Many of us get confused when it comes to making financial transactions and buying internationally, this happens either because of the mysterious conditions associated with Arabic e-shopping or lack of products in Arabic e-commerce website compares to similar foreign websites. This is when we come in AliBaba and AliExpress websites to be your loyal shopping companion and your crystal clear guide. We are considered one of the world’s best shopping websites, especially in China.
You’ll find everything you need in here; we’ll be there for you starting from registration until you receive your personal/commercial product along with useful tips to avoid forgery and to have a peace of mind.
Let’s go to the second section of this article, click on the following link. But I advise you to read the first part before you purchase from the AliExpress since it has useful tips:
- Pre-purchase stage on ALIBABA website
AliBaba and AliExpress websites, what are they? And what is the difference between them?
What is the difference between AliBaba and AliExpress ?
In short, AliExpress website deals with individuals who buy items for their personal use. It is a retail e-store known as ”B2C” and acts as an intermediary between the seller and the buyer ”individuals”, it works the same way as Amazon and eBay. While AliBaba website is a huge wholesale e-store that provides goods to factories and companies. Known as ”B2B” and acts as an intermediary between importers and suppliers, it sets minimum amounts for each company so it doesn’t enjoy the wholesale price if it orders less than the minimum amounts. Both websites share some of the payment methods. But the difference is really big when it comes to procurement mechanism, shipping and delivery.
When we talk about the best e-commerce website among the world, we are talking of course about ALIBABA website that was originated in China in 1999 by a Chinese businessman named Jack Ma who was an English teacher at a Chinese school! In fact, it is very inspiring to read this man’s autobiography, it will definitely enlighten you. The City where Jack Ma grew up became AIIBABA company headquarter.
Jack Ma had a thought; why don’t we establish a website to be a huge link that combines importers (whether companies or individuals) and suppliers (mainly Chinese companies and factories who can provide the ordered items with a competitive price and good quality)? Simply, in ALIBABA you will find a supplier for anything you have in mind.
In 2010 and after the huge success of ALIBABA, Jack decided to establish ALIEXPRESS to be a commercial website that handles individuals transactions only so it competes with the other famous e-stores, its mechanism is closer to what eBay offers but without the auction feature, it was recently developed to become more convenient to the user and to provide several unique features.
After clarifying the difference, let’s start the buying process step by step until the product is delivered to your doorstep. We’ll start with AliExpress website.
The Purchasing Process on AliExpress
Let’s first talk about the website features that make it preferable to users:
- Despite the fact that the website is originally Chinese. but Arabic language is available on AliExpress because of the large proportion of Arab users who visit the website. You can easily switch between languages through Google Translate with a click; we will explain how to do this later.
- Payments are fully secured through “Buyer Protection” feature that protects buyers from any defect in the procurement process; you must choose a payment method that supports this feature to enjoy its protection.
- AliExpress accepts any payment method you choose, unlike similar websites. AliExpress also supports most of the common payment methods like bank transfers and “Western Union“, each one of these methods is guaranteed by a service called “Escrow“.
- Site labeled sections are excellent compared to other sites, products are easy to find when searched accurately.
- If your account currency is not US dollar, no problem, you can use it without conversion fees under one condition, it must be internationally valid (major currency).
- You do not need to login AliExpress if the application is downloaded to your Android or iOS device. You can immediately start using it while enjoying all the features provided until your order is delivered to your doorstep.
- Some Arab countries suffer from poor service provided by its own national post offices. So they hire international shipping companies to deliver the product to their doorsteps on their own expense, cost and speed of delivery vary from one shipping agency to another.
- Customers can buy directly from the factory needs if it is Chinese because ALIBABA is a Chinese website; some customers buy retail products then resell them on other sites.
- If your budget is low; you can always choose your national government post services provider all over the world.
Important tips before shopping through any website originated outside your country!
- Several commercial websites in the Arab world are available at a good level of efficiency and competitive prices. So, my advice to you is to spend some time looking at those websites and then compare the price of the product you want to buy (if available) with the one available on foreign websites. This will save time and cost of shipping and customs clearance fees. You may also find out that the final cost of a product is greater than its cost on Arabic websites.
The best way to do this comparison (if you want to buy computers and electronics IT devices) is to search for the product you want to buy through Dealna.com, this website searches for products in the International, Arab and Chinese shopping websites, then lists prices, details and specifications in one page, this way you will be able to compare between all shopping websites and decide which one to buy from.
For your own convenience, we’ve gathered names of the most famous Arab shopping websites for the year 2016.
Best in Gulf and Egypt
Unfortunately, it is the only website that covers most of the Arab countries and supports shipping orders to them.
Best in Africa
Best in Arabic Gulf
Best in Arabic Gulf in terms of fashion for men and women
Important tips before you buy from AliExpress
– You must choose a seller who is rated General on 94% or 4.7 out of 5 stars at least on AliExpress; you should also check previous reviews and comments to make sure there are no negative assessments recently.
– Check out this list for products prohibited to be imported in all Arab countries:
- All types of weapons unless authorized by National government and security departments.
- Night binoculars like the ones used in wars unless authorized by National government and security departments.
- Remote aircrafts unless imported to or authorized by National government and security departments.
- All drugs and prohibited medicines.
- Copycat products that violate “TRIPS” agreement of patents and copyrights.
- Mini devices that record audio/videos events like pens and watches and so on.
- All illegal unethical materials like porn pictures/videos/magazines.
- Tracking devices and JPSs unless authorized by National government and security departments.
– Very important tip, it is about quantities you are allowed to import for personal use not for trading.
For example, if you order a shipment of 7 phones, a Tablets and a smart watch, you will look like as if you ordered this shipment for trading purposes, this will require you to provide your company’s importing documents ”Commercial Registry”. On the other hand, you may order 20 different shirts for personal use and they will be considered as non-commercial shipment.
Are there controls and parameters?!
The answer is No, the whole thing is up to the customs officer’s judgment, usually if the quantity is not huge enough to raise doubts it will be assumed for personal use especially if your name is not listed previously as a violator for imports laws, but if the shipment is really big then it will be confiscated until required documents are provided.
In this case you will be notified by the shipping company to solve the problem, you must use a customs broker to complete procedures on your behalf.
You can save time and cost by avoiding this issue completely through dividing the shipment into small orders.
What the easiest way to buy from the site of the AliExpress?
They are of course Visa card and MasterCard whether linked to bank accounts (credit/debit) or rechargeable prepaid card to buy online. There are other easy methods is we will discuss in a bit.
What is ”Escrow” service provided by AliBaba & AliExpress?
It is a service provided originally on AliBaba then added later to AliExpress. It is provided for small fees with a great value that guarantees a safe purchase for buyer and seller. Simply, It works when the website holds the amount paid by the buyer until order is delivered according to the agreed-upon quality and specifications, then the buyer confirms on the website that he got his order, finally, the money are released to the seller.
Conditions for obtaining “Escrow“:
- Payment by Visa or MasterCard or a bank transfer.
- You don’t need a special account, it works automatically once a payment is made.
How is it useful to buyer?
- “Escrow” will not hand over the money to the seller until product is delivered according to specifications.
- You’ll get a unique tracking code for the shipment provided by the shipping company you chose.
How is it useful to seller?
- Payment details are verified for each single transaction.
- seller will ship the product only when notified that the financial amount is held in the site
Buying from AliExpress, Step by step guide
Does the website support Arabic language?
Before you buy you must register an account on www.aliexpres.com in English or through AliExpress in Arabic, Google translation is literal but it is good enough for those who do not have adequate knowledge of English, I advise you to depend on the English language to read the product details first, then read it again in Arabic to have a full perception, we will explain this shortly.
Subscription is available in two ways:
- The first way: on the top right you will find the word Login/Join, when scrolling on it by mouse it will show you the drop-down menu button “login“, click it to create a new account and then enter your e-mail, your first name, your surname, your password and the authentication code below, finally click “Create an account“.
- The second way: by creating AliExpress account using your Facebook or Google accounts as shown in the previous picture.
A trial procurement process
After registration on AliExpress we can search for products by two ways, first through the search bar on the top, second by browsing through the desired section. For example, if you write phones or phones accessories in the search box, the following results will show up as explained in the image below.
After that, click the product’s name, and a full AliExpress page will pop-up to show all necessary information.
Remember that the seller you can trust on AliExpress is the one whose assessment is 94% or 4.7 starts is at least, the image below shows the rest of product’s info. Don’t forget the offers merchants make when a product purchases reach a certain value, they apply a deduction coupon on the product’s price as a promotion.
There is one more screen about the wholesale products, you can reach it in the Wholesale section.
Time in the shipping box on the previous image means the time the product takes from the order time until shipping time, this time is not included in the delivery time which is ’15 -45 Days. The shipping cost is per piece.
In the previous image you’ll find product data, complete technical information and box contents so everything becomes crystal clear to you. You will also a promotional video an a full set of pictures to all outside/inside parts of the phone.
Next to the product data section you will find previous reviews for those who have purchased the product already, it is extremely important to read one or two pages of these reviews to have a piece of mind toward the seller.
Very important note:
To the right of the picture you’ll find an option called ”Talk to the seller” to discuss your questions and concerns with the seller in English of course, this is very helpful in the case of large custom fees in your country where you can agree with the seller on applying a lower price in order to reduce the effect of taxes imposed upon shipment delivery, most sellers accept the reduction but some refuse.
Next to reviews you’ll find the shipping and payment box on AliExpress that shows the cost of shipping and payment methods, but not all of them are protected by “Escrow” service and “Buyer Protection“. The cost of shipping varies up to the number of pieces ordered, you can multiply the percentage by the number pieces and you can increase or decrease the number in the quantity box.
The last image shows returns policy and protection terms, the buyer gets a refund in case of late delivery and if product condition is not as described in specifications. In some cases, you can keep the product with a partial reimbursement on AliExpress as explained below, in addition of course to “seller’s guarantees” as explained previously.
There is another important part at the bottom of the product page that is related to available accessories, the Chinese mobile accessories are not available in some Arab countries, so you can get your accessories by choosing one of the bundles that include accessories which I strongly recommend.
Finally, you’ll find in the bottom of accessories, the plug appropriate for your country, the first type in the picture above is appropriate for Arab countries and shipped upon request for a low price, and even if you don’t order it, you’ll find it available for cheaper price in your country.
Steps of buying a product from AliExpress
- After selecting quantity, completing previous steps and following tips, click on “Buy Now” or “Add to Cart” If you want to buy more than one product
- After that a page of shipping details will pop-up, you will need to add a detailed address to receive the shipment at, click “Add a new address” to do this.
The following page will pop-up, I recommend you mention your postal code even if you are not planning to use your national post service for shipping.
- When you are done adding/saving the address, we move to the next step which is confirming the details of shipping method, quantity and payment in ”shipping and billing”. You can change the shipping company if the seller allows this option as shown in the picture.
The product will be shipped via official Singapore Post to be delivered to your official post services provider; this is why the cost is low in this case. I don’t recommend untrusted official post services provider like the one in Egypt, try to find some other way.
After selecting the appropriate shipping company, the total cost will be calculated, finally click “Place Order” to move to the payment step.
How to pay on AliExpress in various ways
We mentioned that the payment by bank transfer or Western Union is one of our unique features that are not available on any other websites; this is a great option for Arab customers especially after the dollar crisis which led to imposing restrictions on foreign trade through Visa and MasterCard.
You can avoid those restrictions by paying through the two methods above or by your credit/debit cards. You can also use WebMoney and Ali Pay. There are some more methods but they are not common in Arab countries.
It is important to know that all previous methods are now secured by “Escrow” and “Buyer Protection“, these two protocols will hold the amount paid in your official currency or US dollar in the website and they will not release it to the seller until the product is delivered to the buyer. Before, only wire transfer and Western Union were secured by “Escrow” service.
There is one more excellent feature, it is a 24 hours delay before debiting the money from your account in case you wanted to cancel the order or modify some data.
Payment by cards and the cost of converting Arab currencies to dollars
It is very easy, just choose Visa or MasterCard, and then enter the card data (Card No., Expiry Date, the three digits on the back of the card, name of the card holder). Now click “Pay My Order“.
But there will be a small percentage to be charged to the customer in addition to the original price, usually about 2.5% that covers conversion fees & purchase fees.
For example, if you buy from Egypt, the rate of $1 against Egyptian pound is 9.42 pounds, it might increase soon even the official rate is 8.88 pounds. This is hwo it also works in all Arab countries.
Payment by bank transfer
Simply print out the page that appears when you click “Bank Transfer” then take it to your bank to complete the process.
If you order more than one product, you should make a separate transfer of each product because every order has a unique number on ”Beneficiary Account Number” to secure your payment and retrieve it without complexities.
The order’s price must be transferred as one complete payment not separately.
Payment by Western Union
When you press the “Western Union” logo the following page will pop-up, this page shows the transfer, when you click “Generate” an automatically generated number will be assigned to the transfer transaction on your ”Account Number”, based on this number you will fill a form called “Quick Pay Person To Company“, or you can just ask one of the staff for more details about transferring payment through “ALIPAY“, to know the closest branch to you, go to branches page, finally the amount will be released to the seller once you received your product.
Fees of paying through Western Union:
Steps taken after completing a purchase transaction from AliExpress
Tracking the shipment through various shipping companies
After a period of 24 hours after payment, and after the operation time (time taken from making an order to shipping the product), you can go to “My Orders” by clicking on the “My Account” on the top right or the top left.
After login, you will see all products that have been shipped already, you’ll find the shipment tracking number at the bottom of the “Status” box (tracking number appears only after the product is already shipped, usually after 3-5 days), after it appears copy it and then go to the shipping company official website and enter the code to view the path from shipping the product until it is delivered to your country, the link below lists the most famous shipping companies once you click it.
very important note: when the shipment arrives to your country, you should track it through the official post services provider in your country unless it is shipped via Singapore mail or Dutch mail, the other shipping companies do all custom clearance procedures, then deliver the product to your doorstep.
The time the product takes until it arrives
Usually you’ll get your order in 20 days at the maximum, but sometimes it takes longer due to poor customs regulations of some Arab countries.
What should I do after the arrival of the consignment to the official mail to my country?
If you are from Egypt, then your shipment will arrive to Ramses Post Office first, if your shipment includes phones, Tablets, food, children remotely control toys and medicines, They will be confiscated until cleared, any other materials will be shipped to the last delivery point which is the post office that you enter in the order details, then you will be contacted to receive your product or you can just go there and pay some money to receive it.
Regarding the confiscated materials, you have to go to the Post Office in Ramses, then to the fourth roundabout with your track number and order hard copy, in there you will begin custom clearance procedures to get the approval of National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority, then you will pay customs fees. It is a long tiring routine process that I recommend not to go through.
As for the rest of the Arab countries, things are different especially in Gulf countries where post services are a lot better, If your shipment doesn’t show in 20 days, I recommend you go to the main Post with your tracking number and inquire about the shipment, keep doing this every two days, this tip is recommended in all Arab countries.
In case you did not place the zip code for the nearest post office in the order details, go to the main Post Office with your tracking number. If you’re in Saudi Arabia, I advise you to subscribe to a private mailbox, it will only cost you 100 SR annually.
Are there customs fees imposed on shipments? And what is the ratio imposed?
Yes and no, some Arab countries do like Egypt, where you have to pay a certain custom fees upon delivery depending on the product type. Some Arab countries don’t impose fees, you will have to check this with your customs Department and National post services provider.
Is there an expiry date for “Escrow” service?
Yes, there is. After a specific time you will lose that protection as shown in the picture, but do not worry, you can extend that period by an agreement with the seller, clicking on “Escrow” link, or opening a dispute in case of problems.
This means that your money is safe as long as you are entitled of it.
Shipment receipt confirmation and seller’s rating
After receiving your product as described in terms of specifications and quality, you must release the money to the seller by clicking “Confirm Order Received” that can be accessed through “My Orders“.
Through “My Orders” Also, you can evaluate the seller by clicking “Manage Feedback“, below you’ll find the tab “Orders Awaiting My Feedback“, click your product then you will be asked for your assessment to the entire purchase process, feel free to write your opinion.
What happens if I don’t receive my shipment?
In the case of negligence in tracking the shipment through your official Post Office, we will return the product to China within a month of delivery date.
What are the steps to return the product in case of specifications breach or delay in delivery?
At first I advise you to do the following steps before taking any action:
- If the problem is a delivery delay, I advise you to contact the seller.
- Wait until the maximum time passes which is 60 days in case of confiscation due to pre-tax problem, usually you wait for 20-30 days only.
- Make sure you check your product every two days through the tracking number to keep yourself updated, especially after the shipment arrives to your country
If previous steps didn’t help, go ahead and open a dispute with the seller on the site by clicking “Open Dispute” next to “My Orders” as explained previously.
Fill a dispute form as described, but do not click “Partial Refund” at all because it means ”You can keep the product with the a partial reimbursement” while the case is that you didn’t receive the product in the first place, you can click “Full Refund” though, then answer the first question that inquires if you received your shipment or not, private inquire about receipt of the shipment or not, in the “Reason” box specify the cause of dispute, then there is a wider box below to write your comment to the seller.
Below the box there is a spot where you can add images to show product specifications breach, now click “Submit“.
Now you have to wait up to 15 days until the seller’s responds with approval or rejection, during that time you can modify your dispute request whenever needed.
In the case of rejection, you can transfer the dispute to the relevant section on this website by clicking on “File Claim” and we will look into the matter and contact you.
Note: if the dispute is about delivery delay, the shipment will be automatically tracked and you will be notified upon arrival. You can always modify the reason of dispute if nothing happens in terms of the reason of your first choice.
Beware before clicking this button!
This is a common fatal error, don’t click “Confirm Order Received” before the shipment arrives, you will lost the right of claiming it if it doesn’t show, but anyway you can always contact us by chat feature.
The application has great features and special offers as well, it is easier and faster to use AliExpress website as an application.
Now let’s move to the second section where ALIBABA provides wholesale products to customers.
Pre-purchase stage in ALIBABA
Important tips to protect you from fraud:
- Deal with suppliers who own a gold membership of 2-3 years, the more the better.
- Escrow service is the best guarantee for your money
- Test the supplier by offering a delegates to complete the procedures on your behalf and pay upon delivery, if seller approves then he is trustworthy, if not, ignore him completely because this is an old fraud trick.
- It is better to communicate with the seller through the website, because some fraudsters posing a personal representative of a company that already exist by writing directly to your email.
- If you are asked to pay the seller by transferring the amount to his bank account, he is simply ”hustler”
- You better give up a small amount of money to buy a sample of the desired product before buying the whole shipment; this helps you to have a peace of mind regarding the product quality and payment process. This is a very important step
- you must request a preliminary bill for the shipment ”Proforma Invoice” signed with the company seal, because it will represent a formal contract between you and the seller.
”Old fraud trick”
- In some cases, you’ll find some scammers who set half of the original prices of similar products to attract those who are looking for a cheaper price without being aware that they are actually losing money.”Old fraud trick”
- You can check if the factory does exist for real by searching its name on Google next to alibabascam.com like ”xxx alibabascam.com”, if you find it then it is a scammer and doesn’t exist, you can also browse our scammers list
- Another way to check if the factory does exist for real is by going to the Chinese Embassy in your country and they will definitely provide you with this important piece of information.
- You must get an invoice inside the shipment and request an official one from the website showing the amount paid, make sure they are not copycat; it is so easy to find this out by looking carefully.
- When negotiating the price of the product, make sure the price matches required specifications, some suppliers agree to reduce the price but they reduce quality as well.
- Don’t do deals off-website in any way
A very important tip:
Customs Department has a list of products and their prices, so do not try to manipulate the price of the product by telling the merchant to reduce the invoice value, because you will end up paying a greater value than you are supposed to because of the international brand logo on the product that will be confiscated as a copycat product and require you to pay more custom fees to release it. It is recommended to hire a clearance broker with a high influence on the customs to resolve this problem. You also need to get an invoice from the factory to indicate the actual value of the shipment to avoid any extra taxes.
FYI, 70% of the companies are not real, they are actually small offices who order products from giant factories.
Guarantees offered by ALIBABA website to protect importers from scammers:
- Gold Membership ”Gold Supplier”: a paid membership of $1,500 annually.
- Supplier Assessment: the best evidence on the credibility and reliability of the entire factory
- Onsite Check: evidence that the factory does exist for real.
- A&V Check: evidence that the business has a trade license and easy to communicate.
Simply, if a seller got a Gold membership, he automatically obtains all previous guarantees except for Supplier Assessment which is an optional certificate that includes all previous certificates. The gold certificate is obtained when a specialized team visits the factory to document its Gold membership; some examples of the companies providing such teams are Bureau Veritas and TÜV Rheinland.
You can download the visiting team reports from the official website of the supplier, the supplier’s website link is available in the data box in ALIBABA where you can also view images, supporting documents and a video of the assessment team visit.
If you want more reassurance, you can request another team visit to ensure product quality for a reasonable cost that doesn’t compare to the peace of mind you get especially if the shipment is really huge.
A final piece of advice, do not deal in any way with a seller that you are suspicious about. The table below shows the contents of previous certificates and what they mean.
Is it safe to buy from ALIBABA?
Yes, in one case, if you avoid all warnings listed here.
Buying from ALIBABA, Step by step guide
Is ALIBABA website available in Arabic?
Yes, it is available on the link http://arabic.alibaba.com, it is also available in other languages as well, but it is still better to browse it in English to avoid confusion since the translation is literal and it might not be accurate.
If you are registered at ALIEXPRESS, you will be able to use the same account to login here. If you are not, please do the following steps:
Add your email, then click “Next“, then go to your inbox and click the activation link.
Fill in the following data as usual and click “confirm”
Account created successfully.
Narrating ALIBABA website pages
Buying methods on ALIBABA
It is a service provided to SMEs in the field of imports, it allows them to buy Chinese products in quantities less than usual for the same wholesale price.
It is a free service that allows a buyer to place a ”purchase request” with product specifications he is willing to have, once ALIBABA approves and publishes the request, it will immediately provide you with the top 10 suppliers depending on the specifications that you list, then you can compare offers and suppliers and pick the one that fits you the most, those offers are called Quotes.
How to place a purchase request on ALIBABA?
Click the link place a purchase request, a page will pop-up, follow instructions fill in details accurately.
Regarding shipping expenses codes you can read import and export terms, they are very important.
After obtaining quotes, you can accept the one that fits you the most after negotiating conditions with the supplier, here’s a simple form that you can use for messaging:
My name is John and I am with XYZ Company.
I am interested in placing an order for Widget A. Before I do however, I just have several questions:
- What is your minimum order quantity?
- And what is your cost per unit and at what quantity levels do you offer quantity discounts?
- What are your payment terms for new customers?
I would also like to order a sample of Widget A before placing a full order. Can you please send me the cost for the sample including shipping to:
80 Spadina Ave., Floor 4
Toronto, ON, Canada
How to hire a delegate on ALIBABA?
This is an excellent service for those who appreciate their peace of mind. you can simply hire a delegate who will go through procurement process and shipping procedures on your behalf, here are the features you will enjoy:
- The delegate is a professional experienced person who has an extensive knowledge of suppliers in his domain such as telephones.
- Low cost that does not compare to your peace of mind.
- Save time and effort.
- Best of all is the availability of Arabic delegates in case you don’t know much of English language; this service will remove the language barrier and make your life easier.
After clicking “contact agent“, you will be directed to a page similar to purchase request where you can determine the details of the desired product, you will get a reply with the ideal cost to your request.
The manual method to search a supplier and to ensure his credibility
You can do this through the search box in the top, or browse through the sections of the website. I recommend you go first to Mobile Phone & Accessories section for example, and then you can customize the search more precisely on the left side based on your needs.
If you go down a little bit you will see suggested products as explained below
The option “talk to the seller” is not always available, you may find some sellers not available with a gray color next to their names instead of blue, or you will see the status “I am away” to indicate a busy supplier.
The buying method on ALIBABA
We’ve picked a random product as an example; here are the details in the following product page.
Here’s the product specifications divided into several sections. you will not need to ask the seller anything except for few simple inquiries, because the page is full of info and FAQ.
And this is the company data page
Finally, the company previous transactions page
And now you got all the info you need.
How to hire a team to examine the company’s credibility and quality assurance before you buy?
By visiting the service website, you can hire a team to examine the company and make sure everything is ok in terms of quality and specifications, The cost is $200 if the inspection company is in China, and $300 if it is outside China.
The inspection companies available are SGS, BV & TUV
Trade Assurance – Buyer Protection
It is the same “Escrow” service but with a new name “Trade Assurance“, you must choose one of the two protection methods when filling up the purchase order form, protection is available only for Gold membership holders, few buyers are currently protected but the number is rapidly increasing, protection is only available for transactions through the site and not between individuals.
Cases when you are entitled of a refund:
- Late delivery of the shipment date as specified in the contract
- Breach of product specifications as mentioned in the contract
This is why you must select the shipping details and product specifications precisely because if any problem happens, ALIBABA will look into the contract and yow will be responsible for any defect since you are the one who agreed on the contract terms after submitted by the seller.
In the case of specifications breach, the site will send a representative to the seller company to examine the product. If the representative confirmed such a breach, you will get your money back.
So make sure that you have the answers of the following questions before you buy:
- How can I determine product specifications accurately?
- Does the supplier chosen is able to meet the required specifications?
- What are the international standards of the ordered product?
- Is the supplier open to complaints? And does he have a previous record to confirm that?
The two protection methods
In the beginning, you must know the maximum amount protected by the website to consider it when you sign a contract with the seller. You can see the protection amounts in the picture below.
FYI, the maximum duration to secure a payment is 180 days from the date of shipment, here are the two types of protection available through “Trade Assurance” service:
In my opinion this is the best way of protection against fraudsters. You pay a down payment from the total cost, then an inspector is sent to ensure the product quality before shipping. And if everything is fine order is approved and shipped, if not, you file for a refund.
You make a full payment on the website, upon delivery; shipment is inspected for quality and specifications within 15 days after custom clearance.
I recommend hiring quality inspectors anyway, because in dispute cases, only their reports will prove that the shipment does not match specifications as mentioned in the contract.
Buy the product
After agreeing with the merchant on all details whether by correspondence, chat or clicking “Contact Supplier“, you ‘ll have two options to complete the procurement process, the first one is to sign an off-site contract between you and the seller then submit it to the website. The second method is to click “Start Order” and follow simple steps with illustrated images. This way is ideal if you want to document the whole deal through the website.
After filling in the details and data, click “Upload Contract” to submit the contract “Confirm Order” directly or through “My Orders” page, the seller must approve the order as well.
What payment methods are available through ALIBABA?
- Visa: payment takes 30 minutes to be confirmed on website, and 2-3 days to be credited to the seller company account,
- MasterCard: same as Visa
- TT: it stands for ”Telegraphic Transfer” which is a wire transfer; this way is merchants’ favorite because of its low cost and fast transfer. A down payment is made first then the rest is paid once a buyer receives his copy of guaranteeing documents, money will be credited to seller’s account in 3-7 days and commission varies according to bank policy. After the down payment you will see the status ”waiting for supplier to ship order”, once order is shipped and confirmed the status will be “waiting for payment“.
- E-Checking: service provided by PayPal e-bank where you can send money through your bank account ”in US Only” and it will reach the seller in 3-6 working days, transfer fees are $15, after the payment you’ll see the status “payment processing“. For me this is the best way to pay because it’s easy to get money back if any problem happens.
How to pay a partial amount of the seller?
Click “My Orders“, click the desired order and you’ll find a submenu that has the options ”cancel order” and “pay a partial amount”. Then go to your page and you’ll see a button labeled ”Send Initial Payment”.
How to track the shipment?
Go to orders page, then click “Delivery details” and you’ll find shipping details, and the air/sea freight company.
How to pay the remaining amount after shipment receipt?
Click “Pay the Balance” in “Order Details” page.
How to confirm the shipment receipt?
In the orders page you will see the status “Waiting for Delivery Confirmation“. Go to “order details” page and click the orange button ”Confirm”.
How to evaluate a supplier on ALIBABA?
In the “order page“, once you click “confirm” it will be replaced with the word “Feedback“, just click it.
How to open a dispute through ALIBABA?
Click “Open a dispute” in “My Orders” page or “order details” page, fill in the dispute details, reasons and proofs.
How am I going to get my money back?
If supplier doesn’t respond in 3 days, you can take the dispute further to manually by clicking “Escalate Dispute“, anyway. It will escalate automatically after 7 days.
ALIBABA will look into the dispute details, if it is supplier’s mistake, they buyer will get his money back.
What is the required paperwork to clear the shipment at the Customs Department?
Tips for importers
– If you do not have previous experience with customs, you better hire broker (company or individual) to go through procedures on your behalf. This way you will avoid losses result from delivery delay charges.
– Get a paper and write down the full costs of clearance. You should ask the customs broker about them including his own fees, and here is a list of the common costs:
- Product price
- Certificates cost (health, quality) and attesting cost
- International shipping cost (land, sea, air)
- Unpacking and receipt permit costs
- Displaying product before governmental departments
- Customs and sales taxes
- Bank transfer and LOCs fees
- Local shipping cost
- Customs broker fees
- Administrative expenses
- Cost of mailing the shipment documents (usually paid by exporter)
– Before accepting the shipment; check the supplier’s ability to provide you with the required documents by the customs broker in your country.
Documents and certificates required from the buyer by the supplier:
- Commercial invoice
- Certificate of Origin
- Bill of Lading: you are required to provide it if you go through the importing procedures on your own. But if the company is clearing the shipment you will get it after paying the shipping cost
- Certificate of fumigation and quality; for shipments that are wrapped or packaged inside wooden boxes or even the floor, insects and pests may move from one country to another with the shipment, the timber pass inside the steam sterilization machine then stamped and issued a certificate
- Health certificate for any food
- Fumigation certificate
You have to arrange previous certifications with your customs broker; it will be difficult to you to receive the shipment without them.
Certifications must be attested by the exporter embassy, the supplier can do this for you for an extra charge. Check with your broker if this is needed or not.
All certificates from supplier must be sent by express mail to reach you in time so you can check them with your broker.
Documents and certificates required from the buyer (importer)
- Form 4: extracted from the bank that the shipment cost is transferred to, Form 4 will mention the amount and type of contract.
- Commercial or industrial registry
- Tax card
- import card
- Taxes dealers’ card
- General authorization to the Customs broker
Some of the previous documents are provided once, other documents must be provided every time you import.
Customs clearance steps
- The container will reach to the port to unpack; this process takes 2-3 days.
- The customs broker gets the receipt permit from the shipping agent.
- The broker provides customs value acknowledgment from based on the billed amount.
- Customs Department inspectors examine the shipment to determine its real price compared to the bill.
- Some goods are presented to some other government departments such as telephones in Egypt; they are inspected by ”National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority” before they are released. The broker will go through these procedures for you.
- Broker will pay customs taxes and expenses on your behalf.
- The broker will contract with a local shipping company to load the shipment and pass it through the X-ray machine to detect any undesirable contents. And then it will be allowed into stores.
The whole previous steps take 5-7 days if no problems happened.
I recommend using the website mainly due to communications and procedures. After that you can use the application because it is convenient.
- Ali Express
- The Ultimate Guide to Buying From ALI EXPRESS without Getting Scammed
- How do I open a dispute?
- Verification Types
- Trade Assurance
- Alibaba Trade Assurance Explained: What Importers Must Know
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