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How To Effectively Drop Ship Ali Express Products To Your Shopify Customers

Dropshipping Ali Express Products Via Your Shopify Store

Hey guys, if you watch my Youtube Channel or read this blog you know in the past I've been less than supportive with plans for drop shipping, especially so using Ali Express, DHGate, or really any site out of the USA.

While I still maintain that buying and holding inventory is the most profitable way of engaging in e-commerce, I realize that some of you are not in the USA, some of you don't want to be tied down by an office location, and some of you just prefer not holding inventory.

For that reason we're doing a quick datasheet/methodology of how to get into dropshipping using a site like Ali Express or DHGate. 

This strategy is actually a colleague of mine's strategy who said I could share this with you. I've been meaning to put something together for a while as many of you have been asking me how to dropship using Ali Express.

One caveat I will put to this plan is do not try to use this on eBay or Amazon. For this to effectively work you will need to have your own website, personally I recommend using Shopify in general, and specifically for this method. 
ali express dropshipping shopify
Drop Shipping Ali Express Products To Your Shopify Store Customers

The problem with eBay and Amazon is buyers expect fast shipping and the liberal return policies make it too easy for a customer to do a return. Trying this method on eBay or Amazon would not only result in a huge number of returns, all of which are going to cost you money. Using this stragey on eBay and Amazon would also result in your account being suspended because buyer expect not only fast shipping, but the actual platform itself, ie eBay and Amazon expect tracking info to be uploaded in 24 hours which is not possible when using Ali Express.  

In the case study below the example used is t-shirts. Personally I would not recommend doing t-shirts. Reason being, the recent popularity of print on demand t-shirt companies out there such as TeeSpring, Amazon Merch, and dozens of others means that thousands of people just like yourself are all starting tee-shirt businesses, running facebook ads, and all competing for the same clients. If you want to do the t-shirt game I would recommend just setting up an account with a print on demand company and promoting your t-shirts that way. If you choose to use this Ali Express drop shipping method I would recommend finding another product to sell.
Oberlo has been around for a little bit, but not enough people are using it. I dropshipped before without Oberlo, and frankly it's an incredible time-saving product. 
Oberlo cuts the time required to setup your store down by 10+ hours easily. It allows you to import products to your store within seconds, and takes care of inventory/order management. It automates a lot of the tedious aspects to dropshipping. Setup is the most time-consuming part of dropshipping. Once it's setup, and your advertisements + affiliate network are set up, it's smooth sailing.

This is a quick step-by-step rundown, and is not exhaustive. If you have any questions, PM me or do a google search!

1. Product

The first stop obviously, is to pick a product. I picked clothing targeted towards students. There's a lot of information out there saying pick a product that you can sell for $20-$70, but as long as your margins are good, it doesn't really matter. My products cost me anywhere from $3-$10(including shipping), and I always make around a 50% margin. Just browse Amazon + Aliexpress, see which products have a lot of orders, five-star ratings, all that jazz and build a store based on that. Pick a theme and stick to it. I sell womens fashion, and unisex accessories; I didn't both with mens clothing as women do most online shopping.

You can really make a store selling anything. I've seen fishing lure stores, women's cosmetics, yoga mats, paper, pens. As long as you can target a certain niche with your advertisements, you'll be fine. The problem most people have, is that they pick a product but don't know how they'll target that niche.


2. Setup Shopify

Once you have your product idea, set up a shopify. They offer a free trial, so you can test your store for a few weeks before actually paying. My favourite theme for online stores is 'Venture', and it's free. It's very non-programmer friendly, and you can set up a store within a day no problem.

Note: If you're selling clothing, make sure you add a sizing chart in the product description; it seems simple, but for a week I completely forgot to add a sizing chart, and lost a bunch of sales because of it..Rookie mistake.

Shipping rates: I use $5 within the U.S, $8 to Canada, and $10 international - but feel free to adjust those depending on your products, audience, and discounts.

3. Sign up for Oberlo
On Shopify, click on 'Apps', and search for Oberlo. They offer a month-free trial, so again - it's fantastic for testing. Sign up takes one minute. It automatically connects to your shopify. Use Oberlo with Google Chrome (it's an extension).

4. Upload Products to Oberlo

If you're on aliexpress, make sure your Oberlo plugin is enabled. Sort your product category by orders (the most ordered products will appear first). Only choose products that are highlighted in green (an Oberlo feature), and are available to ship via 'epacket'. Epacket is a quicker, cheaper way to cheap that is offered between Oberlo/Aliexpress. It cuts shipping time down by 10-15 days in most cases.

To upload to Oberlo, you'll see a blue circle with a white price tag in the middle - press that, and your products are directly uploaded to Oberlo. Fill in your own product details, choose which pictures to use, set your price and then hit 'Push To Shop'. Make sure you choose a collection in Oberlo so your products upload properly (i.e Women's Shirts, Mens Shoes etc).

If you're doing clothing, don't upload every variant. I chose 2-3 for each product. Your goal is to not give the customer too many options...people get overwhelmed easily when it comes to online shopping.

When someone buys with Oberlo, you simply need to click 'Fulfill'. You can choose to automatically do that whenever someone buys a product, but it's a bit iffy if the variant is suddenly not available, so I choose to manually do it.

5. Setup Social Media (Facebook, Instagram), and offer (optional) product to Affiliates
Create a Facebook and Instagram account for your store. Fill it up with content, use related hashtags. You may think it's not worth it, but spending a couple of bucks to buy some followers is important; social proof is big in the eyes of buyers. The same product can be offered by two accounts, one with 100 followers and the other with 5k, it's obvious who they'll buy from.

Most of my sales came from affiliates. Contact people (in my case, babes) who are related to your product with a lot of followers. Offer them a % per sale (Affiliatily is an app on shopify for this). I offered 15% per sale, but you can do more or less depending on the price of your product. I messaged about 50 affiliates, 15 got back to me. I sent the product express, and within a week I was receiving sales from my affiliates.

Download any app for instagram that allows you to preload pictures. No use going on yourself every day to post a picture. Preload like 30 pictures with hashtags and you'll be good for a few weeks.

6. Run Facebook Ads + setup your facebook pixel.
Facebook ads are powerful. Take a week to test ads at $5/per day. Target based on your product. I targeted women who shopped online for clothing, so an example of interests I used were: Zara, forever21, H&M etc...And make sure that your picture in your advertisement is good quality (use an image resizer).

Set your ads up for conversions and clicks, then track using your facebook pixel, which can be easily setup to connect with Shopify. I'd even recommend using a google analytics account. Test for a days, check results. If people are getting to checkout but not buying, it may be your shipping is too expensive.

Discounts - 10% off, 15%, free shipping discounts all lead to a lot of sales. 10% off $20 isn't much, but people go crazy for discounts. I'm currently offering a 'Summer16' discount on all clothing which is for free shipping, and I've already receiving 200 orders with it this week alone.


7. Test, test, and test some more. 
If some products aren't selling - remove them. If you have a good theme, and a good target niche, you will sell products, so keep testing. Took me a week to figure out exactly what my target niche wanted.

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In the end, I really like dropshipping. I know this step-by-step guide isn't everything you need to know, but it's a general idea. On my journey to location independence I've tried a lot of things; and this is by far my favourite. It's scalable, automated and relatively easy to setup with little cost. It takes some time in the research-phase, but it's an easy business model to learn.

Once your store becomes profitable, you can easily sell it and start a new one. I run two stores at the moment, and while I can't replace my current income, it's getting there.

In general, the process is: Research > Set up Shopify/Oberlo > Promote > Scale > Automate.

WRAP UP

Okay, so you guys know I have been somewhat critical of drop shipping as a business plan. I'm not totally opposed to drop shipping, but I do find the way many people setup their drop ship business is half hazard, not well thought out, and is going to wind up creating many problems and monetary losses.

Drop Shipping if well thought out and well organized can be a viable business option. 

A couple of the biggest issues I had in the past with this business method is that I anticipated customers would be upset by the longer than usual shipping times since the items are comming from China. While you will get occasional inquiries, if your upfront about the shipping times on your site during checkout, it is what it is. I was also told by a few people using this method it's not really a big issue at all.

The other potential problem I noted with this type of business plan is returns. Since Ali Express typically either doesn't accept returns, or at the very least you having  to pay for return shipping to China makes it cost prohibitive, pretty much any item returned to you by a customer is going to be a loss. To recoup this loss try reselling the physical product your now stuck with on eBay or Amazon. That said, if you setup your margins correctly to the point where your at least making double your money, even if you have to send a replacement product, your still in the green.

For example, if I'm selling a tee shirt for $20 and it costs me $5, even if I had to send the customer 3 shirts because they complained they didn't fit, the cost to me is still only $15 where as I made $20 off the sale. 

If you guys have any questions, or if any of you using this method or a similar one want to chime in with any tips or advice feel free in the comments section below.  

Links:

Oberlo - https://www.oberlo.com/
Shopify - 
http://1.shopifytrack.com/aff_c?offer_id=2&aff_id=4171
Ali Express http://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/aiaqvbeaE
Image resizer - http://resizeimage.net/

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