AliExpress is the retail arm of Alibaba. While Alibaba focuses on wholesale and bulk-selling, AliExpress is more average consumer-oriented, allowing smaller quantity purchases that work better for typical shoppers. While it may seem like AliExpress isn’t unlike many other online shopping destinations, that isn’t necessarily the case. It’s possible to save money by purchasing everything on AliExpress, suggesting you’re savvy about it. If you want to see if AliExpress might be right for you, here’s what you need to know.
What AliExpress Is and How It Works
As mentioned above, AliExpress is the retail arm of Alibaba, giving regular consumers a place to buy goods. The shopping experience you find on AliExpress is very similar to other retail websites. You’ll find products across a range of categories, often with more options than you could reasonably review in a single shopping session.
There are a few main differences with AliExpress when you compare it to options like Amazon. First, it is a platform that allows others to sell and doesn’t sell anything directly. This makes it more akin to eBay or the Amazon marketplace taken separately from the rest of the Amazon site.
Second, AliExpress features Chinese-made products essentially exclusively. It allows Chinese resellers that usually buy items in bulk directly from local (to them) manufacturers to tap into an international consumer market, at times more directly than they could otherwise.
How You Can Save Money Purchasing Everything on AliExpress
By shopping at AliExpress, you can potentially save quite a bit of cash on a wide variety of items. Often, the approach cuts out some of the middlemen. While you’re usually buying from a third party, not directly from a manufacturer, there are fewer steps between you and the product. This helps keep prices down because there are fewer layers involved.
Additionally, AliExpress offers many other ways to save. Along with flash sales, you can also find traditional discounts.
If you use the mobile app to shop, you’ll have access to even more discounts, making that the preferred way to shop for many customers. Along with exclusive deals, you can collect “coins” that you can use to save or, potentially, even get items for free.
While the products are coming from China, shipping costs are usually quite reasonable. Plus, some sellers do offer free shipping. Even after accounting for any import taxes, you still can get your hands on a bargain.
The Drawbacks of Shopping on AliExpress
Shopping at AliExpress does come with some drawbacks. First, while shipping tends to be affordable, it can take an incredibly long time to receive your purchase. Since they are coming in from outside of the country, they have to not just journey nearly halfway around the planet, but they also have to clear customs. This can take much longer than some people expect, potentially causing a purchase to not end up in the buyer’s hand for months.
Next, there are scams on AliExpress. In some cases, product descriptions are intentionally inaccurate or vague, causing you to receive a lower quality item or something different than what you expected.
At times, a seller may not ship the item at all. While there are some buyer protections through the site, it may not protect you from everything. Additionally, it may take weeks before you notice that there’s a problem, largely because of the lengthy shipping times.
Finally, purchasing a counterfeit product is illegal. Even if you weren’t aware that a product was counterfeit, you could still be held criminally and civilly liable, so it’s wide to be cautious about any item that looks like a knock-off.
Ultimately, if you’re going to use AliExpress to save money, a little due diligence is wise. Check seller reviews to find reliable ones, review descriptions carefully, and understand which buyer protections are available. That way, you can keep yourself safe while you shop.
Do you save money purchasing everything on Ali Express? Do you think more people should save money by purchasing everything in Ali Express? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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