Is Dropshipping Unethical? A Dropshippers Opinion!


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People looking at a computer screen deciding whether dropshipping is ethical

Is dropshipping ethical or unethical? We can spin this a couple of ways!

Does this sound bad?

Oh, so dropshippers just stumbled upon this gold mine called AliExpress and decided to milk it for all it’s worth, slapping huge mark-ups on products for unsuspecting buyers? Talk about painting dropshippers as nothing short of highway robbers.

But wait, let’s rephrase that.

How about this? Dropshippers are practically heroes, giving people the chance to buy from these, let’s be honest, somewhat dodgy AliExpress suppliers, but in a way that feels safe and legit. And they do this for just a tiny mark-up. Sounds a lot nicer, right? Suddenly, dropshippers are wearing capes.

Here’s the thing: anything can be twisted to look good or bad, depending on what you want to believe. If you’re hell-bent on proving dropshipping is some kind of moral disaster, sure, you’ll find enough dirt online to back that up.

But let’s not forget, we live in a world where you can find “evidence” for just about any wild theory. Why do you think flat earthers are still a thing?

Now, let’s cut through the noise.

Dropshipping? It’s a legit business. The real issue is with some shady players who are all about making a quick buck, and not caring about customer satisfaction. They’re the ones selling subpar products, taking forever to ship, and working with unreliable suppliers, which, no surprise, makes dropshipping look bad.

But hey, let’s not lump all forms of dropshipping together. It’s a broad term, and not all dropshipping is created equal. Whether it’s sourcing products from China, working with local suppliers, or doing arbitrage dropshipping, each method has its own story. Let’s not paint them all with the same brush.

Why Dropshipping Has a Bad Reputation!

Oh, dropshipping’s got itself a bit of a bad rap, huh? That’s why you see so many stores playing it cool, trying not to look like they’re dropshipping. It’s all about image, right?

So, the smart cookies in the dropshipping world are moving into private labeling, slapping their own brand on products to shake off that iffy dropshipping vibe.

Here’s the scoop: dropshipping’s name got dragged through the mud because of a bunch of beginners setting up Shopify stores left and right, peddling cheap, crummy products. Their game?

Quick cash, customer satisfaction be damned. This is especially true for those sourcing from China, and it’s putting the legit dropshippers in a tight spot.

But here’s the kicker: these newbies don’t get that this whole fly-by-night store approach isn’t just sketchy – it’s downright lousy for business. Sure, they might snag a few quick sales, but then what?

They’re left with a bunch of ticked-off customers. That’s a one-way ticket to lousy Facebook feed scores and payment processors showing them the door thanks to a flood of chargebacks.

If you’re unsure whether dropshipping is a good business for you, I suggest you read this article first.

Dropshipping From AliExpress is Unethical!

When most people think about unethical dropshipping, their mind goes to AliExpress. This is due to the number of people using it unethically but also because it appears wrong to sell products that can be purchased for Aliexpress.

So, if dropshipping is just a big scam, does that mean all of retail is a con game? Think about it: Retail stores buy stuff from suppliers, mark up the prices, and bam – profit. That’s dropshipping in a nutshell, right?

Here’s the twist: a retail store gets its goods from a wholesaler instead of AliExpress, and a shopper can’t just waltz into a wholesaler to shop. Does that little switcheroo suddenly make it more ethical?

Both a wholesaler and AliExpress are middlemen, there are rules stopping you from buying wholesale. So, we’re all stuck paying extra for another middleman – and that’s supposed to be the ethical way? Sounds a bit backward to me.

I have an article on products I purchase from AliExpress if you want to know about its quality.

Then there’s the whole price-gouging debate. If someone buys a product for two dollars on AliExpress and flips it for twenty, is that wrong? Well, it’s all about perspective. Companies aren’t about setting ‘fair’ prices; they’re about what they think you’ll fork out.

So, if a dropshipper can pull at your heartstrings with professional ads and product descriptions, should they feel bad about charging twenty for that two-dollar item? People drop loads of cash on fancy brands for the feels – power, security, you name it. If that’s all good in the branding world, why can’t dropshippers play the same game?

We’re so used to branding, it just feels normal. No one bats an eye when Rolex prices a watch at a gazillion percent markup.

Sure, AliExpress dropshipping takes forever, but dropshippers have their tricks for faster delivery that the average consumer doesn’t know. That’s another card up their sleeve.

But here’s where it gets dodgy: hiding those snail-paced shipping times. Or being sneaky in how they list them – “Oh, it’s 9 to 12 days… but only in business days, and we need a week to just get it out the door, oh, and maybe longer if we’re busy.” That’s where dropshipping gets shady.

Stores that are straight-up about shipping times dodge a lot of headaches and angry customers. The sneaky ones? That’s a sinking ship. That kind of dropshipping’s got an expiry date – no one likes a lousy shopping experience.

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Selling Products You’ve Never Tested

Here’s another thing that gets people all riled up about dropshipping. Is it sketchy to whip up a website, write a bunch of product descriptions, and roll out ads for stuff you’ve never even laid hands on?

I get why this rubs some folks the wrong way. But here’s my take: it really depends on what you’re selling. If you’re pushing products that need to do a specific thing or solve a certain problem, then yeah, flogging them without trying them out first can feel a bit dodgy.

Take this example: I wouldn’t dream of selling a retro gaming console from AliExpress without testing it myself first. Gotta make sure it actually does what it says on the tin, right? But pet beds? Sure, I’d sell those without giving them a cuddle first.

Now, what about dropshipping those same gaming consoles from a reputable domestic supplier, sight unseen? I’d probably roll the dice on that. So, it boils down to your own call.

And a word to the wise: be super careful about selling anything from AliExpress that could be dodgy or dangerous, especially if you haven’t tried it yourself. You don’t want that kind of trouble.

The Ethical Way to Dropship!

No matter what kind of dropshipping you’re into, if you’re hooking up your customers with solid products, decent shipping times, and top-notch service, you’re on the ethical side of things, in my book.

Most pros in the dropshipping game start off with AliExpress but don’t hang around there for too long. The real move? Switching to bulk buys from China. Sure, it’s a more above-board way to do things, but let’s not kid ourselves – they’re not in it for the moral high ground. It’s about the cash and keeping the business rolling smoothly.

Going this route, you’re giving your customers:

  • Quicker shipping.
  • Better product quality.
  • Prices that won’t make them balk.
  • An easier time with returns and refunds.
  • A supplier you can actually rely on.
  • Nicer packaging.

Thinking of dropshipping from AliExpress and worried about whether you’re crossing into the dark side for a quick buck? Good, you should be. Ethical dropshipping isn’t just about staying in the clear; it’s about not messing it up for yourself and everyone else.

So, how do you keep it clean with AliExpress?

  • Get your hands on samples first. Make sure what you’re selling isn’t junk.
  • Stick with suppliers who’ve been around the block – good feedback, speedy processing, the works.
  • Choose a shipping option that doesn’t take an age.
  • Be ready to offer returns and refunds if things go south.
  • Keep your customer service game strong.
  • Make sure your supplier accepts blind dropshipping. No one needs to know where it’s coming from.
Product QualityOrdering samples to ensure high quality; only selling products that meet certain standards.Selling low-quality or counterfeit products without verifying their functionality.
ShippingUsing reliable shipping methods with reasonable time frames; being transparent about delays.Misleading customers with inaccurate shipping times; using unreliable shipping methods.
Customer ServiceProviding prompt and helpful responses; offering solutions to customer issues.Ignoring customer inquiries and complaints; providing inadequate or misleading support.
PackagingEnsuring products are well-packaged for safe delivery; using environmentally friendly materials.Using cheap, inadequate packaging leading to damaged products; disregarding environmental impact.
Ethics of dropshipping


The ethics of dropshipping vary from person to person. What I think is unethical you may think is ethical and vice versa. You do however have to draw the line somewhere and decide what you’re comfortable with.

Without throwing any specific store under the bus, I know of a dropshipping store that has a professional looking website and sell quality products with fast shipping times. However, when you make a purchase on their store, you’re automatically entered into a subscription they have created that will cost you a monthly fee. This is written in tiny print that is hard to see that 90% of wouldn’t notice.

Stores like this are what give dropshipping a bad name. At the end of the day, it’s not hard to create an ethical dropshipping business, all you have to do is provide your customers with actual value.

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