Pretty much everyone who imports from China (or anyone who is interested in importing) already knows about Alibaba.com – the world’s largest B2B online marketplace.
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:
Alibaba Scam Exposed! & How to Import Products from China
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,
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Your blog is really helpful. I was wondering how do I pay for import duty when ordering via alibaba wholesale. Do I receive the goods first and than declare it is there any other way?
Shipping company will be in touch with you to organise customs clearance procedure and then you pay VAT/import duty.
Hi Andrew, thanks again to your awesome course and advice (from which have managed to get top seller status confirmed starting Dec 20th) so now in process of deciding final products.
Re sourcing from China most of the good manufacturers I found for a specific product on Alibaba are not on the Wholesale site, so does that mean the ‘Secure Payment’ option wouldn’t be available for them?
Furthermore the majority on Alibaba for that product only offer TT, LC, WU, Cash which adds to the confusion. Unfortunately some of the companies that look very good with high Q products and tick all the credibility boxes (Gold, Trade Assured, On site checked, Assessed …etc) are not on the Wholesale site.
Ideally I would like to deal with the Alibaba.com companies as there is more choice, the products look better, and I could get a better price …its just the secure payment issue…is it still possible to use the ‘Secure Payment’ option for Alibaba.com companies?
Any advice appreciated,
Great to hear that! 🙂
You can deal with these suppliers directly on Alibaba – via Trade Assurance and it will secure your payment even via TT. Just look for suppliers who offer Trade Assurance and always start with sample order first.
[…] Let’s quickly head over to the wholesale section of Alibaba and do a search for “body ring” (if you don’t know the difference between Alibaba Wholesale and “regular Alibaba” then take a look at this post: What is Alibaba Wholesale Checkout?): […]
[…] I’ve already talked about Alibaba Wholesale Checkout in detail in a previous blog post, so if you aren’t familiar with it, please take a look at that for a full overview: What Is Alibaba Wholesale Checkout? […]
Can these ‘wholesale’ products still be branded or private labeled?
Yes, of course! Most manufacturers in China will happily brand products and packaging for you if you can meet their MOQs for OEM orders.
Just wanted to ask if you would advise on verifying the sellers on this site the same as the sellers on the original alibaba site. for things like the gold supplier rating, etc.
Yes, I would still purchase only from Gold Suppliers on Alibaba Wholesale website but as we get feedback system and Escrow service there, its much safer dealing with compared to main Alibaba site.
Still, you want to avoid any branded goods there of course.
Thanks Andrew. I really love this very post,because I can’t really order from Alibaba due to the MOQ is high,and that of aliexpress is ok,but the price is the problem.
I noticed where u wrote that price varies based on MOQ of order, which means negociation might be allowed in Aliexpress?
Yes, you can negotiate on Ali Express too.
Just contact seller and ask for best price they can give you for your order. I have done this many times successfully when quantity I order is much higher than what’s listed on Ali Express.
Thanks Andrew, I had no idea that this existed and it is exactly what I need 🙂
You’re welcome Danny!
Yes, I’m actually surprised too that Alibaba doesn’t promote this platform more on the main Alibaba site…
That’s a really good option you’ve highlighted and well worth using to test the market with a new product.
One question I have, do you find that the prices given on the main Alibaba listings are accurate?
For example, you have shown an example for the egg crackers from on $0.50-$1, I’ve often found that the actual prices you get from companies on Alibaba are usually much, much higher than the ones they list on their product page.
Do you find that they are a good guide or are they to be taken with a pinch of salt?!
Thanks for your comment.
It depends really, in some cases they’re quite accurate, in some not. If I’m researching an item, I usually know that for example – if average going price for it is $10, it can’t be sourced for $1. Companies use lower prices to attract more interest in their offers. But yes, often, when contacting companies, prices advertised does not match with the real offer.
I showed these examples just to illustrate differences between all three platforms. Actual prices when contacting companies on Alibaba will most likely be different, based on your order size.
If I want to manufacture (let factories manufacturing for me) & import high quality homewares, where should I go? To China or Poland, Germany…etc. Is it possible to get high quality homewares from China with good prices or it will be the same prices in EU ? I am selling my products to EU & USA markets.
How can I be sure of the quality of the products? Should I hire a quality controller?
Thanks for your comment.
It’s not easy to answer your question as there are so many variables involved in putting together such deals. Your best bet probably would be to attend some industry related traded shows in these regions to speak with manufacturers face to face and see whatever you can work together or not.
Product quality coming from China can vary greatly but to answer your question directly – yes, even from China you can get top quality products! Just be prepared to pay above average prices and do constant quality checks (employ someone to look after the factory or use 3rd party inspection services).