What is AliExpress?

What does AliExpress mean?

AliExpress is a B2B ecommerce retail giant based in China. Technically, it runs in the same fashion as other pre-eminent counterparts like Amazon or its parent company, Alibaba. The retail company displays products from various suppliers across the world.

According to a report from well-founded sources, it indicates that Alibaba ranks up high among the top blue-chip brands in the world. With that in mind, you can get a glimpse of where exactly the AliExpress buzz is all coming from. Over the recent past, merchants have had to grapple with the mainstream shopping trends. And here's why. Consumers are increasingly embracing the option to shop products online. Here on AliExpress, you'll find items at cheap prices and flexible shipping plans as well.

On that note,  AliExpress allows the suppliers to look a little more action-packed. That said, if you've been eyeing on the dropshipping business, this retail platform can suitably be a perfect fit. At the present moment, a user can access AliExpress  in the following languages;

  • English
  • French
  • Spanish
  • Italian
  • German
  • Polish
  • Italian
  • Portuguese
  • Dutch

Which products can I buy from AliExpress?

Literally, AliExpress is pretty much diverse. It has countless categories of products. From electronics to toys, fashion, furniture, accessories, books, you name it. As the cliche saying goes, AliExpress is a jack of many trades.

The battery of items here is well-sorted and each niche product has a number of suppliers whom you can run a background check on before testing a product with your wallet. Don't lose sight of the fact that you can promptly check the customer reviews from previous purchases.

 How to sell on AliExpress.

For illustration's sake, let's suppose you want to sell electronics on AliExpress. First off, you need to complete the seller registration process. AliExpress requires a merchant to apply for an Alipay business account. Since the platform is so cognizant of product quality, sellers must provide verification documents. This is meant to legally support the authenticity of their businesses.

The prerequisite also applies to sellers who make transactions without any physical premises. They ought to have a registered business name in place. You might be wondering. How about merchants who go about their businesses at the comfort of their homes? AliExpress maintains the same position. The catch is, they only work with individuals who have a registered business structure.

The same goes for all agents who work for their respective principals, say, owners of various clothing brands. In other words, proper documentation is a key ingredient here, more precisely, if you want to expedite the registration and straight away, begin selling on the platform.

Does AliExpress charge for this?

Well, the truth of the matter is, since it's a businesslike plan of action, you're required to settle the annual technical service fee. But here's some gratifying news guys! The plan comes with a few impressive perks. Aliexpress has in store a range of payment plans. If you intend to operate your business for the entire year, you stand a chance to grab the all-year refund bonus.

Aliexpress keeps this offer easily obtainable, in so far as you can cut above the expected by rendering a splendid customer service unconditionally. It goes without saying. A seller is expected to diligently sell products which are of good quality. The end result? Good reviews and high ratings from the consumers of your products. You must know what this means to your anticipated sales over time.

AliExpress Category Registration

Once you jump right in, this is the next essential step AliExpress needs you to complete. Don't feel overwhelmed though. It's nothing complicated. The “Merchant's Access system” comes with resourceful options to work with. From this end, you can upload a detailed product list of all items you wish to sell on AliExpress. Alongside that, you can choose the online store which matches up with your business model.

Keep in mind, the company demands transparency when it comes to legal formalities. For that reason, this process includes a trademark verification step. As you may know, your trademark must be duly registered according to the laws in your jurisdiction. AliExpress reserves the right to review, approve or reject your trademark. This comes just before the payment and confirmation part. So just you know.

The annual payment itself is meant for maintenance purposes. AliExpress, on the other hand, allows you to include your official brand name via its shop management page. To ease the shoppers' navigation, it lets you have access to a second-level website name. How helpful is this option? You may ask. Well, it's sort of an independent domain name that directly guides potential visitors to your online store. This, of course, requires an extra application step in order to get hold of an official brand page.

Just like 3rd party ecommerce stores built on platforms such as Shopify, Magneto or even WooCommerce, AliExpress has tools to help you make all sorts of customizations. For instance, you can upload stunning images for all your products, layout a couple of variants, and add eye-catching product descriptions if need be.

AliExpress payment methods

If you opt to pay for orders via the mobile app, you can use other methods besides the popular chip-based credit and debit card transactions (CMV cards). AliExpress allows payments from these gateways too: Boleto, iDeal, and it's very own AliExpress Pocket.

Speaking of which.

AliExpress Pocket: How it runs.

I presume you might have come across this service while weighing the checkout methods. If not, here's what this option has in store.

Otherwise known as Alipocket, it's a gift card system that AliExpress has taken its time to design and build. Simply stated, you can buy gift cards of different price ranges (as low as$50, $20, or even $10) from this end. To put everything in good record, this infrastructure owned by AliExpress allows you to transfer the same to your account. You won't break a sweat while doing that, I promise.

If you wish to give access to your staff, the system makes it unchallenging whenever you want to transfer the gift cards.

Alipocket vs AliPay: Drawing the line.

To the casual eye, the two seem confusingly similar. I totally agree. They're just subsidiary services of AliExpress with no strings attached. Now that you have some clue about Alipocket, let me explain to the detail how AliPay goes about its business. Most predominantly, it's just another decent and savvy payment alternative. It's more of a mobile wallet molded in the same way as PayPal and the likes. Contrastingly, with Alipocket, you need to feed your account with funds and purchase some gift cards for future use.

But can a foreigner open an AliPay account? Absolutely yes! Most transactions in China are electronic, many thanks to the convenient mobile wallet trends.

Over the recent past, there has been a fast-growing number of AliPay users who depend on it to make payments for orders from Taobao, an online shopping site owned by Alibaba aside from the common AliExpress. Spoiler alert! There are cheap yet good quality products on Taobao too.

As a foreigner, you can use your email address if you don't have a Chinese bank account to sign up. If you need to purchase items, you can use your passport number. This virtual payment platform is indispensable and almost a must-have for shoppers since it flexibly adapts to the forward-looking global ecommerce playfield.

Some suppliers on AliExpress accept PayPal transactions; a positive effect for both parties. Though not many, these sellers are PayPal protected. That's to mean, the policy enhances product guarantee and covers buyers' claims or even chargebacks. Since AliExpress doesn't officially recognize it( work in progress) at the moment, you ought to first contact the seller in order to apprehend the eligibility of using PayPal as a payment option.

 

What's the Distinction between Alibaba and Aliexpress?

I presume that this question might have puzzled your mind at some point in time. It's easy to understand the variation though.  To a large extent, Aliexpress appears like a subsidiary of Alibaba. In fact, it's owned by the Alibaba Group if we go by what's on paper. I'm pretty sure Alibaba ain't a puzzle to most of you, at the minimum, owing to the fact that most importers of manufactured goods, place significant reliance on this platform.

The gripping part about AliExpress is the fact that there's no minimum number of products which is preset if you want to make a purchase. This means a buyer can hit the checkout button even with one product in the cart. With Alibaba, however, things are quite different.

Here, you have to buy items in large quantities. But this is rationally justifiable. Primarily, manufacturers offer exceedingly low unit prices for their products. More importantly, they sell goods in wholesale. In this case, selling the items in bulk and at discounted prices would make perfect sense for both parties. After all, the purchaser can leverage off this by adding a small profit on the goods.

The structure on AliExpress is more of a retail one where buyers click and buy items in real-time. Alibaba's checkout process is not as instantaneous as it's subsidiary. What does this mean? It gives you the option to contact the supplier in order to get a custom quote for your specific orders. Which brings us to the option of coupling your products with marketing strategies. Some suppliers are flexible enough to package the goods in your personal brand if you wish so. Certainly, this attracts some extra costs.

With that in mind, it's quite obvious that Alibaba is suitably designed for merchants who want to purchase goods in huge quantities, yet at a low price per unit. It's hard to pick which platform between the two, transcends over the other. The fact is, it all depends on the buyer's needs.

AliExpress Dropshipping

Dropshipping is technically a tried and tested business model in the ecommerce sector which requires little start-up capital. Reason being that a merchant doesn't need to have inventory or a physical store to get things up and running. On the face of it, the drop shipper contacts the supplier to have an item shipped to the buyer's address after placing an order via the online store. As simple as it sounds.

On top of that, there are applicable tools to help you dropship products from AliExpress. An app like Oberlo, for instance, allows you to import products from AliExpress and upload them to your online store. You can adjust prices to make a considerable amount of profit. This way, you can make your dropshipping business quite fruitful.

The Oberlo app syncs so well with Shopify, a 3rd party ecommerce channel. As such, you can automatically import products pretty much easily without spending a dime. That aside, you can simply test a variety of products so as to work with those which have a winning streak. On AliExpress, most suppliers are resellers. That's to mean, they're in a better position to understand the dropshipping model.

Is AliExpress dropshipping good enough?

First off, you should know that there are thousands of resellers on AliExpress. That being the case, it's a good alternative if you're looking for high yielding products to sell on your online store.

Besides that, the prices here are extremely low. At times, there are products that come directly from manufactures. As a result, this leaves you with a perfect chance to make a small profit on each item you wish to sell.

I know you might be wondering. Do low prices affect the quality of goods? As mentioned earlier, AliExpress maintains a strict, formal and procedural position on the seller registration process. In this effect, product quality is a total guarantee.

In other instances, you might end up a little disappointed. While dropshipping, there are scenarios where a supplier might ship to your buyers, an item whose quality or quantity doesn't match the product description. Practically speaking, you might ship a handbag which is made of cheap leather, yet the description indicates it's a good quality leather item. Such are some of the slowdowns you might experience on AliExpress.

Here are some of the remedial steps to depend on as a buyer.

  • If it's a consumable good which you purchase more often, you better avoid buying from the same seller.
  • Where possible, try to bargain for a partial refund.
  • If there's a return policy in place, make good use of it. However, it's worth noting that you might risk incurring more shipping costs than the actual item price if you're sending it back to China. In most cases, the shipping cost can't be refunded.

How to get started with AliExpress dropshipping

To be candid, there are thousands of suppliers on AliExpress. To that extent, it's quite easy to pick up a niche which is doing well in the market. If a product doesn't make substantial sales, you can as well scrap it off from your online store and load new products. So if you don't have a definite idea of what to sell, don't panic at all. Since you don't need to have inventory in advance, there's enough room to make adjustments in order to land on the winning product.

I presume that you have an online store in check. If not, ecommerce platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce, 3dcart or WooCommerce can help you get on the right foot. You can start off the basic plan which roughly costs $29 per month and upgrade as your business scales to greater heights.

So where does AliExpress come to play center stage?

Good question.

AliExpress gives you a leeway to hunt for the best and most reliable suppliers. You need to sail through this process with precision since there are a bunch of retailers who pose as wholesalers. You need to hold onto the fact that buying from a fellow retailer will definitely restrict you from setting prices which will convert visitors to buyers. Long story short, this reduces your profit margin/markups.

Being privy to Oberlo's functionalities, nothing should sound mystifying anymore. Well, if you want better results, Shopify allows you to easily integrate your account with Obelro in few minutes. It does most of the manual work for you. Once the two are in sync, you can import products seamlessly from AliExpress to your store.

Still not convinced? Let me explain further.

Remember, you need to import a product together with its description and all available variants. Oberlo does a perfect and flawless job by not allowing you to move a muscle. While the entire process of having to set new prices for all your products might seem nerve cracking, this app updates everything which the supplier changes in real-time.

And that's not all. There's more.

Once your supplier dispatches an ordered item, Oberlo helps you to send a tracking code to your customers in a timely manner. In all exactness, once a customer places an order from your store, you will then contact your supplier from ALiExpress to ship the ordered product directly to the buyer.

As an online retailer, your profit is always in order since you will sell products at a retail price but pay your supplier the wholesale price. You take home a positive difference; good profit. AliEpxress presents itself as a cost-effective alternative because there are no prior charges you need to pay before you begin dropshipping from its platform.

Assuming that you now have a rough idea of how the AliExpress dropshipping model works, this part attempts to answer two common queries you might need answers to.

So what if I don't want my customers to know I've dropshipped the items from AliExpress?

Most suppliers on AliExpress have been in this game for quite a number of years. They know exactly how the dropshipping model works. If you so wish, you can instruct a supplier not to include a receipt in the package. Notwithstanding that, most of them don't include any promotional inserts since they are aware that you might be shipping the item to a customer.

If you feel like that's not a conclusive measure, you can place reliance on the AliExpress premium shipping. This service allows you to do custom packaging for all ordered products. As the name suggests, some extra costs might be incurred. Worry not though. You can push these expenses to the buying price. If you understand what I mean. Just to be on the right track, we'll go into details about the AliExpress premium shipping in just a moment. Besides this service, there are other global order fulfillment services which can help you out with the same.

The likes of Shipwire, Shipmonk, and Shipstation offer packing, labeling and warehouse services if you need to be a little meticulous about order processing and delivery. If you want to brand all products so as to bear your store's logo, you can't go wrong if you incorporate experts in your logistics demands. Most of all, products don't have any AliExpress branding on them.

What do I do if AliEpress' shipping takes longer than my customers expect?

This varies from one customer to another. At the same time, you need to be mindful of the shipping duration. If it takes forever for products to reach your customers, your online store might, unfortunately, attract very nasty reviews. Nobody wishes such a drawback to happen. Before anything else, it's wise, to first try out the normal AliExpress and see how everything goes.

Your online store should include flexible shipping policies that work for both parties(you and the buyer) in a transaction.

AliExpress Buyer tips

Shipping dynamics

One thing you ought to know about sellers who offer free shipping is that your product might take longer than expected to reach your doorstep. Usually, it might take a month or even more. Worst-case scenario; your items might get lost along the way if you rely on dubious carrier services.

In a factual sense, the official page on AliExpress indicates a rough estimate of the delivery time to be anything between 20- 60days. Maybe that might sound a little off since you wouldn't want to wait for that long. Alongside that, free shipping is a bit sluggish when it comes to item tracking. They usually don't give you the tracking number immediately since the items bought might not be dispatched as soon as you complete the checkout process.

Here's a tip you need to get hold of;

If you don't receive a tracking number say withing 7 working days, it's prudent to contact the seller and make inquiries of the same. Usually, the parcel status indicates a number of vital details. You need to give accurate information to avoid all sorts of discrepancies. For instance, you can't afford to give the wrong delivery address since this reflects on the entire logistics process.

As of now, AliExpress allows a buyer to file an official non-delivery claim only after the maximum delivery time has depleted. On paper, it's usually 10 days. This way, you'll be eligible to be issued a refund so long as you can validly support your dispute.

On the face of it, it looks like a risky affair, more particularly, if you've purchased an expensive product. To avoid getting all sorts of frustrations, I'd recommend that you sacrifice a few bucks to pay for a faster shipping method which often includes feasible tracking services. This might take around two weeks.

AliExpress Premium Shipping

This service has more to give than the standard one in many ways. For a long time, it has proven to be a quicker shipping solution. Here's a quick disclaimer though. AliExpress Premium shipping is expensive; you better brace yourself for that.

On average, shipping using this service takes anything between 3- 10 working days. Of course, the number of days depends on where the warehouse you're shipping your products from is located.

This service allows you to track down your package from various locations.

Payment method

Unfortunately, AliExpress doesn't accept PayPal or cheque transactions to pay for orders(save for a few sellers). In this regard, you need to have a credit card in check. On the bright side, AliExpress accepts all major cards like MasterCard, Visa, Maestro, and the likes.

If you make further inquiries, you'll realize that some sellers allow PayPal transactions. Also, there's AliPay which a perfect solution that you can lean on.

Fraud alert

Just like other retail giants, AliExpress is prone to fraudulent activities. In a bid to mitigate the above menace, AliExpress has a secure payment platform; AliPay which attempts to maintain a secure environment when making credit card transactions.

Since it's pretty hard to discern between a genuine merchant and a fraudster, below is a pointer you need to grasp so as to easily know of any red alerts;

Don't fall for items whose prices are way too low. You must do your own due diligence so to speak. For example, you can do a little bit of research by checking out how much the same product costs from other sites. In regards to the entire product pricing, if the deal is too good, you better ditch it.No more, no less.

Most dishonest sellers on AliExpress, often sell branded products at extremely low prices. You don't expect a legit Gucci bag to cost $5, to say the least. On the contrary, if it's a non-branded product, this shouldn't be too alarming.

Have a look at the seller's feedback

How many times have you had to look at a review before you test a product with your pockets? I presume a couple of hundred times.  If you're guilty of the above, then don't hesitate to look at the seller's ratings first. As a matter of fact, you should adopt this precautionary measure as a ritual for the rest of your online shopping experience on AliExpress.

Good ratings are a good sign that you're about to purchase an authentic product. And the opposite is actually true. As simple as that. It makes perfect sense to judge the quality of the product by having a brief overview of the positive feedback. In other words, this sort of gives a clear and elaborate depiction of the kind of quality and service delivery you should expect.

Strongly related to the above, it always builds up your confidence as a buyer, if you purchase products from established sellers. On AliExpress, you can actually see the number of years in which the seller has been successfully a member. If the seller's online store has been existing on AliExpress for a couple of years, that could probably be a green light. Exactly what you should be looking for.

Along the same vein, is positive feedback from buyers which spells out the seller's performance in terms of the shipping speed, communication, and how good the ordered item matches or if you like, corresponds to the virtual description. What matters most to such sellers are good ratings. If you were in such a framework (sellers' shoes), you'd tirelessly yearn for the same. Isn't this the truth of the matter? I'll take yes for an answer.

Check the product description

It's not a trivial step, as you may think. To tell the truth, this should be the starting point before you proceed to the checkout page. Indeed, you might be at crossroads while filing for a refund or return if you didn't carefully scrutinize the product description.

Let me illustrate.

If you purchase a mobile phone from AliExpress without reading the product description which identifies the gadget as a generic, you have no grounds whatsoever to raise a claim if all you wanted was an original version of the same.

The seller, on the other hand, uses this section to bring to light the product's specifications, quality, compatibility, and all its special features. Back to our case in point; as a buyer, you'll be able to figure out if an electronic is a clone or a credible and authentic product from the original manufacturer.

Have a look at what the seller guarantees

The last thing you'd wish to happen is getting scammed online. AliExpress knows by heart that sellers, especially those who deal with products whose prices are sky-high, need to give the buyers an assurance that they're genuine and of merchantable quality.

It's a bit wacky to pay for an iPhone which doesn't have a guaranteed genuine label. Well, sometimes you may confirm all the above in your checklist and still get a raw deal. If this happens, as in you receive a fake phone, AliExpress maintains that the buyer will get a full refund all-inclusive of the shipping expenses. In great abundance, this sounds like a pleasing relief for all buyers who are prone to such vulnerabilities.

Buyer Protection and Dispute resolution

So you might ask yourself. How do I go about this on AliExpress?The company has an elaborate procedure that sets out all the ins and outs of filing a dispute.

But here's the catch.

Before anything, you must first contact the seller and issue them with an initial Dispute request. It's nothing complicated. You don't need to crack your head about it. Thereafter, you can file your claim officially to AliExpress three days later.

So what's the point of reaching out to the seller in the first place? Well, its' right-minded to resolve issues to do with the product quality or delivery amicably via effective communication. By so doing , you can maintain a good rapport with the seller, yet at the same time, fix issues you're dissatisfied with. At times, it's way better to keep off the tangled chargeback process.

If the above doesn't sound pliable, AliExpress gives you a pragmatic platform to open a dispute, just in case you feel like efforts to mend the issues are falling apart.

And on what grounds can I file a dispute? For most buyers, the story is always that the order wasn't delivered within the stipulated date. If the delivery time exceeds 60days which is the maximum, you can validly file a complaint. We have to admit it; this is such a deal-breaker on the buyer's side.

In equal measure, AliExpress welcomes any dispute if an order is received in a beaten-up condition. There are a couple of remedies to cling on. This is on the assumption that you can expressly state all issues you're not pleased with. Usually, this is done by filling a requisite form. If your claim passes this test, you can request for the order to be replaced, ask for a partial, or full refund.

So what happens after I submit my dispute form? The seller has 15days to respond and come up with a solution. If this time frame lapses and no agreement has been settled upon, AliExpress takes the bull by its horns.

How about Refunds and Returns?

To start off, it's in your best interest to note that AliExpress doesn't approve full refunds under these two scenarios;

  • You didn't receive your order due to circumstances under your control. Say, for instance, you gave out the incorrect shipping address.
  • Your order isn't delivered due to factors that are beyond the seller's oversight. Maybe the goods are held over by the local customs authority. Logical reasoning backs the fact that a seller has absolutely nothing to do about this scenario.

If we are to contrast this platform with other marketplaces, the slight difference with AliExpress is that you can only file one dispute per order to get a refund or return the product. Trust me when I say it's for your own good. It's easier to collect all facts together and support your claim over a specific order in question. Since we've mentioned the conditions you can pivot on while filing for a refund or return, you must be alive to the terms and conditions each desired remedy comes with.

Let's precisely move on to the shipping terms. Depending on the type of product, the seller might agree to sort out the shipping expenses after you agree on returning the item. Since you must first pay for return shipping before the package is dispatched, make clarifications on how the seller will reimburse you for the shipping costs.

It's quite entrancing that AliExpress has a provision for domestic returns. Sellers can use this as a recourse to deal with returns locally. This pioneering remedy works out for all buyers on the condition that the product they wish to return, is not used and wrapped up in the original packaging.

But wait. What do they mean by this?

Items that aren't sealed in the initial packaging can't be resold to another buyer thus making them unfit for the return policy.

Pros of buying on AliExpress

  • Has low priced products
  • Free shipping for most products
  • Safe payment methods
  • Effective buyer protection

And the Cons?

  • Products which come with free shipping might take a little longer to reach the buyer
  • Not all sellers accept PayPal
  • Some sellers might take a couple of days before they dispatch your order to the carrier companies.

Wrapping Up

In an ostensible way, AliExpress makes your online shopping experience facile and effortless. It's a cool website with amazing deals which are not only cheap and cheerful but of high-caliber.

Buying a product from AliExpress is extremely easy. All you need is to take note of all the hacks we've discussed above. Arm yourself with the most applicable payment solution, do some digging about the seller's track record, and you're good to go.

Objectively speaking, the buyer needs to just do the bare minimum. AliExpress runs in the most unexacting manner by letting the buyer get hold of needful information before making a purchase. You can never go wrong with AiExpress so long as you're no stranger to the product description, the seller's rating(positive feedback), and you're dealing with a firm shipping method.

If things go south, you can raise a dispute and seek all the available remedies with the help of the AliExpress support team. Likewise, AliExpress makes it elementary to do business as far as listing your products on its page or dropshipping is concerned.

All things considered, there's no room for a buyer to develop any skepticism towards purchasing items from AliExpress. Despite the prevalence of its rivals, it's still a sturdy and reliable ecommerce website at the moment.

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