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Alibaba vs AliExpress: Which is the Best Fit for Your Business?

Alibaba vs AliExpress: you’re not sure which one is the best fit for your business? We’ve got you covered!

👀 In this article, we clarify the differences between these two well-known Chinese suppliers so that you can make an informed decision on where to get products for your e-commerce business.

🛒 It can be confusing! Alibaba and AliExpress are both part of the Alibaba Group, China’s — and by some measures, the world’s — biggest online commerce company. They connect suppliers with buyers worldwide and offer a massive range of products, including dropshipping solutions for your online e-commerce business. To give you an idea, they are as popular in China as Amazon is in the US.

So, what exactly makes them different from one another?

📌 Alibaba vs AliExpress: What is Alibaba?

Alibaba is a Chinese marketplace dedicated to wholesale and dropshipping.

How Does Alibaba Work?

Launched in 1999, Alibaba operates as a B2B marketplace, offering products and services primarily to wholesale buyers and suppliers.

In fact, the platform streamlines services for businesses. It allows you to contact suppliers and negotiate, use Alibaba’s transportation services (in partnership with logistics providers) or their order fulfillment services for dropshipping.

Alibaba’s model is clearly based on wholesale, which involves buying products in bulk and reselling in smaller quantities.

Alibaba Product Offering

Alibaba is more focused on B2B. You can find “regular” product categories like clothing or electronics, but also raw materials, vehicle parts, machinery or goodies for your marketing tradeshows.

Due to its wholesale business model, there is usually a minimum order quantity.

alibaba vs. aliexpress

Alibaba Payment Options

Alibaba offers a range of secured payment options, with 20+ currencies and 20+ payment methods accepted globally, including credit cards, wire transfers or online payment services (i.e. PayPal).

It has a Trade Assurance that protects online orders when payment is made through Alibaba.com. If the product quality or delivery date varies from the initial agreement, you can receive assistance, including refunds up to 30 days after products are delivered.

Alibaba Shipping Costs

Alibaba offers a range of shipping options to buyers, including air, sea, and express shipping. Shipping costs are determined by the weight and size of the order, the method of shipping, and the destination country. In most cases, suppliers quote shipping costs, and buyers can choose the shipping method that best suits their needs.

You can get a quote on approximate shipping costs from the product page after choosing the quantity.

Is Alibaba Safe?

When shopping on an e-commerce platform, this is a major concern!

As mentioned previously, payment methods are secure and reliable. When making a purchase through the Trade Assurance, you are also protected when it comes to product quality, scams or delays, and Alibaba takes care of refund requests.

There is a system in place for dispute resolution, reporting an IPR infringement, and customers can submit complaints in case of issues.

💡 We still recommend being cautious. Look for any red flags that may indicate a potential scam. It’s always better to go for verified suppliers (Alibaba has their own verification program), research them, contact them, and eventually request product samples.

👋 Interested in some alternatives to Alibaba?

🚀 We’ve compiled a list for you. Check it out!

📌 Alibaba vs AliExpress: What is AliExpress?

AliExpress is a renown Chinese retail marketplace. It also operates as a dropshipping model.

How Does AliExpress Work?

Unlike Alibaba, AliExpress acts primarily as a B2C marketplace and is designed for individual consumers, not for wholesale purchases. As an online retail platform, it allows consumers to purchase products directly from various suppliers.

💡 AliExpress’ business model it is quite similar to Amazon’s but offers products mainly from China, cheap prices and heavy discounts.

However, AliExpress also acts as a dropshipping platform and easily integrates with dropshipping tools like DSers.

AliExpress Product Offering

AliExpress offers products at retail prices to individual consumers, mostly with no minimum order requirements.

Unlike Alibaba, product categories are more B2C-related: clothing, electronics, accessories, beauty, home goods… They are pre-made, so rarely customizable (which they can be on Alibaba).

alibaba vs. aliexpress

AliExpress Payment Options

Similarly to Alibaba, AliExpress allows you to pay with the most popular payment methods like Alipay, debit and credit cards, PayPal, bank transfers…

A Pay after Delivery option is available. A credit card hold for the full purchase amount of the order is placed.

Is AliExpress Safe?

Apart from secure payment methods, AliExpress has a Buyer Protection program in place:

  • if the item received is not what was expected, or is not delivered in time, you can get a refund;
  • some items are eligible for “free return” (within 15 calendar days).

Customer support is available for customers to reach out to AliExpress.

💡 Naturally, as with any online shopping platform, you should always be mindful of potential scams or frauds. Make sure to check reviews from other buyers, don’t go for offers that seem too good to be true, don’t communicate personal information to sellers or pay them directly (always pay through AliExpress).

📌 AliExpress vs Alibaba: Conclusion and Comparison Table

Alibaba AliExpress
Business Model B2B, order fulfillment B2C, dropshipping site
Target Wholesale businesses Individual consumers for personal use, dropshipping
Product offering Wide offering, mass discounts (bulk) Consumer goods
Product customization Yes No
Minimum order quantity Yes No
Price negotiation and interaction with sellers Yes No

For concluding our comparison of AliExpress vs Alibaba, both platforms are reliable when they are used wisely. If you are a business owner who wants to source products, Alibaba is probably the way to go, especially if you want to buy in bulk!

🛒 You sell products online?

Don’t forget to have Terms and Conditions in place to protect your business!

We know it’s not an easy thing to do, so we’ve compiled all that you need to know here ⬇️

🚀 Learn more about Terms and Conditions for e-commerce