How important are the long shipping times when sourcing products from China For Your AliExpress Dropshipping Business?

This is definitely one of the most common questions that we get asked here at SaleSource. Everyone has the same question. If I dropship products from China using AliExpress, won’t shipping take weeks and if shipping is going to take weeks, won’t this stop people from buying, especially considering the fact that Amazon has normalized super-fast shipping?

Well, those are good questions. This article will answer the following things: Do long shipping times stop customers from buying? How to overcome problems caused by the long shipping? And the best way to ship items from AliExpress. 

Another thing that will be briefly discussed in this article is the importance of ecommerce tools, dropshipping tools and dropshipping software when it comes to product analysis and product research. Shopify dropshipping is full of apps (some are free and some are paid) and its important to have quite a few of those in your arsenal if you want to succeed.

1. Will the long shipping times stop customers from buying? 

The short answer to this is no. At SaleSource we’ve tested this extensively, with a variety of different stores in different niches. What we discovered is it the long shipping times don’t affect conversions that much. 

It’s true that if the shipping times take less than a week it will increase your conversion rates, but not as much as you would expect and when you consider how high the profit margins are when you’re shipping items from China – the price difference more than makes up for the difference in conversion rate. 

So, if you’re one of those people that has been dragging their feet and putting off creating a store because of this then stop, because it literally does not matter. In fact, I strongly recommend being upfront and honest with your customers about the shipping times. I do not recommend trying to hide them. 

I recommend putting at the end of your product page copy that the item is going to take 2-4 weeks to arrive. I usually even bold the section, in order to make sure that people read it. Why, you might ask? Because I’m not worried about it. In fact, doing this helps you with follow-up customer support which is something that we’re going to discuss later in this article. 

Alright, so now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s discuss why longer shipping times don’t affect conversions as much as you might think. I’m going to be doing this by comparing the AliExpress dropshipping business model to that of the amazon model and you’re going to discover that there are actually very different.

When most people go to Amazon, they go there specifically to buy something. They have something that they want in mind: Oh, I need new headphones, as my old ones stopped working. I’ll go to Amazon and find one with the best reviews, at a reasonable price. And so they go to Amazon type in headphones and he goes for the search results, then open up different listings and compare the different prices features and reviews. 

About 90% of sales on Amazon comes from people searching for the item that they want to buy. That’s why if you want to open a business on Amazon, understanding the Amazon search algorithm is key. People use Amazon in a methodical, calculated manner. They know what they want to buy, so they are constantly weighing up their options. And of course, one of the things that you will consider when you’re methodically going through and comparing items is shipping times and costs. This is why Amazon Prime items are at a huge advantage on Amazon.

AliExpress dropshipping business model is very different. If you were building your store and marketing it in the right way, then people are not coming to your store for methodical calculated reasons. 

Instead of that, they should be there because of emotion. Your goal is to pick products that when placed in front of the right person will make them go: “Wow, I love this. I really want to buy this!” 

And of course, your next goal is to create an ad that is targeted at those people so that when they see it, they want to go buy the item even though they had not planned to do so. You’re not trying to sell them items that have already decided to buy like headphones. You are instead trying to sell them items that they didn’t realize existed. But that match up with their passions perfectly. 

mug wolf mug cutlery decor home decor dropshipping shopify dropshipping aliexpress dropshipping

For instance, take this mug here. If you have been paying attention to dropshipping trends in the last year, then you may recognize this super cool mug. This item has been selling like crazy on AliExpress and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why. If you create a Facebook ad that targets people that like both animals and coffee then you’ll find that this is the perfect little item for them. 

In addition to getting them to have an emotional reaction to really want this mug, there is something else that you want to do. In your marketing strategy, you also want to make them feel like the item is on sale at a special price, and if they do not act now they will miss out on the special deal. 

To do that, you add scarcity to your ad by saying things like this item is 50% off, but only until stocks last or get this item shipped free, but only within the next 60 minutes. 

Is this false scarcity? Yes, it is. But the retail stores down the road from you are also doing this exact same thing. Why do they do it? It’s because scarcity is really effective. If people think an item is on sale, then they will believe that they need to act now so that they do not miss out. 

What this means is it they don’t think to go price check it or find another site that is selling it with shorter shipping times, because of the fact that they think that they’re already getting an amazing deal from you. This also makes it easier for the customer to accept longer shipping times. After all, if they think that they’re getting it for a super low price then they’re willing to make some sacrifices on the shipping times. 

Shopify Dropshipping: How To Overcome Challenges From Long Shipping Times?

When most people think of the challenges that are caused from long shipping times, their focus lies upon how those long shipping times are going to be affecting the initial conversions and sales, but of course if you are crafting your store and your ads to appeal to people emotionally then this is not going to be the problem. 

The problems are more likely to arise from the customer service side. If you were shipping out from China, then you are going to get a much larger influx of emails than those dropshiping the same items from the USA. 

You see, what happens is that people don’t mind the long shipping times when they buy the item but after a week or two, they start to get a little bit angsty, because it’s true, we are used to getting items reasonably fast. 

So, while people may think in theory that they are happy to wait for the long shipping times, once it actually starts to become a reality, they might start to get a little anoyed. So you will get quite a few emails saying the same things: “Where is my item? It’s been a week already” or “ It’s been two weeks and I haven’t received my item, is this normal?”.

The vast majority of people just want the reply. They want to know that someone is behind a computer screen and that they care. So don’t worry if you get an email that sounds a lot angrier than just: 

“Where is my item? It hasn’t arrived yet”. If you email them back and explain to them nicely that this is absolutely normal, and it’s going to arrive in two to four weeks as advertised. That way you’re going to calm most of the angry or angsty customers. So customer service is key here. 

But of course, just like in any business, sometimes you’ll get customers that won’t be able to be calm down and they won’t care and will demand a refund. What you do here is up to you.

I personally recommend that when you’re creating your store, you create a refund policy that only allows for refunds for faulty products or products that arrive after four weeks. 

This issue is another big reason why I strongly recommend you to be upfront with the customer from the beginning about the shipping times. I recommend that you put it in the product copy, put it in the order confirmation email and that you ask the customer to please be patient. 

If you do this, then you have zero obligation to give them a refund and if they go contest the charge on PayPal, if you were transparent and upfront with the customer, then you will win that dispute. 

If they decide to go to their bank and get a chargeback, if you’ve gone ahead and placed the shipping disclaimer at the bottom of your product page copy, then you will absolutely win that dispute. 

At the end of the day, if you don’t want to have to deal with the disputes, then you do have the option of just refunding the customer. 

These sorts of customers are very rare and at the end of the day, they usually place orders that only cost a few dollars. If you do decide to dispute, then you will always win, assuming you followed all of the above. When you hear the statement that Paypal doesn’t like dropshipping, that’s simply not true. 

What they dislike is the customers being deceived, what they dislike is shady practices and not being upfront about long shipping times – that’s shady. So don’t try to hide it because you don’t need to hide it from customers. 

How should I dropship my items from AliExpress? 

We used to recommend using the free shipping option from AliExpress, but times have changed and now we do not recommend this when you are shipping to the USA. This is because there is now a fantastic alternative – ePacket. This is an agreement between the US Postal Service and Hong Kong Post to encourage US customers to purchase items from China. It’s a heavily discounted shipping option and it is run at a loss. It will usually cost you two dollars or less to ship your items out using ePacket. 

When it comes to using the free shipping option offered by AliExpress, on average your items will arrive within around 3-5 weeks. The ePacket cuts that down to just 10-20 days, so about two to three weeks. But of course, it’s safe to put two to four weeks on your product page, in case it gets delayed. ePacket includes tracking, so if somebody tries to say that the item hasn’t arrived, you can go and check out the tracking to make sure that is true. We recommend sticking exclusively to ePacket, staying away from suppliers that do not offer this option, and sticking to items that are ePacket eligible. 

This is also another good reason why I strongly recommend beginners to focus all of your attention upon buyers located in the USA. ePacket is not available for all countries worldwide and in the countries that it is available, its not as efficient and quick as ePacket shipping to the USA. 

That’s because the ePacket shipping option for countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand is not actually the same ePacket shipping that the USA customers get. 

The shipping options have the same name, but they aren’t actually the same thing, because they are handled differently. It’s the US Postal service that runs the ePacket shipping to the USA. On the other hand its China Post that handles most of the ePacket shipping to the other countries. 

For instance, I can tell you that shipping with ePacket to my home country of United Kindgom has been a lot slower than shipping out to customers based in the USA. So don’t overwhelm yourself when you’re just starting –  stick to ePacket and stick to the USA, you can expand out from there later.

Finally, SaleSource is the perfect tool for finding good, high quality suppliers that offer ePacket – all you have to do is go to the Sale Centre – Factory pricing and we’ll take care of the rest!

Final Words

I hope that this article made it super clear that there is absolutely no need to freak out about the long shipping times and get discouraged from dropshipping for that reason alone. There is also no need to compare Amazon/eBay to AliExpress dropshipping, as these are completely different business models (despite all of them being ecommerce platforms). Just focus on providing good value to your customers and on picking dropship-friendly products (that trigger customer’s emotions and not something they can just get on Amazon or Walmart) and you’ll be fine.

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.