Business
18
December 2014

What is Aliexpress?

I’m sure you’ve heard of eBay and Amazon, and you’ve probably heard of Alibaba, but what is Aliexpress?

As internet usage continues to rise more and more consumers are shopping online for new products and better prices. This has led to an increase in international ecommerce as people look beyond their own country’s border for that bargain.

With China’s role as “the world’s factory” firmly established, the website Aliexpress is helping consumers buy directly from source at very attractive prices.

A Brief History

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.

What to Buy? For What is Aliexpress Best Known?

You can check out the best selling products on 
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.

Where is Aliexpress Popular?

Aliexpress is currently available in English, Portuguese, Spanish and Russian.

As this would indicate, Aliexpress is hugely popular in Brazil and Russia. Data viewed on Alexa.com showed that in December 2014, Aliexpress was the 10th most popular website in Brazil and that Brazil accounted for more traffic to the website than any other country.

According to data from July 2014, Aliexpress is already Russia’s leading ecommerce site in terms of traffic, and the country’s tenth most popular website overall.

In Summary

Next time you hear someone ask “What is Aliexpress?”, you can explain:

  • Aliexpress is an ecommerce platform for Chinese individuals and companies to sell their products to overseas consumers; it is very popular in Brazil and Russia

Further reading