Since a few years ago AliExpress became my leading site to buy various electronic components. I think AliExpress is already very good and the system can already be compared with multiple other overseas sites (such as eBay or Amazon).
For those who don’t know: AliExpress is like China eBay or Bukalapak / Tokopedia in Indonesia. There are many sellers, and we must be careful when buying. Many items can be sent free, and the price is usually meager, even cheaper than buying locally. And not all marketplace have a good price or shipping Embedded Systems.
For the record: I live in Chiang Mai, Thailand, so don’t ask about taxes, etc., I only know from what I heard from friends. Since November 2016, purchases under 100 USD are free of the plow.
The first tip is when looking for an item. When searching for something, sort by “number of orders,” choose from several things in the top position. If after you change into a “number of orders” the item you are looking for is not in the top spot, chances are the keywords that you are looking for are still wrong.
Sometimes we get results at very similar prices.
Sometimes we get items at varying prices. In this case, learn more about the difference. An example of this: USB to serial with ch340 chip, the amount is meager, less than 0.8 USD, but some sell for 2.84 USD.
The shop that sells for 2.84 USD gets a lot of buyers because it clearly states there are DTR and CTS pins that can be useful for resetting Arduino or other microcontrollers. Even though in the third item in the photo (the price is 0.95 USD), if you click it, you can see there is a hole for the DTR / CTS pin that we can solder ourselves.
Sometimes if I’m comparing carefully for minimal price differences like this, I remember my mother who was bidding on the price of vegetables to a vegetable artisan through my elementary school days.
Next to ensure that the seller is honest and the items are useful, see the number of stars and read the reviews. Indeed, many studies are challenging to read because they have to be passed to translation machines, but usually, the keywords are enough to know whether the item we want.
When buying, use the mobile app to buy because there is usually a discount, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. They really want customers to use the mobile app.
In the mobile app we can collect coins, and at certain times (usually at the end of March and November 11) we can exchange coins with coupons. Coupons generally vary, for example, 1 USD discount for purchases of 10 USD, 7 USD for purchases of 49 USD, etc. Usually, I hold back buying things that are rather expensive until it’s time for a discount.
On weekdays, there are also periods of exchange of coupons, but fewer coupons, and the value is not significant. It is a coincidence that when I write this article, I get a coupon ticket.
When shopping online in other places, a 1 USD coupon may be worthless at all, but on AliExpress there are lots of electronic components (sensor modules, chips, etc.) at prices less than 1 USD and will be sent free (without shipping) to the house (even though sometimes it arrives sometimes fast).
Sometimes I am shocked the price can be that low, I take just one example: an MP3 player module with a rate of less than 1 USD. Though these objects are very numerous: PCB, USB micro port (for power), USB Port (for playing MP3 from USB), Micro SD slot (for playing MP3s from MicroSD), Audio Jack, 4 buttons (prev next etc.), chips MP3 decoder (and it looks like an amplifier chip).
Back to the topic of the coupon, there are several types of AliExpress tickets, the most expensive tickets are those that apply to all orders. Shop coupons only apply to individual stores, and this is usually less valuable because the store costs more than other stores.
When the promotion period there will be other types of coupons that apply to various shops participating in the promo. These types of cards are generally also worthless. The way to find out is: see if the same item in the store is more expensive or not in another store with more number of orders.
Even though buying using the app will be cheaper when browsing uses the Chrome browser or Firefox and use the Aliexpress Assistant extension to see the price history. With this, we can know if the store raises prices or not before the discount period.
If the extension is already installed, look at the bottom left when browsing AliExpress, and type the $ sign. A price variation graph will appear. This will be more visible in the discount period.
At the discount period, sometimes there is a really valuable discount, for example, my friend bought an easy proxmark3 at 79 USD, even though the previous price (and still currently): 125 USD. Suppose he has a coupon, can get another 10 USD discount.
Some stores provide free shipping with cheap posts that cannot be hacked. Some ask for an additional 1 USD for shipping costs if you want to be able to cut. If we buy several items and want to be able to hack, just one piece uses tracking. Usually, the shop owner will be lazy to separate into several packages and will ship the items all by tracking. If all items are sent without tracking, we can file a dispute so that extra delivery money is returned.
From the experience of friends in Indonesia and personal experience here: shipping using FedEx is definitely taxable. Shipping by other posts can escape tax because generally, the seller places a low price outside the package. Also, be careful when buying 3D printers in Indonesia, follow the advice at the end of my old post when purchasing a 3D printer.
Since getting to know AliExpress, I often shop in small quantities but quite often. To start learning Arduino or electronics in general it can be paid in installments, for example the Arduino UNO board costs less than 3 USD (without a USB cable, and we can use ordinary printer cables), many components and many sensors are less than 1 USD, and both can be connected with Dupont cable with a price of about 1 USD for 40 pieces of cable (or 2 USD for 120 various cables combination of Female to Female, Male to Female and Male to Male).
AliExpress’s disadvantages for some people are: the main payment path is using a credit card, and not everyone has a credit card. For purchases with a credit card, there is no minimum value, I do not know whether there is a minimum value if paying through dokupay or other methods. In Thailand here, a debit card from a bank can even be used to pay.
One solution if you want to buy but don’t want to bother people too often is to fill Aliexpress Wallet. For example, we can help someone to fill 10 USD, the contents of the wallet can be used to buy many times, every time you buy the contents of the wallet will be reduced, then when it’s finished, ask for help again.
Aliexpress sometimes has a referral program. As long as it is still valid, please click on this link (only for new users) to get a 5 USD coupon (minimum purchase of 6 USD, so the minimum amount is 1 USD).