Alibaba and Aliexpress are like a great big mystery for a lot of US Shoppers. And it’s no wonder. It has a bit of a weird reputation. Just watch this weirdness summed up so well by John Oliver.
And it can be a little confusing to navigate. It’s as busy as Amazon but has “shops” within shops like Ebay.
But it can also be the gateway to affordable and unique goods. And you can find wholesale prices on retail items.
With AliExpress, you have to know the lay of the land. And there are a lot of tips and tricks to make shopping a breeze. Here’s our list of What You Should and Shouldn’t Buy on AliExpress. And at the end, find tips to shopping easier on AliExpress. We’ll go into Alibaba in a separate blog in the future.
Things You Should Buy on AliExpress:
If you are buying jewelry supplies, it’s time to face the music. They are only coming from one place and that’s China. If you purchase from sellers on Etsy or Ebay it’s important to know that those are just sellers breaking down product that’s manufactured in China. If you are okay with that, then it’s great to go straight to the source. You’ll find the best prices and a cool selection here.
If you are looking for cute bobbles, AliExpress is the place. If you are looking for cute little things to add to collages, clothing, or jewelry this is a great place. It’s like rhinestone land!
There is an endless array of jewelry at AliExpress. Literally anything you could dream of is here. But just pay careful attention to the size and quality. The sizing can be super tiny – like child sized. And the materials can sometimes be nice and other times be very cheap!
This is a great place for adorable mugs! There are so many cute ones that are totally affordable. You can also find really stylish ceramic and glass planters. Here’s another example of something that comes mass produced from a craft supply store but is just made overseas. So cute out the middle man and the huge cost increases.
There are cases for every kind of phone on the planet and tons of cute ones. It’s a easy way to up your style game and they are the same cases you would get at your local cell phone store.
Things You Shouldn’t Buy on AliExpress:
If there’s one takeaway from this blog – it’s never, ever, ever, ever buy enamel pins on AliExpress. Their copyright policies are not the same as American policies and you can often end up with borrowed and stolen designs.
The sizing is off, the materials can be weird, and sometimes it doesn’t look anything like how it looked online! The biggest issues are materials – if you don’t see them clearly listed, assume that it will be made of a cheap synthetic material. If the sizing is not perfectly clear, assume a large is more like an American small or even extra small.
Here’s another place where Ali sellers are often stealing and using other people’s art. Don’t trust it unless you can 100% verify that the art is not stolen.
What You Need to Know Before You Shop:
Read the Star Ratings
The star ratings will give you a potent picture of the quality of the seller. Always read the star ratings before you shop.
Know the Sizes & Materials
Make sure you understand exactly how big the item will be and how it is made. Even things like ring sizes can make a big difference. Read the reviews for what others have said about the materials.
Know Your Delivery Dates
Things get lost in the mail or returned at customs more regularly from China. It’s imperative that you watch you delivery dates and notify the seller if you don’t receive your item in a timely manner. Don’t be surprised if you need to contact the seller multiple times, but whatever you do don’t give up.
Make Sure the Seller Agrees a Refund if There’s an Issue
When you talk to AliExpress customer service, the first thing they are going to look for is whether the seller agreed to replace or refund the item if it was not received. So if you are having an issue with a seller, be sure to state “I Need a Refund” or “I Need My Item Replaced” and say it a lot if necessary.
Contact AliExpress Customer Service When There’s an Issue
If your order hasn’t arrived and you are past deadline, if you don’t receive a tracking number for several weeks after your order, or if you can’t get a response from a seller you must contact customer service. AliExpress customer service is weird but luckily it’s gotten much better.
Both humans and bots answer the chat on AliExpress. Bots aren’t helpful at all, so if you think you’ve got one in chat just ask “Are you a bot?” It will give you a clever response like “I’m a real bot.” Then be sure to ask for a human. Or you can exit and jump back into chat until you get a human naturally. It will make a big difference.
These tips are really important for having a good experience on AliExpress.