Is it okay to buy from Chinese online shopping sites?
For us in the Philippines, online shopping mostly revolves around popular sites like Lazada and Shopee. They offer plenty of products and ship locally. However, some products are not available on their platform but are in Chinese online shopping sites. The question now is, is it okay to shop there?
I made a few purchases last year mostly from AliExpress, Banggood and from GearBest the previous year. The items ranged from gadget organizers, accessories, and mechanical keyboards; I thought I might share my experience here and some tips as well for first-time users.
Start with smaller, less expensive items
If it’s your first time buying and you feel apprehensive about purchasing from an online shop from a different country, then you could try buying less expensive items first to try it out. In my case, I purchased gadget organizers and a few cables costing a little over PHP 1K, that way I wouldn’t feel terrible about the shipping costs.
When choosing products, please take time to read the product description, customer reviews and ratings before you put them in your cart.
Select your shipping method
Most of the sellers on the Chinese online retailers I mentioned offer free shipping to products above a certain amount (depending on the product), but you have to check the shipping method as it will tell you how long you should wait for your product. Free standard shipping usually takes 4 to 6 weeks, but there are options for faster shipping (10 – 17 days, or less) through couriers like DHL or FedEx. You’ll have to pay extra (around USD 15- 20+). You can also opt to purchase insurance in case your product gets damaged in shipping.
Also, take note of the processing time as some items are back ordered. It could take about only 24 hours to a couple of weeks before they ship out. In my experience, there was a time when the processing time got extended from 10 days to 15.
Take advantage of those coupons
Platforms like AliExpress, Banggood, and GearBest regularly give you coupons, and you’ll have a few especially if you just recently registered. Sellers also have their coupons that you can use but with some stipulations like minimum purchase requirements. If you have them, use them to bring down costs. The savings can also be used to opt for a faster courier service.
Prepare your credit card
Paying with your credit card is one of the primary methods of paying for purchases. But if you’re not comfortable, don’t worry as you can also use PayPal. A friend also said that GCash and PayMaya work. As for COD, it’s not widely available, but it is offered by some sellers and is available in select products.
The waiting game
You must understand that your product is coming from a different country so it might take a while as suggested by the processing time and shipping method you have chosen. The good news is, these platforms offer good tracking services and you can even chat with their customer service or the seller themselves about the status of your order.
The customer service
One of the things I like about these platforms is their customer service. You can leave a message, email, call them directly in China, or do a live chat which is available 24/7. In my experience, I inquired about a product I purchased that still hasn’t shipped despite the given processing time. After a few minutes, I received an update; then later in the day, I received an email from the seller detailing the status of my order. Knowing that you can quickly get in touch with someone gives an assurance that your purchase is in good hands.
Big Chinese online stores have policies to protect buyers like us. In the case of AliExpress, they have this Buyer Protection which gives you a Money Back Guarantee if you did not receive the product within the buyer protection period (usually 10 to 60 days) or if the product received is not as described.
I also like how they manage disputes. They will first let you and the seller resolve a dispute. If an agreement was not reached during a certain period, AliExpress will get involved and help you fix it.
Refunds are also not a problem in my experience. I canceled an order from Banggood which I paid with via my PayPal account that’s tied to my credit card. They refunded the full amount to my card in 5 business days.
Don’t expect it to arrive at your doorstep
Although you have provided your complete shipping address, the products you ordered won’t always arrive at your doorstep especially if you used standard shipping. Instead, it’s delivered to your city’s post office where you’ll have to pick it up after paying a fee. In my case, I had to use the tracking number and enter it in the PHLPost Tracking website to see if the post office has received my package.
In the case of COD, the package will be delivered directly to your doorstep. Just hand over the cash, and you’re good.
So far, my experience is good when it comes to shopping on Chinese online platforms, so I’m going to buy there again whenever they have special sales. I still have to be careful though and research thoroughly if the product and seller are good. The only issue I have is the shipping time which could take almost two months. I can opt for faster couriers, but it’s expensive, so patience is the key.
And there you have it. We hope that this article can help you get started with shopping online. If you have done this before, feel free to share your experiences below.