If you want to know how to get fast shipping on Aliexpress then you are in for a ride. The post-COIVID-19 world has changed things significantly for dropshippers. Logistics worldwide is still in complete disarray and getting anything shipped internationally is really tough.
If you are fulfilling products from Aliexpress then shipping has always been the biggest sticking point. Even before COVID-19, Aliexpress shipping was not only slow but terribly inefficient.
More than 80% of all the support tickets we get for our dropshipping stores that fulfill from Aliexpress are related to slow shipping times.
The US market is still the most lucrative for dropshippers and this is also the market that has become the least tolerant to slow shipping.
If you add the political climate and the US’s relations with China into the mix then it really does not look great for running a business that relies so heavily upon shipping products from China.
It is not all doom and gloom though. Dropshipping is not dead and Aliexpress will continue to be a dropshipping supplier for years to come.
Understanding How Aliexpress Shipping Works
It is super important to understand the entire chain of people and parties involved in getting YOUR customer’s product from Aliexpress to their doorstep in the USA.
There are essentially 2 “chains” involved in the fulfillment process. For your products to reach your customer within the allotted Aliexpress time-frame, everything has to run perfectly. If anything in any of thee chains goi wrong there are delayed.
1. The Aliexpress Chain
Just like Amazon, Aliexpress is not a single big merchant. It is merely a marketplace that is made up of thousands of sellers. There is no Aliexpress warehouse and no central Aliexpress shipping hub that handles orders.
In fact, Aliexpress has no inventory. They do no shipping and are not responsible for anything other than providing the shopping platform.
All the thousands of little “shops” on Aliexpress are ruin by Aliexpress sellers. These sellers vary greatly in quality and most importantly – where they source their products from.
Sadly, the majority of sellers on Aliexpress are drop shippers themselves. Many of them hold no stock and they simply forward your orders on to the real suppliers, warehouses, and merchants who will eventually ship the product.
Some Aliexpress sellers keep some stock and there are a few genuine merchants on Aliexpress. These are sellers that have their own warehouse, they have their own stock and ship their own products.
These are the best sellers to deal with but they can be hard to find. This leads us to the Aliexpress chain and how it works.
When you place an order with Aliexpress for something that was bought on your Shopify store then the seller will receive the order once the payment cleared.
If the Aliexpress seller is dropshipping themselves they usually wait until they have a decent amount of orders before they proceed to order the products from the merchant. Many Aliexpress sellers wait until Friday before they place just one order.
That way they get better rates and it minimizes their own logistics and costs. For you, this can mean 5 to 7 days wait time before your Aliexpress seller actually gets the product they need to ship to your customer.
These long lead times are a huge problem and contribute greatly to slow shipping times from Aliexpress.
Some Aliexpress sellers have easy access to the merchants and can physically go and buy the products from them while others actually order the products and it needs to be shipped to them.
Most Aliexpress sellers run small operations on very tight margins. They simply can not splash out on big inventory.
2. The Shipping Chain
Once your Aliexporess seller finally got your product in their hands they need to ship it. Some of them are true dropshippers and simply pass your order on to a merchant who will actually do the shipping.
These are the worse suppliers on Aliexpress as they simply do not have the tech to manage the logistics. These orders often get muddled up with the wrong items and the wrong tracking numbers.
Let’s suppose your seller actually handles the parcels. You will most likely ship with ePacket as that has long been the shipping option of choice for dropshippers.
ePacket is an economic shipping option that allows cheap ship but with full tracking on the parcel. ePacket works with local postal services ion all the countries it operates in where they will take over the parcel once it comes into the local system from China.
In the USA, ePacket works with the USPS which is why you can usually track the final leg of a ePacket parcel on the USPS website.
ePacket along with some other Aliexpress shipping options like AliExpress Standard Shipping, China Post Registered Air Mail and China Post Ordinary Small Packet Plus are cheap.
These cheap shipping rates are what made dropshipping possible in the first place.
So, why is it so cheap and where did things start to go wrong?
These cheap shipping options rely on leftover space in passenger planes. Every passenger plane has some spare capacity and depending on the weight load of a particular flight, it can take more or less cargo to fill out the maximum load of the plane.
In other words, your ePacket parcel has to wait for a spot on a passenger plane.
When COVID-19 came along all passenger flights came to a grinding halt and along with that ePacket shipping.
It became a scramble for finding some space on a plane which resulted in parcels taking 60 to 70 days to reach the USA. Shipping from China to other places became even worse – especially Italy and places like Spain that had complete lockdowns.
Other shipping options on Aliexpress follow pretty much the same process of finding excess space on flights which sometimes include dedicated cargo planes.
Once your parcel gets shipped it is still not the end of the drama. There is one more hurdle and that is customs.
Depending on the type of product it will enter the USA through different ports. Customs checks can hold up parcels for anything from 5 to 10 days.
It then gets re-entered into the distribution line with the USPS. The final leg of the delivery is with the USPS who will actually deliver the parcel. This can take anything from 5 to 15 days.
Shipping elsewhere in the world from China has loads of different regulations and checks and this can greatly impact shipping times.
Aliexpress Express Shipping
Before we look at how to get fast shipping on Aliexpress you have to manage your expectations. Shipping a parcel from mainland China to the USA is a long way. The parcel passes through several different hand and checkpoints.
It is unavoidable that this process is slow.
There are essentially 3 ways to get fast shipping on Aliexpress.
1. Aliexpress Suppliers With USA Warehouses
This is by far the best option when dropshipping from Aliexpress. If you are starting a new store, I would encourage you to start your search for products by looking for USA suppliers.
Not all of them are honest about their shipping connections from the USA and many of them are drop shippers themselves using Chinese owned warehouses in the USA to fulfill your orders.
You need to do your due diligence on Aliexpress and make sure that if you do find a supplier who ships from the USA that they actually ship the products themselves. You should always contact them and make sure they are legit.
Even then, they can lie so be careful and place test orders if you have the luxury. It is the only way to truly gauge shipping speed and product quality.
What you are looking for is processing times less than 3 days and USPS domestic shipping which should take around 3 to 7 days in mainland USA.
Apart from fast shipping, the real benefit is that your customers are receiving parcels from the USA and not China.
2. Using Express Couriers
Using express couriers to get fast shipping on Aliexpress rarely makes sense. DHL, FedEx and EMS are fast and dedicated couriers that can get your parcel from China to USA in 3 to 7 days but it comes at a cost.
In most cases, this simply won’t make sense when you are dropshipping as the shipping cost will eat your entire margin.
With larger products or products with a lot of weight, this could make sense but rarely for products under $100.
If you are looking at high ticket dropshipping products then it starts making more sense. Because of the higher value of the product, you can usually beef up your margins sufficiently to warrant the extra shipping costs.
With high ticket items, customers also have a much higher expectation and fast shipping is your only real option.
Another way in which you can use couriers for fast shipping from Aliexpress is to ship larger batches of products to yourself and fulfill the orders yourself.
This is a great way to start shifting away from dropshipping and into private fulfillment. You can easily order 20 to 50 products a week and have it shipped via DHL. This keeps the orders small enough to avoid import taxes while still getting the benefit of fast shipping.
Eventually, you can switch over to sourcing your products from Alibaba which is much cheaper.
3. Private Agreements
If you’ve spent a lot of time researching products on Aliexpress you’ve probably come across product listings that say something like “Private” or “VIP”.
These are products that Aliexpress set up exclusively for a dropshipper who does decent volume. They will usually agree to offer you fast fulfillment (1 to 2 days) and they also tend to use dedicated shipping lanes.
They typically don’t use ePacket and Aliexporess shipping. They will use YunExpress or SF Express which are the two best shipping provides from China to the USA, Europe, and Australia.
Shipping with YunExpress or SF Express is more expensive but they usually get parcels from China to the USA in 5 to 15 days.
Small-time Aliexpress sellers do not have the means to use YunExpress or SF Express as it generally takes much bigger volume to justify that.
They have dedicated cargo planes that fly independent of passenger planes and therefore are less affected by domestic airline disruptions and bidding for spare space on passenger planes.
If you are starting to do more than 50 orders per day with a supplier on Aliexpress you should contact them to see if they can offer you express shipping with YunExpress or SF Express.
If they can’t, start shopping around on Aliexpress. You will find someone – especially if you sell popular products.
Alternative Ways To Get Fast Shipping from China
Ultimately if you want to be successful at building long term business out of dropshipping you have to look beyond Aliexpress.
Yes, there are good suppliers on Aliexpress and there are even ones who ship from the USA but it is very limited. Finding them is like finding a needle in a haystack and then you still have to make your store successful with these products.
Nine out of ten times you will be dealing with run of the mill Aliexpress sellers and if you want fast shipping you will need to look outside of Aliexpress.
1. Udroppy and CJ Dropshipping
Udroppy and CJ Dropshipping are Chinese companies that are dedicated to dropshipping. They can source any product you can find on Aliexpress and they can ship it much faster and offer a much better service than most of the sellers on Aliexpress.
They use dedicated shipping lanes and the average shipping time is 5 to 15 days from China to the USA.
At the time of writing this in early July 2020, shipping times have normalized to some extent and we are again seeing around 12 days for delivery using CJ which is really good given the fact that the COVID-19 problems are still lingering.
The big win with these 2 companies is in their fulfillment. They have their own warehouses and usually fulfill your orders within 2 to 3 days. They also do quality control which means that they won’t ship defective products to your customers.
With Aliexpress sellers who use Standard Aliexpress Shipping or China Post you will often get damaged parcels. In the Chinese mail system, the sheer volume of parcels causes it to be mishandled all the time.
If your customer had to wait 3 weeks only to get a parcel that looks like it was mauled by a tiger then you won’t be in business for long.
2. Private Agents
Private agents usually have their own warehouses in China. They will dropship for you using their warehouse but there are two catches.
The first is that you need a minimum order volume. Most of them require 50 orders per day.
The second is that you have to order inventory and pay for it upfront. This can be a lot of stock and even if you sell a minimum of 50 orders per day that will be 350 products per week to buy upfront and pay for.
You also need to really trust your agent because you will be wiring the money to him.
The biggest advantage of using an agent is that they can get your products to your customers faster than anyone else. A good agent is well connected and they will use the fastest shipping options possible.
They will charge you a processing fee on top of your shipping costs (some don’t) but it is usually well worth it. It may sound expensive but using an agent is actually much cheaper than Aliexpress given that you buy your stock directly and that can be 20% to 50% cheaper than Aliexpress.
Finding a good agent is the hard part. I suggest you ask around on some dropshipping groups on Facebook and get other dropshipper to recommend you a good agent.
Only use agents that come recommended from other dropshippers. Otherwise, it is a gamble. You can go on to Alibaba and find plenty of agents advertising there but it comes with a lot more risk.
3. USA Suppliers
USA suppliers are much harder to find but it is by far the best way to run a dropshipping business.
The 2 best places to find USA suppliers is with Spocket and with Salehoo. I’ve written a much more detailed post about it and you can read it here >>
With USA suppliers you get high-quality products, fast shipping, and the ability to offer returns and exchanges.
More Tips to Get Fast Shipping on Aliexpress
To get fast shipping from Aliexpress you need to focus on 2 things. The first is the fulfillment speed and you need to push your Aliexpress supplier to ship your items same day or 1 day later at the very most.
The next thing you want to focus on is to get your Aliexpress supplier to use SF Express or YunExpress to ship your parcels.
By just doing these 2 things you should be able to get your parcels to your customers in the USA, Europe and Australia within 5 to 10 days.
This is a totally acceptable shipping time and something most customers are okay with. Fulfilling orders on Aliexpress when you use Shopify and Oberlo or Woocommerce and AliDropship is super easy and very efficient.
You can also use CJ Dropshipping and Udroppy or start looking for a private agent. The main idea is that you want to use Aliexpress as a testing ground.
Finding products that sell and building a store that is profitable should be your first priority. Once you’ve got a proven product and you know how to market it profitably you can start exploring fulfillment options.
You may or may not ship from Aliexpress but even if you decide to dropship from China you can get fast shipping and you can build a business that is sustainable long term.