Aliexpress is part of the Alibaba group, one of the largest companies in China. Alibaba Group is a major player on the international market. This status is mirrored by its Alexa ranking, which places AliExpress among the Top 40 most-visited websites in the world. Aliexpress is not a direct supplier, but a platform for individual merchants similar to Amazon and eBay.
Even though products are tested by Aliexpress, it is still primarily a platform for smaller merchants and, therefore, you should keep a few things in mind when shopping on Aliexpress. Name-Brand or designer items offered for a fraction of their original price are probably knock-offs.
Aliexpress as a company is very serious about its online wares, but it can only keep tabs on so many of the millions of merchants that use its site. As such, we simply recommend that you be vigilant when browsing and avoid buying items from merchants with nonexistent or poor customer ratings. All of our orders from well-established vendors with many reviews have worked wonderfully, although the shipping times can vary drastically (up to 20+ work days).
After Thailand, China is the largest market in the world for Knock-offs and illegal copies of brand name products. As of 2013, the majority of Knock-Off handbags, clothing, and electronics in the US come from China.
As Aliexpress is simply a platform for individual merchants to offer their wears and does not sell anything itself, it is not uncommon to find fake versions of name brand products on offer (at bargain-basement prices, of course). The possession and usage of Knock-off handbags is not normally punishable. The importation of such items into western countries with strong intellectual property laws (such as the US, Canada, and Europe) can be punishable by a heavy fine. As a result, we strongly recommend against purchasing designer products online--especially if the product is offered for only a fraction of its original price.
It's important to stress that this is not a problem exclusive to AliExpress, as it has been increasing on sites such as eBay and Amazon as well. We just want to remind you to remember that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Aliexpress' Buyer Protection is somewhat similar to PayPal's buyer protection program, but it has a wider scope of coverage and is able to cover more of the entire process because of its relationship with the website itself. The buyer is given greater control with Aliexpress' Buyer Protection program. When using Alipay Aliexpress acts as a middleman for the payment, holding the buyer's payment until the buyer has received the package and has reported their satisfaction. AliExpress does not transfer any money to the seller until the buyer has received, and is satisfied with, their order. This allows the extra security of guaranteeing your money back in case you are not satisfied with the products received.
Should a package never arrive, you will receive a full refund - including shipping costs! Here as well, AliExpress bests PayPal. Because PayPal usually processes the payment to the seller separately from the payment for shipping costs, PayPal will usually only reimburse the cost of the item itself and not include any shipping costs.
Should a product be extremely different from the seller's description, AliExpress allows you to send the item back for a full refund or to keep the item in exchange for a discount on the original price. All return policies, however, are set by the seller, so it depends on the seller for whether or not you will be reimbursed for return shipping costs.
Perhaps the unique part of AliExpress' Buyer Protection program: AliExpress strongly opposes plagiarized products. Should your item turn out to be a fake, AliExpress will refund you up to 300% of the amount paid (including shipping costs)!
As you don’t have the possibility to pay with PayPal - Alipay is the Alibaba group’s alternative to PayPal - you have to choose a different payment method. You can view the internal buyer protection program as an extra insurance, so you can pay your order with credit card, direct money transfer or one of the other alternatives and still get your money back in case of a problem.
Opening an account on Alipay is relatively easy and can be done in English. It’s very similar to PayPal, so everyone familiar with PayPal should be able to figure out Alipay fairly easily. The only difference is that, instead of linking AliPay directly with your bank account, you have to charge your AliPay “wallet” before you can pay a certain amount of money during the ordering process. In this way, Alipay works similarly to a prepaid credit card. Nevertheless, we don’t recommend opening an account on Alipay if you’re planning to use it only once.
Other payment methods, such as credit cards and Western Union, can be used without a problem. As the money transfer is coordinated centrally at Aliexpress, you don’t have to worry, that your credit card information will be used or transmitted to untrustworthy companies or individuals.
|Alipay||Alibaba's own payment methods, currently not listed when you're shopping on the English site|
|credit card|| |
|recommended when shopping at Aliexpress, payment is processed quickly and easily. You can even choose your preferred currency in the last payment step so that you can choose if the conversion rate should come from Aliexpress or your own bank|
|Web Money||primarily used in Russia|
|Western Union||Only recommended if you don't have any other options as it is an offline hard cash payment method and doesn't offer much security|
The delivery estimates can be problematic on Aliexpress, as every merchant decides individually which shipping methods he wants to offer. Most of the time you have the choice between different free shipping alternatives and a few expedited delivery companies such as DHL, FedEX, UPS. In some cases the merchants list delivery times of 15-60 days but this happens rarely.
As a result, not every merchant will offer free shipping on his items and shipping costs can range anywhere from $3-5 all the way up to $50. Keep this in mind when choosing a vendor, as immense price variations can occur.
Shipment tracking can also vary between sellers. Choosing your preferred vendor can be difficult because delivery times, shipment method and shipment tracking can vary widely depending on the country you’re ordering from.
Some sellers offer free returns, but this is not common practice on Aliexpress. You should also never ship your packages to a PO Box, as this can complicate the delivery process somewhat.
Because Aliexpress is a platform for merchants, the experience level and packing ability of sellers can vary drastically. China has very different packaging standards from European and American postal services and, as a result, improper packaging or insufficient declaration of items may cause your delivery to be delayed in customs. This is becoming much rarer, as Aliexpress has implemented a training program to teach novice merchants about international shipping standards, but its still always safer to send items to a physical address and not a PO Box, as post offices will sometimes reject packages because of improper packaging or labeling.
For shipments entering the US, extra taxes and fees on your product are a possible, if not common, side effect of international ordering. Not every item is taxed when entering the country, and the majority are only subject to a nominal processing fee of between $2 and $9. The amount to be paid, however, can vary widely depending on the product and how it’s sent. If you are concerned about your item, or are planning to order goods in excess of $500, it is worth it to check with the Customs Office at the port of entry to confirm any extra fees.
Any extra taxes or duties on your shipment will either be paid at your door when the mailman drops it off, or the package may be held at your local post office. In which case, you will need to go pick it up and pay any applicable fees in person.
The huge assortment of goods on offer at Aliexpress is impressive to say the least, and the open merchant platform provides plenty of room for competition so you can almost always find a cheaper price on an item by looking at different merchants. That being said, you should always play it safe and avoid ordering from merchants with poor or nonexistent client reviews.
Brand-name or designer products, including clothing, handbags, and smartphones, should not be purchases on Aliexpress as many of them are fakes and the purchase and importation of knock-off items, even accidentally, can lead to a hefty fine.
Aliexpress is probably the biggest, most professional China shop but should be dealt with carefully. If you take the time, you can find great deals in the shops of trustworthy seller and are protected by Aliexpress’ internal buyer protection program. Aliexpress is deifnitely worth a look!
AliExpress is the only Chinese online shop of its size specializing in offering a platform to individual vendors, so its difficult to recommend alternatives. We've done our best, however, to list two alternatives for you which we believe would provide acceptable alternatives to the hugely diverse selection available at AliExpress. Both sites feature a multitude of products to choose from and provide platforms for individual vendors. As such, shipping options and buyer security are strongly dependent upon the buyer and the seller offering the wares. As such, you should stay aware of knock-offs, fakes, and black market items when shopping on these sites.
|Alternative 1:|| |
|Huge selection, but you must be aware of who you're buying from. Check the buyer reviews!!|
|Alternative 2:|| |
|Equally-huge selection offered by just as many or more vendors as AliExpress.|
Aliexpress offers several different promo codes and discounts, differentiating between merchant coupons and official Aliexpress coupons. Accordingly, some merchants send coupons to a loyal customer after a successful order. You can get information on official Aliexpress coupons on our website. These can be used on your shopping bag and achieve some interesting discounts on your order.