The biggest concern for most newbies to dropshipping is the long shipping times. It’s a completely reasonable concern, especially when Amazon can ship products to their customers within a few days. Although shipping times aren’t necessarily a deal-breaker, you’ll want to reduce your shipping times as much as possible.
In this article, I’ll guide you through multiple ways you can still dropship without making your customer wait a month or longer for their products.
AliExpress wasn’t created for dropshipping, but has become the most popular platform in the world for dropshippers. This is mainly due to the huge selection of products and the low prices. But because of this, AliExpress suppliers often don’t have access to the best shipping lines.
Although I don’t recommend using AliExpress as a long-term option for dropshipping, it is a great way of testing products to validate their potential. Whilst you are dropshipping with AliExpress, you have several options when it comes to shipping.
The best value shipping options when dropshipping from AliExpress to the USA will be ePacket and AliExpress standard shipping. These options are affordable with reasonable shipping times. Carriers such as UPS, DHL and FedEx will have faster shipping times but cost far too much to make them a viable option.
I don’t recommend using carriers such as Cainiao shipping, China post or Singapore plus. Although these options are either very cheap or free, it’s not worth it!
Consumers might be happy to wait a few weeks for a product they really want, but they are not going to wait 2 months. Very long shipping times will provide you with:
- More customer service work for you
- Bad reviews
- No repeat purchases
- Bad Facebook feedback score
- More chargebacks
Not to mention it’s simply unethical to make a customer wait a couple of months for their products. I personally wouldn’t sell anything with longer shipping times than ePacket or AliExpress standard shipping provides.
1. Use Domestic Warehouses
Many suppliers from AliExpress are now shipping their products in bulk from China and storing them in international warehouses. Each country will have different inventory stored in their warehouses so some countries may have a limited selection of products to sell.
You’ll find it’s generally the best selling products that they will have stored in these warehouses. If you’re wanting to sell something unique that isn’t trending, you may find it’ll be unlikely that they have it located domestically.
By far the country with the most stock stored and ready for fast shipping is the USA. They have multiple warehouses located around the country full of AliExpress products. But most countries will have warehouses and it’s always worth checking if long shipping times are a concern for you.
Obviously, the shipping times will be dramatically increased. For ePacket shipping to the USA, you’ll be looking at 2 to 4 weeks. If your product is being shipped from the USA, those times will be reduced to 3 to 8 days.
Ok, so how do you know which products are actually being stored within your country? It’s actually very simple.
You type the product you want to sell in the search bar, you can then filter where the product is shipped from. In the example below, I have searched dog beds and chosen to ship from Australia. You’ll be given a list of all the dog beds currently available for shipping from Australia.
On the actual product page, you will then be given a list of countries you want to ship from and you can then choose Australia.
One thing to be aware of is suppliers have a reputation for lying about the location of their products. They will have it listed as it’s located in multiple countries to entice you to purchase. Then when you dropship the product, it’ll take 3 weeks to get to your customer as it’s being shipped from China.
To avoid this, only work with experienced and reputable suppliers who have a good feedback score.
2. Use a Dropshipping Agent
A dropshipping (Sourcing) agent is essentially a supplier. They are a middleman between you and the manufacturer just like any other supplier you deal with, but they can provide far more options than a regular supplier.
One of the biggest advantages of working with an agent is they have access to faster and more reliable shipping carriers.
With AliExpress, your best options are ePacket and AliEpxress standard shipping. An agent ships large volume and therefore has access to shipping carriers such as YunExpress, 4PX, CNE Express and more.
These shipping carriers are generally priced around or slighter higher than ePacket but will be much faster and more reliable.
Dropshipping agents also have much faster processing times than many AliExpress suppliers. Often an order can be fully processed within 24 hours, AliExpress suppliers can take up to a week just to process an order.
A good agent can be invaluable to your business, the problem is that it can be tough to find a good one and often the good ones will require a certain amount of daily orders before they will work with you. Many will require a minimum of 30 orders a day, but they will all have a different MOQ.
Ask your agent where in China they are located. If they are located in the Shenzhen/Guangzhou region of China next to the Hong Kong airport, they will have better access to the best shipping options in China.
For more info on dropshipping agents, check out my article Chinese dropshipping agents.
3. Order in Bulk
If you’re dropshipping from AliExpress and making consistent sales with a product, it may be worth ordering in bulk and having it shipped to your country.
You can use Alibaba which is the sister company of AliExpress, to make a large order. This has many benefits over dropshipping from AliExpress:
- Lower product cost
- Better product quality
- Faster shipping
- Lower priced shipping
- More repeat business
- Dealing with better suppliers
- Better packaging
All this adds up to more profit for you. Of course, with anything with this many upsides, there will always be downsides. The downside is it’s far more risky and more money upfront for you.
Never assume a product will be a winner and order in bulk without validating the potential of the product first. Dropship initially from AliExpress and wait until you get consistent daily sales before taking this step. Use AliExpress to test products only, it’s not a smart long-term strategy.
You can either have the product shipped to your own residents and ship the products yourself, or have the order shipped to a fulfillment center (3PL) such as ShipBob or Shipmonk. They can store, pack and ship the products to your customers for you with fast shipping.
4. Work with Reputable Suppliers Only
This is a step most people neglect and is one of the most important steps you can take. Do your research and only work with the best suppliers on AliExpress.
The best suppliers may have access to more shipping lines, have faster processing times and once you are making consistent sales, they will provide you with a VIP link that will give your orders priority over other orders.
When you have found a product you plan to sell, make sure you have multiple suppliers who sell the product. Not only is it important to have backup suppliers if anything goes wrong, but you can also ask them which shipping carriers they work with and their processing times.
Check out the reviews of the products they are selling. If customers are receiving long shipping times, they’ll be sure to complain about it in the reviews.
To check out the estimated shipping times from China to your country, check out Tracking more.
Often suppliers on AliExpress are middlemen themselves, they order in bulk at cheap prices and sell the products individually to dropshippers. They may wait until they receive a certain amount of orders of the same product before making a bulk purchase.
They are essentially making your customers wait so they can get a cheaper price. For this reason, you’re better off working with experienced sellers who deal with larger volume and usually have faster processing times.
Don’t just look at the lowest priced product and go with that supplier. They’re often cheaper for a reason.
5. AliExpress Alternative
It’s no secret that AliExpress can be a nightmare platform to dropship from. With their slow shipping, inferior product quality and unreliable suppliers, there are much better alternatives:
These platforms generally have access to the best shipping carriers and can therefore provide much better value shipping in terms of price and shipping times.
You’ll find these platform’s product price is similar to AliExpress or sometimes cheaper, due to the fact that they deal directly with manufacturers. Often the products on AliExpress have passed through many hands before reaching you, each taking a piece of the profits.
The big advantage AliExpress has over them is the enormous range of products they can’t get close to competing with. You’ll find if there is a product on AliExpress that they don’t have, contact them and they will generally source the product for you very quickly.
6. Domestic Suppliers Ship Faster
This is an obvious one but simply don’t dropship from China. Most beginners to dropshipping assume that dropshipping from China is the only way.
There are thousands of suppliers all over the world you can work with. There are many advantages to using domestic suppliers instead of AliExpress. People dropship from Aliexpress because the products are cheap and most people from the US simply don’t know about AliExpress.
Domestic suppliers will obviously provide faster shipping times and processing times. This means you’ll have happier customers and more repeat business.
If you’re looking for dropshipping suppliers based in the USA, check out my article How to find dropshipping suppliers in the USA for FREE!
7. Alibaba Dropship Center
Alibaba has always been the platform you go to if you want to order a product in bulk. However, in July 2021, they launched the Alibaba dropship center which enables eCommerce sellers to dropship individual products from Alibaba suppliers.
You can use the search bar to find products to dropship and you will be given a list of products without a MOQ (Minimum order quantity) that can be dropshipped.
The big advantage of this is many suppliers on Alibaba have access to shipping carriers that AliExpress suppliers often don’t have access to. This means the overall shipping times will be much faster than shipping using AliExpress suppliers.
On top of this, each supplier will have their processing times listed on the product, and these times are generally lower than the AliExpress processing times.
Many of these shipping prices are higher due to the current pandemic. You can expect these times and prices to come down over time.
Do Long Shipping Times Matter?
Obviously, the lower can get your shipping times the better, however, shipping times up to 4 weeks aren’t the huge problem many people think they are. People are willing to wait for a product they can’t easily find elsewhere.
For example, if you tried to sell a standard toaster on your Shopify store using Facebook ads, you would go broke! Nobody will wait 4 weeks for a toaster they can pick up at Walmart or Target.
You need to sell a product that can’t be easily found elsewhere and has a real wow factor that would stop people in their tracks whilst scrolling through Facebook. To be able to sell a toaster on Facebook, it would need to be able to spread the toast for you.
You will never beat Amazon’s shipping times, even many domestic suppliers may struggle to beat them. But you can beat them when it comes to the buying experience. Amazon sells anything and everything, which also means they are not perceived as an expert with anything.
You can create a brand focused on a niche or single product and build a real community around your Shopify store. This increases the perceived value and provides an experience Amazon can’t provide.
People will be happy to wait for longer shipping times for a product they deem has a higher perceived value. You don’t go to Amazon for quality, you go there for cheap convenience.
As you can see, AliExpress dropshipping is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to dropshipping. Yes, they have slow shipping times, but there are multiple ways of reducing the shipping times and multiple other options instead of using AliExpress.
Don’t assume the 7 options above are the only way to dropship with fast shipping either, there are many more. You can dropship from Amazon, eBay or Walmart if you wanted, any many people do.
You don’t need to use AliExpress or Alibaba to dropship from China, you can find other reputable suppliers in China that aren’t listed on these platforms that have faster shipping options.
People who like to criticize dropshipping for the long shipping times don’t realize there is more to dropshipping than AliExpress.