AliExpress, owned by the AliBaba Group, is one of the world’s largest online stores. It is made up of mostly small Chinese businesses and individuals offering products to international buyers around the world at “lower than market prices”, often with free shipping at their door steps.
Over the last two years, AliExpress has become increasingly popular in Pakistan. The prices are low and for most of the products you don’t have to pay any kind of tax or custom duties, since they’re sent marked as “gifts”.
However Pakistani customers do face some issues while receiving their purchased items. Sometimes the orders from AliExpress take good 40-50 days to get the product delivered and at times you just don’t get them delivered at all.
Our previous coverage on non-deliveries of Ali Express items is available below:
- Playing Ugly: All AliExpress Orders Being Blocked at Karachi Port
- 3 out of 4 Orders from AliExpress Get Lost in Pakistan: Poll
- AliExpress Stops Shipping Certain Products to Pakistan
Based on these stories, and countless requests that we get, here’s our guide of ordering products from AliExpress in Pakistan.
Let’s get started.
Ordering Items from AliExpress – And Actually Getting Them
AliExpress offers excellent buyer protection, so in case you don’t get the product, it’s broken or something else goes wrong, you can always get a full or partial refund. For that you’ve to be very honest and provide sufficient evidence to back your claim.
In these cases when your product isn’t delivered, sometimes it is the fault of sellers, but most of the time it is the involvement of our custom officials and the negligence of postal and courier companies.
Here we are listing some essential buyer guidelines and tips for AliExpress users. Follow these and the chances of your purchased items getting lost will be much lower. You can add up suggestions in the comments section below too.
Please note that by no means, this guide should be taken as a rule book as circumstances keep changing and these best practices must not be taken as a guarantee from ProPakistani for getting your products delivered.
Always Look for “Registered Air Mail”
There are items and sellers that ship through “Registered Air Mail”, while others don’t. Don’t go for “Standard Shipping Methods” or any other method than “Registered Air Mail”.
Items shipped through “Registered Air Mail” are usually shipped free, but at times may come along a small cost.
Our experience tells us that anything shipped through “Registered Air Mail” is more likely to get delivered, while other (free) methods may cause issues.
Always Select a Trustworthy Seller
First thing you should be concerned about is the reputation of the seller. AliExpress has a feedback system, so the users who have already purchased from a seller can leave their feedback. Always select the one with positive feedback and high number of orders.
Also look at the ratings and comments left by other buyers. They will give you a fair idea of the seller’s reputation.
Look for Buyer Protection
AliExpress offers full or partial refund if you haven’t received the product or if it doesn’t match the specifications mentioned on the site. Make sure you are buying from a store that has Buyer Protection badge.
Buy Original Products
If you’re buying a product from some renowned brand, make sure it is the original one. You can get an idea from its price, obviously. If a Gucci bag is going for PKR 1,000, it’s safe to assume it’s a fake. Don’t just look at the title for word “original / authentic”, dig into the item description. You can always send a message to the store asking if it is original or not as well.
Some stores have “Guaranteed Genuine” badge you can find under a product description which means that AliExpress guarantees the originality of the product.
Free Shipping Isn’t Always A Good Option
If by spending a couple of bucks you can get Registered Airmail shipping, there is nothing better than that.
This way you can track your shipment and there are less chances of your purchased item getting lost. This gets more important for expensive products.
Ordering Mobile Phones from AliExpress is a No Go
You should know that after the recent wave of terrorism in Pakistan, the courts ordered PTA to block all the imports of Smartphones in Pakistan without Type Approval.
Moreover, mobile phones are usually sent through DHL. So first you will have to pay courier fees and then in order to get the phone cleared you will have to get Type Approval from PTA and again pay fees for that.
There are chances that even after type approvals your mobile phone won’t be cleared, so in the long run you aren’t saving anything big.
You are better off saving yourself the hassle and buying locally.
Just to mention, PTA doesn’t give NOC / Type Approvals for phones that aren’t available in Pakistan. Xiaomi phones for instance, or other Chinese smartphone brands, that are not approved for Pakistan already won’t be allowed in any case.
So just do not order any unknown brand even if you are able to bear shipment charges, as customs will never clear these alien models in Pakistan.
Avoid Purchasing Larger Items
As per my personal experience and general feedback from public, products that are big in size are less likely to arrive at your doorstep.
Either they go missing or get broken. So don’t just buy a ride-on car for your kid, as it is less likely to reach you.
Bluetooth & WiFi Powered Devices Are No Problem
Though mobile phones are banned from being imported without Type Approval, apparently it is very easy to get other gadgets.
Again we would recommend not to get big and bulky gadgets, but small ones. Even if they have wireless communication chips, they can get imported without much of a worry.
Avoid Bulk Orders
If you are ordering 5 pieces or less, then it’s probably fine. But if you’re importing them in bulk to sell them here in local markets, then it might not work.
Most of the packages you get are marked as gifts in order to avoid custom duties so if you get 100 Bluetooth speakers as ‘gifts’, it will raise suspicion.
Women’s Jewelry is the Cheapest Thing
There are so many categories of items that are available on AliExpress but we mostly end up buying electronic items from there. However, women’s jewelry is among the cheapest type of items available on AliExpress.
Compared to the local market, you will see up to 50% discounted prices for jewelry. However, you can’t check them in person so you have to rely on the customers’ feedback and seller ratings.
Don’t be in a Hurry to Open Disputes
One thing you should always keep in mind is that honesty is the best policy. Having said that if you have an actual issue and haven’t received the product weeks after the deadline, you can open a dispute.
However first make sure that your buyer protection period is about to end. Don’t just open a dispute after 2 days or placing the order. You will always get a favorable result if you provide correct information to AliExpress. The seller will refund you even if it wasn’t its fault, so be patient.
Buy from Mobile App to Save Extra
AliExpress offers some special discounts if you make purchases from mobile app. It is always recommended to use mobile app instead of desktop version to purchase items, as you might save few dollars by just doing that.