Last Updated on April 28, 2021 by Jay Clover
Many people have seen found dropshipping as the best, most convenient, and low-risk e-commerce model. However, every start is difficult, including starting your e-commerce business. The biggest problem for most novices is their limited budget.
They usually start with a couple of hundreds of dollars or less, trying to find their place on the market and make some profit. That’s why they try to save as much as possible. And while it’s not possible without having an online store without any expense, you can save large on using free dropshippers. In this article, we look at the top 3 of them: AliExpress, DHGate, and Salehoo.
AliExpress is one of the most popular and larger online marketplaces in the world. It’s FREE to use and there are no hidden costs. However, you still need a website on which you’ll sell your products.
You have 3 options:
- Shopify – The easiest and most common way of dropshipping from AliExpress is by using Shopify as an e-commerce platform. If you decide to go this way, your monthly expenses will be $29 per Shopify and no expenses per AliExpress.
- WordPress + AliDropship Plugin – If you don’t want to spend that sum on Shopify, you can use WordPress and turn it into an e-commerce store by installing the AliDropship plugin. While this option doesn’t have monthly fees, there’s an $89 one-time payment for the plugin. With it, you get a store similar to Shopify, with unlimited product importing and automated order fulfillment. Apart from that payment, there’s a small cost for hosting your WordPress site of $3 if using Bluehost. Of course, the price varies depending on which host you use.
- AliExpress Custom Website – If you don’t want to bother with creating your site, you can leave that to the pros. The techs behind AliExpress will create and optimize your e-commerce store for a $299 one-time payment. If you need hosting, you can choose one for an additional $2/month ($48/year) but this is optional.
How to Find Reliable Suppliers on AliExpress?
There are hundreds of thousands of suppliers selling their products on this platform. Although many people consider them unreliable, you can always find trustworthy and quality suppliers. To do that, you should check their rating and reviews, their products’ rating and reviews, sales history, and take a video tour of the factory.
Of course, before choosing the supplier, you need to define your niche. Once you know that, check all the suppliers within that niche/category and go for the ones that have the highest rating, possibly between 4.5 and 5 stars.
Benefits of Dropshipping With AliExpress
- It’s a huge online marketplace with over 100 million items sold.
- There are over 200.000 suppliers to choose from.
- It’s FREE forever.
- Low-cost quality product (after a thorough search for the best ones).
- Order in bulk or one by one.
- ePacket shipping – a fast shipping method that delivers goods from Chine to wherever your customer lives.
- Unlimited products to sell.
- Unlimited profit margins.
- FREE shipping on most items.
- Online shipping tracking.
- Choose between various shipping methods.
- You don’t have to be a registered company to dropship with AliExpress (although it’s always better to have your business registered).
- Buyer protection system with a full money-back guarantee.
- You can find all sorts of products on AliExpress, many of which you don’t even know exist.
- There are several payment methods, including PayPal, bank transfer, credit/debit cards, and Western Union.
Drawbacks of Dropshipping With AliExpress
- A LOT of sellers, which means your competition is very high so you can’t set up a higher price per product.
- A communication gap between suppliers and dropshippers is they don’t let dropshippers sell expensive products.
- Issues with customer support.
DHGate is very similar to AliExpress and it’s one of the best Chinese e-commerce platforms. Like AliExpress, it allows you to find low-cost products you can sell for a high profit. Also, there are thousands of suppliers from different countries (not just China) you can choose from around 30 million products.
And, like AliExpress, DHGate is also FREE to use. But you need an e-commerce site to sell your products. The good news is that you can easily set up a WordPress store. The only fee related to the platform is the hosting and domain. But, you don’t have to worry about that since the cost is very low. For instance, if you use Bluehost, it will cost you $3/month with domain included.
To use DHGate with WordPress, you need to install the free ShopMaster plugin. It allows for a semi-automated dropshipping process. Hence, you’ll be able to add products DHGate to your store automatically.
How to Find Reliable Suppliers on DHGate?
You don’t have to struggle with finding the best suppliers on DHGate because the Top-rated ones show a Trust badge on their profile. However, if you prefer searching for suppliers yourself, you should check their rating and reviews, rank, their products’ rating and reviews, and sales history.
Benefits of Dropshipping With DHGate
- A lot of products to choose from.
- Plenty of suppliers to choose from.
- Trusted badge for the Top sellers.
- Low-cost products.
- Great discounts on sales.
- Suppliers have coupons for promoting their stores.
- Good customer support.
- Free and paid shipping methods.
- DHGate accepts all conventional payment methods except PayPal, plus a few country-specific methods.
Drawbacks of Dropshipping With DHGate
- Possible late deliveries.
- Refund issues (not with the suppliers).
- Controlling the quality of the products is difficult.
Apart from operating as a dropshipper, Salehoo is also a directory of wholesalers. This allows you to view all the suppliers selling on this site and easily find the best one for you. Unlike AliExpress, which works only with Chinese suppliers, SaleHoo works with manufacturers from various countries. Hence, you can have more (reliable) suppliers. Due to working only with high-quality and reliable suppliers, this site saves you a lot of time searching for the most reputable and trustworthy ones.
In addition, SaleHoo is a powerful research tool that helps you find the best products to sell in your store in minutes. Hence, it helps you find the best-selling and hot products to maximize your chances of selling your products and scaling your e-commerce business.
However, Salehoo Dropship integrates only with Shopify. This allows you to import products to your Shopify store with one click.
Although there are no hidden fees when using Salehoo, you do have to pay $27/month. With this, you get:
- Automated dropshipping store
- One-click product import
- High-quality products from AliExpress
- Maximized profit
- Only vetted and reliable suppliers
- Personal email support
Plus, there is a 60-day money-back guarantee.
Benefits of Dropshipping With Salehoo
- Over 1000 reliable and verified suppliers.
- Suppliers from other countries, not just China.
- Only high-quality products.
- Source providers that ship across the glove no matter if your country has only a couple of providers.
- No application cost and no base request expenses.
- Faster shipping.
Drawbacks of Dropshipping With Salehoo
- It’s not actually free as the previous two.
Final Thoughts: Can You Start Dropshipping for Free?
It’s a fact that no business can be started with zero investment, including a dropshipping business. However, you can start with a very low investment if you choose one of the free dropshippers we’ve mentioned here in combination with WordPress. For example, if you choose DHGate (free) + WordPress (free if installed via Bluehost, otherwise as low as $4/month) + ShopMaster plugin (free) + Bluehost ($3 plus free domain), your start investment will be only $3 (or $7, depending on the hosting provider chosen).
Of course, you should always choose the dropshipper and platform that best suits your needs and preferences. Consider the benefits and drawbacks of both of them and calculate if it’s worth investing in them or you should go for another dropshipper and platform.