When people think of dropshipping from China, they think of AliExpress. However, Alibaba has come to the party and catered to the dropshipping community.
Alibaba is a massive marketplace of suppliers all vying for your business. Because of the abundance of competition, many suppliers will dropship, and I’m going to show you how!
Believe it or not, most suppliers on AliExpress are doing what you want to be doing, they are dropshipping from Alibaba! They are working with suppliers on Alibaba, listing their products on AliExpress and having Alibaba suppliers ship individual products for them. That’s dropshipping!
Most drop shippers start off dropshipping individual products from AliExpress and eventually transition into purchasing in bulk once their products are making consistent sales.
It’s a far easier process to use Alibaba from the start and simply make a bulk order from the same supplier you’re already dropshipping from.
Does Alibaba Allow Dropshipping?
Alibaba has always allowed dropshipping, however, it’s not what the platform was built for. The same goes for AliExpress, it was not designed for dropshipping but there are no rules in place stopping it from happening.
Alibaba now has a section of its platform which is specifically designed for dropshipping, however, the prices can be high. Alternatively, many suppliers on Alibaba will dropship individual products for you if you can prove it will be beneficial to their business.
Since introducing the option to dropship in 2021, it’s made it far easier to dropship. However, it’s not always the best choice! You can check out Alibaba’s Dropship section here.
When you check out the product and shipping prices you will see it’s very hit and miss and may not always be viable to dropship their products profitably.
Any Alibaba supplier, even the ones not offering dropshipping services may still dropship for you and provide you with better prices than the ones being offered. I’ll cover how to persuade them below.
Is Alibaba Good for Dropshipping?
There are a bunch of advantages with dropshipping from Alibaba instead of other platforms such as AliExpress:
- You don’t need to switch platforms and search for a supplier stocking the same product when you decide to purchase the items in bulk.
- Alibaba is designed as a B2B platform meaning you are not selling products the general population has access to.
- The prices are not set in stone and you can negotiate everything from the pricing, product quality and shipping options.
- You have the option of private labeling by customizing your products with alterations and adding your logo.
- The prices are often much lower since you can either work directly with manufacturers or trade companies who work with manufacturers.
- You can find products that are not listed on AliExpress meaning you’ll have far less competition.
How to Get Lower Prices with Alibaba Dropshipping Suppliers
We’ve covered the easy way of dropshipping from Alibaba. The problem with the Alibaba Dropship Center is the product and shipping prices aren’t much better than AliExpress. Often this makes dropshipping unsustainable.
Because AliExpress was created for the general shopping public, the prices aren’t negotiable. With Alibaba, you can negotiate with suppliers until you both reach a fair deal that will benefit both of you.
You can communicate through Alibaba’s message service which has its pros and cons or you can use WeChat which is China’s version of WhatsApp.
The best tactic you can do to negotiate lower prices is to talk with several suppliers who all stock the same product.
You can then message the suppliers you want to work with and send them a screenshot of the product cost of their competitors. This provides you with the leverage you require to get the lowest possible price.
Take advantage of the fact that there are copious amounts of suppliers on Alibaba and you can essentially force them into a price war.
Product pricing is not the only thing that can be negotiated. Depending on your business needs you may want to negotiate:
- Faster and low-priced shipping
- Product quality
- Private labeling options
- Packaging and marketing materials
How to find reliable dropshipping agents in China
23 Questions you have to ask Alibaba suppliers
How to Contact Suppliers on Alibaba for Dropshipping
Often the best Alibaba suppliers to work with are not offering to dropship individual products. The good news is that many of them can be persuaded to dropship if you approach them correctly.
The key is to sound like a legitimate business so they take you seriously and really want your business. Make them feel like this is a great opportunity for them to make some serious money.
Reassure them that once you are making consistent sales with dropshipping, you plan to make a large bulk order from them. By asking for prices in large units in your message, you’re insinuating you plan to purchase that amount in the future, even if you don’t.
Below is an example of the kind of inquiry I would use to contact a supplier. Feel free to use the template below but alter it to suit your business needs.
Supplier Inquiry Template for Dropshipping
My name is (your name) and I am the purchasing manager for (your business name). We are an online retail company and we are interested in (product name).
How our business normally operates is our supplier’s dropship initially so we can monitor the demand for our product. Once we are making consistent sales we will then make a large bulk order based on the volume of sales.
If this is something your business is interested in, our company would love to work with you. I believe we can build a long-term and mutually beneficial partnership.
Can you please provide the following information:
- What are the specifications of your product?
- Do you offer private labeling options?
- Your average processing times?
- Which shipping lines do you use and what are the estimated shipping times to the United States?
Please provide pricing for the following quantity of units:
- Price for 100 units:
- Price for 500 units:
- Price for 2,000 units:
Please feel free to contact me and discuss this further via Whatsapp, WeChat or Email (Add your details).
(Your Contact number)
How to Dropship Products from Alibaba with Shopify?
Let’s say you’ve communicated with your Alibaba supplier and they’ve agreed to dropship for you, now what?
From your Shopify dashboard head to the Shopify marketplace and download the Dropshipping on Alibaba app. Then head to “install app” to have your Alibaba app installed on your Shopify store.
You can then start shopping for products to add to your Shopify store. From there you click on “Add the product to your import list” you will then be given all the product information including the potential profit you can make.
Once you’re satisfied with your product selection you click the “push to store” button. You now stock that product on your Shopify store, it’s that easy!
Why Some Alibaba Suppliers Will Not Dropship?
There will always be some Alibaba suppliers who will decline dropshipping products for you. There are a few common reasons for this:
- The type of business the supplier runs will be a large factor. Manufacturers will be less likely to dropship simply because their focus is on manufacturing. Shipping individual products for you is not their priority. A trade company is a better option for dropshipping.
- If the product you want to dropship is a low-cost item, it’s not really worth their time. It may already be an inconvenience for their business so I would not bother reaching out for their dropshipping services if the product is under $50.
- The larger the company the less likely they will dropship. These companies deal in large volume and have higher MOQ and they will look at dropshipping as a waste of their time. Smaller companies are more likely to dropship.
You may find that many suppliers will have listed they have a MOQ of 1 piece. This is often just to make you click through to their website and then you will see their MOQ maybe 100.
They can say this because the MOQ of 1 piece can be classed as a sample. Samples are often expensive so don’t assume you can dropship with their sample prices. For advice on ordering samples I suggest you read my article on ordering product samples from Alibaba.
Key Takeaways and Tips for Dropshipping on Alibaba
- For the best chance of a response from a supplier, contact them first thing in the morning China time. Remember they are 15 hours ahead of pacific time in the USA.
- Low prices should not be the only deciding factor when choosing a supplier to work with. Ideally, you want quality products, access to fast shipping lines, fast processing times, private labeling capabilities, good communication skills, fast response times and trade assurance.
- Get samples from multiple suppliers and always have backup suppliers you can work with if you need.
- Most suppliers will not dropship low-cost products for you, it’s just not worth their time. They are far more likely to agree with high ticket items.
- You only want to dropship short-term from Alibaba. It’s advantageous to you and your supplier to order in bulk and either use an agent in China or a domestic 3PL to ship your products individually.
- I suggest you read my article Can Alibaba Be Trusted? for some tips on avoiding any dodgy suppliers.