Some Tips/Suggestions for Buying from AliExpress

I've made over 400 purchases from aliexpress over the last few years and thought I'd share some methods I've picked up.

Aliexpress is similar to amazon in that it is a "shopping centre" which allows sellers to have a platform for selling their goods. Sellers are mostly from China but can be from anywhere in the world (there are Australian sellers on Aliexpress).

Aliexpress can be an excellent source of goods and products as well as finding manufacturers for particular items (a few months ago I was looking at importing a container of tractor tyres). Goods can be bought individually or in-bulk. - do you need 1000 microsd card adapters? With low manufacturing costs it is undeniable that China produces a lot of goods. Also China has a population of over 1 Billion people so it is a "global economy" within it's own borders. A huge internal market place that can support it's own industry. unlike "little" Australia in so many industries.

Finding the lowest price the method to obtain best results on aliexpress is to search for the item you want. Open up a few tabs with the desired item and then scroll down the page to "From Other Sellers" and scroll through those. find the few cheapest price there and then search again in those products in "From Other Sellers" for an even cheaper product.

Aliexpress search and "sort by price low to high" doesn't always show the lowest (rarely)

find the cheapest but make sure the seller has good feedback. obviously sometimes new sellers offer a low price and they could be legit and starting out so it may be worth the risk. alipay buyer protection is pretty good. Also check below about coupons.

Aliexpress use to have (up until about 6 months ago) "search by number of items" and "search by price per piece". these were great. if you wanted 10 of something then you could search for number of items between 9 - 11 and then sort by price per piece to find the best price (as well as searching "from other sellers".

using the aliexpress mobile site m.aliexpress.com this is the mobile site. sometimes prices are cheaper on this site than the www site. both work together in terms of you can have your shopping cart loaded and the same will show up on each site and then you can compare prices to see if the m.site is cheaper.

vouchers/coupons there seems to be 2 types of coupons available. Aliexpress or Seller vouchers. Sometimes aliexpress has special deals to entice new users such as this $5 off a $20+ order for new users. Sometimes sellers have their own specials/couponswhich you have to look at the actual product page to see (if there is one there) such as this seller who offers $1 off for every $7. again you need to compare and look at other items & sellers. So if you're looking for a particular item then open multiple windows of that item from different sellers and look for any that may offer a coupon.

bulk discounts some stores offer offer bulk discounts. small bulk - I recently bought some XXXXX. 1 was $5 delivered, with 2 the price went to $4.85 each, 3 - $4.60, 4 - $4.45. at 5 the price stayed at $4:45 but then shipping kicked in (size of package). I need 10 so I made 3 seperate orders to maximise the discount.
large bulk - if you're buying, say, 100 of something -e.g. micro usb cables (not 100 paper clips) then look for the bulk sellers. again, there used to be a quantity search facility but that has long gone. :( There is also alibaba which is more of a wholesale/bulk marketplace where you can source larger quantities.

finding items i've bought some PCBs from aliexpress - e.g. LCD video driver board. sometimes the PCB board number is enough to yield results. however (especially for OS models) it is necessary to do a bit of googling. This may involves searching using the TV model, which may yield alternative model numbers for the same device. PCBs may be listed under the alternative boards. Also searching suppliers (e.g. PCB board/spare parts shops on line) to find the board which may have an alternate model/part number - then search on aliexpress using that. sometimes checking out forums provides leads for alternate parts that can fit.

payment on aliexpress - I've seen many comments on ozbargain stating something like "i won't use aliexpress because they don't use paypal and I don't trust this chinese site". Aliexpress has its own eschrow service -alipay. Aliexpress and Alipay are part of the Alibaba group. this consortium is huge. Alibaba is larger than amazon. This is not some third rate site. It's a behemoth. Always use a foreign transaction friendly card like 28degrees, citibank or bankwest silver(?) - which attract no foreign conversion fees. I've been using the same card all these years and have never had a problem with CC security.

aliexpress disputes when received sometimes the item isn't at all what was advertised, or arrives broken or unfit for use, or you haven't received it. and you're not happy. fair enough. Just like ebay/paypal there is a dispute resolution service. this can be found on your order page.next to the item - "open dispute". Always provide a screen shot or detailed photo of the issue. or for non-receipt , simply state item hasn't been received. Out of all of my 400+ orders I have probably raised 8 disputes - 4 were fake microsd cards(yeah, it took me a while), 3 for non-reciept of goods and 1 for broken item. In all cases I received my money back.

clothing Generally chinese sizing is smaller. always read the sizing charts in the description very carefully. I once bought some XXL shorts (I'm L in Aus) thinking they should be ok. but they were still too small. re-reading the sizing chart I realised my own stupidity for not reading it correctly. Also check feedback and see what other people have stated about sizes. I generally don't buy too much adult clothing on aliexpress. but kids stuff can be good and inexpensive. especially as kids grow out of and/or ruin their clothing pretty quickly.

things to not buy on aliexpress There are probably many things not to buy from aliexpress for various reasons e.g. pirated goods, fake goods, just plain crap quality, etc. amongst the things I would never buy are memory cards, ram and storage. All of these can be obtained from ebay or locally (via a deal) or from a reputable online service (e.g. Amazon, mymemory, etc) - this is certainly not to say that fakes don't pop up on those sites - especially ebay. My own experience has been "if it looks to good then it probably is fake" - especially with microsd cards. just don't waste your time (i have always had my money refunded via alipay after providing screen dumps of H2Testw results). Mobile phones are also often misrepresented - always check the seller feedback (have they sold a lot of them and had feedback that reflects quality? or have they only sold knitting needles and have just selling mobile phones —- hmmmm, avoid, or is every 10th feedback neutral or negative? sometimes it pays to check out the negative feedback of the seller. many buyers, for example, will buy a super cheap MicroSD and then put it in there phone which will recognise it as e.g. 128gb, and then they will post a review stating "item as described, excellent" or similar. however some people will test the card with H2Testw to find it's true specs. they (the informed) will then post negative or neutral feedback with solid evidence of poor quality or fake goods - or if legit then they will state that H2Testw had varified the validity of the item (all good! - but still do your own checks)

super deals everyday at 5pm aliexpress lists about 70 "super deals". these are meant to be great deals. sometimes a particular item is the cheapest, however more often than not there are cheaper alternatives. - again search "from other sellers".

flash deals found on the mobile site. they go for an hour, every hour. usually about 8 items. Again, not always the cheapest but sometimes they are the cheapest. - again search "from other sellers".

is aliexpress the cheapest? Mostly but not always. When using aliexpress, like with any site, it pays to compare alternate sources/suppliers. recently I bought a samsung TV replacement remote control. I thought I did well finding it for US$3.11 delivered. - received the remote and it worked perfectly with my Gen4 32" TV. I was looking at everbuying and they had the same remote for US$2.65 (using discount code, mobile site and EB point redemption). sure only US$0.46 cheaper but this is Ozbargain. And as said above - memory cards, ram and HDD/SSD storage can usually be found cheaper on ebay (during a sale) or other supplier.

stuff that I regularly buy on Aliexpress - there are 4 people with long hair in my house. so hair ties are always in demand. i usually buy a pack of 100 for US$3.50 every 6 months. the kids delight in losing them. Stuff that I sell on ebay - I make nice pocket money buying stuff cheap on aliexpress in bulk and then flogging it for 200% profit on ebay or gumtree. It's about finding the right product, sourcing it cheaply and knowing what the best price you can get for it. For a while I did OTG cables. I'd get them for US$0.19cents each on aliexpress and then sell them on ebay for $9. after postage and fees I ended up with $7.50 profit. I'd sell 20 or so a month. it would take me 5 minutes to pack one (standard envelop and stamp) and walk to the post box. beer money.

Anywho, that's just some thoughts and tips based on my experience with Aliexpress.

Like every site, there are customers/users who have had negative experiences, I have had nothing but success with Aliexpress

Other people will have other methods for maximising the aliexpress experience, as well as tips for avoiding traps/mistakes.

feel free to leave any further advice/suggestions.

sorry for the long read. cheers

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Comments

  • I've recently discovered AliExpress and found purchases much cheaper than eBay. Thanks for the fantastic article!

  • Thank you, very informative. Cheers.

  • Thanks altomic

  • I might be doing it wrong but I find search function of Aliexpress a bit inefficient. Unless your enter from one of their catalogued keywords it wouldn't show you enough results. Most of the times I end up using Google to find results on Aliexpress. For example, i search on Google in this format "kitchen cabinet mount 12V slim LED lamp site:Aliexpress.com"

  • Great post. I agree with everything you said. I too have been buying a lot of low cost but high margin items from Aliexpress, mainly to avoid the high margins that local sellers charge. I find that generally, I don't go for the cheapest item, I usually pay a bit more to get it from the sellers that has more orders or has better feedback. This maybe against Ozb code, but I would rather not risk it to save 50 cents or $1.

    I also always check between Aliexpress and Ebay(select "Worldwide" item location), sometimes one is a lot cheaper than the other.

  • Another trick I've found, switch to "m.aliexpress.com" and it shows you the in-app prices too, so you can see if you can save a bit that way :)

  • Wow thanks for the write up.

    How do you find the shipping times compared to buying from a site like banggood or dealextreme? I feel like aliexpress takes two weeks longer, and buying from china via eBay is faster than aliexpress. But maybe I am confused?

    I also don't understand why something like a wiring harness for a car stereo can be so expensive. Even on aliexpress it was about 5 AUD but I thought a bit of wire and a plastic terminal should be more like $1.

    • +3 votes

      shipping times vary. I've had orders arrive in a week and then orders(only 2 or 3) arrive in 8 weeks.

      much the same as BG, DX, everbuying, focalprice, etc.

  • Nice thanks alot buddy, for the time and effort to help us out.

  • +9 votes

    Wow - love the effort altomic.

    You've inspired me. Here are my tips:

    1 - Check deals 'sorted by cheapest' and 'free shipping' daily - here's my shortcut list http://imgur.com/a/oVSRX

    2 - Prices fluctuate daily. Set a price you'd be happy to pay and then use this as a bookmark title (see above)

    3 - Don't forget to go through CR for additional 7% off. CR have been very reliable for me if i close all other tabs, log out and make 100% sure I don't deviate from the CR link. https://www.cashrewards.com.au/search/aliexpress

    4 - Take pics of each item when it has been delivered. this way you can use 'Refunds & Disputes' properly. AliExpress will look after you if you jump all hoops.

    5 - Here is a list of bookmarks i use and check at least 2 x daily:

    Captain America sorted by cheapest http://www.aliexpress.com/wholesale?minPrice=&maxPrice=&isBi...

    Spiderman sorted by cheapest http://www.aliexpress.com/af/spiderman.html?ltype=wholesale&...

    Batman sorted by cheapest http://www.aliexpress.com/af/batman.html?ltype=wholesale&d=y...

    Latex Masks between $5 and $10
    http://www.aliexpress.com/af/scary-latex-mask.html?ltype=who...

    Stickers sorted by cheapest
    http://www.aliexpress.com/af/sticker.html?ltype=wholesale&d=...

    6 - Use

    https://thieve.co/ to find the best deals
    reddit sites aliexpress finds

    7 - As spackbase alluded to - Use the m site tp get the best price. Use your 'Wishlist' to save and then access from the website and app/ visa versa!

  • thanks for excellant write-up OP :)

  • There are probably many things not to buy from aliexpress for various reasons e.g. pirated goods, fake goods, just plain crap quality, etc.

    Reminds me of the fake lego on Aliexpress. Surprisingly a lot of it is quite good.

  • Nice writeup mate.

  • A great post, thank you! I placed my first order just two days ago to try them out.

  • Great read altomic. An honest and genuinely informative read great sharing! we neee more people like you who are keen to help others!

  • Thanks, I've recently purchased a few things from aliexpress and will be back for more.

  • Thanks for the write up, I've found that there are better prices and much more variety for some items (rewritable RFID tags, for instance) than pretty much anywhere else. The robo-translated reviews can be a little hard to decipher.

  • I purchase a top of the line Lenovo mobile phone from Aliexpress and it was deliver within 1 week as I paid extra for delivery. A great buy. Just dont go for the cheapest seller but go for one with good feedback or supplier store.

  • Thanks Altomic for the great write up for us newbies to AE. Can anyone recommend any sellers to buy mobile phones from? . Any sellers that should be avoided? Thanks heaps :)

  •  

    Update:

    2 important things/extensions for Chrome/or apps-
    (A) Aliexpres Price assistant - Price Tracker - an awesome app for tracking the pricing of items. Check to see if that bargain that is advertised as 25% off is actually cheaper. Check out the website

    (B) AliBonus - a 10% cash back service for aliexpress which now offers withdrawal of funds via Paypal. Originally set up for Russians and only allowed withdrawals to Russian financial institutions and services, it now has a fully english site and you can utilise paypal. Check out the website

    • First cheers for all the info boss! Tell me is this Alibonus better than CR? Alibonus is "up to" 10%. Also have you been payed from them yet?

      • +1 vote

        I did my first withdrawal/pay out request yesterday afternoon. the site says it takes 24 hours to process. currently the request is pending.

        as for the 10% - that is the rate I'm on. I'm not sure why some times it is 7%. maybe it related to the number of orders made on aliexpress (I've made over 600)

  • How can you tell what the "Processing Time" or if they actually have stock before you order?

    Nothing worse than placing an order only to find out the next day that "Awaiting Shipment" is 10 days. This is on top of the long delay for postage.

    •  

      Ive had one order with a 3 week processing time, maybe 4 with just over a week. The processing time is usually pretty good. I've cancelled a couple of orders where processing time was too long. Buying from aliexpress - if it's expensive with express shipping then its usually fast. For inexpensive items - I usually purchase and then forget until it arrives <—- especially as postage can be 3 - 6 weeks

  • Hi, I just saw this thread and am wondering if anyone has a similar great review and tips for buying from AliBaba? They seem to be similar to AliExpress but sell in greater quantity.

    Also, would the Cash Rewards that apply to AliExpress also apply to AliBaba since they are somehow related companies? Just wondering :)

    Cheers

    Pookie

    •  

      alibaba and aliexpress are part of the the Ali group (as is alipay). alibaba is more of a wholesale/direct to the manufacturer/bulk market place.

      I've had 800+ transactions on aliexpress. none on alibaba.

      alibaba seems a bit more fiddly - i.e. contact the seller for a quote based on quantity

      cashrewards doesn't seem to apply to alibaba.

      neither does megabonus (similar to cashrewards but Russian)

      • Oh. Ok. Thanks. I want to buy some items in bulk/wholesale quantities. Alibaba seems the way I need to go. AliExpress only has smaller quantities as you say.

        Anyway, cheers for the info.

        Pookie

        •  

          you can find larger quantities on aliepxress. Aliexpress used to have a "Quantity search" which was fantastic, as well as a "search by price per unit". but unfortunately both those functions were removed about 3 years. it just means you have to trawl through the listings to where you can see multiple quantities..

          sometimes I have found it cheaper to make 20 individual orders of the same item rather than a single order of 20 items. this is due to shipping costs get added often when you buy over a certain quantity.

          if you want a hand searching for stuff then feel free to PM. cheers

        • @altomic:

          OK, thanks for the tip. I will check it out and if I run into grief I will PM you.

          Thank you, much appreciated :)

          Pookie

  • I see you can choose USD or AUD. Has anybody looked into whether AE converts currency or if the seller sets their own prices for each individual currency.

    eg. Is it cheaper to buy in USD?

  • My hint: When you have a list of search items to compare, try "Sort By: Orders" I find that the best value items have been ordered the most frequently - more or less. (Its a good start to find the best item).

    Also, orders tend to turn up weeks later - the same as ebay - and I find it really useful to follow the Aliexpress method of checking the tracking number, then under "Orders" press "Confirm Goods Received" - you have to be sure the delivery is all correct first. This pays the merchant straight away, and takes the item away from your "To Be Delivered" list - it means you know what has and has not arrived, and you can claim for stuff that plain gets lost in transit, because it stays in your "To Be Delivered" list forever.

    I got into the habit of messaging each supplier, just to say "Received Screwdriver, Thanks" - this is just my quirk - I say it in a store, so why not online - but I noticed every single supplier messages me back. I think that is part of the system - suppliers are perhaps required to respond to messages. It sure helps to know every time you have a problem and send a message, you will get some sort of response.

    My suggestion is only buy light weight items on Aliexpress - they can be reasonably priced. I mostly buy electronic components, I have made over 1000 small purchases over the years… !

  • I just joined AliExpress, so here is a little more information.

    On signup, I received a US$3 coupon to use on purchases larger than US$5. The coupon was added to my account, you can view "My Coupons" when logged in. From memory, it said the coupon expired in about 3 weeks. This was automatically applied on my first purchase, but I saw a warning that if I entered a coupon code, it would use that and NOT apply the US$3 coupon. Can't stack coupons.

    For signup, I had to give an email address, and create a password. The "My Account" page referred to me as "Au". I couldn't see how to update this information or add a shipping address.

    I did my first purchase, and the US$3 coupon was automatically applied. During the checkout process, it asked me for a shipping address including name and +61 phone number, and a payment method. The payment method initially showed three pictures including a Paypal picture, but as soon as I had entered my address, two of the pictures disappeared, leaving only an "Enter your credit card" option. Was charged in US dollars, so don't forget to use one of the better credit cards with no overseas purchase fee and no money conversion fee.