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Alibaba vs AliExpress – Which One is Best for Dropshipping in 2022?

Updated on June 18, 2022

9 Min Read
Difference between Alibaba and AliExpress

Looking to start a dropshipping business? Here’s a detailed comparison of the 2 most sought-after stores to find dropshipping suppliers- Alibaba vs AliExpress.

Dropshipping is a lucrative ecommerce business model.

Alibaba and Aliexpress are two platforms that interest dropshippers the most when it comes to product sourcing. Both companies operate as sister companies under the same owner- Alibaba Group.

These marketplaces serve different purposes and target audiences with different buyer intents. However, there are surely some points of overlap between the two.

In this article, we shall compare Alibaba and Aliexpress for you. After reviewing this detailed comparison, you shall have a clear picture of which platform is the right one for your dropshipping business.

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Difference Between Alibaba and AliExpress

Alibaba and Aliexpress are two marketplaces that operate online. The major difference between the two is the target audience they cater to. Sellers on Alibaba primarily serve businesses and take orders in bulk quantities (B2B model). On the other hand, sellers on Aliexpress take orders in small quantities (B2C model).

Though, you can find bulk sellers on Aliexpress as well.

Alibaba VS AliExpress: Comparison Table

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

Alibaba VS AliExpress: Comparison Alibaba AliExpress
Primary business model B2B B2C
Minimum quantity limits Yes No
Private Labeling Yes No
Average production time 15 to 45 days 7 to 45 days
Financing options Available No
Shipping costs Shipping cost is usually negotiated between buyers and sellers Usually free
Does the platform help with disputes Alibaba helps with disputes Aliexpress helps with disputes
Are the payment methods secure? Yes Yes
Can you negotiate prices with the seller? Yes No

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Features and Pricing Comparison Between Alibaba vs AliExpress

Alibaba and Aliexpress both work on different pricing models and offer different features to the buyers. Let’s explore them below:

Alibaba’s Features and Pricing Structure

Exploring the platform is free. You don’t need to pay any fee to access this marketplace or the sellers here.

There’s no cart option here, and you’ll have to contact the seller directly when you want to order something. The platform follows a wholesale pricing model with bargaining options depending upon the quantity that you require.

When compared with Aliexpress, the pricing model for Alibaba looks pretty reasonable. However, you can’t get single pieces here. Even if you need a sample, you’ll have to order it in larger quantities or pay shipping prices for individual pieces.

Key Features:

  • Secure payment portal.
  • Most shipments are made timely. Delays aren’t a common occurrence because of the Trade Assurance Program on Alibaba.
  • User-friendly interface.
  • Private labeling options available.
  • The platform comfortably translates into 18+ languages which makes it widely accessible.
  • 60-day interest-free financing options available for bulk buyers.

Example of Product Pricing on Alibaba

Cute Cat Ear Alibaba pricingSource: Alibaba

AliExpress’s Features and Pricing Structure

One downside with Alibaba is that you’ll need to meet the minimum order quantities to place your orders. With Aliexpress, there’s no minimum order quantity requirements for most products.

However, the pricing model for Aliexpress is different from Alibaba. This platform follows the retail pricing model. Some salient features of Aliexpress that are worth mentioning:

Key Features:

  • Easy ordering processes.
  • More than 38 secure payment options are available.
  • The platform is available in more than 18 languages.
  • Express shipping option is available to get your products delivered between a week to two months.
  • You have more than 51 currency options available to pay for your orders.

Example of Product Pricing on Aliexpress

Cute Cat ear headphone AliexpressSource: Aliexpress

How Internet Users Define Alibaba and AliExpress

We asked other netizens 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 AlibabaSource: 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 AliBabaSource: Quora

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 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.

Effective Ways to Reduce Shipping Costs to Boost Profits

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

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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.

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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Raza Aslam Lakhani

I'm a digital content producer at Cloudways. I'm also a hodophile- always ready to explore new places and cultures. Other than that, I play guitar and love to indulge myself in deep, meaningful conversations. Always looking for opportunities to learn new things.


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