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In-Depth Review of These Dropship Platforms 2021


It can be a bit confusing when you are first learning about Oberlo vs AliExpress. The two services are complementary to one another, with Oberlo making it easier to use AliExpress. We’re going to cover both services to help you avoid any issues that could negatively impact your dropshipping business.

What Is Oberlo?

Screenshot of the Oberlo homepage.

Oberlo is a Shopify dropshipping app that connects your online eCommerce store to AliExpress. This makes it easier to do things like:

  • Find suppliers
  • Import dropshipping products
  • Manage Oberlo supply numbers
  • Handle orders

The app makes it easier to manage your Shopify dropshipping store. You can cut out a significant amount of time that you would normally spend working on your dropshipping site. 

One thing to note is that this is a premium Shopify app. While it does say they offer a free plan, you will have to pay to use the tools such as store management. The free option only gives you access to resources and guides.

What Is AliExpress?

Screenshot of the AliExpress homepage.

AliExpress, formed in 2010, is the retail arm of the Alibaba Group. The website is focused on selling to consumers, similar to Amazon. It’s one of the largest eCommerce platforms globally in terms of products offered and users.

Sellers on AliExpress are typically wholesalers in China adding a layer between the manufacturer. The eCommerce platform offers over 100 million products spread throughout thousands of categories.

Orders typically ship through AliExpress standard shipping. Many dropshippers use the AliExpress platform leading the company to offer various tools and guides for better utilizing the platform through the AliExpress Dropshipping Center.

Are AliExpress And Alibaba The Same?

Both Alibaba and AliExpress are subsidiaries of the Alibaba Group, a Chinese multinational company specializing in technology and retail among other sectors. 

AliExpress, as previously noted, has a focus area of business to consumer with merchants on the app selling individual products. Alibaba, however, has a primary focus of the business to business with sellers on the dropshipping platform offering wholesale products.

Both Alibaba and AliExpress have offerings for dropshippers. However, AliExpress is more geared towards dropshipping due to the B2C nature of the platform. Dropshippers can find more product options through AliExpress and more sources for each product.

What Is ePacket Shipping And Is Dropshipping Using AliExpress Dead?

One of the primary advantages that dropshippers used to have with AliExpress was ePacket shipping. This is a service created to boost trade between exporting nations and primarily importing countries.

The primary issue with ePacket shipping is that it put the US Postal Service at an economic disadvantage. Packages shipped from China were often cheaper than those sent domestically within the United States. This led to the postal service operating at a loss.

After negotiations by the US Government with the Universal Postal Union, prices were set to go up in 2021. This, combined with COVID-19 related supply chain issues, effectively ended the benefits of ePacket shipping.

To fill in the slack, AliExpress Standard Shipping is an option. This is a logistics service offered by AliExpress. While prices aren’t as low as ePacket, they are still quite competitive. Shipping times are also fairly reasonable in most cases. So, AliExpress dropshipping is not dead, but it has become less competitive when compared to sourcing products locally.

Benefits Of Using AliExpress For Dropshipping

While one of the main benefits of using AliExpress, ePacket shipping discussed above, has ended, it doesn’t negate the other upsides to the platform. 

AliExpress is one of the largest and most profitable eCommerce platforms globally, with thousands of product categories. Other benefits to the platform include:

Tons Of Products To Choose From

Screenshot of large number of products on AliExpress.

There are over 100 million products on the AliExpress platform. It should be noted that many of these are the same product. Many of the suppliers on the platform are wholesalers from China. 

However, even considering repeat products, there are many millions of different items to choose from.

For dropshippers, this means you can find numerous products in the niche of your choice. This makes it easier to create a complete eCommerce experience for visitors to your site and increases the potential profitability of your dropshipping store.

Numerous Suppliers To Work With

As mentioned above, many of the sellers on AliExpress are wholesalers who buy in bulk from local Chinese manufacturers. Many of these sellers purchase products from the same manufacturers, so the products they list on AliExpres are the same.

This is a significant benefit for dropshippers for a few reasons. Perhaps the most important advantage this gives you is more suppliers to work with for your products. If one dropshipping supplier runs out of products, you can quickly source an identical product from a different provider.

You also have increased odds of finding a reliable supplier for the exact product you want to sell. More sellers mean greater redundancy decreasing potential issues with your supply line.

No Commitments To Suppliers

The final major benefit to using AliExpress is that you aren’t bound by contracts or any other formal or informal agreements to any one supplier.

With some major suppliers, you will need to sign non-competition contracts preventing you from selling products from their competitors. With AliExpress, you can easily switch from one supplier to another with no consequences.

If a supplier begins to give you trouble, sends out orders late, or regularly runs out of inventory, they can be replaced. You also don’t have to worry about minimum order quantities or other commitments that traditionally plague retail businesses.

Benefits Of Using Oberlo vs AliExpress Manually For Dropshipping

Using Oberlo holds many benefits over handling products from AliExpress manually. The app allows you to streamline your operations, freeing up your time. 

This allows you to focus on areas that drive growth and revenue, such as content marketing, social media, or improving your advertising skills. Other benefits include:

Easier To Source Products From AliExpress

As noted previously, Oberlo is an app entirely focused on sourcing products from AliExpress to import to your Shopify store. This gives you access to all of the benefits that you get from AliExpress, including:

  • Access to millions of products
  • Working with experienced dropship suppliers
  • Easy access to low-cost products

With Oberlo, though, you can more easily manage this entire process. When handling things manually, it can take a lot of time to swap out products if you need to change suppliers for any reason. 

Oberlo lets you eliminate a lot of the work you would typically spend on managing your store down to a one-click process. 

You Can Customize Your Store Easily

Because you can more easily add and remove products for new ones, it gives you free rein to customize your store exactly how you want it. 

Granted, you can still swap products if operating your Shopify store manually. However, the ease of swapping out products significantly cuts down the time it takes.

This ease of use allows you to more easily set up individual pages and niches or even sub-niches within your store. An example of this might be fishing. You could have hundreds of products that would take days to get loaded in manually.

Using Oberlo, you can set up each section of your store and then one-click import all of the products you want, saving you many hours of work.

Product Inventory Is Updated Automatically

One of the core issues that has plagued dropshippers from the beginning is managing inventory. When you don’t carry inventory, you don’t ever really know how much product an AliExpress supplier has on stock.

While Oberlo doesn’t completely solve this problem, it does make it easier to sync and manage inventory with AliExpress suppliers. As the supplier’s numbers are updated on AliExpress, total product numbers will update in your store.

It doesn’t completely solve the problem because you are still relying on the AliExpress seller to have accurate numbers. Working with reliable dropshipping suppliers can be of benefit as they are more likely to be organized and on top of inventory.

Easy To Customize Products With Oberlo vs AliExpress Manually

Screenshot of product editor on Oberlo backend. 

Just as it’s easy to customize your store, Oberlo makes it easy to customize products individually. Take a moment to think about all of the information about listing a product online. Some of the most common information includes:

  • Title
  • Collection, type, and tag
  • Variants
  • Weight
  • Inventory
  • Product cost
  • Shipping information
  • Shipping cost
  • Product price and potential profit
  • Compare at price
  • Description
  • Images

This is some of the most common information commonly found on product listings and not necessarily a complete list. These pieces of information have to be filled in and edited to have a more appealing product listing.

With one click importing, Oberlo makes it easy for you to get all of this information without filling in everything manually. You can then easily customize each product to your specific requirements.

Automated Pricing

Screenshot of the pricing rules section of Oberlo.

One of the age-old questions many new dropshippers struggle with is how to price their items. Product pricing can be complicated and confusing with entire college courses dedicated to the field.

While you could read tons of articles on the topic, Oberlo makes it easier with automatic pricing. The app allows you to set up automated pricing rules based on either a fixed price increase or a price multiplier.

With a fixed price increase, you can set every product to be marked up by a certain amount, such as $5.00. On the other hand, you can set up a price multiplier such as 3x, so $2.00 would become $6.00.

You can also set up comparison pricing to make it seem like customers are getting a better deal. An example of this would be showing the original price then listing it as a 50% cheaper price.

Automatic Order Fulfillment And Tracking

Screenshot of the Oberlo orders section.

Another automation function that will save you significant time is automatic and one-click order fulfillment. Instead of going through every order you receive and placing it manually, Oberlo will manage the entire process. 

For a new dropshipping store owner, this can save a lot of time that would typically be spent working on the back end or money that you would spend on a virtual assistant. The app will also automatically track orders making it easier to manage the delivery process.

Easy To Track Sales

One final benefit to using Oberlo when selling products from AliExpress is the sales tracking and reports features. It’s one of the least favorite aspects of doing business for many owners, but accounting and sales tracking is essential. 

Tracking isn’t just for traditional accounting purposes either. Your sales data will tell you a complete picture about how well your store is designed, how optimized your conversion efforts are, how well your products resonate with customers, and so much more. 

Having all of this managed automatically without setting up complicated analytics software or hiring an accountant is a significant benefit.

What Are The Drawbacks To Using Oberlo vs AliExpress?

Despite the numerous positive benefits of using Oberlo for managing your AliExpres products on Shopify, there are some drawbacks.

As with any other piece of software, the app can sometimes glitch, leaving you having to handle things manually. Some of the other issues you have while using Oberlo include:

Monthly Recurring Fees Using Oberlo vs AliExpress Manually

Screenshot of the Oberlo app on the Shopify app store.

This is a premium app if you want to utilize the app’s many tools. As noted above, they market the app as having a free option, but I feel that’s a bit deceptive. 

If you read what you are getting on the free option, it’s simply articles, guides, and helpful advice for managing your dropshipping store.

To get the app’s full functionality, you will need to pay for the monthly premium subscription. This won’t be an issue for dropshippers with consistent income. You will simply have to weigh the time saved from using the app against the monthly cost. 

Only Available With Shopify

Another downside to Oberlo is that it is a Shopify exclusive app. This means you will be unable to switch over if you decide to change platforms to something like WooCommerce.

There are Oberlo alternative apps such as Spocket and Modalyst that integrate with Shopify and platforms like WooCommerce, Squarespace, Wix, and others. 

If you are not entirely sold on using Shopify, one of these apps may be a better option as you can migrate to other platforms more easily.

What Are The Shipping Times With AliExpress?

Shipping times on AliExpress will vary based on the individual seller. You should also factor in each seller’s stated turnaround time as this will add time to when your customer receives their product.

AliExpress offers a standard shipping method. This is a logistics company owned by the Alibaba Group geared towards decreasing shipping times worldwide. The average shipping time to the United States using this service is between 15 and 25 days, sometimes less.

While this may not seem like a shorter shipping time, consider that China Post shipping, which used to be the primary option, could take as much as 40 days or more.

How Do You Get Started With Oberlo? 

Oberlo has made it relatively easy to get up and going. The app can be set up through the Shopify app store. All you need to do is search for Oberlo or go to the dropshipping section of the app store to get started.

Set Up A Shopify Store

Screenshot of the Shopify.com homepage.

If you haven’t already, you will need to set up a Shopify store before moving forward with Oberlo. As previously noted, Shopify is a premium eCommerce solution allowing you to host and manage your online store.

Before setting this up, make sure you are all in on using Shopify, as it will be harder to switch over once you get up and running. There are tools other than Oberlo that serve a similar purpose but function on many more platforms.

After you’ve committed to using Shopify, you can go through the complete guide to Dropshipping on Shopify to get yourself up and running.

Install Oberlo 

Once you have Shopify up and running and have gone through all of the required steps to set up your store, you will need to install Oberlo. 

You can do this by going to the app section of Shopify and typing in Oberlo. Alternatively, search for dropshipping in the search bar, and it will be one of the first apps. 

Screenshot of the Oberlo app in the Shopify app store.

Locate the app in the search results, then click on the title to the app details page. You will see a green button that says Add App. Click on this button, and you will be taken to a confirmation page where you should click on the Install App button. 

Screenshot of the Oberlo app page.

Next, you will need to sign up for an Oberlo account.

Pick And Customize Products From AliExpress

You will see a checklist of things to do when you first sign up for the app. Click on the blue button that says Explore Products under step two.

Screenshot of the Oberlo getting started checklist.

You will be taken to the Oberlo products page, where you can search for all of the items that you’re interested in adding to your store. A quick add option appears when you hover over each product; click the Add To Import List.

Screenshot of the Oberlo add product button.

Click on the Import Lists button in the left sidebar. Edit all of the information requested for each product. Next, click import and select import as a draft for further editing. Click the button that says Edit Product On Shopify.

Screenshot of product on Oberlo.

Go through and edit all the details until you are satisfied with the listing. Then, go to the top left option and change the product status from Draft to Active.

Screenshot of the product edit screen on Shopify.

What Are Some Common Questions About Oberlo vs AliExpress

Hopefully, the above information has helped you better understand Oberlo vs AliExpress. To help you even further, here are answers to the most commonly asked questions on the topic.

Can I Offer Free Shipping With Oberlo?

You can offer free shipping to customers with Oberlo. This is done by bundling the profit markup and shipping cost into the final product cost to see the total cost upfront. While this isn’t technically offering free shipping, it does allow you to advertise the benefit. 

What’s Oberlo’s Support Like?

Oberlo’s support has been favorably rated by users on services such as G2 and in the Shopify App Store. The company offers multiple support methods, including email and in-app customer service through Shopify. The team is also very active in responding to reviews to help resolve potential issues.

Does Oberlo Have A Google Chrome Extension?

Oberlo offers a free Google Chrome extension that makes automating your dropshipping store more straightforward and more streamlined. The extension can be added through the Chrome extensions library. You can import products, sync orders, and more with the tool. The extension is regularly updated and relatively light in terms o resources. 

Is Oberlo Better Than The Shopified App?

Oberlo is an add-on app for Shopify. You still need to have Shopify to use the Oberlo app. Shopify is a premium eCommerce solution for businesses. The Shopify platform allows you to create and host your eCommerce store and manage products and orders. 

Final Thoughts On Oberlo vs AliExpress

For dropshippers, AliExpress can be a fantastic source to find products that fill in your store’s inventory. This can be great for smaller and easier-to-ship items relevant to your niche. You can source your primary products from local manufacturers and use AliExpress to fill in the gaps.

If you are a Shopify user and eager to integrate AliExpress with your dropshipping store, Oberlo can be an excellent option for implementation. Using Oberlo vs AliExpress, you can easily add products to your store and manage orders. All of this allows you to scale back the time it takes to operate your store and potentially lead to a more streamlined operation.

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