What is AliExpress
AliExpress.com is an ecommerce website owned by Alibaba which promises to link buyers directly with sellers from Chine. AliExpress.com sells everything from clothing to electronics to pet products. You can find sellers selling single items and others selling items in packs (10-10000).
One of the interesting features of AliExpress is the fact that all payments are held by the site until the buyer confirms that he has received the item. This was a major issue with Alibaba.com and the internet is littered with horror stories of customers getting scammed.
As a test, I bought this 360 degree leather case from AliExpress (for $US6.98) and compared it to a similar care I bought from Best Buy Canada (for $CA30.00). Although the brands were different, the cases were exactly the same. Same quality, usability and look.
I placed 3 single-item orders about 4 weeks ago and have so far received 2 of them (within the promised timeframe and with items as described). The 3rd one is still within the mentioned shipping delay period. All items came properly packaged and clean.
What you need to know before you buy
Although AliExpress holds all payments in escrow until the buyer confirms receipt of the goods, some buyers seem to complain that the refund process can take up to a month. This may seem long but Paypal isn’t any better.
You are buying goods directly from China so remember that the Quality Assurance process isn’t the same as in North America. I don’t mind buying small non-critical items but I wouldn’t buy things like baby products, safety products or other related items from China (since Canada has much stricter requirements).
Some buyers have complained that the item received isn’t exactly what was advertised on the sales page. So far I haven’t experienced this problem but be aware that some customers complain about this on the internet. Make sure you really examine your product and file a complaint ASAP if it is materially different.
Carefully read the sales page for the items you are interested in to confirm delivery times. Most sellers list an order handling and a separate shipping delay window. While some vendors promise to ship an item within 2-10 days, I saw some pushing it 30-45 days. Most of the time, you will find a reasonable seller so pay attention to that. Then make sure the shipping delay is also reasonable.
How to read between the lines
- Any seller offering a wide range of unrelated products is likely a trading company (aka not the manufacturer) which means delays may be longer and you are likely not getting the best price.
- Make sure you ask all of your questions before committing to the purchase and carefully time the sellers response. A quick and complete response means you are likely dealing with a good vendor that will work with you to solve any post-sale issues.
- Be careful of counterfeit items. I did a quick search and found a bunch of sellers offering “waterproof” iphone cases claiming to be the Lifeproof brand. I emailed their customer support and was told these are likely counterfeit. Maybe they are the authentic ones and the main brand is making huge profits but would you trust it? I also found hundreds of knock offs for Montblanc, Nike, etc. Be careful
The site itself seems to be well designed and my overall experience has been positive but there are crooks on it looking to scam buyers. You will find really good deals and I recommend you use the site but be careful. Start by making small purchases. Do your research and only buy from sellers with lots of positive ratings.