Based in China, AliExpress is a popular e-commerce website that allows independent and small businesses to sell their products to an international audience.
AliExpress offers a wide range of products, including electronics, fashion, and sports equipment.
Although there are some great bargains to be had on AliExpress, the fact that sales are made from consumer to the consumer means that there is a possibility that it is open to dishonest sellers.
In this article, we take a look at the AliExpress shopping experience.
When shopping online, the first thing a consumer wants to know is that the site they are shopping on is scam-free.
Although it’s impossible, when dealing with consumer to consumer sales, to guarantee 100% satisfaction, the short answer to this question is, yes, AliExpress is legit and safe.
There is, unfortunately, the occasional seller on AliExpress who is less than honest and either fails to deliver the goods or, delivers sub-standard or damaged products.
Thankfully, AliExpress is working really hard to identify and eliminate dodgy sellers on the site.
In addition, when reported, AliExpress deals with non-delivery and damaged product issues quickly and efficiently and issues refunds to dissatisfied customers.
Although AliExpress is doing its best to tackle these problems, you can make sure that you limit the risk when making a purchase by checking a few things:
- Seller Feedback: Each seller on the site has a rating that tells you about the experience other customers have had. Ideally, a seller should have sold a minimum of 100 items within the past 12 months and should have a 95% or higher rating.
- Product Feedback: In a similar vein to seller feedback, this rating will tell you what other customers think of the product they received. Don’t worry if there are one or two negative comments (you can’t please all of the people all of the time) – as long as there are at least 10 product reviews with mostly positive feedback, you can purchase with a reasonable amount of confidence.
- Payments: To give yourself a little added protection for your purchase, try to make payment with either a credit card or via Paypal; both of which offer buyer protection.
With a little common sense (and paying attention to feedback), AliExpress is a legitimate place to find some real bargains – do note though that, products are shipped from all around the world and so may take some time to arrive.
If in doubt about shipping times, get in touch with the seller before making the purchase.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, AliExpress is a subsidiary of Alibaba which is also an e-commerce site.
Here, we look at the difference between the two.
The first to be launched, Alibaba is a wholesale selling site which means that it largely deals with bulk orders of products placed by traders from other traders.
(1) Buy directly from manufacturers, saving money & get customized offers
In many cases, this allows traders to buy products directly from the manufacturer, saving on fees and shipping time.
Because orders are often coming directly from the manufacturer, it’s often possible to customize or personalize products for private label selling, giving you more freedom as a seller to offer a unique product.
(2) Need to buy with MOQ and pay upfront
When buying products from Alibaba, you’ll usually find that a minimum quantity applies and, as this is a wholesaler, that quantity is often high meaning that you’ll be paying more upfront.
Although the initial outlay can be relatively high, this does usually mean that the unit price is at rock bottom.
Before ordering with Alibaba, you need to submit a quote request stating what you want to buy and, how much.
You’ll then be given a list of suppliers to choose from. Once you’ve chosen a supplier, you can get in touch in a number of ways in order to place your official order.
(3) Contact the supplier by email or telephone
Many find the chat plugin on Alibaba’s site to be really useful for this but you can also contact the supplier by email or telephone.
Once you’ve placed an order, you’ll need to wait until the goods have been packed and weighed before you will know the exact cost of your order.
(4) Delivery may take a lot of time
As a wholesale customer, Alibaba allows you to receive samples or to inspect products before purchase which minimizes the risk.
Delivery is worldwide and can take weeks or, even months, depending on the manufacturing process.
Known as the little sister of Alibaba, AliExpress is the retail division of the company and works in a very different way.
(1) Designed for individual customers and retailers
Whereas Alibaba is geared toward wholesalers, AliExpress is designed for individual customers or small-scale re-sellers.
This means that products are bought and sold ‘as is’ and usually cannot be customized or personalized.
Unlike Alibaba, however, products can be bought in small quantities or even a single unit which makes the initial outlay less of a risk to the buyer.
(2) Can not get customized offer like Alibaba
The low prices on AliExpress mean that it is possible to order larger quantities at a relatively low cost.
Unfortunately, unlike Alibaba, there is rarely an option to receive samples of the goods before making a purchase.
Having said that, AliExpress does offer buyer protection and you can increase this by making payment by credit card or Paypal.
(3) Delivery time will usually be quicker than Alibaba
Like Alibaba, products can be delivered worldwide and can take up to a couple of months depending on the product and the shipping option chosen, however, because goods are already manufactured, delivery time will usually be quicker than Alibaba.
Ordering on AliExpress is quick and easy as the process works exactly like any other online shopping site.
Conclusion of Alibaba vs AliExpress
Alibaba and AliExpress are similar sites targeted at different audiences. Both offer value for money and a safe shopping experience as well as buyer protection options.
For those looking to sell a considerable amount of products online and, those wishing to source personalized products and bulk orders, Alibaba is a really great place to start.
For those wishing to buy a product for personal use or to start small as a seller, AliExpress is an extremely cost-effective option – just don’t forget about those long delivery times.
Of course, when it comes to buying and selling, AliExpress and Alibaba are not the only options out there.
The great thing about the digital world is that there are endless possibilities when it comes to sourcing great, inexpensive products.
We’ve put together our five favorite alternatives to AliExpress:
The original buying and selling site according to many, eBay is, of course, known the world over as a source of cheap, unusual, and often sought-after goods.
Based in San Francisco, Wish was launched in 2010 and so is relatively young in comparison to eBay.
Like AliExpress, Wish sells a wide range of different products directly to customers around the world, all from a number of sellers.
Although Wish offers products at great prices, it’s always a good idea to check the full details as the company has a reputation for sometimes misleading customers with its product descriptions.
Cashbackbase allows members to bag products from the Amazon website at heavily discounted prices and, sometimes, even for free.
Users browse the Cashbackbase site, choose a product, and then buy through the website in order to receive the discounted price.
As well as loads of great products at rock bottom prices, Cashbackbase offers other member benefits such as hot deals and the opportunity to earn points towards freebies.
Bonanza boasts over 50,000 different on-site sellers and offers products ranging from fashion to electronics to homewares at super-low prices
It works like a regular shopping site and, shoppers are advised to be quick as products tend to sell out fast.
A one-stop shop for those looking to buy tech at low prices, Newegg offers a huge variety of electronics and sports equipment to customers.
Although Newegg is generally reliable, it’s always a good idea to read all the small print first before buying electronics.
When buying goods online, either as a personal purchase or, with a view to re-sell, common sense should always be your most important tool.
Always make sure that you know the full details and dimensions of a product as well as check for hidden extras in order to avoid nasty surprises.