Q&A | Differences between Alibaba and AliExpress

By Julie 2020


Q: What is the difference between Alibaba and AliExpress?

Both platforms are owned by the same company (Alibaba Group). Some of the suppliers choose to open online stores on both sites. That's the end of the similarities.
AliExpress is similar to Amazon. It is consumer-oriented and supports small MOQ wholesale. The buyer can pay by credit card, and the seller arranges the shipment. AliExpress has a good assurance and returns or refund system.
Alibaba is used for large orders, most of which are customized orders. Payment is usually made by credit card or other commercial means. The terms are usually the FOB price of the manufacturer’s facility, so the buyer usually arranges shipment through a sourcing agent that handles logistics and customs. Orders may take 2 to 10 weeks to ship. There is usually no assurance, so the buyer needs to find a trusted supplier. Generally, it makes sense for the buyer to hire a sourcing agent for quality inspection.
Broadly speaking, Alibaba is an online B2B trading platform for manufacturers or trading companies, while AliExpress is an online retail platform offering products to international small buyers. Specifically, the difference between Alibaba and AliExpress can be divided into the following aspects.
• First, target audience. Most of Alibaba's suppliers are companies or factories, and buyers are usually Chinese buyers. AliExpress connects Chinese companies (individuals and companies) with international buyers.
• Second, profit model. Alibaba charges a certain membership fee; AliExpress offers free registration but requires a commission based on the volume of transactions.
• Third, product categories. AliExpress mainly sells small and high value-added products, such as jewelry, 3C products, clothing and cosmetics. Alibaba has a wider range of products.
• Fourth, shipment. In Alibaba, the way of shipment is decided by the buyer and seller. Due to a large number of goods, they are usually shipped by sea. AliExpress is usually delivered by air.
• Fifth, payment. AliExpress users can pay via Alipay; Alibaba users prefer traditional payment methods, such as wire transfers and letters of credit, because the transaction involves a lot of funds.
Good question. Personally, I think Alibaba and AliExpress are not the same, here is the reasons:
1. B2B and B2C
AliExpress specializes in B2C (business-to-consumer) services, but some sellers also offer B2B services, it allows small businesses and individuals to buy from a wide variety of catalogs without MOQ.
On the other hand, Alibaba is more focused on B2B services. Most of the buyers are trading companies, resellers and manufacturers. They are all responsible for bulk purchases, OEM/ODM and other wholesale purchases.
2. MOQ
AliExpress has no MOQ requirements because its target is individual consumers or small businesses. If you trying to look for bulk purchase on AliExpress, the MOQ generally starts from 10 units. Obviously, this affects the prices of the products.
The other side of Alibaba does have higher MOQ requirements, because Alibaba's wholesale suppliers do not have an inventory of products, and suppliers usually make products according to customers' needs. MOQ requirements also apply to specific products.
3. The Pricing
AliExpress offers static prices on its website. Unless you've already found some suppliers and negotiated bulk prices with them based on some minimum purchases, it's hard to find wholesale prices directly on the website.
Since most suppliers are direct manufacturers, Alibaba offers very competitive wholesale prices, but minimum orders are always required.
4. Product category
In the case of Alibaba, they are usually dedicated to one product, because most of the suppliers you find are manufacturers focused on one industry. Therefore, you can only buy a limited number of products from a single provider. Therefore, if you are looking for variety in your choices, then you have to find different suppliers.
In AliExpress, you can see many product categories on its online platform. However, you still have to find different suppliers for different products. When buying products from many different suppliers, this can cause you to waste some time and may also make you more focused.
To sum up, Alibaba and AliExpress are different in different ways. For bulk purchases (for example, 1,000), Alibaba will be a good choice. Otherwise, AliExpress is better for retail consumers.
Guangzhou Bright Future Consultancy Co, Ltd is a professional sourcing agent with more than 10 years of experience and has been highly praised by new and old customers for a long time. If you need a sourcing agent to help you import products from China, Please feel free to contact us.


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