Last year I thought I give Dropshipping a go and see what happens.
I did roughly $60k in sales with my first store in a few months.
So not too shabby, plus I experienced somethings that were expected and some totally UNEXPECTED.
In this post, I share the top 14 lessons I learned when Dropshipping from AliExpress.
So let's get going with number 1…
1. Finding Good Products Takes Hard Work
When I first started Dropshipping I just spent hours and hours looking for products on AliExpress.
The was a few problems with this method.
- There were just so many products to search through to find viable products worth testing.
- Most products are unproven so you test way too many losing products.
I found it best in the end to use a tool such as Pexda to find proven products that other people were currently running ads with on Facebook.
Even with a research tool, it takes time and effort before you find those “winners”.
So don't give up too easily as you'll find those winning products eventually if you keep looking and testing.
2. Suppliers Don’t Always Speak Good English
Don't be annoyed if you message a long detailed question to a product vendor and only get a short one sentence reply not really answering your question.
You have to remember, most vendors English is not their first language.
Some AliExpress Vendors speak great English but most do not.
So don't expect a detailed answer to your questions.
Sometimes it might be better to Skype with your vendor as they may speak better English than they can write it.
3. Suppliers Can Run Out Of Stock
This happened to me a few times.
I'd be making plenty of sales with a product, then all of a sudden the supplier runs out of stock.
Most of the time I could find a new vendor who sold the same product at a similar cost.
But sometimes it was the only vendor selling that product on AliExpress.
You need to be careful as sometimes the vendor will promise new stock coming soon,
Because of that, you keep selling the item on your store with the intention to fulfill the orders when the new stock comes in.
You then get promised every other day that new stock will be in soon.
Then 2 weeks later they still haven't got new stock.
Also, be careful scaling if you're having supplier problems.
I wouldn't worry about this issue too much, as long as you are aware and on top of your game.
4. Vendors Sometimes Send You Tracking Numbers Even When They Haven’t Shipped The Item.
I have had this multiple times.
A vendor will mark all your items as shipped and add the tracking number to AliExpress.
Then you get a customer email 2 weeks later chasing up their order.
And when you look, you see there's been no update on the tracking number.
The reason is, the vendors can print the labels up at their warehouse and give you the tracking number but then forget to send the item.
This is a really simple problem to avoid.
Just check the tracking from the previous week once a week to make sure there's been an update.
If there isn't “accepted” and then “posting” on the tracking update page then the Chinese post office hasn't received your parcel yet.
If that's the case just shoot a message to your vendor and let them know.
5. AliExpress Products Are Generally Good
Sometimes you get the impression that because you are buying the products from China they won't be good quality.
This is generally not the case.
I've never really had a quality issue with any of my products.
Only on a few odd occasions has a customer messaged me with a product issue.
The issues were nearly always postal damage.
Having said that you can minimize the risk of choosing poor products to Dropship from AliExpress.
Here are a few tips…
- Check the vendor's positive feedback score. Only use vendors with 95% or more positive feedback.
- Check the product feedback score. Only sell products with good feedback, 4* or higher and have multiple reviews (10+)
6. You Will Need To Verify Your Credit Cards
Don't panic when this happens as it happens to everyone.
When I placed my first 10 or so orders I got an email saying all my orders were on hold for a security check.
I then had to verify I was the owner of the cards by sending a picture of the card.
Then about 5 days later they verified the cards and I was good to go.
The only thing is they will cancel all your orders that were on hold through the verification and you will have to re-order them.
Another thing to note is, if you start to use another card then you most likely will have the same thing happen and you will need to verify that card.
You'll still be able to use your old card to make orders while you verify the new card.
7. You Can Get Up To 8% Cashback From AliExpress
The first person I told this too just told me he got $800 dollars back last month.
Crazy right and most people don't know about it.
So how it works is, you can sign up to the AliExpress affiliate program and then put your affiliate deep-link ID into a fulfillment tool like Dropified.
And then when you fulfill your orders through Dropified you'll get an up to 8% affiliate commision on your order.
This is 100% legit so there's nothing to worry about.
The good thing is that Dropified can be paid for with the cashback you make by linking it with your AliExpress affiliate ID.
8. Some Products Aren’t That Cheap
I've found on a few occasions that some products are the same if not cheaper on Amazon and eBay.
To make it seem worse they also have quicker shipping from the US.
It's frustrating when this happens but it's a part of the business.
This usually happens because someone has imported the product in bulk to lower their buying cost,
Which means they can sell at the rate vendors sell on AliExpress singlely.
They could also be selling a product cheap as a frontend product, then selling more expensive products with better margins on the backend.
If you see someone selling a product cheaper on Amazon or eBay than you can buy on AliExpress…
Then either move on and find a new product.
Or sell it anyway as most people won't look elsewhere as it will be an impulse buy.
9. Running Facebook Ads Is A Full-Time Job
Something most people don't realize is how much you need to monitor your Facebook ads.
If you aren't checking every few hours then lots of your ads will overspend when you should have turned them off.
If you let your ads run over by just a few dollars per ad set and you launch 100s of new ad sets a month then you're easily going to be wasting over $1000+ a month.
When you're running ads you need rules and metrics.
For example on new ad sets…
- If over $3 CPC within $5 spend = Pause
- If less than 2x ROAS after 48hrs = Pause
- If over $20.00 CPM with $5 spend = Pause
- If less than 2% CTR with $5 spend = Pause
- If $20 spend with no sale = Pause
You need to be watching your ads like a hawk otherwise you will frequently overspend on poor performing ads.
In the end, I used Reveal Bot to automate all my facebook ads which saved me so much time plus it saved me money as well.
Reveal Bot works by giving it rules like the ones above then it will automatically pause ads that don't stay within those metrics.
10. Uploading New Products Is Time-Consuming
It's all fun at first but in the end, this becomes a boring time-consuming task.
When you are adding dozens of products in a day this task really is tiresome.
I first hired a VA to do this but in the end, I started using Dropified as it had other features I needed as well.
I could upload about 6 or 7 products in the time it would take to do one and even then it can be still tedious even when using Dropified.
11. You'll Need To Remove Logos From Some Images
When dropshipping with Aliexpress you'll sometimes need to remove cheap looking logos from Vendor images.
I don't know why but some vendors feel they need to stick a cheap looking logo on their images which totally ruin the product images.
Sometimes you can find another vendor with the same product with good pics that you can use.
But sometimes there's only 1 vendor with that product.
When that was the case I learned some very basic Photoshop so I could remove them.
And believe me when I say “basic“, I mean BASIC!
Thankfully Dropified released an in-app image editor which could remove logos really easily.
Thank you Dropified for making my life easier 🙂
12. There Are Fake/Unlicensed Products
You need to be careful around this stuff.
For example, I would stay well clear of something that's possibly unlicensed merchandise.
Like Harry Potter gear or Boston Red Sox merch.
I've even heard of people getting their Facebook ad account banned because of copyright violations.
You might make some good money at first selling these types of products,
But if you lose your Facebook ad account over it, then you'll be game over as it's hard to get your account re-activated if you were in the wrong.
However, this is nothing to really worry about if you are sensible.
13. Fulling Orders Is Tedious
This is sort of the same as uploading products.
It can be very tedious.
The good thing is, it's more exciting as you're actually making sales when you're fulfilling orders.
As soon as I starting making 10+ orders a day I started using Dropified.
You can also use Oberlo as well to fulfill orders but Dropified has more features than Oberlo so I personally used that.
Either way, a fulfillment tool is a must when you start making sales as you'll want to spend time on the other tasks that bring in more money!
14. Customer Service Is Important
Last but not least, customer service.
From very early on I aimed to give the best customer service possible.
There are real people on the other end of those emails and they want to be treated with respect.
Because I always did that I had very low chargeback rates and refund requests.
Isn't it amazing how being understanding and respectful will resolve most issues without needing to issue a refund or get a chargeback?
I've seen so many people get tons of chargebacks and not know why.
When I probed a little, it turns out they where leaving emails unanswered for up to 5-6 days.
No wonder their customers got worried and filled chargebacks!
I always aim to respond within 8 hours but 100% within 24 hours.
A little tip that helps is to create pre-written replies to your most common questions. Then just use them and tweak them a little when you reply.
It will save you a ton of time and you'll find it much easier to reply when you get those customer emails!
So there you have it. 14 Things I learned when Dropshipping With AliExpress!
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