Alibaba vs Aliexpress: Which is the Best Option for Dropshipping & Importing

alibaba vs aliexpress

Alibaba.com and AliExpress are two platforms that have aided thousands of eCommerce firms in their growth. These two platforms are sister companies that are owned by the same company, Alibaba Group, which is a major player in the online retail industry. However, Alibaba.com and AliExpress provide distinct purchasing and selling experiences with distinct features tailored to different sorts of buyers and sellers. The primary distinction between Alibaba vs AliExpress, for starters, is that Alibaba is only for B2B transactions, whilst AliExpress is for consumers. Alibaba enables businesses to buy huge quantities of products at wholesale costs direct from producers. AliExpress, on the other hand, sells products at retail prices that are competitive, and there are no minimum order requirements.

In any case, we’ll compare Alibaba.com vs AliExpress in this post to help you figure out which platform is best for buyers and sellers— including dropshipping options. We’ll also go through the essential features of each platform, as well as typical buyers and sellers, associated expenses, and expert services.

To conclude, we will compare these two formidable platforms side by side and evaluate which is the best option for B2B buyers and sellers.

Alibaba.com vs AliExpress at a Glance

 Alibaba.comAliExpress
Marketplace TypeB2BB2C
Typical BuyersBusinessesConsumers, resellers
Typical SellersManufacturers, wholesalers, trading companies, exportersRetailers
Fixed Annual Fee For SellersYesNo
Commission Per Sale for Sellers0% (in most countries)5-8%
Custom StorefrontsYesYes
Auto TranslationYesYes
Secure Payment PortalsYesYes
Buyer Countries and Territories190+200+
Seller Countries and Territories200+6
Request for Quotation (RFQ)YesNo
Shipping Time15 days to months1-4 weeks
Dropshipping SupportNoYes
ProductRaw materials, customizable products, ready-made productsReady-made products
PricingNegotiableFixed
Shipping costVary depending on the shipping terms agreed upon by buyers and sellersTypically free
Minimum Order quantityYesNo
Private LabelingYesNo
Financing Options for BuyersYesNo
Order ProtectionYesYes
Dispute ResolutionYesYes
Source: Alibaba (Alibaba vs Aliexpress)

Alibaba vs Aliexpress: Overview

The Alibaba Group includes both Alibaba.com and AliExpress. In 1999, Jack Ma created Alibaba Group in Hangzhou, China, with the objective of “making it easy to do business anywhere.”

This group’s several companies have been at the forefront of the establishment and growth of eCommerce as well as technological advancement. Alibaba Group also owns and operates Taobao, Tmall, Lazada Group, Alibaba Cloud, Alipay, and Alibaba Pictures Group, in addition to Alibaba.com and AliExpress.

Alibaba Group is popular in that a portion of its annual revenue is contributed to environmental conservation.

Aliexpress vs Alibaba: How They Work

Below is a brief overview of how Alibaba and Aliexpress works.

What is Alibaba.com and How Does it Work?

Alibaba.com was established in 1999 as Alibaba Group’s original business unit, and it has since grown to become a major player in cross-border B2B eCommerce. Also, it is one of the largest business-to-business wholesale eCommerce platforms in the world, connecting over 150,000 suppliers with over 10 million buyers from 190 countries and regions.

So basically, business buyers either come to Alibaba.com looking for parts to make finished goods, to acquire finished products for resale, or to find materials they need to run their company. According to reports online, Every day, 300,000 inquiries are sent to Alibaba.com sellers by these buyers.

Furthermore, vendors at Alibaba have a digital storefront, sometimes known as a “mini-site,” that customers access their products with OEM/ODM capabilities. Also, sellers can use the built-in marketing and CRM capabilities to contact and retain customers. With these, customers can communicate with sellers on their own terms, and still have control over customer relationships and contact information.

In general, the platform also offers a toolkit of resources to help buyers and sellers communicate more easily, as well as logistics and payment protection to help them find their feet in the world of B2B eCommerce.

When Should You Use Alibaba?

Alibaba is a platform for companies who want to import huge quantities of wholesale products to resell online, in stores, or to other companies. Because Alibaba is a B2B marketplace, it offers lower per-item pricing, the ability to interact directly with suppliers and manufacturers, and several customization choices.

Prominent Features of Alibaba.com

Alibaba.com was designed to appeal to both buyers and vendors. Here are some of the platform’s features that help traders on both sides of the transaction:

  • Tools for generating leads
  • CRM software
  • RFQ (Request for Quotation) market
  • Workbench with a simple layout
  • Analytical tools for market and industry analysis
  • 18+ languages auto-translation
  • Extensive Order management
  • API integration which helps with advanced adjustments.
  • Reliable Sellers

Furthermore, Alibaba.com has a variety of merchants, including manufacturers, wholesalers, exporters, trading businesses, and agents. All Alibaba.com suppliers have one thing in common: they sell to other businesses.

Meanwhile in comparing Aliexpress vs Alibaba, below are other prominent features of Alibaba.com.

#1. Typical Buyers

Alibaba.com is a business-to-business (B2B) marketplace. Literally, this means that the majority of its customers/typical buyers are other businesses. Some examples include; B2C retailers, sourcing agents, wholesale distributors, manufacturers, and even other B2B sellers.

#2. Professional Services

Alibaba.com provides a wide range of professional services, such as:

  • Alibaba.com International logistical services for freight
  • Support for new sellers and services to help them succeed
  • Trade Assurance; which is a free service that protects orders.
  • Inspection and monitoring services for products

Basically, these services are intended to improve the experience of both sellers and buyers in the B2B marketplace and assist them in achieving success.

What is AliExpress, and How Does it Work?

AliExpress is one of the world’s most popular cross-border online B2C eCommerce platforms. This platform was launched in 2010 as an offshoot of Alibaba.com to allow enterprises to sell directly to customers.

In contrast to Alibaba.com, AliExpress, as a retail business of Alibaba Group, is open to individual consumers from all over the world who purchase things “as is” with no minimum order quantity.

This platform functions similarly to other generalist B2C platforms, such as Amazon, Etsy, and eBay. And due to its wide variety of goods, strong buyer protection, and ability to purchase in a very small amount, AliExpress has become a suitable option for dropshipping.

Independent vendors can register and sell to hundreds of millions of buyers all over the world.

When Should You Use AliExpress?

AliExpress is an online retail marketplace where consumers in the United States and across the globe can buy products from manufacturers and resellers. There are no minimum order limitations on AliExpress, however, the prices are significantly higher.

But then AliExpress is a better solution for small or startup enterprises who wish to sell things online without having to deal with maintaining a warehouse (Dropshipping).

Prominent Features of Aliexpress

AliExpress has a lot of great features. These are some of the resources available:

  • For a customized user experience, automatic translation to 18 languages is available.
  • Conversion to 51 different currencies
  • For secure payment and transaction, 38 local payment channels are supported.
  • Sellers’ storefronts can be customized.
  • High- level protection for the buyers
  • AliExpress University for new merchants on the platform.
  • Reliabble Sellers

On AliExpress, most sellers are small businesses that sell to customers. Unlike Alibaba.com, AliExpress sellers are likely not producers themselves, but third-party persons who function as middlemen, purchasing things in large quantities from factories and selling them in smaller quantities on AliExpres; whilst ensuring that purchasers receive a reasonable price for the goods.

Some of the most popular kinds of sellers on Aliexpress include; Clothing, electronics, beauty, tools, home improvement, and appliance shops. Additionally, below are other features to keep in mind when it comes to comparing Aliexpress vs Alibaba.

#1. Typical Buyers

AliExpress prides itself as a B2C marketplace. This means that the majority of its customers are regular people.

AliExpress now has over 150 million buyers in more than 220 countries and territories around the world. And because its prices are relatively low— close to wholesale, plus a marketplace that accommodates a wide range of practically everything, a large majority of AliExpress buyers are often dropshipping resellers.

Dropshipping on AliExpress is great for people who wish to establish an online eCommerce business without having to worry about inventory or delivery.

#2. Professional Services

AliExpress provides a number of professional services to both customers and sellers, including:

  • AliExpress Delivery

This is the official one-stop shipping provision by AliExpress and Alibaba Group Cainiao Network for buyers and dropshipping resellers. It includes first-mile pickup, consolidation, international line-haul service, customs clearing service, and last-mile delivery as an end-to-end cross-border logistics solution.

The platform also offers a variety of shipping choices, including UPS, FedEx, DHL, EMS, e-Packet, and others. The cost of shipping, however, varies depending on your location and delivery speed. In addition, AliExpress Shipping and Cainiao Network offer free shipping on the majority of products. It takes anywhere from a week to two months to complete.

  • Buyer Protection

AliExpress has a buyer protection policy in place that ensures safe transactions and protects customers from con artists. If the item you received is not as described, or if your item is not delivered within the Buyer Protection period, you will receive a refund.

So, when an issue arises, the buyer should first contact the seller for a non-binding resolution. If a deal cannot be made, buyers can simply file a claim with AliExpress by submitting a ticket. AliExpress will serve as a middleman to ensure that you receive a refund within 15 days.

Alibaba vs AliExpress: Key Differennces

Alibaba.com and AliExpress, as you can see, are fairly similar but serve two different goals. The key distinction is the type of transactions that each platform is best suited for. Alibaba.com is a business-to-business (B2B) portal that facilitates transactions between companies. AliExpress is a business-to-consumer (B2C) marketplace that connects businesses and customers.

Many buyers, whether they are businesses or not, are initially drawn to Alibaba.com because of the site’s very inexpensive product prices. Alibaba.com, on the other hand, has minimum order amounts in place, which means that purchasers must buy in bulk to get wholesale prices.

AliExpress, on the other hand, maintains low costs while removing the minimum order limitation.

On Alibaba.com, sellers pay 0% commission and take rates on the majority of transactions. Sellers on AliExpress can earn up to 8% commission.

Despite their differences, neither platform is superior or worse. Which one you should pick is entirely dependent on your objectives as a buyer or vendor. AliExpress is a better place for consumers to purchase, and Alibaba.com is a better place for businesses to source products and supplies.

Alibaba vs AliExpress: Pricing & Features

Alibaba and AliExpress are online marketplaces (similar to eBay or Amazon) where you can buy products from third-party sellers. They both provide products at significantly lower prices than any US-based retailer, but only Alibaba offers actual wholesale pricing. Alibaba allows you to directly negotiate quotes with manufacturers for huge volumes of goods. On the flipside, you can buy one-off or small quantities of products on AliExpress and have them dropshipped to your clients.

Alibaba Pricing & Features

To buy products from manufacturers on Alibaba, there are no upfront or membership fees. You can browse the site, locate items or providers you like, then contact them for a price via email or chat.

Furthermore, the site does not have a built-in shopping cart. In this case, Alibaba differs from AliExpress in that you cannot simply click a “buy” button to make a purchase. It also has the most affordable per-item pricing, which is perfect for retailers. Minimum orders vary, but most items require at least a few hundred pieces. However, Alibaba offers 60-day interest-free financing, making big wholesale orders more reasonable.

Product Pricing on Alibaba

Alibaba offers a wholesale pricing approach that is tailored to the needs of businesses. The cost of a product before any retail markup is known as wholesale pricing. Buying directly from manufacturers often offers the lowest pricing for firms wishing to resale products, allowing them to generate a high-profit margin on sales. Basically, they connect buyers with manufacturers directly. Some of the same products are available on AliExpress as they are on Alibaba, but at a greater price.

Minimum Order Requirements on Alibaba

The smallest amount of product you can buy is called a minimum order requirement. This might be a financial amount, but it’s usually a specified quantity of products with Alibaba. Because Alibaba and AliExpress, like eBay and Amazon, are made up of individual merchants, the specific restrictions differ.

Basically, Alibaba merchants generally have minimum order requirements ranging from 50 to 1,000 pieces because the products are sold at a considerably lower price. However, many suppliers have lately reduced their minimum order numbers to 10 or less.

With AliExpress, on the other hand, you to buy single quantities of any item.

Alibaba Dropshipping

Dropshipping is now available on Alibaba, allowing users to deal directly with factories, manufacturers, and international wholesalers. Dropshipping with Alibaba gives you access to a free marketplace where you can find suppliers and buy products in small quantities. This is a fantastic way to test out product concepts before investing in large amounts of inventory. All of the dropshipping centers on Alibaba.com are top-rated or verified suppliers, and many of them support Alibaba.com’s Trade Assurance protection program.

Due to the fact that this is a new service, Alibaba is quite forthright about its existing limits. When compared to the Alibaba.com marketplace, it concedes that search filters are missing. Additionally, it only works with Shopify and WooCommerce systems.

AliExpress’s market analysis tools, on the other hand, provide a more detailed picture of trends and sales volume. Anyone using Alibaba dropshipping must either analyze the data themselves or hire a third-party service provider like Modalyst, Syncee, Dropified, Sesam, or Sprocket.

But, while dropshipping through Alibaba is doable, we still advocate AliExpress as the best dropshipping option.

Alibaba Private Label and Custom Products

Because the items come directly from the manufacturer, Alibaba is a superior option for obtaining custom and private label products. Furthermore, you can quickly receive products with your logo, store name, or custom sayings for a very low price with Alibaba. This is because your logo, store name, or custom sayings are added during the manufacturing process rather than afterward by a third party.

Several Alibaba vendors will create products according to your specifications, ensuring that you receive a one-of-a-kind item. However, because AliExpress products are primarily pre-made, customization choices are restricted, and they are often more expensive.

Alibaba’s Lead Time

Your purchase’s particular lead time will vary greatly based on the supplier, the product you’re ordering, the size of your order, and whether or not anything is being customized. A safe bet is thirty days for product creation from the moment of payment.

However, keep in mind that finding the right source, negotiating a quote, receiving samples, and finalizing your purchase can take some time. Furthermore, if the product is being transported from another country, it could take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to arrive. Expect the procedure to take a few months in total.

Alibaba Freight

Alibaba Freight is a new marketplace powered by Freightos that allows US merchants and businesses to compare pricing, book, manage, and track ocean and air freight for wholesale orders. Prior to Alibaba Freight, shipping fees, methods, and times varied depending on the source you ordered from, and the process was very opaque.

Some Alibaba vendors operate warehouses in the United States. If you buy pre-made products from one of those companies, they can ship them immediately from their warehouse in the United States, saving you time and money. AliExpress, on the other hand, will usually ship them by air. This is because your products are in small quantities.

AliExpress Features & Pricing

AliExpress includes a built-in shopping cart that allows buyers to purchase specific items, as well as very competitive retail pricing and dropshipping. Product prices on AliExpress are higher than those on Alibaba but lower than those of most US-based retailers.

Product Pricing on AliExpress

Similar to Alibaba, AliExpress provides products from third-party merchants in a range of areas. The primary differences with AliExpress are somewhat higher prices and the fact that anyone can place an order straight through the website without having to contact suppliers and negotiate a price. AliExpress has higher per-item expenses, but buyers may place considerably smaller orders and typically get free shipping.

Furthermore, there are no minimum orders on AliExpress, and shipping is free.

Although many businesses use AliExpress to acquire products, the website is more of a retail site in that there are no minimum order restrictions. But while anybody can contact an Alibaba vendor for a quote, most sellers only work with businesses.

Dropshipping on AliExpress

Because you can order one-off products rather than bulk shipments, AliExpress is the greatest option for dropshipping. Dropshipping is a service provided by many AliExpress sellers. Many third-party solutions, such as Shopify, have AliDropship apps to sell dropship AliExpress products. AliDropship also provides WordPress and WooCommerce plugins for selling AliExpress dropship products.

AliExpress Private Label and Custom Products

Alibaba is a better option for sourcing custom and private label products. This is because you are purchasing directly from a manufacturer who can create products according to your specification. AliExpress allows you to buy pre-made products that cannot be customized.

Lead Time on AliExpress

AliExpress orders have a far shorter lead time than Alibaba orders because the things they sell are already made. Orders from AliExpress are typically dispatched immediately, despite the fact that they are typically shipped from overseas. As a result, purchases with free delivery are usually delivered within 30 days after purchase.

AliExpress Shipping Costs and Time

AliExpress offers a one-stop shipping solution through AliExpress and the Cainiao Network. This method provides:

  • First-mile pickup service
  • Consolidation service
  • International line-haul service
  • Customs clearance service
  • Last-mile delivery service

The time it takes for AliExpress Delivery to arrive is determined by the shipping option you select. It provides AliExpress Standard Shipping, which takes 15-45 business days on average, or AliExpress Premium Shipping, which takes seven to 15 business days on average. The cost of shipping is determined by your location and the shipping provider you choose. The majority of products, however, will include free shipping.

Alibaba vs AliExpress: Usability

Alibaba and AliExpress both have similar websites that are both easy to use and browse. AliExpress, on the other hand, is a little easier to use, especially if you’re new to conducting bulk orders. You must contact suppliers directly and negotiate rates on Alibaba.

Alibaba’s User-Friendliness

If you’re a seasoned wholesale customer, Alibaba can be a breeze to navigate. If you’ve never placed a wholesale order before, though, it may be difficult to know where to begin. Suppliers are under no duty to respond to your quote requests, so if you’re not clear what information they’re searching for or what questions to ask, the process can be frustrating. Similarly, figuring out how to navigate the shipping, importing, and payment processes might be difficult.

AliExpress’s User-Friendliness

AliExpress works like any other retail business, with a built-in shopping cart that eliminates the need for direct engagement with suppliers. Compared to Alibaba, the ordering process is considerably easier and faster.

Customer Service: Alibaba vs. AliExpress

Alibaba and AliExpress are both Chinese online marketplaces with third-party vendors, therefore the shopping experience you enjoy on both marketplaces will vary widely depending on the individual seller. Both marketplace platforms, on the other hand, have rules and complaint mechanisms in place to try to provide a pleasant purchasing experience.

Customer Service at Alibaba

Businesses work directly with suppliers, not Alibaba when making purchases on the platform. Alibaba, on the other hand, has support centers, community forums, and sites where formal complaints and disputes can be filed. Buyers can also use Alibaba’s live chat feature to contact customer service.

Furthermore, Alibaba does not provide phone assistance; nevertheless, you will be able to communicate directly with your suppliers via email.

Customer Service at AliExpress

AliExpress, like Alibaba, has a help center and live chat option on its website, but no phone assistance. On the website, AliExpress also offers dispute resolution options for reporting suppliers and asking for refunds.

Customer Feedback on Alibaba vs AliExpress

Both Alibaba and AliExpress have received mixed reviews. Depending on the source you buy from, your experience buying from these marketplaces can be very different. They all have different policies and quality requirements, which may or may not be what you want.

Customer Feedback on Alibaba

Although there have been numerous instances of scam enterprises on Alibaba, the site also has a plethora of great reputable manufacturers. In recent years, Alibaba has taken a number of initiatives to address issues such as product quality and counterfeit items. Either way, many experienced wholesale buyers choose Alibaba because it allows you to acquire personalized products at affordable prices.

Customer Feedback on AliExpress

AliExpress has a lot of mixed reviews. AliExpress is used by several businesses to dropship products without any problems. However, many AliExpress retail customers complain about orders not arriving, incorrect product shipments, and difficulties resolving disputes or receiving refunds.

How to Contact Alibaba Suppliers for a Quote

If you want to buy wholesale products from Alibaba, you’ll need to discover a supplier who sells the things you desire and contact them for a price. This is referred to as a “Request for Quotation.” The procedure of purchasing wholesale can be perplexing if you are unfamiliar with it.

Here’s how to receive an Alibaba quote:

Identify the Products You Will Need

When searching for a product on Alibaba, you’ll want to be specific because there are over 150,000 vendors. Instead of searching for “women’s sneakers,” try “women’s lightweight running shoes.”

Do not buy brand-name goods from Alibaba to avoid counterfeit or trademark difficulties. If you want to sell name-brand items, buy straight from the company to ensure you get genuine products and prevent any legal complications.

Unlicensed or counterfeit listings can be reported and removed from Alibaba by trademark owners. However, because Alibaba has thousands of suppliers, not all counterfeit items are identified, and not all brands monitor and report counterfeit goods on the platform.

Locate a Number of Potential Suppliers to Contact

When looking for vendors to buy from, the first thing you’ll undoubtedly think about is price. However, there are a few more things to keep an eye out for, including:

Trade Insurance: Some vendors offer Trade Assurance, which allows you to file a claim with Alibaba if you are dissatisfied with your shipment. Alibaba will investigate the claim and may issue a refund.

Gold Suppliers: Alibaba allows suppliers to pay to be featured as Gold Suppliers. A supplier’s lack of Gold status does not imply that they are untrustworthy. But then picking suppliers who invest in their Alibaba listings is a safer choice.

Gold Suppliers are those who provide Trade Assurance, are Verified, and offer Trade Protection.

Verified (Assessed) Suppliers: Verified suppliers have had their factories inspected and confirmed credible by Alibaba’s third-party service. So, look for Verified Suppliers at all times.

Furthermore, you can also check options to only see vendors who have Trade Assurance and Verified Suppliers when searching supplier listings. It’s a good idea to make use of this function, especially if you’re new to buying wholesale.

Note: Always look for Trade Assurance, Verification, and Gold Suppliers.

Send in Your Inquiries

There are a few options for submitting an inquiry or request for quotes when the time comes. You can start by contacting individual suppliers. Simply introduce yourself, tell them what products you’re interested in, and ask for samples during this initial contact. Keep it brief, straightforward, and professional.

You can also use Alibaba’s Request for Quotation (RFQ) service to get quotes from a large number of suppliers at once. This form requires a little more information, but you’ll get a list of quotes to compare, which is quicker than selecting and contacting suppliers one by one. This service is free, but you can upgrade to get faster results or more quotes by paying a small fee.

Meanwhile, keep in mind that while submitting this form, there is no option to simply pick Assessed or Trade Assurance suppliers, so you’ll have to double-check after receiving your results.

Obtain Samples

Request samples from the vendors you’re interested in. When it comes to samples, you’ll almost always have to pay for both the samples and the shipment. If you decide to proceed, you can have the fee included into the price of a larger order. If a provider does not offer samples, consider this a red flag and look for another option. Before placing significant wholesale orders, sample orders allow you to verify and compare product quality.

Alibaba vs Aliexpress FAQs

Is Alibaba different from AliExpress?

The key distinction is the type of transactions that each platform is best suited for. Alibaba.com is a business-to-business (B2B) portal that facilitates transactions between companies. AliExpress is a business-to-consumer (B2C) marketplace that connects businesses and customers. 10th of December, 2020

Is it better to use Alibaba or AliExpress for dropshipping?

Your choice of marketplace will be influenced by the things you sell. Alibaba is a better option if you need bespoke items and a more wholesale approach to purchasing and pricing. AliExpress dropshipping may be the preferable option if you wish to acquire ready-made products in any quantity.”

Is it safe to buy from Alibaba?

Finding a trustworthy supplier for your product on Alibaba can be a new experience, but it can also be lucrative. It can be rather safe if you have some basic information and use typical precautions. Always conduct due diligence and be prepared to walk away if a bargain appears to be too good to be true.

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