Shopping on AliExpress is one of my guilty pleasures as you’ll all probably know, but lately I’ve been getting an annoying amount of emails regarding this website and while I’d be happy to answer genuine questions that don’t require me to bust out LMGTFY, I get the feeling that people think it’s easier to get a detailed explanation from me rather than visiting the site for two seconds and figuring things out for themselves. So here’s a little FAQ to buying off AliExpress that I really hope will help future frugalistas:

1. Is the site trustworthy? How fast is the shipping?
Pretend as though you were asking that question about eBay. Because AliExpress is China’s eBay, there is no possible way that I can provide a relevant answer that will encompass all sellers and all circumstances on AliExpress. It is like eBay. You look out for sellers that have good feedback, you can ask them how quickly they ship things out, and judge from that whether you want to buy from them or not. Shipping varies from anywhere between 10 days to 2 months (if you’re super unlucky) and you’re covered by AliExpress’ Buyer Protection should anything go wrong or the seller disappears without a trace–leaving you without your item.

2. What quality can I expect?
As I said. Chinese eBay. Different sellers, different products, different standards, differing quality. I simply cannot answer this question! The best I can do for you is tell you to save your million questions.. for the seller. I personally downloaded an app called TradeManager onto my desktop which allows me to IM the sellers when they’re online, and I ask them specific questions like measurements of clothing, whether they have a special price for special customers (yes, I haggle on AliExpress), and if they have any actual product photos I can review.

3. Do the items always look like the photos in the listing?
Don’t always trust model photos unless you’re willing to gamble. As a pretty weak example, compare this picture and note that the model photos do differ quite a lot from the mannequin/coathanger photos in shape, exact color, and size of the picture on the front of the dress. See while I prefer the coathanger pictures, others may be disappointed to receive the item to the right instead of the one to the left. There are many worse examples than the one I provided here, which is why I don’t take the risk anymore and always ask for actual product photos if only the model photos are available.

4. What if I don’t like what I received?
Did you gamble on the model photos and lose? On the rare chance it’s not your fault and the seller has grossly misrepresented the item that they’re selling, go back to TradeManager and complain to them. Many of them will be happy to give you a refund, but on the chance they’re really stubborn about it, you can firstly threaten them with negative feedback and if that still doesn’t work, you can open a dispute on the order. Your money will be frozen until the both of you are happy, so they won’t get your money unless you let them. Don’t offer to return the item because shipping back to China will often cost more than the item you’re returning.

5. Have you seen x item from y on AliExpress? Have you seen any of z on AliExpress?
What am I, your personal shopper-slash-search engine? :( Have you even looked for yourself? If you have, in fact, looked for yourself, do you think I have some kind of magical powers that enable me to strap on a shopping helmet, lower myself into a shopping cannon and fire myself off into shopping land where I will be able to magically find what you’re looking for growing abundantly on trees when you cannot? Chances are that searching will take me the same amount of time as it will take you, except you’ll be able to reap the rewards of your trawl and I will just waste my personal time looking for something that you might not even like/want in the end.

6. Just a handy tip–
Don’t be afraid to haggle! Ask them what their best price is (link to the product in question of course), pit them against each other and show that a seller with no feedback has a cheaper price than them on the same item and ask if they can beat it, don’t be afraid to talk to them. Most of the sellers are really lovely people and love to talk or joke around, and if you don’t ask, you won’t get a discount, so ask!

That’s about all I can think of in regards to repetitive emails from people I’m getting, but if you have any more questions, just drop me a comment down below instead of emailing. I’m scared of my email inbox and chances are I won’t look in it right away, but comments, I actually love replying to.

Remember–Don’t be lazy, take the initiative! AliExpress is a virtual treasure trove of goodies and it’s well worth exploring yourself.

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4 Comments

  1. Thank you for the tips! I have always wanted to buy from Aliexpress before and I have just placed an order for some necklaces from one of the buyers you linked in your posts!

    Love your website btw! Keep up the great work!

    • Demi

      Awesome, I hope they turn out good! Thank you for your kind comments! :)

  2. Thanks for the tips Demi!! I never go off the “model” photos when I’m buying things on chinese ebay…most of the time they have an actual picture of the item on a mannequin or on a hanger and thats always the best indication!

    Will check out ali express now… I think I had a look at it last time I was on your blog and then got overwhelmed at the thousands of items haha.. oh well, quiet arvo at work, what better way to spend my time! (and money? lol)

    • Demi

      Good girl! :P Model photos are notorious for being taken in flattering lightings from flattering angles and you don’t really get an indication of how the dress sits or how long it is or anything like that. So really bad idea to trust it.

      There are thousands of items, there really are, but you can filter them pretty well using the sidebar and I’ve recently learned about price filtering (makes my job so much easier). So if I’m looking for a dress, I’ll put $15-$25 or something and it will filter out most of the shitty “cheap and crappy” results and also installs my upper ceiling for how much I wanna pay.

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