As a dropshipper, you have no control over the shipping time. This is a little problematic, considering that you are competing against some online sellers who can ship in two to three days. And if you are selling in the United States, your customers would expect that you ship in less than a week.
You have no fighting chance; you say.
But wait—do not give up yet. Today, I will share with you some ideas that will help you solve this problem, or how to go around it. By the end of this tutorial, you would have learned how to overcome long shipping times in dropshipping.
How can I reduce dropship shipping time?
The easiest way you can reduce dropshipping time is to pay for expedited shipping. There really is no other way. However, this solution opens up new problems—higher shipping costs.
Take a look at the screenshot below. This product is sold on AliExpress and is shipped from China. The date today is June 30. As you can see, the FREE SHIPPING option means that the customer from the United States would receive the item on September 5, or three months down the line!
The fastest arrival is on July 15, or 15 days from the date of purchase. However, the shipping cost is $15.47. Now, this product costs $26.24. If you charge $15 more, the customer may not even buy.
As a dropshipper, the other way to expedite the shipping time is to look for a supplier who ships from the same country as the destination country.
But how do you do that?
You can only do this if you have a dropship supplier tool. Forget about Oberlo and AliExpress. You will be spending days on AliExpress finding suppliers who ship from the same country as the origin country.
In AliExpress, you cannot filter any “ship from” button. You need to manually open each item displayed in the search results, then go to the product page, and then scroll below the product images to choose where the product is going to come from.
Take a look at the screenshot below:
Can you just imagine the amount of time you are going to waste doing this?
The better solution is to use a tool called Spocket. Like Oberlo, it is a dropship supplier tool. However, it has an area where you can filter products based on where you want the item to come from. Take a look at the screenshot below.
Now, let us do a little experiment.
Let us search for a drone product, and then select those that are shipped FROM the United States, and will ship TO the United States.
This is how it looks:
Once the results are in, you can see different products on the page. From there, we can choose something and see how long the shipping is going to take. In the screenshot below, I have highlighted the shipping time for each drone product.
As you can see, we should be selling the third one. It takes only three days to ship the item to the customer.
But here is the problem—it costs $66 to buy, and the suggested retail price is $101. At this price, it may be difficult to sell it because it is too expensive.
As you know by now, you cannot have it all as a dropshipper. Since you are not manufacturing your products, much less keeping an inventory, there are some things that are beyond your control.
If you have the time, you can find dropship suppliers from AliExpress, and then choose only those that ship from the US.
The issue with this approach is that you are limiting yourself. If the item is shipped from the US and your buyer is from Russia or an Asian country, you are going to face the same problem.
To sum it all up, it is a nightmare. If you really want to dropship from AliExpress through the Oberlo Chrome extension, and then also ship globally, there is no shortening the shipping time.
Even if you use e-packet, it is not a reliable shipment method. Add to that the fact that once an item arrives in the destination country, it can get stuck in customs for weeks or months!
So, what do you do?
What you have to do is to embrace the fact that affordable goods that are sent internationally take time. Anything that is shipped quickly means that someone had to pay a premium price.
Tips for dealing with long shipping times
Now that we know the real deal with shipping if you are a dropshipper, it is time that we face our reality and see how to overcome long shipping times in dropshipping.
1. Order your own products
My first recommendation is that you order your own products. The most common pitfall of dropshippers is that they do not order the products they want to sell. As such, they do not even have the faintest idea what the product’s quality is, much less how the supplier treats its customers.
Order your own product, and you will get the following benefits:
- Experience the shipping time – if you do this, you will wait for the product, and you will know how your customers feel. You will find out how long it takes for the supplier to pack the items and then ship them; you will also know if you will be given a tracking number.
- Hold the products in your hands – once you receive the product, you will know if this supplier is true to what he or she said in the product description. It is through this experience where you can find out if the supplier ships a complete set of the items, or if they ship the items as ordered and as described. If the supplier shipped a red shirt instead of the blue that you ordered, stay away.
- Deal with the supplier – chat with the supplier, and then find out how long it takes for them to respond. Do they even respond at all? Find out how they treat their customers. If they have great customer service, then you should consider using this supplier for your dropshipping business. When you have issues, you know their response (and thus your response to your customer) will be quick.
As you can see, there are many benefits to ordering the product yourself. If the shipping time hits three months, then you already know that you cannot depend on this supplier.
Many dropshippers fail because they do not do this. They randomly choose products on AliExpress, and then find out that they are dealing with a bad supplier. Sadly, they find this out AFTER a customer already purchased the item.
So what happens? The customer asks for a refund.
And then, these dropshippers would now want to replace all the products on their Shopify store. Too late—they already have hundreds of products from this same supplier! Their only course of action is to give up—they shut down the business because they feel like they have been scammed.
2. Set the right expectations
Another tip for dealing with long shipping times is to be honest to your customer about it. Set the expectations. If the shipping takes four weeks from your supplier, you must add two weeks more. You will never really know what delays can happen.
Your best shot is to have a place on your product pages where you discuss these expectations.
Here are some examples of the content you can put:
- Shipping – your product page must not be vague about shipping. You must be specific that the shipping will take eight weeks, at the very least, but will not exceed three months. Many customers expect their products to arrive in three days.
If you are not transparent about your real shipping times, you will get a huge amount of cancellations. It is better not to make a sale than to get cancellations AFTER your supplier has already shipped the item.
- Processing – you can also tell your customer that it takes three to four days to process an order. Tell the customer that this processing time includes going to the warehouse, getting the item, and then packing it.
- Customs delays – you must also tell your customer that once the item gets in his or her country, the product may linger in customs for a while 🙂 All countries have customs department that check each product that comes in.
All these expectations should be on your product page. Do not hide them in your shipping policy page. They must be easy to find, and they must be visible on each product page that a customer views.
3. Offer expedited shipping
To avoid Oberlo or Aliexpress’ long shipping times, you can offer expedited shipping. Earlier, we have discussed how much it is likely to cost. If this is something you want to offer, you should work with only a few suppliers. As you can see, each supplier in AliExpress has its own preferred shipping partners.
One supplier may offer DHL, and another one doesn’t. In this case, you are going to need an app that identifies which supplier ships where and with what method.
This app must be integrated with your store and must know if Product A is from supplier A or B. This way, the DHL method will only appear to Product A and not product B.
4. Coordinate with your suppliers
The next thing you can do is to coordinate with a supplier. If Supplier A is using DHL, then ask Supplier B if he could do the same. Sometimes, a supplier does not list DHL as an option, but they might be willing to use that courier if you just ask for it……nicely 🙂
You can also ask the supplier if he has other shipping options and not just DHL. In addition, take this opportunity to find out about the supplier’s refund policies. Not all suppliers offer refunds while the item is mid-flight or if the items are currently being shipped. Or even at all!!
5. Offer freebies for waiting
One way to deal with long shipping times is to offer some free stuff. If you can offer an item that only costs you a dollar, especially those that are sold on AliExpress and shipped via ePacket, then do it.
A free item is something that your customer is going to appreciate, regardless of what it is. Also, you can offer free shipping if you want, and this is a better way to handle issues about long shipping. If the shipping fee is free, the customer is willing to wait, even if the item takes three months. Or they are more likely to, lets put it that way 🙂
Just make sure you explain that since the shipment is free, you cannot expedite the shipping time—that a compromise has to be made, which means that the shipping time is going to be longer than what the customer is used to from Amazon orders.
As a last word in this section, you have to choose your suppliers carefully. Never deal with suspicious suppliers on AliExpress. Make sure that you do your due diligence—read the reviews and be able to see what reviews are fake and what are real.
How do you explain long shipping times when dropshipping?
Now, how do you explain dropshipping’s sometimes long shipping times to your customer?
What you have to do is to be transparent. First off, you should never ever claim that the products will ship within a few days, even if the supplier says so. You need to have a provision of weeks (or whatever you need for that supplier).
In all your product pages, you have to say that the items will be shipped within a few weeks—six to eight weeks at the most.
So, how do you explain it?
Here are some ideas:
- Volume – you can tell the customer that you are experiencing a high volume of orders, and that you are doing what you can to expedite the postal process. This excuse will fly for the first time, but a repeat customer is not going to believe this anymore. He or she will just tell you that six months ago, you were experiencing a high value of sales. And you did not do anything about it?
- Location – you can be honest and tell your customer that the product is shipped from a different location, you can say that the product comes from China, Germany, Russia, etc. This can make you lose some sales, especially for those who are wary of Chinese products. If you are going to use this excuse, you need to preempt this question and inform your consumers, through your product pages, that the items you are selling are coming from China.
- Cost – you can tell the customer that shipping takes a long time because the cost of what you charge for shipping is low. As such, you cannot expedite the movement of the product. Apologize to the customer and assure him that the product is on the way. Then, offer a better and faster shipping method. If this customer is willing to pay $15, then charge him $15 for shipping to make it faster.
As you can see, there are several reasons that you can use to explain the long shipping time. What matters now is how you explain these things clearly and politely.
Do not expect your customer to be happy. It is normal or customers to get disappointed. They want things now.
And this is why I strongly recommend that you do not lie. Always set the right expectations that shipping will take eight weeks. This expectation should be in your product page—all of them. If the customer sees this and still orders, then you will not have a lot of problems dealing with complaints and refunds due to cancellations.
A problem is not going to happen if you know how to prevent it to begin with. Set the right expectations, and do not serve customers whose demands you cannot fulfill. The best offense is defense. If you set the right expectations, you are allowing your customer to make a decision based on these expectations.
Shipping is a headache for dropshippers. Sadly, there is no way you can be in control of this process. The good news is that there are many things you can do not just to expedite the shipping, but also to manage your customer’s perception.
It all boils down to transparency. If your shipping expectations are clear and honest, your customers will not berate you or feel you are taking advantage of them. These are the customers you want—customers who know that shipping will take eight weeks and are still willing to wait. Of course, if you can source your products near where most of your customers live, you will greatly improve this problem. However, it can be tough to find these products without your pricing going through the roof!