Key Points:

  • Everyone is free to buy from AliExpress, except native, mainland citizens of China who are required to shop on a different marketplace
  • All orders on AliExpress have automatically given buyers protection and are eligible to be disputed
  • AliExpress protects customers with a refund program

AliExpress, a subdivision of the Alibaba Group, has grown to become one of the largest eCommerce marketplaces in the world since its launch in 2010. Like Alibaba, the B2B wholesaler, AliExpress is known for selling inexpensive goods. However, like any commerce platform, the majority of sellers are reputable, but there are always some sellers trying to make a quick buck on innocent, unsuspecting buyers.

With that in mind, it helps to learn to take proper precautions for safe buying from AliExpress, to avoid getting scammed with poor quality merchandise and lose your money. This article will help you understand what the platform is, how it works, and provide you with tips to keep scammers at bay and stay safe buying!

Table of Contents

What is AliExpress?

AliExpress is a B2C online-only company that sells products that are mainly made in China to customers around the world. Designed primarily with the consumers in mind, the online marketplace serves as the retail arm of Alibaba.

Whereas Alibaba is a B2B wholesale platform, AliExpress is a marketplace where small businesses and companies in China sell products directly to consumers.

How Does AliExpress Work?

AliExpress works pretty much like eBay. The platform doesn't produce its own products. Instead, it allows independent small businesses and factories in China to list and sell merchandise directly to individual customers worldwide.

Products are sold “as is,” meaning that you cannot customize or private label goods. Unlike Alibaba, where products have minimum order thresholds, AliExpress doesn't have minimum order quantities. You can even purchase single-unit quantities of whatever you like.

Products are sold and bought as shown on the product listing, much like with any other eCommerce site. You cannot request for a free sample to inspect the quality of goods. Perhaps the most attractive feature is that products are available in almost any category at significantly lower prices than any other retailer in the world.

Is AliExpress Safe?

On AliExpress, items are sold as shown on the product listing. Buyers solely rely on a few photos and the product description to gauge the quality of items. Some unsavory sellers may take advantage of that system to scam customers with poor-quality items that don’t match up to the photos.

To that end, Aliexpress offer a buyer protection program to help keep the bad guys at bay and mitigate the risk of monetary loss for the customer. Here’s how they help keep customers safe:

  • A full refund if the order doesn't arrive. Customers can apply for a full refund if an order doesn't show up or is delayed beyond the seller's estimated delivery time frame. If the refund is approved, customers will receive money back within 15 days
  • A partial refund or full refund for inaccurate listings. If the product is not as described in the product listing or is not delivered as promised, two choices are presented. Customers can either return it for a full refund, or keep it and receive a partial refund

Here is how the buyer protection program works and why customers should take advantage of it to stay safe buying.

  1. First, contact the seller to see whether the issue can be resolved informally
  2. If the issue cannot be resolved informally, the buyer should contact AliExpress support to report any issues with the order. The seller will be notified and give an additional opportunity to rectify the mistake
  3. If the seller remains adamant, the buyer can initiate open a dispute ticket with AliExpress
  4. If the seller goes silent and doesn't respond to the dispute, the platform will offer the customer a full refund
  5. If the seller responds, a representative from AliExpress will act as a mediator between the buyer  and seller, analyze your claim, and make a ruling
  6. If the dispute is resolved in the buyer’s favor, the purchase will be refunded in 15 days

Their money-back guarantee protects customers from getting ripped off or receiving poor-quality goods that don’t match up to the advertisement. Although there may be some back and forth with the seller during the dispute resolution period that can drag on, for the most part, buyers are safely protected.

is aliexpress safe, tips to avoid scams and stay safe

Who Can Buy From AliExpress?

Everyone is free to buy from AliExpress, except native, mainland citizens of China who are required to shop on a different marketplace. In terms of quantity, there is no limit on either end. That means anyone  — individuals and businesses — can buy goods in small and large quantities of their choice on the platform.

Buying from AliExpress is a simple and straightforward process. Here is how to do it safely:

  • First, hit the sign up button to create and verify an account
  • Next, browse the site to look for desirable products
  • Compare products and prices from different sellers to find the best deal
  • Do research, including reading reviews to see what past customers say about the items and seller
  • Add items of your choice to the cart and hit the checkout button when you are done
  • Fill out your Paypal, Credit card, or billing information and your shipping details to complete the purchase

Pros & Cons of Buying From AliExpress

Buying from AliExpress has its share of pros and cons. Let’s take a closer look at them.

Pros of buying from AliExpress:

  • Affordable prices. Lower than you can find anywhere else
  • No minimum order quantity requirements, hence lower initial cost
  • Excellent buyer protection program, leading to decreased chances of getting scammed
  • One-stop shopping platform with a huge number of sellers and products

Cons of buying from AliExpress:

  • Products are bought "as-is," hence hard to customize or add a private label
  • Very little quality control, as anyone in China can sell
  • Actual products may differ from products listing on the website

6 Tips for Making Safe Purchases and Avoiding Scams

Although AliExpress protects customers with a rock-solid refund program, there are always extra things customers  can look out for to stay safe when buying and avoid scams outright. After all, the dispute resolution process takes time. And if you’re turning to AliExpress to fulfill needs for your own eCommerce business, that could ultimately inconvenience you and your customers.

Here are some that will help assure safe buying on AliExpress.  

  1. Buy from reputable sellers: Seller reviews and ratings are an easy way to gauge how trustworthy a seller is. To search these, look through the feedback tab and check the number of positive reviews and ratings a seller has. Genuine, reputable sellers have many positive reviews from satisfied customers and a rating of 4 or higher.
  2. Number of orders shipped: Seek out sellers who’ve shipped many orders successfully. The more sales completed, the less likely problems are.
  3. Seller guarantees: Look through the Seller Guarantees tab to see whether the seller commits buyer-friendly guides. Examples of this are offers like on-time delivery, returns and refunds, domestic return, and guaranteeing the authenticity of big-ticket electronics.
  4. Make payment through AliExpress: When buying from AliExpress, never send money directly to a seller’s bank account. Doing so makes buyers vulnerable to fraud, as they will no longer be covered by AliExpress's seller protection policies. To maintain protection, always make purchases on the AliExpress platform.
  5. Don't be quick to confirm delivery: Never rush to confirm delivery before you actually receive and inspect the goods for problems.
  6. Shy away from irresistible deals: Although AliExpress is known for its eye-catching prices, don’t expect to nab the latest iPhone smartphone for $10. You may head up receiving an iPhone case instead.

What About Shipping?

Most of the time, products purchased from AliExpress are shipped from China, except on rare occasions where items can be shipped from a local store or warehouse in the buyer's country.

The platform provides different shipping options to choose from. Shipping costs will vary based on your location and delivery speed, with the faster delivery options coming at higher rates.

It can take as long as 2 months, or as short as 2 weeks to receive an order based on location and the shipping speed selected. But, generally speaking, internationally shipping merchandise from China takes some time.

Easyship offers you a network of over 250 affordable shipping services, some of which ship to China. Plus, we work with you so the rough waters of international shipping feels more like smooth sailing. Plus, Easyship offers a whole suite of other shipping tools to help streamline your businesses shipping experience and stay ahead of the curve.

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Aliexpress FAQ

How many countries does AliExpress ship to?

AliExpress is an international marketplace that offers products to international online buyers, and ships products across the globe.

Where is AliExpress Based?

AliExpress is a retail eCommerce marketplace based in China. It is owned by the larger Alibaba Group. AliExpress ships worldwide.

How do I contact AliExpress?

To raise an issue with an order to AliExpress, you can open a dispute under the “My Orders” tab. All orders are automatically given buyers protection and are eligible to be disputed. There are two different kinds of disputes: if you haven’t received an order or if there is an issue with the goods. The window to open a dispute begins 11 days after the item is sent and ends 15 days after it has been delivered.  They also offer an online chat service within their help center.