Ready to start your own dropshipping business? Not so fast…
I usually dive in straight away with these plugin reviews, but here I wanted to leave a few definitions at the top. Be ready to scroll back up as you read on, because it’s not exactly straightforward!
- Alibaba: this is the Chinese company that owns Alibaba.com and AliExpress.
- Alibaba.com is their website / directory that lets you connect with Asian manufacturers, usually to source bulk orders.
- AliExpress: is geared towards consumers, because you can buy single products. They also offer dropshipping by mailing items directly to your chosen address.
- AliDropship: is a platform that lets you create a dropshipping business by selling AliExpress products. You can buy a readymade dropshipping business, host your site with them, or just use their plugin for your WordPress site. This is what I’ll write about today.
And for the WordPress side of things:
- WordPress.com is the platform that lets you create a hosted WordPress website. You cannot use plugins with it, so no dropshipping possible.
- WordPress.org lets you download the software WordPress and install it on your hosting. You can install all their plugins, including…
- WooCommerce: the number one ecommerce plugin for WordPress websites.
Finally, AliDropship has two plugins for WordPress, one that works with a standard website, and another designed specifically to integrate with WooCommerce: it’s called AliDropship Woo Plugin.
Okay! Hope that wasn’t too confusing. Now let’s begin breaking it down with the pros and cons of the AliDropship plugin for WordPress.
Advantages of AliDropship:
First, let’s talk about the pros of AliExpress. It lets you sell more than 100M products from 100K+ suppliers. There isn’t much you can’t find there, from lightsaber umbrellas to leashes for hamsters.
About AliExpress suppliers
AliExpress supposedly vets the “trusted” suppliers who list on the platform. However, it’s not unheard of for scammers to slip through the cracks. Dropshipping is always risky, so common sense applies. Read the buyer reviews. Try to gauge their communication. It’s always wise to buy a product for yourself to see how fast it arrives at your house – especially before a bulk order.
Delivery is available in 200+ countries via plenty of carriers (UPS, FEDEX, DHL, TNT etc.). Shipping is often free and includes order tracking. Their Buyer Protection System is also good, as it includes money-back guarantee.
Now, the AliDropship plugin lets you:
- Import products from AliExpress into your site in one click
- Import AliExpress product reviews
- Choose customizable, mobile-friendly themes
- Integrate dropshipping with your WooCommerce store
- Built-in marketing features to send email and create coupons
- Automate pricing based on your custom rules
- Access product tracking and analytics from your dashboard
- Access free support
- Automate the plugin updates
- Add unlimited products
Disadvantages of AliDropship:
- WordPress can be hard for beginners
- Not many themes available. They also lack design flexibility because most of the settings are locked (header and menu position, layout, etc.)
- Some features are paid: for instance, a popup for recent sales ($29) or product reviews from your own customers (both cost $29).
- 1-click import only works on Google Chrome
Nice themes, but only 6 available, and you can’t modify much.
Dropship, Kick Back, Relax? Not Exactly
On top of the disadvantages listed above, I’ll add the standard challenges of starting a dropshipping business in 2019. Namely: it’s a highly competitive business model, and the gold rush is pretty much over.
In fact, one of the biggest ongoing myths about dropshipping is that you can set it up, and watch the profits roll in. That’s not true at all.
- You still need to order customer orders manually from the supplier.
- Customer support is your burden to bear.
- Online marketing is hard and competitive. You’ll need to invest a lot to get people to visit your site (Facebook Ads, Google Ads, SEO, etc.).
In short: you’ll need to treat it like a full-time job to make money out of it.
How Much Does it Cost to Get Started with AliDropship?
While using AliExpress is completely free, you still need to consider other overheads. First, of course, is the price of the AliDropship plugin. This is a one-time payment of $89, and it gives you both the standard plugin and the AliDropship Woo plugin.
Then, regardless of the plugin, you have to include WordPress site hosting (between $12 – $30 a month with Siteground for example). You can find cheaper hosting, but for an ecommerce, you want a decent bandwidth and SSL security, which can add to the price tag.
If you choose a premium WordPress theme, you’ll also need at least $39. See our WooCommerce pricing guide for general costs. It covers other potential costs for a developer and useful plugins.
You might also want to consider a professional email address for your business ($10-50 per year). It’s usually offered by your web hosting service, but not always for free.
Finally, there’s the bottomless pit of online marketing.
Hard for me to say how much you will spend here, but for an entry level dropshipping business, it’s recommended to spend at least $50 on ads per month. Really, you can spend as little or as much as you want, depending on the scale of your operations.
Should I Use AliDropship or AliDropship Woo?
If you already use WooCommerce, the answer should be obvious: AliDropship Woo offers the best integration because you can enable WooCommerce themes. However, they recommend you add a maximum of 500 products, vs a near unlimited 10,000 with the standard AliDropship plugin.
In all honesty, I’m not sure I would bother with AliDropship Woo if I didn’t rely on WooCommerce already. Remember: to use the classic AliDropship plugin you don’t need WooCommerce. A standard WordPress site will do!
How Do I Install and Run AliDropship?
You need to have WordPress installed on your site (make sure you are running PHP 7.1+ or ask your hosting company if unsure).
Find the AliDropship plugin directly on their website. (I searched the WordPress plugin directory, but couldn’t find it there.)
You need to buy the license. Bear in mind that 1 license = 1 dropshipping store.
Then, I recommend you go to the settings page.
The most important section is probably the pricing settings. It lets you define your product pricing ranges before you start importing products. If you don’t, you won’t make any profits because you would sell the product for the original price from AliExpress. I guess it’s a good time to check competitor prices to find the right margin.
For a smooth operation, you should also use Google Chrome and install the free AliDropship extension (other browsers aren’t supported yet). This will allow you to import products with one click from AliExpress. Otherwise you have to set up everything manually. That’s very tedious.
Now comes the fun part. Start browsing AliExpress and search products you like the look of.
Click import on the AliDropship banner, and that’s it! The product will automatically show up in your WordPress Products section as a draft.
Then, don’t forget to edit your own product descriptions. You can add categories, change the price, and create an inventory. It would damage your SEO if you don’t modify anything, and besides, a lot of the original descriptions are poorly written anyway.
A neat extra feature from AliDropship is that you can edit the pictures directly from the plugin. Great for removing those ugly supplier logos.
If you aren’t happy with the imported product picture, simply edit it in WordPress. No Photoshop required!
Pretty easy, right?
AliDropship and Payments
If this is your first ecommerce, you’ll be entering the weird and frustrating word of payment gateways. Essentially, they are the companies that act as intermediary between you (the merchant), your customers, and the banks. Payment gateways process card payments. And it costs money to do it.
With AliDropship, the obvious choices will be PayPal or Stripe. There are a few more options, but nowhere near as famous. They all charge between 2-4% on each transaction.
At the time of writing, there are 14 add-ons to boost your AliDropship store. WooCommerce. Here they are in picture form:
It’s not much, and it certainly pales in comparison with the 280 or so extensions available for WooCommerce.
But still, there’s some good stuff in there! The Free Abandoned Cart feature and extra Google Analytics, for instance, are great tools to add to your arsenal.
For the other add-ons, they’re a bit more niche, so maybe not essential if you’re just starting your first dropshipping venture.
Wohoo! I Made My First AliDropship Sale – Now What?
Almost there! In your dashboard, you’ll see someone ordered an article from your store. The next step is to process it with AliExpress.
To make this as simple as possible, I recommend placing orders automatically (this also requires the Chrome extension). The plugin will fill in all the customer info by itself, and you can even process several orders at once with the bulk function. Believe me, this will save you a ton of time.
Then it’s time to pay for your order. Once this is done you can see the status in your dashboard and the customer will get automatically an order confirmation with the tracking details.
From there on, the AliExpress supplier takes over and – fingers crossed – it should all be smooth sailing for you and your customer.
How Is The Free Support?
Email will be your primary contact channel, but there is also a live chat. Support is good, and the answers are clear.
But what’s really impressive is the AliDropship community forums and knowledge base. It’s rare to see something like a WordPress plugin offer such detailed information and conversation around their products.
For instance, there are 490+ conversations around the themes, and 200+ discussing the add-ons. It’s a great place to ask questions and read official answers from the AliDropship team.
Finally, the knowledge base is well-populated, well-written, and often come with video tutorials, if that’s your thing.
Final Review – Is the AliDropship Plugin Worth It?
In conclusion, I’d say there are tons of advantages of using AliDropship. But there are a number of ifs.
- If you already use WordPress
- If you want to sell with AliExpress
- If you use Google Chrome
- (optional) if you use WooCommerce
- If you understand the complexities of the dropshipping business…
… then I say yes, go for it. For $89 you get such a timesaver when browsing and importing AliExpress products. And the extra features are really good too. Being able to manage your inventory and track orders from one dashboard, for instance, can help really feel really in control of your business.
But if you want to get started with dropshipping and haven’t got a site yet? Maybe check out Oberlo and Shopify. The platform is more beginner friendly (but also more expensive), so it’s up to you to decide how much you want to invest of your hard-earned dropshipping dollars.
Does AliDropship work with Alibaba?
Nope. Even though Alibaba belongs to the same group, this plugin works exclusively with AliExpress.
What if I Have a Shopify Store?
Still can’t use AliDropship, I’m afraid. The only way to sell from AliExpress with a Shopify store is through Oberlo. One advantage is that they add their own suppliers to enlarge the pool of products you can sell.
Is It Worth Installing WooCommerce to Use AliDropship?
You don’t have to. But if you want a standard ecommerce along with dropshipping, it could be a smart move. See our full WooCommerce review here.