Which One Should You Choose To Start Your Import Business – Alibaba V/S. Aliexpress Compared!

Several foreign importers source products from India and China via IndiaMart, Alibaba, and AliExpress for their Amazon FBA, Amazon Whitelabel, or Shopify drop shipping business. These two are among the most popular shopping platforms in the world. 

Tens of thousands of products at competitive prices can be found on these two platforms, both of which are owned by the Alibaba Group. Although they are both similar, they are also quite different. Most experienced buyers are familiar with the difference in core business models for Alibaba and AliExpress. In general, Alibaba is a wholesaler, while AliExpress sells products directly to consumers. They vastly vary from one another.  

Our goal in today’s post is to compare them from various perspectives. Hang around till the end, where we will answer some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Alibaba, AliExpress, importing, and sourcing in general. If you really want to learn how to choose the best option according to your actual need, I recommend you read our blog till the end.

Which One Should You Choose To Start A Successful Business? – Alibaba V/S. Aliexpress

There are various factors you should consider when choosing between Alibaba and AliExpress. Here’s a brief overview of the factors to consider when selecting a platform to import products from China. 

Consideration #1 – Price

The profitability of any business model is influenced by the sourcing price. You source products at a high-cost price, and you lose out on potential profit. However, if you choose low-quality products for cheaper prices, you’ll lose out on customer satisfaction and loyalty. 

AliExpress will always have higher prices compared to Alibaba since Alibaba is a wholesale B2B marketplace that caters to businesses and entrepreneurs. Additionally, you can negotiate with your Alibaba supplier about their quotations before placing an order. However, as AliExpress is designed to be a B2C marketplace, the price will always be higher than Alibaba.

Aliexpress suppliers generally wouldn’t let you negotiate the retail price, and you can’t place an order directly with the manufacturer. AliExpress sellers will only offer discounts if you are looking to purchase in large quantities, usually a thousand plus pieces. 

Alibaba is the best choice for businesses with established or growing markets that can store hundreds or thousands of items at a time in their inventory.

Verdict – Alibaba is the better choice for wholesale importers.

Amazon FBA Wholesale

Consideration #2 – Shipping Fee

Alibaba doesn’t typically offer free shipping, whereas AliExpress does. The reason for this lies in the cost of shipping. Shipping a single item cost probably a couple of pennies. However, sending over 1000+ pieces of products may cost significantly higher.

When a seller offers free shipping on AliExpress, the supplier generally just offers economy shipping methods like Cainiao Super Economy so that the seller can profit from it. This method of shipping is relatively slow, and your product may or may not reach you. If you don’t wish to wait long, you could ask them to change the shipping method by paying extra. 

Alibaba allows you to negotiate the shipping rates directly with suppliers. Depending on the shipping method, the shipping fee will differ. Often suppliers may waive off the shipping fee if you buy in bulk and they have a high profit margin. 

Three main types of cargo shipping are usually available on AliExpress & Alibaba: Express shipping by air, shipping by sea, and shipping by land.

Verdict – It’s a tie. It depends on what you’re purchasing. 

Consideration #3 – Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ)

Alibaba is primarily a marketplace for manufacturers and traders, which is why MOQs are usually set to 100 units or $500 to ensure profit margins and cover production costs. A manufacturer may set a lower minimum order quantity if they have an existing inventory of products or allow smaller orders if they already have an existing inventory.

Each product category has a different minimum order quantity. High-value products tend to have a smaller MOQ than those with a low value.  

On AliExpress, the majority of suppliers sell ready-made products; they do not have a minimum order quantity, which is typical for resellers and trading companies.

Verdict – For businesses, Alibaba is the better option.

Sourcing For Business

Consideration #4 – Drop Shipping

The vast majority of suppliers on Alibaba are manufacturers, which means they need to bear the manufacturing costs. Therefore, they cannot support dropshipping. Alibaba also has a number of trade companies. Dropshipping is an option such suppliers may provide if you negotiate well.

AliExpress is a platform for retail, and most AliExpress sellers are trading companies who sell ready-made products, so they support drop-shipping.

In dropshipping, no matter whether it is from Alibaba or AliExpress, there are two ways to do it: 

1. You purchase one product at a time from a supplier, and it is delivered directly to your customer. 

2.  You will need to make bulk purchases from the supplier, but the supplier will store your products in their warehouse until you get an order. After you receive an order, your supplier will dispatch it to your customer. 

Obviously, there will be additional fees like storage and handling if you choose to go with the second option.

Verdict – If you’re a small drop shipper looking to get into the game, Aliexpress is your friend. 

Consideration #5 – Custom Products

Alibaba is your best choice if you’re looking for customized products. It has a huge number of factories, some of which have professional design teams. It is also possible to speak directly to them about your idea of the ideal custom product.

Let’s say you want to customize a particular type of hoodie or jacket. So, all you need to do is share your ideas and needs with them. Next, they will assist you in drawing a design prototype and producing it. Furthermore, manufacturers have the ability to print your personal label on the product allowing you to sell it as a private label brand.

It is possible to find a trading company on AliExpress to help you customize products, but the process will be very complicated. They will act as an intermediary between you and the factory in order to convey your idea. When you are unable to communicate directly with a factory, the product may not be able to meet your needs as expected.

Verdict – If you’re looking to go into FBA or Private label, it’s advised to go for Alibaba over Aliexpress.

Importing For Amazon

Alibaba V/S. Aliexpress Quick Summary 

Business ModelWholesale is a priorityRetail is a priority
PriceExtremely competitive and often negotiableFixed price and often relatively higher than Alibaba
Shipping feeBased on the volume or method of shipping of the goodsOften free or cheap
MOQ(Minimum Order Quantity)Depending on products and sellersNo MOQ requirement usually 1
Drop-ShippingDiffers from seller to seller and their policiesAllowed
Custom ProductsAllowedAlthough permissible, it is not recommended
Shipping From India

Frequently Asked Questions About Alibaba V/S. Aliexpress Answered!

Is Alibaba A Reliable Platform?

There is no doubt that it is a reliable marketplace because it is one of the most reputable online wholesale markets in the world. Alibaba, though, still has its share of scams that may occasionally be encountered. 

It may happen, for instance, that the supplier increases the price when you place the order, which is higher than the quotation. If you don’t want to be scammed, locate several suppliers rather than just sticking with one.

Finding good suppliers on Alibaba is the most important aspect. It’s impossible to run a successful business unless you find a reliable supplier.

IndiaMart is another platform that is an alternative based in India, which you can consider if you wish to source from India.

Who can buy from Alibaba?

Anyone. You can source from Alibaba for whatever you need, whether it is for yourself or your business. AliExpress would be more suitable for purchasing a single item for your own use.

Alibaba is a better choice if you want to buy in bulk. The platform offers wholesale pricing that is very competitive. However, make sure you know how to purchase products from Alibaba safely.

Is Aliexpress Safe And Reliable To Use?

There is no doubt about AliExpress’s safety. The platform is considered a scam by buyers for four main reasons.

  • Getting the parcel takes a long time.
  • Updates to tracking information are not timely.
  • What buyers receive does not match their expectations.
  • It has been criticized that “buyer protection” is ineffective.

Is One Better For Amazon Sellers Than The Other?

The value of a good customer review for your Amazon store cannot be overstated. In general, bad reviews are due to a poor product and a long delivery time. Therefore, Alibaba will be a better option. 

If you are running an Amazon FBA business, you need the fulfillment center to have ample stock to guarantee instant delivery. You will need to import from India, China, or other countries at once in bulk. You would be better off going with IndiaMart or Alibaba in this case since it is a true B2B platform. 


I hope my post will be of great value to you, and you’ll be able to make an informed decision between Alibaba and AliExpress based on your own particular needs. If you find this post helpful, please share it with your friends. Leave a comment below if you have questions about Alibaba or AliExpress. Our team is always available to assist you.

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