According to ecom expert Tan Choudhury, over there looking good enough to get kidnapped, AliExpress dropshipping’s on life support. The main reason is that their shipping times are just painfully slow. So he doesn’t recommend it; it’s limiting your growth. “In today’s landscape,” he says, “most large ecommerce businesses try to aim for a two-day shipping experience. Which beckons the question: How can dropshippers with 14- to 30-day shipping times compete?”
“That’s what most of the people in this industry have not figured out,” Tan continues, sounding a little like Lola from Big Mouth. “The thing is, there’s levels to dropshipping. AliExpress dropshipping is literally only the base (aka Level 1) of dropshipping. It’s the worst way to dropship and it’s why there’s such a negative stigma around dropshipping. If you want fast shipping, improved product quality and therefore a more profitable ecom brand, then you need to use other methods.”
“Level 2 dropshipping can upgrade your entire experience. Again, faster shipping. Better products. Better customer service with your supplier. And overall, you’re looking at each item getting delivered in about 10 to 14 days, which literally cuts the AliExpress method in half. This is gonna be the sweet spot for most dropshippers. Here, you’re working with someone called a private agent. Their job is to source the product from different factories. Then they’ll store the inventory in their warehouse and do the fulfillment for you.”
What are the downsides to Level 2 dropshipping? One, it’s hard to find a good agent. You’ll have to do some digging online and then vet any potential candidates thoroughly. There’s a lot of bad actors in this space who’ll talk a good game but once they have your money it’s a different story. And then, two, even if you find an agent you love, they’re gonna ask you to commit to a certain amount of inventory or monthly volume, to make sure it’s worth their while. What happens if you come up short? Ya know?
“Now let me explain Level 3 dropshipping,” Tan says. “This is the pinnacle of dropshipping. This is where you can compete with the largest direct to consumer brands and really create amazing customer experiences. This is the best method ’cause you’re going to have two-day shipping, right, but there definitely is cons to this method. You’re going to be ordering products straight from the manufacturer in bulk. Meaning, you’ll have to risk all that money upfront, with no guarantee you’ll even make any sales.”
Now, if you can manage that, don’t worry, you won’t be storing this inventory in your garage and trying to ship each order out yourself. You’ll use a third-party fulfillment center who’ll handle it for ya. The best companies can have an item en route to the customer within a few hours of them buying it from your Shopify store. So it’s the ultimate way to dominate your market and build a real brand that you can sell one day. That said, most dropshippers are broke. That’s why they’re dropshipping. So Tan’s so-called Level 3 kinda defeats the purpose.
He’s well aware. That’s why you should probably hang out in Level 2—something even he does for a few of his brands. Regardless of which Level you choose, be picky about your suppliers. Do your due diligence. Talk to past and current clients of theirs if possible. Obviously order some samples. This lets you test out their shipping times and assess product quality. Don’t get into bed with ’em if the foreplay’s no bueno. Solid advice from Tan. But I’m not feeling any of those options.
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