It’s back to school time here in Israel. And we all know what that means: online shopping!
I can’t be the only one, right?
In Israel, just like around the world, the hottest shopping site these days is Aliexpress. There, you can buy directly from China, mostly with free shipping, cutting out the middleman and saving a bundle.
That's the theory, at least.
In practice, it's not so simple. The quality is usually low, and it's better in theory to buy Israeli (or local, wherever you happen to be). Sometimes, though, when buying Chinese is the only option anyway, things do work out much better, price-wise.
But there are many downsides to Aliexpress, including:
- Long shipping time
- Dubious quality merchandise
- No recognizable brand names
- No brands, price comparisons or reviews (sometimes there are reviews, but rarely)
- Merchants don't speak English
The biggest down, however, is that for higher-value items (I think it's over $50), you could get hit with a big tax bill. The same thing was true in Canada - there, anything worth over about $20 could get opened and dinged for import taxes. And there are added fees you have to pay as well if you're billed for taxes. Sometimes, it's just not worth it.
That's why it's nice to know that there are online-shopping alternatives that let you buy "locally" here in Israel. The goods may still be made elsewhere, but you're dealing with local suppliers who know how to get stuff to your door quickly, and can often save you that big tax bill.
The best place to start is on ZAP - zap.co.il. There, you can search (in Hebrew, so use Google Translate if you're not strong at it) for whatever you want, and hopefully, you'll get a whole bunch of good results.