eBay or AliExpress? Reasons to Shop (or Not) on Each of Them

aliAlibaba is the new game in town for shoppers of the sort that have traditionally shopped on eBay, and its consumer-level marketplace, AliExpress, has been drawing lots of attention in recent months.

eBay shoppers will find that there are a lot of good deals to be had, and some may even been tempted to ask whether eBay hasn’t been surpassed. In fact, it’s more complicated than that. Here are some reasons to shop on each of them.

Reasons to Shop AliExpress

  • Low prices. For goods that appear both on AliExpress and eBay, the prices on AliExpress are likely to be much lower. This is because very often, they’re the same goods, but on AliExpress you’re buying directly from the suppliers and eBay sells at retail prices.
  • Increased variety in new goods. As a marketplace full of direct-from-China manufacturers and sellers, AliExpress offers many goods that eBay doesn’t, simply because eBay sellers don’t think the market outside China is big enough to bother importing them. If you have unusual tastes or are looking for a newly manufactured product that no one else has, AliExpress is a good bet.
  • No PayPal. If you’re amongst those that aren’t interested in or that hesitate to use PayPal, AliExpress may seem like an easier marketplace to shop. While you have to expend a certain amount of effort to find sellers on eBay that accept credit cards directly, on AliExpress, everyone does.

     

    Reasons to Shop eBay

    • Faster, cheaper shipping. While the prices for identical goods may be better on AliExpress, the delivery times certainly aren’t. Free shipping and fast delivery are increasingly the norm on eBay, but on AliExpress you’ll generally still pay separate shipping fees and may wait weeks to months in many (though certainly not all) cases for item(s) to arrive.
    • Better variety overall. While AliExpress offers more variety in certain kids of newly manufactured goods, eBay is still the undisputed king of overall variety in products on offer. eBay caters not just to shoppers of new import Chinese goods, but to shoppers of refurbished goods, used goods, vintage goods, collectible and hobby goods, and so on, as well as to a wide variety of seller profiles, including individuals and small businesses selling whatever they already happen to have on hand. So while you’ll find things on AliExpress that no one has bothered to bring out of China yet, you’ll find things on eBay that are old, rare, one-of-a-kind, hand-made, and from every country and time period on earth.
    • The security and convenience of PayPal. While there are some shoppers that prefer not to use PayPal, if the growth of PayPal over the last decade is any evidence, there are many more that strongly prefer to use PayPal whenever possible. Since AliExpress doesn’t even support payment with PayPal and almost everyone on eBay accepts it, for most shoppers this is a big plus for eBay.
    • Upgrades, repairs, and selling. For most, AliExpress is purely a shopping platform, which is fine as far as it goes—but it does make the business of funding your upgrades or repairs with your own item sales that much difficult, not to mention things like holding garage sales or fundraisers. If you’re looking for the convenience of a place to buy and sell all in the same sandbox, eBay is the clear choice.
    • Better feedback. Between eBay’s classic feedback system, its detailed seller ratings, and its Cassini search promoting sellers with low defect rates, eBay is simply a safer place to shop. Your likelihood of encountering trouble is far, far less—and you’ll still find many of the biggest sellers on AliExpress also offering goods direct on eBay, but with a better picture of their past performance and reliability.

    And the Winner Is

    Though it’s up to shoppers to decide for themselves on a case-by-case basis where they prefer to shop for a particular item, for general purpose online shopping, eBay is still a better choice for most typical North American shoppers than AliExpress, and this isn’t likely to change quickly. However if you are in Africa,  AliExpress is the best in the sense that they can ship to many African nations than eBay

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