Buying products online feels like a minefield where you don’t know who you can trust. Luckily, there are tons of ways to stay safe while you’re shopping on AliExpress. All you need is the right tools and some research.
There are common concerns that you come across from online users:
- Is AliExpress legit?
- How do you weed out unscrupulous sellers who are out to make a quick buck at the expense of the customer?
- What can I do to ensure a smooth experience?
In this guide, we’ll look into these questions and teach how to always enjoy successful purchases.
What Is AliExpress?
AliExpress is an online retail marketplace based in China. It doesn’t sell anything directly but rather connects buyers and sellers and facilitates small businesses to sell to international customers. The service features products from various suppliers across the world, though most retailers are Chinese.
The website was launched by Alibaba Group in 2010 as a B2C platform for Chinese companies to sell on the bigger market. The company is also known for its international B2B platform Alibaba.com and the domestic B2C market with offerings such as Taobao and Tmall. To illustrate how huge Alibaba is, its annual revenue in 2019 was $56 billion.
How Does AliExpress Work?
AliExpress works exactly like all the other generalist platforms where you search for a product, and the website shows you available options from multiple sellers. All articles are divided into different categories, such as clothing, consumer electronics, beauty and health, sporting goods, jewelry, and a lot more.
The service ships everywhere except for mainland China and you can pay by most international payment methods (credit/debit card, PayPal, Pioneer, bank transfers, etc.). AliExpress is meant for ordinary consumers, sells manufactured products with relatively short delivery times, and has no minimum order.
Buying products on AliExpress is the easiest thing ever:
- Create a free account.
- Search for the product(s) you want and choose based on the seller info, reviews, and ratings.
- Add the item to your cart, head to the checkout.
- Fille out the necessary info.
- Receive the item, confirm the delivery and rate the product and seller.
5 Reasons Why Aliexpress Is So Cheap
Whenever you find the same product on a few marketplaces, the odds are AliExpress is offering the item at a lower price. Here is why:
- For both AliExpress and the seller, it’s beneficial to get more business and sell more products.
- There is wild competition, so everyone is desperately trying to catch buyers’ attention.
- Most of the sellers offer products that have been produced and stored in China.
- China has a strong business ecosystem, low taxes and duties, and competitive currency practices, which keeps the cost of production low.
- The website uses a direct-to-consumer model, which cuts out the middlemen.
Is AliExpress Safe?
Yes, shopping on AliExpress is safe. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be one of the most visited online shopping websites in the world with millions of users. The service successfully processes hundreds of thousands of orders everyday shipping to them all over the world.
All protections are automatically applied to all users. In fact, as a buyer, you don’t have to do anything extra. As long as your purchase is made directly through AliExpress, you will be protected no matter what you buy on the platform.
The website uses a standard e-commerce model. When you buy an item on the platform, you receive a tracking number, track your goods, and have an option to get a full refund if items arrive damaged, late, or don’t arrive at all.
Is AliExpress safe in terms of cybersecurity? Interestingly, its parent company Alibaba Group is behind Alibaba Cloud security service. It offers cutting-edge AI technology for security identification and risk analysis to other companies. Obviously, the same robust security policies are applied to their internal services as well.
AliExpress Buyer Protection
AliExpress offers a certain period within which the buyer can claim their rights called Buyer Protection. As long as there is still some time left, the seller or AliExpress staff will provide assistance in case anything’s wrong.
The time constraints limit the rights of customers to some degree, but it’s completely fair. After all, the seller shouldn’t be responsible for the item indefinitely. The Buyer Protection timer starts after the payment has been processed. You can always check how many hours (days, months) are left on your personal account. If you see that it’s about to expire, you can extend the deadline in order to minimize potential problems in the nearest future.
Generally, you can rely on Buyer Protection if:
- The goods supplied don’t match any description given to you
- They are damaged or defective
- They’ve been delivered late
- They haven’t been delivered at all
There are also other guarantees, Returns & Refunds, Domestic Returns, and Guaranteed Genuine. You can check the conditions for those and see whether they apply to your situation.
Before we go into opening and resolving disputes, we’d like to mention that it doesn’t always have to end up here. Most issues can easily be solved directly with your seller through open communication. Usually, sellers are more than willing to build a favorable business relationship without escalating into more formal requests.
Let’s say your order hasn’t arrived within the confirmation date (days maximum) and after the seller has confirmed that the order has been shipped. Or it wasn’t shipped in a satisfactory condition. If it does come to a dispute, here are the actions you need to take:
- Sign In and click on My Orders in the upper toolbar of the home page.
- You will see all the orders you have made. Click on the Open Dispute link.
- Fill in the pop up (reasons, complete or partial refund, etc.) and click Submit.
- Attach evidence if you have any, such as pictures/videos/chat records to support your statement.
- The seller will have 15 days to respond and offer you a solution.
- In the meantime, you can modify your Dispute Request and try to reach an agreement.
- After the 15-day time period, the dispute automatically becomes a claim, which escalates the matter to AliExpress.
- From now on, AliExpress will mediate the matter, and it usually takes the side of the buyer.
How to Buy Safe on AliExpress & Protect Yourself from Fraud
The most important thing about shopping on AliExpress is to choose the right supplier. And the most dangerous obstacles to finding them are scammers and middlemen. It’s not difficult to avoid these con artists, and we’ll share some tips to help you.
This is the first thing you should pay attention to. If the product you’re considering isn’t available everywhere, check the customer reviews on the seller’s page. The higher the number of reviews, the better as it means the store isn’t some one-time reseller.
Buying something without a review is like gambling. You don’t know the seller, the quality of the product, and if they make it to the buyer. So, we don’t recommend doing that.
You should also look at the Feedback Score. This rate is formed by summing up all the points they have got (5 or 4 stars = 1 point, 3 stars = 0 points, 2 or 1 star = -1 point). In this section, you will also see Detail Seller Ratings, Feedback History, and more.
Why Do Some Aliexpress Products & Sellers Have Bad Reputation?
Most often, the reason is that people had unrealistic expectations about the product. When you go to a regular store, you’re looking at products that have gone through multiple quality checks. But since you’re buying directly from a manufacturer, you should be willing to sometimes dig deeper to find real gems.
If the Price Is Too Low – Look for other Sellers
Some sellers take the idea of ‘inexpensive’ too far and end up misrepresenting the products. For example, there are listings for $5000 high-end luxury watches that are sold for $100 or so. Even though there is an option to return the item, you can spare yourself this frustration.
If you see super-expensive products at dirt-cheap rates, it’s probably best to leave it. AliExpress is a place where you can get decent products at fairly low prices. But you should always disbelieve miraculously low prices.
Check the Seller’s Reliability Before Buying
If you’re considering buying an item, first look at the seller’s feedback ratings to determine their reliability. Also, look for some common red flags that could indicate a scam seller.
Here are some other things to keep in mind:
- Product photography: It should be high-quality, consistent, and show the product from multiple angles.
- Descriptions: It shouldn’t be too vague nor over the top (as if they’re trying too hard).
- Range of products: Sellers that have some sort of specialization are the best pick.
- Where they’re based: If the seller doesn’t say where they’re based or it’s in Fujian, you should probably look elsewhere.
- Claims: It certainly seems sketchy if they’re claiming to offer original Gucci or Apple.
- Responsiveness: Normally, you should get a response within three days.
The biggest sign of seller reliability is whether they’re marked as Top Brand. This is a great opportunity to buy a top item directly from the popular brand or from an authorized reseller of this brand with no risk of getting a counterfeit product.
In some cases, you can clearly see what kind of store you’re dealing with – official, direct stores that operate as franchises, or something completely inadequate. Look at the name, graphics, layout, and, of course, reviews.
Check Seller Guarantees
Genuine sellers offer different kinds of guarantees, such as on-time delivery, money-back guarantee, domestic returns, and guaranteed genuine. They don’t necessarily apply to a seller’s entire catalog, so check carefully for the item you’re about to purchase.
It’s also worth reading the full item description, including the type of product (original, unused, mildly used and refurbished, replica), accepted payment options, delivery time, etc.
Check Your Order Carefully When You Receive It
Check your package carefully and report faulty products to the website. This point is especially useful for those using the escrow service. In your report, include as many details as possible and as well as a picture of the product. A picture often says more than a thousand words.
Is It Safe to Use a Credit Card on AliExpress?
Yes, it is safe to use a credit card for shopping on AliExpress. Your bank details or any other personal info are protected by SSL. This is the same on almost all websites these days, but especially on those that require payments and personal information.
Besides, today most banks use the 3D Secure system to protect cardholders from potential frauds. Before the purchase is finalized, you have to confirm any transaction with an SMS password. This means even if a fraudster somehow gets access to your account, they won’t be able to make purchases without you knowing right away.
Is it safe to order from a certain seller on AliExpress? If you’re worried about a particular seller getting access to your data, you can rest assured. Sellers aren’t shown any of your bank details. Instead, these transactions are handled by AliExpress and your payment provider. As long as you trust your bank, you can make purchases confidently.
Of course, some people want to go the extra mile and do everything within their control to ensure a safe experience. We’ve gone into more detail about credit card safety, online payment options, and general tips here.
Is AliExpress Legit?
The vast majority of products are legit, although there are some limitations. You can simply jump on the first or cheapest seller’s page you see and expect high-quality products. But if you know what you’re looking for, there are selections of great, affordable products for you to find.
It’s absolutely not a scammy service that some people mistakenly think. Major Chinese brands like Xiaomi, Huawei, and Baseus feature their products on the website, along with thousands of smaller businesses.
Never Buy Branded Goods on AliExpress
Is AliExpress reliable when it comes to branded products? Chances are branded items are going to be counterfeit and low quality. Plus, it can be seized at customs without even making it to you. You will be better off buying from high-quality Chinese brands – they exist!
Be Careful with Storage and Memory Components
Only buy from official stores or listings with good feedback. Knock-off ones often don’t have the exact capacity (for example, 64 Gb instead of 128), and often have bad clusters that will result in missing data.
Also, when it comes to electronics, check whether the item is new. Sometimes sellers try to pass the information that the item is used in the fine print.
Taxes & Customs
Your transaction will be regulated by a series of trade regulations issued by the country you reside in. North American and EU countries have special agreements in place, but still, customs will make you pay the VAT and import taxes that apply. Normally they will make you pay when your package arrives.
Here are common issues at customs that may lead to the item being seized:
- Declaring lower value on the customs declaration
- Missing documentation
- Prohibited or restricted items according to laws in the country of shipment
- Unauthorized merchandise
- Counterfeit goods
Use Alitools for Aliexpress Sellers Safety Check
Armed with all this information, you can now proceed to make your first purchase. However, there is something else that will make experiences easier, safer, and more convenient. Get the Alitools browser extension that will check the seller, reviews, and best prices for you.
The process is easier than ever – install the extension in a few clicks, go to AliExpress and make your purchase based on the comparisons of prices, sellers, and products. You will no longer have to wonder “Is it safe to buy from Aliexpress or this particular seller?” – it’s already taken care of. And the best thing is that the browser extension is free.
Below are some questions that many users have found themselves asking. We decided to compile them here.
Are iPhones from Aliexpress Reliable/Legit?
It’s not the most popular phone brand on the website, but you can definitely find legit products. Always check the seller because you can very well come across drowned or broken iPhones that were refurbished or assembled from several broken phones.
Are Earrings from AliExpress Safe to Wear?
Yes, they are as safe to wear as any earrings you buy from a regular retail store. Remember that AliExpress is an online marketplace with many different vendors, so it’s hard to vouch for the quality of every single one. But if you find a good supplier, it will be fine.
Is Free Shipping in AliExpress Safe?
Yes, nearly all shipments (even those with free shipping) will have a tracking number once shipped. So, you can check where your package is at any time. Plus, you don’t have to worry that it’s free – the shipment cost is probably offset by the product price.
Can I Buy a PC from AliExpress? Is This Legit?
It’s like any marketplace where you have sellers offering high-quality products and those who don’t. There are thousands of people who bought computers and hardware in the past and had no problems with it. You just have to be smart about where you’re shopping specifically.