The Chinese shipping site AliExpress is very popular in Germany. TECHBOOK reveals who is behind the platform, the advantages and disadvantages of orders and what you should definitely not order from AliExpress.

    Especially around Christmas, but also around other big holidays or events, business for online retailers is booming. There are a large number of shops on the Internet and good comparison options for customers. This is exactly why the providers are courting buyers with ever lower prices. A competitor from the Far East is gaining increasing popularity. AliExpress offers competitive prices for items from all sorts of categories, such as electronics or fashion. But if you want to order from AliExpress, you should first find out about payment, shipping and customs regulations.

    What is AliExpress and who is behind it?

    The Chinese platform has been around since 2010. AliExpress specializes in the sale of goods to private customers and is often compared to Ebay in terms of the system. The Chinese also only provide a platform for individual sellers and shops who sell their goods on it all over the world. Unlike Amazon, AliExpress has nothing to do with the manufacture or shipping of products, but only creates the framework – like a marketplace.

    The Chinese group of companies “Alibaba Group” is behind AliExpress. With over 250,000 employees the Alibaba Group will have sales of 134 billion US dollars in 2022. For comparison: Amazon managed around 470 billion euros in 2021. Nevertheless, Alibaba makes more profit than the US giant, which is not least due to the lower personnel costs. The website, which is also part of the Alibaba Group, works in a similar way to AliExpress, except that it offers goods on a large scale and, importantly, in large quantities and at low prices for companies.

    AliExpress now has one too German website. Corresponding offers can be found on this website, but with some product texts that have only been translated very poorly.

    What is the quality of the goods on AliExpress?

    In forums, many users who order from AliExpress report that the majority of deliveries arrive with them in perfect condition. For them, the Chinese provider is a cheap alternative to the well-known online retailers. Nevertheless, even with satisfied customers, it sometimes happens that goods arrive defective. But AliExpress is not the only one with this problem. The products that are sold via Amazon and Co. occasionally have defects. With the latter, however, it is easier to send back the defective goods and get a new replacement that is free of defects.

    However, you should be careful when it comes to clothing. In this area, reports from Western buyers are piling up that sizes are often far too small.

    Ordering from AliExpress: Why are the prices so low?

    Both AliExpress and Alibaba are only allowed to offer their products to merchants based in mainland China. Lots of goods are made there. In this way, the dealers can get the goods quickly and cheaply and then offer them at prices that are very cheap by our standards. The direct route simply eliminates intermediaries and thus additional margins, etc.

    However, in most cases this does not apply to international branded goods, but to Chinese products. Last but not least, some goods are so cheap because they are simply not original. So if you order a $50 Louis Vuitton bag on AliExpress, there’s a good chance it’s not an original. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t any original merchandise on the platform.

    Can I get original goods on AliExpress?

    Most of the products on the huge platform are original. Nevertheless, fakes are always offered on AliExpress. Certain product categories are particularly often affected. In the electronics sector, for example, there are numerous counterfeit memory cards and batteries. Fashion fans should be careful with sneakers, such as the limited Yeezy Boost models. The same applies to products from popular fashion brands such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton.

    Check the prices of the products before ordering on AliExpress. This is how you can spot fakes. A shoe that costs 220 euros in Germany and is only available in limited quantities cannot realistically be listed on AliExpress for around 40 euros, at least not as an original. Basically, if the offer seems too tempting and cheap, it’s better to keep your hands off it.

    When you order from AliExpress, be sure to check out the reviews from the retailers as well. This minimizes the risk of receiving defective goods or no goods at all. Avoid small traders who enter the market with rock-bottom prices. Rather pay a few euros more and be satisfied with the product – in most cases you still save. In most cases, the ratings even tell you whether the product is original or not.

    How to pay on AliExpress

    In addition to credit cards and direct bank transfers from current accounts, AliExpress also offers the internal payment service AliPay. Unfortunately, Paypal is not supported by the marketplace. However, AliPay includes its own buyer protection, called “Buyers Protection”. This works perfectly, as the transferred money is temporarily stored at AliExpress until the buyer confirms receipt and that the product is free of defects. Only then does AliExpress transfer the money to the respective merchant from China.

    Are there problems at customs when importing?

    Basically, the goods bypass customs – and completely legally. Goods are subject to an import sales tax of 19 percent, which corresponds to the local value added tax and can be paid directly to the parcel deliverer. The exemption limit of 22 euros has been abolished since July 2021.

    Also read: Online orders from abroad are now more expensive

    With a goods value of 150 euros or more, there is also a customs duty that must be paid in any case. This percentage always depends on the type of product. Fortunately, many electronic products such as smartphones, digital cameras, USB sticks, game consoles, notebooks and tablets are exempt from customs duty. For e-book readers and GPS devices, for example, 3.7 percent are due. A customs or tax calculator and a detailed list of customs duties can be found at tax calculator of customs.

    All the advantages and disadvantages of AliExpress at a glance

    These are the advantages of the online platform:

    • Own buyer protection called AliExpress Buyers Protection
    • Cheap prices
    • Good customer service for defective goods (refund, partial refund and goods return possible)
    • Partial shipping from Germany possible, as certain retailers have warehouses in this country

    But AliExpress also has disadvantages:

    • Fake products on the platform
    • Products such as clothing occasionally differ from the description
    • Import tax of 19 percent and customs duties from a goods value of 150 euros
    • Paypal is not offered
    • Long delivery times of several weeks possible

    TECHBOOK means

    “AliExpress is a good alternative to well-known platforms such as Ebay and Amazon. If you are careful and follow our tips, you can confidently throw the stigma of dodgy Chinese traders overboard. However, due to the delivery times, the poorly translated homepage and the lack of PayPal, you cannot count on the same shopping convenience as with other trading platforms.” – Andreas Filbig, editor


    So testet die TECHBOOK-Redaktion