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Alibaba vs Aliexpress: Which Is Best for Your Business in 2024?

Alibaba vs Aliexpress: Which Is Best for Your Business in 2024?

Long before Amazon became an online shopping giant, Alibaba had connected businesses across the globe for decades. Its pre-millennial roots run deep, serving manufacturers, wholesalers, and suppliers who thrive on large-scale deals. AliExpress, on the other hand, has been the go-to place for retailers, small businesses, and even individual shoppers since 2010. 

With both platforms vying for your attention, which one is right for your business in 2024?  Whether you're looking to source products in bulk or take your online store to the next level, this guide will help you choose the platform that perfectly aligns with your goals.

What is Alibaba?

Alibaba the leading b2b commerce platform

Alibaba is the world’s leading marketplace for B2B (business-to-business) transactions. It connects businesses to manufacturers and wholesalers worldwide. This makes it easy for them to get supplies and expand their operations.

With over 300,000 daily enquiries, Alibaba sets precedence for businesses that want to buy goods in bulk at often lower prices. This number of inquiries reflects the platform's popularity and highlights the diverse range of products. Its emphasis on B2B transactions further makes it easy for businesses to buy directly from manufacturers, leading to cost savings.

Who Uses Alibaba?

Alibaba is used by a wide range of people across the globe, including: 

Manufacturers and Suppliers
These groups of people are always looking for businesses/ buyers they can connect with on a global scale. Alibaba connects them to thousands of companies that can buy from them.

Related: The 2024 Guide To Finding The Best Suppliers In The US, China & Dubai

Wholesalers and Distributors 
Businesses involved in wholesale activities source products from Alibaba at low prices so they can sell to meet their customers' demands. As a wholesaler, you can also use Alibaba to display your products for sale, opening you to new markets.

Retailers 
If you’re a small business looking to source products in bulk at competitive prices, Alibaba is your go-to platform. It opens you up to various manufacturers, wholesalers, and product categories. If you, as a retailer, are also looking to diversify into the B2B markets, Alibaba can be the platform where you can build relationships with businesses buying products in bulk.

Entrepreneurs and Startups
As an individual starting a business or a company who wants to diversify into a new product line without manufacturing, Alibaba provides the platform to do all of these.

E-commerce Sellers
Online retailers operating on platforms like Amazon or eBay utilise Alibaba to source products for resale. 

Service Providers
Besides physical products, Alibaba also connects businesses with service providers, such as logistics and inspection services, to facilitate the entire supply chain process.

Features of Alibaba

The platform Alibaba has the following features:

Store Front and Catalogue
A strong product offering is instrumental in driving sales for your business, and you can showcase this on Alibaba using your storefront and catalogue.  Your storefront gives buyers a peek into your brand and product range, helping you build trust and credibility. On the other hand, your catalogue provides a full display of your products, allowing your buyers to go through your product offerings.

Communication 
Communication is one of the most important things to build healthy buyer and seller relationships. Alibaba helps you connect with suppliers, understand their offerings, and get insight into their backgrounds. With translation tools also available, you can easily communicate with people from around the globe, with conversations translated into over 18  languages. 

Ads and lead generation
The platform Alibaba has tools to help you improve your marketing and promotion game. From product showcases to keyword advertising, finding buyers requesting products similar to yours and sponsored campaigns, you can enjoy increased traffic and sales.

Analytics 
With data and site-based algorithms, Alibaba provides deep insights into your store’s performance. You also get one-on-one support and resources from the free seller academy to stay on top of your industry.

Order Management
You can manage all your customer orders in one place. You can have everything from shopping to payments and logistics on Alibaba.

What is AliExpress?

Aliexpress homepage

AliExpress is an online retail platform based in China owned by the Alibaba Group, unlike Alibaba.com, which focuses on business-to-business (B2B) transactions, AliExpress targets business-to-consumer (B2C) and consumer-to-consumer (C2C) transactions.

AliExpress offers a wide range of products as well. From fashion accessories to home decor and electronics, it gives individuals a comprehensive option while giving them the advantage of low prices.

Who Uses AliExpress?

AliExpress is used by a variety of individuals and businesses across the globe, including:

Individual Consumers
AliExpress is popular among consumers looking for a wide range of products at affordable prices, allowing them to buy items for personal use.

Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs
Many small businesses and entrepreneurs use AliExpress as a convenient platform to source products for resale. The platform's low MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity) allows smaller businesses to test the market without committing to large quantities.

Dropshippers
AliExpress is a common choice for dropshippers who run online stores without holding inventory. They purchase products from AliExpress only when they make a sale, and the seller ships the product directly to the customer.

E-commerce Retailers
Online retailers, especially those operating on platforms like Shopify, eBay, or Amazon, often use AliExpress to find products to sell in their stores.

International Shoppers
AliExpress promotes international shipping, allowing consumers from different countries to access diverse products that may not be readily available in their local markets.

Budget Shoppers
AliExpress is known for its competitive pricing, making it an attractive option for budget-conscious consumers looking for affordable alternatives to products available in local stores.

DIY Enthusiasts
Individuals who enjoy do-it-yourself (DIY) projects often find tools, materials, and components on AliExpress for their creative endeavours.

Features of AliExpress

AliExpress has several features that enhance the user experience. Some of them include:

Automatic Translation to 18 Languages
As a global marketplace, AliExpress automatically translates its content into 18 languages. This feature ensures that users of different languages can easily navigate and understand the platform.

Conversion to Currencies from 51 Countries
Prices can be converted into  51 currencies on AliExpress, including USD, NGN, CAD, EUR, GBP, etc. This feature simplifies the shopping experience for international buyers, allowing them to view and understand prices in their local currency.

Customised Storefronts for Sellers
Sellers on AliExpress can create customised storefronts, showcasing their brand identity and products in a personalised manner. 

AliExpress University
Recognising the importance of education for sellers, AliExpress provides a valuable resource through AliExpress University. This platform offers learning resources and guides for new sellers, equipping them with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the online marketplace. 

Related: How to Start Dropshipping with AliExpress (2024 Playbook)

What are the  Differences Between Alibaba and AliExpress?

Feature

Alibaba

AliExpress

Business Focus

B2B (Business-to-Business)

B2C (Business-to-Consumer) and C2C (Consumer-to-Consumer)

Target Audience

Wholesale buyers, manufacturers, suppliers.

Retailers, small businesses, and individual consumers.

Order Quantities

Bulk purchases with higher minimum order quantities (MOQ).

Small orders with lower or no MOQ.

Customisation

Manufacturers and wholesalers can offer customisation options such as branding, private labelling and unique packaging.

There are no customisation options on AliExpress. What you see is what you get.

Negotiation:

You can negotiate prices with the manufacturers and wholesalers. Since you’re buying in bulk.

Prices are fixed.

Payment Terms

Payment terms are negotiable, and they vary between suppliers.

Fixed prices, multiple payment options

Shipping Times

Longer shipping times for bulk orders. 15 days to months.

Shorter shipping times for individual orders. 1- 4 weeks.

Shipping Cost

This varies and depends on the terms agreed upon by the seller and buyers.

Low cost and sometimes free.

Buyer Protection

Robust buyer protection, dispute resolution

Robust buyer protection, dispute resolution

Product Range

Extensive range, often in bulk quantities.

Diverse product range, suitable for retail.

User Base

Businesses, wholesalers, manufacturers.

Individuals, small businesses, and eCommerce sellers.

Platform Purpose:

Facilitates trade between businesses.

Direct retail sales to end consumers.

Educational Resources

Free Seller Academy  has resources and courses to help you stay on top of your industry.

AliExpress University for learning resources


Key Considerations for Businesses in 2024

Before choosing between any of the platforms, there are several things you should consider in your decision-making process:

Business Type and Size
Alibaba is suitable for big businesses and corporations looking to source products in bulk or launch a new product line without being responsive to manufacturing. The platform is better suited for business-to-business (B2B) transactions.

AliExpress is better suited for small businesses and individuals needing more financial capacity to buy products in bulk. The platform focuses on business-to-consumer (B2C) and consumer-to-consumer (C2C) transactions, accommodating businesses of varying sizes.

Product Requirements and Customization
Alibaba: If you're interested in private labelling or have specific customisation requirements, Alibaba is the place for you. 

AliExpress: Provides limited customisation options with fixed prices. It is more suitable for businesses looking for ready-made products without needing customisation.

Budget Considerations
Alibaba: It involves higher upfront costs due to minimum order quantities (MOQs) and bulk purchasing requirements.    

AliExpress: Lower to no MOWs make it a budget-friendly option for smaller businesses, people testing new products in the market or individual shoppers.

Shipping and Delivery Preferences
Alibaba: Shipping on Alibaba typically takes 15 days to months because bulk orders are shipped internationally. If you choose Alibaba, you have to manage your orders and inventory effectively to meet your customers' needs.

 AliExpress: Typically provides shorter shipping times for individual orders, making it suitable for businesses prioritising faster delivery.

Communication and Relationship Building
Alibaba Facilitates direct communication with manufacturers and suppliers, fostering relationships that can lead to long-term partnerships. It is suitable for businesses looking to build strong supplier relationships.

AliExpress: Involves transactional relationships with less direct communication. It is ideal for businesses focused on individual transactions without the need for extensive relationship-building.

Future Growth and Expansion
Alibaba: Offers scalability for businesses planning growth and expansion in the B2B market. It is suitable for those with a long-term strategy and a need for a diverse range of products.

AliExpress: Provides a platform for businesses entering the market, testing new products, or focusing on direct retail sales. 

What Platform Should You Choose?

For Dropshipping:
Dropshipping is an eCommerce model where you receive orders from your customers, send them to your supplier, and have the supplier ship them to the customer. AliExpress is better suited for the dropshipping model because it focuses on business-to-customer (B2C) deals. The platform will also handle the order processing, payment, packaging and shipping.

For Private Label:
A private label is a product manufactured by a business and sold by another company under its label/name. Let’s say you want to start selling detachable work tables but want to be responsible for the manufacturing. You contact another company who can take care of the manufacturing and label it in your name so you can sell it as your product. 

For a business model like this, Alibaba is better suited because of its customisation and negotiation features. Alibaba opens you to a diverse range of manufacturers that can meet your business needs just like you want them.

Your chosen platform will depend on your unique needs, goals, budget considerations, shipping times and scalability. Remember, if you're a retailer, a small business owner, or are looking to test new products, AliExpress is your best bet. If you're into bulk purchasing and would love the option of customisation and private labelling, Alibaba is the better option.

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Ilaya Teejay

Ilaya Teejay

Ilaya Teejay is the Content Marketing Associate at Heroshe. She believes words can shape user experiences, and she's turning this belief into a career that helps people and businesses succeed.