Buying Apple Magsafe charger from Ali Express is actually a bad thing - Sanusi Ismaila

Out of surprise, I logged on to Ali Express, just to look around the admin area a bit more and see what they actually offered in terms of the services and I was pleasantly surprised.

On the day I ranted about why Apple chargers sucked (rant aside, they still do), part of the reason I was upset was that I had gotten tired of opening the current one, and wanted a new one but I couldn’t find it to buy. My go-to Mac supplier (Pius) was out of stock and the only alternative was to spend N20,000 (roughly $40) more than it costs from Apple to get one from the only store that had one in stock within driving distance.

While I was wondering what to do, Pius buzzed back and said “Oga, but why you no dey buy them keep from Ali Express? Them no cost.” It wasn’t the first time he had mentioned Ali Express to my hearing. I’d overheard him telling another customer that he had to order his Macbook Air display from Ali Express, but at that point I was preoccupied with other things, like powering my computer as soon as possible, so that slipped my mind.

A couple of months later, my friend came around one evening and had glowing things to say about Ali Express. Someone at his office had received a package from them in his presence and he’d decided to try them by ordering a few random things he didn’t really need at a price he was willing to forfeit and got them delivered to his office.

So I decided to try them as well. The first thing that came to my mind was what Pius had said earlier about keeping spare chargers. So I went to Ali Express, set up an account and ordered the cheapest, decent looking Apple Magsafe charger I could find…for $16.20 (roughly N2,700).

Did I mention that it was shipped for free all the way from China to my doorstep?

Then I forgot about it a few days after I had been debited for the transaction till today when a delivery guy from NIPOST knocked on my office door with my charger.

Out of surprise, I logged on to Ali Express, just to look around the admin area a bit more and see what they actually offered in terms of the services and I was pleasantly surprised. I found out that:

  • You can track your order with a rather surprising degree of accuracy.
  • Ali Express holds your payment in an escrow account for 60 days (which is the maximum shipping time they tell you when you make the purchase, if you take the post option). In that time, you can open a dispute claim either to complain about the quality of the product or non-delivery of your purchase.

Interestingly, when I looked through the tracker, my parcel got into Nigeria just 6 days ago. The only other time I’ve ordered physical goods online in Nigeria and gotten it under 6 days was from The 5kshop. So remember when I said that the post office was a good and cheap enough for startups who where looking for logistic solutions? Well, Ali Express is using the regular post office and outdoing many eCommerce Startups here using more expensive solutions.

That’s why the fact that I can buy a Magsafe charger for N2,700 and get it delivered to my doorstep is a ‘bad’ thing.

The way I see it, Ali Express only has two issues that stop them from taking over the eCommerce space as we know it here.

The first is availability of locally relevant goods (which is not such a huge deal, seeing as a lot of what we buy here right now is sourced from ‘there’).

The second is that it takes too long to for stuff to get here. It took 46 days from order to delivery for my charger. If they found a way to cut that down significantly, almost all the ecommerce sites in Nigeria would be in trouble.

As I write this, according to Alexa (which doesn’t account for traffic from apps), Ali Express is the 25th most visited site from Nigeria. Just 4 places below Konga and 9 places beneath Jumia. What’s remarkable about that is that they have achieved that type of traffic in Nigeria via word of mouth and not marketing.

There is a chance that the charger (which works great right now), is subpar quality and won’t last long. Usually, that would be an issue for me, but the one that came in the box with the Mac lasted all of 3 weeks.

Sanusi Ismaila is the Editor-in-chief of . You can follow him on Twitter: .

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