4 Tips for Shopping with AliExpress

AliExpress is my go-to shopping app when I need something that I either can’t source locally, or for when I’m trying to save a few dollars. I have the app on my phone and think just about every item you could possible need can be found there.

If you don’t already know, AliExpress is a Chinese based shopping website and app. It’s owned by the Alibaba Group and launched in 2010. It’s along the same lines as other apps like Wish, Amazon, and Ebay in that it’s a Marketplace made up of many different small businesses (sellers).

I first came across AliExpress when researching the world of dropshipping. I had a Shopify website with the Oberlo app and it was like a whole new world opened up to me! My time of dropshipping was short-lived but my love for browsing AliExpress continues.

There have been some hits and misses when it comes to orders. Over the past few years of ordering, I’ve learnt a couple of things that I’d love to share with you now.

Tips for shopping on AliExpress

#1 Reviews

ALWAYS read the reviews! The review set up for AliExpress is brilliant as not only does it show what country the reviewer is from, but it allows photos to be attached by the buyer.

If a seller doesn’t have any reviews then I will pass on that item as I prefer not to be the guinea pig. Likewise, if a seller only has one or two reviews and they are from buyers in China. I purposely look for products with reviews from buyers located around the world.

Why? Well this tells me a lot about how the product survives shipping. Buyers tend to include shipping times and packaging information as part of their review. Global reviews also give me an idea of quality as countries such as Australia or US may have higher manufacturing standards, and are used to a better quality product. If they think the item is satisfactory, then it’s good enough for me!

The occasional negative review is ok so long as the seller’s rating is still high. The positive reviews MUST outweigh the negatives!

#2 Shipping Options

ALWAYS choose wisely when it comes to shipping options. The beauty of AliExpress is that a lot of items have free shipping. However the downside is the shipping times. It’s not an app to shop if you’re after something in a hurry!

As a rule of thumb I almost always choose ePacket. This will usually cost a few extra dollars but I’ve never had an item lost in transit!

ePacket is trackable and also one of the faster shipping items. I’ve had items from AliExpress arrive faster than items ordered and shipped from within my own country!

The only orders that seem to take more than a month to ship are those orders where ePacket wasn’t available but I really wanted that item!

#3 Products

When selecting your items be aware that the rules and regulations in China may be different to those of your country – especially if you’re wanting to resell or dropship the item.

For example, China has pretty relaxed rules around copywrite and you’ll find all sorts of items on AliExpress with images that would normally be licensed. Offering an Avengers t-shirt, for example, in your dropshipping store could land you in some trouble so keep this in mind!

If you’re looking to purchase electronics or appliances, read the listing carefully. One thing to check is if it comes with a plug that’s compatible with your country’s sockets.

When looking at clothing, also be mindful of the fabric and embellishments used – especially in babies and kids apparel. Look for things like flame risk and choking hazards. This is vital if you’re reselling or dropshipping!

#4 Listings

We’ve all seen those funny images where someone thinks they’ve ordered a bargain dining room table, only to find they’ve ordered some doll house furniture.

Before you buy make sure you double check all the listing details.

Clothing sizes from Asian suppliers tend to be much smaller than our Western counterparts. For example, a recent purchase of a t-shirt fits my daughter perfectly. She’s a size 10 or Small, but the t-shirt ordered was labelled a 2XL! Always take notice of sizing charts and measurements.

I’ve also had a few orders where things like spelling mistakes and watermarks on graphics were completely overlooked by me.

A cushion cover that otherwise would have been perfect except for the graphic designer’s watermark printed faintly over the graphic (another example of how copyright isn’t really an issue for AliExpress sellers!).

When I looked back at the listing and really looked closely at the images, the watermark was there.

Another example is the t-shirt that reads ‘Hippie Sovl’ instead of ‘Hippie Soul’… it was right there in the product images that I’d simply overlooked!

And I can’t forget the gorgeous print of a surf Kombi that was actually printed mirrored! The number plate was backwards and I never noticed until I had the print in my hands. D’oh!

There are probably lots of other tips and tricks about shopping on AliExpress. But these 4 tips will get you on the way to shopping smart!

It’s always preferred to shop locally within our own region, and from small businesses within our own community. For myself, I tend to use AliExpress nowadays for craft supplies. So in my case I am the small business and AliExpress allows me to keep costs down – thus making it more affordable for my local buyers.

Are you an AliExpress shopper? I’d love to hear about your experiences! Please leave a comment below…

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