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Alibaba vs AliExpress: Which Marketplace Best for Dropshipping?

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Alibaba and AliExpress occupy a large part of the B2B and B2C online retail markets. At the same time, most of the sellers represented on the site are manufacturers. This ensures good wholesale pricing on various kinds of products, opening up a lot of opportunities for dropshipping. What is the best platform for dropshippers looking for bargains, Alibaba vs AliExpress?

Dropshipping: what it is

Dropshipping is an intermediary store that sells goods from a supplier’s warehouse. The intermediary attracts visitors, turns them into buyers and transfers the placed order to the dropshipper. The dropshipper is the supplier or manufacturer of the product.

That is, the reseller does not have to:

  • Rent their own warehouse;
  • Have a budget for the purchase of products;
  • register a company;
  • buy cash register equipment;
  • report to the tax authorities.
  • The dropshipper also provides the logistics.

Such a trading system allows the owner of an online store to sell other people’s products under its own brand name and easily expand the range – dropshipping suppliers can be different, as well as categories of goods they have.

In this case the seller’s earnings come either from the difference in price, or from the percentage the dropshipper pays for selling his goods.

Do Alibaba and AliExpress belong to the same people?

Alibaba Group owns both sites, and gives sellers access to post their products on them.

What is the main difference between dropshipping alibaba and AliExpress?

The main difference between Alibaba and AliExpress is that Alibaba is exclusively for B2B wholesale transactions directly from manufacturers, while AliExpress is also open to consumers and sells individual products or items in small quantities.

Alibaba vs AliExpress: which site to use for direct product dropshipping?

When choosing to dropship products from Alibaba or AliExpress, there are several important things to consider, including payment options, false advertising, and shipping costs.

Alibaba vs. AliExpress: payment options

As a B2B site, Alibaba offers fewer payment options than consumer site AliExpress.

AliExpress provides immediate payment options such as credit and debit card payments and a credit or debit service  called AliPay. While Alibaba, which focuses on international wholesale markets, offers payment methods optimized for transferring large amounts of money. The platform supports traditional bank transfers, wire transfers, letters of credit and electronic checks, although credit card payments are possible in some cases.


The payment methods available through alibaba dropshipping can make life difficult for small sellers who need quick access to funds to maintain cash flow. In this case, it may be preferable to sell smaller items with higher margins individually on AliExpress.

Fakes and false advertising on Alibaba and AliExpress

Sometimes products sold by vendors on AliExpress do not meet buyers’ expectations for size and quality. So if you are thinking about using AliExpress for direct delivery, you should always carefully check the seller’s review ratings. Study product reviews for the specific item you want to buy, and Read some product reviews to make sure customers are happy with what they are getting. It is also advisable to choose sellers that offer AliExpress buyer protection in case of disputes over an order.

Not doing your due diligence when searching for products on AliExpress can frustrate your customer base, which will negatively impact your e-commerce business in the long run.

In the case of, it is always prudent to get a sample product before making a bulk purchase to avoid such problems.

Long delivery time or high shipping costs

Many sellers on AliExpress provide free shipping. The lead time can be anywhere from a week to 60 days, as items will be shipped from China. Lead time is an important factor for customers, so it’s important to consider how long delivery times can affect your retail business. Price is never the only consideration for consumers, many of whom are used to same-day or next-day delivery through services like Amazon Prime.

Processing returns and exchanges

Because items on AliExpress are manufactured and shipped from China. It can be difficult to secure a return to the original seller for a refund or exchange.

Problems with items are resolved by the seller making a small refund and allowing the buyer to keep the item. A return would be too costly and time-consuming. AliExpress may offer refunds in the event of a dispute. It is important to talk to vendors about how refunds will be handled.

For most sellers, AliExpress offers an easier and faster way to succeed with direct shipping because the site is set up to accept shippers. Fewer vendors are set up to offer a model through Alibaba because the site is focused on B2B wholesale.

Alibaba vs AliExpress you can create your own account with our service and try out both platforms.

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