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Musing #47: Shipping from AliExpress to India

AliExpress has always been a go-to marketplace for low-value, utilitarian items. However, since time immemorial, there have been two primary concerns about AliExpress – quality and delivery. Many years ago, I remember the sellers being abusive and you didn’t always get what you saw, with the delivery being a hit-or-miss affair.

However, things have improved significantly over the years. The customer service has been more prompt in issuing refunds for genuine cases under ‘Buyer Protection’ which has in turn ensured that the sellers are much more truthful about their product images. Of late, I haven’t encountered a single situation where the product wasn’t as described.

On the other hand, delivery continues to be an exercise in patience. Sellers message about the product being delivered in 30-50 working days as a matter of fact when it can be hair splitting for the buyer to wait an eternity. Obviously, this is the seller copy-pasting the message from a template based on their own shipping method which is often free and doesn’t provide any tracking, apart from a fake tracking number to update the product status to “shipped”.

Hence, except for the really low value items, I prefer a shipping method that provides tracking for a little peace of mind. Most sellers who provide tracking use the ‘China Post Registered Air Mail’ option which isn’t the fastest but is at least reliable. On the other hand, ‘China Post Ordinary Small Packet Plus’ is the worst of the lot and should be avoided at all costs, unless it happens to be the ‘Seller’s Shipping Method’, in which case, you are out of luck. I have seen obscure ‘tracker-less’ shipping options like SunYou and Yanwen do a much better job in terms of delivery time than China Post.

All said and done, I have started to favour ‘AliExpress Standard Shipping’ whenever I am getting something of any decent value. It usually costs less than $2, but is by far the fastest of the lot. The courier under this shipping option isn’t fixed but all the orders I placed this quarter were shipped using Singapore Post which has done a decent job of it. As you can see, there is still a lot of variance in delivery times and on occasions it can be slower than ‘China Post Registered Air Mail’. But all said and done, it certainly seems to be worth its price, if you intend to always receive your product within a month’s time.

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