I've been having issues with the ePacket disappearing from the shipping options on Aliexpress as I have other people have as well. One response was that we should use Aliexpress Standard Shipping instead because its better anyway. I've checked into this other option and as of today Feb 1, 2021, AlieSS states delivery to be March 18th. 6-7weeks for delivery does not seem better to me. I was never crazy about the up to 30+days ePacket claimed for shipping. Longer does not seem better. It's getting to the point if I can't offer 4-13 days shipping at a reasonable price, I don't even want to carry the product. And that greatly limits my product line. Do people really buy products consistently so as to make an online store profitable to the point of independence when they have to wait over a month for delivery?
Sophia here from Shopify.
I noticed you posted in another thread here where Chinese New Year was mentioned as the reason that ePacket shipping sometimes disappears. This is a great point, and it's important to consider that shipping may be slower during this time regardless of the shipping method you choose. Some suppliers will send out a message on AliExpress to let you know if they will be away during the holiday. Check out this blog post for more information: How Will Chinese New Year 2021 Affect Your Store.
While ePacket has often been recommended as the most efficient and lowest cost shipping option, COVID-19 has changed that, and many suppliers recommend AliExpress Standard Shipping instead as a result. The best thing to do is contact your suppliers to find out what they recommend at this time. Let them know that you're dropshipping and that you're looking for the best shipping option to offer your customers. Getting in touch with suppliers directly is also a great way for you to find out how responsive they are in case you ever need help with an order or have any questions about products.
I know it can be a challenge to deal with these long shipping times, and I appreciate that you care about the customer experience. Customers are often still willing to shop online and wait longer than usual, especially for "nice to have" products (essentially anything they don't need urgently). Of course it can be tricky if someone is shopping for a gift within a few weeks of the time they need it, but as long as you've been proactive in setting clear expectations around shipping, customers are generally understanding.
This video covers what to do about long shipping times. I recommend including a notice on your store's shipping page that explains there may be delays right now due to the pandemic. You can also include information about shipping on product pages, in the order confirmation email, and in your marketing whether you send out an email newsletter or want to talk about shipping on your social media posts. Exceptional customer service will help your business stand out and encourage customers to leave positive reviews and return to shop again. If you do receive complaints, there's some good advice here on how to respond: 10 Tips on How to Handle Customer Complaints (Plus How to Solve Them).
The resources I've included here are from Oberlo, but they may still be helpful even if you're using another dropshipping app. Please let me know if you have any questions and I'd be happy to discuss further with you!
I'm not sure about whether ePacket guarantees a smoother clearance through customs. In many cases, ePacket orders are still going to be shipping internationally and will undergo the regular customs clearance. However, I definitely recommend checking in with your suppliers to ask if they know about any customs fees, duties, or taxes owed on arrival for their products. Since they sometimes deal with customers directly (not only orders from dropshippers), they may have had experience with the customs process and applicable fees before.