Ecommerce | June 28, 2021  

CJ Dropshipping vs AliExpress: What’s the Right Choice for You?

Kiril Kirilov

The AliExpress platform is home to many beginner dropshippers when they start their online selling journey. The benefits are many: ease of use, mass products, and extremely quick processing times.

The thing with AliExpress is that it may not be ideal when you get to the point of scaling up your business.

This article will discuss the pivotal comparisons between AliExpress and CJ dropshipping, determine which platform is best for you, and provide you with proper answers to questions you may have when starting your own dropshipping journey.

What Is AliExpress?

AliExpress is an online retail service based in China and owned by the Alibaba Group. It was launched back in 2019 and offers products to international online buyers. It is easy to set up by vendors wishing to sell to customers worldwide. AliExpress bulk orders are available all over the world, and orders are processed by different AliExpress vendors.

Here are a few pros and cons to consider when researching AliExpress dropshipping for your business.

Pros

  • You Hold No Stock. This means that AliExpress is your supplier and will ship the items directly to the consumer. This is an advantage for people with smaller capital gain looking to enter the market at little to no risk.
  • Low Startup Costs. Another advantage for first-time businesses is lower startup costs. When you use AliExpress’s parent company, Alibaba, many suppliers request a deposit and order minimum. AliExpress, however, does not require this. You only pay for what you sell.
  • Little Risk. If things aren’t going as expected and you start losing money, you won’t be stuck holding onto any inventory with AliExpress.
  • Lots of Choices. You will find a great deal of available product choices with AliExpress. You will probably find the products much cheaper than you would on Amazon if you consider that as an alternative to AliExpress.
  • Finally, you will find more in the way of flexibility with AliExpress. Since you don’t hold stock, you will not be tied down to any physical location.

Cons

  • Extremely Competitive. Interest in dropshipping has increased over the last several years, meaning competition is getting fierce. Once a new product hits the market, it becomes saturated quickly on AliExpress. So, you need to learn how to be ahead of the curve.
  • Lack of Control. When you use suppliers for your business, communication is important, especially when dropshipping. Since you don’t hold onto your inventory physically, you are less aware of the process when the items ship to the customer. It is recommended to order the AliExpress products for yourself first to see how the process goes.
  • Slow Shipping Times. Shipping times can prove to be a difficult aspect of dropshipping. In this case, you want to ask for a tracking number, communicate, and always receive confirmation.
  • Non-Branded Products. AliExpress has been said to have knock-off and non-branded products that may be of lower quality than you would expect. Therefore, the return rate on some products may be higher.

Let’s dive a bit deeper into each of these pros and cons below as we discuss the differences between CJ dropshipping and AliExpress.

What Is CJ Dropshipping?

CJ dropshipping is a platform that may be integrated with product sourcing, shipping fulfillment, and order processing. Some compare its functionality to AliExpress and Oberlo. Dropshippers can easily connect or list products on CJ to sell in their store.

There is a warehouse service available, as well as affiliate and API support. It covers all services related to your specific dropshipping business. CJ dropshipping is quickly becoming popular because of its highly competitive shipping prices and great customer review scores.

Here are some of the pros and cons of using CJ dropshipping for your business.

Pros

  • Convenient App. The CJ dropshipping app works well with Shopify and WooCommerce. It has been included in the Shopify app store since January of 2020. The app simplifies order tracking, order placements, and item listing.
  • When comparing the prices between AliExpress and CJ, there isn’t much of a price difference. However, with CJ, prices can be negotiated using an assigned agent after you begin to sell more than 50 units per day.
  • Quick Shipping Times. This is one of the biggest advantages of using CJ dropshipping. There are many convenient shipping choices available, and you can also utilize local USPS shipping when the items are in stock and already available.
  • Fast Processing Time. Sellers are also often dropshippers themselves. While some dropshippers have a minimum order requirement, CJ doesn’t. This means processing times are usually between one and three business days.
  • Better Quality Control. CJ dropshipping utilizes quality control checks to review the item’s condition before it ships. This helps ensure that your customers are not receiving a broken product or one of less quality.

Cons

  • Limited Number of Products. Compared to AliExpress, CJ dropshipping offers fewer products, so you won’t have as much variety when it comes to your product listings.
  • Limited Product Details. Since a small team manages CJ dropshipping, it can be hard to find details on many products. However, more details can be provided upon request submitted to their customer service team.
  • Complicated User Interface. Some have complained that the interface is hard to use and often contains too much information that can ultimately become overwhelming and confusing, especially for those new to dropshipping.
  • You also have to consider processing and warehouse fees when using this platform for items sold in the United States. The fee also applies to products that are not being stored in the US warehouses.

Now, let’s get into the actual differences between the two platforms and go into more detail below on the pros and cons of each platform.

CJ Dropshipping vs AliExpress: Key Differences

Let’s break down the key differences between the two dropshipping platforms, starting with AliExpress.

Product Listings: AliExpress

Here’s a pivotal difference between AliExpress dropshipping and CJ dropshipping. The number of product listings on AliExpress surpasses 100 million products. In contrast, the number of product listings for CJ dropshipping is only around 400,000, which falls far behind AliExpress in scale and quality.

Why are these numbers so different?

According to reports, there are more than 8.7 million sellers on AliExpress as of 2019. The number has increased since then.  You can find more statistics and data about the platform and Alibaba here.

In contrast, CJ runs on limited staff, as we have already mentioned. So, all products are listed by their team, and they are picking up trending items and sourcing them out following the requests of users. If you need more details on a product, you must put in a request for that information.

If you look at which platform has more to offer regarding products, the absolute winner would be AliExpress.

Product Listings: CJ Dropshipping

CJ is an AliExpress competitor but, in this situation, falls into a position far behind the other platform.

AliExpress with Shopify is the perfect opportunity to try and test new products that are popping up. It is also easy to start with orders from the very beginning of your online store launch.

If you want to scale your business after finding the best products to sell, AliExpress will no longer be the ideal choice for your eCommerce business.

As you grow your business, your needs and expectations change, and AliExpress can’t always meet these changing needs. In this case, many eCommerce owners begin turning to CJ dropshipping as they scale their business.

CJ has a better sourcing service for users that post sourcing requests, and they can launch a supplier plan that is perfect for when suppliers post various products on CJ. As more suppliers join, we can say the product listings will become more competitive.

Ease of Use: AliExpress

Dropshipping from AliExpress is made simple. Customers can find and buy products they want faster and at cheaper prices. It’s also easy to set up an account and learn how to use AliExpress, which is helpful if you are a beginner when it comes to the dropshipping process.

There is no inventory to worry about with AliExpress, so there is minimal overhead. You don’t have to pay for a warehouse, and you don’t have to pay people to pick and ship your orders. Everything is taken care of on that end.

Ease of Use: CJ Dropshipping

On the other side, where CJ stands, people claim it can be more complicated regarding the user interface and the vast amount of information it offers.  However, you will also find many of the same functions shared by AliExpress and Oberlo. Still, for new users, there are tutorial videos that will explain every step as you dive into the process of using CJ.

The mobile app CJ dropshipping uses also makes things easier. The app can be used to receive important information on trending products and makes it easier to import items.

Dropshipping Costs: AliExpress

If you are looking for low startup costs, then AliExpress may prove to be a good fit for your business. They offer a quick and affordable way to start your online store. You don’t pay anything out of pocket until customers start ordering items. Therefore, there is minimal risk involved.

There is also minimal overhead involved when using AliExpress. You can sell products without investing any of your money into an inventory or managing your inventory. You do not pay for a warehouse or pay for people to pull and ship customer orders.

However, when it comes to pricing, as individuals own most stores on AliExpress, they can’t provide the prices offered by manufacturers. This happens because the most competitive prices are available for retailers or sellers on Alibaba, which is a B2B solution.

AliExpress vendors need to buy inventory from dealers first, and their profit would then come from arbitrage.

On top of that, AliExpress is the one paying annual fees, showcase fees, and advertisement fees on their platform.

Dropshipping Costs: CJ Dropshipping

When it comes to the dropshipping process, the team at CJ Dropshipping is running things by themselves. Starting from platform maintenance to product delivery, the team at CJ is cutting costs. This helps make prices more competitive in most situations.

However, when using CJ dropshipping, you also have to figure in account processing and warehouse fees for items sold within the United States. This also applies to products that aren’t being stored in US warehouses. Even though the prices are comparable to those on AliExpress, you may still need to rely more on bulk shipments through a fulfillment service so you can find the absolute best rates available.

Shipping and Processing Times: AliExpress

Factors like the AliExpress shipping time, processing time, and shipping costs are pivotal on so many levels when merchants are dropshipping with AliExpress.

The shipping fees for AliExpress are shown to be more affordable than those for CJ dropshipping, but many of the product prices are slightly higher and include the shipping costs.

When it comes to the estimated AliExpress processing and delivery times, you will find that the prices for AliExpress are cheaper, but the processing and shipping times are also longer.

We talked about AliExpress shipping time in one of our previous articles, so you can revisit to check out additional information on the topic.

Also, most AliExpress shipping times can go up to a month, and if there are any delays, the period can be prolonged.

Shipping and Processing Times: CJ Dropshipping

AliExpress shipping times can stretch up to a month. If there are any delays, that time period can be prolonged even more. CJ delivers its products within 6 to 15 business days. However, because of the faster processing and delivery times, the shipping fees may also prove to be higher. So, it is up to you to find the best balance between the fees you pay and the time it takes to ship and deliver the products.

Payment Processing: AliExpress

When you use AliExpress, you will find that the payments are different for every store simply because the payment process is straight through the vendors. There’s a problem with many of them not supporting PayPal, and this is the most common and chosen payment method in western countries.

With AliExpress, there are situations when you will see the following message: “AliExpress Payment failed.” This is a common problem caused by a system error or due to security reasons.  This can be troubling for the client, pushing them to use a different platform for more peace of mind.

To find which payment methods are accepted on AliExpress, click on Show All Payment Methods before finalizing any order. An AliExpress seller can select the payment methods users can use to purchase products.

  • AliPay AliExpress: this is the platform’s own payment method meant to protect the consumer while also offering promotional offers and discounts. When using this payment method, the money is held until the product is received.
  • Credit and Debit: this is the most common payment method used. There is an integrated payment environment that utilizes security encryption to guarantee secure transactions and privacy.
  • Cash on Delivery: This is not an accepted method of payment for AliExpress.
  • PayPal: this is another popular payment method on AliExpress and is used by the majority of sellers. PayPal will hold the payment and will not release the funds until the customer has confirmed receipts of the product.

Some of the alternative payment methods you may also find on AliExpress, include Webmoney, Doku, Boleto, Mercado Pago, and Giropau.

Payment Processing: CJ Dropshipping

When using CJ, you will see eight payment methods covering more than 200 countries. For authorized clients, the team provides CoD (Cash on Delivery) payments. You never pay upfront to CJ. You only pay when there are orders to be processed.

The payment methods vary because you may be sourcing different products from different vendors. So, you may want to do extra research to find a vendor that offers your preferred payment method.

Some acceptable payment methods for CJ dropshipping include:

  • Paypal: You can make a traceable payment with PayPal and then trace the status of your payment. You do not have to use a credit card online and instead can transfer the payment directly from your bank account.
  • Wire Transfer: this is the electronic transfer of funds. The payment must be in the total amount and takes about two to three days for the transfer to go through
  • Credit Card: to use a credit card, you need to fill in your email address, card number, date, CVC code, and country. It is an easy and secure way to make payment.
  • CJ Wallet: this is the amount of money in your CJ wallet. You can top off your CJ Wallet with Payoneer, a wire transfer, or a gift card. They also offer an up to 2% bonus with each deposit.
  • Payoneer: This is the most recommended payment method for CJ. You can link your Payoneer account to your CJ dropshipping account and will not be required to log in each time. When paying this way, make sure your balance exceeds the payment amount.

In addition to these methods, you can also use Payssion, WeChat Pay, Sofort, and iDEAL.

Product Details: AliExpress

AliExpress does a better job than CJ dropshipping when it comes to the information provided in the product details. They are also more fluid, and different vendors and shops will change and update product details themselves.

Product Details: CJ Dropshipping

Due to limited staff, the product details available with CJ are lacking compared to AliExpress. However, they can make unique videos and pictures for the specific products to enhance them and secure better results. That’s what we call a serious AliExpress competitor.

Dropshipping Warehouses: AliExpress

When it comes to dropshipping warehouses for AliExpress, there may not be an AliExpress USA Warehouse for most vendors, and this causes problems such as low inventory. Despite that, there is a small number of larger vendors that do have their own warehouses.

We all know that the AliExpress shipping times can be long. However, that’s why using warehouses and having the goods in stock is key to speeding up the process.

Dropshipping Warehouses: CJ Dropshipping

As far as CJ is when it comes to dropshipping warehouses, they do have two warehouses in China, one in Thailand and Germany, two in the US, and more are coming to the UK and France.

What does this mean for shipping and processing? If there’s an AliExpress or CJ warehouse located in the US, then packages can be delivered between 2 and 5 days with USPS, which isn’t the case when they are located out of the country.

Other benefits for having a warehouse available include no storage fees, faster processing times, and a more secure way to store inventory.

We all know that the AliExpress shipping time can be long; that’s why using warehouses and having goods in stock is key to speed up the process.

AliExpress: How It Works

No one sells a single product from their store. Dropshippers are known to have large quantities of products, which often begs the question, “What happens if a customer orders several products and they all come from different vendors?”

The answer is that the customer will receive 4 or 5 parcels at different times, depending on the kind of products they ordered.

This situation can quickly frustrate the customer and prompt him to hunt down answers about his AliExpress bulk purchase and why he received the parcels at different times.

So, how does AliExpress work?

AliExpress works like most other dropshipping platforms. On the website, you will find the categorized products, which makes navigation easier for the user. Within each of these product categories, you will find subcategories, making your search faster and much more intuitive. When you find a product you like, simply add it to your cart and proceed with the payment.

Since AliExpress is a platform suited more for consumers, wholesale purchases are not recommended. AliExpress is also not suitable for bulk purchases because there is a maximum limit of 100 pieces, there may be off-brand or knock-off products, and there is no room for customized packaging at all.

If you own an online store and receive a customer order, all you have to do is purchase the product from AliExpress and then supply the customer’s address when it prompts you to enter the shipping destination.

CJ Dropshipping: How It Works

When it comes to a customer ordering multiple products with CJ dropshipping, the team will combine orders for the customer and put all the products into one parcel rather than several. Doing so saves time, lowers shipping costs, and makes it easier for the customer.

When there is a problem or a possible delay, clients can contact CJ directly to seek answers.

If that is not enough, as a Shopify store owner, you should install an all-in-one tracking software to give precise information on orders. Rush helps you generate more revenue and eliminates the endless chain of emails from customers asking about their orders.

As a shop owner using CJ dropshipping, simply import the products you want to your online store. When the orders are made, CJ dropshipping delivers the products directly to the customers.

The products on CJ are sourced; they maintain product inventories, perform quality checks, fulfill orders, and send the purchased items. Orders can be processed the same day in many cases and delivered as fast as four days after the order was placed.

CJ also provides custom packaging and unique package designs with logos and text. Another benefit for an online business is that there is no MOQ (minimum order quantity) required.

AliExpress, CJ, and Shopify

The truth is that both platforms work well with Shopify. When you want to start scaling your Shopify business, you may find amazing results. With AliExpress, it is easy to find products, and you don’t have to worry about inventory or shipping method.

With CJ dropshipping, you can import products for your online business with just a few clicks of the mouse, have a free product sourcing service, and better fulfillment service in some cases.

Final Words on AliExpress vs CJ Dropshipping

When building your Shopify store, you will find that a platform like AliExpress or CJ dropshipping can prove to be convenient, time-saving, and beneficial.

If you want to learn more about CJ dropshipping in detail and get feedback from actual platform users, this thread on Reddit will prove to be very informative.

It is important to choose which platform you will use in the long term and stick to it. Both of these platforms have their pros and cons, and each offers immense value.

With that being said, we acknowledge CJ dropshipping as a strong AliExpress competitor because they have many benefits and functions you simply can’t find when using other platforms.

Once you find the platform that works best for your online store, it is time to start building a more seamless shopping experience. So, additional features like automated, state-of-the-art shipment tracking for tracking orders and will see beneficial effects for your business in the long term.

eCommerce can be hard to navigate at times. However, with the right tools in your arsenal, like the right dropshipping suppliers, you can succeed and grow your business.

FAQ

Here are answers to some of the more commonly asked questions regarding AliExpress and CJ in a nutshell.

What’s the processing time AliExpress?

  • The processing time for AliExpress is typically 1 to 5 days, depending on supply and other factors. The processing time starts as soon as the seller picks the order. A status is usually given for order fulfillment within 10 days after the payment was made.

What do I do if my AliExpress payment fails?

  • Do not worry; if you find that your AliExpress payment fails, you can contact the AliExpress team via the service help center. You can also read through the helpful information that can be easily accessed through the AliExpress blog to find a solution to your problem.

What is the difference between Alibaba and AliExpress?

  • Both Alibaba and AliExpress are online marketplaces. Alibaba is exclusively a B2B platform, whereas AliExpress is a B2C platform. Alibaba is helpful for businesses looking to purchase larger quantities of products directly from the manufacturer and at wholesale prices.

What are the differences between Oberlo vs AliExpress?

  • Oberlo is similar to AliExpress but offers a few more key options to choose from. With Oberlo, you can choose to change suppliers for a product, making a significant difference between the customer buying from you or a competitor. AliExpress offers the same products, but from multiple sellers, so each supplier of those products has its own pricing and delivery time.

Kiril Kirilov is co-founder at Rush - increase customer satisfaction & drive more sales post-purchase. No more endless email chains asking about the status of your customer’s order.