AliBaba is the pinnacle of B2B ecommerce. AliExpress is its consumer market counterpart, where thousands of retailers sell goods in small quantities. Whether you’re an end user of products, a retailer, or a drop-shipping business, it should be noted there are some potential risks in buying from AliExpress.
From the unpredictable quality of the products to issues such as wrong product shipping, defective goods, etc. – you may face some problems. However, it has to be underscored that AliExpress is also your window to the world of Chinese product markets. To make your customer experience as safe as possible, we have put together a list of common mistakes to avoid while you are shopping on AliExpress.
Mistake #1 – Acknowledging goods acceptance before actual receipt
To close a transaction on AliExpress, you need to confirm the acceptance of goods by clicking suitable buttons. You will also get email alerts requesting you to ‘confirm’ if you accept the product. Clicking the button to confirm this, even if that’s by a mistake, means that you lose the option of opening a dispute on the items. Unscrupulous sellers are known to coax shoppers into confirming acceptance by promising replacement/refunds off the platform. Never accept such offers.
Mistake #2 – Buying from any seller
Considering you’re placing your orders from another country, you’ want the maximum confidence and convenience throughout the shipping, receipt, and acceptance (or refunds) process. The key to this is – research the seller’s background before placing orders.
AliExpress offers several data points to help you make sense of a seller’s profile. The ‘Feedback’ page, for instance, showcases average feedback received by the seller in the past few months, the total feedback score till date, the duration for which the seller has been active on AliExpress, etc.
Further, down the page, you will see the seller rating bifurcated into subheads such as ‘shipping speed’, ‘communication’, and ‘item as described’. We also recommend that you check the feedback received by the seller on the product you’re about to purchase.
Mistake #3 – Not paying heed to seller guarantees
Everyone realizes that ecommerce on AliExpress comes with a degree of uncertainty. Genuine sellers want to do their best to eliminate this uncertainty, and AliExpress lets them do so via different kinds of guarantees that they can offer. Of course, higher the product value, more guarantees you should seek. ‘Guarantees’ are on products, and not implicitly extended on a seller’s entire catalog, so check carefully for the item you’re about to purchase.
The four kinds of guarantees are:
- On-time delivery – Full refund if item doesn’t arrive by promised time (you can track your parcel via online services, like pkge.net)
- Returns and refunds – Full refund if the item is not as described
- Domestic returns – Product can be returned to seller’s warehouse in your country, without issues such as high shipping costs, custom fees, etc.
- Guaranteed Genuine – Implies the item has been verified as genuine by AliExpress (must-have for pricey electronics items)
Mistake #4: Paying a seller outside AliExpress
If you are a regular shopper on AliExpress, chances are you’ve received offers of discounts on items, subject to the payment being made directly to the seller’s bank account. Make it a thumb-rule to never agree to such offers. The moment you take a transaction outside the ambit of AliExpress, you give up every protection offered under the comprehensive Buyer Protection program of AliExpress. Think of it this way – the few dollars you could save per transaction will be nullified with a single fraud you fall for. And sooner or later, if you remain unprotected, it will happen.
Mistake #5: Falling for price bait
Some unscrupulous sellers try to misuse the idea of ‘inexpensive’ by misrepresenting products on AliExpress. For instance, you could find a $5000 high-end luxury watch listed at a hundred odd US dollar. Even though you could always return the product if it proves to be unlike what it’s described as – the question to ask yourself is – why subject yourself to so much frustration?
Instead, make it a point to always disbelieve product listings that pretend to sell super-expensive products at dirt-cheap rates. They seem too good to be true, and that’s precisely what they are. At best, AliExpress is your channel to buy decent products at fairly inexpensive prices. Don’t expect any miraculous purchases; all those ‘iPhone for $100’ stories are untrue.
Mistake #6: Buying without reading item descriptions
That’s among the worse mistakes, and almost guaranteed to cause frustration. You’ll find all kinds of products on AliExpress – original, unused, mildly used and refurbished, replica, and knock-offs. The Buyer Protection program covers you if you receive an item other than what you purchased. However, you ideally want to avoid disputes where the ‘item description’ eventually tips the case in favor of an unscrupulous seller. Several sellers go the extra mile to make product descriptions comprehensive. So expect to be told of all necessary product details in the item description. If you’re in doubt, leave a message for the seller before you purchase.
Mistake #7 – Confirming product acceptance without using it
So, you received your much awaited smartwatch from AliExpress, and excitedly confirmed the product receipt. 2 days later, if the watch breaks down, and you realize that’s it a knock off of a the branded product you thought you’d bought, you’re doomed.
Don’t do this mistake; wait for at least 2-3 days (during which you should use the product) before confirming receipt. You’ll realize that getting help from sellers is super seamless as long as the confirmation is kept pending from your side. On the contrary, you’re at their discretion if you confirm receipt, and encounter product defects after that.
Mistake #8 – Waiting too long before opening a dispute
AliExpress has laid out a comprehensive and effective dispute handling mechanism. In your turn, you need to understand it, and abide by its guidelines to remain protected. If you’re unhappy with your purchase, you can raise a formal request with the seller for refund, within 15 days of order completion. This engages the seller to try to resolve the dispute in a reasonable manner. If the efforts of the seller to offer a resolution seem insufficient, you can escalate to AliExpress by opening a formal dispute ticket, and let their team navigate you through the rest of the process.
Mistake #9 – Not Collecting or Recording Evidence
If you unfortunately have to open a dispute case with a seller, you’d do yourself a world of good by keeping comprehensive records of all interactions with the seller, taking videos and photos of the damaged product, and retaining the packaging and product declarations you received with the packaging. If the dispute is related to collection of the product from customs office, keep copies of all the documentation you do as a part of the process. Even the presence of comprehensive proof can tip the balance of the dispute case in your favor. Blind trust in the seller will only haunt you in the long term, so focus on evidence, till the time you need it, of course.
Is AliExpress safe for shopping?
Absolutely, it’s probably as safe as Amazon or eBay. As long as you don’t commit these common mistakes, you will enjoy your shopping experience on AliExpress.