How to find a supplier on Aliexpress for dropshipping

How to find a supplier from China on Aliexpress?

Everyone who works on the dropshipping system knows firsthand that the way to the mailbox (and the heart) of the client lies through a quality supplier. It can become both your trump card in the fight against competitors, and a thorn in the... payment system due to product returns due to poor-quality goods or delayed shipments. Who the supplier you find will be for your business on Shopify depends on how successfully you learn to search for them and communicate with them.

We will describe the principles of working with suppliers specifically on AliExpress, but they are applicable to suppliers and other sites. The catch with AliExpress is that there are thousands of suppliers represented here. And sometimes it is very difficult to distinguish really high-quality and responsible from always screwing up, "forgetful” and, even worse, scammers. Also, as a bonus, we will tell you how to look for wholesale suppliers in China, and who to contact for help.

Types of suppliers: manufacturers, sellers and intermediaries (how to distinguish them and what is the difference between them)

Conditionally, all possible options for the selection of suppliers can be divided into 3 categories:

  1. Manufacturers (representatives of factories that produce the product and sell it on Aliexpress themselves)
  2. Sellers (enterprising individuals or whole associations who purchase products from manufacturers from factories at a low price and sell them in their own stores on Aliexpress with a margin)
  3. Agents (usually a separate ad group on Aliexpress, which offers services for finding products for dropshipping and not only at favorable prices, with fast delivery, etc.)

Most often you will interact with sellers (type 2). They are the most common.

Methods and tips on how to choose a supplier

As we said above, suppliers for an online store from China do not always differ in their quality. Conditionally, we can distinguish the 4 most important quality markers of the supplier:

  1. Rating of reviews on AliExpress
  2. Communication + responsiveness
  3. Product Quality
  4. Quality and speed of sending

In order not to be 1 on 1 with a crowd of angry customers attacking your mail 24/7, because of another non-working device or a shipment delayed for a couple of weeks, we advise you to first analyze our "friend” with Ali.

1. Rating of reviews on Ali

Example of a good rating for a supplier

Even before the start of communication, we have the opportunity to conduct an initial analysis of the supplier's quality on Ali. By experience, we have determined that serious suppliers are usually not the first year on the platform (1 year or more). We do not advise blindly trusting "stray" guys who attract with a low price, but at the same time they can simply let you down when you reach good volumes. Also, the average "working" rating for a store on AliExpress is 4.5. Of course, there may be exceptions, but if there is a choice, then why not choose someone better?

2. Communication + responsiveness
‘Hi, Friend! Want to make some serious money with me?’

Let's say you have found several suppliers of the right product with a sweet price for you and a good rating. Contact the suppliers you are interested in (you don't need to know Chinese for this, you can do it in English).

Let them know that you are interested in their product and would like to cooperate on the dropshipping system, you plan to do this on an ongoing basis with large volumes. Even if you do not have large sales volumes right now or you are just preparing your first launch at all, this does not mean that you cannot “show your importance”.

Ask all the questions you are interested in. For example, you can ask for more photos/videos for creatives (if available), as well as real photos/videos from the warehouse with packaging. This will help you at least approximately understand what the product that your customer will receive will look like, and also show that you are really serious.

One of the options for starting communication with the supplier. Thus, it turned out to get a good enough video for a creative that was not freely available

If they react very slowly (respond after a few days) or communicate as if they don't care (ignore key questions, answer others, use just an answer template), this is the first call that there may be problems at the stage of working with them.

Try to ask the supplier from time to time if everything is OK with the product in stock. It may be that they will forget to warn you that it is over, and orders are coming! As a result, you can then wait a week until they appear at the supplier

A good indicator is the transition from the supplier directly to the WeChat messenger (an analogue of WhatsApp in China). Smart and open to 24/7 service providers can offer it to you themselves. They understand that we (the owners of online stores) earn them money and it is important to have direct communication on all issues.

3. Product quality

The Internet is full of memes on the topic “expectation / reality” for products from AliExpress

Of course, most stores on AliExpress are sellers themselves, and most often, they sell the same product from the same source (factory), which means that the quality should be the same in theory. However, there are exceptions here, and from personal experience we can say that different suppliers may have the same product of different quality. It depends on the storage, packaging and how much attention he pays to checking before shipping. Also, if the product has a dimensional grid — how much it corresponds to reality.

As we described above, one of the ways to check the quality is to ask to reset the real photos/videos of the product, packaging, and its storage. It is also a good idea to study the negative customer reviews in the supplier's store. If the quality problem is chronic, most likely, such reviews will not be isolated.

You can also perform the "next check". If the product goes on stable sales and you plan to build a long-term brand, it's a good idea to test it yourself before further scaling your advertising.

You can order it and go through the "client's path". How long has it been going on? In what form does it come? What does the packaging look like? Will it break after a few uses? (stress test). Does the customer get what they expect when they buy this product from you?

4. Quality and speed of dispatch

The pain of thousands of people waiting for their goods in one photo and a message in the messenger ‘Please friend do not worry we will send we promise’

When communicating with a supplier, two more things are really important: the order processing time (Fulfillment Time) and the Shipping Method (Shipping Method).

The shorter the order processing time, the better. Smart suppliers, having learned that you are a dropshipper, will try to send orders from your customers faster. And if you consistently bring them orders, then even more so. When communicating with the supplier, ask that your orders be shipped within 24 hours. For some suppliers, the processing time is 3 or even 5 days, which, in the case of delivery in 14 or more days, will add to our headache when communicating with customers who have not even received a notification about the shipment.

With regard to the delivery method, the most popular are usually Epacket and Standart Ali Shipping. They will not be able to guarantee the exact delivery time to you, but this point can also be discussed in correspondence with the supplier. Specify specifically about the countries you are interested in, ask them to provide evidence (sometimes they throw off the delivery screenshots using real track numbers, where you can see how much the goods went).

It may also turn out that he has his own delivery (Yun Express, for example), which is faster and may even be cheaper, and access to it via VIP-link (a personal offer from the supplier for dropshippers with whom they work for a long time may include an additional discount, alternative delivery. Just be sure to specify whether this delivery is tracked.

BONUS. A couple of additional options

Have several suppliers on hand at once

The Aliexpress supplier is not for life, it can and should be changed if something does not suit you. You can do this even if you have already started working with the current supplier. Contact 3 or 5 others offering the same product. It doesn't hurt to have other options just in case. One of these providers may be much better than the one you are currently working with.

Also check from time to time if there are any new suppliers of this product. If it goes on trend, more and more stores will want to sell it, this is to your advantage, since you can bargain with them for a discount.

How to reach wholesale suppliers?

As you know, sellers on AliExpress are mostly intermediaries. They receive products from the manufacturer and sell them to you at a markup. But you can immediately go to search for wholesale suppliers by contacting an agent. Your online store will significantly benefit, compared to competitors, if you get access to more favorable offers with wholesale prices.

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