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How to Minimize Alibaba Shipping Costs in 2021

Alibaba, one of the biggest eCommerce companies in the world, is the best place to source products for eCommerce business owners, drop shippers or Amazon FBA entrepreneurs. Heck, its the place I went to when I made my first $100k online. And with an added Alibaba shipping cost, you can find factories and manufacturers who will send your order directly to your customer.   

However, if you don’t do this correctly, this Alibaba shipping cost can mess up your profit margins (like how it did mine). 

For this reason, you need to minimize your Alibaba shipping costs immediately so you can begin making $300 USD per day. 

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • Why shipping costs are so important
  • Why Alibaba shipping costs are expensive
  • How shipping costs to the USA are calculated
  • How to minimize your Alibaba shipping costs

Table of Contents 

  • Shipping Costs: What You Need to Know and Why
  • Why Is Alibaba Shipping So Expensive? 
  • How to Minimize Your Alibaba Shipping Costs

Shipping Costs: What You Need to Know 

What Is Shipping?

Shipping is the term given to the process of packaging a product and transporting it from manufacturer to purchaser. 

The key to minimizing Alibaba shipping costs from China to the USA lies in understanding the shipping process and cutting your costs at each stage.

The shipping process involves numerous stages:

  1. Packaging the product
  2. Loading the product into a truck or van
  3. Driving the package to a port, airport or harbor
  4. Clearing export customs
  5. Loading the package onto a boat or plane
  6. Getting the product to the delivery country
  7. Unloading the package in the destination port
  8. Clearing import customs
  9. Loading the package for internal delivery
  10. Driving the package to the purchaser or warehouse

To minimize your total shipping costs, you need to optimize each stage of the shipping process. 

Average Shipping Costs From Alibaba to FBA

Three factors determine shipping costs:

  • Net weight
  • Size
  • Delivery time

The heavier and larger your package, the more it will cost you to deliver. 

There are no set averages for Alibaba shipping because the suppliers listed on Alibaba all use different suppliers, all of whom have different prices. 

If you use a cargo ship for delivery, you’ll have a lower shipping cost but a significantly higher delivery time. Conversely, using air freight will speed up your delivery but will dramatically increase your costs. 

As a rule of thumb, you can expect to pay the following prices, according to shipment weights, with courier services like UPS and FedEx:

Goods Weight Approximate Shipping Fee
0.5-10kg $20-$100 USD
10-20kg $100-$200 USD
21-100kg $200-$1000 + USD

Furthermore, it’s essential to remember that suppliers charge the shipping fee — not Alibaba. 

This means you can negotiate with your supplier about the shipping costs or arrange to ship yourself. 

What Are the Different Ways to Ship Products From Alibaba to U.S. and Other Areas?

There are four standard shipping methods that Alibaba suppliers use to deliver your product: regular post, air express, airfreight and seafreight. 

Selecting the suitable method for your shipment is the best way towards achieving financial freedom through dropshipping or running an eCommerce business. 

  1. Regular post. This is the cheapest option for small shipments in dropshipping or receiving initial samples from your supplier. It is the most affordable option, but delivery will take between 15-35 days and is not the safest method available, as finding lost parcels is very hard through the China Postal Service.
  1. Air Express. These are popular courier companies like DHL, UPS and FedEx. These services come at a premium fee but offer speedy and very reliable delivery. The price will vary according to provider and can be a great option for drop shippers who are just starting out.
  1. Airfreight. Airfreight becomes a viable option when the weight of your shipment starts to exceed 100kg. It’s less than half the price of air express delivery but will have a minimum weight. The delivery time also depends on the flight schedule of airlines, but generally arrives between 5-10 business days.
  1. Seafreight. Seafreight is the most cost-effective for large shipments but by far carries the longest delivery time, generally between 30-60 days. You can choose to ship FCL (Full Container Load) if the size of your shipment can fill a whole container or LCL (Less than Container Load) if your shipment only fills part of a container.

The best way to minimize your Alibaba shipping cost is to select a shipping method that is appropriate to the size and weight of your shipment and your delivery timeline needs which I get into later in the article. 

Why Is Alibaba Shipping Costs to the USA So Expensive?

One of the main reasons Alibaba’s shipping costs to the USA are high is the distance it’s over 11,000 km between the two countries overseas, meaning deliveries need to go by airplane or boat. 

Shipping has also become more expensive during the COVID-19 pandemic because many postage and freight companies aren’t operating meaning those that are operating can charge a premium rate due to lower competition.  

How to Minimize Your Alibaba Shipping Costs

Minimizing your Alibaba shipping costs comes from optimizing your packaging, consolidating your shipments, choosing the best shipping method for you, and at advanced stages, planning your route and mix-and-match.  

Optimize Your Packaging

Remember that the size of your package influences shipping costs. Negotiate with your supplier regarding packaging and offer packaging advice. While it is beyond the scope of this article, you can consider taking full control of your product supply chain and sourcing your own packaging, but this takes an awful amount of work, and is only profitable with very large and frequent shipments.

Consolidate Your Shipments 

Paying for a single larger shipment is always cheaper than paying for multiple smaller loads. Plan your deliveries with as much precision as possible to minimize the number of shipments you need to get the products you’re looking for. 

Select the Best Shipping Method

Our friends over at have created this handy spreadsheet detailing when each shipping method becomes worthwhile. 

Consider your shipment requirements and work with your supplier to choose the best shipment method for your delivery.  

Plan Your Route

Again, this is deep supply chain management material but it’s worth considering if you’re making regular shipments. Look at the costs of each courier at various entry and exits points (ports), and select courier companies according to where they deliver. 


This is a trick of the trade. With the mix-and-match method of saving on Alibaba shipping costs, you get a small percentage of your shipment, say 10%, delivered rapidly with air express, then get the remaining 90% delivered with air freight or sea freight. 

This gives you immediate stock, keeps your early customers happy, and ensures you’ve got more on the way. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is Alibaba Shipping So Expensive?

There are a couple of factors that contribute to Alibaba shipping costs seeming high:

  • Long distances: Since most Alibaba suppliers are in China, the products have to travel a great distance to reach you, which significantly increases shipping costs.
  • Shipping method: Suppliers often prioritize speed by using air freight, which is more expensive than slower options like ocean freight.
  • Order quantity: Alibaba caters to businesses, so minimum order quantities (MOQs) are common. Splitting a large order into smaller shipments can make the cost per item more expensive.

How Much Is Shipping On Alibaba?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this. Alibaba itself doesn’t set shipping costs. The price depends on several factors, including:

  • The weight and size of your order
  • The distance it needs to travel
  • The chosen shipping method (air vs. ocean freight)

The best way to find out the exact cost is to contact the supplier directly and get a quote for shipping to your location.

How Much Does Alibaba Shipping Cost?

Same answer as above! Alibaba shipping costs vary depending on the factors mentioned previously. Get a quote from the supplier to know the exact cost for your specific order.

Which Shipping Method Is Cheapest On Alibaba?

The cheapest shipping method on Alibaba is generally ocean freight. However, it’s also the slowest option. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Ocean freight: Much cheaper than air freight, but takes a significantly longer time (weeks or even months). Good for large, non-perishable goods.
  • Air freight: Faster than ocean freight, but more expensive. Better for smaller items or time-sensitive shipments.

Conclusion: Better Alternative To Alibaba And eCommerce

With the cost of shipping increasing, and managing the supply chain between Alibaba and my warehouses in the USA. There is a reason why I ended up leaving the eCommerce space.

It just got to damn expensive.

If my goal was to create freedom in life so that I could spend it doing the things I love with the people I cared about, I knew I needed to find a faster and easier alternative.

How I did that was by tapping into a brand new opportunity I like calling “The Brand New Silver Lining Method.”

Where it was able to allow me to earn an extra $3k to $10k per month on the side of what I was currently doing. This in return was able to cover any shipping costs associated with Alibaba to the point where I started thinking, “If its easier to make money with The Brand New Silver Lining Method, why even continue worrying about the rising costs of shipping costs?”

And if you want to start creating more freedom for yourself and no longer want to worry about the changing economics of ecommerce, then I highly recommend you sign up for our free workshop here.

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