November 27, 2015 by Andrew Minalto - 2 Comments

Your eBay & eCommerce Questions Answered #47

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questions-answers-47Happy BLACK Friday everyone!

With December just around the corner, it’s time for our 47th Questions & Answers blog post. There are still 3 left to do this year if we’re going to reach my lofty target of 50, so please don’t stop sending your questions in via the contact form on this page.

Today we’ll be covering the following topics:

  • What’s the difference between DHgate and Alibaba?
  • Is it possible to collect imports directly from the port?
  • Does HMRC keeps a black list of undervalued shipment recipients?
  • Is it normal that electronic suppliers in China don’t accept PayPal?
  • How to buy children’s toys in wholesale from China?

Let’s get started!

Hello Andrew,

What’s the difference between DHgate and Alibaba? I find it a little hard to find suppliers on Alibaba.



There’s a massive difference between DHgate and the main Alibaba website. DHgate is basically an online retailer where you can buy in quantities as low as 1 per product, though it is also okay for small wholesale orders to test new products etc. Most sellers on DHgate are trading companies or individuals who simply buy goods from factories to re-sell on there.

Alibaba on the other hand is the world’s largest B2B marketplace, where the majority of companies listed are actual manufacturers. The minimum order requirements are completely different compared to Dhgate (much higher!) and of course prices will be significantly lower as a result.

A similar website to DHgate is – it operates in a very similar way and is basically an online retailer where you can purchase individual items at rock bottom prices. For business purposes though, you should concentrate on the main Alibaba site where you can get much better prices working with manufacturers directly. There are trading companies listed too, who are basically a middle ground – offering lower MOQs than the manufacturers on Alibaba but at pricing that is still better than AliExpress/Dhgate.

Hi Andrew,

I’m looking to order from China and most suppliers are asking what my nearest port is (it seems it’s cheapest to have it sent via sea). But is it possible for me to go and collect my goods from the port? Will I have to pay a fee in order to do so?


Hi Christian,

Yes, it is possible for you to go to your nearest port and collect goods in person. But that really isn’t the biggest issue here – it’s not as if the supplier sends goods to you via sea freight and you just go to the port to collect them. You first need to clear your goods through customs; pay taxes, port fees (which are not small) and other related fees plus do all the paperwork so that your goods can actually be collected.

I recommend using a customs broker or freight forwarding company for this task as it will be cheaper and easier for you. But once the goods are cleared, then yes, to save on additional shipping fees in the UK, you can simply collect them on your own, if you have a suitable vehicle for this shipment.

Hi Andrew,

I had a border force notice requesting proof of value of goods imported from the USA (nutritional supplements) – they questioned the supplier’s declared value, saying it was too low. So I sent the invoice showing the value, they charged me accordingly, and I received my parcel.

The question is in the future will my parcels from the USA be monitored or flagged up?


Hi Serg,

No, I don’t think they will “flag” you in any way. There’s no way for them to do that really as they can’t get the names/addresses for every package that comes in and run them against some kind of database, in an automated way.

Undervaluing imports happens all the time, thousands of packages every day, but to avoid problems in the future and delays in receiving your orders from the USA, just always ask your supplier to put the correct value for your order on the customs declaration that is attached to the package.

Hi Andrew,

Firstly let me say that it is rare and very refreshing to come across someone such as yourself that is so readily available to help others succeed with an online business. Your wisdom is appreciated and I have already learnt a great deal from you. I have a question which I would really appreciate your opinion on.

I am looking at a particular electronic product from China. What I am finding is that the vast majority of electronic sellers will not accept PayPal. I am already selling other non-electronic items and have no problem sourcing wholesalers willing to accept PayPal but it seems hardly any electronic wholesalers will take payment like this.

I know in the past you’ve mentioned to steer away from anyone that won’t take PayPal as payment in this day and age and that you’ve had some experience with electronics so is this normal for electronic sellers? Do they normally only accept TT or Western Union? Or would I be best served to keep looking until I find someone willing to sell at a good price that also accepts PayPal.

Thanking you for your thoughts and I look forward to hearing from you.

Hi Mark,

Personally I haven’t seen such a trend that electronic suppliers on the whole are less willing to accept PayPal. To me it’s been the usual – some sellers do while others don’t.

It could be that for this particular product you just got un-lucky? Either way, I would recommend you keep looking for more suppliers until you find someone who takes PayPal. Or alternatively, use Alibaba’s Trade Assurance platform to place your order directly on Alibaba and get payment protection.

Hi Andrew,

I have an online store set up for children’s toys (figures and animals) and I’m finding it hard to tap into the cheaper generic Chinese sources to expand my stock.

This is because:

1) I need new stock of dozens of different items, not just one thing or a few, so dealing with the MOQs in the thousands per item is just not practical on Alibaba. Even hundreds is too much at this point. I’ve tried reaching out to some suppliers anyway with my needs, but it’s not going anywhere yet.

2) If I then go to low MOQ sites like AliExpress or DHgate, my problem is a different one – the items sold there in the toy categories are almost entirely dodgy unlicensed characters from movies and stuff. I simply can’t find a way to filter out all the crap. I just want generic stuff like on Alibaba, but the suppliers I like there don’t seem to be on the other sites. AliExpress’ negative keyword filter helps a little but it has a small character limit.

Do you have any searching tips or other advice to get around these two problems? Other sites? Is this sort of niche just better off with local wholesalers? How do you deal with a niche that you want dozens of different products for?


Hi Sam,

You definitely want to look for a UK based wholesaler for items like these. Not only because of the high MOQs on Alibaba but for safety reasons too. Kid’s toys imported into the EU need to conform with regulations and for this reason alone you should stick with reputable, UK based wholesalers.

Try using Google to find such companies, attend a trade show, look into wholesale directories, etc.!


Okay, that’s it for today! Hope you find some of my answers interesting & valuable.

Have a great weekend everyone and I’ll be back with more posts next week.


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  1. Jeff Deane

    Hi Andrew, i have bought and sold on and off for a number of years, i now have £2000 to invest in an ebay business, my question is how would you go about it as a long term business.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jeff,

      Have you read through posts on my blog?

      Hundreds of posts & guides to get you started! 🙂


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