how to // shopping on aliexpress

how to // shopping on aliexpress

I am the ultimate budget shopper, I love a good bargain! This personality trait and my love for things is how I ended up finding out about AliExpress and shopping on the site a number of times. I usually get questions from readers of my blog and people who follow me on social media about the ins and outs of shopping on AliExpress, so I thought to write this post to let you guys know my experience and some tips. I am not saying that I’m the expert on AliExpress shopping, but I have been doing it for over 3 years now – so I have some insight.

What I buy and won’t buy on AliExpress
You can literally buy anything on AliExpress; the items that I have bought on the site include: makeup brushes, cellphone covers, t-shirts, hair (wigs & weaves), wig caps. The items I will not buy from the site are items like makeup and everything else that I haven’t mentioned in my to-buy list. I am 99% sure that the makeup sold on AliExpress is not real and that is the main reason why I don’t buy makeup from them.

Fake or nah?
First things first, AliExpress sells mostly dupes – you need to be okay with that when you shop on the site. So if a bag says it’s Chanel, trust me, it is not the original Chanel from Miss Coco herself. Thus, it is up to you to decide which types of items you don’t mind having dupes of and shop for those.

Which shop to choose
Now this is where it becomes a bit hard because there are thousands of shops to choose from – if you are a first time buyer, there is no way to know where to buy. This is the process I go through:

  1. figure out what I want to buy e.g. makeup brushes,
  2. search for a more specific descriptor of what I want e.g. rose gold makeup brushes,
  3. filter the results by those shops that only offer free shipping,
  4. from those results, find a few that look good
  5. choose the one I want based on number of orders and reviews

I usually only buy items that have had more than 1000 orders and have mostly good reviews, no item will ever have 100% good reviews, so it is up to you to discern which is the best item to choose.

Shipping
There are a number of shipping options on AliExpress ranging from the very expensive to the very cheap. You can use courier companies like FedEx, DHL etc. this asures you that you will have your items delivered in minimum time and have the advantage of getting a tracking number and being able to track your parcel from China to South Africa. Using a courier company is the most expensive way to ship on AliExpress. Alternatively, you can use the free shipping option, you will receive your parcel via the South African Post Office, your parcel will arrive in 6-8 weeks (this is based on my experience). The disadvantage of this shipping method is that you cannot track your parcel, you just have to pray that it will get to you. However, AliExpress has buyer protection where if you do not receive your parcel after a number of days, you get a 100% refund.

That is basically my 2 cents on shopping on AliExpress, I think I have covered most things, if you have anything else that you want to find out, you can ask in the comments 🙂

Update 10 November 2017

Here are some of the items that I bought and the stores that I bought them from:

Hair

Little girl’s clothes

Cellphone covers

Makeup brushes

Update 18 June 2018 … Since writing this article a lot of people have had further questions about shopping on AliExpress. I’ve filmed a video that answers all further questions that aren’t captured above. Please watch the video – it might have the answers that you have. If you still have more questions, you can ask in the comments below.

If this article helped you in any way, please show your support by subscribing to my YouTube channel and following me on my social media platforms… thank you! 

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70 Comments

  1. Diapeng
    July 12, 2017 / 10:08

    Hi Lungi,

    Great to have you back, dear. Anyway, you read my mind on this one as I was about to ask you this very question myself. Other than Aliexpress, do you have other favourite online shopping sites? I’m considering Amazon.

    • Lungi
      Author
      July 13, 2017 / 17:19

      Thank you Diapeng . I usually buy from US stores: colourpop, morphe & elf. Amazon is also a good option

  2. SSS
    July 13, 2017 / 13:40

    Thank you for the informative post. I’m slowly starting to warm up to the idea of on-line shopping, I know, I’m late. But I must admit, waiting for my items to get delivered is the worst for me.

    • Lungi
      Author
      July 13, 2017 / 17:22

      You’re welcome . Oh yeah, delivery times are the worst! The advantages of living at the southern tip of Africa

  3. July 13, 2017 / 19:12

    Thanks for this babes. Theres nothing I’m more scared of than saving monry for months only to lose it to a parcel the never arrives. Eeek! Looking to buy bundles for some wigs. I need about 6 months to mentally prepare

    Mvumikazi | Urban Mnguni

    • Lungi
      Author
      July 17, 2017 / 12:37

      That’s the worst part, I’ve also had one parcel never arriving and I couldn’t claim a refund – I hadn’t bought it from AliExpress though. Please opt for courier delivery if you are buying bundles.

  4. Nomsa
    July 14, 2017 / 14:35

    Thanks for the review. The only reason I have tried the site is because they don’t accept PayPal for payment.
    How are you paying for your purchases?

    • Lungi
      Author
      July 17, 2017 / 12:38

      Hi Nomsa, I use my credit card directly to pay.

  5. Nomsa
    July 14, 2017 / 14:36

    Lol, meant I haven’t tried Aliexpress

  6. Nwabisa
    August 2, 2017 / 17:30

    Thank you for your reveiw, how much customs & duties fee did you pay when you bought shirts (clothes) ? I’m really keen on shopping a few small clothing items there.

    • Lungi
      Author
      August 2, 2017 / 19:50

      Hi Nwabisa, nope – I didn’t pay any custom fees. As a general rule of thumb, you don’t pay customs for items worth less than R500

      • Evelyn
        May 8, 2018 / 04:05

        Hey LungiHad you chosen free shipping or paid shipping for your shirts on AliExpress?

        • Lungi
          Author
          May 8, 2018 / 07:15

          I chose free shipping. The only items I ship via courier are wigs, everything else is standard shipping

  7. November 9, 2017 / 15:21

    Okay great thank you Lungi I will stay clear of makeup great post very helpful

    • Lungi
      Author
      November 10, 2017 / 09:00

      You’re welcome, Isabel

  8. Thabang
    November 9, 2017 / 15:49

    HI Lungi.

    Do you mind posting a link or the name of the stores you bought from?

    Regards

    • Lungi
      Author
      November 10, 2017 / 08:59

      Hi Thabang, I’ve updated the post 🙂

  9. Kamohelo
    November 9, 2017 / 19:23

    I LOVE aliexpress!! And unlike you I’ve always been able to track my orders from start to end, even after getting them from the post office the tracking will show that it was fetched by me at which post office. I always ship with China post small packets. My next buy will be gel nail polishes and a uv lamp on 11.11 they having a massive sale. And about customs, it depends on what’s been ordered I think because I’ve only bought under 500 and I always have to pay customs. The sunglasses waiting for me at my local post office need 24 bucks for customs. Oh and there’s this bob lace wig I’m eyeing but I’m scared. The reviews are great though and there’s actually quite a lot from South Africans even so I don’t know why I’m hesitant. Maybe it has to do with being natural for so long and being scared of going bone straight (even if it’s just s wig)

    • Lungi
      Author
      November 10, 2017 / 08:50

      Hey Kamohelo, you seem to be a seasoned aliExpress shopper! It’s great that you’ve been able to track your parcels, it gives you such peace of mind.
      Buying hair on there can be such a daunting process, I’ve bought 2 wigs recently and I’ve been happy with my purchases 🙂

      • Thandiwe
        February 15, 2018 / 21:01

        Hi
        Which wig brands did you buy?

        • Lungi
          Author
          February 26, 2018 / 14:39

          I bought from a shop called JK Hair, unfortunately they don’t ship to SA anymore.

    • Nompumelelo Ndlela
      August 4, 2018 / 13:57

      Hello,Please help, how do I choose a shopping service because I only have an option of an address for delivery but it’s not specified if it’s courier or post office.

      • Lungi
        Author
        August 9, 2018 / 06:03

        Hi Nompumelelo, I covered the shipping options in the FAQ video

  10. Vee
    November 27, 2017 / 07:52

    Great info but can you please tell me why we have to pay R24 to collect a small packaging at the post office we already pay shipping fee but then we have to pay at the post office too? Thanks.

    • Lungi
      Author
      November 27, 2017 / 21:29

      Hi Vee, that’s the negative thing about shopping internationally: all the hidden fees that pop up. I don’t know what the post office fee is for, I’ve never had to pay it.

  11. Bhavna
    April 7, 2018 / 09:52

    Do they deliver to your door ? What is customs charges like ? I really want to order shoes but afraid of customs on top of delivery etc.

    • Lungi
      Author
      April 7, 2018 / 22:26

      If you ship via courier, they’ll deliver to your door. I haven’t had to pay customs. If I’m shipping via China Post Mail, I have to pick up the parcel at the post office and they usually charge R24 per parcel.

      • Evelyn
        May 8, 2018 / 04:08

        Hey Lungi, so I live in Pretoria. How will I know which post office I’ll have to collect my stuff from? I bought hair (3 bundles and closure) and used AliExpress Standard Shipping method.

        • Lungi
          Author
          May 8, 2018 / 07:14

          Hi Evelyn, they’ll deliver a collection slip to the street address that you used and that slip will have the details of the post office that you need to go to fetch your stuff

          • Evelyn
            May 9, 2018 / 17:56

            Hi Lungi, Thank you so much! I came across your blog by chance and I’m so glad that I did. You have been great help <3 I’ll be sure to follow you on all platforms and Thank you again for your kind assistance <3

            • Lungi
              Author
              May 9, 2018 / 20:44

              You’re welcome girl, happy shopping!

  12. Sanele
    June 6, 2018 / 15:49

    Hi Lungi thank you for the post, I’ve just checked out AliExpress but I saw nice shoes that I wouldLike to buy from them but my concern is the shoe sizes, tried googling shoe size chart but hayi I don’t get it, Help!

    • Lungi
      Author
      June 7, 2018 / 11:28

      Hi Sanele, I haven’t bought any clothes items on AliExpress as yet. Maybe you can measure the length of your foot and compare that to the international shoe sizes. Hope it helps.

  13. Lerato Moloto
    June 6, 2018 / 20:53

    Hi lungi thanks for this useful posp I’ve been wanting to purchase on ALIEXPRESS but I’ve been scared and looking for information from people who have purchased before…Thanks a lot

    • Lungi
      Author
      June 7, 2018 / 11:30

      You’re welcome Lerato, I’m glad that this post has helped you. Happy shopping!

  14. Natassha
    June 9, 2018 / 20:40

    Lungi this is so helpfull, also want to make a buy but, was abit scared. Would like to know how do payment works?

    • Lungi
      Author
      June 10, 2018 / 20:44

      Hi Natassha,

      I pay using a credit card.

  15. Tamara
    June 11, 2018 / 19:48

    Hey Lungi, hope you good. When you use the free shipping method (the China post method, please correct me if I’m wrong) you said you receive it after 6-8 weeks. Does it not get stuck at south african customs and you have to pay tax? For clothing in particular. Or does it arrive at your door stop?

    • Lungi
      Author
      June 11, 2018 / 20:28

      Hi Tamara, I’ve never had a parcel stuck at customs from AliExpress. If I ship via China post I collect the parcel from the post office and usually I have to pay R24. If you ship via China post you will have to collect it at the post office

      • Tamara
        June 23, 2018 / 19:55

        Are China Post and Ali Express Standard shipping the same? I recently placed 3 separate orders and they are sent via Ali Express standard shipping. According to your experience how long did your parcel take to reach you?

        • Lungi
          Author
          June 24, 2018 / 21:20

          Hi Tamara, I think they’re the same thing. I usually wait 2-3 months for a parcel

          • Tamara
            August 23, 2018 / 12:20

            Hey Lungi, when you ordered clothing from AliExpress has it happened that the order was reported to be in sA but when you go to the post office they say it has not arrived at all in SA? Also has your order been reported as completed but you haven’t recieved or confirmed thatyou’ve recieved it?

            • Lungi
              Author
              August 27, 2018 / 12:35

              Hi Tamara, I’m in the same boat right now. There are 3 items that I ordered in April and May that I haven’t received. I think this is because of the Post Office strike that ended in July. To be honest with you I’ve just written those items off – I’ve accepted the L. Because based on prior experience if your items get stuck due to a strike you’re not likely to ever get the items.

              • Tamara
                August 30, 2018 / 14:50

                Did you get a refund?

  16. Thokozani
    June 16, 2018 / 23:17

    Hai Lungi. Wen u ordered hair being its more dan R500, didn’t dey charge customs?

    • Lungi
      Author
      June 18, 2018 / 12:40

      Hi Thokozani, I haven’t been charged a custom fee when I ordered hair, no matter the value

  17. Roxzanne
    July 1, 2018 / 22:46

    Hi,I have a quick question. I recently bought an item on Aliexpress and chose the free shipping method. I put in my personal address for the item to be delivered to. Will the item be delivered to my door or will I have to fetch it at the post office?

    • Lungi
      Author
      July 2, 2018 / 15:32

      Hi Roxzanne, you will have to fetch it from the post office. They’ll either deliver a collection slip to your door or send a SMS.

      • Roxzanne
        July 3, 2018 / 17:19

        Thanks!

  18. Marcus
    July 3, 2018 / 16:39

    Hi LungiMy name is Marcus ..I have visiting the site but the thing is my cards are declining when am trying to payWhich card are you using to pay your orders??Which account must I open or which bank can help me pay my orders

    • Lungi
      Author
      July 4, 2018 / 08:54

      Hi Marcus, I use my credit card to shop. Any credit card from an bank should work. Maybe you can contact your bank to find out if you don’t have limitations on online shopping on your card.

  19. Gee
    July 6, 2018 / 08:38

    Hey, Lungi!Have you shopped from wish and did you get your items?

    • Lungi
      Author
      July 10, 2018 / 06:00

      Hi Gee, I’ve never shopped from Wish before

  20. Augustine
    July 6, 2018 / 11:51

    Hi i ordered three drones and my courrier is DHL total of drones and courrier is R3200 will i be charged customs fees or what? And how much can it be? I am using dhl and where will i collect my stuff??

  21. Adelaide
    August 10, 2018 / 11:30

    Hi lungi I just need to ask is the hair from AliExpress good quality especially Brazilian,Peruvian brands?

    • Lungi
      Author
      August 12, 2018 / 17:48

      Hey Adelaide, I’ve had good experiences with all the hair I’ve bought on Ali Express

  22. Snazo
    August 12, 2018 / 01:09

    Hi Lungi…I want to buy shoes n farewell dress at Aliexpress..and I’ll need it on November…am I late?…do you think my order might not arrive earlier?..I’m scared but I don’t have other option

    • Lungi
      Author
      August 12, 2018 / 17:46

      Hi Snazo, there’s a workers strike at the Post Office currently so I wouldn’t advise buying stuff from AliExpress that will be shipped via the Post Office. I have several items that I ordered >3 months ago that I haven’t received yet.

  23. Winnie Sebapu
    August 21, 2018 / 15:36

    Hi Lungi , with aliexpress how would i know that the parcel is at the post office if ive used aliexpress free shiping? do i get a parcel receipt at the adress i used ?

  24. Mmaphadi
    September 26, 2018 / 00:04

    Hi LungiMy items arrived about 3 weeks ago through the AliExpress standard shipping yet I’ve still not received a notification to fetch them nor can I track them? What should I do, I am so worried.

    • Lungi
      Author
      October 1, 2018 / 21:01

      Hi Mmaphadi,

      Unfortunately there isn’t much you can do if the Post Office hasn’t sent a collection slip yet. As far as I know it’s not possible to track the items

    • Nelly
      October 15, 2018 / 18:17

      I’m in the same situation, did you manage to get yours.

  25. Otshepeng Matolweni
    October 2, 2018 / 16:17

    Hi LungiIf I may ask, do you need a import license in order to by and receive products from other countries

    • Lungi
      Author
      October 2, 2018 / 19:28

      Hi Otsepeng, no I haven’t required one so far

  26. nokwa
    October 4, 2018 / 00:17

    Hi lungy…i am so in luv with aliexpress. I order my hair from them. I recently ordered lipstic and perfume. When i track them it says “order completed”….and i contacted the store i bought from and they said i must go to my nearest post office to check for my order. Hope to find it though

    • Lungi
      Author
      October 4, 2018 / 09:31

      Hi Nokwa, I also looove AliExpress, if only we didn’t have to deal with the troublesome SA post office. Just wait and pray that your stuff gets here, if it takes too long you can always try requesting for a refund.

  27. Portia
    October 5, 2018 / 12:16

    Hi Lungi thank you very much for sharing your experiences with us. Unfortunately for me I read your post after ive ordered a bag and a purse an already i can see they have started shipping and will get it 1st week November. Im crossing fingers for the quality as they advertised it as leather. Now that the JK stores does not ship to South Africa. Which other store sells good quality hair.

    • Lungi
      Author
      October 7, 2018 / 20:00

      Hi Portia, here’s to hoping that your stuff will get here soon. The last hair I bought was from KL hair.

  28. Nelly
    October 15, 2018 / 10:55

    Hi LungiIt was my first time buying clothes from Aliexpress, it’s shows my items were delivered, so how do I know which post office I must go and check my items, cause I can’t even track it anymore its shows as if I have received the items on the app.

    • Lungi
      Author
      October 15, 2018 / 19:14

      Hi Nelly, unfortunately you have to wait for a collection slip or sms from the post office. In the mean time you can let AliExpress know that you don’t have your stuff yet and they’ll change the part where it says your order has been delivered

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