This article is going to revolve around how to buy in AliExpress, our objective is that this step by step in-depth guide will serve you as a useful reference point before you make any purchase in AliExpress. Today we will talk about how to find authentic brand products, how to identify a trustworthy / legit seller, the types of payments allowed in the Chinese platform, how safe are the payment methods, the importance of contacting sellers, AliExpress’ buyer protection plan, how to open and escalate disputes, how to file a claim etc… So, without further a do lets get right in to it.
What is AliExpress & how does it work?
AliExpress has become the worlds largest online store. The latest statistics show that the Chinese store is making 3 times more profit than Amazon and eBay together! Thus it doesn't come as a surprise that AliExpress is consolidating itself as the preferred shopping platform in many countries around the world. Millions and millions of people like you are making their first baby steps and trying for the first time in their lives the Chinese shopping experience. Of course, when trying something new, many doubts emerge especially with the bad wrap that the “made in China” brand has gained along the years. But worry not, we are here to help and show you that with the proper precautions AliExpress is a fantastic and cheap alternative to many other online stores :).
Having said this, we have to clear something out. AliExpress is not a store, it is basically a platform that connects millions of sellers and consumers. Amongst the numerous functions AliExpress partakes, the two main ones are controlling that the sellers are behaving / adhering to the stipulated rules, and the second protecting consumers if they encounter any problem with the platform or the seller. It is worth mentioning that AliExpress is extremely intolerable with vendors that do not follow rules. As a measure of encouraging good quality stores with excellent customer service, they will severely punish unethical stores by dropping their reputation drastically or by simply closing their store and banishing them from the AliExpress platform.
Identifying Trustworthy sellers in AliExpress
Now that you know how to find brands in AliExpress, the next step is to find a trustworthy seller. It is extremely important to find a seller with excellent quality products and a high reputation. To achieve this you must take in to consideration the following:
1 – The first thing is to look at the reputation that AliExpress has given the store. You will be able to find this in the top right part of the page. Here you will see either medals (good reputation), diamonds(very good reputation) or crowns (excellent reputation). When clicking on these you will be able to see the average scores out of five that the seller possesses, the categories are quite self explanatory “item as described”, “communication” and “shipping speed”. If the scores are above average they will be displayed in green, if they are below average in red. Needless to say, keep away from the red!
2 – The second aspect to take in to consideration when evaluating a seller are the reviews/ratings and comments posted by the consumers. This will give you a good idea about the quality of the product and the general satisfaction of the buyers. You will also get first hand accounts of shipping speeds, sizes (if they are a bit bigger or smaller than the seller announces), overall quality etc… We generally recommend you keep away from stores that have a rating below 90-92%.
3 – Finally, it is also very helpful to look at how many people have bought the product, or to put it in another way how many sales the store has generated. If there are a lot of sales and the reviews and ratings are positive (stars at the top of the product page), we can be pretty sure that we are dealing with a trustworthy seller.
4 – CONTACT THE SELLER – If you have any doubt (small as it may be) the best thing you can do is to directly contact the seller so he can resolve it. For example, we can ask him about the authenticity of the product, if the product that is going to be sent to your home has the logo placed correctly (we will talk about this shortly), you can ask him to send you pictures of the original product via private chat, ask him about sizing… sky is the limit. We cannot emphasize this enough, whenever you have a doubt, don’t be sacred to ask the seller, this way you'll avoid unpleasant surprises (not very frequent) when the package arrives home.
How to distinguish a replica / fake from an original brand in AliExpress?
More often than not when we are searching for products in AliExpress it is hard to distinguish a replica from an original product. This is probably because the replicas / fakes sold in AliExpress are pretty similar to originals. In all fairness, at the end of the day most of the branded products we buy are made in China.
Anyways, if you are trying to find a 100% original brand there are a few things that will help you out. The first is the price: if we see that a product in not that much cheaper than in a official store across the road, then we can take an educated guess and deduce that we are dealing with a original brand product (on the other hand replicas are way cheaper). The problem might occur when we are in front of a product that is priced half way between the original brand product and the replica. In this case we might be looking at a 100% authentic product for and amazing deal or an extremely good quality replica. In these cases we recommend taking the time to investigate the product and contacting the seller.
Another way to identify and original product is to look at the product description and see if it mentions the words “original”, “authentic” etc… If this is the case the seller is obliged to send you an authentic product as AliExpress is very strict on false descriptions and advertising that can mislead a buyer.
Finally, similar to the a fore mentioned is the “Guaranteed Genuine” badge you can find under a product description.
If you see this logo you can be sure that the product is 100% genuine. AliExpress is extremely strict with this. If a seller is not honest about this and has the stamp on his product, AliExpress will close down their store immediately (don’t worry when they close down a store you get your money back, and if you are lucky and the product has been sent you get to keep the product). Not only this, if you discover that the product is a fake, you will only have to contact AliExpress demonstrate that the product is false and you will get double the money you spent on the product back, and as mentioned, if you are luck you get to keep the product… WIN WIN WIN!
How to make a purchase / Payment Methods / Buyer protection
Two of the methods we described below offer Buyer protection (EVERYTHING IS EXPLAINED IN DETAIL HERE). This means that you are protected by AliExpress if anything happens with your order. When you order something, AliExpress retains the money until you have received the product and you are completely satisfied with it, only then will they release the money to the vendor. They basically act as an intermediary between you and the seller.
- Escrow / AliPay – Risk for buyer: None
The Escrow / AliPay method is very similar to PayPal. When you make a purchase the money is retained by a third party and will only release it once the buyer confirms his / her satisfaction with the product. Escrow is a very popular payment method in AliExpress as well as in general online purchases as it is a system that protects both the consumer and the seller. The only thing you need to do if you want to use this payment method is open an AliPay account and top the virtual card with the amount of money you want in the account. As mentioned, AliPay is a system created by AliExpress, thus you will have lots of guarantees.
- Card – Risk for buyer: None
Paying by card works the same as Escrow, but in this case your card will be associated with the purchase (unlike escrow which is a virtual card that is topped up occasionally). When you pay with card, AliExpress will also act as an intermediary and retain the money until you give the product the OK.
- Bank transfer – Risk for buyer: Medium
Before when you used a bank transfer, the money would go directly to the seller. This would mean that if something went wrong you would have to solve the problem directly with the seller with no aide from AliExpress. Since then AliExpress has changed the method and it works like both systems above. This means that you will be be covered by the buyer protection plan.
For more information on payment methods please click on the link and it will take you directly to AliExpress Payment Method Help Page.
Disputes and claims: what are they and how do they work?
Although a very rare occasion, the product you ordered might have a defect or is completely different to what the seller promised you. If this is the case you will be able to do two things. The first is to open a dispute with the seller, in this step AliExpress will not get involved. It will be up to you to reach an agreement with the seller; getting your money back (refund), if the seller is going to send you a new product for free etc… Usually, in 95% of the cases the problem is solved in this stage as seller do not want to AliExpress to get involved and put in to question their reputation.
Of course, in some cases you might be dealing with an impossible seller. If this is the case it is time to bring out the big guns, if after 3 days of opening a dispute the seller has not answered you with a convincing explanation or he is refusing to give you a refund you will file a claim: File an Official Claim. This is the way to let “big brother” AliExpress know what is going on so he can help us and protect us with the issue.
For more information on how to perform these tasks and the steps you will have to follow to present your case take a look at AliExpress Dispute & Refund Help Centre.
Our final thoughts
Well, here you have it! A complete guide / review on how to buy in AliExpress. All in all we consider that AliExpress is a excellent online store where one can find all sorts of quality products for very cheap prices. Of course, like in any online store, you must be cautions and take precautions when making a purchase. But we feel that if you follow this guide you will minimize almost to zero the risks that are associated with buying in these macro stores