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Difference between Alibaba and AliExpress?

    What’s the verdict between Alibaba and AliExpress? What specific benefits will you reap for your company?

    You might confuse Alibaba and AliExpress because of their shared namesake and founding father, but these two companies serve very different purposes. Even though they share an owner in Jack Ma and both sell Chinese goods, the similarities between the two companies stop there. When compared to one another, Alibaba and AliExpress are as different as night and day.

    Having said all of that, it is our sincere hope that this article has helped you determine which platform is ideal for you.

    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.

    Alibaba is a marketplace, so it does not actually own any of the products it sells. Suppliers bear ultimate responsibility for the standard of their goods and the accuracy of the orders they fulfill.

    Since Alibaba does not require its buyers and sellers to make direct payments, these transactions can happen off-platform, per the buyer’s and seller’s emailed or chatted arrangements. Since Alibaba takes no cut of the action, the Chinese wholesaler and the foreign firm are free to bargain directly with one another.

    How, then, does Alibaba turn a profit? This is accomplished by means of a premium program called “Gold Supplier,” to which Chinese suppliers can gain access for a fee by proving that they are legal businesses with a capital stock and a physical location in China.

    Alibaba VS AliExpress: How does AliExpress work?

    Like Alibaba, AliExpress is a Marketplace and not a retailer in its own right. Instead, it’s a storefront for the wares of unaffiliated businesses, with a focus on business-to-business and consumer-to-consumer transactions.

    AliExpress’s sales and payment logics are very similar to those of Amazon; despite the fact that each store has its own showcase and products, all sales are finalized on the portal and AliExpress profits from each and every one.

    Its primary benefit is the ability to buy single items (retail), which, unlike Alibaba’s products, cannot be modified or personalized.

    Alibaba VS AliExpress: Main Differences

    It’s time to compare and contrast Alibaba and AliExpress to get to the bottom of this:


    Suppliers on Alibaba only deal with wholesale orders and have stringent minimum order requirements. While these businesses may not stock the items you need, they can make them for you once they receive your order. Contrarily, on AliExpress, you purchase final goods, and as a result, you can purchase extremely small quantities.


    Money transfers or purchases are not handled by Alibaba. This means it won’t get involved in the money matters between you and your vendors. Instead, you can use PayPal to verify your online purchase on AliExpress.


    You are well aware that the cost of a product varies greatly depending on the quantity and quality required.

    Prices on Alibaba vary based on factors like the quantity ordered, the specifications of the goods, the lead time between when an order is placed and when it is shipped. Products on AliExpress, on the other hand, have a set price and are typically more expensive than those on Alibaba due to the fact that the site does not cater to B2B transactions.


    Suppliers on Alibaba typically manufacture their wares in-house, giving them greater leeway to tailor items to your specifications. 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. AliExpress doesn’t allow for this to happen. Because only ready-made products are sold here and therefore cannot be modified.


    Toys, cosmetics, and electronics must all have specific certifications in order to be imported and sold in the European Union. When sourcing the products, keep in mind that not all Chinese vendors will be able to provide you with the necessary paperwork. On the other hand, with Alibaba, you can get in touch with the wholesaler straight and ask him to ship you products that have passed the necessary inspections.

    In contrast, this is not an option when shopping on AliExpress. Since you are not working directly with the manufacturer, this is the case when purchasing finished goods.


    When you buy through Alibaba, you ask a company to produce your products. Thus, you need to figure in the times needed for manufacturing, transport, and customs.

    Products listed on AliExpress, however, have already been manufactured. Couriers can have them at their destination in just a few short hours.

    How to buy from China wholesale safely

    Nonetheless, it is clear that as marketplaces, neither Alibaba nor AliExpress is accountable for the quality of the items it sells.

    Therefore, you should be cautious when selecting a supplier and when researching the necessary certifications for products to enter your country.

    Additionally, please be aware that while the shipment itself is insured in both types of purchases, customs clearance is not.

    Similar reading: Ex-Works vs. Free on Board (FOB) for Chinese Imports (EXW)

    Therefore, you may incur more costs associated with customs clearance for your goods. It’s possible that they’ll be held up in customs if there are issues with the shipping paperwork.

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