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Dropshippers love it, it’s the source of product for many many companies, and it seems a little too good to be true. This leads many individuals to ask – Is AliExpress legit?
It’s not uncommon to hear stories of people being scammed online. Not the ‘Nigerian Prince’ kind of scam. But buying something, and receiving something completely different.
Most AliExpress sellers are based in China, and that part of the world isn’t known for its superior quality (not yet at least, however things are changing). Not to mention the incredible ’Chinglish’ in some product descriptions.
These things, along with many others, combine to make buyers quite hesitant of AliExpress from time to time.
But let’s take a closer look at AliExpress to see if it is indeed legit.
In this article, we will discuss:
What is AliExpress?
How does AliExpress work?
Is AliExpress Legit?
So let’s now take a dive into the world of AliExpress and Chinese eCommerce!
What is AliExpress?
If you’re not overly familiar with AliExpress, here’s a quick version:
AliExpress is a marketplace like Amazon or eBay, where vendors list their products to sell.
Products range from camping gear to household furniture and everything in between.
Now for the long version.
It was founded in 2009 and offers products to buyers directly from the manufacturer.
The Alibaba Group is a multi-billion dollar company that offers a wide range of products and services:
Business to Business (B2B) transactions
Business to Consumer (B2C) transactions
Consumer to Consumer (C2C) transactions
The Alibaba Group is a company aimed and bringing Chinese manufacturing to the world. It is, in a way, aimed to take on Amazon and eBay.
But perhaps it’s unfair to compare it to Amazon.
AliExpress sellers simply use the platform to sell and remain independent, just like eBay.
AliExpress.com is a branch of Alibaba.com.
Truth be told, when you sign up for one, you sign up for the other. You can get a better idea of what AliExpress is by comparing it to its parent company.
What’s the difference between AliExpress and Alibaba?
The main difference between the two is the way that you pay and the way your supplier gets paid.
Alibaba uses Western Union. The seller is paid in full at the point of sale. The seller is then responsible for sending the product(s) to the buyer.
This resulted in a lot of scams and ultimately gave the Alibaba name a bad reputation. It didn’t take long for the founders to find a solution, and that solution was AliExpress.
With AliExpress, your payment is held in escrow until you have received your product.
In simple terms?
You pay for your product, AliExpress hold on to your money until you receive your purchase and only then are funds released to the seller.
This has helped improve the name of AliExpress in the wider world of ecommerce and turn it into a safer, reliable and legit way to do business.
Other difference between AliExpress and Alibaba?
Alibaba has a minimum purchase amount – you need to buy in bulk. AliExpress has a bulk or individual option
AliExpress offers fast shipping via air. Alibaba only offers to ship by boat.
Alibaba has manufacturers and suppliers from around the world. AliExpress is solely Chinese suppliers and manufacturers.
You’ll find it difficult to buy just 1x digital photo frame from Alibaba – instead, you’ll need to commit to buying at least 50 or so.
We’ll discuss that below!
How does AliExpress work?
When you buy on Alibaba, most of the time you are buying bulk. This is because Alibaba found a huge amount of success supplying products to retailers in the Western world.
Retailers buy large numbers of product from Alibaba and have it shipped to them, where they then on-sell this product in stores and/or online.
Since the creation of AliExpress, the platform has become more attractive to drop shippers.
Dropshippers use AliExpress to as the source of their items. drop shippers can use On Shopify, Oberlo to tap into the vast AE catalogue with ease.
A buyer places an order in a drop shippers store, and then that product is sent directly from the manufacturer's factory to the buyer.
So this is all great, but the question still stands:
Is AliExpress Legit?
Is AliExpress a real website? Absolutely.
Can you actually buy products from there? For sure.
Do you get the actual product that you buy? In 99.99% of cases, yes.
The escrow system has really helped AliExpress improve its reliability.
But like most online marketplaces, there is still a risk of fraud and being ripped off.
But don’t panic just yet, that same threat exists on industry mammoths like eBay, Amazon, and Etsy.
The main difference between those 3 marketplaces and AliExpress is that you’re dealing with American companies that put the buyer first.
Now, I’m not saying AliExpress doesn’t do that…
…it’s much more time consuming and expensive to send back 600 power banks to Wisconsin than it is to Beijing.
One of the biggest problems that AliExpress and AliExpress buyers face is the quality of the product. There are no quality control procedures and regulations in place.
This has resulted in many buyers receiving a product that simply is not of a high enough quality to sell on to a consumer.
How do you solve a problem like this?
Is AliExpress legit? – Staying safe.
By buying from reliable companies with a proven track record of providing quality and satisfying customers.
One way you can check this out is by using a Chrome Extension like Factory Confirm.
Factory Confirm is an extension that scans the data of an AliExpress seller to check and test their credibility. It looks over feedback, the number of orders, the frequency of orders and other data to confirm it’s reliability.
There are a few other ways you can spot a dodgy retailer on AliExpress.
Their product photography is inconsistent – It’s a good practice for anyone in e-commerce to use high-quality photos and multiple shots from all angles. But if your AliExpress supplier has photos of products that are slightly different, that means inconsistency.
Their descriptions are over the top and/or vague – If a seller is using fancy graphics and over the top design to wow you in their product description, they’re probably doing so for a reason
They’re based in Fijuan – That’s not to say that everyone from this area is a con artist, but there seem to be more suppliers that come out of this town that creates negative reviews than any other.
They offer a huge range of products – a jack of all trades but a master of none. Anyone trying to cater to please everyone is bound to fall short somewhere. Buy from a supplier that specializes in a small range of products.
They don’t respond to questions – of course, if you don’t get a response to your question within 3 days, that should set alarm bells ringing
They don’t list where they’re based – Factories close down after going bankrupt, only to open up again the next town over. Are these companies you want to do business with?
They claim they sell brand names – is a manufacturer from the Beirwangziang province really going to be selling Louis Vuitton and Nike products?
This drone can smash through windows – apparently.
The Alibaba group know that the people using their platform have security fears.
That's why they’ve made case studies about how scam artists operate and show what they do to stop these fraudsters.
AliExpress and their escrow service, AliPay, are legit, safe and secure platforms. They are as safe as any other payment gateway or online service anywhere else in the world.
In fact, AliExpress and AliPay have a better track record than many of its Western counterparts (here’s looking at you, eBay data breach).
Is AliExpress legit? – Conclusion
If you're still thinking ‘is AliExpress legit' then I'm not sure what else can be said!
AliExpress is safe if you’re careful. But that’s pretty typical of buying online anywhere.
If you don’t pay close attention to what you’re doing, you may very well get scammed.
If you’re planning to use AliExpress to source product for your new drop shipping company, take the time to do a deep dive and get to know the provider.
By doing this, use can be sure that you won’t get ripped off, and that your customers will receive a product that they are genuinely happy with.
What are your experiences dealing with AliExpress?
Let us know in the comments!