Being part of a thriving and profitable eCommerce platform can serve as a good foundation to start an online business. The go-to platform is often Amazon but that’s not what I’ll be discussing today. Instead, I’ll be showing you how to make money with Aliexpress, the company that makes headlines when it earns $30.8 billion on Singles’ Day in 2018.
Yes, you read that right, billions in a day.
AliExpress at a Glance
Launched in 2010, AliExpress is a Business-to-Customer (B2C) retail owned by Alibaba, a multinational conglomerate company. The platform is catered for Chinese small businesses and suppliers to sell goods to the international market. You can find common products such as electronic goods to very bizarre ones like the inflatable water theme park (I kid you not).
The Amazon marketplace is said to be one of its biggest competitors, but if you look at the latest sales stat, it doesn’t even come close to what AliExpress is currently achieving (except for one).
- The site is visited by over 732 million viewers per month.
- It has more than 60 million regular customers.
- It delivers to more than 230 countries.
- Over 75% of sales come with free shipping.
The exception here is that Amazon carries more products (> 560 million) than AliExpress (about 100 million). In terms of variety, Amazon does offer more yet there’s still plenty of room for profit-making. Just one caveat though.
Selling opportunities are only available for Chinese companies, so unless you are based in China, you are not qualified to become a seller. However, there are two things you can be part of – dropshipping or affiliate marketing – and that’s what we’ll be talking about today.
(1) AliExpress Dropship
In a growing digital world, AliExpress Dropship represents one of the most popular dropshipping companies in the global market and offers a slightly different take on eCommerce websites. If you are looking for something that breaks the mold and wants to own a niche online store without the fuss of inventory, this may be a good alternative for you.
How Does It Work
AliExpress Dropship is a favorite among sellers because it has no start-up fees. Its innovative business model allows you to hold inventory online without ever having the items delivered to you. This business model means that products are bought from the manufacturer or supplier through listings displayed in your niche online store.
Once the items have been bought, you order them straight from the manufacturer. The manufacturer or supplier then ships the item directly to your customer, while you retain any markup on the sales as profit. There are literally no costs whatsoever if you want to start using AliExpress Dropship.
There is a small amount of risk involved though. If you forget to keep a close eye on prices, for example, and sell a product that has since become more expensive, you risk taking that difference as a loss. Provided you perform well and update frequently, this dropshipping business could turn into a regular little money-making side hustle.
How Do I Get In On DropShipping?
It’s easy to start with AliExpress Dropship and you don’t need any funding. All you need is an online store, which isn’t that hard to set up. You can set up a site with Shopify, Woodropship or AliDropship and put together a completed store. Once you have somewhere to house your products, you need to decide on your niche.
What sort of inventory would you like your store to carry? Are you an avid drone flyer? A fan of wigs and hair extensions? Lover of jewelry? You can sell whatever you want with dropshipping.
After choosing a niche, you can begin stocking your store and run strategic marketing. Promotion helps drive customers to your store and there are several ways of doing it, either through free or paid techniques. Watch this video to learn more.
Is AliExpress Dropshipping Worthy of Your Time?
To put things into perspective, let’s highlight some pros and cons of dropshipping products from China.
- You can mark up the selling price according to your liking (but within a reasonable range).
- There are no service fees to access the product database.
- There’s good customer support to help your store establish good credibility.
- Due to its global outreach, your products will appeal to a wider audience market.
- You can work on the store as a side project and gradually grow into full-time.
- You run the risk of being out-priced by suppliers and eating into your own profit if you are not paying attention.
- There’s also the risk of dealing with untrustworthy suppliers who dish out poor quality products without your knowledge.
- If the buyer does not like the item, has a complaint or any other issues – you are the one who has to take the flak.
- Free delivery has its perks but shipping can take up to 30 days (or more) depending on destinations. This can discourage or even frustrates shoppers.
With that in mind, if you still like to start your own AliExpress Dropshipping business, please visit this guide to learn more.
(2) AliExpress Affiliate Program
Another business model that doesn’t involve a store setup per se, is called affiliate marketing. With the AliExpress affiliate program, you can promote products through blogging and earn from the sales commission. That way, there’s no need to list products or worry about finding suppliers.
Just like dropshipping, the first step involves finding a niche – something that’s not only interesting but one that you have extensive knowledge about. Since blogging is all about creating content, the more information you share about a product, the more it’s going to attract the consumer savvy shoppers. As a result, the more sales conversion you are likely to make.
With affiliate marketing, understanding the behavior of your targeted audience is crucial – what are their concerns, expectations and how certain products can help solve their problems. All these aspects can be answered through product reviews and that’s what you’ll be working on mostly with your content.
How to Become an AliExpress Affiliate
After deciding on a niche, the next step is to set up a blog. WordPress is one of the most popular platforms – from blogging to creating an online store. Even for products, you don’t own, it’s possible to install a store feature onto your site. It is also neat to use because of the plugin features that customize functions for the site.
Having a blog with content is a prerequisite for most affiliate program application as it helps the merchant to verify your commitment towards promoting the niche. However there are two types of WordPress out there – the dot com version and the self-hosted version – so make sure you know the difference. In essence, self-hosted WordPress is my go-to platform because it is more flexible and doesn’t have all the monetizing restrictions that come with WordPress.com.
If you’ve never used WordPress and are curious to know what it looks like on the inside, simply create one for free using the tool below.
To join the program, there are a few affiliate networks that can facilitate the process. You must first create a user account with the network (it’s free) before you can access the merchant. Once you have been accepted, a unique coded link will be made available to allow you to paste onto the relevant spaces and text of your content.
Interestingly, each network comes with different offers in terms of the commission rates so have a look at this information before you apply. At CJ Affiliate, Aliexpress has a high network earning of ⅘ and it offers a 4% commission on all products with a 3 days cookie period. At FlexOffers, the rate is slightly lower at 3% with the same cookie duration.
The best offer I’ve seen so far is with the Admitad network whereby commissions are structured according to product categories. Similar to the Amazon Advertising Fees, it will give you something worthy to think about when selecting a niche product to promote on AliExpress. If you are interested to earn more than 4%, you should look into the following highlighted categories.
Is AliExpress Affiliate Program Worthy of Your Time?
Before joining a program, it’s important to know what you’ll be facing for the long haul so here are the pros and cons.
- The availability of worldwide shipping means that you have a wider targeted audience.
- You can pick and choose whatever products you like to share.
- You don’t have the risk burden faced by a drop-shipper.
- The investment fee is very minimal – just purchase a domain name, subscribe to a WordPress hosting and you’re good to go. These virtual properties will forever be yours.
- Long delivery time can turn off many potential customers, especially those living far from China like the US or Canada.
- Although growing in popularity, AliExpress is also known to deliver subpar and occasionally, low-quality goods. This can disappoint buyers and people may not want to buy through your recommendation in the future.
- Different commission payouts offered by different networks can be confusing for new affiliates to choose from.
- Like most blog marketing, it takes a while for content to bring in free search engine traffic. If you want to speed things up, putting money into advertising is crucial.
- Between the two, the Amazon associate program seems like a more popular choice for niche bloggers as compared to AliExpress.
Earning from sales commissions can seem like a small gain, but if you really put in the effort, it can be an excellent source of passive income. If this is what you want to achieve through the AliExpress affiliate program (or any program/brands for that matter), feel free to get a tip or two from my recommended online training place here.
I hope this guide has been helpful to you. Please leave your comments or questions down if there’s any.
Thank you for a great explanation of how dropshipping works. Those are mind-blowing facts about AliExpress.
I am currently working with Amazon and I now see clearly why I should get into the AliExpress wagon. I am more familiar with the affiliate business model as I find it more ‘safe’ than dropshipping. Will need to be careful with the price tags to avoid those losses – thanks for the heads up.
I have been looking at drop shipping lately and it confuses me with all the names – Oberlo, Shopify, Aliexpress, Woocommerce among others. Slowly, I am getting it but there is so much to learn and think about.
Is it a good idea to set up a store with an existing WordPress website, adding a dedicated page (store). Or better to build a store alone?
It depends, Sharon. A dedicated dropshipping store can offer convenience but collectively, they can be pricier to maintain. On the flip side, it’s not impossible to use WordPress and combined with a dedicated page – often you need to pay for a plugin/theme to do the job. Neither is superior to the others – it all boils down to preference.
With the exception of plugins, I believe there are free trials for stand-alone stores. Give those a try and see where it leads you.
Thanks for the advice, Cathy.
Dave Sweney says
This was an article that is near and dear to my heart (and a portion of my online business). We have a lot of niche stores and although none is hitting it out of the ballpark, together they do earn significant profits for the business. It is my opinion that using AliExpress for a dropshipping business will work.
The key that we have found is to make buyers aware upfront of the shipping times, which are much longer than say Amazon, these days. As long as they know, they generally do not complain. I look for suppliers that have high ratings and shorter OST (order ship time). You are right that the platform is huge, and is a billion-dollar (and more) giant when it comes to sales.
You have explained very well how to get into the business and also the pros and cons that you mention are important so interested people will know what they are getting into. Can you make money with dropshipping? My experience is yes! Do you know of others that have had success using AliExpress?
Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Dave. I know of some people who use AliExpress affiliate program, but not for dropshipping. Sounds like you have some success there with the stores. Do you use a combination of Amazon and AliExpress or do you only focus on one platform?
I’ve always wanted to be a drop shipper ever since I saw all those advertisements from gurus in the online business arena. Though I feel as if this post allows me to better understand the logistics of dropshipping and the pros and cons. I think I will reconsider my objective when wanting to dropship.
I think the challenge lies in finding the right suppliers and working hand-in-hand with them. If you can get that right, the rest would be to polish your online marketing skills.