Dropshipping is an online business model where you sell a product to a customer and then buy it from another seller. These sellers will directly ship the product to the customer, so your main focus is on getting sales.
When people hear of an easy way to make money online, they get really excited. Dropshipping fits the bill. You don’t have to worry about inventory or physical store locations. As a result, starting a dropshipping store only costs a few hundred bucks.
Chances are, the specific dropshipping model you’ve heard of is dropshipping from Aliexpress. This is where you create a store and sell products that you buy on Aliexpress. The question is: Is dropshipping from Aliexpress dead?
No, But It’s Dying
You can still make money dropshipping from Aliexpress. Unfortunately, as each day passes by, dropshipping from Aliexpress only gets more complicated. I have identified five main factors causing dropshipping from Aliexpress to die.
- Factor 1. Aliexpress is a dominant, global, growing corporation
- Factor 2. The dropshipping barrier of entry is too low
- Factor 3. Lack of control over shipping
- Factor 4. Lack of control over product quality
- Factor 5. Dropshipping faces a stigma
In the end, I will also explain how people can still make money dropshipping from Aliexpress. Additionally, I will touch on dropshipping as a whole and other ways to make money online. First, let’s jump into what’s stopping people from buying directly from Aliexpress.
What’s Stopping People From Buying Directly From Aliexpress?
In the past, dropshipping from Aliexpress worked because the website Aliexpress looked like a total scam to western audiences. When product titles and product descriptions are messy, and the reviews are in different languages, the seller loses credibility.
Suppose you’re a dropshipper that does extensive research and dives deep into Aliexpress. In that case, you’ll also be successful because most people won’t spend the same amount of effort looking for the product you found. Thus, they’ll buy from you since they can’t find an alternative in a short amount of time.
It was also effortless to make money from dropshipping a few years ago partly because Aliexpress and the e-commerce industry as a whole were less well-known. Most of your targeted audience would have never heard of Aliexpress before.
However, over time, these barriers cease to exist. Aliexpress is continuously growing and becoming more and more well-known. When people see your product, they’ll try to find it on Aliexpress, and if they do, they’re going to buy from Aliexpress because it’s so much cheaper for the exact same product.
One thing you have to remember about Aliexpress is that it’s a marketplace just like Amazon. If you look at certain major brands selling on Aliexpress, such as Li-Ning, you’ll notice that everything looks super legit. The product images and descriptions all look fantastic.
Over time, competition on Aliexpress is going to increase. Sellers will learn to differentiate themselves from other sellers to get more sales. They’ll often do this by copying major brands and becoming cleaner. Then people are even more likely to buy from Aliexpress over dropshipping stores.
Anybody Can Copy Your Store And Your Products
The dropshipping trend is huge right now. A lot of people are dropshipping or learning to dropship, and this leads to very high competition. Dropshipping’s barrier entry is super low. I started dropshipping back when I was 14, with $200 in my bank account. If dropshipping is a business a kid can start, who can’t create one?
And here’s the problem:
Your brand may be copyrighted, but most Aliexpress products and marketing strategies are not. Anybody can compete with your store.
In my post about spying on business competitors, I talk about how you can research other successful businesses and model your business after theirs to find success much faster. There are many tactics people can use to see what strategies you use to get people in your store, what are your best-selling products, and more.
Suppose you manage to hit a gem and sell a product profitably in a relatively new market. In that case, you can expect to see a bunch of copycats take over the rest of the market within a month. Suddenly, dropshipping isn’t as sexy as it sounds. You have to be continually looking for new, winning products.
No Control Over Shipping
Here’s my biggest issue with dropshipping from Aliexpress. You can’t control shipping. Consequently, you’re going to be bombarded with customer support messages that you can’t fix and low customer satisfaction depending on the shipping.
Sometimes you can find products with fast shipping, but this is very rare. Most products will take about a month to ship, and that’s not including the processing time. There will be customers asking you when their product will arrive or what’s happening with the shipping. You can only tell them to be patient because you only know as much as they do.
As a dropshipping beginner, you’re often going to be beat out by dropshippers who have established special connections with Aliexpress suppliers that offer exclusive shipping deals and dropshippers who have started their own warehouses.
And I’m genuinely sorry for you if the product you’re selling is on Amazon. Sellers on Amazon have the option to pay for fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), where they’ll put your products in Amazon warehouses, and Amazon will, as the name suggests, fulfill your orders. That means standard shipping around 3-5 days and 1-2 days Amazon Prime shipping.
If you have shopped on many large brands, you may have also noticed that some of them have these real-time tracking systems where you can see your product moving on a map. Aliexpress shipping doesn’t do any of that.
In general, anticipating orders is an exciting activity for many online shoppers. But that excitement quickly dies down when products are taking over a month to arrive.
The only way to compete with low-quality, slow shipping is to create unique offers. That means lowering the price and/or creating special bundles. Patience is a virtue many people do not have in this fast-paced world.
The Quality Of Products Are Often Terrible
Many products on Aliexpress are as good as their price. They’re manufactured cheaply and do not have the build-quality of an Apple Macbook. A lot of products break fast and do not have the quality you may have expected from them.
For example, I was selling earphones that have a case that doubles up as a battery pack. Supposedly, this battery pack can charge both the earphones and my phone. I tested the battery pack with my phone and found out that for each 1% my phone charges, the battery pack loses 5%.
A while ago, I also tried selling phone clamp chargers for cars. I sold quite a few of them and even bought one myself for testing, and I realized they only last about a month. So now there’s potential trouble with refunds.
Looks like a high-quality phone charger, but in reality, it’s made of cheap plastic and charges very slow. Plus it broke within a month.
Yes, the quality of products and the suppliers is something you can check. You can look at the supplier’s ratings and product reviews on Aliexpress. This is the basic stuff you have to do.
In those two examples above, however, I did do that. The issue lies in that people who directly buy from Aliexpress often live in Euro-Asia countries where wages and earnings are much lower. As a result, expectations are also lower. Unfortunately, I’m trying to sell a $12 earphone at the price of $50 in very developed countries. I cannot tell people to expect $12 quality after paying $50.
Thus, to avoid potential problems with quality, you must buy and test products yourself. Most Aliexpress suppliers do not offer samples, but since most of the products are low-cost anyways, testing products won’t add much to your upfront cost. What does matter, however, is time. Time is money, and when you’re waiting a month for the product to ship and then another few days to test the product, you’re wasting a lot of time that could be spent on selling products.
Aliexpress Dropshipping Is Frowned Upon
The last factor that must be talked about is the stigma associated with dropshipping from Aliexpress. The best way to explain this is to imagine buying from a dropshipping store.
One day you see an ad on Facebook for a really cool product. Your mind suddenly thinks, “Oh my gosh, I need that!” You click the ad. The product page looks clean, the brand seems legit… wait, there are only three products left, and it’s only 50% off for 1 hour?! You quickly add the product to your cart, fill in the checkout details, and pay for the product.
A month later, you get the product in a banged-up box. Luckily the product still works, and you run to your friends to show them your new shiny toy. To your dismay, your friends weren’t particularly impressed that you bought this item for $50. In fact, one of them pulls out the same product and tells you, “I got the same thing as you for $2. You’ve been scammed.” Then he pulls out his phone and shows you a website called Aliexpress.
Running a business is all about providing value. When I’m dropshipping, I can’t help but feel like I’m offering no value. The only thoughts stopping me from feeling like a scammer are that I’m truthful about the product’s details and shipping time and that my customers will receive their product or get a refund.
It feels like there’s no foundation for this business. Many people, including Weebly’s CEO, David Rusenko, feel the same. Check out this article from Inc. to see some of CEO David Rusenko’s thoughts.
If you wouldn’t want to buy from a dropshipper, why would you want to sell as a dropshipper?
Dropshipping also has a bad rep for low-quality brands. This isn’t a direct failure of the dropshipping business model, but a failure of the dropshippers. While some dropshippers know that they have to stand out to succeed and put their absolute all into good store design, ad creation, and customer experience, most dropshippers are just trying to make a quick buck.
Consequently, advertising platforms such as Google and Facebook get flooded with low-quality stores and ads. Even though social media sites like Facebook make money off of dropshippers buying ads on their platform, low ad quality leads to poor user experience, which leads to fewer users, which finally leads to less they can charge on their sites.
Sites such as Facebook and Google value their user experience much more than how much dropshippers are willing to spend on ads. Excellent user experience leads to advertising platforms’ ability to charge higher prices for ads because they have much more engaged users.
Unfortunately, too many dropshippers created terrible ads and stores. Thus, a lot of ad accounts have been getting shut down with “no defined reason.” Advertising platforms are becoming very tight on their rules and restrictions because of the number of scammy practices advertisers have tried.
You Can Still Make Money If You’re A Smart Marketer
So, is dropshipping from Aliexpress dead? Well, no, but it is dying due to the reasons above.
You can still make money dropshipping from Aliexpress, but you have to be very smart about how you go about it. I’ve hinted at various strategies above. To succeed as a dropshipper, you need to be unique and continuously adapt.
Here’s a list of things you can and should do to make money dropshipping from Aliexpress:
1. Design a fantastic store
The main thing is credibility and speed. People need to trust you to buy from you, and the website needs to be fast. No one cares if you have parallax scrolling or flashing lights on your front page. What does matter is the color scheme, product images, and design consistency. Your store needs to look professional and legit.
Here’s a blog post on some more tips on store design: How To Design An Online Store For Success
2. Creative and unique adverts
If you just throw in a picture of the product for your ads like all the gurus tell you, you’re not going to have the best time. Everyone else is doing the same thing. Level up your adverts by creating your own videos and photos. This way, it’s also more difficult for people to copy you.
3. Create unique offers other people do not have
One thing that has worked for me was doing buy one get one (BOGO) deals. Specifically, I did BOGO free for earphones. You should take it up to the next level and create offers that your competitors cannot easily replicate. For example, if you’re selling a salad mixer/cutter, offer a bonus e-book filled with various salad recipes your customers can make.
4. Test rapidly and extensively
Think about your competitors. Most of them are trying to make a quick buck online and probably copying some guru or person on YouTube. To beat them, you need to go beyond gurus, YouTube, or even the KAZSMoney blog. Because as soon as someone publishes a “secret” marketing strategy, you can assume that there’s already a ton of people doing it, and that number will only rise with viewership.
Winning relies on your ability to spin old ideas into new ideas. There are millions of products and millions of marketing strategies. You cannot possibly test them all. But you can test more than your competitors, and you’ll have a lot more winning strategies your competitors have not even heard about.
These are some general tips to help you succeed via dropshipping from Aliexpress. If you create a profitable business, congratulations! However, I do not recommend you continue dropshipping from Aliexpress. Look to use those profits to make personal connections with suppliers and put custom branding on the products, start developing your own products, or move into the traditional wholesale market so you can sell products from large major brands.
You want to put your business in a place where it’s hard for others to compete with you.
Is Dropshipping From Aliexpress Dead?
To give a definite answer: Dropshipping from Aliexpress is not dead, but it is dying.
Aliexpress itself is a growing international corporation that is becoming more well-known as each day passes. Nothing stops people from buying directly from Aliexpress.
Dropshipping from Aliexpress is also very competitive. Anybody can copy your store, your products, and your ads. It is tough to grow a business when competitors can easily occupy your market.
It is also challenging to compete as an online retailer against other large brands that offer much better shipping. Most products take around a month to ship, which is unacceptable in a world where one-day shipping is a thing.
And not only do dropshippers have low-quality shipping, finding high-quality products is something that takes a tremendous amount of effort and time. The amount of effort and time you’re spending on ensuring high-quality products can often be spent on different activities that generate income.
Dropshipping from Aliexpress is also frowned upon. It’s legal, but people will often feel scammed if they find out that they could have gotten the exact same product and experience for less than half the price if they knew about Aliexpress.
To successfully dropship from Aliexpress, you need to get past many of these hurdles to succeed with this business model.
E-Commerce As A Whole Is Not Dead
Although dropshipping from Aliexpress is dying, dropshipping itself is not dying. Additionally, e-commerce, as a whole, is growing rapidly. Let me talk about dropshipping first.
Dropshipping is not a new business model. It’s been around for about 20 years now. At first, people dropshipped by selling products on eBay and buying those products from Amazon. Then people started buying from Aliexpress and selling on Amazon. Now people are using Aliexpress and Shopify.
There’s also been a new branch of dropshipping that I don’t believe will go away any time soon, and it’s called print-on-demand. This system is where you create designs for clothing, mugs, phone cases, and other products and sell them on your store or marketplace. When people buy a t-shirt from you, you then go to a company, pay them a little bit of money, and they will print your design on the shirt and directly ship it to your customer.
Print-on-demand is very good because people can’t directly copy the designs you make. Thus, the barrier of entry is a little higher. You will be selling products that you can actually call “your own.”
People will always find a way to make money with dropshipping. Sourcing products and selling strategies are factors that will forever change.
Many gurus often interchange dropshipping and e-commerce. Resultingly, many people get confused when I say dropshipping from Aliexpress is dying, but e-commerce is not. E-commerce deals with all transactions online. This includes selling your own products.
E-commerce is growing rapidly. Although dropshipping from Aliexpress may be dying, there are plenty of opportunities in the e-commerce industry, whether you decide to build your store selling your own products or assist other people in their ability to sell online.
Other Ways To Make Money Online
If you came to post considering dropshipping from Aliexpress as a way to make money online, I want to let you know that there are many other ways to make money online. Some of these online business models may be much more suitable than dropshipping.
You might find things like blogging much more fun and fulfilling. Or you might like creating software. It’s up to you to learn and try these business models. In this blog post linked below, I talk about my favorite business models online.
The Best Online Business Models For Making Money Online
If you have any questions or comments, leave them down below, and I will be happy to get back to you!