store.
Different options are available, such as Shopify, WooCommerce, Wix and more. They offer various plans, some of which are free, like WooCommerce, not considering other necessities we will go through after, to hundreds of dollars per months. Make sure to choose something to fits your needs.
Once you decided which platform you want to use, you will need to choose a domain name. Creating a real brand will help immensely in the future, so carefully choose a name for your store, then buy the name! Domains prices can vary from $1 to a lot more depending on the URL you wish to use.
You may also need to use some web hosting service depending on the platform you decided on using (such as WooCommerce). Just like the platform and the domain name, the cost can be exponential, so it’s advised to start low and learn before growing.
Finally, some costs to be expected concern you. If you decide to do everything manually, it may take you hours and hours of hard work. It is recommended to use third party tools and app, such as DSers, to help you in managing your products and orders. DSers has a forever free plan, so it’s great to get started with.
Similarly, you will need a budget to advertise your products, and you need to count the hours you will spend working on your store, time is not free! You can learn more about all those prices and details by clicking below.
Choose the Right E-commerce Platform
So, you know what is dropshipping and how it should cost you, now let’s talk about making the right choices for you. Choosing the right e-commerce platform on which to create your online business can be challenging, sometimes it can even be confusing.
To simplify things, we’ll go through the three main platforms, all widely used, which are Shopify, WooCommerce and Wix.
Shopify is one of the simplest way to create a online store for people with all kind of knowledge level. Different plans are available and many step by step guides can be found online to set up your store, customize it, importing products and so on. Furthermore, thousands of apps are there to help you with all sides of your business.
WooCommerce is also quite popular for online ecommerce business owners. It is based upon WordPress and let you create a very personally customized and detailed store. While it may look less intuitive that Shopify or Wix, it is quite easy to get going with and it also offers plethora of plugins and has a huge base of developers and extensions to help you run your store efficiently.
Wix is famous for website creation, there is no question on the quality of the store you can create with it. It can be more intuitive for beginners and lets you create the store you want, the way you want it but also use some already available theme. Just like the other platform we mentioned, it boasts hundreds of apps to assist you in running your online store. Other platforms are available and we go into more details in the article below, have a look!
What Is AliExpress
Alright, you now chose your platform, now let’s talk about AliExpress. If you ever went online shopping or read ecommerce news, you have heard about it, but what even is AliExpress?
AliExpress is one of the biggest ecommerce platforms and is owned by the Alibaba group, a massive multinational company (think Amazon big). It groups thousands and thousands of manufacturers and suppliers selling and even greater numbers of goods and products.
On AliExpress, you can find anything, from clothing to electronics, from a small bracelet with a heart-shaped stone to car equipment. There are different types of sellers on AliExpress, and you can find yourself buying directly from manufacturers, a retailer or some big companies made of hundreds of smaller businesses. Simply said, the choice is vast.
One of the biggest advantages of AliExpress is the price of the products. Because you are cutting the normal line of distribution by getting products directly from the manufacturers, you can buy good at a fraction of the price that you would normally see them on other website or at that store at the corner of your street. You can learn more details about AliExpress platform in the article below.
What Is DSers
You now have all the basics in order to start an online ecommerce business with AliExpress and try dropshipping. In order to avoid trouble and simplify your management of products and orders, we advise that you use a dropshipping solution such as DSers.
DSers is AliExpress official dropshipping partner and helps you with every aspect of your business. You can use it with any of the previously mentioned store platform, like Wix, Shopify and WooCommerce.
With its partnership, DSers helps you to place 100s of orders from your online store to your AliExpress suppliers in a few seconds only. This is the only solution able to do this so fast and it will allow you to save a lot of time and manual labor.
DSers will also help you in importing new products from AliExpress supplier to sell in your store. You will then be able to edit those products to customize them as you please before you publish them online and decide to start to sell them.
You can also take advantage of the DSers Supplier Optimizer if you have some existing products. This feature is here to help you find better AliExpress suppliers for your existing products. It will automatically search for other sellers and manufacturers selling the exact same product, but with a lower price and with better rating. This is very useful to increase your margins.
DSers also allows you to create product bundles, custom product offer, such as buy one get one, can automatically apply price increase on your products, help you follow the stock and prices and much more. You can check everything available on DSers in the article below.
How AliExpress Works with DSers
Like we mentioned just before, DSers is AliExpress official dropshipping partner, but what does that mean exactly? Well, DSers is using AliExpress API for efficiency and lossless information transmission for products and orders.
In other words, with the AliExpress dropshipping API that DSers is using, when you import a new product from AliExpress, instead of just copying the product information available on AliExpress like most other solution do, DSers directly get the information from the AliExpress database, ensuring that you get the correct data, pictures and variants.
In the same way, when you place your orders from DSers to AliExpress, the customer’s information is adapted to fit the AliExpress requirements and DSers ensures that the correct data is transmitted. With the AliExpress API, there is no need to manually fill in extra information or to answer captcha.
This helps you save a lot of time as DSers is up to 90% faster to place orders. DSers also used the AliExpress API to develop a unique feature called Supplier Optimizer. Using big data, it’s able to find all the suppliers currently selling a specific product.
You just need to enter the AliExpress link of a product, and DSers will help to find all the other suppliers selling the same product, at lower prices and with better ratings. DSers is definitely one of the best solutions to accompany you in your dropshipping journey, and it’s free!
Knowledge is important, but so is acting on it! You now have all the basic knowledge required to move forward and start your own online ecommerce business.
You can now make the decisions corresponding to your need and create your store and find the right dropshipping solution to help you manage your online business.
It is also time to decide which kind of product you want to sell, maybe you already have an idea, but how to find good products for this niche? We’ll see that below.
We will then review some strategies to help you get your first orders and how to deal with them, how to ensure good shipping and manage the potential taxes issues or refund. We’ll also introduce you to some of the recommended plugins and apps to help you!
How to Start a Store
Opening a store require some preparation that you need to consider. First, you need to choose the platform you want to use to host and develop and host your store on. Do your researches, there is nothing wrong with learning and taking the time to make an educated decision. We recommend using Shopify, WooCommerce or Wix, but others are available, it all depends on your needs, abilities, knowledge and budget.
Once you decided on a platform, you need to learn about the regulations in your country. Dropshipping is a business, and like every business, it has to follow some rules, for taxes, payments, customer rights and so on.
Again, take the time to check what you should be careful about and make sure to get in line with the laws you should follow. Many information can be found online, and people are often willing to share their experience freely, so don’t be afraid to ask around!
Creating your store come next! Depending on the platform you chose, different steps will be required, but the most important one is the name. Choosing the right name for your store can immensely impact your future success! Spend some time thinking about potential names and ask your friends and family what they think about it.
Don’t make any rushed decisions, this will be your brand and what your products will be associated with, better sleep on it! You have the platform, you know the laws, and you have a name, you are well on to become an online entrepreneur!
How will your products be delivered to your customers? How long will it take? At what cost? Shipping is as important to the careful dropshipper as the products themselves. Knowing exactly how your AliExpress supplier will deal with your package, how many days your customers will have to wait, and how much it will cost you are signs of success.
Depending on the country of destination of your orders, different shipping methods may be available for the same product and different shipping methods mean different delivery time and price!
When you choose an AliExpress product, you should take the time to check what the shipping options are offered by the supplier, along with the estimated delivery time and the cost. Include that information on your product page, and take them into account in your pricing.
Many online sellers offer free shipping, which just means that they include the shipping cost into the product itself. It’s a proven method, people like when something is free and they have the impression of saving money, even if it’s just a couple of dollars.
If you want to go the extra mile and offer quality shipping for your customers, you can also get in touch with the supplier directly, and discuss some potential customized shipping solution, like your logo on the package, or extra wrapping. This may slightly increase the overall delivery cost, but can improve your company reputation!
We mentioned it above: make sure your business is correctly registered and follow the regulations of your country. This may mean paying taxes! Depending where you live, dropshipping may be regulated and the products your buy can be subject to taxes upon their purchase or delivery.
Imagine if your customer has to pay an extra 20% on top of his original order to receive his delivery? You can be sure that he will never buy from you again, and he may even create some bad publicity about your website or leave negative reviews.
As of July, 1st 2021, the European Union, for example, will tax all products. If you are a registered business buyer on AliExpress, it can help alleviate some of the cost. Each country can have varying rules toward products sent from China, or related to dropshipping, and the amount of tax you, your customers, may have to pay can also vary depending on the size, weight and cost of the products.
It is imperative that you comply with those regulations and pay the required taxes if you want to run a sustainable dropshipping business and don’t want to be liable, closed down, or end up with a fine that can cost you thousands of dollars.
The best way to have a general idea of potential taxes and specific regulation is to talk with fellow dropshippers and meet with a professional. It is better to invest some time and money in ensuring your business future, instead of losing all your hard work and money suddenly!
To help you deal with your taxes, you can consider using Osome.
Osome is an online e-commerce assistant that offers company formation, corporate secretary, accounting, and taxation services in Singapore, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom. It combines personal care and experience with artificial intelligence's efficiency. The company's business model uses automation to significantly increase efficiency and customer satisfaction, resulting in a high potential for growth and profitability.
Osome provides international services as well as a team of dedicated accountants. The company also assists with business formation and provides corporate secretary services, adding to its distinctiveness.
How to Link Your Store and Start Dropshipping with DSers
Whether you are a beginner or a more experienced dropshipper, your store management can make the difference between success and failure. There is nothing worse than not being able to properly follow a customer order’s status and keeping up to date with it. This is why it is highly recommended to use a dropshipping solution.
A dropshipping solution will help you to import products, place orders, follow your earnings, and more! Many are available, such as DSers, Oberlo, Dropified and more. They all have their own benefits, but we believe DSers is the best suited for businesses of all size, like the more than 150 000 installations and its 4.9 star rating prove it.
It’s easy to get started, simply go to DSers.com website, and create an account. From there, you will just have to follow the directions to first link your store to DSers. After the store is linked, a short tutorial will teach you the basics of handling your products and orders inside of DSers.
There are dozens of different feature you can test for free, all designed to help you improve your benefits, your products, simplify your entrepreneurial life and save plenty of time to let you focus on growing your business!
How to Look for the Right Niche
Once you get the hang of how to manage your store, you can start to import new products to sell, but for that, you will need to first decide which niche you want to focus on. In case you don’t know what is a niche, and why choosing the right one is a necessity, here’s a quick explanation.
A niche is a smaller part of a larger market. For example, selling short sleeves t-shirt is a niche of the clothing market. Choosing the right niche for your online business is crucial and I know we say that a lot, but the competition can be extremely fierce in some markets.
Selling summer dresses will be a lot more difficult that selling dog feeders, even if you target the right audience. That’s why you need to choose a niche that both as a scaling potential, but is also not saturated.
A good rule about choosing the right product niche is the following: have you seen advertisement for this product recently? If you constantly see ads about a specific type of product, you can be sure that many people are also trying to sell it, so it will be difficult for you to get potential customers attentions, and the margins will most likely be low.
Analyzing the market and checking on different platform and bigger store what is currently popular is a good way to avoid the busy markets.
Similarly, you can check which products are slowly getting more and more sells or specialize in a product type that you really know. Being able to see a future trend or having extensive knowledge will help you tremendously in creating content for your products and to give valuable information to your customers.
How to Search for the Right Products
As we described, finding the right niche is crucial, it will determine your future audience. Now that you have decided on what type of products you want to sell in your online business, you need to find those products.
AliExpress can be a little overwhelming because of the humongous variety of products it offers and the thousands of different suppliers available. Doing extensive research is necessary, you need to check the suppliers’ ratings, the quality of the product and the different shipping options available depending on the countries you plan to target.
To help you sorting through all the different supplier and product, DSers has developed a unique feature called Supplier Optimizer. Once you have found a product from an AliExpress supplier you like, you can copy the AliExpress URL and paste in DSers Supplier Optimizer.
DSers will then automatically go through all the suppliers selling the same products on AliExpress and provide you with a list of the identical products sold by other suppliers. This list will include the price for which each supplier sell this product, the product rating, the shipping cost, the sale number and more!
This is the perfect way to improve your product listing in your online store. By finding more reliable and cheaper suppliers, you will save on the cost of the product, on potential complaints and improve your customer’s satisfaction. You can learn more about DSers Supplier Optimizer in the article below.
How to Get Your First Order
Your store is online, you have products, now it’s time to get some orders, which is easier said than done. The hardest part of dropshipping is not about creating a store, we saw that it’s quite easy, it’s not about finding cool products you can make benefits from either, it’s getting customers who want to buy your products!
There are different ways you can generate you first couple of orders, but you need to make sure of a couple of things first: Your store should look great and professional. It should also be ready to accommodate customers. Try to use your store as any normal customers would and place some orders to make sure everything is working properly.
One the most proven ways to get your first order is word to mouth. Talk about your store and products to your friends and family, share on social media and let everyone know about what you’re selling and why they should give it a try. You can consider some discount for the first buyers to get things going too.
Another way to spread the word about your store for free is to post about it in different groups, or in the comments of other publications. It may catch the eye of some potential buyers, but focus on groups and posts related to your niche!
Finally, you already have some budget; you can give social media advertising a try. This is one of the best methods to generate orders. There are plenty of free guides online that will be able to teach you how to create and posts your first advertisement. Don’t go too big, too fast, take the time to learn what works, and what doesn’t!
How to Deal with Your First Order
You’ve got your first order, congratulations! Every little steps count, and the first order is a great achievement. What you have to do now, is to ensure that your customer gets his product as smoothly as possible.
If you not using any dropshipping solution and are handling orders manually, you will need to create an order on AliExpress for the exact same product that your client ordered. You will then need to enter his information, address and details, then pay. This is manageable when you have to deal with one or two orders, but make sure you don’t make any mistakes!
To avoid mistakes and simplify the whole process, most successful dropshipper use dropshipping solutions. We mentioned it earlier in the article, but a good dropshipping solution will help you save time and energy, and will ensure that no error is done.
Generally speaking, the solution you decide to use should synchronize the orders you receive in your store in their platform, with all the product and customer information. You can then easily place the order directly to AliExpress from the dropshipping solution without having to manually copying all information. This will prevent any misclicks or errors.
DSers is especially appreciated because of its ease of use and all the feature it provides. With DSers, all the orders you receive are synchronized instantly and you can place 100s of orders to AliExpress in a few seconds.
Furthermore, DSers will help you to keep track of the status of each individual order easily, and will also automatically synchronize and transfer the tracking numbers from AliExpress to your store.
This basically means that, when you use DSers, once you placed an order to AliExpress and you paid for it, you don’t have to do anything anymore, it’s all automated. Feel free to read more about DSers below.
Potential Refunds and Delays
Once your order is paid, your AliExpress supplier will ship it. But that’s not the end of the road. Multiple issues can occur during the transit of the package and you may face some claims from your customers. If a package gets lost, delayed, broken during the delivery, you may be asked for refund, answers and more.
Dealing with customer service is an important part of any business and a good and reliable after-sale contact with your clients can greatly improve your business’ image. Your website should have a page with all the information pertaining to refunds, broken objects on delivery, and potential delays to make sure that your customers know what to do in each case or can’t make any reclamations.
Depending on the platform you are using, you can create a separated page or add a mention on each product page or on the checkout page.
For refunds, it can be troublesome to ask for the customer to send back the package, to deal with this kind of situations; you can offer the client a brand new identical product instead of giving them back the money. This is great way to minimize your losses and keep your customer happy. Of course, you should first ask the reason for the refund and ask for proof.
There are some applications and plugins that will greatly simplify your daily life when you are running a dropshipping store. While each may have a different opinion, here is a list of application/plugin we recommend:
- DSers: AliExpress dropshipping solution partner for importing products, manage them, and place orders
- Loox: Useful application to import AliExpress product reviews
- PageFly: Great app to modify and customize you store pages
- MailChimp: Solid solution to create and send emails to customers
- Printful: The go-to website for customized clothing and products
- Quick Facebook Chat: Perfect to talk with your customers live
How to Find a Reliable AliExpress Supplier with DSers
Finding the perfect supplier can be a hassle as we saw previously. While DSers Supplier Optimizer feature would be able to help you find some of the best suppliers available on AliExpress, you may be interested in more reliable and even cheaper supplier.
To help you in that regard, DSers developed its own Mass Supply Program to give you access to exclusive suppliers and prices.
With the DSers Mass Supply Program, you will be able to replace some of your current AliExpress suppliers by DSers’ selected suppliers who offer cheaper prices, have a proven track of reliability in term of product quality, delivery rate and stock quantity.
Working directly with the AliExpress team and 1668.com suppliers, the Mass Supply Program can offer discount of up to 30%. This is especially good for more seasoned dropshippers willing to increase their margins or with higher sales numbers. You can learn more about this program and how to apply in the article below.
Now that you are receiving orders and getting a regular amount of visit on your online store, you may want to consider taking your business to the next level.
Growing your business doesn’t necessarily mean selling more types of products, it means getting more traffic and more sales by increasing the number of visitors. To do so, different leverage can be used, such as branding, marketing operation, customer reachout or SEO.
Some of those tasks can be tedious and require a lot of work, some are simpler, but they all have one goal: improving your exposure. We will quickly details the different ways with which you can improve you brand recognition or conversion rate, contact and inform your existing clients and show up on the first page of Google.
In the store creation part, we mentioned how important it is to select a great store name. This is the first step in establishing a proper brand. Creating and using an easily recognizable and memorable name will help you immensely in gathering a crowd of adepts of your products.
Think about Apple and Windows, such simple words carry the brand of multi-billion dollars companies and helped a lot in the brand recognition.
In order to keep your customers attention, you should ideally find a brand name for your store that carries an idea and can be remembered easily. This way, when your customers see and advertisement with your company name, they will feel a sense of deja-vu and will be more inclined in purchasing again if their first purchase was a good experience.
If you are out of ideas, you can use some name generator to get inspiration from it, but make sure to check if the name you settle on is not already taken!
The logo you decide upon can also have a great impact for brand recognition. Discuss with people around you and try to find something in relation with what you are selling. Shape and color can influence people’s opinion of your brand.
Whether colorful and multiple shaped or black and white with a slick design, it all depends on what you like and what is your brand’s message. If you have some great idea, but are not an artist, you can use any freelance artist or even some friends to help you!
Whether you’re just starting your online business or have already been selling products for some time, marketing and advertising are cornerstones of success. The hardest thing in running a dropshipping store is getting customers and orders.
In order to do so, you will need to spread the word about your brand and you store but also introduce your products to your audience.
To do so, one of the easiest ways to get started is social media advertising. Facebook, Instagram, even Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest can be great platforms to expose your products to the crowd. Research will be necessary as advertising can be a hit or miss so you need to ensure that your target is chosen carefully.
When you grow, you can also consider some other method of marketing, by contacting bloggers and influencer to review your products or even advertise them to their own audience.
Getting some articles about your store and product online is great as it will improve the SEO of your store and influencer can help you reach new customers and generate more sales. Finally, you should always consider email marketing, which we’ll talk more about just below.
What Is Email Marketing
Email marketing is one of the most proven ways to keep in touch with your clients, increase the returning customer rate and improve your customer service. It is one of the most powerful and cost-effective ways for digital marketing.
Therefore, it should be one of the key pillars for your marketing campaigns, especially for eCommerce businesses. Each time a customer purchases a product from your store, or visits it for a certain amount of time, you should try to get their email address.
Building up an email address database will be very useful to inform your customer of new offers for example, create a newsletter to let them know about the latest products you added or discounts.
In short, email marketing consists in using emails to promote the services, activities or products that your store offers. You can use those emails in multiple ways, from promotion coupons to the launch of new goods.
By keeping your already existing customers informed, you create a relationship with them, keep them engaged and improve your brand awareness.
Find the right emailing solution that answer your needs and create different type of models to compare the performances. You should also make sure that your emails follows your store identity, by keeping it serious, or more on the funny side!
Quick SEO Introduction
SEO means Search Engine Optimization. It basically encompasses all the little things necessary to improve the ranking of your website on different Search Engine Result Page (SERP).
Basically, it’s all about how to get on the first page of Google results page when someone search for some terms related to your store. Ranking higher in SERP will help to increase the organic traffic to your online store. Being on the first page of Google or other search engine will dramatically improve the click through rate.
But you won’t get there overnight. While SEO is one of the most important marketing strategies to adopt early, it takes a lot of work and time before you may see results.
SEO includes many different aspects of your website, the first one being keywords. Make sure to use a vocabulary related to your product niche in the different pages of your store. At the same time, all your pictures should be renamed to describe your products as clearly as possible, and they should all contain some alt text.
To further improve your SEO, you should also individually name all the page of your website. What is on the page? This will help the search engine to know what’s there, and if it’s relevant or not!
If possible, you should also include some links inside of you store. It may sound counter intuitive, why would you put link to other website that would take away your traffic, right? But if those website also contain links redirecting to your store, it will help to improve the “seriousness” of your online store in the “eyes” of the search engine.
Finally, a key to better SEO ranking is speed. Speed is a major aspect of any website. First, if your customers don’t have to wait for a page to load, you diminish the chances of them leaving and keep them active. Second, many search engine judge a website quality by its loading speed, so fastest is your website, the higher the chances to rank higher! You can learn more about some SEO tactics in our beginner’s guide below.
As we saw, creating, running and growing a dropshipping business is not as simple as finding a cheap product and sell it for benefits.
It actually takes hard work and dedication to be able to achieve success, just like any other business. Nevertheless, the internet is a formidable place to learn and gather free knowledge from.
There are hundreds of course that will teach you everything you need to know about each of the things we introduced. There is not one way to do dropshipping and success can struck at any time, with the conditions that you keep at it, choose the right tools to help you along the way and understand what is required.
From store creation, placing orders, finding products, creating valuable content for your potential buyers to the willingness to learn, dropshipping is a journey that is just waiting for those who have the motivations to start it.