Alibaba VS AliExpress

Alibaba VS AliExpress: What are the Differences?

alibaba vs aliexpress

Alibaba VS AliExpress, which one is better? How can they help your business? 

The name, the origin and the founder himself could trick you into thinking that Alibaba and AliExpress are pretty much the same thing, but in reality, they are not. They might have similar-sounding names, they both sell Chinese products and have the same owner, Jack Ma, but the similarities end here. Alibaba and Aliexpress are two remarkably different companies, competing in two completely different markets.

Having said the above, we do hope that after reading this article you will be able to choose the platform that best suits your needs.

Alibaba VS AliExpress: How does Alibaba work?

Alibaba is a B2B (Business to Business) wholesale portal that allows various Chinese manufacturing companies to open a store on its website (a bit like Amazon) and sell products to intentional buyers.

Being a Marketplace, Alibaba does not own the products itself. It is the individual suppliers who are directly responsible for the quality of their products and orders they process.

Alibaba does not force users and sellers to do any kind of direct payment, for this reason, this, can also take place outside the platform based on the negotiations that are made with the supplier via e-mail or chat. Alibaba, then, does not even impose any type of commission on the transaction which therefore becomes a private negotiation between the Chinese wholesaler and the foreign company.

So how does Alibaba make money? It does this through the “Gold Supplier” program, a kind of premium program that Chinese suppliers access for a fee after proving that they are real and certified companies with registered capital and a registered office.

Alibaba VS AliExpress: How does AliExpress work?

AliExpress, just like Alibaba is a Marketplace, therefore it does not sell its own products. Instead, it acts as a showcase for products from third-party companies and caters to both B2B and B2C users.

The sales and payment logics of AliExpress are very similar to those of Amazon, although each store has its own showcase and its products, purchases are made only through the payment on the portal and AliExpress earns on every transaction made.

Its main feature is to allow the purchase of a small number of items (retail) which, however, being already finished products, cannot be customized and modified unlike the products on Alibaba.

Alibaba VS AliExpress: Main Differences

Now let’s look closely into the core differences between Alibaba and AliExpress:

1st difference – Quantity

 All suppliers on Alibaba sell wholesale goods and ask for a rather high MOQ (minimum order quantity). In fact, these companies do not have the products in their warehouse but will produce them according to your order. On the contrary, on AliExpress you buy finished products and consequently, you can also buy them in super small quantities.

2nd difference – Payments 

Alibaba does not process any payments. Therefore it does not take any responsibility for the financial transactions between customers and suppliers. Instead, on AliExpress, being able to pay online, with Paypal you can have the certification of a transaction made.

3rd difference – Price

As you well know, the prices of an item change considerably based on the quantity and quality required.

There are not fixed prices on Alibaba, as they depend on the number of products requested, the technical characteristics required, the production and shipping time. On AliExpress, on the other hand, you will have products with a fixed price, normally higher than on Alibaba, because they are not B2B. 

4th difference – Customization

On Alibaba, suppliers produce the products themselves, therefore they are able to modify them and adapt them to your needs. This means that they can either simply apply a logo to a standard product, change its appearance or even create a completely new product based on your specifications. This is not possible with AliExpress. Because only ready-made products are sold here and therefore cannot be modified.

5th difference – Certification

If you want to import and sell to the EU products like toys, cosmetics or electronics, they have to come with certain types of certifications. Bear in mind when sourcing the products that not all Chinese suppliers can provide you with these documents. Nonetheless, with Alibaba, you can contact the wholesaler directly to request him goods with the right certifications.

On the other hand, if you buy products from AliExpress, this is not possible. This because you are buying ready-made goods and have no way to contact the supplier directly.

6th difference – Timing

When you buy through Alibaba, you ask a company to produce your products. Consequently, you have to calculate the production, shipping and customs times.

The products you find on AliExpress, however, are already produced. Within a few hours, they are shipped by courier to the recipient with much shorter delivery times.

How to buy from China wholesale safely

There is no doubt, however, that both Alibaba and AliExpress being marketplaces, do not take responsibility for the products sold. 

Hence, you must pay be careful when choosing your supplier and on the certifications that products need to enter your country.

Also do keep in mind that although shipments are insured in both types of purchase, what is not insured is the customs clearance of the goods. 

Read also: Import from China: Free on Board (FOB) VS Ex-Works (EXW)

As a result,  you might have to pay additional customs fees for your products. If the worse case scenario, you might even have them blocked due to problems with shipping documents.

If you want to buy wholesale goods from China safely and without problems, you can decide to rely on Yakkyofy. Yakkyofy is an Italian company that helps import products from China with a turnkey service including:

  • Search for a certified supplier;
  • Quality control;
  • Document checking;
  • Shipping;
  • Customs-clearance;
  • Home delivery

with Yakkyofy, in just a few clicks you can buy products from China to dropship or to your customers one by one, to ship to the Amazon FBA warehouses or even to import in bulk to your country. 

We offer you a full solution! From the sourcing of your products at B2B prices up to the delivery to your doorstep. 


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