AliExpress needs no introduction in Asia since it’s the brainchild of Alibaba, the China-based eCommerce company. The key difference is that Alibaba usually does wholesale, while AliExpress caters to retail customers. Consider it the Amazon of the East.
Available since 2010, it has the distinct advantage of being based in the region that many consider the world’s factory. This means quick access to almost all manner of consumer goods at reasonable prices. If your visitors are in the US or EU regions though, shipping may take some time and add slightly more overhead to orders.
Dropshipping with AliExpress can be one in a couple of ways. The first is the traditional method, meaning that once you get an order, you need to manually enter the details of the purchaser and transaction into the AliExpress system.
The next way is by using Oberlo, an app which can be found on the Shopify website builder application marketplace. This allows you to connect your Shopify store directly to the AliExpress system so that everything is automated.
While Spocket may have a more limited number of products and suppliers available, it makes a departure from reliance on China-based suppliers. Technically, Spocket suppliers are available in 28 countries but by their own admission focus remains on a handful, namely the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and Germany.
This makes them a bit of a hit and miss for many dropshippers who might be hoping for a global reach. However, if your intention is to pick and serve very specific markets then Spocket might be a good choice for you.
Spocket has a very limited starter plan which you can try out for free over a period of 14 days. After that you must pay $12 per month to remain on the same plan – or more for a better plan to sell more products. This platform is designed for use with WooCommerce.
DHgate is another China-based online marketplace but isn’t quite as large as Alibaba. Because of that, the site does both wholesale and retail on a single platform. Today, it not only connects people to suppliers in China but also sources from Vietnam, Japan, and Turkey.
One of the unique features of DHgate is that it has Digital Trade Centers (DTCs) in several countries around the world. These are physical outlets where sellers can inspect products before making partnership decisions. It currently has DTCs in the United States, Hungary, Australia, Spain, Russia, Turkey, the UAE, and Peru.
You can either work with DHgate directly or make use of an app if you’re on the Shopify platform. They don’t have their own app, but work though one called ShopMaster.
Rather than being an online marketplace like AliExpress or DHgate, Oberlo is an online marketplace integrator that’s specially designed for dropshippers to use on Shopify. This nifty application allows you to source products from multiple platforms and acts as the central dashboard.
It makes the entire process of dropshipping a breeze, from finding products to listing them on your Shopify site. Although AliExpress is a major source on Oberlo, it also works with an integrated group of suppliers branded as Oberlo Supply Marketplace. These are mostly from Europe, North America, and China.
Oberlo also offers other beneficial features such as sales trend analysis, multi-lingual support, and even a Chrome extension. The basic plan is free, but as you increase the number of products you sell you may eventually have to sign on for a paid plan (which starts from $29.90 per month).
SaleHoo is one of the more unique offerings on this list since it’s specially designed for dropshippers by a former dropshipper himself. It has its own marketplace of suppliers who support both dropshipping as well as wholesalers. Each of these are reviewed directly by SaleHoo’s own staff so they are more likely to be reliable than those on platforms which handle a massive number of retailers.
The SaleHoo platform works like a search engine, allowing you to quickly drill down general searches to specific categories and then products for you to choose from. You can also talk to suppliers directly through their site – a great way to get more information and build trust.
Unfortunately, SaleHoo does not have a free version and there are only two plans available – annual or lifetime. For the serious dropshipper, the lifetime plan does present a good value-for-money offer though. Both plans are backed by a money-back guarantee.
Doba is another product marketplace and lays claim to hosting suppliers with a total of over two million products on offer. The system here allows you to source for products and then export them together for listing on your store.
This source is obviously not as extensive as AliExpress or even DHgate and less integrated than apps like Oberlo. Features in place are useful, but ultimately serve more as a convenience for dropshippers that will still need to take considerable action on their ends.
Doba subscriptions don’t vary by volume but more expensive plans have more advanced features. While that may be the norm, even the number of products available is more limited on their starter plans – which go from $29 per month.
Dropified is an integrator platform that lets you access dropshipping products on both AliExpress and eBay. This is a good combination of East meets West and offers dropshippers a good range of products from across the globe.
Features included here are geared towards seamless operations and include product selection and loading, order management, and product upkeep related automation (e.g. pricing updates, inventory, etc). Besides eCommerce sites, you can also work with Dropified on Facebook so there’s actually no need to create a dropshipping store to start selling.
Dropified segregates its plans both by product volume and features, so newbies on their lower plan can get accustomed to basic features before moving on to better things. Prices aren’t cheap though and range from $47 per month to $167 per month.
Worldwide Brands claims to offer access to not just the largest selection of wholesale products but also to offer the best quality of suppliers. While the latter may be possible, the prior is a highly dubious claim. Still, having been in the market since 1999 it is entirely possible.
The site is entirely geared towards being a product and supplier gallery so there aren’t many bells and whistles here. It’s simply a massive resource pool that you can use to find stuff you can add to your dropship product portfolio.
Worldwide Brands says its good for eBay and Amazon stores, but since it’s a directory, it will work with any dropshipping medium such as your own eCommerce site. For access to their supplier base, they charge a one-time fee of $299.
Wholesale2b is a different beast from most of the brands listed here so far. While it does act as a marketplace to connect suppliers with dropshippers, it offers users so much more if they are willing to pay the price.
Basic users who simply want to access a dropshipping supplier database can do that here and simply manually transfer the products they want over to their own sales channels. However, Wholesale2b has made their database so much more accessible thanks to integration possibilities for a wide range of platforms such as Shopify, BigCommerce, ECWID, and WooCommerce.
It also has plans in place for those who only want to sell on eBay, Amazon, or their own sites. Each of these plans are siloed though, so if you’re intending to use more than one sales channel you will have to sign up for multiple plans on Wholesale2b – which can stack up in cost significantly.
Of all the sources we’ve listed here, MegaGoods is the only one which has a more focus niche of products rather than listing everything under the sun. It’s key areas of interest are in consumer electronics and you’ll be able to find everything related from car audio to gaming gear.
Also, instead of acting as an intermediary, MegaGoods has actual possession of all the products it lists so everything comes from the same source. Dropshipping with them is like working with a single, massive company that is designed to ship out for dropshippers alone.
Here you get a 30-day trial access to their database, followed by which a monthly service fee of $14.99 becomes payable. This is one of the most no-fuss, no-muss dropshipping systems around but certainly won’t provide you with much in the way of automation tools.
As you can probably tell from this list, there isn't any one-size-fits-all solution for dropshippers. In this case, it’s a good thing since you can choose the dropshipping suppliers you want that best fits the way you carry out your business.
Prices vary greatly as well and if you’re running a decently profitable dropshipping business, in most cases the fees become negligible. Some of these suppliers are also quite well established, so there should be no worries about working with any of them.
The ones that do work with Shopify though seem to show a much higher tendency towards automation and for what they have to offer, charge a very modest fee. Still, the point is that you will have choices – many choices.
About Timothy Shim
Timothy Shim is a writer, editor, and tech geek. Starting his career in the field of Information Technology, he rapidly found his way into print and has since worked with International, regional and domestic media titles including ComputerWorld, PC.com, Business Today, and The Asian Banker. His expertise lies in the field of technology from both consumer as well as enterprise points of view.