Dropshipping has been one of the hottest things in the e-commerce industry for a while now, and it’s getting even more popular everyday. The reason is that with dropshipping, you can run an ecommerce business without having to carry any inventory at all. All you need to do on your end is selling the product to your customers, and your supplier will fulfill the order themselves. Sounds great, doesn’t it? With platforms like Shopify, you can set up your own dropshipping business in no time, and the best part? You don’t have to worry about any storage, shipment or capital. Dropshipping is by far the cheapest method of setting up an ecommerce business. Now that you’re keyed up on what dropshipping is, let’s find out what Oberlo is and why you don’t need it.
Dropshipping with Oberlo
One of the words used almost synonymously with dropshipping is Oberlo. Oberlo is an app hosted on and owned by Shopify, one of the largest ecommerce platforms, that lets users source products directly from suppliers in China via AliExpress.
What is AliExpress you ask?
AliExpress is like eBay, but Chinese. Owned by Alibaba, AliExpress lets users around the world buy products directly from Chinese manufacturers or sellers. However, AliExpress is much bigger and cheaper than eBay. The reason for this is the sheer amount of products that China manufactures for the world. It has one of the cheapest labor costs in the world, and can make these products much cheaper than anyone else.
So when you dropship with Oberlo, you can source products at Chinese prices (which are super cheap), which you can then sell at US prices, and make a nice profit.
A good example is this LED table lamp, that costs only $15 on AliExpress.
However, on Amazon, it can easily go for $70 or more.
As you can see, the profit margin for products like these are crazy high. Imagine buying something for $15 and selling it for $70!
You might be wondering by now, if everything is so great, why the need for an article that tells you how to dropship without Oberlo?
Well, just like with everything else that seems too good to be true, there’s a huge catch here. Or rather, lots of catches.
Dropshipping with Oberlo: All that can go wrong
While it might look like you can earn huge profits on Oberlo, there’s actually a lot that can and does go wrong. Let’s take a look.
Ever wondered why products on AliExpress are so insanely cheap? There’s actually a couple of other reasons besides cheap labor, and the biggest one is quality. In order to supply extremely cheap products, AliExpress suppliers are notorious for compromising on quality and delivering substandard and even counterfeit products.
The product photos you see on Oberlo look great, but more often than not, those pictures don’t look anything like the products you actually get. At the end of the day, your customers are not satisfied and once they realize they’ve been duped, all your efforts will go down the drain.
Oberlo does not offer any sort of vetting or quality control process for their suppliers. Compromising on quality in order to score higher profits is a bad idea. If you genuinely want to run a great dropshipping business, the one thing you need to take care of is your customers. You cannot risk losing them all by using Oberlo to source cheap knock-offs from AliExpress.
One of the biggest drawbacks of using Oberlo to source your products is the shipping time. Naturally, because the products are being shipped all the way from China, they’re going to take a while to get to your customers.
Usual Oberlo product wait times can range anywhere from 12 days to 25 days. Add to that 2-4 days of processing and actual delivery to the customer’s door and at the end of it all, you have a customer who’s ended up having to wait weeks or even months for their orders. An average wait time for Oberlo product shipping is three weeks.
A customer who has waited almost a month for the product they ordered is not a happy customer, and that’s the last thing you want.
Pricing and Customer Service
Oberlo is notorious for ever changing prices and disappearing suppliers. You will not even be notified before any drastic change takes place. Customer service is shaky at best. All of this is because Oberlo does not place any conditions and regulations on their suppliers and the same goes for AliExpress.
Since the suppliers are under no obligation to supply the products to you consistently, at the end of the day it’s your business that suffers. The hallmark of a reliable business is consistency, and if the product source is unreliable, so is your business!
Even if you’ve found some great quality products, and some really reliable suppliers, Oberlo prices are still aren’t as great as they might seem. You see, Oberlo is not free. And it can prove to be very costly to run.
Oberlo offers three pricing plans for users. Their Starter Plan is free, but you can only list up to 500 products and only fulfill 50 orders per month. While 50 products is nowhere near enough to be profitable, this plan also does not offer shipment tracking, fulfillment monitoring, or multiple user access.
The Oberlo Basic Plan is $29.90/month and with it you can list up to 10000 products and fulfill 500 orders. The Basic plan includes shipment tracking and fulfillment monitoring but no multiple user access.
The top-budget plan is the Pro at $80/month with which you get 30000 products and unlimited product fulfillment as well as all the bells and whistles.
As you might have noticed, $30-80 every month can be pretty harsh, especially to someone who’s just started out. Add to this the low quality of the products, and the long wait times, and you end up with a business that’s more costly to run than your actual profits. So, what’s the solution? Can you dropship successfully without Oberlo?
Of course you can!
You see, dropshipping is a great business model and you don’t really need Oberlo to be successful at it. Depending on the products you want to sell, there are multiple alternatives available for you that are much better than Oberlo in the long run. Let’s look at some of them.
1. More Shopify Apps
Oberlo is only one of the many dropshipping apps on Shopify. Apps like Spocket and Modalyst let you source products from suppliers all over the world, including the US, Canada, Asia, Europe and even Africa. While Spocket provides products from suppliers at super discounted prices, Modalyst sources products only from independent international brands. Other apps like Printful and Mxed can provide a variety of products from custom prints to licensed, legal pop-culture merchandise that can include Harry Potter or Marvel branded products, depending on what your target audience is. The best part about all these apps is that they will not compromise on product quality or consistency, leaving you stress-free and able to focus on your real work – selling these products!
2. Independent Suppliers
This is a less popular but in the long run, more profitable option available. Instead of dropshipping from popular vendors on platforms like Oberlo, you can have your own brand and sell private label products from independent suppliers. This can have several advantages that will prove to be very beneficial in the long term.
You see, when you use Oberlo or similar platforms, you basically sell the same products as a lot of other dropshipping business and you don’t really stand out. And at the end of the day, you have little or no control over product quality and customer service. For example, If the supplier ships the products really late there’s nothing you can do about it.
On the other hand, if you have your own brand and an independent supplier, not only do you stand out because only you have that product available, you can also control all the aspects of the dropship such as the price, profit margins and delivery. The best part? No one else can copy your trademarks or your products.
3. Other Platforms
Apart from Oberlo and other Shopify apps, there are various other independent platforms that offer dropshipping solutions for businesses like yours. Platforms like Dropified and ProductPro not only provide better pricing plans, but also vet all their suppliers for quality and reliability, and offer much faster shipping times. The best part? ProductPro also offers 24/hour customer service so that you can relax in the knowledge that you are always connected to your supplier network.
Dropshipping is one of the best ecommerce business models for entrepreneurs today. As we saw, Oberlo offers insanely cheap prices and shipping rates on products that can go for a lot of money, but these products can prove to be very costly in the long run, due to low-grade quality and long shipping times. In order to run a dropshipping business that is actually profitable and successful, you need experienced, high quality and trustworthy vendors to source your products from. Luckily, you’ve got lots of better options available to insure your dropshipping success!
Moreover, Sell The Trend is another great alternative to Oberlo. It doesn’t only let you fulfill orders automatically but also offers several other helpful dropshipping tools. Sell The Trend’s AI-powered Nexus product research tool, competitors spy tool, engagement calculator, Facebook & Instagram audience builder, and video ads creator can save you a lot of time and money.
Learn more about this 9-in-1 dropshipping platform here.