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Alibaba vs AliExpress – Which One is Best for Dropshipping?

Updated on January 23, 2019

9 Min Read
Difference between Alibaba and AliExpress
Reading Time: 9 minutes

If you are looking for the best dropshipping suppliers, Alibaba vs AliExpress guide will offer you the best and the most detailed review of both the stores.

Currently, no competitor e-store can stand upto to face AliExpress when it comes to dropshipping. It is one of the biggest ecommerce stores for dropshipping products at a low price, offing high-profit margins. But there have been cases where AliExpress products have turned out to be defective, sellers uncooperative and shipments late.

Have you ever thought what will happen if you get bad reviews for your own dropshipping store? Well, bad  reviews can force you to refund your hard earned money, and in most severe cases, your e-store can face a ban from payment gateways.

But as a dropshipper, you always have a choice.

If you have ever heard of the term ‘never put all your eggs in the same basket’ then you should know about other dropshipping stores that can serve as an alternative to AliExpress. These stores will help you keep the quality of the product consistent and decrease shipping time. Though there are many e-stores, and we have already reviewed most of them, but the best one is of course none other than Alibaba. Here is the reason for that.

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Alibaba is a Business to Business (B2B) store that laid down the foundation of a Chinese ecommerce store for the global market. It has completely revolutionized the ecommerce landscape. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that it was Alibaba that introduced the dropshipping concept. Before it, only a selected few people were dropshipping their products, and the process was highly complicated.

Currently, most people appreciate Alibaba for the fact that:

  • It offers products at an even lower price than AliExpress
  • Alibaba is a great platform for dropshippers because a variety of products are available on the platform
  • One can literally get things for pennies and sell them for more to earn healthy profits
  • There is a wide variety of products available on Alibaba so you can always get one for lower price

Isn’t that what you were thinking of as well?

If that is the case, then why not just dropship from Alibaba instead of AliExpress and save more costs? Hold on! Before you decide anything, read the full review because both AliBaba and AliExpress have their pros and cons.

In this article, we have compared both of these ecommerce stores to determine how dropshippers can get the most benefit and what they need to know to improve their rankings in near future.

Difference Between Alibaba and AliExpress

Alibaba and AliExpress both are part of the Alibaba group of companies. The thing that differentiates them is that Alibaba focuses on businesses instead of individual customers. Meanwhile, AliExpress focuses on individual customers who are comfortable in buying an individual product.

We asked other neitzens about their opinion on the difference between Alibaba and AliExpress and this is what they had to say.

Steve Organek says that Alibaba is a wholesaler, while AliExpress is a consumer-oriented store.

Quora - Difference between AliExpress and Alibaba

Source: Quora

Marco Rodriquez, Ecommerce Consultant says that AliExpress is a retail site. While Alibaba is for wholesaling. However, he says that people prefer to dropship from Alibaba because they sell in bulk.

Quora Answer - AliExpress vs AliBaba

Source: Quora

Alibaba and AliExpress [Summary]

Don’t have time to read the whole article? Here is the crux of the difference between Alibaba and AliExpress.

Features Alibaba AliExpress
1 Offers lower prices for all products Offers moderate prices for individual products
2 You can only buy products in bulk. Only a few products are available per piece Has same type of product available from multiple suppliers
3 Allows rating of suppliers only, products can’t be rated Users can rate suppliers and products
4 Shipping cost is high because ePacket shipping isn’t available AliExpress can regulate shipments and also offers replacements and money back guarantee
5 Allows buyers and sellers to bargain a price via messaging It offers low cost ePacket shipping for cheaper products
6 Buying a single product from Alibaba is not the most plausible option in the market Your regular credit card is enough to buy products from AliExpress
AliExpress sellers understand dropshipping and can do that if you mention it in description

 

Alibaba vs AliExpress: How to Find Dropshipping Suppliers from China?

Both the websites have dropshipping suppliers available that you can use to import products to your website. As said earlier, you can use AliExpress to dropship all types of products, without any buying limit. But Alibaba limits users to buying products in bulk only. However, there are a few suppliers available that offer per piece product on Alibaba as well. Unfortunately, this facility is not available with all the sellers.

Here is how to import products from AliExpress to your WooCommerce store.

1. AliExpress Dropshipping

You can use multiple plugins to automate the AliExpress dropshipping process. We have already written tutorials about how to use AliDropship, WooDropship, and Dropship.me to import products to your ecommerce store from AliExpress.

So, here is how to start. Open AliExpress and select a product that you like. There are multiple vendors selling the same product. Once you have a product that you think is affordable and offers a decent margin, move to the next step.

Phyto LED Lamp

We have picked this Phyto LED Lamp.  As you can see, it has 4.8 rating. This means that the supplier is reliable.

Another way to check if the supplier is reliable and processing orders on a regular basis is through the Transaction history sheet.

Transaction history sheet

The last order took place today, which shows that the supplier is active. Now, you can order the product from this supplier.

i. Pricing

Prices are affordable on AliExpress. Each product has a different price depending on its supplier. As you can see for Phyto Lamps, the product price varies from $1 to $20.

Pricing AliExpress

ii. Products

AliExpress caters to multiple niches. You can buy almost anything ranging from a pencil to car parts. All these products are from China or Hong Kong, so the shipping price can vary for each one of them.

iii. Ratings

The ‘rating’ bar is the only reliable way to check if the seller/supplier is reliable. The ratings are given by those who have already purchased from the seller. In most cases, the AliExpress team also offers three levels of ratings with Bronze, Silver, and Gold.

AliExpress Rating

iv. Shipping

One reason a lot of people prefer AliExpress is because it offers ePacket shipping option. Some sellers also offer free shipping on AliExpress. It’s a great way to save costs for your dropshipping business.

AliExpress Shipping

v. Payment Method

Finally, the thing that makes AliExpress a better alternative than the rest is because it has multiple payment options available. It supports Visa, Mastercard, Western Union, Web Money, American Express and many more.

Payment Method - AliExpress

2. Alibaba Dropshipping

Now, let’s see if Alibaba can compete with AliExpress.

Alibaba Dropshipping Product

Although Alibaba is popular for wholesaling products, there are some suppliers who offer products with Minimum Order Volume (MOV) of one. Only these types of products can compete with AliExpress because they have an MOV of one or in simple terms, they offer individual purchase option.

i. Pricing

Unlike AliExpress, you can bargain the price of each product with the supplier. Simply start the ordering process and then move to the ‘Negotiate with Supplier’ section.

AliBaba Pricing

ii. Products

Alibaba has over 20 million products ranging from bike mirrors to trucks and buses. But for dropshipping, it offers considerably low prices in comparison with AliExpress, if we keep the shipping cost out of the equation.

iii. Ratings

Alibaba doesn’t allow rating of products, instead, it only rates suppliers. Alibaba rates products by checking how satisfied buyers are from a supplier. It has a complete form that the buyer has to fill to rate any supplier.

AliBaba Ratings

After getting reviews from the buyers, it also inspects the site of the supplier. After checking both conditions, it gives the supplier a rating of ‘Gold Supplier.’

Alibaba - Gold and Verified Supplier

Suppliers who have higher trade volume and verified product line can get ‘Verified Supplier’ rating, instead.

Verified Supplier Rating - Alibaba

Here is how the supplier rating system looks like on Alibaba.

iv. Shipping

Alibaba doesn’t offer the facility to track your shipment. You have to contact the supplier using the ‘message’ section in Alibaba and ask the supplier for all these details. You should also know that AliBaba shipping is not free, so you should add it to the price of the individual product you want to buy to get know about the full price.

Alibaba Shipping

You can also get the quotes of shipping cost for each product by clicking the Ocean Shipping Quote under the product detail section.

v. Payment Method

AliBaba offers multiple payment options including credit card and Western Union. So for dropshippers who would like to use Alibaba as their wholesaler, payment isn’t a big issue.

Payment Method for Alibaba

Alibaba vs AliExpress – Things You Should Ask Supplier

While both the platforms are transparent and offer complete verification of the sellers, it doesn’t mean that you should not assess them yourself. We have prepared a list of questions that you should ask the sellers to ensure they offer the fastest delivery times and lowest costs and protect your interests.

Q. What’s the final price of a product on Alibaba or AliExpress?

You may already know the answer to this question when it comes to AliExpress, but in Alibaba, you have the bargain option. So, bring the price down to a level that you can pay, and only then order the product. In most cases, buyers will be reluctant to decrease the price and that is okay. But it is always better to try.

Q. What is the production time for order from Alibaba or AliExpress?

You should know in how much time the supplier will process your order so that you can provide an estimated time to your customer. Things go downhill when dropshippers have no idea about delay in order shipment. They only get on their toes when the customer shoots them an email to enquire about the order tracking process. You don’t want that to happen, do you?

Q. What are the shipping cost estimates for product from Alibaba or AliExpress?

You may not have to ask the shipping cost from the suppliers on AliExpress because that is already provided on the product page, but do ensure to ask it from suppliers on Alibaba. This way you will have a rough idea in how many days it will reach the customer.

Alibaba vs AliExpress: Tips for Dropshipping

  • Buy a single product to note the shipping time and assess its quality and packaging. This way you will also know how the whole process works and in what condition the package will get to the buyer.
  • Only work with suppliers who have a positive rating
  • Make sure to check out the prices of products from multiple sellers and go with the one that is offering the lowest price
  • Automate the dropshipping process so that you can process orders faster. Use any good dropshipping plugin for this purpose.
  • Monitor your competitor(s) and follow their best practices

Final Question: Which One to Choose from Alibaba or AliExpress

It is up to you.

There is no fixed answer to this question. The reason is simple. You know your ecommerce store and its requirements better than any other person. Hence, it is up to you which store you choose. We only want to help you find a new alternative to AliExpress and now you know about that. Make an aware decision so that your customers are happy with your service.

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In the end, if you want to retain customers, you will have to offer them higher quality products for a decent margin.

Good Luck!

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Sajjad Shahid

Sajjad is an Ecommerce Community Manager at Cloudways. He loves helping out Ecommerce store owners, merchants and marketers in establishing their businesses and startups. Sajjad enjoys playing table tennis and cricket over the weekend.

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