Dropshipping is a popular e-commerce business model that is suitable for entrepreneurs at any point in their online selling journey. Thanks to the support of dedicated dropshipping tools from Alibaba.com, getting started with this sort of business venture is easier than ever before.
In this post, we are going to discuss everything you need to know about dropshipping on Alibaba.com. We will share the step-by-step process for setting up your dropship store with the help of Alibaba.com. We’ll also share a variety of tips and tricks to improve your dropshipping experience along the way.
Let’s get started by reviewing what dropshipping is and why retailers might consider using this business model.
What is dropshipping?
Dropshipping is an e-commerce business model that involves outsourcing order fulfillment. When you have a dropshipping business, buyers make purchases on your storefront, but your fulfillment partner holds all of the inventory and ships all of the orders.
Since order fulfillment is handled by a third party, dropshippers do not need to hold any inventory. With the support of the right tools and technology, it is relatively easy to start a dropshipping business.
Why start a dropshipping business?
There are quite a few benefits of starting a dropshipping business.
For one, it is relatively cheap to get started. This makes it an attractive business model for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to test the waters of the online business world.
Dropshipping businesses are also easy to grow and scale. If you want to offer more products to your dropshipping store, you simply must find a reliable supplier and list the items on your online store.
If those benefits are not enough, here are a few stats that showcase the wealth of opportunities in the dropshipping space:
- The dropshipping industry was worth US $149.4 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach a value of US $557.9 billion by 2025
- Over 2 billion people shop online
- About a third of online businesses use the dropshipping model
- It is possible to start a dropshipping business for as little as US $280
Dropshipping on Alibaba.com with innovative integrations
Alibaba.com is an online marketplace that is equipped with the tools for many different types of digital retailers. Last year, Alibaba.com partnered with Dropified to better serve dropshippers.
Dropified is a dropshipping software that automates and streamlines the dropshipping process. It works with a variety of e-commerce tools to unify the entire dropshipping process from sourcing to selling to order fulfillment.
With the partnership between Dropified and Alibaba.com, dropshippers can connect their online storefronts so that fulfillment partners are alerted when an order has been placed and needs to be filled.
What is particularly nice about this partnership is that dropshippers can automatically add products from Alibaba.com to their storefronts with the click of a button.
It is worth noting that AliDropship is another popular tool on the market that makes it possible to start an AliExpress dropshipping business. However, AliDropship is owned and operated independently of Alibaba.com and AliExpress.
How to dropship from Alibaba.com
Dropshipping on Alibaba.com is fairly straightforward thanks to the platform’s collection of tools and integrations.
With that said, here are the 6 steps you can follow to start dropshipping on Alibaba.com.
1. Make a plan
As with any business venture, making a plan is a good first step for starting your dropshipping business.
Think about what sort of dropship products you’d like to sell and the audience that you would like to serve. If you don’t know where to start, it is easier to get a product idea by thinking of a problem that you can solve for a specific group of people.
As you formulate your plan, you should take some time to determine which countries or regions you’d like to serve. Having this mapped out will come in handy as you make decisions throughout the process of starting your dropshipping business.
Also, consider your budget. How much capital do you have access to? Are you willing and able to seek funding if necessary?
Once you figure out these points, you can move forward with your preparations.
2. Choose a supplier
Once you know what sort of products you’d like to offer, it is time to choose a supplier. You can browse Alibaba suppliers who offer fulfillment services on dropshipping.alibaba.com. Either search for a related keyword or review specific product categories.
During your conversations with potential fulfillment partners, ask how quickly they fulfill orders.
As you work a deal with a fulfillment partner, you can negotiate the unit price. It will probably end up being somewhere between the standard wholesale price and the retail prices since the fulfillment service fee is tacked on.
Order samples from a few different suppliers to make sure that you’re happy with the product quality from your chosen supplier. By ordering from multiple suppliers, you have something to compare the product to.
Also, keep in mind that “low cost” does not always equate to “best option.” Even though one supplier may offer a better deal, it might be worth springing for the option with the better product at a higher price.
Since your supplier will also serve as your fulfillment partner, it is important to ensure that they’re capable of serving your customers in a way that represents your brand well. Choose a partner with whom you can see yourself having a strong working relationship. Make sure communication and transparency are at the foundation of this newfound partnership.
Finally, make sure that your chosen supplier is capable of serving customers in the region that you’d like to target.
3. Create an online storefront
Now, it is time to create an online storefront. This is where your buyers will come to make purchases, so you must customize your digital real estate to truly reflect your brand.
Aside from your “Shop” page with your product listings, your online storefront should include an “About” page and a “Contact” page. It is also a good idea to have an FAQ section that answers any questions potential buyers may have. If you have testimonials or reviews from past buyers, add them to your storefront, as well.
Providing all of this information will make your brand appear more legitimate and reliable. When shoppers feel that your site is trustworthy, they are more apt to buy from you.
There are a variety of platforms that are dedicated to building out your online storefront. Some of the most popular platforms for building independent storefronts include:
- Woocommerce (via WordPress)
- Big Cartel
A great way to enhance the buyer experience is to choose a platform that supports a variety of different options for payments, such as credit cards, debit cards, PayPal, or even Afterpay.
Another way to enhance the buyer experience is to choose a platform that supports auto-translation and automatic currency conversion. Your site doesn’t have to be completely universal, but if it automatically presents the most popular languages and currencies of your target audience, you should be good to go.
No matter which approach you take, make sure your online storefront is optimized for mobile use because dropshippers see as much as a 30% increase in conversions on their mobile storefronts.
4. Setup the dropshipping integrations
Since you are outsourcing order fulfillment, it is important to lean into the support of tools and integrations that will help you streamline the process.
If you use the Dropified integration for Alibaba.com, this is quite easy since Dropified integrates seamlessly with other essential dropshipping tools.
Of course, there are other tools you can use to manage your dropshipping business, but if you’re using Alibaba.com, Dropified is the recommended option.
5. List your products
Next, it is time to list your products on your online storefront. Add titles, photos, and product descriptions so people can see what you have to offer.
It is also particularly important to optimize each product listing to increase conversions. Use language that speaks directly to your target audience. Address pain points, and position your product as a solution to a problem.
Not only should they be appealing to potential buyers, but they should be optimized to rank for related keywords in the search results. Target a mix of keywords that your ideal buyer would be searching for.
For example, if you are selling hairbrushes, think of the buyers’ intent. Even though it is broad, “hairbrushes” is more descriptive than “brushes” since it provides a bit of context. Keywords like “brushes for curly hair,” “detangling brushes,” “boar bristle hairbrushes,” or “hair brushes for women” are even more descriptive than simply “hairbrushes.”
6. Assess and revamp
If you want to maximize the success of your dropshipping business, it is important that you regularly assess and revamp your processes. Figure out what works and doesn’t work for your brand so that you can create a well-oiled dropshipping machine.
A good initial assessment is to take a look at which product listings or advertisements are producing the most sales. Do A/B testing so that you can compare “apples to apples” and generate measurable results.
Another good approach is to check the reviews from your customers. See what they like and dislike about buying from your e-commerce store, and use that insight to revamp your operations.
Start dropshipping with Alibaba.com
Dropshipping presents many opportunities for entrepreneurs that want to start a business with very low overhead.
Thanks to the collection of dropshipping tools, Alibaba.com is a great resource for entrepreneurs that are looking to start a dropshipping business or accelerate their current operations.
Alibaba.com’s integration with Dropified is especially valuable for entrepreneurs who want to start a dropshipping business.
Sign up for Alibaba.com, and indicate your trade role as “Buyer.” Browse high-quality products from thousands of sellers to find the perfect supplier for your needs.