Alibaba vs AliExpress: Choosing the Right Website

Are you comparing Alibaba vs AliExpress for your wholesale shopping?

Do you want to get the best wholesale rates from Chinese suppliers? Compare the business modules and product deals of these platforms to decide a preferred platform for your wholesale shopping.

Both Alibaba and AliExpress had been the leading e-commerce platform in Asia for a long time now. They hold an equal position in Asia as Amazon or eBay holds in the European or the American market. Though we don’t refer to either of the sites for regular shopping, they offer paradise to suppliers who seek bulk orders or wholesale deals. If you are keen on getting great deals on electronic items, these are the platforms to look forward to.

The e-commerce business in these two platforms is so high that global players like Etsy or eBay have not been able to crack the Asia market yet. If you enjoy online shopping, especially electronic gadgets, you must have come across these platforms sometime.

If you compare Alibaba vs AliExpress, you must know that these two platforms belong to the same parent company, Alibaba Group, from China. These sister concerns provide similar products on their e-commerce platforms. The Alibaba Group is currently one of the leading e-commerce brands for retail and wholesale markets. In China, they hold a market share of 58.2% for retail sales, making them the largest Chinese game player in the modern world.

Alibaba vs AliExpress: Is there a difference?

Before you start comparing Alibaba vs. AliExpress, consider the fact that they are actually siblings. There are certain similarities between them, like their parent company Alibaba Group and the fact they both are leading e-commerce platforms in Asia. But they have separate identities and personalities.

Though they have the same parent company, they run with different purposes and have different operational structures. In fact, their target audience is different. While Alibaba routes its operation in a B2B structure, AliExpress focuses on the B2C segment. Needless to say, you might get the same products, the prices are going to be different. You will get bulk order benefits in Alibaba, whereas there will be no such deals in AliExpress.

Alibaba Group: The Parent Company

Before understanding the difference between Alibaba and AliExpress, it is essential that you understand the parent company – Alibaba Group. The Alibaba Group has its headquarters in Hangzhou, China. Ma Yun, the (now former) Chief Executive, was the founder of this company.

Ma Yun, or as otherwise calls Jack Ma, had applied 10 times at Harvard University and got rejected. But he worked hard at different jobs until he had his breakthrough with today’s world-leading company in e-commerce, Alibaba.

In 1999, the Alibaba Group started its business from Hangzhou, China, with its famous B2B platform. AliExpress, the sister concern of Alibaba, came into the market in 2010 and became the favorite for Asians in the B2C sector.

Alibaba vs AliExpress: How do they work?

About Alibaba:

As mentioned earlier, Alibaba is the first platform by the Alibaba Group that opened for the B2B sector. This platform allows suppliers to indulge in wholesale shopping, directly from the wholesalers and manufacturers from different corners of Asia, especially from China. China, having an affordable labor market, has become one of the biggest hubs for industries in Asia.

Since all growing companies need to protect their margins and bottom lines, these Chine suppliers on Alibaba have become their favorite option. Since 1999, Alibaba has stood as the leading hub for B2B shopping.

Alibaba is a platform where you can find almost everything. From manufactured products to customized items, you will get suppliers for all out here. There is a wide range of collections of electronic foods, machinery parts, toys, and many more products on the Alibaba website. As time advanced and Alibaba grew, they improved their B2B portal, and right now, it is one of the most user-friendly websites for business people where they can locate suitable suppliers in no time.

Alibaba has grown as a favorite portal business with its trade tricks. They cater to a wide range of businesses spread across every region of the world. Here, you get the benefit of placing orders in bulk. The suppliers offer deals upon bulk orders. You also have the option of customizing your order while placing them. This feature is especially important when it comes to printing promotional items. However, while you place your order at Alibaba, don’t forget to check the minimum order criteria of the supplier you choose. There is always an option of negotiating the bulk order rate offered by your supplier. Plus, they cover various options for payment methods. You can choose as per your convenience while placing the order.

Naturally, with all these benefits in line, Alibaba has gained popularity in the Asian market is the leading B2B e-commerce platform.

How does Alibaba B2B e-commerce portal works?

Using the Alibaba B2B e-commerce portal is probably the easiest way of B2B wholesale shopping. As you visit the official website of Alibaba, you will enter into the most user-friendly and easy-navigable platform for business. After entering the site, you can follow these given steps to place a bulk order with a supplier.

  1. Firstly, to access, you will need to register as a business or supplier. Go to the signup page and follow the given instruction to open your account with Alibaba. You will not require any trade license proof to open your account here. However, before signing up with Alibaba, check the norms and requirements placed by your local trade authorities. Local authorities often have different legal norms placed on businesses when it comes to selling products procured from Alibaba. One needs to be aware of those norms before signing up with Alibaba.
  2. Start checking products of your necessity over Alibaba once your account is set. You can search by category or through the search bar. Looking for products here can be as simple as shopping on B2C portals like Amazon. However, filter your search result using complete product names as generic search can show unlimited results, making it difficult to find the exact product you are looking for.
  3. Once you have found your product, place a request for a quotation with the supplier. Haven’t found a product with suitable pricing yet? Don’t worry; you can post a quotation request on Alibaba. You can place an advertisement of your requirement with the preferred quote. Suppliers will reach out to you by checking your advertisement, making the search process easier. The process to post your quotation request is simple. Draft your post request > mention the required product details, expected amount, shipping details, and preferred method for payment in your draft > Post the advertisement. You will soon start getting quotes from different suppliers. You can now compare the quotes and choose a suitable one.
  4. Before placing your order with a supplier, check out their profile. Visit their profile and look for the “verification badge.” The verification badge of an Alibaba supplier confirms their legitimacy. Furthermore, you can check what reviews other buyers have left on the profile. Buyer reviews help in deciding whether the chosen supplier is perfect for you.
  5. We recommend choosing a supplier with their warehouse in the same country as you are. Choosing such suppliers is always cost-effective. You can avoid paying the customs duty fees when you purchase products from local suppliers.
  6. Once you finalize on a product and a supplier, it’s time for the bargain and price negotiation. Alibaba suppliers, though they offer the cheapest deals, are always open to negotiation.
  7. If you have reached a negotiated deal with your supplier, decide on a suitable payment method and proceed with the order.
  8. Your supplier will share the deadline for product delivery to your office or storage location once they receive the payment.

About AliExpress:

AliExpress is the newest segment of the Alibaba Group, created to cater to the B2C market in 2010. Every consumer here can get products similar to what you find on at a highly affordable rate. Being a user-friendly and easy-navigable platform with smooth payment and shipping options, AliExpress has soon earned the name of the world’s second-favorite e-commerce platform.

The major sellers you get here are Asians, especially from China. But you can find suppliers from other parts of the world as well. This is a huge marketplace for B2B shopping where you get a wide variety of products from different vendors at a dirt-cheap price. The biggest perk of shopping with AliExpress is that there is no minimum order value on the website.

How does AliExpress works for the B2C market?

The ways of using AliExpress are very similar to that of Alibaba. You can start by visiting the website or downloading the mobile application, and creating an account with AliExpress for free.

  1. Once you log in to your AliExpress account, you can start searching for products in the same manner as any e-commerce platform.
  2. You will get the search results displayed on your screen with brief information on the seller, other buyers’ reviews, and check the product ratings before sending them to your cart. You will also get reviews from the seller on this platform. Both product and seller reviews will make your decision-making easier.
  3. Before you add the product to your cart, check for the product information like size, color, material, etc. If you are purchasing electronic goods, don’t forget to check the specification and model number. Check for the product warranty. Above everything, you need to check the consumer reviews and ratings.
  4. While selecting a supplier, ensure that you have someone who delivers products to your desired shipping address. You can search with your address Pincode to locate such suppliers. Before placing your order on the cart, check if the product has an option for free shipping. If not, the product information will mention the shipping cost separately.
  5. Upon adding products to your shopping cart, you can proceed to checkout.
  6. Enter your name, delivery address, and proceed to payment.
  7. Select a suitable method for payment to complete the transaction.
  8. Upon a successful transaction, you will get your order confirmation mail. The confirmation mail contains the order tracking id. You visit the AliExpress website to track your order by entering the number given in the e-mail.
  9. You will get the product delivered to your given address within the stipulated time. Once received, every B2C consumer gets a feedback e-mail to rate the product they received. Feel free to share your experience on the link.

Alibaba vs AliExpress: Where is the difference?

As gathered from the above, Alibaba and AliExpress have some common features in being e-commerce platforms. However, they have several differences between them, the major difference being the business model. The Alibaba vs AliExpress comparison reveals the below differences.

  1. Business Model: The biggest difference between Alibaba and AliExpress is the fact that the former is a B2B platform, and the latter deals with B2C consumers. While Alibaba is meant for businesses to enjoy online wholesale shopping, AliExpress caters to regular customers.
  2. Minimum Order Amount: Alibaba needs you to fulfill a minimum quantity order criteria set by the suppliers. There are no such order restrictions at AliExpress.
  3. Quotation Request: Businessmen need to seek quotations from suppliers on the Alibaba B2B platform. Since AliExpress caters to regular B2C clients, the platform operates similarly to any e-commerce platform.
  4. Customization: Alibaba offers you the option of customizing products before you place an order. Any business can purchase customized products by securing a special price from the suppliers. Customization is not an option with AliExpress as you get ready-made products over here like other e-commerce sites.
  5. Shipping Time: AliExpress usually takes a lot less time to ship and deliver your products as the suppliers sell manufactured and ready products. However, shipping with Alibaba is time-consuming as the sellers need to manufacture products in bulk as per businesses’ requirements.
  6. Option for Negotiation: Alibaba gives you the chance to negotiate with your product supplier. But the prices are fixed on the AliExpress website.
  7. Dropshipping: AliExpress offers dropshipping facilities to its consumers. Whereas there is no such service available with Alibaba.

Alibaba vs AliExpres: How are they similar?

Though Alibaba and AliExpress work on different business models with distinct fundamental variance, there are certain similarities between the two platforms. Owing to their parental allegiance to the Alibaba Group, they are currently the most successful global e-commerce agglomerate.

How are they similar?

  • The Alibaba Group owns both companies.
  • Both the platforms offer top-quality products at dirt-cheap prices.
  • On both platforms, you get to enjoy a wide range of payment options, including credit or debit card payment, net banking, bank transfer, wallet payments like Google Pay or PayPal, and last but not the least, AliPay.
  • You can enjoy a user-friendly interface on both platforms, making the buying experience smooth and easily navigable.
  • If you are making direct payments to suppliers, you have an option to choose buyers’ protective plan to secure your payments.

Alibaba vs AliExpress: Which is the better choice?

By comparing Alibaba vs AliExpress, we understand that both the platforms have some similarities, but they are meant for different business models. Deciding on which is a better option for your shopping is very easy if you consider the below parameters.

1. Quantity of ordering:

Alibaba is a platform for businesses that depends on resellers and manufacturers. Hence, this platform doesn’t offer you the choice of purchasing a single piece of item. Every supplier pre-establish their minimum order quantity requirements on this platform for businesses to place their order.

AliExpress doesn’t have any such restriction on ordering. It is a simple e-commerce portal where consumers place orders for items as per their requirement, be it a single piece or more than one.

Choosing the best option between Alibaba and AliExpress becomes easier depending on the number of goods you need to order. If you need to place a bulk order, then Alibaba is your option and for small orders, refer to AliExpress. However, Alibaba offers options for customization. So, a business can also place orders for a small quantity with Alibaba. But, you can strike a wholesale bargain only if you place your order in bulk.

2. Product price:

While Alibaba offers the chance of negotiation, AliExpress is a fixed-price e-commerce platform. You will get wholesale rates from Alibaba and retail pricing from AliExpress. Hence, the prices in AliExpress are likely to be higher than that of Alibaba. But you only get the wholesale deal with Alibaba if you are a business requesting for bulk order. Pricing can be a big factor while choosing the right portal for you.

3. Shipping:

It is worth mentioning that Alibaba’s shipping takes a longer duration than Ali Express as every order here gets customized and manufactured, unlike the ready-made products at AliExpress. AliExpress ships your products immediately after receiving the order and payment. You may get a free shipping benefit with AliExpress, but the shipping charges here are generally predetermined. But when purchasing from Alibaba, you can negotiate the shipping charges with your supplier. You need to take care of the taxes and customs duty handling when shipping products with Alibaba.

4. Dropshipping

AliExpress is a retail platform and hence aids with dropshipping services. The Alibaba wholesalers will not offer you any such facility.

5. Personalized tags and promo goods:

If you are looking for customized products with your company label on them for promotion, Alibaba is the wholesaler site to visit. AliExpress doesn’t offer the benefit of customization to its consumers.

Final thoughts on Alibaba vs AliExpress

The Alibaba vs AliExpress comparison reveals that each platform is competent in providing top-quality products from the best suppliers in Asia. While the former caters to businesses, the latter focuses on individual customers. You need to choose between the two for your purchase depending on what you need, the quantity of the order, the price you seek, or the customization requirement. However, while you place your order, it’s best to remember that they belong to the same parent company. Thus, you can be assured the quality of either will not be compromised and some features like the pricing, payment terms, etc. Both the platforms offer strong customer support services.

These platforms have been designed to cater to a different set of audiences. Hence, certain differences are obviously prevailing between the two. If you are looking for wholesale rates for your business Alibaba is the best option for you in Asia. When it comes to retail e-commerce platforms, AliExpress is the platform to get the cheapest deal on any object.


Which one is more reliable, Alibaba or AliExpress?

Alibaba and AliExpress belong to the same parent company Alibaba Group. The Alibaba Group being one of the world leaders, we can say that both the e-commerce platform are highly reliable. However, similar to every e-commerce platform, it is best to be cautious while purchasing from either of the platforms as there have been some scam and fraud reports about both platforms.

How to determine if the suppliers of AliExpress or Alibaba are legitimate?

Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed method of checking the suppliers’ legitimacy on Alibaba or AliExpress. It is recommended that you do thorough research on the product and supplier before placing your order. You can check the product and supplier reviews and ratings on either of the sites before finalizing on a supplier. However, if you are unsure, you can always take assistance from the customer support service team of either platform. They usually help in resolving supplier issues.

Is Alibaba cheaper than AliExpress?

AliExpress is, in general, a cheaper option for consumers than other e-commerce platforms for B2C customers. However, since you get wholesale rates at Alibaba, it might seem to be a cheaper option for shopping. But, you need to remember that Alibaba is meant for bulk shopping, for businesses to deal with suppliers directly. It is not a B2C platform, unlike AliExpress, hence the price difference is obvious.