Aliexpress is probably one of the most popular dropshipping platforms in the world. It has enabled thousands of entrepreneurs to get started with their maiden dropshipping stores with minimum investments and no hassles.
But, when your dropshipping business starts to grow and you want to scale, you will discover Aliexpress to be lacking in flexibility and features. That’s where a service like CJDropshipping seems to be a better pick.
In this blog post, we will compare these two leading dropshipping platforms on various parameters such as pricing, product range, shipping time, order fulfillment and more.
Aliexpress is a global ecommerce marketplace that connects buyers with Chinese manufacturers and suppliers. It has millions of products listed on its platform.
It is one of the commonest dropshipping platforms used by beginner dropshippers to get started in the business. Aliexpress is designed for ease of use and it offers a plethora of features to this end, including easy syncing, automated order fulfillment and an endless number of products to choose from.
Pros and Cons of Aliexpress
1. No hassles of stock management
Aliexpress has no MOQ requirements allowing you to get started even if you are making one sale a day, or week. You do not need to stock any products either as the platform will do the product sourcing and inventory management for you.
All you need to do is generate sales and the fulfillment is automated.
2. Huge Variety of Products to choose from
It is estimated that there are over 100 million products listed on Aliexpress, from a vast array of categories. But it’s impossible to say for sure. There can be more as the marketplace keeps expanding every single day.
You can find practically any product you can think of on the platform. This is great for entrepreneurs who want to experiment with different niches and products without having to worry about inventory or sourcing. Also, this gives you an endless pool of products to test the waters with.
3. The Risk margin is low
Since there is no MOQ, all you need to get started with Aliexpress is a website or a social media profile. You are not investing in inventory, nor are there any hidden costs or upfront charges.
What this means is that in case the product doesn’t sell as you expected, you are not going to lose much. You can just switch over to a different product and try again.
4. Low Startup Cost
As we mentioned earlier, there are no upfront costs or inventory investments required when you dropship with Aliexpress. The service is completely free to use and this is one of the reasons for the popularity.
There’s no membership fees or transaction fees either. Just pay for the product that you order. This has allowed thousands of dropshippers from all around the world to get started with dropshipping with investment as low as $100.
That said, not everything is hunky-dory when you use Aliexpress as your dropshipping platform. Here are some of the disadvantages that may not seem to be obvious at first.
1. Extremely Competitive
Since Aliexpress is a global marketplace and one of the most popular dropshipping platforms, it is extremely competitive. This means that there might be 10 other dropshippers competing to sell every product that you find after hours of research. Also, this translates into very low margins since there are multiple people selling the same product and often, it triggers a price war.
2. Slow Shipping Time
Aliexpress uses epacket and China post, which are extremely slow when it comes to shipping. This means that it might be several days before your product arrives at the customer’s doorstep. Normally, this takes anywhere from 15-30 days. But it can be more during peak season.
That’s the reason why many dropshippers have switched to other platforms or work with private suppliers as they get more experienced. Customers do not like to wait for 30-days to receive their products anymore.
3. Lack of control
Aliexpress has a very low barrier for entry, for even suppliers. As a result, there are millions of suppliers listed there, many of which are dropshippers themselves. So, you are heading into a mixed bag of good and bad vendors.
A bad supplier can create artificial shortages for inventory during your peak sales season, to inflate prices. They can hold you ransom. But you have absolutely no control over the supply chain. You cannot vet the suppliers or enforce any quality or shipping standards.
4. Generic, non-branded products only
The majority of products offered on Aliexpress are generic, unbranded products. As a result, there’s no way to distinguish yourself from the competition. Successful dropshipping today is all about branding and creating a unique identity for your store. This is hard to do when you are selling generic dropshipping products.
Aliexpress falls short of offering this very vital feature.
CJDropshipping is a more streamlined dropshipping service that was originally set up as a platform of Chinese suppliers, much like Aliexpress. But over the years, they’ve expanded to an all-inclusive service of sorts, which means they offer a gamut of integrations, suppliers from all around the world and a network of co-operative warehouses (third party tie-ups) in 29 international destinations.
It is estimated that they have 400000 products to choose from currently. That may seem tepid as compared to Aliexpress. But it’s a lot of products with vendors shipping directly from key markets like the US & EU.
Pros and Cons of CJDropshipping:
Before we get into the details, here are some facts. CJDropshipping offers some great features that are lacking in Aliexpress. In fact, a lot of dropshippers who come to CJ are ones who initially work with Aliexpress.
Here’s a look at the advantages of CJDropshipping.
1. Convenient Platform
As we mentioned, CJ’s platform is designed for ease of use and is more convenient to use as compared to Aliexpress. Right from one-click integrations to easier order automation, CJ Dropshipping makes it easier for you to set up and manage your store.
2. Quicker Shipping
Just like Aliexpress uses ePacket, CJDropshipping has their own shipping service called CJ Packet, which is a lot faster than ePacket. The average shipping times are 7-15 days globally.
But that’s not all. CJDropshipping has warehouses in 29 countries. This makes it easier for you to source the right product from the right location. So, you have a wider choice of products and faster shipping times. In some cases, you can offer 2-4 day shipping, which is excellent. Having said that, not all warehouses have an equal number or variety of SKUS. So you might have to check that beforehand.
3. Fast Processing Times
CJDropshipping has multiple membership tiers. But even for the basic, free membership, you get access to 24-hour order processing times. The processing time drops to 16-hours for the Standard Membership Plan and just 8-hours for their Business Plan, which is priced at $49.99/mo.
In comparison, the average processing times on Aliexpress is 1-5 days, which you can find on the product checkout page. Like we said, you have little control over the supply chain.
4. Better quality control
CJDropshipping’s quality control process is way better than Aliexpress. While they also work with a lot of independent and private suppliers, the quality of products on CJ is generally better.
That may be because of their vetting process which analyzes supplier competency on a variety of parameters. Also, CJDropshipping sources and stores products themselves. This is another reason why the quality is much better.
1. They will share your winning product details
One of the keys to limiting the competition and getting the advantage in dropshipping is to find a winning product that not many others are selling. With CJ, this advantage gets diluted. Since they share the bestselling products openly on the platform. This means that even if you do find a winning product before everyone else, the competition is going to skyrocket after a while. CJ just openly mentions that this product seems to be doing great. Why don’t you guys try selling it too?
2. Not a cheaper Aliexpress alternative
A lot of people hop on to CJ expecting it to be a cheaper alternative to Aliexpress, which it’s clearly not. If you compare the prices on CJ & Aliexpress, you may discover that CJ has higher pricing on many products. So, if it’s a price advantage you seek, a sourcing agent and a private supplier is the way to go. CJ may not be the best alternative.
3. They are not flexible
CJ Dropshipping has risen to one of the biggest dropshipping platforms in the industry. This means that they deal with large, billion dollar corporations as clients. For a small business, or even a one-man startup, this translates into less priority. If you have special requirements, or are looking for some extra assistance, you may find that lacking on CJ.
4. Support requests are not personalized
CJ only offers dedicated account support to customers on their pro plans. For the free plan, support requests are rarely answered on time. Even if they do reply, its mostly a copy/paste template response rather than a personalized reply. This is a consistent comment across CJ’s customer reviews on most third party review platforms as well.
Check our Full Cjdropshipping Review Guide Here
CJDropshipping vs Aliexpress: The Key Differences
Now that you know how each service works and what the pros and cons are, let’s take a look at the key differences in the two services on the basis of commonly used determining factors.
1. The Core Business Model
While they appear to be very similar businesses, there’s a significant difference in the business models that Aliexpress and CJDropshipping operate on.
Aliexpress is a platform that connects the dropshipper with a supplier. It’s like an open marketplace where anyone can list as a supplier and start to offer products for sale. Even you, for instance, can list a storefront on Aliexpress and source products from Aliexpress itself and sell to other retailers.
Whenever you generate a sale and place an order on Aliexpress, it is the supplier who will fulfill that order. Aliexpress has no role to play, except supervise and intervene if need be, in rare cases where disputes arise.
CJDropshipping on the other hand is a three-in-one service. They have a marketplace like Aliexpress where you can order from suppliers, you can also order from them directly since they offer product sourcing, and they offer end to end fulfillment themselves.
If you were to look at the roles that each of these services play in the supply chain, you’d realize that Aliexpress has limited responsibilities, while CJDropshipping fulfills a lot more of them. From sourcing to quality control to warehousing, they have a more intricate role to play.
2. The Variety of Products
Aliexpress is hands down, the world’s largest online B2C marketplace. It has over 2.5 Billion products listed on it from 8.7 million suppliers. And this number is constantly growing.
This means that anyone who’s unsure of what niche to choose for dropshipping, or has little experience, can dive deep and pick virtually an endless number of products to test, with zero risk.
You can browse the site for years and still not finish the product listings. CJDropshipping, as we mentioned earlier, has close to 400,000 products, which is only a fraction of what you get with Aliexpress. However, these products are listed by CJDropshipping themselves.
They have a sourcing team that conducts research on trending items and picks only those that have a good chance of selling. The caveat is that trending products are almost always in short supply.
Inventory for CJDropshipping products may always run out in a short time span.
3. Fulfillment Process & TAT
Aliexpress’s average fulfillment time is 1-5 days. That’s because they do not fulfill the order themselves. It’s the seller or supplier who you purchased from, who will handle that bit.
So, once you place the order, the seller will first locate the warehouse where the product is stored. Then they will arrange a pick and pack. Shipping documents will be readied. The selected shipping provider will pick it and then dispatch it. If the item is small and always in demand, then it can be really fast. Sometimes as fast as 1-2 days as well.
But, in some cases, it can take much longer. There are instances where the processing time has exceeded 5-days as well.
In comparison, CJDropshipping offers different processing times for different account levels and tiers, depending on the membership plan they are on. A standard free membership has 24-hours processing times. But it can take up to 1-3 working days for them to process orders.
Business plan members get priority order processing. Sometimes it can be as less as 24-hours.
4. Payment Methods
Once again, Aliexpress is a global marketplace with thousands of suppliers. Many of these prefer payments through processors and services that are favorable to them, rather than to you. Many Aliexpress suppliers do not accept PayPal, which is the most popular payment gateway in the West. They prefer payments through services more favorable to them.
This can be a major issue for business owners who want to dropship from Aliexpress because it limits their payment options. If you want to avoid this, then you add another tier of filtering to your supplier search. Look for suppliers who accept payment methods that you are okay with. This might severely limit your options, mind you.
On a lot of occasions, Aliexpress sellers cancel your payment without an explanation. This is more often when you are new and you have placed a large number of orders. They probably do it to avoid chargeback scams. But it puts you in a very precarious situation because you have accepted orders from your customers and there’s little you can do except dispute the cancellation, which may take its own sweet time.
5. Shipping & Refunds
Most sellers on Aliexpress offer multiple shipping services on most products. You can choose from free shipping which is ePacket, Aliexpress Standard, Aliexpress Premium, EMS, DHL, UPS, Fedex & UPS expedited.
Free shipping is generally offered when the seller is covering the shipping costs in the product cost. That’s not always the case, but it is on most occasions. Also, free shipping is provided using ePacket, which takes about 28-30 days for international shipping. Sometimes, free shipping is not eligible to certain countries.
In comparison, CJDropshipping uses CJpacket, with average delivery times of 5-15 days internationally. They also offer EMS & DHL, as well as CJdropshipping sensitive and liquid, for items in those categories. On the face of it, CJpacket seems more expensive than Aliexpress’s free shipping.
But if you look at the delivery times, CJdropshipping is much quicker. Also, if you are looking to get an Aliexpress shipment delivered within the same timespan as CJ, you will actually end up paying much more.
As far as refunds are concerned, Aliexpress states that any product that does not match the seller’s description is eligible for a refund. If the seller has guaranteed a delivery, then you can get a refund for late deliveries as well.
In selected cases, your buyer may be eligible to ship the product to a domestic warehouse. Else, it needs to be shipped to China.
CJDropshipping has a slightly more complex refund process. They offer full and partial refunds. Full refunds are eligible when the product arrives completely damaged or badly damaged.
Partial refunds are eligible for partially damaged products, or damages that do not affect the functioning of the product. Incorrect products will qualify for a full refund.
To apply for a refund, you need to open a dispute with relevant details like images and videos. The CJDropshipping customer service team will review your claim and get back to you with a solution.
We have read a few reviews where customers cite that the refund process is clunky and the outcomes are not always favorable. But we cannot verify the authenticity of these claims since they are posted on messaging boards.
So, rather than just looking at the costs, we recommend that you look at the fine print and the bigger picture.
6. Parcel Delivery
Most dropshipping businesses sell multiple products in their stores. If you are sourcing from Aliexpress, then these products can be sold by different suppliers altogether.
Now, imagine if a customer in your store orders 5 products which are sold by 5 different suppliers on Aliexpress. These suppliers will ship each product differently. There’s no way to consolidate it into one shipment.
Subsequently, your customer may receive one shipment first and the next one may come in 8 days later, followed by two more, and the final one after 12 days or so. That’s just an example, mind you. Not a real life incident. But it’s quite possible because you are dealing with 5 different suppliers.
In such a scenario, it’s ideally expected that you as an online retailer keep your customer informed of the progress of the shipment through emails and SMS. But even then, there’s a distinct possibility that you might encounter an irate customer who asks for a refund the moment they receive the first shipment.
That’s because they will feel that items are missing. They have no idea that you are dropshipping and it is different suppliers who are sending the items.
In comparison, CJDropshipping will consolidate orders for you. They will ensure that all items in one order are processed, packed and dispatched in one order, at the same time. This way, in case things go south, you do not have to file multiple disputes.
Also, you just have to deal with CJdropshipping for the after sales support. In Aliexpress, you may have to open 5 disputes with different suppliers.
7. Add On Services and the ability to scale
Aliexpress is a great platform if you are starting off with dropshipping. Not that CJDropshipping isn’t a good one for beginners. But the ease of use that Aliexpress brings is undeniable. You can easily sync products, there are no MOQs & there’s an endless variety to choose from, which is perfect for testing.
That said, once you find a winning product and are looking to scale, Aliexpress can make life very difficult for you. You are dealing with suppliers who are not reliable, the shipping is too slow or too expensive, there’s no way to private label dropship except reach out to each seller and request, you cannot store inventory in bulk and so on.
This is where CJDropshipping shines, and it is one of the reasons why a lot of dropshippers start with Aliexpress but end up shifting to CJ. The ease of use is a concern.
But as you get more experienced with dropshipping, you will not find these to be major issues. Instead, you will realize that CJDropshipping is more favorable for growing dropshipping businesses.
They have a great set of add on services, starting with custom product sourcing. In case you do not find your winning product on their platform or on Aliexpress, CJDropshipping can source your winning product for you.
During peak seasons, you can preorder the inventory in advance and store it in CJ’s international warehouses. They also offer white labeling services, as well as Print on demand. Their shipping is quicker too.
Conclusion: Is CJ Dropshipping Better than Aliexpress?
Both Aliexpress and CJDropshipping are great ecommerce platforms that will help dropshipping entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. However, as you grow, the advantages of CJDropshipping will become more and more apparent to you.
It’s not that Aliexpress is bad. It’s a great place to start with if you are new to dropshipping and want to learn and experiment. But once you find your feet, CJDropshipping is the better platform to grow your business on.
Here’s our two cents on this.
- Use Aliexpress when you are just starting off with dropshipping and you want an endless number of products to test the waters with.
- Use CJDropshipping when you are ready to scale and want to stock inventory in bulk, as well as look for private sourcing.
- Use a Private Dropshipping Agent like Sourcingbro when you are looking for better prices, one-on-one customer service and complete automation of the supply chain, with minimal manual inputs.