What is AliExpress?
AliExpress is an online retail service based in China and owned by the Alibaba Group. It is a platform made up of small businesses in China and other locations, such as Singapore, that offer products like clothes, accessories and more to online buyers internationally. It is the most visited e-commerce website in Russia and was the 10th most popular website in Brazil. AliExpress has drawn comparison to eBay, as sellers are independent and use the platform to offer products to buyers.
Everything You Need to Know About AliExpress
AliExpress works exactly like all the other generalist platforms that deal with online product sales. Basically, on AliExpress you can find any kind of products.
On the website, all articles are divided into different categories, in order to help the client to easily navigate within the platform.
More specifically, these are the most popular product categories explored by users:
- Clothing for men, women and children
- Consumer electronics
- Sporting goods
- Articles for beauty and health
- Motorcycle and car accessories
- Shoes and accessories
- Cell phones and telecommunications
- Home appliances
- Gardening goods
What is AliExpress Used For?
Within each category, there are other subdivisions to make the search easier, fast and intuitive. Each product, then, is equipped with a detailed card, accompanied by photos and an explanation of the features as well as the purchase price.
If you like one of the products you see on AliExpress, all you have to do is to add it to your cart and proceed with the payment.
AliExpress accepts all kinds of electronic payment, from credit cards to prepaid cards, but also other methods such as Paypal and Western Union. The preferred payment method, however, is Alipay, a virtual system very similar to Paypal but all, completely Made in China.
The price of the product indicated during the purchase, however, does not equal to the final amount that you will have to pay. To the price of the product, you must also add taxes, for example in EU you need to add VAT and all the customs fees for all products which cost more than €22.
Finally, a note on the shipping times. Given the origin of the goods, the shipping times are quite long, the average waiting time quite often exceeds 1 month.
A Thorough Review of AliExpress
What's Good About AliExpress
Inexpensive Inventory: Arguably the biggest draw of using AliExpress as a dropshipping supplier is its rock-bottom prices. When you compare the prices of items against other marketplaces like eBay or Amazon, you’ll quickly see that AliExpress has lower prices in nearly every category. So if quality isn’t your top concern and you just want to buy wholesale goods at the lowest possible rates, you’ll love the selection and pricing available through AliExpress. Some products, like USB cables and sunglasses, start as low as $0.01.
Low Startup Costs: Getting started with AliExpress is easy and free. Unlike other wholesale marketplaces, you don’t need to have a paid membership, and there aren’t any monthly or annual subscription fees to access wholesale pricing. If you’re using AliExpress for dropshipping, you never actually have to handle the goods on your own. This means you don’t have to pay for extra shipping labels and boxes or rent a warehouse for storage.
Extensive Product Catalog: In terms of versatility, AliExpress is second to none for what they offer. Many other wholesale dropshipping suppliers just specialize in a single category, like jewelry, clothing, or electronics. AliExpress has all of those items, plus additional categories like toys, bags, shoes, pet supplies, home improvement, auto parts, sports equipment, and so much more. This is great for anyone that wants to start multiple ecommerce sites or wants to target consumers in different niches.
Ships Direct to Consumers: Even if you’re not using a third-party solution to automate ecommerce orders on your site to AliExpress, you can still get the AliExpress suppliers to ship items directly to your customers. Once a customer orders something through your ecommerce site, you just need to purchase the item through AliExpress and provide that customer’s details.
Integrates With Other Tools: AliExpress works at its best when combined with other software in the ecommerce space. You can use popular Shopify extensions like Oberlo or Dropified to streamline your ordering workflow between AliExpress and your ecommerce site. With a single click, you can import all of the items from AliExpress that you’re selling and put them directly on your site. When a customer orders something, the information will automatically get sent to AliExpress for fulfillment—eliminating the need for you to complete this step manually and making it much easier for you to scale.
Detailed Product Images: The vast majority of products sold on AliExpress have highly detailed product images that can serve two purposes. First, it gives you a chance to see what you’re buying from different angles. But even better, all of the product images on AliExpress are open source—meaning you can repurpose them on your website for customers to see.
Supplier Ratings and Feedback: You have the opportunity to do some digging on the supplier you’re considering before you order anything from them. The first thing to look at is the positive feedback percentage, which is ranked on a 0-100% scale. Then you can verify their feedback history to see how many ratings they’ve received in the past month, three months, and six months. AliExpress also has seller ratings for communication, shipping speed, and items shipped as described on a five-point scale—making it easier for you to trust suppliers with the best feedback.
Supplier Messaging: Once you have an AliExpress account set up, you can connect with suppliers directly through the AliExpress product details page. Just click the contact button to open up a direct message between you and the supplier. This type of communication can help you qualify different wholesalers based on their response times. It’s also fairly easy to tell if you’re getting a genuine response from a real person or just an automated response from a bot.
Free Shipping: Most products on AliExpress are available for free shipping, which is a nice way to save some money, even when you’re ordering cheap products at wholesale prices. With that said, most free shipping times can take 20 or 30+ days to ship. If you don’t want to wait a month for products to ship, you can always just pay for expedited shipping and pass those costs along to your customers. So you’ll need to weigh that extra cost against the speed at which you want items delivered to your customers.
No Minimum Orders: Unlike other wholesale marketplaces, AliExpress doesn’t require minimum order quantities or prices. Not only is this great for your customers, but it can really help you out when you’re first getting started and trying to find the best possible suppliers for your products. You can order the same item from multiple suppliers to test it out yourself and get a sense of the quality before adding the item to your ecommerce platform.
What's Bad About AliExpress
Long Shipping Times: You need to remember the fact that most of these suppliers are based in China. So with standard or free shipping, it can take anywhere from three weeks to two or months for your products to be delivered. Many suppliers do offer faster delivery solutions through FedEx or DHL, but these alternatives can be a bit expensive. So you either need to be transparent with your customers about the shipping times or pay extra to ensure the items are delivered in a reasonable timeframe.
Complex Return Process: If a customer is unhappy with the product and demands a return, sending the item back to the supplier is nearly impossible. This typically means that you’ll have to eat the cost of the product unless your ecommerce site has a really strict return policy. AliExpress does have a buyer protection guarantee, saying that you can get your money back within 15 days if there’s an issue and a refund is required. That said, a quick glance through AliExpress reviews from real customers will tell a very different story.
Quality Issues: When you’re buying wholesale products for less than a dollar, you can’t really expect them to be of the highest possible quality. AliExpress has plenty of great suppliers that manufacture quality products. But the platform also has tons of suppliers that deliver poor quality and defective items. It’s also worth noting that even higher quality products can break or have problems during the long journey from China to your customer’s doorstep.
Knockoff Products: AliExpress does not sell actual name-brand products. So if you think you’re getting real Gucci, Louis Vuitton, or Nike products at 99% markdown, you’re mistaken. Offering knockoff products on your site can not only disappoint your customers but can also get you into trouble with the brand names and logos that you’re infringing upon. Overall, it’s in your best interest to just steer clear of anything that looks like a name-brand item.
Non-Existent Customer Service: If you want to contact a representative from AliExpress directly, there’s a good chance you won’t be successful. Many customer reviews complain about the lack of support from AliExpress for issues and returns. Even if you get a response from the support team, the chances of your problem being resolved are pretty slim.
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