I know we have been taking up quarantine hobbies like baking banana bread and trying to be TikTok famous, but I do have a hobby that I carried with me from the pre quarantine era.
It’s online shopping. I’m very big on retail therapy. But not the way you think. Since I’m just a part-time worker slash millennial who is trying to figure out her actual life, I don’t have the big bucks to spend everywhere.
So I go to the cheapest e-commerce I can think of. For me, it’s AliExpress.
For those that don’t know, they are a wholesale retailer in China that ships to Nigeria. And it is actually a pretty straight forward process. However, this is not an endorsement. There are quite a number of whole retailers that ship to Nigeria. Please do your research and find what works for you.
I have been shopping internationally since 2014. My friend told me about the website. You don’t have to use them though. Research other wholesale brands of your choice and move ahead. For me, it was great then because of the dollar rate. At first, I just used to buy tiny bits and bobs because I did not want my money to just, you know, go with the wind.
I bought items like phone cases (because I liked to change my phone case like every week) and mini rings that would fade after a few days or sometimes even before it gets to you. You open it up and it is brown and rusted. I’m like how did air even enter this entrapment, biko? After some time, I learnt what to buy internationally and what not to.
First thing to note is
It. Takes. Time! I buy things on out of leisure and not out of urgency. I buy things I know I won’t need in say another 2 months. However, some things aren’t that bad. The key is to take note of the shipping companies. If the store you are shopping from uses DHL or FedEx for that particular item, you know you can get your item in as little as 3 days from when it is shipped out.
I always hunt for items that offer free delivery but at the same time, uses a reliable and reputable delivery company for their business. That isn’t always easy to come by though. Most use China post which is standard. I’d say the average time that I wait for items to be delivered in 3 weeks.
If the item is shipped via China post, chances are that it won’t be delivered straight to your door but to the post office near you. And it will take longer.
Take your time and scroll. You’ll always find things that are cheaper.
Even as cheap as Aliexpress is, some sellers there still sell at ridiculous or store bought prices.
There’s always a cheaper option so get to scrolling. Save things on your wishlist and come back to compare.
It is important to know who has gotten the products and if they liked it. Check the ratings from people that have purchased. Poor ratings usually mean that the seller is not efficient or the product isn’t great. Some people leave very detailed reviews showing how long delivery took, how well the item was packed. There is even a tab for your own country in the reviews. So you can see how many people from your country liked the product. Check the pictures sent in with reviews. And right now, you can even ask questions on a question tab underneath the items. And people who have purchased and tried the product can reply to you and let you know how it is.
Look out for coupon codes
There’s always a sale somewhere. It could be on the whole app or via individual stores. You can always get a few dollars off.
Check that your residential address is linked to a reliable post office.
In Nigeria, the post office that has your parcel may not deliver to your doorstep. The items are often times dropped off at a local post office. If it is an efficient one, they will give you a call, so check that your phone number is on your delivery details before you order.
Take note of your purchase protection date
One thing about shopping with many of these stores is that you can get your money back! As long as your PPD hasn’t been exceeded, you can ask for your money back if you haven’t gotten your item and if it is taking a ridiculously long time. You can also get your money back if the goods came damaged or if the quality was different from what was described. You just need to open dispute and Aliexpress will settle the case. Make sure to have proof of bad or subpar products.
So what was the last thing you bought online? I’m curious to know.