As far as online shopping goes, AliExpress has been a game changer. There’s nothing you can’t find on this online mega-store, which offers merchandise from sellers all over China. Over the last five or six years, I’ve ordered a lot of different products from this online platform, with varying degrees of success. At first, I tried ordering apparel items, but a few dresses, shawls and T-shirt’s later, realized it was hard to tell from the online images the quality and fitting of the actual piece when it arrived. And although AliExpress does offer a return policy, By the time you pay for the return of your package to China (return shipping costs are not included in the return policy, at least from Israel), you end up paying more than the item’s original cost. I later tried ordering electronics (USB cables, electronic adaptors, home decor (felt like hit or miss, some products we’re lovely and some were awful and cheaply made) and kitchen gadgets with varying degrees of success. Over time, I developed a systematic method for purchasing items on the site, and today most of the items I purchase (I buy nearly all my craft supplies on Ali) end up being pretty spot on, with very few surprises and disappointments. Therefore, I’d like to share a few tips that will help improve your overall shopping experience.
Tip number 1: New to shopping on AliExpress? You should read this.
Before purchasing anything on www.aliexpress.com, read the following guide published on the AliExpress blog https://alixblog.com/en/guide-aliexpress/. The information here is great for beginner shoppers! There’s also a Best AliExpress Sellers Guide that you may find useful.
Tip number 2: Hunting for a particular item? Overwhelmed by all the options on site? Here’s what I learnt about changing the AliExpress platform search filters.
Let’s say you’re looking to purchase a USB drive. If you search on AliExpress for USB drive, they’ll be endless options to choose from. What I like to do, is change the default filter option on the left side of the screen from “Best Match” to “Orders” and tick the “4 and up” stars option.
If you’re wondering why it’s important to choose these filter options, the reason is that the sale volume reflects the “attractiveness” of an item and its seller. When I first started purchasing items on AliExpress, I usually sorted the item list with the “Price” filter, choosing to purchase the least expensive item. After a while I realized this wasn’t a good method, because sellers who don’t have a large sales volume will often offer a slightly lower price on an item, but may take forever to deliver it (one of the seller’s didn’t even have the item in the inventory) or cause difficulties when wanting to return it. The bottom line is that the more customers ordered a certain item and gave it a 4+ review, the higher the chance that it will be a quality product that you’ll enjoy. Peer reviews are very important and informative on this platform, especially when reviewers add photographs of the purchased items. You’re better off paying $2-$3 dollars more, for the peace of mind that the product will meet its online description.
Decided on an item you like? Great. Just don’t forget to take a peek at the customer’s satisfaction from the store before you order. All you need to do is hover your mouse above the name of the store on the product page, and you’ll be able to see the seller ratings, plus how long the store has been opened on AliExpress. As a rule of thumb, I’d try and buy only from stores with a 4.5+ seller rating, which has been open for at least 6 months.
Tip number 3: Choosing the right shipping method for your needs.
When I first started ordering items from AliExpress, I wasn’t very selective in choosing a shipping method. I usually just went with the default option offered by the seller. All this changed when I discovered the option of epacket.
ePacket delivery is a shipping option offered by merchants in China and Hong Kong. It’s an agreement between the US Postal Service (USPS) and Hong Kong Post, allowing for faster delivery of products coming from China and Hong Kong to a number of different countries. You can use ePacket to send small packages weighing up to 2 kg (4.4 lbs) and a total value of $400. Some sellers offer ePacket delivery for free, but even when it’s not, you’ll be paying up to $3-$4 dollars more for a significantly faster delivery experience (here in Israel, some packages arrive within one week!). The longest I’ve had to wait for an ePacket to arrive has been about two weeks. It’s a great way to order from China, without having to wait 4-6 weeks for your packet to arrive with the traditional delivery options (such as China Post Registered Air Mail, China Post Ordinary Small Packet Plus, etc). ePacket packages can be tracked here.
I hope my experience’s help you with your future purchases…Happy shopping!