What is AliExpress? How to buy goods on AliExpress?

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In the era of the Internet, online shopping is becoming more and more popular. Almost everyone knows shopping sites such as eBay or Amazon. But do you know the answer to the question ‘What is AliExpress?’. Some people certainly do, but the others do not know about this platform. In the following article we are going to answer this question and describe how this website works.

What is AliExpress then? Part 1

The answer is simple. It is a trade website where we can buy goods from China. It was created in 2010 and it is owned by Alibaba Group Holding Limited, the creator of a well-known platform – Alibaba.com, as well as other shopping sites with Chinese goods – Taobao.com and Tmall.com. According to data provided by Alexa in a ranking of the most popular websites in the world, AliExpress.com was ranked 53 (the data was last updated on May 18, 2018). Among trade portals, the following websites were ranked higher than AliExpress.com:

  1. Taobao.
  2. Amazon.
  3. Tmall.
  4. eBay.

AliExpress.com may be not as popular as Amazon or eBay, but it is certainly the most popular website that allows to buy goods directly from China. It is the most popular among Russian people, who keen on doing the online shopping by this website. The offer of AliExpress.com is targeted at individual clients who want to buy single items. Entrepreneurs also visit this website due to the fact that there are many traders offering their products in a relatively low price, what is appealing even to the importers. However, most of users are private individuals.

It has to be remembered that AliExpress.com is not a typical online shop which keeps all products in stock and sends them to its customers. This platform does not dispose any products or stocks. It allows traders to create their own online stores within the website and selling their products, just like eBay. As a result, a buying party makes the transaction with a Chinese trader, not with the AliExpress platform.

We have presented to our readers the general information about AliExpress. Now it is worth to describe the process of doing the shopping on this website.

What is AliExpress? Part 2: Buying products on the AliExpress website

AliExpress works in a similar way to other shopping websites. On the home page, we can search for products that we are interested in. The products are divided into categories, what makes the whole process easier. In addition, a ‘Bestselling’ tab presents the most popular products. Quite popular are products in a ‘FlashDeals’ tab. These are special offers that are different every day. It is sometimes possible to buy some product in much lower price than the average one and pay even 90% less. Of course, a lot of companies, on purpose, set much higher price of their products at the beginning in order to boast with their special offers afterwards. However, it is worth to visit this tab and compare the prices. Maybe, you will find interesting and very cheap products.

Searching products on the AliExpress home page

Writing the product name on a home page, we get the list of searched goods. We can make the search results more precise by:

  • specifying the precise specification of a product,
  • specifying the price (the minimal or maximal value or both) – AliExpress suggests us what the price range of the most often purchased products is,
  • sorting search results by most often purchased or the newest products, as well as by the suppliers with the highest notes,
  • choosing the free shipping option etc.

After narrowing search results down, we get the list of matched products. In the main window we can see the title, what allows us to make sure if it is certainly the product we are looking for. There are also photos of the product, the information about price and shipping, seller’s name, product’s note, as well as the number of goods sold by the particular seller. Sometimes it is hard to find the most suitable product because on AliExpress there are many suppliers and products as you know from the section ‘What is AliExpress? Part 1’.

Selecting the most suitable products on the AliExpress

When we find the product we are interested in, we enter its subpage in order to find out about the specification, delivery methods, opinions about the product and about its seller. It is also worth to check other products that the seller offers.

When we decide to buy the particular product, we have to choose the price criteria of it, and other criteria, e.g. when we buy clothes, we have to specify size, quantity etc. Then, we confirm our order.

Choosing the detailed criteria of the product on the AliExpress product page

In the next step, we provide the exact address to send the products. We can pay for the purchased goods in a few ways – by credit card, bank transfer, e-wallet, as well as by cash transfer.

After placing an order, we just have to wait. If something goes wrong, AliExpress has the policy that protects customers:

  • when the supplier fails to deliver the product, the buyer will get all their money back,
  • when the product significantly varies from the product presented on the website, the buyer can get all their money back after redelivering it or get part of their money back if they decide to keep the product.

In addition, the seller can extend the guarantee with some additional criteria:

  1. Redelivering the completed and unaltered product if you don’t want this product .
  2. Redelivering the product when the buyer realizes it is fake.

In above cases, the buyer should contact the seller and explain the objections. If the problem is not solved, the buyer should contact AliExpress customer service centre. Then, AliExpress employees will help to solve the dispute between both parties.

The above description is a theoretical situation. It may look different in practice, but it will be the topic of our next article.


Thanks to this article, you have briefly found out explanation to the question ‘What is AliExpress?’, how to search products on this website and how the whole process of purchasing goods looks. The next article will still concern AliExpress.com. We will check what the opinions of users about AliExpress are, as well as what obstacles the buyer may encounter while purchasing products on this website.

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Our blog contains articles about trade with China. Publications available on this blog allow you to find very important information and practical tips about import from China. We add new articles every Wednesday.

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