Shopping from Chinese websites can be a daunting task. And when people add “Ohh… buying Online from Chinese Websites isn’t safe” and “Online Chinese Shopping Sites are all scam!“, it only makes things worse. But trust me, what you hear is far from the truth.
I have been making online purchases from China online websites for over three years now and things aren’t as bad as the media makes it seem. In fact, I think shopping from China is cheap, reliable and something I recommend everyone try, excluding people from the US (more on it later).
Is buying Online from Chinese Websites Safe?
Definitely. Buying Online from Chinese Websites is completely safe and most of them even provide insurance with the order. In case your order never reaches you, you will either be sent a replacement or you will get a refund. From my personal experience, I can confidently share that you don’t have to worry about not getting your order just because it got lost in the transit or some other unjustifiable reasons. Either the courier will cover the loss or the online store will.
But I have not been scammed doesn’t mean that no one will be. You can’t just go to any Chinese store and not expect to be scammed. There are INDEED scam sites which are looking to rip you off. But identifying them is easy. You can read reviews about them on the Internet and make sure you are reading the reviews from a legitimate source. Many a time, the scam website will make a review website and review themselves and play god. You should definitely watch out for such websites.
List of Safe and Reliable Online Chinese Stores and Websites
There are hundreds of legit Chinese websites which ship the products internationally. And the fact that new sites (which are legit) are built every day, this list is never going to be complete. However, if you find the website you are looking to shop in down below, you don’t need to worry about its legitimacy and make your purchase.
Chinese Websites for buying Electronics
Chinese Websites for Buying Cosmetics
Chinese Websites for Buying Fashion Accessories and Clothes
How to know if the Chinese Online Store is safe and legit?
There are many ways you can know whether a Chinese website is legit or not. Here are a few
# First way to test the legitimacy of Chinese Online Website – Check their Social Media Pages
Make sure that the website you are buying from has Social Media pages. Check their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram account. A legit online shopping website will without any doubt have a social media presence.
Checking their social media pages will also let you know how they deal with their customers. Also, website rating can be found on the Facebook page. It will be a good indicator of whether the website is legit or it is scamming people.
If a website you are trying to buy from doesn’t have a social media presence, it’s probably a scam and you are better off avoiding it.
# Second way to test the legitimacy of Chinese Online Website – Search for the Store in Reddit
Reddit is the best place to discuss, well, everything. You will find a lot of subreddits discussing the best websites to buy from China. Also, you can find user opinions and reviews on a particular shopping site there.
Further, chances are, there will be a dedicated subreddit for the Online Website you are looking to buy from. For example. you can check out the subreddit of GearBest and AliExpress and get a general idea of how it works.
# Third way to test the legitimacy of Chinese Online Website – Check out Customer Reviews
Just visit the website you are looking to buy from. From there, select any product with a lot of sales. Then, read the customer reviews and also check out the ratings. If it’s a good website, you will find both ratings for the website and the product. You can also check third-party rating site reviews to see if the website is a scam or not.
# Forth way to test the legitimacy of Chinese Online Website – Check the age and rank of the Domain
This is one technique I use all the time. Just go to Alexa to check the website ranking you are thinking of buying the product from. It’s it’s a legit shopping website, it should have a ranking of less than 10,000.
Also, it’s a good idea to check the age of the domain. Established websites are almost always more than 3 years old. And if that’s the case, the website most probably is legit. Scam websites generally use the churn and burn technique where they scam all the customers using a domain before moving to the next. You can use this tool to check the domain age.
Should I risk buying in large quality from China?
If you are planning to purchase products in a large quality (wholesale), start with a sample. You certainly don’t want to jump the gun by ordering 1000s of pieces of product all at once and later find out it wasn’t what you really wanted.
Even if it’s a product that’s going to be the same no matter which seller is selling it (smartphone for example), don’t do it. Look, I made this mistake and definitely don’t want you to follow suit.
About a year ago, I bought 30 pieces of smartphones (Xiaomi Redmi Note 4) from Alibaba through a seller. Since the seller was claiming the product to be genuine and the order was backed by Alibaba’s excellent trade assurance program, I saw no reason not to pull the trigger. But as you might have guessed, I was very wrong.
The seller did ship me the phones alright. But when I dug in deeper, I found out that the seller has initially bought a Chinese variant of the Redmi Note 4, unpacked the box, installed unofficial software and packed it back before shipping to me. After I started seller the phones to my buyers, I kept getting constant calls from them explaining to me that they just couldn’t update the phone software. I even had to buy back a few phones from my customers.
So the moral of the story is, get a sample first so that you know it is a legitimate seller and also make sure you are getting the exact product you were hoping for.
After you get the sample, you can go right ahead and order in larger quantities. Even then, it’s best if you order in batches. Sure, shipping charges while ordering in a batch may be a little higher, but it will give me peace of mind and prevent you lose millions.
Do I get an International Warranty when I shop from Chinese Sites?
This one is tricky. While online Chinese sites do offer an international warranty, receiving one isn’t very easy.
Sure, if you make an order and don’t get the product at all, you will without any questions asked to get a refund or a replacement. But if you get the product, use it for a while and then it starts having problems, this is where you will have difficulty getting the warranty.
Online Chinese sites provide one year warranty on (most of) their products and they honor it too. But there’s a catch. It’s your responsibility to ship the product back to the seller. And doing that isn’t easy. If the product you have ordered is under $100, don’t even bother with the process of sending it back. It’s quite a long process and probably will cost you just as much money to send it back than buy a new unit!
However, if the product you have ordered is over $200, you may want to go ahead with the procedure. But personally, if you ask me, if the product is anything less than $500, I wouldn’t even think of going through the warranty program. Remember, it will take around a month to get the product shipped back to China. Add 15 days for the company to get it and start the repair and add 20 days for them to ship the product back to you.
All-in-all, you will have to spend time and money if you want the warranty. The bottom line is, you pay to ship the product back and they will repair it and send it back to you at their cost. All of these steps will take around 3 months.
Things-To-Do while Shopping Online in Chinese Sites
- Ask the vendor/store to undervalue your purchase to lower your taxes.
- Ask for discounts! Unlike Amazon, you can actually ask stores to lower the price of the products. Also, if you are buying in bulk, you will have higher bargaining power.
- Buy cheaper and lightweight products at first before buying expensive products in bulk
- Make sure your country allows importing the product you are planning to buy. Some countries bare citizens from importing drones, power banks with a capacity larger than 20000mAh, cigarette lighters, etc.
- If you can find the product locally and the price difference isn’t much, just don’t bother buying it internationally from China.
- Remember, patience is a virtue when you are shopping online from Chinese sites. It can take 20-40 days for the order to reach to you.
- Avoid using DHL, EMS or other premium services. Not only will be paying higher shipping charges, you will also be paying more taxes If you go this route.
- Always remember to read user reviews and feedback before making a purchase. Returning a product isn’t going to be easy.
- With all thing in place, it’s best if you buy products that are smaller in size. For instance, instead of buying the DJI Inspire, get the spark instead. You will have to pay the lower shipping cost and the people at customs will be a lot easier on you when you are bringing in smaller products.
- Try and buy from a single vendor. If you do so, all the items will be bundled in one package.
- Take photos of your packages when you get them. If there’s a fault on the product you received, you will have solid evidence in case you need to make a return.
Things NOT To Do while Shopping Online in Chinese Sites
- Do not buy products that are too good to be true. They are either rip-offs or are refurbished. Yes, products are cheaper in China but don’t expect to buy Dermacol makeup cover for $5.
- Do not buy from websites that are too new and don’t have reviews. Make sure to go through the legitimacy test mentioned above.
- Be rational and only the things that you really need.
- Don’t save your card credentials and your important details like your phone number on Chinese Shopping Store server.
- Make sure to check your balance after making the purchase. Many a time, the store may charge you higher because of currency conversion.
Is it really a Risk Buying Online from Online Sites?
Like I said, there’s really no risk while shopping online in Chinese shops. All you need is a little experience and you are good to go. Start by buying small, cheap items. And as you gain confidence, you can buy more expensive products and in bulk.
Just avoid newer sites which claim to have the lowest prices on products. Also, don’t buy anything used or refurbished from China. Such products many times than not have problems with them. If you buy such products right at your home, getting them replaced or repaired is an easy affair. Not so when you are importing things from China.
Also, check for reviews of websites before making a purchase. You can find reviews of websites here too. We ourselves have made a list of 7 Best Chinese websites to buy electronics which we highly recommend you to see before buying any electronics from China. Make sure to go through them before you make any substantial purchases.
Conclusion: Don’t listen to Americans!
What does it mean? Well, not everyone is as fortunate as the Americans. They have the best online stores in the world and the after-sales service is the best too. As such, anything below their standard is automatically deemed unacceptable. That is why websites like The Gurdian recommend users to dismiss the idea of buying from China. And it’s understandable too. Buying from local sites like Amazon is much easier (and safer) than buying from websites like GeekBuying.
But for the rest of the world, where the Online market hasn’t really boomed, buying from China shops makes sense. It will not only save a lot of money, it also opens doors for 1000s of products unavailable in our country.
By shopping from Chinese websites, you can get products for a really cheap price and enjoy free shipping. And contrary to what most people think, most of the Chinese websites are legit, safe and definitely not scam!
So when are you planning to make your first purchase from China? Let us know in the comments section down below!