Alibaba Vs AliExpress – Which is Better for Dropshipping?

Alibaba vs AliExpress? Which one should I choose for my business? Well, after reading this post this decision would not be hard for you.

Aliexpress and Alibaba, both are the most popular marketplaces in China and all over the World. Users often wonder which marketplace has the cheapest products, while suppliers often wonder which platform is the best to offer their items.Alibaba Vs AliExpress

What’s the difference between Alibaba and AliExpress?


AliExpress is a B2C retail division of Alibaba group. Here you can find products of Chinese suppliers and most probably the similar that Alibaba has. It is similar to other ecommerce marketplaces where many small businesses sell their products at the best market rates worldwide.

There is no minimum requirement of order. The buyer can purchase from one to multiple products from the same supplier at once.


Alibaba is a B2B wholesale marketplace, where small business gets its product from Chinese wholesale supplier in cheap rate to sell in the retail sector. Alibaba is a worldwide trading platform that contains a chunk of Chinese manufacturers and suppliers on its forum.

As it is a wholesale marketplace, Alibaba does not supply to regular customers unless the customer fills up the MOQ (minimum order quantity). That means a buyer has to purchase a certain amount of stock item in one order. The MOQ is different for each supplier; the customer has to contact the supplier to know the MOQ.


AliExpress and Alibaba are both parts of the Alibaba Group of companies. So, both these companies are owned by the same company, but they are both vastly different from each other.

So, the big question is which platform is better when it comes to Alibaba Vs. AliExpress? Find out below.

Alibaba or AliExpress – Which one is better?

Alibaba Vs. AliExpress - Which one is better

The same parent company owns both AliExpress and Alibaba, but both of the companies have a different business model. Alibaba is more of a business-to-business (B2B) ecommerce website which provides a smooth trading experience for both the sellers and buyers. The suppliers on Alibaba are mostly manufacturers or resellers of products who trade these items in large quantities and wholesale rates. Alibaba is suitable for small to medium-sized businesses who are looking to source large amounts of products or highly customized items in bulk.

Alibaba bulk Amounts of Products

AliExpress, on the other hand, is much suited for small businesses that are only interested in buying smaller quantities of products. AliExpress allows you to order as few as a single item and make payments using debit/credit cards, AliPay, Western Union, Bank, and some suppliers even accept PayPal on AliExpress.

Alibaba Vs AliExpress – Major Differences
Minimum order quantity (MOQ)Suppliers have quite high MOQs sometimes upwards of 100 units.Most suppliers have an MOQ of only 1 unit.
PricingNo fixed prices for items. Once you provide the supplier with your requirements, quantity, etc they will provide you with a price quote. Negotiable.The prices are fixed for different products and quantities. No negotiation.
Customized productsProducts can be customized and private-label merchandise can also be provided.No private-label merchandise available and product customization isn’t available either.
Quality/riskThe buyer needs extra product knowledge to minimize risks and quality concerns.You can only get what supplier provides.
Shipping timesShipping can take months since the products are often manufactured to order and then shipped.Products are already manufactured and ready to be shipped. So the shipping doesn’t take much time.

Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ):

If you are looking for customized products in smaller quantities, then you are out of luck with Alibaba as the items that are sold on this site are mostly in higher order quantities. Supplier often set high minimum order quantities for products. It’s a bit of a downside if you are a small business looking to sources small quantities of private label inventory for your store.

Alibaba vs aliespress Minimum Order Quantity

However, AliExpress allows you to order as few as one item from their store, but you will have to let go of the customized aspect of the products. The products on AliExpress are already manufactured, and there is no room for customization. You don’t have to worry about any minimum order quantity though, and AliExpress also provides similar payment methods and security as Alibaba.


Since both the number of products and the minimum order quantity varies on both platforms, the pricing is also varied. On AliExpress when you place an order, you get to see the final price of the product including the shipping costs. You can immediately pay for your order with any payment method of your choice.

However, when it comes to Alibaba, you need to get in touch with the suppliers first and ask them for the price quote. The price quote is according to your requirements for the product. So, that’s the main difference between AliExpress and Alibaba when it comes to the pricing model.

Customized Products:

Alibaba is the perfect place for people who are looking for products that are customizable. Since supplier requires you to provide your list of requirement, so it provides them with what you want and they can customize the products according to your need. They also provide private-labeling for the products so all the products are marked with your brand’s logos and material. So, if you want to source inventory for your custom brand in a large quantity then you should definitely look into buying from Alibaba.

Since all the products available on AliExpress are sold “As is”, there are no options for private-labeling at all. You can not have the products customized in any way whatsoever. You can not put your brand logos or material with the products. So, AliExpress is much suitable for small-time dropshipping businesses, and if you want to source private-labeled inventory for your business then AliExpress is definitely not the platform for you.

Quality of Products:

Whenever you buy online, there are always risks and concerns involving the quality of the products. On Alibaba, you get the opportunity to inspect the product before the manufacturer produces a large number of products for you. You can ask the manufacturer for a sample (for free or a discounted price) and check the quality of the sample before placing a large order. You need to inspect the sample carefully to avoid getting scammed.

When it comes to AliExpress, making sure that the product is of high-quality can be a bit tricky. You can not get any samples and the closest you come to ensuring quality before the purchase are the customer reviews. You actually have to pay for the order and get the items shipped to check out the products. In the end, it’s up to you and a bit of luck to find quality products and save yourself from getting ripped off.

Lead Times:

When you are importing from a Chinese company then time really becomes money. Here are the three different types of lead times that you need to take into consideration when ordering any product from Alibaba or AliExpress.

  1. Order Preparation.
  2. Manufacturing time.
  3. Shipping times.

When it comes to Alibaba, it can take you months before you can identify the proper supplier, tested samples, negotiated the prices, and have a sales agreement ready. The entire process takes anything from 4 weeks to 6 months, when you are doing it properly and safely. You can also just send the money to a supplier and have them send you a digital invoice for a quick transaction, but that’s very unsafe. The larger the order, the more time it’s going to consume.

Manufacturing time is really easy to predict since the manufacturer gives you an exact time-frame of how long it takes to manufacture your entire order. Manufacturing starts from the day the supplier receives the payment.

Shipping is another tricky factor when it comes to lead times. Shipping from China takes quite a bit of time depending on the mode of transport that you choose. Air freight takes around 5-7 days while Sea transport takes anywhere from 15 days to 4 weeks. If you are ordering a large quantity then Sea freight is the most suitable and economical option for you.

AliExpress offers quicker lead times compared to Alibaba since the products are already manufactured and you just order the products right off the bat. You don’t have to worry about order proceedings, manufacturing, etc. Shipping times are also lower since all the items are shipped through air freight. AliExpress shipping has different methods for the shipment and you can choose any method you want.

Alibaba Vs AliExpress FAQ

Is AliExpress Safe?

Yes, AliExpress as a platform is completely safe and secure. They have high-security standard on their website that ensures your personal and financial details stay safe. The suppliers on AliExpress can be a bit tricky as they are not under direct control of AliExpress, but your money is always safe as they provide you with a simple “Dispute” option in case of anything wrong with your order. AliExpress appeal process is simple and protects the buyers from any mishaps. So, overall AliExpress is a safe and legit platform.

Is Alibaba Safe?

Yes, Alibaba is also safe. Both Alibaba and AliExpress are owned by the sme parent company so both companies have similar safety standards. Alibaba also offers you simple ways you can file disputes against suppliers and recover your investment. Here is a complete guide to Alibaba safety.

Are Alibaba and AliExpress the same?

No, both companies are widely different from one another. They are owned by the same entity, but both these websites cater to a different kind of audience. As mentioned-above, Alibaba caters to the bulk-buyers while AliExpress is more focused on smaller order quantities.

Can I dropship from AliExpress?

Yes, you can easily dropship from AliExpress. In fact, most of the dropshippers prefer AliExpress over any other ecommerce website for their dropshipping needs since it provides cheaper rates and better lead times. Here’s how you can dropship from AliExpress.

How to sell on Alibaba?

Registering as a seller/supplier on Alibaba is completely free. A free account has a limit of up to 50 displayed products. You take care of the orders yourself. You need to fix the details of the order, the payment method, and other specifications through Alibaba chat or email.

Alibaba doesn’t charge the seller any fees or commissions. The income source for Alibaba is the Gold supplier membership that it gives to certified companies. Gold suppliers have no limits on products displayed. If you have a manufacturer in China then the whole process can be sped up and costs will be significantly lower for you.

Does Alibaba own Aliexpress?

Aliexpress and Alibaba both marketplaces under the ownership of Alibaba group (a Chinese holding company).

Are Taobao and Alibaba the same?

Alibaba is the English B2B marketplace for worldwide whereas Taobao is a B2B and C2C marketplace dedicated to Chinese users. Both marketplaces are the part Alibaba group but are different based on the market they serve.

 Is Aliexpress good for dropshipping?

Aliexpress is one of the sought after platform to start a dropshipping business. Aliexpress dropshipping is the most accessible business model to start. Aliexpress suppliers are very cooperative towards dropshippers. You just need to display their product on your dropshipping store, and they would deliver the product directly to the customer once the order is received.

Alibaba Vs AliExpress – Conclusion

So, the final word is that there’s no superior or inferior marketplace when it comes to Alibaba vs. AliExpress. The biggest differences between both these marketplaces have been explained in detail in this article. Both platforms cater to a different type of audience, so you have to choose what you want from the platform.

Do you want to keep an inventory and buy in wholesale? Then Alibaba is the platform for you. Are you more interested in drop-shipping single items? Then AliExpress is the more suitable platform for you.

Luckily, you can use the same account on both AliExpress and Alibaba which makes things a bit more easier.

The conclusion is that both these marketplaces are great platforms to source your products from China. So, if you want to make a decent profit then sourcing reasonably priced products from either one of these marketplaces is the way to go.

Let us know which platform do you prefer to use for your eCommerce business. Comment below.

Dilawar Hussain

Dilawar Hussain is a professional blogger who loves gaming, technology, and ecommerce. He spends his time testing new strategies, hacks, and tricks to help the ecommerce community.

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