And then there is also the ‘retail’ version of Alibaba – AliExpress.com
AliExpress is meant for small, private orders (though I often also use it to buy samples to test a product before contacting the supplier for a wholesale deal) so you get very low MOQs and escrow protected payments, but of course the trade-off is higher prices.
But there is now a third option, something in the middle – suited to small/medium-sized businesses who might not have the buying power for true bulk deals on Alibaba.com but still want to order products at wholesale pricing. And this option is called Alibaba Wholesale Checkout.
But how does Alibaba Wholesale Checkout differ to the normal, main site? After all, if Alibaba.com caters to bulk orders and AliExpress.com to small orders, then what’s the point of Alibaba Wholesale?
Well basically, as I’ve explained – it’s the middle-ground between the two.
You won’t get MOQs of 1 as on AliExpress but you also won’t get MOQs of 100s as on Alibaba. Of course the pricing on each site will follow the MOQ, in inverse – so:
- AliExpress – Low MOQ / High Prices
- Alibaba Wholesale – Medium MOQ / Medium Prices
- Alibaba – High MOQ / Low Prices
And as well as that, there are some other important differences:
Alibaba Wholesale Checkout is more comparable to a traditional online site like eBay or Amazon where there are product listings, with all the information given (like price, MOQ, shipping details etc.) and you can make a purchase then and there WITHOUT having to contact the supplier.
And the purchase is done ‘on-site’ – so you simply pay for your order under Alibaba’s Escrow system and it’s protected until you confirm you’ve received your order and everything is fine.
So while on Alibaba the normal chain of events would be something like this:
Search for products > Find a number of suitable looking suppliers > Contact suppliers and gather all needed information such as MOQ and pricing > Research suppliers to ensure they’re reliable > Agree an order and decide on shipping and payment methods > Pay for your goods > Goods shipped by supplier > Goods received
But on Alibaba Wholesale Checkout, the process is much simpler, and all you need to do is:
Search for products > Choose a listing based on supplier reviews, the pricing and MOQ > Pay for your order via Escrow > Goods shipped by supplier > Goods received and payment released to supplier.
No contact needed and the entire product sourcing task is so much easier and quicker.
Alibaba Wholesale Checkout really is an online marketplace whereas Alibaba is more of a trading platform for buyers and suppliers to exchange business information and possibly complete a transaction directly between each other.
So, Alibaba Wholesale Checkout seems great, right? Lower MOQs, easier ordering system, more buyer protection – all big plus points! But as always, there is a downside – pricing!
But instead of me just saying it depends on the product etc., why don’t I instead go through a few different examples to give you a real idea of the difference in pricing across the three sites.
Okay, so let’s get into it!
*Please note – I am not considering the viability or profitability of these products at all – they are just random examples chosen to compare pricing.
Plastic Egg Shell Cracker / White Separator
This product is available on Alibaba Wholesale Checkout for $3.80, with a minimum order quantity of 48 sets.
So that means a minimum order of under $200.
Now, searching for the same product on the main Alibaba site, I can see that it’s available for around $1 per piece, with MOQs ranging from 500-2000 – meaning a minimum order value of $500-$2000.
So a substantial saving to be had if you’re able to order in true bulk.
And then lastly, let’s check AliExpress to see what type of price is offered for single orders:
As you can see, the price is around $5, with no MOQ.
So pretty much as expected with the price difference between the 3 Ali sites… let’s move onto the next product:
Silver Letter Jewellery Accessory
This product is for sale on Alibaba Wholesale Checkout for $0.09 per piece with an MOQ of 1300, which gives a minimum order of just $117.
But this time searching for the same product on Alibaba doesn’t show many potentially cheaper listings, with most quoting around $0.10/piece.
There are a few suppliers with pricing around $0.05-$0.15 each so if you were ordering in huge quantity, it might work out cheaper but overall – it looks like for this product you’d be better off ordering directly from Alibaba Wholesale Checkout.
And as for AliExpress, the letters are available in packs of 130 for $17 which gives a price of $0.13 each, so again as expected – more expensive but a tiny MOQ.
And lastly for our product examples, let’s take a look at a:
Camera Lens Coffee Mug
Starting again with Alibaba Wholesale Checkout, this item is for sale for $3.78 each with an MOQ of 50 pieces, giving a minimum order amount of $189.
Heading over to the main Alibaba site, it looks like the same product could be sourced for around $2 if ordering 2000 pieces or so, i.e. an order value of $4000.
And lastly, AliExpress – where the price is around $5-$6 per piece, with no MOQ.
I hope you can see the common thread throughout all three of our examples – with Alibaba Wholesale Checkout the minimum order value is generally below $200, considering which, the pricing is very reasonable.
If you’re able to order in real bulk – i.e. $2000+ per item, then you can usually make some significant savings on the main Alibaba site.
And then lastly AliExpress – of course, as already known, the pricing is much higher, but that’s really not a surprise considering there’s no MOQ.
I’ve always said; you can’t expect wholesale pricing on retail orders so AliExpress should really only be used as a quick and easy way of ordering samples.
Alibaba Wholesale Checkout is ideal for small or medium sized orders for when you are just trialling a product or want to test the market without a large risk.
Overall, I think Alibaba Wholesale Checkout is a great addition to bridge the gap between AliExpress and Alibaba and is a very useful option due to its simplicity, especially for first time importers.
For more info on the whole importing process, check out some of my other posts:
Otherwise, I hope you found this useful! If you have any comments or questions, post below and I’ll answer you personally.
Until next time!
All the best,