Is AliExpress the only source of products to dropship? Today, we’re going to discuss the alternative ways for online businesses to find dropshipping suppliers, and explain how to make the best choice of products to sell from suppliers on AliExpress.
Usually, when we talk about choosing the right products for your dropshipping store, we assume it by default that you import these items from AliExpress. Still, it is not the only option.
Table Of Contents
- Dropshipping directories in your search of the perfect suppliers
- Why directories aren’t commonly used to find dropshipping suppliers
- The reasons to search for dropshipping suppliers on AliExpress
- How to choose the best dropshipping suppliers on AliExpress
Dropshipping directories in your search of the perfect suppliers
Before dropshipping newcomers make the very first steps on their business journey, they certainly need to find reliable business partners to ensure the success of their future venture.
Some of the online businessmen decide to look for the suppliers on their own by simply going through Google search results. Unfortunately, wholesaler distributors or manufacturers are far from being good marketers. Those who expect to easily find suppliers with high quality products and wholesale prices on the top of Google are going to be disappointed. Unless they’re lucky enough, they’re unlikely to succeed in their search. Not to mention the fact that many wholesalers are not ready to do drop shipping.
Thus, it’s logical that due to having little to no experience in this field, they don’t only look for counsellors and advisors: they also search for middlemen who can connect them with the most appropriate business partners.
Most typically, these middlemen are required for the product-related tasks: even if the entrepreneurs know what they would like to sell, it might be difficult for them to establish a contact with the reliable and trustworthy manufacturers.
This is why these beginners turn to dropshipping directories: simply speaking, these are the specially assembled databases of trusted wholesale distributors.
In there, you can find detailed information about suppliers, their fields of activity, manufactured products, addresses, and, sometimes, financial position or sales value.
This way, a dropshipping directory is a database of wholesale suppliers grouped by category, market or niche. Many directories carry out special checking procedures to ensure the suppliers are legitimate and genuine wholesalers.
So, entrepreneurs make a payment to get access to a dropshipping directory database, and add the images and descriptions of the selected products to their online stores.
Then, the traditional dropshipping business model works as usual: the orders placed on the dropshipping site get sent to the manufacturers. These suppliers, in turn, provide the full range of the necessary product-related services: they store items, arrange shipments, provide sellers with tracking codes and, if required, customize the delivered packages by designing them in the style of the dropshipping store they work with.
Why directories aren’t commonly used to find dropshipping suppliers
It might seem that these verified lists of well-reputed suppliers are a smart decision for dropshipping newcomers, but unfortunately, some of the directories’ downsides might cause serious problems for the entrepreneurs.
- Paid access
The majority of directories charge a fee for access to their database. You either need to make a one-time payment, or pay the membership fee on a monthly/yearly basis.
- Pricing difference
Some of the suppliers listed in dropshipping directories have a specific pricing strategy. In order to buy something from them at a wholesale price, you need to officially confirm the legitimacy of your business, and get approved as a wholesale seller. Otherwise, you will purchase their products at usual, retail prices.
- Business preferences
Usually dropshipping directories consist of large-scale companies that are looking for long-term profitable partnerships. Many of them don’t consider working with small online businesses, especially with newcomers who are unlikely to place a large number of orders.
- Partnership limitations
It’s quite typical of these well-established manufacturers to dictate the terms of the partnership: there might be requirements for a minimum order size, or the maximum allowed price markup, etc. Certainly, it limits a dropshipping store owner’s activity quite significantly.
So, it seems to be reasonable to pay for getting access to a dropshipping directory only if you are looking for the appropriate product ideas, researching the market offers, or looking for a highly specific product category that can’t be easily found elsewhere.
If you have already chosen the niche and understood what products you are going to sell, you can find decent suppliers from some free ecommerce platform on your own.
The best alternative option to dropshipping databases is AliExpress — an ecommerce platform of global reach that contains products from millions of distributors worldwide.
The reasons to search for dropshipping suppliers on AliExpress
There are enough reasons why AliExpress is much more suitable to choose products from suppliers than any dropshipping directory.
- Product range
Generally, it is typical of manufacturers to focus on a narrow product segment or, in the best case scenario, on a limited number of related categories — for example, children clothing, toys, and stationery; or consumer electronics, gadgets, and gadget accessories, etc. It is understandable: managing an extended stock is quite a complicated and resource-consuming task.
However, AliExpress is a huge ecommerce platform that facilitates the interaction between countless sellers and buyers. Any supplier can post their offers on the platform, which has resulted in over 100 million products currently presented on AliExpress. These products fall into various categories, which makes it possible for entrepreneurs to choose any items they fancy and adjust their dropshipping stores to a specific target audience’s interests.
- Free access to the database
As we have already mentioned, dropshipping directories usually limit the access to their databases. As the result, entrepreneurs can’t browse the list of wholesalers and their products before making the necessary entry payment. It certainly causes a significant problem to the newcomers, who can’t know for sure if it will pay off.
At the same time, AliExpress doesn’t charge you any entry fee. The registration on the platform is free, and it’s not even necessary to be logged in if you want to explore the products. What is also important, the platform provides the ground to evaluate the seller’s performance and reliability, and lets businessmen choose only the best products from the dropshipping providers. It includes the length of the business operation, the percentage of positive feedback left by buyers, the number of orders placed by visitors, etc.
- Zero fees
Dropshipping directories don’t simply charge monthly or yearly membership fees that vary depending on each separate provider. They can also ask for a restocking fee — a compensation of stocking and delivery expenses for the cases of customers’ returns when items have no actual defects.
None of this is the case for the entrepreneurs who work with suppliers directly through AliExpress. To start working with the distributors who place their offers on the platform, you don’t have to pay any money, and you certainly don’t have to make any additional payments during the whole process of business collaboration. All the expenses associated with refunds and returns are going to be your dropshipping suppliers’ headache.
- No limits on markup
Unfortunately, dropshipping directories put your possibilities of making a decent profit at risk due to some limits on markup: the entrepreneurs are told to set a so-called recommended retail price on the seller’s items. In other words, the initial price can only be increased on a limited sum of money not more than 15–20% of the starting cost. Otherwise the partnership agreement can possibly come to an end.
Meanwhile, the sellers from AliExpress don’t insist on a specific price. Considering that the items on AliExpress are known to be sold for very low prices in comparison to identical products elsewhere, the possible markups, and, therefore, the profits, can be quite impressive. Even several-fold price increase in this case will not affect end buyers negatively and will result in adequate financial gains for the store owner.
- No limits on sales volume
Again, it’s quite a popular practice in this type of business to oblige dropshipping stores’ owners place a certain amount of orders. Unless they do, dropshipping suppliers can refuse to continue dealing with these entrepreneurs.
It’s never going to happen if you work with a seller from AliExpress. It’s not even necessary to bring to the suppliers’ attention that you order their products for dropshipping purposes.
- No legal requirements
It’s a common thing for large-scale manufacturers and distributors to only work with officially established companies. Some of them even prefer only USA-registered businesses.
None of this is required to contact a manufacturer on AliExpress — the platform is exceptionally popular with private individuals who make purchases for their own use and not for reselling, which is why local dropshipping wholesalers gladly work with everyone regardless of legal status.
- Global reach
The ultimate benefit of starting a dropshipping business is the possibility to reach an unlimited number of customers who aren’t able to get these products in their own countries offline.
While general wholesalers mostly offer shipping within Europe or the US, AliExpress makes it possible to arrange a delivery literally to everywhere in the world, which allows you to enlarge your target audience significantly.
Obviously, AliExpress is not the only online ecommerce platform created for the manufacturer-to-buyer communication. Still, our own research has indicated that for the purposes of dropshipping, it is probably the best solution on the market: click the following links to learn about the possibilities and limitations of Amazon, eBay and Etsy for dropshipping.
Now, when you are aware of AliExpress benefits, you are probably wondering how to pick the most reliable business partners on this platform. We know the answer!
How to choose the best dropshipping suppliers on AliExpress
- Filter the product search results
The hunt for the perfect AliExpress suppliers starts on the search results page.
When you are writing your product query in the AliExpress search bar, don’t forget to tick the “4* &Up” box, and only the high quality items will be shown to you.
If you sort the results by the number of orders, you will see the most frequently purchased items at the beginning of the product list — take a look at the screenshot below.
Thanks to these simple actions, you won’t waste your time on poor quality items offered by questionable sellers: you will only deal with worthy offers that have already been tried and approved by other buyers.
- Explore the seller stats
When you go to a single product page on AliExpress, you can mouse over the store name and view the stats on this seller’s activity.
You can learn how long the store has been operating, view the feedback score from the previous buyers, and see some additional helpful stats.
Look at the screenshot below.
As you can see, that’s a pretty young store, and even though its performance isn’t exceptionally bad, it doesn’t look inspiring either.
It seems that in their feedback, the buyers often note that the sold items don’t fully match their description, there are some communication issues, and the shipping time is quite long.
How should you figure out whether you still should trust this seller? Go to the next step!
- Examine the product reviews
Within the the seller’s store, pick 8–10 items that have the highest number of orders, and go to their product pages.
In the Feedback tab on each of these product pages, read the customers’ reviews super carefully to understand what exactly is good and bad in the seller’s activity.
Pay a special attention to the reviews that contain pictures: with the help of these photos, you can roughly evaluate the quality of the product and understand whether the buyers’ claims are fair.
Sometimes, people get annoyed by some tiny details that are not really relevant and are just a one-time ‘glitch’ in the interaction.
But sometimes, several different buyers point out the same difficulties they had during the purchasing process, and that’s a bad sign. For example, it is highly important for the suppliers who offer clothes: if various buyers write that several different products don’t match the expected size, it might mean that the seller offers irrelevant size charts, and it certainly doesn’t show this store in a positive light.
- Check the shipping terms
On the product page, look at the available shipping terms to understand whether the seller can ship your order to the country where the majority of your potential buyers live.
Click on the tiny arrow to change the country of delivery and to see whether the seller offers cheap and quick delivery directly to your customers. Your buyers wouldn’t want to wait their orders for a long time and be overcharged for the delivery, right?
Such research is going to give you a better understanding of the seller’s activity. Eventually, you will certainly find out about your perspectives of cooperating with this distributor, and it will make a right decision.
We hope that our little research helped you understand how to find the best dropshipping suppliers, and we’re looking forward to seeing you fill your store with the most awesome offers from great sellers!
This post originally appeared on AliDropship blog.