Unknown a few years ago, Aliexpress has made its appearance (and rather thundering) on the online sales sites. Especially when it comes to finding the right deal. Its name is therefore in everyone's mouth. And what's more, the company has just set up shop in Belgium, in the Liège region, to create a commercial hub that will enable it to establish itself even more strongly in Europe. But do we really know this site and all that it hides? Is it as advantageous as they say? We review the functioning of the site, the products offered for sale, the terms of purchase as well as the delivery of the products in a complete guide. And to finish, we end with a general opinion of our use and that of the Internet users.
Presentation of the Aliexpress website
Aliexpress is a site designed to be intuitive. Like all other online sales sites of this type, it uses the same models. That is, different tabs referring to specific categories, with sub-genres for more precision. The sales system is identical, but some things are slightly different from its competitors, which makes it special. And not a simple Chinese copy of an American site. We will come back to all this in the different paragraphs of this guide. The categories covered by the site, and therefore the items for sale, cover a huge catalog, from hi-tech to car parts, including clothes for the whole family and fashion accessories.
Aliexpress is a Chinese sales site and this will probably be the first reticence of the French consumer who is in France. We do not buy on Aliexpress as we would buy on a French website or in a store.
In addition, the consumer buys directly from a reseller who uses Aliexpress as a market place. Therefore, there is a decentralization of orders and shipments of packages.
For us, French speakers, the site is entirely translated into Frenchand the entire catalog. So there is no misunderstanding about what you are buying. Please note that some translations are automated and the descriptions are sometimes like little Chinese (no pun intended). For example: the technical sheet of this tablet.
What products can I buy on Aliexpress?
The Aliexpress catalog is gigantic and contains thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of references. It is one of the biggest retail sites on the internet. And the catalog is literally overflowing with references. Impossible to list everything.
There are clothes for men, women and children. Electronics, including phones, smartphones, tablets, laptops, and accessories (mice, headphones, etc.) The catalog contains car and motorcycle parts, fashion accessories, shoes, musical instruments, camping equipment, etc. The list is very long.
There is no real core business and no specialization in one area. The company's policy is to offer a maximum of products to the customer so that he will always find something during his search. Nevertheless, you should not expect big brands. For example, a wallet Baellery or a Pipo tablet...
In short, Aliexpress can dress you in full. It also offers you makeup and fashion accessories to be in line with the current trend and allows you to stay in touch with the world by selling you smartphone and computer.
Are the products sold of good quality?
The motto of Aliexpress is " Buy smart, live better. "
By this motto, the French site clearly explains that its objective is to sell you the cheapest products possible so that you can buy a maximum. In short, to possess all that it is possible to possess.
In this, the race to lowest price does not always guarantee the best quality...
In the catalog, you will not find any big European or American brand. This is a thorn in the side, because sometimes we are looking for the good deal that will hit home. However, it is possible to buy a good quality Chinese product. The price will be more consequent, but the prestige will be absent.
In conclusion, there is plenty to eat and drink in terms of quality, but the quality-price ratio is sometimes very interesting.
What about the warranty?
Aliexpress puts forward two guarantees on the purchase. Plus a return policy:
- Aliexpress guarantees a full refund in case of a defective product.
- Aliexpress guarantees an option " keep or refund "If the product delivered does not conform to the description. This covers purchases.
That said, if you are not satisfied with the product, you can send it back thanks to a return policy. But it is not always interesting to do so since it is at your expense and the shipping is done in China, so it is relatively expensive.
The customer service of the site answers in real time by email, messaging or telephone to all your questions.
Is there a risk of buying a counterfeit?
The risk of buying counterfeit is nil or almost nil. It is always possible when buying on a Chinese website, even in French. However, as we explained above, branded products are absent from the catalog.
For a European, buying a Louis Vuitton counterfeit is embarrassing. But here, considering the catalog, we would be on a counterfeit of brands like Crested or Urvoi which are totally unknown in Europe.
That said, Aliexpress is on the lookout with its suppliers and makes every effort to ensure that the products sold are not defective or do not conform to the description given.
The buyer is also protected by a guarantee that allows him to be reimbursed if necessary.
Prices and purchase terms
What is the difference in price compared to a purchase in France?
There is no point of comparison between a purchase on Aliexpress and in a store in France. Whether it is physical or digital.
The first reason is simply that the vast majority of the catalog of Aliexpress is unavailable for sale in Europe. Therefore, it is simply not possible to compare the purchase price of a product on Aliexpress and in a store located in a shopping mall.
That said, in view of the prices charged on the website of the Chinese giant, it is hard to believe that you will find cheaper in France. Unless you go to popular neighborhoods like Barbès and buy Chinese products in one or the other store. And even then...
The second reason is that they are Chinese products unbeatable value. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine a leather watchband for less than 10 € with free delivery. Or in-ear headphones at 3 € with free delivery. In a large retailer, this type of product costs at least 20 €.
So the customer is always a winner when buying on Aliexpress. But he does not buy from the brand and the product takes time to arrive from the other side of the globe.
Are there any promotions and discount codes?
Yes, Aliexpress offers many promotions. And this is true from the moment you arrive on the site. There are promotionsmade on a regular basis. It is not for nothing that during the Black FridayAliexpress has broken all its sales records. Because for occasions like these, the offers are really very attractive for the customers.
Promotions are clearly indicated, showing the original price and the discount applied.
In addition, when you arrive on the site for the first time, Aliexpress automatically offers you a good / voucher of 4 euros on your first order.
In addition, the flash sale is also available on Aliexpress, as well as its competitors (Amazon, Light in the box). The highlighted products are often at -30 % or even -50 %.
From time to time, Aliexpress offers promo code. This is done, for example, at the launch of the application or otherwise. At that moment, a promo code is created to encourage customers to install the app.
What payment methods are available?
Like any international website, Aliexpress offers various payment methods in order to reach a wider audience. If it is possible to pay by Visa, as everywhere, it is also possible to pay with a bank account electronics. Here is an overview of the different payment methods:
- Mastercard (all credit cards in general)
- Qiwi Wallet
- Boleto (for Brazil)
- Debito Online
- Mercado pago
- Sofort Uberweisung (for Germany)
- Giro Pay
- And many more
Some products can be delivered by international carriers, such as TNT or FEDEX. For these products, it is possible to request a payment on delivery. But beware, international carriers are obliged to pass their packages through customs, which will apply customs fees on imported products.
Is it possible to pay in euros?
Yes, it is possible to pay in euros. When you use your credit card or Visa, the charge is made directly to your account and is denominated in euros. Moreover, on the French version of the site, all prices are displayed in euros.
With an online account, as with Qiwi or Boleto, the debit is made in the currency of your choice. If the wallet is credited in dollars, the site will automatically convert it at the daily exchange rate.
How does the delivery work?
From which countries are the goods sent?
All goods are sent from China. This is where all the vendors on the site are located.
Packages are prepared by each seller and shipped to the addresses provided at the time of purchase.
Are there any customs fees involved?
It depends on the type of delivery chosen. But in absolute terms, yes. All packages are subject to customs fees.
If you have chosen the express delivery or a private carrier, the package will probably go through customs. The fees to be paid in taxes will be proportional to the value of the package.
If you choose a free deliveryIn the future, this will be done through the normal mail of the Post Office. The customs controls are less strict, because the mass of mail makes the task almost impossible. But there are sporadic controls. Taxes will then have to be paid depending on your luck.
There is a real inequality between the Chinese carrier and the private carrier in this respect.
What are the delivery times?
Delivery time varies depending on where you live and the shipping method you choose.
Aliexpress has a sending mode priority. For France, the package arrives within 2 to 7 days. But this option is more expensive than standard shipping.
There are vendors who offer free shipping. But this only covers small items, usually. And don't opt for this one if you have purchased high value products.
The delay by the Chinese Post varies. We count from 2 to 6 weeks. In averagethe delivery time is 3.5 weeks. This is due to the fact that sellers do not ship orders directly after purchase.
Finally, the delay can be shortened if you opt for a private carrier (DHL, FEDEX, etc.) but this is expensive.
Customer service, dispute and return policy ?
Aliexpress is based in China. But the site is expanding worldwide and is starting to have locations all over the world. In Europe, the last planned location is in Belgium. The goal of the maneuver is to be closer to the customer and to allow him to reach the site more easily.
Aliexpress' customer service is efficient. It is available at any time of the day and night via the catby form of contact, by phone or by mail.
Please note that the phone call to Aliexpress is made via a surcharged number. The call costs 2.99 € + 2.99 € per minute. An amount that becomes very expensive and that it is better to avoid. Choose the contact by email which is free. The customer support helps you to manage your customer area, your orders and your deliveries.
There are disputes, as always, but these are usually settled out of court. Aliexpress emphasizes the possibility of refunds and guarantees upon purchase. However, two things should be noted. Firstly, counterfeit products exist on the site and Aliexpress is very cautious with this subject. Secondly, the return policy of the products...
You can always return a product to the seller. But it is at your expense. And unless the object is of high value, it is better to give up and find an amicable deal. The cost of shipping to China is prohibitive. And you will have to use an international carrier to do it. The Chinese Post Office has a very bad press and is not trustworthy (to date by European standards).
Frequently asked questions
How do I register on the site?
Registering on Aliexpress is a breeze. So is buying.
The opening of an Aliexpress account is done via a standard form. You must fill in your personal details (name, first name, address) and an email address. Then, all you have to do is fill in the security code and click on the "open an account" button.
Registration is free and only takes a few seconds.
You don't really have a choice to accept them and somewhere along the line, we all know that we are ending our privacy on the internet by accepting them.
What is Alipay, the payment method of Aliexpress?
To protect customers, Alibaba, the parent company of Aliexpress, has developed a payment method. A kind of one-stop shop for payments. Alipay is, of course, not the only payment method as we explained above. But all payments are made to this platform.
It is a system that protects the user from embezzlement. In fact, when you buy on Aliexpress, you do not pay the seller, but a third party: Alipay. Alipay keeps your money warm while the package is being delivered.
The digital "real" money circuit is as follows:
- You place an order and pay with Alipay.
- Alipay informs the seller of funds deposited for the order.
- The seller sends the package.
- If Aliexpress does not receive any complaint, return package or refund request, Alipay will close its intervention.
- Alipay transfers the money to the seller's bank account, less a commission.
How do sellers manage to sell counterfeits on the site in French?
Aliexpress is very hard on counterfeitsThis is an image problem for them. Everything is done to remove the troubled links. But the sellers always manage to come back to the marketplace.
Let's take an example: soccer jerseys.
If you search for the terms "soccer jersey france 2018 2 stars", it is possible to find jerseys from 15 €. While in France, an official jersey costs nearly 100... This is an exception, but it is possible to find it in less than two minutes.
More devious, some sellers offer you create your swimsuit from A to Z. Thus, you will pay 5 € for the blank jersey. An unbeatable price to which you must add a few euros for the name (that you want), the number (that you want), the sponsor (that you want), etc. In the end, even if the seller doesn't sell counterfeit jerseys, he offers you all the patterns to recreate one from scratch.
And even if it is quite possible to write the name of his child, with his age and the sponsor "mom", we suspect that this is not the primary intention of the seller who aims rather the #6 Pogba or #10 Mbappé
For the customs services, it remains a counterfeit.
The opinion of the Internet users
The Internet users are delighted with the services of this Chinese site. They also show it in many many notice posted on the net. We do not doubt, in view of the number, that it is not a manipulation from the merchant site.
Stephane R. : " Platform of product sales 2 high-tech products and other low cost after several years and after recommending this site to my entourage I am always satisfied and I always recommend it... I rely on the comments left by buyers to choose the sellers because unfortunately some sellers are not very serious it is therefore preferable to look at the reviews before purchase "
Nora Z. Aliexpress a real gold mine or rather diamond ... you will find everything you need or not lol Big downside communication with sellers is in English, be careful with the sizes because even referring to their conversion table in the sale there may be some errors, Chinese sizes really small ... the population is not more than a 36 apparently ^^ "
Melanie A. Aliexpress sends products from China. The quality is therefore in consequence of the price. I order phone covers or makeup brushes that I wash several times before use. I don't know if I will be able to order makeup because of the smell that some brushes can have. The site is still good if you want small and cheap gadgets. Count 2 to 4 weeks for a delivery since it comes from China "
Aliexpress has been on our radar for some time and we had to make a guide on this site. There are several reasons for this: it is popular, creates a lot of traffic, etc. So it was impossible not to test it by ourselves. And the result is clearly positive.
In addition, we can talk about the catalog. It exceeds all expectations and there is no limit to what you can buy. In Europe, Amazon is still the undisputed leader, but we feel that they are losing ground to sites like Aliexpress which are bringing a real new breath.
The price is probably one of the factors of success. As well as the ability of Chinese vendors to adapt. They propose a solution to a problem in a few days and manage to manufacture good quality at a lower cost, while imitating what is already available on the market. A good point for the customer who is looking for an alternative solution to the big brand.
That being said, we mustn't turn a blind eye and look at the negative points also.
The delivery times are long. Too long for us who are used to living in the immediacy of things... There's something wrong with the phrase "I click, I pay, I wait 3 weeks to get my package."