Aliexpress shipping times can be a real nightmare for dropshipping. So, how long does aliexpress shipping take and how does this really affect your business? The answer is not simple and there are many more things to factor in to come to any definite conclusions.
The simple fact remains that long shipping times DOES affect your dropshipping business – despite what so many gurus preach.
Online shoppers have become very impatient and waiting weeks for a parcel to arrive is not good for business.
High refund rates, chargebacks and disputes can and will hurt any dropshipping business. Not getting repeat customers becomes an expensive business to run.
The flipside of this argument is that the high profit margins make up for refunds and targeting large audiences makes repeat customers not that important. Selling novel products that can’t be found in stores does give you a leg to stand on and having a that sales angle does help justify slow shipping times.
However, from my experience Aliexpress shipping times are too slow and unpredictable to ultimately build a successful and sustainable business.
The reason why so many entrepreneurs crash and burn when drop shipping on Aliexpress is because they fail to take a long view. Are you in it to make a quick buck? Or are you building a business?
Dropshipping with Aliexpress is a great way to start.
It is a terrible way to run a sustainable business though.
Shipping time and quality control are the 2 biggest reasons why dropshipping stores eventually fail to become a “real business” that is a brand and an asset that you can one day sell for millions.
Aliexpress Shipping Time – Understanding the Eco System
Before you even start to drop ship with Aliexpress you need to understand the eco system. Aliexpress is a marketplace. Similar to Ebay and Amazon, there are thousands of sellers that resell products on Aliexpress.
Aliexpress does not ship anything.
Aliexpress does not have warehouses or anything like that.
It is all about the sellers. You can think of Aliexpress as a big shopping mall with lots (and lots) of small shops that operate on their own.
When you dropship a product from Aliexpress, the Aliexpress seller will then fulfill your order. Most of them DO NOT have factories. Most of them are NOT suppliers with a lot of inventory.
They are effectively also dropshipping from bigger suppliers. When you place a dropshipping order, they will either order the products from a supplier or place your order with the real supplier who has the factory or warehouse.
When it comes to shipping times this leads us to two big distinctions you need to be aware of.
1. How long does Aliexpress take to ship?
If your Aliexpress seller has stock of the products they sell then it is very realistic to expect them to ship your customer;s product within 1 to 2 days. This is the best case scenario.
There are a number of Aliexpress sellers that are genuine suppliers with warehouses.
These are the kinds of seller you want to dropship on Aliexpress with. Getting your customers’ products shipped out within 1 to 2 days is a huge advantage in terms of shipping times.
When your aliexpress seller is only a dropshipper themselves then the flow looks very different.
It could take up to 10 days from when you place the order on Aliexpress until your customer’s product actually gets shipped out.
They have to place the order with a supplier who probably has a warehouse. This warehouse does not have any sense of urgency to get individual products shipped out.
Most of them have minimum order requirements which means that your supplier will have to wait to meet the threshold before their order can be placed.
This can all become a very big screw up very quickly.
2. How long does Aliexpress take to deliver?
Getting your customers’ products shipped out is only part of the problem. Once it actually gets shipped out there are many more challenges ahead.
Aliexpress offers a number of shipping options based on the available carriers in and from China. ePacket has long been the carrier of choice for dropshipping because it is cheap and includes tracking details.
ePacket shipping times vary greatly depending on the country the parcel is shipping to. This varies from 10 to 20 business days before your customer will receive their parcel.
You can see just how important it is to get your aliexpress seller to ship your orders quickly as this can have a huge impact on shipping times.
There is another spanner in the works though and that is customs. Parcels can get held up in customs checks for days and even weeks.
This is where things can get very sticky and you need to be prepared for this.
The global pandemic has taken its toll on dropshipping. With international shipping options being limited the competition for freight has become fierce. Shipping costs have more than doubled for most countries.
This will most likely continue for most of 2020 and until international flights are ‘back to normal’ shipping costs will remain high and more importantly – IT WILL REMAIN TO BE SLOW.
You need to make your customers very aware of this. Slow shipping is an issue for ALL businesses during this time and customers tend to be more understanding of the issue.Updated: 29-04-2020
Picking The Best Shipping Options for Dropshipping
Picking the best shipping options is crucial when you dropship with Aliexpress. ePacket is no longer as reliable as it used to be but it is still an economic way to ship while still offering your customers tracking details.
Tracking gives customers peace of mind. Without it you also have no leg to stand on and there is no proof that the parcel has been shipped or delivered.
This becomes a big problem during disputes and chargebacks so it is vital that you always only ship with carriers that offer tracking.
Aliexpress Standard Shipping is also a good option but even though it provides your customer with tracking details it is incredibly slow.
China Post Registered Air Mail is another popular affordable shipping option that still provides tracking details.
UPS, DHL, Fedex and TNT are all high end couriers that have their own shipping line. While these are fast and super efficient it rarely makes sense to use them for dropshipping as the costs are simply too high.
What is fairly rare on Aliexpress are sellers with direct shipping lines. These are sellers that do large volumes of sales. They would ship in batches to the USA and from there distribute via USPS.
To your customer it would appear as if the parcel is just another USPS delivery with little to no evidence of it shipping from China.
How To Vet Aliexpress Sellers For Fast(er) Shipping Times
Navigating through the morass of Aliexpress sellers can be tough. Over time you will become more savvy and learn to spot dodgy sellers from a mile away. Some Aliexpress sellers are just plain crooks and you need to stay away.
Some are really good and run a really solid business on Aliexpress. So, how do we know if we are dealing with a good seller or not? How do we know that they are going to ship fast and send our customers a decent product?
Start by installing a Chrome extension called Asify.
Asify will give us a lot of additional information that Aliexpress do not usually show. It will inject some new icons on to your Aliexpress product pages that allow you to see some great data.
Here are some important things to look for:
1. Sales Volume
We are looking for a seller that is actively selling this product. When you look at the sales statistics of the example below you can see that they have sold 2,704 units in the last 6 months and about 330 in the last 2 weeks. That is pretty good. We just want to make sure that it is a product that they are currently selling and not just a sleeper product they have listed.
2. Shipping History
Their shipping history does not look great. Their processing time is 1 to 7 days and that screams “3rd party seller”. They are most likely dropshipping themselves and placing orders with another warehouse. It is highly unlikely that they are stocking this product themselves. If they did, their processing time would have been 1 – 3 days.
3. Seller Feedback
This is not always a reliable stat to look at but we are looking for obvious problem sellers. If any of the ratings is below 4 then I would stay away.
4. Business History
This is important to look at because we are looking for sellers that have been around for some time. This store has been in business since 2015 which is a great sign. Any seller that has been around for more than 2 years is doing something right and are not some fly-by-night wannabe.
5. Product Reviews
Looking at product reviews is super important. You want to check over the reviews to see what people are saying about the product. If there are a lot of similar complaints about quality then there may be an issue.
More importantly we want to see a good number of reviews with photos. We want ti be sure that they are actually shipping the right product.
Be aware of reviews that sound dodgy. One or two word reviews with no photos are usually fake and this is quite common with dodgy sellers trying to inflate their numbers.
There is one exception to look out for when it comes to reviews. When you find a product that has sold a few thousand units with hardly any reviews then you may have struck gold.
Drop shipped products usually do not get reviewed on Aliexpress so if a seller is supplying a dropshipper then they might have a lot of sales with no reviews. Pay close attention to these listings as it may well be a winning dropshipping product.
How To Make Dropshipping Work When Shipping with Aliexpress
Shipping with Aliexpress is inevitable when you start dropshipping. It is still the cheapest and easiest way to get started. You can quickly test a lot of products and use an app like Oberlo or Dropified to fulfill orders with little hassle.
You need to do everything in your power though to make sure that you get the products to your customers asap.
When you start making sales and you start seeing some traction on a product(s) you need to contact the seller on Aliexpress. Make it clear that you are dropshipping and that you can push bigger volume consistently.
Ask them for same day fulfillment. Ask them for express shipping and check if they have any direct shipping lines available to them.
Find other sellers that sell the same product and ask them the same questions. There are some kick-ass sellers on Aliexpress. You just have to work hard to find them.
I would add a word of caution though: Aliexpress sellers are known for lying through their teeth and many of them will tell you whatever you want to hear just to make sales.
Always check up on them and if they do not stick to their promises, move on.
Apart from trying to get your customers’ orders to them asap you need to manage expectations on your Shopify store. You need to make sure that your customers are fully aware of shipping times.
Clearly List Shipping Times on Your Store:
It is better to list slower shipping times than to try and list optimistic shipping times and have customers disappointed. To be safe, list your processing times as 5 business days and delivery times to be 10 to 20 business days.
This should be enough time for your Aliexpress orders to reach most of the USA, Canada and Europe.
Also make sure you have a clear disclaimer about customs delays. Also make sure that you spell out that any additional customs costs will be the responsibility of the customer.
It is really important that you offer great customer service. If you are shipping with aliexpress then a large percentage of your customer support tickets will be customers looking for their parcels.
You need to respond to these tickets quickly and professionally. This will go a long way towards easing customers’ minds and can smooth over slow shipping times.
You can prepare a few carefully worded responses that you can just copy and paste to ease yur workload.
The End Game and Moving Away From Aliexpress Shipping
Aliexpress dropshipping has become the “lazy way” to run a business. While it is the perfect way to start, it should never be the long term plan.
The goal is to find successful products that are proven to sell. Aliexpress is perfect for that.
Once your store is a proven winner you need to move on.
Using a Fulfilment Agent
One way to do this is to find a fulfilment agent. These agents can process orders for you within 1 or 2 days and they all use direct shipping lines. This means that they can get products to your customers in the USA in as little as 5 days.
Finding good agents are not that easy though. Most of them have minimum order quantities which is usually about 20 to 30 orders of the same SKU per day.
They also require upfront payment for stock so there is a level of trust needed. Finding a trustworthy fulfilment agent is not easy.
The best places to find them is in private Facebook groups or simply by networking with other drop shippers. Finding an agent on recommendation is by far the best way to go.
Another option is to start fulfilling orders yourself. This is by far the best way to go but it also requires a bit more up front work.
Every product you see on Aliexpress can be sourced from Alibaba – often for 60% less. They do have minimum order quantities and you will probably have to fork out some $$$ for stock.
You can then ship this stock to a fulfillment center in the USA. They will receive the inventory, list it and integrate with your Shopify store. As orders come in, they will pick, pack and ship the orders for you.
It really is quite simple once you’ve got it set up. There are fees and costs involved – obviously but all in all, it will still be 30% to 50% cheaper than fulfilling with Aliexpress.
On top of that you are shipping from the USA – and your customers will receive their parcels in just a few days.
Dollar Fulfillment and ShipBob are two of the best known fulfillment solutions and I can highly recommend both.
This is a much more stress free way of running a business. It allows you to spend more time on selling and less time on managing angry customers and answering chargebacks.