When I was in US, Nike free’s were the only shoes that I used to wear. For play, for travel and even to school. I brought the pair to India and they almost lasted for a whole year. Since then I’m without free’s. I wanted to buy a pair, but the prices here are just too much. Naturally, I scouted the whole internet to find the best deal and I ended up at Aliexpress.
Aliexpress is a Chinese site and belongs to a fairly popular Alibaba.com, a B2B Marketplace. While Alibaba only caters business needs, requiring a minimum number of units, Aliexpress sends items to retail individuals, even if its just a single unit. That’s the main difference. Buyers are protected by their ESCROW service, which holds your payment till you report that you received the product or until such time mentioned in their terms. So payment security is not an issue.
Why buy from China?
There are many reasons why one may want to buy from China. Of course this doesn’t apply to all product categories. Products such as many rechargeable LED lights, soft toys, stuffed toys that you see here are imported from China. Even smartphones from Indian mobile companies like Micromax, Karbonn, Celkon are simple imported phones from China and rebranded. So if you do it directly, you will get it for cheap.
But, you should remember that you can only buy items for personal use. For example, its ok if you order 1 or 2 items but if you order more, the customs in India will block your shipment. If you have plans to resale items in India, you should first get an import license; which is not needed if you intend to use an item for personal use.
My buying experience from Aliexpress
I found Nike look-a-like’s on Aliexpress. The first thing I did was to see sellers reputation and this is the first thing that everyone must do to. Buy only from those who have good reputation. This is same as eBay DSR’s. Seller was a top member and there were already a lot of orders for the same product.
Obviously I didn’t buy them thinking they were real Nike free’s (a pre-sales chat with the shop agent clearly tells you that they are not original). I have both real one’s and those from Aliexpress now and I can’t even tell if any one of it is fake.
The listed price was 65% less than what I would have paid to get a real one’s in India.
Ordering is easy via credit card. But the shipping time is the sad part, 15-60 days via free China Post Air Mail.
There’s a neat disclaimer on the product page that China Post orders may not be tracked and may result in lost packages. I proceeded anyway.
I stay in Mumbai and I wasn’t expecting any news for atleast a month.
I received a packet number but there’s no way to track it reliably. There’s a official site for China Post with a weird URL which never works. So, as the disclaimer mentioned earlier; I was clueless about my packet for over 25 days. On 26th day I called up Kolkata customs as that is normally the first destination for parcels from China. I was right and they have informed me that they forwarded it to Mumbai just yesterday (24th day).
I was happy, it cleared customs without any hassle in Kolkata. But I knew it would be retained by customs in Mumbai. There was no news for over a week and with the experience I have with USPS parcels in India and customs, I decided not to call them this time. After keeping it for 10 days, they called my number (on day 35) and said that I needed to pay customs duty and that can be paid to courier agent during delivery.
Two days after this, on day 37, I received the product via Speed Post courier and the customs duty was Rs.1100. This is almost 50% the order price but it was okay since even after including this, I got it for almost 50% less.
The feel and the comfort is absolutely the same as the real one’s. How long they will last obviously cannot be said now.
To be frank, I expected the process to be a lot more tiring with many calls to customs etc. But in the end, it was fairly effortless. There is no guarantee you will have similar experience but its more likely that you will have problems if there are more than 1 unit in your package.