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Launched in 2010, AliExpress.com is an online retail service made up of mostly small Chinese businesses offering products to international online buyers.
Aliexpress was launched by Alibaba Group in 2010 as a B2C platform for Chinese companies to sell to foreigners.
Hangzhou-based Alibaba Group is a huge Chinese ecommerce company which dominates their domestic B2C market with offerings such as Taobao and Tmall. Already very well known for their international B2B platform Alibaba.com, it finally achieved true worldwide recognition when they launched the largest ever IPO in New York in September 2014.
How does it work?
Aliexpress is a B2C ecommerce platform which allows Chinese individuals and companies to sell their products directly to foreign consumers.
Similar to eBay, sellers on Aliexpress can be either companies or individuals. Aliexpress is different to Amazon because it acts only as an ecommerce platform and doesn’t sell products directly to consumers.
Interestingly, Aliexpress doesn’t allow consumers in mainland China to buy from the platform and doesn’t allow non-Chinese individuals & companies to open stores.
Who sells on Aliexpress and how?
Sellers on Aliexpress are all located in China and are each issued a unique store number on Aliexpress.
Unlike on the B2B website Alibaba.com, there is very limited information available about stores and how they were verified.
Aliexpress has however implemented a store rating system which they explain here.
Customer service isn’t the focus on Aliexpress and consumers who are used to no-questions-asked full refunds and humble apologies may need to adjust their expectations. It is very much a case of buyer beware.
Aliexpress urges its customers to only make payments to sellers through their platform so they can offer a degree of customer protection. Although refunds can be applied for, the process is very hit or miss. Aliexpress offers tips for avoiding fraud on their website here.
You can check out the best selling products on this page of Aliexpress’ website. Clothing, accessories and electronics are usually the best selling items.
With so many products manufactured in China, the choice of products is almost endless. As you’d expect on a B2C platform, consumer products make up the bulk of the items.