What is AliExpress and How Does It Work?

Alibaba.com NOVEMBER 24, 202314 MIN READ
What is AliExpress and How Does It Work?

AliExpress, a subsidiary of the Alibaba Group, has rapidly become a popular online retail platform since its inception in 2010. It connects buyers and sellers globally, offering a vast range of products. While it initially focused on B2B transactions, it has expanded to include B2C interactions, serving individuals, small businesses, and retailers. This article will delve into what AliExpress is, how it operates, the differences between AliExpress and Alibaba, its safety and legitimacy, and its shipping methods, highlighting its role in international trade and online shopping. We will also provide answers to questions like, “Is Aliexpress reliable?, How does Aliexpress work? and How to dropship with Aliexpress”, to mention a few.

What is AliExpress?

AliExpress is an online retail platform that has gained tremendous popularity in the world of e-commerce. Launched in 2010, it is a subsidiary of Alibaba Group, one of the largest multinational conglomerates in China. The platform acts as a marketplace connecting buyers and sellers from across the globe.

AliExpress offers a vast array of products, ranging from clothing and electronics to home decor and accessories. It has essentially become a go-to destination for individuals looking for affordable prices and a wide variety of options. One of the key aspects that sets AliExpress apart is that it primarily caters to small businesses and individuals selling their products directly to consumers.

The significance of AliExpress lies in its role as a facilitator of international trade. It has opened up opportunities for sellers by providing them with a global platform to reach an extensive customer base. Similarly, buyers benefit from the convenience of browsing and purchasing products from sellers around the world, often at competitive prices.

AliExpress has seen remarkable growth since its inception. It initially started as an online platform focused on business-to-business transactions. However, it quickly expanded its offerings to include business-to-consumer transactions, thereby attracting a wider audience. Over time, AliExpress has become increasingly recognized as a reliable platform that offers buyer protection and secure payment options.

With its extensive product range, competitive prices, and buyer-friendly features, AliExpress has gained a strong presence in the e-commerce industry. It has contributed to the globalization of online shopping by creating a platform where buyers and sellers can connect and engage in cross-border trade easily.

Is AliExpress Legit and Safe?

People often ask, ‘Is AliExpress legit for buying genuine brand-name products?’ or ‘Is AliExpress safe to buy from when searching for everyday household items?’

Is AliExpress Legit and Safe

Additionally, for entrepreneurs and small business owners, it's crucial to know if AliExpress is reliable for sourcing wholesale products and if the platform is safe for business transactions.

If you have any of these concerns, you can rest assured.

AliExpress is a legitimate and safe online marketplace. It connects buyers with sellers, primarily from China and other countries, offering a wide range of products, from electronics to clothing to home goods. The platform is widely used by millions of shoppers around the world. The following are some measures AliExpress put in place to ensure safety on the platform:

Seller Vetting

AliExpress has a seller verification system, and many sellers have established positive reputations through customer reviews and ratings. However, not all sellers are equally reputable. It's essential to research individual sellers before making a purchase, looking at their ratings, reviews, and how long they've been on the platform.

Buyer and Seller Protections

AliExpress offers several protections for both buyers and sellers:

Buyer Protection: AliExpress has a comprehensive Buyer Protection program1. If you receive a product that is significantly different from the description or is defective, you can open a dispute to request a refund or replacement. AliExpress will mediate the dispute and ensure you have a fair resolution.

Escrow Service: AliExpress uses an escrow system2, which means your payment is held in an account until you confirm the receipt of your order in good condition. This provides an added layer of security.

Secure Payment Options: AliExpress offers secure payment methods, including credit cards and escrow services, which help protect your financial information.

Seller Verification: Sellers on AliExpress go through a verification process. Top-rated sellers are more likely to provide reliable products and good customer service.

Pricing and Quality

AliExpress offers competitive prices. However, it is crucial to be cautious about deals that seem too good to be true. Some listings may offer low-quality or counterfeit products. It's crucial to read product descriptions and reviews. You should also be realistic about the quality you can expect for the price.

How Does AliExpress Work?

AliExpress is a popular online marketplace where you can buy a wide range of products at competitive prices. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to use AliExpress:

How Does AliExpress Work

Create an Account

  • Go to the AliExpress website (www.aliexpress.com) or download the mobile app.
  • Click "Join" or "Sign Up" to create a new account.
  • You can register using your email, phone number, or social media accounts like Facebook or Google.

Search for Products

  • Once you're logged in, you can start searching for products.
  • Use the search bar at the top to type in keywords related to what you're looking for.
  • You can also browse categories and use filters to narrow down your search.

Product Selection

  • Click on a product listing to view details, including the product description, price, shipping options, seller ratings, and customer reviews.
  • Pay attention to the product specifications, customer reviews, and seller ratings to ensure you're getting what you expect.

Add to Cart

  • If you want to purchase an item, click "Add to Cart."
  • You can continue shopping and add multiple items to your cart.

Proceed to Checkout

  • When you're ready to complete your purchase, click on the shopping cart icon and then "Go to Checkout."
  • Review the items in your cart, and make sure to choose the correct quantity and product variations (e.g., size or color).

Shipping and Payment

  • Select your shipping method and enter your shipping address. AliExpress offers various shipping options, some faster and more expensive than others.
  • Choose your payment method. AliExpress accepts credit and debit cards, bank transfers, and various online payment platforms like PayPal.

Place Your Order

  • Review your order, including the shipping cost and total price.
  • Click "Place Order" to confirm your purchase.
  • Make the payment, and you will receive an order confirmation.

Track Your Order

  • After placing your order, you can track its progress. Go to your AliExpress account and find the order in your "My Orders" section.
  • You'll see order details, including the tracking number and estimated delivery time.
  • You can also track your order using the tracking number on the shipping carrier's website.

Contact the Seller

  • If you have questions or concerns about your order, you can message the seller through the AliExpress messaging system.
  • Communication with the seller can be essential for resolving any issues or clarifying product details.

Receiving and Reviewing Your Order

  • When your order arrives, inspect the items to ensure they match the product description.
  • If you're satisfied, confirm receipt on AliExpress. This helps release payment to the seller.
  • Leave a review and rating for the seller to help other buyers make informed decisions.

Alibaba Vs. AliExpress: What’s the Difference?

Alibaba and AliExpress are both part of the Alibaba Group, but they serve different purposes and target different audiences.

Alibaba Vs. AliExpress What’s the Difference

Alibaba is a wholesale platform primarily designed for businesses and entrepreneurs looking to source products in bulk, custom manufacturing, or wholesale. It caters to buyers who make large-volume purchases and engage in business-to-business (B2B) transactions. It often requires large minimum order quantities (MOQs), and the sellers on the platform are typically manufacturers or wholesalers.

On the other hand, AliExpress is a retail platform that focuses on individual consumers looking to buy products in smaller quantities. It's a business-to-consumer (B2C) marketplace designed for personal shopping. It is suitable for buying single items, small quantities, or retail-ready products, has no minimum order requirements, and caters to a mix of individual sellers, small businesses, and retailers. A common inquiry among shoppers is why AliExpress is so cheap; the platform's success in maintaining affordability can be attributed to its direct-to-consumer model, bypassing many traditional retail expenses.

How to Dropship with AliExpress?

Dropshipping with AliExpress is a popular business model that allows you to sell products to customers without holding any inventory. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to get started with dropshipping using AliExpress:

Market Research

Identify your niche or target market. Research products that are in demand and have a competitive advantage.

Create an E-commerce Store

  • Set up an online store using platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, or others. Customize your store to match your niche.
  • Choose AliExpress as Your Supplier
  • Create an account on AliExpress if you haven't already.

Product Selection

  • Browse AliExpress for products you want to sell on your store.
  • Pay attention to product quality, reviews, and the seller's reputation.

Product Listings

Import product listings from AliExpress to your online store. Many e-commerce platforms have tools and plugins for this.

Pricing and Margins

Set your prices, ensuring you account for the cost of the product, shipping, and your desired profit margin.

Market Your Store

Use digital marketing techniques, such as SEO, social media marketing, and pay-per-click advertising, to drive traffic to your store.

Customer Orders

When a customer places an order on your store, you will purchase the product from the AliExpress seller.

Order on AliExpress

  • Go to AliExpress and order the product using the customer's shipping address.
  • Enter the customer's details in the shipping section on AliExpress.

Payment and Profits

  • Pay for the product on AliExpress using your payment method.
  • You keep the difference between the price the customer paid on your store and the price you paid on AliExpress as your profit.

Shipping and Tracking

  • Choose the appropriate shipping method on AliExpress and provide the tracking information to your customer.
  • Communicate with the customer about the shipping process and estimated delivery times.

Customer Service

Handle customer inquiries, address issues, and provide support throughout the ordering process.

Scale Your Business

As your business grows, consider optimizing your product selection, improving customer service, and exploring new marketing strategies.

Keep in mind that dropshipping with AliExpress can be competitive and may require careful management of product quality and shipping times.

AliExpress Shipping Methods

AliExpress Shipping Methods

AliExpress offers various shipping methods3, each with its own cost, delivery time, and tracking options. Here are some common AliExpress shipping methods:

AliExpress Standard Shipping

This method is often free or offered at a nominal cost. Delivery times typically range from 15 to 45 days, depending on the destination. You can track your shipment by entering the tracking number provided on the "My Orders" page.


ePacket is a popular shipping option for small and lightweight items. It is often faster than standard shipping and offers tracking information. Delivery times vary but usually range from 7 to 30 days. Some sellers may offer ePacket for free, while others may charge a small fee.

AliExpress Premium Shipping

With AliExpress Premium Shipping, you can enjoy faster delivery times, usually within 7 to 15 days. The cost varies depending on the weight, size, and destination of the package. Tracking information is provided, and you can monitor the progress of your shipment on the AliExpress website.

DHL, FedEx, UPS, or Other Express Shipping

These are expedited shipping options for quicker delivery, usually within 3 to 10 business days. They offer reliable tracking and faster transit times. However, express shipping tends to be more expensive than standard or ePacket shipping. The cost varies based on the weight, size, and destination of the package.

Seller's Shipping Method

Some sellers on AliExpress have their own shipping methods, which may offer a range of delivery times and costs. It's important to check the estimated delivery time and shipping cost provided by the seller. Tracking information should be available, and you can track the shipment on the "My Orders" page.

To select the most suitable shipping method, consider your budget, delivery time requirements, and the reliability of the seller. Many sellers on AliExpress offer multiple shipping options, so you can choose the one that best fits your needs. Always check the estimated delivery time and whether tracking information is provided before making your purchase. Keep in mind that shipping times may vary due to factors such as the seller's location, customs clearance, and the destination country's postal service. For a seamless shopping experience, AliExpress customer service is dedicated to helping you with any questions or problems you encounter during your online transactions.

contact with alibaba.com


How does shopping on AliExpress work, and is it safe to use?

Shopping on AliExpress works similarly to other online platforms where users can view millions of products, compare prices, and make purchases. The platform uses secure payment methods and has a buyer protection policy that guarantees a refund if your item is not received or not as described, making it generally safe to use. However, like any other online platform, it is advisable to check seller ratings and reviews before making a purchase.

What are the shipping methods available on AliExpress, and how long does delivery take?

AliExpress offers various shipping methods like China Post Registered Air Mail, AliExpress Standard Shipping, ePacket, EMS, FedEx, and DHL, among others. The delivery time usually ranges from 15 to 60 days, depending on the chosen shipping method and the destination country. However, due to COVID-19, there might be extended delays in certain cases.

How can I track my order on AliExpress?

To track your order on AliExpress, log into your account and click on "My Orders." From there, click on "Track Order" next to the item you wish to track, which will provide you with detailed information about your order's shipping status.

What do I do if I encounter problems with my order or if the product I received is not as described?

If you encounter any issues with your AliExpress order or the product received is not as described, the AliExpress customer service team is available to assist you in resolving any concerns or inquiries. However, you should first contact the seller directly on AliExpress to resolve the issue. If the issue remains unresolved, you can open a dispute and submit your refund request with evidence, and AliExpress will mediate between you and the seller.

What is AliExpress's return policy, and how can I effectively process a return or refund request?

AliExpress's return policy allows for returns within 15 days of the order being received. You can process a return or refund by opening a dispute on their website or app, providing relevant evidence such as a photo or video if required, and then waiting for the seller to respond. It is recommended to communicate with the seller first before raising a dispute.

Final thoughts

AliExpress is an online retail platform connecting buyers and sellers worldwide, offering buyer protection. It is both legitimate and safe, with seller vetting and secure payment options. The platform works by allowing users to create accounts, search for products, track orders, and communicate with sellers.

While Alibaba caters to B2B and bulk purchases, AliExpress is geared towards B2C and smaller transactions. Dropshipping with AliExpress involves selling without inventory, managing an online store, and setting product prices, and there are various shipping methods with different costs and delivery times.

Alibaba.com offers an unparalleled opportunity for sellers to expand their business and reach a global audience. With millions of buyers and sellers from around the world, Alibaba.com is the ultimate destination for entrepreneurs, small businesses, and established companies.

The benefits of selling on Alibaba.com are boundless: you can showcase your products to a vast international market, leverage robust seller tools, and establish valuable connections with potential buyers. The platform's trusted reputation, secure payment options, and comprehensive support make it the ideal place to grow your business. Join Alibaba.com today and unlock the potential of global e-commerce.

1. https://nordvpn.com/blog/is-aliexpress-safe/#:~:text=AliExpress%20offers%20buyer%20protection%20as,protection%20period%20is%2075%20days
2. https://www.updimes.com/aliexpress-payment-methods/#:~:text=This%20trustworthiness%20is%20achieved%20by,be%20securely%20stored%20in%20AliExpress
3. https://alixblog.com/en/shipping-methods-aliexpress/