Alibaba vs. AliExpress: Which is Better and What’s the Difference?

Are you one of those who want to know more about the difference between Alibaba and AliExpress? Worry no more because this post has got you covered!

Alibaba vs. AliExpress is an online marketplace. The key difference between Alibaba vs. AliExpress is that the former is exclusively intended for B2B transactions, while the latter is open to consumers.

Alibaba also allows businesses to bulk buy products directly from suppliers at wholesale prices. On the other hand, AliExpress provides products at low retail prices with no minimum order quantity.

What is Alibaba?

What is Alibaba? is the globe’s biggest online marketplace. It’s a B2B platform, so expect to see B2B transactions, such as a minimum quantity of about 500.

The type of Alibaba sellers you would see here are trading companies, manufacturers, and resellers. It serves as a directory where you get the potential suppliers’ information—product, contact, certification, and other information.

On top of that, you can also buy office materials, rubber, plastic, industrial chemicals, electrical components of any type, trucks and vehicles, auto parts, and many more from Alibaba Group.

Alibaba provides order protection on each order you make. That guarantees you receive high-quality products sent at the right time. Aside from order protection, the platform has a great payment solution. You can pay for your orders using Western Union, wire transfer, or credit card, among other things.

What is AliExpress?

AliExpress is an online retail outlet catering mainly to individual buyers. That only means you can buy just a pair of shoes without contacting the respective suppliers. There are also no minimum order quantities on AliExpress.

However, that does not mean you cannot do wholesale buying from AliExpress at a competitive price. The platform allows you to contact suppliers and organize the wholesale pricing model. Only those prices might not be as low as that of Alibaba.

Remember that AliExpress has a huge collection of consumer items that range from office supplies, phones, computers, automobiles, and men’s and women’s fashion, to name a few.

Alibaba vs. AliExpress: What’s the Difference?

Alibaba vs. AliExpress: What’s the Difference?

Alibaba and AliExpress are two of the giant names in eCommerce, with around 779 million active buyers across both platforms in the fourth quarter of 2020. The company has one of the top ten mobile shopping apps in Singapore. Thus, these platforms rival global names such as Etsy and Amazon in Singapore and the rest of Asia.

The key difference between Alibaba vs. AliExpress is that each platform was designed for various customer types. Alibaba is built specifically for B2B transactions, while AliExpress was designed to serve individual customers.

Both platforms are owned by Alibaba Group, located in Hangzhou, China but are made for various purposes. Alibaba is a famous B2B eCommerce platform connecting businesses across the globe with manufacturers and wholesale suppliers in China.

Meanwhile, AliExpress deals with B2C transactions. Thus, other retailers prefer not to use it. Still, its significant integrations indicate that it can be practical for new merchants wanting to start businesses with AliExpress dropshipping.

All independent sellers have unique business requirements. For that reason, the two sites will suit various online retailers.

Alibaba vs. AliExpress: Pricing Structure

Pricing Structure

Both Alibaba and AliExpress work on different pricing prices and models and provide unique features to the buyers. Let’s learn more about them below:


Exploring the platform is 100% free. You don’t need to pay any fee to access the eCommerce store or the sellers there. There is also no cart option; you must contact the independent sellers directly if you wish to order something.

The platform lets you follow a wholesale pricing model with bargaining options depending on the quantity you need.

Unlike AliExpress, Alibaba’s pricing model looks quite reasonable. Nonetheless, you cannot get single pieces there. Even if you want a sample, you must order it in larger quantities or pay the shipping cost for individual pieces.

·        60-day interest-free financing options for wholesale buyers

·        The platform translates into 18+ languages, making it widely accessible

·        Private labeling options are accessible

·        User-friendly interface

·        Shipping time is time, and delays are not common due to Alibaba Trade Assurance Program

·        Secure payment portal


One disadvantage of Alibaba is that you must meet the minimum order quantity to place all your orders. But with AliExpress, there are no minimum order requirements for most of the products.

Nonetheless, the pricing model for AliExpress is quite different from Alibaba. That platform also follows the retail pricing model. Other salient features of AliExpress that are worth mentioning are the following:

·        You have 51+ currency options to pay for your orders

·        Express shipping option is accessible to get your products delivered between a week or two months

·        The platform is accessible in over 18 languages

·        Over 38 secure payment options are available

·        Simple ordering processes

Alibaba vs. AliExpress: Ease of Use

Alibaba vs. AliExpress: Ease of Use

Alibaba and AliExpress have similar websites, which are somewhat simple to use and intuitive. Nonetheless, AliExpress is more user-friendly—particularly if you are not experienced with placing and ordering wholesale products.

You should reach out to suppliers directly and negotiate the quotes on Alibaba.


Alibaba can be extremely simple to use, especially if you are an experienced wholesale buyer. But it may be a difficult place to start if you have never placed a wholesale order before.

Alibaba suppliers have no responsibility to reply to your quote requirements, so the process could be annoying if you are not confident about what information you are looking for or the questions to ask. Similarly, navigating the shipping, importing, and payment processes could be complicated.


On the other hand, AliExpress functions in any retail store. It features a built-in shopping cart, so no direct communication with AliExpress suppliers is needed. The entire ordering process is way easier and faster than with Alibaba.

Alibaba vs. AliExpress: Customer Service

Alibaba vs. AliExpress: Customer Service

Alibaba and AliExpress are online marketplaces in China composed of third-party sellers. The experience you have buying through those marketplaces can differ substantially based on the individual seller.

Still, both marketplace platforms have complaint procedures and rules in place to try to guarantee a great buying experience.


When buying on Alibaba, businesses deal directly with suppliers, not Alibaba itself. But Alibaba does have community forums, help centers, and areas to enter formal disputes and complaints.

Buyers can also contact Alibaba support through live chat. There’s no phone support through Alibaba, but you can contact the supplier directly through email.


Like Alibaba, AliExpress provides a help center and live chat support option on their website. However, that does not have phone support.

The platform also provides dispute management services on its website for reporting suppliers or requesting refunds.

Alibaba vs. AliExpress: Dropshipping

Alibaba vs. AliExpress: Dropshipping

Both Alibaba and AliExpress have dropshipping suppliers you can use to import goods to your website. You can use the latter to dropship all kinds of products without any buying limit. However, Alibaba limits users to buying bulk products.

Nonetheless, you can find suppliers providing per-piece products on Alibaba, but this facility isn’t accessible to all the sellers.


Even though Alibaba is famous for its wholesale prices and products, a few suppliers provide products with Minimum Order Volume. Only those types of products can compete with AliExpress shipping, as they have a MOQ of one. In other words, they provide individual purchase options.

Compared to AliExpress shipping, you can bargain the price of every product with Alibaba wholesale supplier. Begin your ordering process and move to the Negotiation with Supplier section.

Alibaba has more than 20 million custom products, including buses, trucks, and bike mirrors. But dropshipping provides low prices, unlike AliExpress, especially if you keep the shipping costs out of the equation.

Alibaba dropshipping does not permit product ratings but only rates Alibaba suppliers. It rates items by checking how satisfied the buyers are with the supplier. It also has a complete form that the buyer must fill out to rate any supplier.

After getting reviews from the buyers, it also assesses the supplier’s site. After checking the conditions, it offers them a rating of Gold Supplier. Also, suppliers with higher trade volume and verified product lines could receive a Verified Supplier rating as an alternative.

The platform presents multiple payment methods, such as Western Union and credit cards. Thus, payment is not a problem for dropshippers who want to use Alibaba wholesale.


You can use numerous marketing tools like plugins to automate your AliExpress dropshipping business. To start, open the site, and pick an item you want. Typical sellers are selling the same item. One way to check if the AliExpress supplier you pick is reliable and processes orders regularly is through the Transaction history sheet.

The dropshipping prices on AliExpress are reasonable. Every product has a unique price, depending on the supplier.

For products, the platform caters to different niches. You can purchase nearly anything from car parts to paper and pencil. All those products are from Hong Kong or China so the shipping cost could vary.

Also, the Rating bar is the only trusted way to check if the supplier or seller is dependable. The ratings are provided by those who have bought from the seller. In most scenarios, the AliExpress team offers three rating levels: Gold, Silver, and Bronze.

AliExpress also provides an ePacket shipping option. Other sellers offer free shipping on the platform. It is an excellent way to save shipping costs for your dropshipping business.

For the shipping method, AliExpress makes everything easier as it has numerous payment methods available for its users. It supports American Express, Web Money, Western Union, MasterCard, and Visa, among others.

Alibaba vs. AliExpress: Buyer Protection

Alibaba vs. AliExpress: Buyer Protection

Nothing could be frustrating as getting an item different from what you purchased. Or worse, buying a bad quality product and getting it later than anticipated.

Fortunately, Alibaba and AliExpress provide buyer protection to protect against that.


Alibaba calls that feature Trade Assurance. Remember that you’re only qualified for Trade Assurance when you purchase from a Trade Assurance Supplier, and your payment method is directly towards Alibaba. Alibaba’s Trade Assurance costs nothing.

Under the Trade Assurance protection, you can ask for a refund about thirty days after you receive faulty custom products.


On AliExpress, you can apply for a refund when a seller ships defective items to you. The refund request could be submitted about fifteen days after receiving the product.

If the product has what AliExpress calls Guaranteed Genuine Protection, you’ll get back what you used on the shipping and goods’ cost.

Alibaba vs. AliExpress: When Should You Each?

Alibaba vs. AliExpress When Should You Each

When should you use Alibaba:

Alibaba is a marketplace perfect for businesses importing large numbers of wholesale products to resell in-store, online, or to other companies. It is built as a B2B platform, providing low prices per item, opportunities to work directly with Chinese suppliers and manufacturers, and more options for making customized products.

Alibaba launched a new dropshipping program in 2022, but its products and capabilities are much weaker than the well-established dropshipping services of AliExpress.

When should you use AliExpress:

AliExpress is an eCommerce store where American buyers can purchase from resellers and AliExpress suppliers. It has no minimum order quantity requirements but slightly higher prices.

Most AliExpress sellers specialize in AliExpress dropshipping services. That makes the platform a good option for startups or small businesses wanting to sell products online without a warehouse.

Final Thoughts

Alibaba is a good resource that businesses can utilize to purchase products from millions of suppliers at competitive prices.

AliExpress is the ideal option for dropshipping as it enables an online store to buy single items and has plugins to integrate dropshipping right into a website. It’s also the perfect option for startups new to placing wholesale orders and importing goods.

Meanwhile, Alibaba provides established eCommerce and retail businesses unbeatable prices on wholesale products—including pre-made products and customized products straight from suppliers. It’s free to use and protects the buyers with Verified Suppliers and Trade Assurance.

No matter what your option is, you must have a reliable shipping service you can count on to send your products to your customers. This is where DFH has got you covered. We are a reliable freight forwarding service and offer a wide array of international shipping solutions.

We have successfully serviced over 3000 clients who bought from Alibaba and Aliexpress for their shipments from China to overseas since 2009 till now.

Get in touch with us today to know more about our services!

DFH Global Logistics - China

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