I was aware of the Chinese online retailer Alibaba.com since long ago and knew that they had wonderful stuff to offer but they only dealt in wholesale (Business to Business) and I did not want 100 pieces of the same handbag (then)!
But eventually I came across Aliexpress.com and since the amount of time and internet data packs that I have spent browsing through Aliexpress is more than just ridiculous. Aliexpress.com is a blackhole of amazing-ness, it brings out the crazy consumer in me, which otherwise I keep in check. (with mad willpower!)
Image Credit : Aliexpress
What is Aliexpress?
It is the retail side of Alibaba.com which is focused on business-to-consumer, consumer-to-consumer and aimed primarily at international buyers. Small businesses in China can sell to customers all over the world by setting up shop on Aliexpress. One can find just about anything here. The inventory is seriously (mind -boggling-ly) exhaustive! The sellers are independent though; Aliexpress simply serves as a host for businesses to sell to consumers, similar to eBay.
Is it cheap?
It is definitely cheap when it come to electronics! The other stuff like shoes and clothing is also cheap as compared to branded stuff but India also offers some cheaper non branded clothes. But then again…not all of us live in Delhi and can go to Sarojini Nagar !
There are two reasons why things are cheap on Aliexpress. One because we are directly buying from the manufacturer which eliminates the middlemen costs! Two because its fake – now this is definitely a possibility but this is a risk one has to take while shopping from Aliexpress. This is something even they are aware of and offer tips to the users to avoid fraud. In my personal opinion to overcome this problem use Aliexpress only to shop for things that don’t necessarily need to be branded and it has tonnes of those!
Is it reliable ?
It is, if you do your due diligence. Read the buyers feedback, see the seller’s ratings and utilize the numerous filters the site offers. Let me know if you want me to elaborate on this, I will do it in a different post, explaining tips and tricks to get the right products and avoid heartbreak!
China has very poor customer protection laws and to remedy this issue (and stand a chance in the international market) Alibaba & Aliexpress uses Alipay which is essentially an Escrow service. The consumers can verify whether they are happy with goods they have purchased before releasing money to the seller. Due to this the sellers are becoming very conscious of their ratings and customer service they offer.
My shopping experience at Ali Express:
Makeup Mirror | Cost : 28.49 $ | Free Shipping via China Post Registered Air Mail
The first time, I was extremely hesitant but I couldn’t find this LED Vanity Mirror anywhere in India at a decent price so I took a chance with Aliexpress, and I am glad I did.
The shop had a good rating and the seller was communicative and re-assuring. I could track the order all along its journey. The mirror reached me securely packaged and in the best of shape + within the specified time. It is sturdy and good quality. I use the magnified side to look at the flaws in my face (magnified three times) and am wonderfully miserable !
Very confident after my first experience, the next time I ordered a set of makeup brushes and a layered chain (from the imitation jewellery section) in the same order from two different sellers.
Brush Set | Cost : 5.50 $ | Free Shipping via Seller’s Shipping Method
The brush set reached me within the specified time although I was not able to track the package.
They were not very securely packaged so some of them got damaged in transit and had a very heavy chemical smell when I opened the envelope. But all was well, when I put them to use. They have synthetic dual colored bristles and are well made, don’t shed and do the job at the fraction of their branded counterparts cost.
Layered Chain | Cost : 0.98 $ | Free Shipping via China Post Ordinary Small Packet Plus
Coming to the sad part – the necklace, a layered chain that I had already imagined, styled with outfits and accessories; never reached me! The seller claims to have sent it long ago but then the package couldn’t be tracked at all.
The seller wouldn’t let me open a ‘dispute’ (one is allowed to open a dispute if they are unsatisfied with their purchase) for the longest time… but after waiting for three months even he realized that perhaps I am never going to receive it and agreed to settle the dispute.
I did some research and have come to understand that Airmail is prone to theft in India, so perhaps it was stolen after it reached India ! But thanks to Alipay, I did get my money refunded.
- Wide variety of products, much more than popular Indian e-retailers
- Buyer protection
- Better product details and descriptions
- Communication with the sellers is possible.
- Very – very slow shipping
- Counterfeit products
- Lost shipments
- Custom duty to be paid if item priced over a certain limit.
You have to try it ! The products offered are unique and the variety is endless. Not all are available in India and especially at the price Aliexpress offers…. and life would be boring without a little risk !
Do let me know your Aliexpress experiences in the comments.