War On E-commerce: ALIBABA vs. ALIEXPRESS, Which one is better?
Alibaba and Aliexpress are e-commerce platforms that bring convenience, advantage, and supply of necessities to businesses and consumers, alike.
It is not a secret nor a debatable stance that e-commerce brought convenience to people who are now both tech and web-savvy.
Platforms such as Alibaba and Aliexpress supply the high demands of product orders both in business to business and business to consumer orders.
But, which of the two is actually better? Alibaba or Aliexpress? Let us all find out.
Alibaba is an online marketplace just like Aliexpress. It offers varieties of dry goods at wholesale prices to businesses. It connects suppliers and buyers worldwide in a single platform.
It prides itself on supporting and nurturing small businesses to grow in the platform, and provide affordable yet qualitative products.
With over 2 million pre-qualified suppliers and millions of product listings, Alibaba is on high in providing with much adequacy – product services through their manufacturers or suppliers, that are needed in the business of their respective buyers for cheap prices.
However, Alibaba does not support small quantities of orders. They only accept large quantities of wholesale products and do not offer dropshipping.
For that reason, Alibaba suits best for growing and established businesses that have their own facilities to store their bulk orders.
Aliexpress is an online retail marketplace that offers a wide selection of products to its international online buyers. They offer cheap wearable items such as dresses, tees, and electronics to mention a few. All of their items look really good.
So, why is it so cheap?
The labor cost in China is low, therefore, suppliers can offer cheap prices on their products. But, let’s keep in mind that we get what we pay for. If it is too cheap, then don’t expect products with great qualities like those expensive brands.
The good thing about AliExpress is that they don’t require a minimum quantity of orders, unlike Alibaba. They offer dropshipping which is good for business-minded people that don’t have the facility to store their orders. Dropshippers can directly send the orders of their customers to their respective places,no-hassle required on your side. The downside of it is that the price is a bit higher compared to the wholesale price offered in Alibaba.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
The difference between the two is that Alibaba only caters to bulk orders which suit only for growing and established businesses. This means that Alibaba is good for B2B(Business to Business) only. The good thing is, the products can be purchased at a much lower price.
AliExpress, on the other hand, offers a no minimum order requirement which is good for B2C(Business to Customer). However, AliExpress products costs are still much higher even if they offer wholesale prices compared to Alibaba.
AliExpress suits best for personal orders and startups to small businesses.
WHICH ONE IS BETTER IN PRICING & FEATURES?
Alibaba doesn’t offer any membership fee before you can make an order to its suppliers. Just browse through their website, find a supplier (better choose a supplier that has been assessed or verified by Alibaba for your own protection), and choose the products that you want for your business and contact the supplier directly since Alibaba doesn’t have a “buy” button option, unlike AliExpress.
What’s good about Alibaba is that it has certain features like, live-stream shopping, internal re-marketing, and everything is trackable.
Alibaba offers a wholesale price that benefits their business customers. To get a wholesale price means that retailers can put their desired markup prices to their products since they got it at a low price.
Low pricing is attained when you directly purchase from suppliers, instead of resellers, which is mostly the case in AliExpress.
MINIMUM PRODUCT REQUIREMENTS
Alibaba has an MOQ or Minimum Order Quantity. This refers to the exact amount of order that they demand you to take before deciding to ship the items to you. The usual MOQ of Alibaba is 500 to 1000 pieces or even more at the lowest price but this varies depending on the supplier that you have chosen.
The great thing about Alibaba is that it directly connects the buyers to the manufacturers, making it more profitable since it is common to get the lowest prices when you go directly to the manufacturers.
Although Alibaba products and AliExpress products mostly are the same, the prices are quite high in Aliexpress compared to Alibaba.
THE ALIBABA DROPSHIPPING
Alibaba manufacturers or suppliers mostly don’t offer dropshipping since they only take bulk orders. But, you can browse all the business profiles of the manufacturers for the ones that offer dropshipping (but mind you, this is a very rare phenomenon and you still have to order in bulk), unlike AliExpress that has no minimum order requirements and they also offer dropshipping.
ALIBABA PRODUCT CUSTOMIZATION & PRIVATE BRAND CREATION
Alibaba is a better choice if you want to make your own brand and craft it according to the way you want it to be crafted. You can add your own logo, customize it with certain prints and quotes. The good thing about Alibaba is that you can do all the customization that you want for a low price since the customization price is added during the manufacturing process and not later, by a third party. You will just need to pay lesser prices if you decide to add something that’s not inclusive in price added for the customization fee during the manufacturing process.
Aside from the lowest price that you can get in Alibaba for product customization, you will also get your own unique products. A lot of suppliers in Alibaba will make your products based on your own style and design which will make your product stand out among others. With AliExpress, customization is a bit restricted since its products are premade and usually its prices are higher compared to Alibaba.
ALIBABA DELIVERY TIME
The delivery time in Alibaba greatly differs depending on its suppliers or manufacturers. You also have to consider the numbers of your orders as one of the factors affecting the delivery time. In most cases, it takes 30 days for product production alone, from the time you pay your dues to your selected manufacturer.
Also, bear in mind that you need to choose your supplier wisely. Opt for a supplier that’s been verified with Alibaba for assurance and security purposes. Look for a supplier that is responsive when you ask for a quote. Also, make sure to order some samples to ensure that the outcome of the products is good and get the quality that you want. With production time and shipping time combined, it is best to assume that it would take months before you can receive your orders.
COST OF TRANSPORT
The cost of transport in Alibaba is low since some of its suppliers have warehouses in the U.S. This applies only if you are ordering premade products that can be found in its U.S warehouses.
Alibaba has a freight procurement integrated on its platform that is powered by Freightos. This provides freight rate management and instant freight quoting. With Alibaba freight, U.S retailers and businesses can now compare the pricing, manage and track its bulk orders via ocean and air shipping. AliExpress, on the other hand, typically dispatches their orders via air because of its small quantities.
AliExpress is a giant online retail marketplace that is also open for businesses to business approach, but for a higher price compared to Alibaba.
What’s better about AliExpress is that it has a built-in shopping cart, unlike Alibaba. It has no minimum order requirements, so you can directly put items in your cart regardless of its quantity.
Products in AliExpress cost higher compared to Alibaba since most suppliers or sellers in the platform are usually from third-parties sellers. The good thing about AliExpress is that you can buy the items that you want directly by putting orders in your cart without having to contact first the suppliers and request for a quote, like Alibaba. Another thing is, you can purchase small quantities of orders based on the variation that you like.
MINIMUM PRODUCT REQUIREMENTS
AliExpress doesn’t have any MOQ or minimum order requirements, unlike Alibaba. You just have to browse on its platform, choosing your desired supplier, put your orders in your ,and then confirm your orders. You can also order from different suppliers at the same time. Also, AliExpress often offers free shipping to its buyers.
THE INFAMOUS ALIEXPRESS DROPSHIPPING
AliExpress Dropshipping has empowered business-minded people to start a business from scratch. The platform offers sellers and resellers margins in selling their products even if they are without any facilities to hold their orders. It is because AliExpress can directly send the items to the customers, without you having to worry about inventories, physical stores, or products to sell.
PRODUCT CUSTOMIZATION & PRIVATE BRAND CREATION
In this area, Alibaba is a much better choice. Alibaba can offer you full customization of your products while AliExpress offers products that are premade so there will be restrictions when it comes to customization. Still, it is better with AliExpress in the sense where you can purchase items in small quantities.
ALIEXPRESS DELIVERY TIME
The delivery time in AliExpress is much faster compared to Alibaba since most of the products are premade. With AliExpress, ordered items are mostly shipped right away after payment is made. You can expect your items to arrive at your doorstep within 30 days from purchasing the items, with a possibility of free shipping (this mostly depends on the suppliers).
ALIEXPRESS COST OF TRANSPORT
U.S customers are entitled to free shipping via ePacket. This shipping option is available for retailers and businesses that are using AliExpress to dropship their products to their respective customers. ePacket has a tracking package that you can use to track your purchases and usually has 15-30 days ETA (Expected Time Arrival) from the date of purchase.
Though shipping is less expensive and often free in AliExpress, product arrival usually takes some time.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO USE ALIBABA?
It is best to use Alibaba if you have a growing or established business, which is really good for achieving higher gain since the products are directly purchased with the manufacturers.
Though Alibaba only caters to businesses with bulk orders, this serves mostly the gains of business owners. Bulk orders mean you can purchase the items at the lowest price that you can possibly get in the market. Getting items at the lowest price would mean that you can add your desired markup price on the products, compared to AliExpress, where you can only add a certain amount of markup since items are usually purchased at higher prices compared to Alibaba.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO USE ALIEXPRESS?
The best time to use AliExpress is when you are using it for personal orders or you do dropship. In most cases, AliExpress is mostly used in dropshipping items by businesses or business owners that don’t have a facility to facilitate the orders of their buyers.
AliExpress offers convenience to these business owners since AliExpress suppliers can directly ship the ordered items to their buyers. No need for inventories plus it is hassle-free on their part since they don’t have to pack the orders of their buyers by themselves and send it out to them. AliExpress will do that for them.
ARE THERE ANY POSSIBLE ALTERNATIVE ASIDE FROM THE TWO?
If you are looking for an alternative, then you better check out Shopify. Shopify is a multinational e-commerce platform to build and design your own online stores, unlike Alibaba and AliExpress where you can only shop and buy products for your business. Also, you have to pay before you can use its platform to sell your items.
Pricing plans are available into 3 categories:
Shopify Basic which cost $29 per month
The main Shopify plan which cost $79 per month
Advanced Shopify which cost $299 per month
If you want the fully hosted Shopify Plus platform, it will cost you $2,000 per month while the Shopify Lite will cost you $9 per month.
This is very unlike Alibaba and AliExpress where merchants can sell directly on its platforms with no fee at all unless you want to get verified, then you have to pay a very minimal fee compared to Shopify. This is just for merchants of Alibaba and AliExpress though, since the two platforms only offer to sell their products and not build your own website store which is the case of Shopify.
However, Shopify does offer a free trial and lets you manage your website, store, and inventories, and can freely do dropshipping.
WHEN IS THE TIME TIME TO USE THE ALTERNATIVE?
It is best to use the alternative if you want a customized place for your online store. At Shopify, you can decide on how your online store will look. There are several themes in Shopify where you can choose a particular look that fits with what you are selling.
There are some that mistook Shopify being the same as Alibaba and AliExpress, which is not totally the case. Shopify is, yes, an e-commerce platform just like Alibaba and AliExpress yet they have huge differences.
Shopify is an e-commerce platform, almost like a tool that is used to build a website store for individuals who are planning to have an online store and start their dropshipping business with ease. What’s good about Shopify is that you can sell in multiple places, including social media, and other online marketplaces and do dropshipping. In short, you are not restricted to stay only in one place.
On the other hand, Alibaba and AliExpress are e-commerce marketplace platforms that offer products to their buyers and their businesses.
EASE IN NAVIGATION: ALIBABA OR ALIEXPRESS? WHICH ONE IS USER-FRIENDLY?
Both platforms offer a friendly-user website and services yet the comparison is very much alive between the two platforms.
Now, with all the comparison, which do you think is really better, in terms of ease of use? Is it Alibaba, or AliExpress. If you closely look at the websites of Alibaba and AliExpress, they look quite similar to each other. But, similarities come with differences too.
The ease of use is pretty much displayed on the website of Alibaba. It is easy to navigate and everything is pretty much simple. The only downside here is that you need to contact the manufacturer first, then request a quote, get samples, and place your orders which is not the case of AliExpress.
AliExpress is very easy to use and navigate. It is very user-friendly and when it comes to placing an order, you just need to add items on your cart and place your orders. No need for you to contact directly with the sellers and request a quote which is the case in Alibaba.
Good customer service is very important in any business. It helps businesses to retain customers and get more value from them. It also helps businesses to attain positive reviews, and manage to get more loyal followings than can be converted into value for businesses.
The two e-commerce platforms, Alibaba and AliExpress, are two of the biggest online marketplaces based in China, and buyers’ experiences may differ depending on the seller that your orders are acquainted with.
Now, which among the two do you think offers better customer service? Is it Alibaba or AliExpress? Let’s all find out.
Alibaba does not offer phone support. However, buyers can contact the suppliers via email. Additionally, buyers can contact Alibaba’s support via live chat. If buyers still feel that the action taken is too slow or to no avail, they can post their dissatisfaction through community forums or reach out to Alibaba’s help centers.
Just like Alibaba, AliExpress does not offer phone support but does have live chat support where buyers can open their concerns and complaints. The platform also has a dispute management service where buyers can report any anomalies and ask refunds from the suppliers.
In business, positive customer reviews are important in building the credibility of businesses. It empowers businesses by gaining the trust of the buyers or customers through positive reviews and encourages engagement from web onlookers that can potentially be turned into customers which will further help in gaining higher value for businesses.
Most reviews for Alibaba and AliExpress vary and mostly depend on the suppliers whom you have made a purchase with. Suppliers have different standards and policies, as well as the quality of the products. Therefore, you may encounter both satisfaction and dissatisfaction when it comes to product qualities and services. This usually depends on the merchants that you have chosen.
Alibaba, for instance, has a mix of reviews – from happy customers to dissatisfied customers. There are actually some reports of customers that have been scammed in the platform. However, there are still lots of honest and trusted suppliers within the platform. That is why it is very important to choose suppliers that have a complete profile and have been verified with Alibaba.
Although counterfeit and quality issues are rampant in the platform, buyers can be at ease since Alibaba has taken steps in resolving these issues.
All in all, Alibaba is still a better choice when it comes to buying bulk and customize items because they offer low prices in their services. There are also many positive reviews about Alibaba’s wholesale items.
AliExpress reviews are very similar to Alibaba. While some demand refunds for getting the wrong items, others have reported that they did not receive their orders. However, those businesses that use AliExpress to dropship products to their customers did not encounter issues such as items, not arriving to their buyers.
To avoid any conflict with regards to retail shopping in AliExpress or in any other platform, it is best to consider seeing reviews and the seller’s profile before adding anything to your cart.
HOW TO GET THE EXACT PRICE OF WHOLESALE PRODUCTS FROM ALIBABA AND ALIEXPRESS SUPPLIERS?
In Alibaba, you have to request for a quote to get an estimated price for your bulk orders. This is also where you can ask for a discount on the manufacturers or suppliers for the products that you are planning to purchase. Nonetheless, there are steps that buyers need to follow to get their desired quote.
FIGURE OUT THE PRODUCTS THAT YOU WANT TO PURCHASE
In purchasing products, it is best to be definitive of the items that you want to search out. Like, if you want to order a dress, search for “floral dresses” if you exactly are looking for a floral dress. This saves you time.
SEARCH FOR SUPPLIERS
Suppliers play a vital role in every business. Therefore, it is best to choose your supplier meticulously. Look for suppliers that offer the lowest price possible. Also, you need to look for suppliers that are assessed, listed as Gold suppliers, and support Alibaba’s trade assurance.
Now, what do assessed, gold suppliers, and trade assurance means?
VERIFIED OR ASSESSED SUPPLIERS means that Alibaba has verified and inspected the manufacturers’ factories which gives them a trustworthy stance in the industry.
TRADE ASSURANCE – when suppliers support Alibaba’s trade assurance, this means that they give power to their customers to submit a report or a claim when their buyers are dissatisfied with the products that have been shipped.
GOLD SUPPLIERS means that the manufacturers or companies pay Alibaba to be listed as Gold suppliers. This only means that they invested in their Alibaba listings with good faith.
So, does this mean others are not trustworthy? Not exactly.
Suppliers are still trustworthy even if they don’t opt for paid listings. Just look for more positive reviews on the manufacturers’ page.
Searching for suppliers can be hard especially if it is your first time using the platform but since it is significant for your business, you need to push yourself to find the better, if not the best supplier for your business. Just consider the things that are mentioned above, and you are good to go!
With regards to AliExpress, you can directly contact the sellers for their wholesale prices but bear in mind that they are somewhat pricey compared to Alibaba’s wholesale prices. The good thing about AliExpress is that you can purchase your desired numbers of items.
SUBMIT YOUR INQUIRIES
In submitting your inquiries, contact the suppliers directly. Introduce yourself first and put the products that you want to possibly purchase along with its quantity and then, ask for a sample. Bear in mind that you have to pay for the sample and for its shipping fee.
GET YOUR PRODUCT SAMPLE
Before submitting your inquiries, it is best to check if you have included asking for a sample of the products that you want to purchase. Remember that in Alibaba, you can only purchase in bulk, therefore, it is best to assure that the qualities of the products that you intended to purchase in bulk are of good quality. You can only find that out if you request a sample and assess if the quality of the sample is up to your standard.
DO’s and DON’TS in buying items from ALIBABA & ALIEXPRESS
GET A SAMPLE OF THE PRODUCTS THAT YOU WANT TO PURCHASE IN BULK. ASSESS OR TEST THE PRODUCTS QUALITY.
This is very important so won’t waste your resources on low-quality products. Assessing and testing products before placing a bulk order is a very necessary action for your business.
CHOOSE VERIFIED SUPPLIERS
Choosing verified suppliers, Gold suppliers, and suppliers that support trade assurance are the best choice when you order either in bulk or by piece which is the case for AliExpress. This is to ensure that you will get the exact items that you paid for. There are some cases where paid orders were not received by the buyers, which is why choosing the right and verified supplier is a must and a necessity in any business.
USE ALIBABA TRADE ASSURANCE
What is Alibaba trade Assurance? Alibaba Trade Assurance is an order protection service for buyers, wherein the buyers can ask for a refund to the suppliers in an instance where the supplier did not send the right order or the buyer did not receive the order. Either way, the buyer has leverage in this stance.
CHOOSE A SECURE PAYMENT METHOD
In paying for your purchases, it is best to choose a secure payment method. This to assure that your money will not be wasted for nothing, as there are cases of paid orders from the buyers in which they did not receive any items at all.
As much as possible, transact with suppliers within the Alibaba platform and do not opt-in paying the suppliers through their personal bank accounts because you will not know for sure what will happen and Alibaba can’t protect you if you transact outside its platform. Also, consider that a red flag for suppliers.
DO NOT TRANSACT OUTSIDE THE PLATFORM
For your own protection, do not transact outside the platform because Alibaba or AliExpress cannot protect your rights as a buyer if you transact outside the platform. The platform will not be held liable for your losses if this happened.
DO NOT PURCHASE BRANDED GOODS
Branded goods such as bags, shirts, denim, and other goods are very attractive to the buyers. It shouts prestige and pride to whoever wears or possesses the branded items. However, as much as possible and for your own sake, avoid buying branded products.
If you are a business owner and you sell counterfeit items, chances are you will get caught and face legal issues.
So, how will you know if the “branded” item is a counterfeit?
Just look at the price. If it is too good to be true, then perhaps it is. Branded items are expensive. So, if you found some branded items and the prices are cheap or lower compared to the website store prices of the said brand, then it is a counterfeit.
IS IT SAFE TO BUY FROM ALIBABA?
Alibaba has a trade assurance that you can use to request a refund if the specification of the ordered items is not the same with the specification that is agreed upon. Therefore it is safe to buy from Alibaba.
IS IT SAFE TO BUY FROM ALIEXPRESS?
Contrary to what most people believed in, AliExpress is very safe since it has a buyer protection program. The buyer protection program of AliExpress states that if the received items are not the same as what you have ordered in the listing, or if the items did not arrive on the prescribed time, you can ask for a full refund. Just be reminded to do transactions within the platforms.
When it comes to e-commerce platforms, Alibaba and AliExpress offer businesses and customers opportunities to choose from the millions of various product listings and services that they offer. You can also choose from millions of their product sources which offers low-cost products.
When it comes to dropshipping, there is no question that AliExpress has the upper hand while Alibaba has the upper hand for bulk orders. Though they have their differences, they both make an impact on businesses and business owners.