What is Aliexpress?

Aliexpress is a popular retail website with headquarters located in China and is owned by The Alibaba Group. It’s also an eCommerce platform that primarily focuses on helping small businesses in China sell products directly to international customers. Mainland Chinese citizens cannot purchase products from Aliexpress.

You can compare Aliexpress to American companies like Amazon or eBay because they sell products directly to individual customers. The only major difference between Aliexpress and Amazon is that Aliexpress is purely a platform for 3rd party sellers. Amazon is a mix of both because Amazon creates their own products and allows other sellers on their platform.

When we talk about Aliexpress a major concern people have is about the safety of the website. So let’s get into that.

Simple And Familiar Feel

International trade is intimidating at first, but the folks at AliExpress realize that.

Buyer Protection

AliExpress includes payment through escrow. You can pay for your order with Visa or MasterCard, or you can stick with PayPal.

Perfect for Testing New Products

If you are thinking of testing a new product or adding something additional to your product offerings,

How Safe is Aliexpress?

Aliexpress is safe because they have a program called Buyer Protection. They guarantee that if your product doesn’t arrive on-time as described you can get a full refund.

Buyer protection has been simplified over the years. There is nothing you, as the buyer, need to do to have buyer protection. Whenever you buy something on the platform you’re protected.

So what actually happens if your product never arrives, arrives extremely late, or is not in the condition it was promised to be in?

About AliExpress?

Once your profile is set-up, you’ll be able to browse AliExpress and search for products via the search bar at the top of the site. Products can be purchased from their individual pages by selecting the Buy Now button or added to your shopping cart by selecting the Add to Cart button. The shopping process on AliExpress is very similar to most other online stores such as Amazon or Target.

What Items Can I Buy on AliExpress?

AliExpress sells a wide range of items, from men’s and women’s fashion, toys, and electronics to hair and beauty products, jewelry, furniture, and even cars and motorcycles.

Products you won’t be able to buy on AliExpress include weaponry, software, ebooks, and digital media.

Why Are Items So Cheap on AliExpress?

Unlike Amazon, the majority of merchants selling products on AliExpress are based in China and source all of their merchandise directly from Chinese manufacturers. This keeps costs down and means they can afford to offer free or very cheap shipping as well.

Who Can Use AliExpress?

AliExpress is open to users from all major regions around the world. It offers alternative language versions of its website and smartphone apps in English, Russian, Portuguese, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Turkish, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Arabic, Hebrew, and Polish.

AliExpress Smartphone Apps

The official AliExpress smartphone apps on iOS and Android simply allow you to shop on AliExpress and manage your account on your mobile device. These apps use the same account you use on the AliExpress website and let you browse products, add items to your cart, and complete orders.

Is AliExpress Safe?

AliExpress is considered to be a reliable place to buy products at a cheaper price than you would domestically. AliExpress is part of Alibaba Group, a large established company which focuses on commerce and media. AliExpress also provides shoppers with complete refunds on products that arrive damaged, late, or don’t arrive at all.

AliExpress Tips

AliExpress can be an amazing website for finding a great deal, but there are some important points to consider while using it.

  • Credit is king: AliExpress doesn’t accept cheques, money orders, or PayPal for orders, instead focusing almost exclusively on credit cards as payment. The good news is all major credit cards are accepted.
  • Beware of bootlegs: In general, there aren’t many Western brands selling directly on AliExpress and a lot of the non-Chinese products are fakes. This won’t be a problem if you just want something that looks like the real thing and costs half the price, but if you’re after authenticity, it’s well worth spending the time to research the seller and read the product reviews written by other customers before buying. AliExpress is legit, but some of its products aren’t.
  • Long shipping, no tracking: Most sellers on AliExpress offer free shipping for their products. However, choosing this option usually means you’ll have to wait more than a month for it to arrive and you won’t be given an AliExpress tracking code to follow its journey. Depending on how quickly you want an item, you may want to pay extra for faster shipping and a tracking number. You can do this during checkout for most orders.

AliExpress Competitors

AliExpress has several rivals that also target consumers looking to buy a wide variety of items at discounted prices. Some of the major ones are:

  • Wish App: Like AliExpress, Wish App also connects Western shoppers with merchants in China that can sell them popular products for a fraction of what they’d pay back home.
  • DHGate: DHGate has been around for over a decade and offers products sold from wholesalers in China. It directly competes with AliExpress’ target audience and even mimics a lot of the AliExpress website’s visual aesthetic.
  • LightInTheBox: Products on LightInTheBox are slightly more expensive than on AliExpress, but they’re still much cheaper than what you’d find online. What sets LightInTheBox apart from AliExpress is it has some warehouses in the U.S., meaning some of its products will ship much faster than they would if they were being posted from China.

AliExpress Delivery Time

Shipping methods are improving with Aliexpress and depending on where you live you can benefit from free shipping.

When you are looking at a product on Alibaba you can select where to ship the product from.

You can ship products on Aliexpress from 3 countries:  China, Russia or the US.

So if you live in the United States then you can get your products delivered from a local distributor. This dramatically reduces your shipping time.

Delivery Time When You Live in the United States

An item shipping from inside the United States from Aliexpress is delivered via USPS and will take 4 – 10 business days to get to you.

Now let’s look at a product shipping from China.

If you’re located anywhere outside the United States then your products will be shipped from China via ePacket Shipping.

Delivery Time When You Live Outside the United States

For example if you live in the UK and your product is shipping from China the delivery time will be around 20 – 60 days.

6 Things to Know About AliExpress

In late summer, Alibaba.com acquired Auctiva and a new synergy began between two companies offering products and services vital to all eBay merchants. A new Sourcing tab on the Auctiva home page takes you to AliExpress, the wholesale corner of the giant Alibaba.com sourcing site. Here you can quickly and simply participate in the world’s largest online marketplace, connecting manufacturers throughout the world with small to medium-sized merchants.

To have these two aspects of your operation so closely linked can be a tempting benefit. Not only can you manage your eBay business with Auctiva’s tools, you can test new products without ever leaving the site!

You start by clicking on Auctiva’s new Sourcing tab, one of the links across the top of Auctiva’s pages when you’re signed into your account. That’s the easy part. But don’t allow your eagerness to check this out cause you to overlook basic safety procedures and best practices. Integration of tasks is a wonderful thing, and you can potentially boost your opportunities and productivity. But, as in most things in life, nothing is either all one thing or another. Yes, Alibaba.com acquiring Auctiva makes for a great opportunity for you to explore international product sourcing, but finding international trading partners and bringing imported goods into the U.S. will not be quite as simple as clicking your mouse.

Here are six things you should keep in mind about international product sourcing.

1. AliExpress has a simple and familiar feel

International trade is intimidating at first, but the folks at AliExpress realize that. Remember that AliExpress is part of the world’s largest online business-to-business marketplace, Alibaba.com. Alibaba.com has a long history of successfully linking manufacturers with retailers. When you find a potential product source through the site, you will most likely be working with a partner who is well-versed and experienced in shipping items all over the globe. That can be a comfort to someone who is just starting to test the idea of international sourcing.

Establishing an AliExpress account is free, and couldn’t be easier. You can browse to your heart’s content and spend as much time as you need learning your way around before committing to anything. The AliExpress interface is simple and familiar. You’ll feel right at home while browsing the listings, which are filled with everything you’ll need to shop. That includes loads of pictures, shipping information, seller feedback ratings and comments from past customers. The integration is very successful, and shopping on AliExpress will feel like you’re browsing the stores in your own neighborhood.

2. You must vet and verify trading partners

AliExpress works very hard to create a safe and secure marketplace. Millions of people have completed successful and satisfying purchases on the site, and we’ve talked to many sellers who say the international sourcing giant actually made their businesses possible. But, once you’re on AliExpress, you are dealing with an individual seller, and that always means you should test the waters carefully.

You shouldn’t find language to be much of an issue. Sure, you’ll find some fractured English in some of the listings, but the manufacturers on the site are generally experienced in dealing with international customers and many have fluent English-speakers on staff. That allows you to ask the questions you need to ask, and communicate with your prospective partners until you feel secure that you’re entering into a good partnership.

Many sellers with whom we’ve spoken say they have never had a language problem and that their international trading partners are now considered essential friends and business associates. But that relationship is going to take time, so don’t hesitate to vet as long as you need to, and start small while you verify you’re in good hands. The payoff of having a long-lasting and successful partnership will be well worth the time and effort you spend now.

3. Buyer protection helps you take that first step

AliExpress includes payment through escrow. You can pay for your order with Visa or MasterCard, or you can stick with PayPal. Either way, your payment is held in an escrow account until you receive the product and verify that you are satisfied. Once you do, then the supplier gets paid. That takes a lot of the risk out of giving international product sourcing a try.

Just remember that if you aren’t satisfied with your purchase, you are likely to be held accountable for all return shipping and delivery charges before your money will be refunded. Be sure you know what is likely to be lost and how much you are willing to risk. Of course, by making your first few purchases small, you can simply self-insure, eating the cost of whatever you might receive that is disappointing.

4. AliExpress is perfect for testing new products

If you are thinking of testing a new product or adding something additional to your product offerings, AliExpress can be a very good place to experiment. Buying in small quantities, becoming familiar with the many ins and outs of international trade, and at the same time testing the waters for new products to boost your profits, can make the education pay off. Just remind yourself to step slowly and carefully, and control the risk to your investment according to your level of comfort.

5. Learn the basics of importing

We’ve spoken with scores of sellers who source their products internationally, and many are very comfortable and at ease with the process. But, it’s not as easy as reselling an item you found at your neighbor’s yard sale. There are some obstacles you must navigate before you can reap the benefits of international trade.

For example, there are duties and tariffs that may have to be paid before you can clear your items through U.S. Customs and Border Protection and get your delivery. These fees apply even if you’re only importing a single item. It’s easy to see “free shipping” (which many manufacturers were offering when we looked) and assume you have no additional cost, but you may still have to pay customs fees. It’s important to know for certain, exactly what the true final cost of delivering the items to your door will be.

6. Importing fees vary by product

You’ll need to familiarize yourself with the Harmonized Tariff Schedule. This is an international standard that applies specific codes to products. (In the U.S., it’s administered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection). The schedule defines all the fees you’ll have to pay to import specific items.

When we say “specific,” we’re not kidding. It’s very easy to make assumptions, and therefore mistakes, about the products you’re bringing home. For example, if you buy MP3 players fully assembled, that’s one Harmonized Code. If you buy those MP3 players with a carrying case, that’s another code. If you’re buying just the carrying case, that’s yet another code, and the fees vary according to what you’re importing. A small investment of time researching duties on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection site can save you quite a bit of time in the long run.

Now you know some of the potential opportunities and pitfalls of international trade through AliExpress. We hope you feel intrigued, empowered, and curious about trying the site for yourself. You will find that, despite the time and distance between you and your prospective trading partner, you are still dealing with people—not a Web site or a corporation, but people. As such, those people are likely to come in all flavors: honest, crafty, kind, helpful and greedy.

But, for the most part, no matter where we are, most people are just trying to earn their livings and care for their families. Your new international trading partner could become the best boost your business has had a while, and a good friend and partner to boot!