When we think that maybe buying on AliExpress is not a good idea It crosses our minds that their low prices have an impact on quality, that shipments take a long time or that sometimes there are customs problems. For misfortune, he damage to the economy and employment in Spain It outweighs any of the other drawbacks.
Between the low prices and the discount coupons of AliExpress, it is tempting to opt for the online commerce platform, which now also has Mirabia as its store for those looking for a more premium experience, similar to national stores.
Competing with AliExpress is very difficult and, although the current laws do not consider unfair competitiontheir activity is very detrimental to the business and industrial fabric of the country, because it is impossible to catch up with them.
we consumers should consider whether the type of business we want to supportWell, let’s not forget in the free market that our vote is the money we spend.
Sellers, warehouses and tax office in China
First of all, we must remember that AliExpress is a marketplace, a platform that connects professional sellers and consumers, but that does not sell anything directly. Of course, it intervenes in favor of buyers when fraud or other incidents arise.
In practice, most of the sellers are Chinese, where they have warehouses and infrastructure. When we buy in AliExpress, the money will almost certainly end up entirely abroad, as will the employment that is generated.
AliExpress itself is the international arm of the Alibaba Group, which is headquartered in Hangzhou. That is, the commission that the platform takes also stays in China, nothing goes abroad.
When we buy a product made in China to a Spanish store contributes to the local economy. It can be a lot or a little, depending on the case, but at least some wealth is created in the country.
For example, a garment clothes made in China that Zara sells leave a lot of margin. A separate case is technology like Apple, which creates some employment in Spain, but whose tax strategies damage public finances by paying taxes abroad.
The abuse of the Spanish postal system
The popularization of AliExpress was possible thanks to a postal agreement with China that greatly harmed Spain, and that was not designed for the enormous volumes of electronic commerce. The free shipping costs we paid with our taxeswhich cover a large part of the activity of Correos.
It was possible to make a purchase of €0.01 and receive it for free, when what the postman charged for taking it home was already much more. Not to mention many products were subject to paying VAT at customs, but they were not reviewed.
In recent times, the law Requires paying customs in advanceand shipping costs aren’t as low anymore, but they’re still ahead of many competitors thanks to Cainiao, Alibaba Group’s logistics subsidiary.
AliExpress is committed above all to deliver with Maila semi-public company whose peculiarities make it accept customers who pay very low prices. The Universal Postal Service, financed by budgets, forces the Post Office to have postmen in unprofitable areas, but they provide an essential public service in “emptied Spain”.
Since it cannot do without this infrastructure, Correos sometimes signs agreements with clients such as AliExpress or Amazon, who pay very little for each package, but which allow it to extract some additional performance from the postal network.
It is also true that AliExpress’s low shipping costs are possible because many buyers have accepted long lead times and lost shipment issues as a normal part of the platform. In a Spanish store the expectations are different, and no one would accept that a package takes weeks to arrive.
An unnecessary ecological impact
Placing an order on AliExpress means that the package arrives at our house from thousands of kilometers individuallyincluding home delivery, which implies a considerable carbon footprint.
If we buy the same product in a local bazaar, even if it also came from China, things change quite a bit. It comes in a container making better use of space, it is distributed to local stores from central warehouses, and contamination of the destination city is avoided by avoiding home delivery.
The ideal would be to consume local products (the so-called “zero kilometer”), but globalization has driven international trade so much that in many cases there are no options. So at least avoid platforms with the highest impactsuch as AliExpress.
Another related aspect is that sometimes Internet purchases are made for pure leisure, without a real need to satisfy. The next time we impulsively buy on AliExpress, Amazon or eBay, we should think that we are helping to destroy the planet faster.
Another important detail is that Enforcing the guarantee against Chinese sellers is usually impossiblealthough in theory we have it, so planned obsolescence affects items on the Asian marketplace first.
Is AliExpress Plaza different?
AliExpress Plaza is the Spanish section of the online store, which represents a limited part of its local sales. In Plaza things are a little different, although it can hardly be considered “Spanish”.
At Plaza, shipments are fast, we have easy returns and a local guarantee. So, indeed, the activity of AliExpress and its sellers leave some employment and wealth in the country.
However, many Plaza vendors are not really Spanish, and they limit their local presence as much as possible to reduce costs. They subcontract warehouses and technical services here, but they are still Chinese companies that pay taxes in their country.
AliExpress does not offer anything that is not in Spain
It is very difficult for a small country like ours to compete with leading technology companies such as Google, Apple or Huawei. It is important to support national innovation, but for Spain to design smartphones or lead in artificial intelligence is almost impossible at this point, so we must assume that we have to obtain them from abroad.
Instead, we could say that The only thing that AliExpress exports is precariousness, because its growth has been possible thanks to low wages in China, impossible to replicate by Spanish businessmen. What AliExpress offers could be done by Spanish stores, but that would mean reducing wages, increasing workers’ hours and impoverishing the country.
In fact, in the Asian giant there are days 996: from 9 in the morning to 9 at night for 6 days a week. When the Chinese government began to regulate these extreme days in 2021, one of the dissenting voices was Jack Ma, the millionaire founder of Alibaba.
It is true that many Spanish companies are not as committed to the progress of the country as they claim, and they take their tax headquarters abroad, evade taxes or apply poor working conditions, but it will never be at the same level as AliExpress.
Therefore, we have to think well if the cheap prices of AliExpress are not going to be expensive for us to the Spaniards, in the form of higher unemployment rates, lower salaries, a precarious labor market and, ultimately, a weak economy that depends on foreigners even in the most basic.