October 7, 2022

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Have you shopped a lot online in the past?

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What was your experience like?

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Online shopping seems to have become as common as breath taking in Australia and I say no!

You can usually get a better product for a lower price without leaving your home.

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You can even shop in your pajamas or underwear (or not even that but we won’t go there) and not have to worry about opening hours, traffic or parking.

You can also easily get the products which are not available in your local area or even in your country.

We all love eBay or Amazon, but did you know that there is one online shopping site out there that is bigger than the two of them? Yes, it is an online commerce giant that simply dwarfs everyone else.

Furthermore, when the company behind it listed on the stock exchange, it was the largest initial public offering (aka IPO) in history.

Still, it’s quite possible that you’ve never heard of them!

It’s okay, you don’t have to feel bad about it.

The reason many people in countries like Australia have never heard of it before is because the company is Chinese.

This company is called Alibaba and by the beginning of this year, their market value has reached half a trillion dollars (ie US dollars)!

It is larger than the entire economy of many countries (including wealthy but small countries such as Austria, Norway, Denmark or Ireland).

This short video from The Telegraph newspaper in the UK gives a brief overview of this retail giant.

Did you notice he mentioned something about “Singles Day” in that video?

Well, it’s a one-day shopping event they initially ran for people without romantic partners (because what’s better than indulging in some retail therapy?).

This so-called “Singles Days” promotion has since become the largest online shopping event in the world, based on the number of unique buyers and the amount of product sold in a single day. Whatever the reason behind this phenomenon, it is huge as millions of individual items are going on sale and prices have been slashed by more than half. Given that the normal prices offered are already ridiculously low, with the sale on, it’s very likely that everything you buy out there during the sale will be at the lowest price in the world.

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However, there are a few things to know about this crowd and I’ll cover them a little later in this post.

AliExpress is Alibaba’s B2C (i.e. business to consumer) platform, which was initially a B2B (business to business) platform, meant to connect manufacturers and large wholesalers with retailers around the world.

Here’s a quick promotional video that outlines the growth and history of AliExpress, which is relatively short compared to eBay and Amazon but, as I’ve already said, is selling more goods than its closest competitors (which are clearly giants in their own right)

What happens every year on 11/11? To a large extent, the entire range of products sold on AliExpress has substantial discounts for only one day (due to be 11/11).

If you want to understand the enormity of this phenomenon, this video does a good job of explaining why:

To better understand what you can expect on this day, here’s a short news report covering last year’s sales.

Well, a lot, really!

In fact, you can buy stuff there that you’ll never find anywhere else (either online or at a physical retailer).

The product range is really staggering and even the likes of eBay or Amazon look bad.

Furthermore, their normal prices can often be as low as 15% of normal retail prices and with this sale they fall further (and usually by a significant amount!).

As with many things that seem too good to be true at first, there is a catch.

It’s true that you can find a lot of incredible deals on AliExpress, but unfortunately, it’s also true that there is also a lot of stuff sold that is of poor quality or counterfeit (or both), so you have to be careful. And understand how this platform works and the mechanisms in place to protect you.

WARNING EMPTOR (BUYER BEWARE)!

I may start writing a long essay now about how AliExpress works and what you need to do to protect yourself, but most people respond better to videos than words, I think it This 12 minute video guide will teach you everything you need. Know what AliExpress is, how it works and what to keep in mind.

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Another reason why I include it here is because it is free and fair and is not affiliated with AliExpress in any way.

you got all that? Have a good sense of what to look for?

AliExpress does not accept payment by PayPal. They claim that this is due to ‘compatibility issues’ with their platform which PayPal has refused to address. However, I think the fact that they have their own competing online payment service called Alipay has something to do with it as well.
Either way, this means that PayPal cannot be used for purchases there and you will need to use a credit or debit card. Please also note that all sales are conducted in US dollars, so unless you have the correct credit or debit card, you will be bound by your financial institution for a currency conversion fee. If the item you received from AliExpress is counterfeit, despite being declared genuine on the site, you have some additional protection and compensation. However, this added protection only applies to: jewellery, computers, communication equipment (such as mobile phones), consumer electronics, watches and other digital products. If any of these categories of product is found to be replica and not the original brand name mentioned in the sale list, your money will be fully refunded by AliExpress and they will also compel the seller of the item to provide you monetary . Compensation up to twice your order amount (eg $200 if you ordered something for $100). If there is a problem with the item you purchased (or it never arrives) and the dispute resolution and arbitration process with AliExpress fails to get you your money back (as it sometimes happens), I recommend that you cease all communication with or with the seller. Contact AliExpress and your financial institution instead and ask them to initiate a ‘chargeback’ of the transaction. Based on my own personal experience as well as the experience of others, once the chargeback is received by AliExpress, they ‘roll over’ so to speak and only refund the money. I think it’s because they’re worried about being blacklisted by major credit card issuers in the West, which would mean the effective end of their business. I personally have always been able to recover my money when I initiated the chargeback against AliExpress. Please be aware that an additional 10% in GST is added to the price of the item you view on the AliExpress website.

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This is because from 01/07/2018, you will have to pay GST on everything you buy from abroad (in any amount)!

If you’ve ever bought anything from AliExpress before, I’d love to hear about your personal shopping experience with them.

This will be of great benefit to those who read this post and have never bought anything through AliExpress, or their parent company Alibaba, before.

Share your experience in the comment section below.

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