I have finally discovered the fantastic online store Aliexpress. Don’t you know it? Don’t worry, this will come soon enough, because I am going to tell you what it is and what to look out for. A few weeks ago I also didn’t know that it existed. Now after spending a few euros, I want to make you aware of this nice way of buying cheap products!

Aliexpress may sound a bit unknown to many, but it is a growing trend. I found out that it even existed thanks to a friend. I asked very innocently; ‘What is that?’. She looked at me in a way that says; “You should know that!”. After some research I found out that it is a site where you can buy just about any product. Electronics, clothing, jewelry you name it, there’s all manner of things. I realized that I’m probably not the only one who has no idea what it is. So I like to help you on your way, so that you can answer to the question; “Of course I know that!”.

Aliexpress is originally founded for companies. It had to make it easier to purchase bulk products. Products, not one product. It was the intention that companies could buy a lot for a lower price. That way they can resell it more expensive, as it goes in every store. The vendors of these mass products discovered that there was also a market for the common man. So there were more and more options to order only one product. It grew into a platform full of competitive sellers, full of cheap products. What makes us even happier?

Now that you immediately have started to take a look, it is important to know what to look out for. This is very important for the novice Aliexpress shopper, but also for the people who have been around for a while and can secretly still use some tips. You have to remember that Aliexpress itself does not sell products. There are thousands, what did I say, millions of sellers who sell their products there. Sadly there will also be some scammers. With the following tips, I will help you avoid such people and teach you how to use Aliexpress.

  1. Choose your medium with which you search /order. I personally find it very pleasant to search through the app. The app allows you to better search for and compare different products. Also adding a product to a wish list is much easier than on the site. Once I know for sure which product I want, I order it through the site. Here you can quickly order your product. This is more handy and safer. It is therefore important that you choose for yourself which medium works for you.
  2. Compare, your best friend is the search engine! Do you see a nice shirt for only 5 euros, then look further. You may not believe it, but 5 euros for a shirt can be quite expensive on Aliexpress. For example, enter the same terms in the search bar as what is in the description for the shirt you found. Chances are that you will find the same shirt for 2 euros. You can also describe the product you are looking for. For example, instead of a black shirt, look for a black shirt with split and an open back. This way you get much more specific results. In addition, you have the option on the site: find similar products. With this you can find exactly the same product. Searching in English can also help. Most sellers are Chinese and will not enter the titles of their products perfect in your language. The site automatically translates your search into English, but whether you should fully rely on that …
  3. Look at the reviews. Now that you have chosen your product and compared it, you must of course be sure that it is a reliable seller. You can find that out in a number of ways, but remember well: You never know for sure! First, look at the rating of the product itself. If the rating is 3.5 or lower, you can better leave it out of consideration. If the product has a 4 or higher and it have been ordered a lot, then you look at the feedback. You will look at the percentage of positive feedback. If this is higher than 90%, this doesn’t mean anything yet. First look at the number of people who gave feedback. If there are thousands, than is that percentage quite reliable. Why do you have to pay attention to this? A seller of course wants a good rating. To do this, he could just judge himself. 100% positive feedback? Then forget about the purchase and look for another seller.
  4. Read the feedback. Does it seem that the seller is indeed reliable? Then take a look at the feedback that people have given for your product. Often there are a few people who have taken pictures of the product. The pictures of the sellers are always perfect. There is usually a bit of Photoshop involved. By looking at people’s own photographs, you get a better impression of what the product actually looks like. People also tell how long it took for the product to arrive and whether they are satisfied with it or not. It is important to keep in mind that a product will not always arrive. This doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the seller. Since your purchase often flies around half of the world, something can go wrong. People often write feedback about products that do not arrive. How did the seller solved it, did they get their money back or a new product? To know which protections you get you have to look at buyer protection. You can find here within what time a product is delivered and whether you can exchange. Time is the most important thing. If you do not receive your product within that time, you can open a dispute and get your money back. Exchange is possible, but often does not make any sense. The return costs are for you and believe me a ride to China is not cheap.

The following explanation applies to the Netherlands, to be certain search for the rules in your country!

  1. Beware of import costs. Packages up to €22, – usually pass through the customs and therefore you do not have to pay anything extra. Above this amount you have to be careful. You can get the message that the customs has intercepted your package and that you have to pay import costs. You then pay 21% VAT on the amount you have paid and clearance costs. Note the € 22, – contains all costs so not only what the product costs but also the shipping costs. Finally, you also have to be careful with counterfeit goods. For example, if you ordered Adidas superstars via Aliexpress for € 30, – you can bear in mind that these are not real. If the customs accidentally picks up your package, chances are that they will confiscate your product. Fraud is not allowed.

So far, all of my products have arrived and I haven’t had to deal with customs. Shopping at Aliexpress might be a bit more complicated than a regular online store, but it’s worth it. The products are usually of relatively good quality and cheap. I almost see it as an online Primark, with literally everything you are looking for. If you are a new Aliexpress shopper or an old one where things have gone wrong, I hope you can use these tips. Enjoy shopping!

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