How to Tackle Delivery Times in Dropshipping
One of the biggest hurdles preventing people from starting a dropshipping business is its delivery times. The fact is, it’s actually not as deterring as it seems. We’ll debunk some of the myths you may have heard and give you tips on tackling customer hesitation around long dropshipping delivery times.
Video transcript: Shipping. Did I scare you? The time taken to receive a product has been a fear-inducing topic since the dawn of dropshipping. Let’s be honest, in the space of Amazon Prime shipping, it can feel hopeless to compete against two-day shipping. But it’s not.
Dropshippers are building successful ecommerce businesses every day, even while they’re telling their customers that it will take two to three weeks for their products to arrive. I know this because I’ve talked with so many six- and seven-figure dropshippers who have done just that.
Based on all the knowledge and insights those dropshippers have shared with me, I put together this video to debunk some shipping myths that might be stopping you from starting your business.
Today, I’ll tackle several important questions. First, I’ll tell you how long it actually takes for a dropshipping product to get to customers. I’ll dive into AliExpress and show you exactly where you can look for this data, not only from a supplier but from real customers too. Then I’ll give you tips on how to overcome the “Where’s my order?” email. This is actually a lot easier than you think.
Finally, I’ll tell you how to cut down the time taken for customers to receive your product by finding AliExpress suppliers with warehouses in your own country. That’s right, US warehouses, French warehouses, Australian warehouses, all of it. I’ll let you know how you can ship using local fast shipping methods and find that in AliExpress. Time is of the essence, so let’s dive right in.
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How Long Do Dropshipping Delivery Times Take?
There is not a single day that goes by that I don’t hear a first-time entrepreneur bring up the issue of long delivery times in dropshipping. A lot, and I mean a lot of you have left comments asking how long it takes for products to arrive, whether customers will wait that long, and what you, the entrepreneur, can do about it.
Yes, dropshipping delivery times are longer than Amazon’s. No, that doesn’t stop customers from buying.
If they did, Oberlo would not exist. Also, our interviews with successful dropshippers wouldn’t be possible. So today I’m going to be transparent with you about how to handle this.
First things first, let’s talk about how long it actually takes for dropshipping products to be shipped. They depend on a few different factors, so let me break them down for you. And in fact, let’s jump into AliExpress so it’s easier to follow along.
Install the Oberlo Google Chrome Extension
Let’s say you just watched our ultimate product recommendations playlist for 2020 and found a winning product you’re excited to sell. And P.S., you should definitely watch that playlist.
You want to sell the 3D crystal ball that we featured in that video, so you look it up on AliExpress to import it into your store. The first thing you want to check is that you have the Oberlo Google Chrome extension installed. This is a free extension that allows you to input products from AliExpress directly into your Shopify store. You can see my Chrome extension installed right up here.
Now, when I press that Chrome extension, I’ve got a couple of options. I have “show shipping information” turned on, and when that’s on, I have the option “ePacket” selected here, the country that I’m shipping to is us and currency is USD, and I’m hiding items without this option. Let me just show you what all of this does.
When I turn everything off and I update the settings, then I can’t tell when I’m glancing at the results, what takes a long time to ship and what ships quickly. However, when I click the extension and click “show shipping info”, I can see a lot more.
Select Suppliers That Offer EPacket Shipping
With these options selected, I can now see which products have ePacket shipping available to the United States because those results are highlighted in green. What’s more, I can see the cost of ePacket shipping right here, so this is free, this costs $1.88 USD.
Pause. EPacket shipping, by the way, is a shipping option that was born out of an international trade agreement and the aim of the agreement is to make it easier for ecommerce entrepreneurs like you to ship products from China to the rest of the world.
EPacket shipping is cheap or free, it’s relatively fast, and it makes it easy for you to track packages sent around the world.
EPacket shipping is available to a really long list of countries. On average, ePacket takes 12 to 20 days to deliver products to your customer. But I can give you some more precise data in just a little bit. As you can see here, there are a lot of suppliers on AliExpress that carry this same product. So that’s why having this Oberlo Chrome extension is helpful. It helps you to narrow down the suppliers only to the ones that offer ePacket shipping results.
Consider Processing Time
But there’s another thing to note besides ePacket shipping, and that’s processing time. You can see processing time indicated in gray at the bottom of each listing right here.
Quick overview, right? So when a customer orders the product from your Shopify store, you then order the product from AliExpress. That’s when your supplier gets the order.
Now, there’s a time period when the supplier gets the order and then they fetch the product, and they wrap it up and they prepare it to ship and then they put it on the plane or boat to ship it. That time in between is called processing time. Shipping time is the time it takes between when the package is being dropped off at the boat or plane and the time it reaches your customer.
So total delivery time is processing time plus shipping time. That’s why you want to look carefully at the processing times available for each of your options here. Obviously, the shorter, the better. Let’s say you find the product you want to sell with ePacket shipping available and a reasonable processing time of, let’s say, three days. You can click that product to get an even more accurate idea of its shipping time.
Here, I’ll show you how. On the product page, below the quantity options, you’ll see shipping information and an estimated delivery date right here.
If you click the dropdown menu, you’ll see even more shipping options. I’m just going to edit this, by the way, and say that I’m shipping to the United States, and now I see I’ve got three shipping options and the estimated delivery is right here.
The free shipping with ePacket, which is what I want because ePacket is easy to track and reliable, plus it’s free in this case, takes 18 days. We’re filming this on the 10th of January and its estimated delivery is the 28th of January.
I’m going to go ahead and apply that. So this means that if a customer in the US places an order for this product today and you, the entrepreneur, fulfill that order with Oberlo and the supplier today, the customer will get this product within 18 days.
Check Supplier Reviews
There’s one more thing, however, that you can take a look at to see how long it takes the product to reach your customers: reviews.
AliExpress is a marketplace, just like Amazon, and many people do buy products directly from AliExpress and leave reviews, just like they would on Amazon. They leave feedback about the product quality, supplier communication, and often how long shipping takes as well. As a shortcut, when you’re looking through reviews, you can actually search for words like “fast”, “quick”, or “slow” to see what reviewers are saying about how long it took for them to receive the product.
Order a Test Product
Once you’ve researched different suppliers’ processing times, shipping estimates and reviews, there’s one final thing to do: Order a test product. Successful dropshippers always, always, always order test products, and you can validate the processing time and shipping time and make sure the product matches its description.
To take it a step further, try ordering the same product from a few suppliers to see which shipment is delivered fastest.
All else being equal, work with the fastest supplier. That will ensure that your product gets to your customers as quickly as possible.
I personally have been pleasantly surprised to find that some products arrive sooner than I expected. Many samples or products that I’ve ordered on AliExpress arrive in less than two weeks.
How to Tackle Hesitation Over the Long Wait
Okay, let’s say you’ve ordered a sample of this 3D crystal ball and can confirm that it will get to your customers in less than two weeks. That’s great. But you still might be wondering, will your customer wait even two weeks for their order. The answer is yes, absolutely, as long as the conditions are right. And there are three simple things you need to do to overcome any hesitation about the long wait.
They are simple but not many dropshippers believe they will actually work, so they don’t do them, so they don’t start their business or they don’t grow their business. But pro dropshippers can confirm that these shipping tips do work.
First, you have to sell a product that customers did not know they wanted. Second, you have to be upfront about the potentially long wait. Third, you have to offer customer service. But let’s break these down.
1. Sell Products Customers Did Not Know They Wanted
First, you have to sell a product customers did not know they wanted. Let’s use our 3D crystal ball as an example. Your customer did not wake up one morning and say, “Today, right after breakfast, I am going to buy a crystal ball that contains the 3D model of the solar system.” Ideally, your customer saw one of your Facebook ads or Instagram posts featuring the product and thought, “Oh, my God, I need that.”
That’s because when a customer comes to your website with that attitude, they have tunnel vision, they want that product, and they’re not thinking of anything else. This is a different attitude than when a customer goes to, say, Amazon. Customers go to Amazon when they already know what they want.
For example, a customer might go to Amazon for a specific protein powder if they need to replenish. But when your customer is scrolling through Instagram and sees your product, their first thought is, “OMG, I need that.” They aren’t in evaluation mode, they won’t spend half an hour looking for another 3D crystal ball solar system model. They’ll want to buy your product right now.
2. Be Upfront About How Long Shipping Takes
Now, let’s say you’ve got your customer hooked. Now that they’re crazy with desire, it’s time to be upfront with them about how long shipping will take, and there are several ways that you can do this.
First, on every product page include language on shipping duration, and you can include this at the bottom of the product description, it can be something as simple as, “This product arrives in two to three weeks,” period, you don’t have to belabor the point.
Second, create a shipping information page. The easiest way to do this is to use the shipping information page template from Oberlo. We basically wrote this for you. Make sure, though, that you edit the template to reflect your particular shipping times for your product.
And finally, create a refund policy page. Let customers know that there are no refunds for long delivery times. If you’re looking for some help on how to write this, then just make sure to check out our returns and refunds video.
3. Offer Customer Support
Alright, you’ve set your store up so that it’s clear how long shipping your product will take. The last thing you have to address is customer support. Because here’s a common scenario. A customer sees your product and instantly wants it and they read your disclaimer and they think, “No problem.”
They hit buy, then a week later, they start to get nervous. They wonder if their product has even been shipped yet. They email you and ask where their product is.
Most of the time what the customer really wants to know is that there’s a human on the other side of the screen.
They’re not so stressed about whether it will take a long time to reach them. They just want confirmation that their product is on its way.
This concern is easy to address. Just check your inbox, be diligent about responding to customer concerns and send customers a shipping tracking code so they can track their packages. Most of the time customers will be relieved to hear back from you and they’ll be fine waiting a little longer for their product.
Finally, if you just don’t want your customers to wait two to three weeks for their product, you have another option. Many suppliers on AliExpress have warehouses in the US, Europe, and even Australia. You can choose to ship products to customers in their own country with local shipping options instead of ePacket.
Just a note: With the option to do local shipping at this time usually means a little bit less product selection.
So be wary if you find your winning product and you’re expecting it to ship local; sometimes you can, sometimes you’re going to have to be more flexible on either the product selection or the shipping options.
How to Cut Down on the Long Wait
Even so, I’ll show you how to find local warehouses in the countries you’re shipping to in AliExpress. I’ll use the US as our example. We’ll head back to the AliExpress homepage, and one important setting to note is this right here at the top.
Here you want to select the country that you are shipping to, because that is going to affect your ability to filter your results by products that are in warehouses in that country. So in this case, I’m looking for products that I can ship from US warehouses, so I want to make sure that “ship to US” is selected.
I’ll save that and I will do the same search for a 3D crystal ball that I did earlier. Now, on this results page I’m going to select in this “ship from” dropdown menu, “United States”.
You can’t tell just looking at the results page. But now each of these products does have the option to ship from the US and I’ll click into one and show you. Here you can see when I scroll down, I can choose “ships from” and select “United States”. Here, I see what that means.
So shipping to the US is 5.26 via UPS, and UPS is a local option. The estimated delivery is five to nine days.
If I click this dropdown menu here, I also see that I can ship within 4 to 13 days for the same price from USPS. It seems like the obvious right choice here is UPS.
One thing to note is that in this case, and in many cases, the local shipping option will be more expensive than shipping with ePacket. So as you’re choosing local shipping, you have to determine if it makes sense to spend more to get products to your customers more quickly.
Actually, I want to tell you a story. Seven-figure dropshippers Julia and Mike thought they would get more sales if they offered faster shipping. So during the holidays, they decided to offer their US customers USPS shipping instead of ePacket. While it cost more, Julia and Mike assumed it would drive huge conversions.
To their surprise, customers didn’t really care or even notice. So Julia and Mike ended up switching back to ePacket shipping because it didn’t bother their customers as much as they thought.
They were able to keep a better profit margin and still please their customers while using ePacket.
I want to show you one other trick just in case you’re not dropshipping in the US. If you’re dropshipping in another country, let’s say, France, then go up to the top of the page here, and switch this in this case to France.
I’m going to keep the language at English for the sake of this screen recording and I will click “save”. I’ll go and search for “3D crystal ball” again. But now in my results you’ll see that I can select “ship from France,” and in fact, you’ll see that the US is not currently here as a shipping option.
So that’s one thing you want to be careful of. Make sure you have the correct country selected here, so you can choose an appropriate country with warehouses here. I’ll choose France, and now I see crystal balls that ship to France via local shipping. I’d go into the product page, select France and here, make sure that “to France” is also selected and I see that it’s got free shipping, which is fantastic.
Bottom line: Don’t let long delivery times be the reason you hesitate starting your business.
For every dropshipper who’s made it and who’s appeared on our YouTube channel, there are thousands of would-be dropshippers who let shipping fears stop them.
Those would-be entrepreneurs didn’t believe customers would be willing to wait a few weeks for their products to arrive. The truth is, customers are happy to wait for a product they’ll love sold by a business they trust.
You can build that business, and I and the rest of us here at Oberlo are happy to help you do it. So if you have any questions or doubts about the stuff we talked about today, let’s get a conversation going. Leave me a comment and I’ll reply as soon as I can.
That’s it for me. Learn often, market better and sell more.