If you landed on this blog looking for an answer to the question: “does Shein do dropshipping,” the answer isn’t a simple YES or NO.
Shein does not explicitly support dropshipping, but its terms and conditions do not expressly restrict it.
Technically, you can use Shein to source products for your dropshipping business, even though Shein does not support drop shipping or explicitly allow it.
So, yes: you can dropship items from Shein, but there are some caveats to this answer.
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The Caveats: Is It Possible to Drop Ship From Shein?
First: Yes, technically, you can drop ship from Shein, but the platform disallows the use of its product/model images, citing copyright protection:
Therefore, while you can technically integrate Shein into your Shopify store using SheinImporter or Importif, you cannot use their models or products images. You will have to take product images on your own.
Secondly, since Shein is not a dropshipping platform, once you find products you intend to purchase in bulk for your business, it’s in your best interest —and for legal protection—to send the supplier a message indicating your intent.
If you buy items from Shein intending to send them directly to your buyers —assuming you’ve taken personal photos and marketed the products—Shein will brand the package.
Let’s now double back a bit and look at Shein in general, including some of its pros and cons:
Shein is a fast-fashion B2C platform. It collaborates with manufacturers in China and other locations—the platform does not disclose its strategic partners— to source the products —primarily women’s clothing— it lists on its store for purchase.
How Shein Dropshipping Works
Shein dropshipping does not work using the “conventional dropshipping” model where you reach out to a supplier who then fulfills the customers’ orders you forward.
To dropship with Shein, you have two options: buy in bulk, which is the best option because it’ll allow you to take custom pictures, do branded packaging, and, more importantly, get massive discounts for bulk orders.
The second option is to use a third-party app, like Importify or SheinImporter, for integration with Shopify.
As mentioned earlier, if you decide to go this route, inform the supplier beforehand, and remember that besides not using their images, products will arrive at customers’ addresses in Shein branded packaging and a receipt bearing the original pricing, which is not ideal.
A short history of Shein
Formerly called ZZKKO, Shein is a China-based B2C fast-fashion retailer founded in 2008 by Chris Xu, the CEO and a former marketing and search engine optimization specialist.
Initially, it used the dropshipping model selling wedding dresses sourced from Guangzhou wholesalers without any involvement in the design and manufacturing process. It later branched out into general women’s clothes and changed its name to Sheinside.
By early 201, the Shein had ventured into jewelry, shoes, cosmetics, and purses and made its products available In the EU —Germany, Spain, Russia, France, and Italy.
After establishing its headquarters in 2013 in Guangzhou, China, Sheininside, at is was then called, started the process of becoming a fully integrated retailer. The first step was acquiring Romwe, an eCommerce shop, at which point it changed its name from Sheinside to Shein, citing the need for a simpler name. It also started gathering teams of designers and prototypers to manufacture branded clothing, booting off low-quality vendors and improving its supply chain. That foundation heralded Shein into the limelight, and by 2021, Shein had a $30 billion valuation, and by 2020, it made $10 billion in revenue amid a global COVID-19 pandemic.
Shein’s story goes beyond this summary, and if you’d like to read the entire story, I recommend reading Startup Talky’s insightful Shein profile.
The Pros of Shein Dropshipping
Let’s focus on the pros and cons of Shein dropshipping:
◆ Great sizes
One of the most outstanding things about Shein is its vast size range, with the product sizes well referenced.
For example, besides having a curvy category, most listings on the platform have clear sizes, showing the model size, which makes it easier to choose the correct size.
Such details ensure that when customers purchase the products, they’re purchasing the correct size, which, overall, can reduce the chances of returns due to mismatched sizes.
◆ Fast fashion-focused
Fast fashion describes a clothing industry model of replicating and mass-producing trendy runway clothes and selling them at low retail prices while they are still trendy.
Shein is a fast-fashion brand. That makes it one of the few places where you can find trendy clothes and fashion items at affordable prices. For example, Shein has a New In category that showcases new trends in women’s fashion, including new brands and collections.
Getting in on such trends can make your dropshipping business wildly successful.
◆ A friendly return and refund policy
Shein has such a friendly 45-days return policy that you will not pay for return shipping for the first order as long as you use the provided label.
Additionally, the platform processes refunds within 7 days of receiving the returned package and deposit the funds into your original payment option or Shein wallet:
This friendly and easy-to-use refund process can make all the difference in your dropshipping business.
◆ Fair prices
Shein is one of the few marketplaces where you can buy trendy fashion items at affordable prices.
For example, when writing this, a bodycon dress was trading at $9 on Shein.
On the other hand, a similar dress was listed at $19 on Amazon:
This makes Shein way cheaper
◆ Numerous supported payment systems
Shein supports payments with all major credit card and debit card payments, PayPal, Cash on Delivery in the Philippines, bank transfers in Thailand and Malaysia, and other country-specific payments like Gcash, Klarna, GrabPay, and PayMaya.
The Cons of Shein Dropshipping
And now for the cons:
◆ Restrictive policies
The most standout disadvantage of dropshipping with Shein is that you cannot use their model or product images due to copyright issues.
While this is not a deal-breaker, it complicates things a bit because you cannot simply use their images. You will have to order products and capture images that you will then use with your product listings.
◆ No personalized branding
The other disadvantage to dropshipping with Shein is that if you ship to customers directly, which is not advisable, the products will ship with branded Shein labeling and a receipt of your buying price.
If you are honest, this can work with some buyers. However, the lack of custom branding and having the wholesale price on the receipt can leave some customers feeling cheated. For example, if the price on the receipt indicates $50, while you paid $9, customers will feel cheated of the difference.
Fortunately, you can overcome this shortcoming by ordering products in bulk and then customizing the packaging and everything else. You can also use Shein for research purposes to find trendy, bestselling products, and when you find one, use Shein alternatives to find dropshipping suppliers.
Talking of which:
The Top Shein Alternatives
As mentioned variously, Shein does not explicitly support dropshipping, nor is it a dropshipping site. It’s a B2C eCommerce platform.
Given this, your best choice, especially if you don’t want to buy in bulk and handle inventory, is to use Shein as a research tool. Then, after finding products you think will do well with your audience, you can source them from the following Shein alternatives to source the products and have them fulfill orders:
Bestfulfill is a professional, A-Z dropshipping sourcing and fulfillment agent-based in Guangzhou, China.
Bestfulfill’s mission is to “make order fulfillment easier so customers (dropshipping business owners) can save time, money, energy, and satisfy modern customers’ needs for efficiency and satisfaction.
Some of Bestfulfill’s core features include:
- Prompt customer service: Bestfulfill’s customer service is very prompt and available on various mediums, including Skype, phone, WhatsApp, WeChat, and email, to mention a few.
- Product sourcing: The team at Bestfulfill will liaise with local Chinese manufacturers to find the best, most affordable supplier.
- Product inspection and bulk inventory storage: Bestfulfill will inspect all products for you to ensure high quality, and beyond that, warehouse your products in its 3000m2 warehouse in readiness for fulfillment.
- Worldwide order fulfillment with custom packaging: Upon receiving orders and forwarding them to Bestfulfill, the team will package them in custom branded packages and ship them out to customers all over the world using their well-established third-party logistical system.
Other services offered by Bestfulfill include after-sale services, customer service, and free product photos, to mention a few.
AliExpress is one of the largest B2B and B2C eCommerce marketplaces and a top destination for dropshipping business owners looking for suppliers.
One of the advantages AliExpress has over Shein is that, besides fast fashion products, you can also find drop-shippable products in other categories.
- Direct contact with suppliers: AliExpress is a multi-seller platform that has a robust messaging system you can use to reach out to individual sellers, perhaps to negotiate down prices for bulk purchases.
- Dropshipping friendlier: Unlike Shein, which is neither a dropshipping site nor does it not explicitly support dropshipping, AliExpress is very dropshipping friendly, first with the AliDropship app, and secondly, because most suppliers are very open to order fulfillment arrangements.
- API integration: While Shein does not integrate seamlessly with major eCommerce platforms like Shopify —except with third-party apps and services—AliExpress, through AliDropship, has seamless integration with all major eCommerce stores providers. That means you can seamlessly import products from AliExpress, including photos and descriptions, to your store, often at the click of a few buttons.
Alibaba is a household name in the B2B industry. The marketplace connects bulk-buying business clients with manufacturers and suppliers. However, you can also find many small businesses and supplies targeting smaller business owners by offering zero or low minimum order quantities.
Alibaba has advantages like:
- A wide selection of products, including fast fashion products
- Superior customer support
- Seamless integration with most eCommerce platforms, with seamless product importation
- A well established logistical system
Wish is one of the most popular, mobile-first online eCommerce marketplaces. It connects buyers and third-party sellers and facilitates the transaction process. This makes it a great Shein alternative, especially because it’s dropshipping friendlier than Shein.
Some of its outstanding features are:
- Ease of getting started: Because Wish is more dropshipping friendly than Shein, getting started is easy; all you have to do is find a supplier, get sample products, negotiate a deal, and start marketing your products as you forward orders to the supplier for fulfillment.
- Variety: Wish has over 300 million drop shippable products, many of which are fast fashion, like Shein.
CJDropshipping is a great Shein alternative because it’s one of the best places to find drop-shipping Chinese suppliers offering unbeatable prices. The platform is so drop-shipping friendly that its tagline is: “you sell–we source and ship for you.”
Some of its key features are:
- Flawless integration: Unlike Shein, CjDropshipping integrates seamlessly with the major dropshipping stores, including Shopify and WooCommerce, making it extremely easy to import products to your store.
- Third-party sourcing: CJdropshipping can help you source products from platforms like Taobao and 1688
- Order fulfillment: CJDropshipping is one of the friendliest dropshipping platforms. It handles order processing and fulfillment.
- Product photos and videos: Unlike Shein, where you cannot use product or model images, CJDropshipping allows you to use their high-quality product photos and videos.
To answer the question that brought you here:
“Yes, technically, Shein does not disallow drop shipping, but you cannot use their images due to copyright protection.
Additionally, you may have to buy products in bulk; otherwise, Shein will send customers Shein-branded packages and a receipt of your purchase price instead of the retail price, which is not good.
All this makes Shein dropshipping a bit more complex than conventional dropshipping.