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The 2024 Guide to Efficient AliExpress Dropshipping in the UK

  • Published: 23 April 2024
  • 11 min read
  • Grow Your Business
The 2024 Guide to Efficient AliExpress Dropshipping in the UK
  • Author Gabi Bellairs-Lombard

    Gabi Bellairs-Lombard

    Business Writer

    Gabi is a content writer who is passionate about creating content that inspires. Her work history lies in writing compelling website copy, now specialising in product marketing copy. Gabi's priority when writing content is ensuring that the words make an impact on the readers. For Osome, she is the voice of our products and features. You'll find her making complex business finance and accounting topics easy to understand for entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Considering AliExpress Dropshipping in the UK? This no-nonsense guide breaks down the essential steps, legal considerations, costs, and strategies for a profitable online dropshipping business. Learn the nuts and bolts and set yourself up for success with clear, actionable insights.

Key Takeaways

  • AliExpress provides an extensive online marketplace for over 100 million products and supports dropshipping with features and tools that aid resellers in selecting items. This makes it a popular platform for UK-based dropshipping ventures.
  • Dropshipping on AliExpress is legal in the UK; however, dropshippers must comply with UK laws and regulations, and ensure their products are legal, fulfill tax obligations, are registered with HMRC, and adhere to intellectual property rights.
  • Starting an AliExpress dropshipping venture in the UK is cost-effective and profitable despite challenges such as shipping times and customs regulations. It requires a low initial investment and can be scaled through strategies such as efficient marketing, automation, and optimising store performance.

What Is AliExpress?

AliExpress is an online retail platform owned by the Alibaba Group and provides a wide range of products directly from manufacturers and sellers primarily based in China. Launched in 2010, it offers a diverse selection of goods, including electronics, clothing, home essentials, and more, at competitive prices. AliExpress operates on a business-to-consumer (B2C) model, connecting consumers worldwide with sellers offering products at wholesale prices. It is known for its vast product selection, affordable pricing, and convenient shipping options, making it popular among global shoppers seeking budget-friendly items and unique finds.

What is AliExpress?

However, AliExpress is more than just a retail site. Many sellers on the platform cater to resellers engaging in dropshipping. The platform even offers features like sorting products by ‘Best Match’ or ‘Orders’ to assist in dropshipping, making it an ideal starting point for your own dropshipping business.

Is Dropshipping Through AliExpress Legal in the UK?

You can be confident that AliExpress dropshipping is perfectly legal in the UK. However, like all businesses, dropshippers must adhere to UK laws and regulations in ensuring their products are legal.

For instance, UK dropshippers must:

  • Avoid selling items that infringe upon intellectual property rights or fall into prohibited categories
  • Adhere to ecommerce rules
  • Fulfil all tax obligations, including income tax, VAT, and customs duties
  • Register their business with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and fulfil their tax obligations

Legal sanctions can follow if one sells illegal products or fails to adhere to UK business regulations. However, with careful attention to legal requirements, AliExpress dropshipping can be a viable and profitable venture in the UK.

How Much Does it Cost to Dropship on AliExpress?

One of the most attractive aspects of starting such a dropshipping business is the low upfront cost. For an initial investment of as little as $155, which covers expenses for a domain name and the AliDropship plugin, you can get your online store up and running.

Additional expenses like payment processing fees and marketing costs may arise as you expand your dropshipping business. These costs, inherent to running a successful online business, are typically balanced out by the sales profits. And remember, with dropshipping, there are no upfront inventory costs. You only purchase products from dropshipping suppliers on AliExpress after a customer has placed an order.

How Does Dropshipping on AliExpress Work?

The dropshipping process on AliExpress is simple and easy to understand. It involves identifying AliExpress products, listing them in your store, and fulfilling customer orders through dropshipping suppliers. When a customer places an order from your site store, you order the product from AliExpress and have it shipped directly to the customer. This means you don’t have to worry about holding inventory.

You can set your own prices for the AliExpress products you list on your store, allowing for a markup from the wholesale price. After a sale is made on your platform, the order is fulfilled by the AliExpress supplier, who ships the product directly to the end customer.

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Benefits of AliExpress Dropshipping in the UK

There are several benefits to using AliExpress for dropshipping in the UK. Firstly, it provides a cost-effective way to start an ecommerce business with minimal investment. You can set up your business without worrying about storing and shipping inventory.

AliExpress also offers a vast range of over 100 million products, giving UK businesses a wide selection to choose from, thanks to numerous AliExpress suppliers. And, with ePacket delivery options, you can ensure faster shipping to your customers.

AliExpress provides UK entrepreneurs with the flexibility to operate their business under different structures, such as a sole trader, which is easy to set up and manage. And with the UK’s high internet penetration rate and a population close to 70 million, the market potential is huge.

Steps To Start Your AliExpress Dropshipping Business

Starting an AliExpress dropshipping business involves a structured step-by-step approach. Each step is designed to streamline the process for efficiency and effectiveness.

Let’s examine these steps in detail.

1. Choose your niche

1. Choose your niche

Choosing a niche marks the first crucial step towards setting up your dropshipping store on AliExpress. It’s important to research market trends and utilise AliExpress search filters and categories to narrow down trending products within your chosen niche.

You should also cross-reference product legitimacy and demand on other online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, and Shopify. This will help you avoid products in niches that are too broad or sell products that are easily available on other major retail platforms.

2. Find reliable suppliers

2. Find reliable suppliers

Securing suppliers you can rely on is vital for maintaining product quality and satisfaction. Look for AliExpress sellers with high overall positive feedback ratings and those that have been active on AliExpress for at least one year.

It’s also important to read customer reviews to get a better understanding of the supplier’s performance regarding delivery times, item descriptions, and product quality. You might even want to request product samples from suppliers to inspect the items you plan to sell in your store.

Trying to find AliExpres offers for branded products might be a good strategy as well.

Steps to start your AliExpress dropshipping business
3. Set up your online store

3. Set up your online store

The subsequent step involves setting up your online store. Platforms like Shopify and Wix offer easy-to-use options to create your ecommerce store with great templates for product listings. These platforms can be directly linked to AliExpress for dropshipping, making the process seamless and efficient.

You can also integrate AliExpress with your store using dropshipping apps like DSers. These apps facilitate product import and offer multi-store management for platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, and Wix.

4. Import and optimise products

With your store ready, the next step is to import your AliExpress products and optimise them. Here are some tips to help you with this process:

  1. Sort products by ‘orders’ on AliExpress to find best-selling dropshipping products.
  2. Ensure that the products you choose have a high rating.
  3. Look for products with high-profit margins.

Following these tips will help you select the best-selling products for your dropshipping store.

When it comes to optimising your products, consider:

  • Using high-quality images
  • Testing different images as the default image
  • Writing original product descriptions
  • Embedding high-resolution images and size guides where relevant

These strategies can help your customers make informed decisions.

5. Manage orders and fulfilment

5. Manage orders and fulfilment

A crucial aspect of running a dropshipping business is managing orders and fulfilment. Tools like DSers can automate the order placement process, fill in customer shipping details, and streamline the order fulfilment process.

After the order is shipped, it’s important to monitor the delivery and provide a window for customers to raise issues. This enhances post-purchase customer engagement and support and leads to improved satisfaction and loyalty, which is a reflection of excellent customer service.

Marketing Strategies for AliExpress Dropshipping Success

With your store operational, your focus should now shift to marketing. Effective strategies should include the following:

  • Search engine optimization
  • PPC
  • Social media marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Email marketing

These strategies are crucial for attracting potential customers and promoting your store effectively.

Marketing strategies for AliExpress dropshipping success

Social media marketing

Social media platforms serve as excellent avenues for promoting your top-selling products and interacting with customers. Understanding your target audience, the platforms they use, and the content they engage with is critical for an effective social media marketing strategy.

Consistency in posting and maintaining a brand voice on social media is crucial for building trust and establishing a strong brand identity. In addition, collaborating with influencers and facilitating user-generated content can significantly increase your reach and visibility.

Content marketing

Content marketing presents another effective strategy for drawing in and engaging customers. It involves creating valuable, educational content that meets the audience’s needs and questions. High content quality and adherence to SEO guidelines are crucial for successful content marketing and ranking on search engines.

Creating how-to guides and tutorials related to the products you sell can not only attract traffic but also position your brand as a knowledgeable resource within its niche. Collaboration with bloggers or content creators can lead to increased exposure, credibility, and trust.

Email marketing

Email marketing serves as yet another valuable instrument for endorsing your dropshipping store. Sending targeted email campaigns, segmenting your email lists, and creating personalised content can significantly boost your engagement and sales.

Creating an email funnel that reflects the different stages of the customer journey is key to maximising conversions and building long-term relationships. Also, tracking key metrics such as open rates, bounce rates, and click-through rates can help you optimise your future email marketing campaigns.

Tips for Scaling Your AliExpress Dropshipping Store

Once your dropshipping on AliExpress is operational, it’s time to contemplate scaling. This involves expanding your operations and increasing revenue, which can be achieved through automation, diversification of products, and optimisation of your store's performance.

Automate processes

Automation can drastically simplify the management of your own store. Tools like WooDropship can automate inventory management, tracking and updating pricing and inventory changes in real-time.

Automation tools like AutoDS can also streamline the order fulfilment process, connecting the selling platform and AliExpress for priority order processing. These tools not only assist in growing the business but also help in multiplying profits.

Diversify product offerings

Broadening your product range can significantly boost market demand and expand your target audience. This strategy involves expanding your product range and offering new sizes, colors, styles, categories, or territories.

Creating product kits and bundles can also encourage customers to purchase multiple profitable products, thus raising the average order value.

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Optimise store performance

In the end, honing your store’s performance is key to scaling your business. Running A/B tests on your product pages and on different marketing channels can improve conversion rates by pinpointing the most effective methods for engaging a specific audience. High-quality photos also give you a competitive advantage.

Monitoring your store’s performance with appropriate tools can also help you detect and rectify bottlenecks, thus preventing outages and improving the overall user experience.

Overcoming Common AliExpress Dropshipping Challenges

Even though dropshipping with AliExpress can be a lucrative endeavour, it does come with its own set of challenges. However, with the right strategies in place, you can overcome these challenges and start dropshipping successfully.

Let’s look at some of the common challenges and how to tackle them.

Shipping times and costs

Long shipping times commonly pose a challenge for dropshippers. Focusing on products with ePacket shipping can help, as it offers a faster option for small goods from China to the U.S. and Europe.

Being transparent about potential import taxes and shipping fees is crucial for customer satisfaction. You may want to consider setting a flat rate based on average shipping costs to simplify billing for your customers and offer better prices.

Handling returns and refunds

Handling returns and refunds is an unavoidable aspect of managing any ecommerce site. It’s essential to offer superior customer service during returns, potentially covering return shipping costs. Handling disputes effectively also requires a quick response times for customer complaints.

In the event a customer’s order doesn’t arrive on time or is damaged, it’s essential to contact suppliers regarding the issue with customer orders and ask customers for photographic evidence.

Navigating customs and taxes

Dropshippers can also find dealing with customs and taxes challenging. It’s critical to understand the import regulations in the destination country and consider strategies to minimise extra fees.

For instance, if a dropshipping order’s value exceeds the U.S. threshold of $800, it may be advisable to ship the order in multiple smaller packages to avoid import taxes. Similarly, for orders over €150 shipped to the EU, you may want to split the order into smaller packages to avoid any extra fees.


Dropshipping offers an appealing business model for those looking to venture into an ecommerce business. With minimal startup costs, a wide array of products available and the flexibility to operate from anywhere, it presents a viable avenue for aspiring entrepreneurs in the UK and beyond.

However, like any business, it requires careful planning, strategic marketing and excellent customer service. By choosing a profitable niche, finding reliable suppliers, using a good dropshipping tool to help you find a winning product, setting up an optimised online store and implementing effective strategies, you can easily navigate these challenges.

If you are a small dropshipping business owner needing expert advice on growing your business or an e-commerce seller looking to outsource the financial aspect of your business, you can turn to Osome. With considerable expertise in accounting, audits, company registrations and more, we are well-placed to help you build a successful business.

Author Gabi Bellairs-Lombard
Gabi Bellairs-LombardBusiness Writer

Gabi is a content writer who is passionate about creating content that inspires. Her work history lies in writing compelling website copy, now specialising in product marketing copy. Gabi's priority when writing content is ensuring that the words make an impact on the readers. For Osome, she is the voice of our products and features. You'll find her making complex business finance and accounting topics easy to understand for entrepreneurs and small business owners.

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  • How to dropship with AliExpress?

    To dropship using products from AliExpress, start by choosing a niche and identifying a reliable supplier. Then, set up your ecommerce stores, use tools to automate your business, and be knowledgeable about payments, shipping, and return policies.

  • Which country is best for dropshipping from AliExpress?

    The best country for dropshipping products from AliExpress would be Sweden, Spain, Norway, Italy, the Netherlands, France, United Arab Emirates, or Japan. These countries provide good opportunities for dropshipping.

  • Does AliExpress still have a dropshipping centre?

    Yes, AliExpress still has a dropshipping centre available for ecommerce entrepreneurs, providing access to product ideas and suppliers in the AliExpress marketplace. Access is reserved for professionals with a significant sales volume.

  • Does AliExpress dropshipping work in the UK?

    Yes, dropshipping from AliExpress is legal in the UK, but it must comply with UK standards and laws regarding product offerings.

  • Is it OK to dropship from AliExpress?

    Yes, it is acceptable to dropship from AliExpress because it can help you avoid high overhead costs and focus on customer experience and relationship management.

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