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Ask HN: Does anyone know how AliExpress free shipping works?
10 points by anilshanbhag 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 6 comments
They seem to have free international shipping on items less than $1. I don't know of any shipping method, even in bulk that can deliver item to my door from China for sub $1.

I found this article: https://romain.goyet.com/articles/free_shipping_from_china/ that raises the same concerns. Wondering if anyone can paint some light on this ?




There is an international agreement to deliver postage paid parcels from another country if the postage was paid in the starting nation. Some countries benefit more if they send more packages than if they receive. China govt subsidies the post in China and allows cheap or free shipping to manufacturers as it encourages manufacturing. So in part your domestic mail carrier absorbs some of the cost and the Chinese government gets the rest.


Found a HN thread related to this: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10930072 for anyone interested.

Main reading: http://fortune.com/2015/03/11/united-nations-subsidy-chinese...


Can't find a good explanation on a single page, but there's a few things that come together here:

- government run postal service in China which doesn't chase profit as much

- international agreements: when using standard post, only the sending country pays the costs - the receiving country is expected to finish the delivery essentially at their cost that they can reclaim on their own international mail cost

So: send from Hong Kong directly, use bulk sea freight at minimal cost, let the receiving end worry about the last-mile delivery at their cost.


>- international agreements: when using standard post, only the sending country pays the costs - the receiving country is expected to finish the delivery essentially at their cost that they can reclaim on their own international mail cost

Yes, most of costs lie on the receiving country, which means USA.

Moreover, US post do add a subsidy on top of that for "lesser developed countries," which means China


There's other countries than USA mate ;)


From my understanding the local postal service allows the merchants to buy postage by weight. Eg. 100 pounds at a time for ~$20USD. A merchant can then split the purchased weight over as many shipments as they want. The ultimate result is the cost of shipping per light-ish item is in the cents.

The shipment is slow, and little or no tracking.




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