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Home  > Guides to grow your business  >  Guides for online sellers  

Alibaba vs AliExpress: Which is better for sourcing products to Australia?

Alibaba and AliExpress can both help Australian businesses find reliable Chinese suppliers. But which one is better? Let’s find out.

Key takeaways

  • Alibaba caters to B2B buyers, and AliExpress is preferred by B2C buyers
  • Alibaba offers wholesale product pricing. AliExpress has retail prices
  • Both Alibaba and AliExpress offer international shipping 
  • Private labelling is only possible through select Alibaba suppliers
  • Both marketplaces offer support in English

Introduction 

The Alibaba Group has four major e-commerce websites under its umbrella – alibaba.com, aliexpress.com, 1688.com, and taobao.com. Each website has a slightly different purpose and target audience. 

When it comes to Alibaba vs AliExpress, the main difference between them is that while the former caters to B2B buyers, the latter offers products to a B2C audience. 

Let’s deep dive into the differences between Alibaba and AliExpress.

Table of Contents

What is Alibaba?

Alibaba.com is one of the biggest and most famous wholesale websites in China. Most products on the platform are available directly from manufacturers or wholesalers at considerably low prices. Though the low-priced products usually require high MOQs.

The online marketplace can be a good sourcing platform for mass wholesale dealers and small business owners. 

The B2B wholesale platform also offers numerous logistics and financial services to domestic and international buyers, making the entire process easier and more seamless. 

What is AliExpress?

AliExpress is the Alibaba Group’s cross-border e-commerce platform that majorly targets B2C international buyers. It was established in 2010 as an offshoot of Alibaba.com to allow domestic businesses to sell directly to end customers. 

It is the retail counterpart of Alibaba.com, which caters to individual customers worldwide who want to buy products without any minimum order quantity. The prices on AliExpress are usually higher than Alibaba since it focuses on B2C buyers.

Alibaba vs AliExpress - The main differences

Alibaba AliExpress
Payments Accepts all international payment methods Accepts all international payment methods
Product range Readymade and private-labeled products Readymade products
MOQ High MOQ No minimum order quantity
Shipping Supports international shipping.
The shipping costs depend on the seller and number of product units
Supports international shipping. It is usually free.
Dropshipping Yes Yes
Pricing Comparatively lower with wholesale pricing Comparatively higher with retail pricing
Target audience B2B buyers Mostly B2C buyers
Private labeling Yes No
Support for English Yes Yes
Buyer protection Yes Yes

Pricing

Since the target market for Alibaba is B2B buyers, the product pricing on the website is usually lower than AliExpress. But you can only access lower pricing with a higher MOQ. Also, Alibaba shipping can be more expensive than AliExpress. 

For instance, here is a price comparison between the same bag on Alibaba and AliExpress. 

The pricing on Alibaba is AUD $37.12 + AUD $22.68 (shipping fee) per product unit. The total pricing including shipping comes to around AUD $60 per product unit. The pricing obviously goes down as the number of unites increase. There is also a minimum order quantity of 2 required. 

The same bag on AliExpress is AUD $94.84. The shipping is free and the delivery time is faster than Alibaba. There is also no MOQ but buyers get a 5% discount when they order more than two pieces.

Payment methods

Alibaba supports many international payment methods, including credit/debit cards, PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Afterpay/ Clearpay. Buyers can also make direct bank wire transfers, safeguarded through Alibaba’s escrow protection.

Similarly, AliExpress also supports all the major international and domestic payment methods including AliPay, credit/debit cards, and PayPal.

To save up on conversion fees, you can set up a local currency account with WorldFirst and make direct payments to Chinese suppliers with transaction fees of less than 0.6%. If the supplier already has a WorldFirst account, you can make instant payments to their account completely free of charge. WorldFirst allows businesses to open 15+ local currency accounts including USD, EUR, and CNY.

Product range and quality

Alibaba has more than 200 million products listed by over 200,000 suppliers. AliExpress, on the other hand, has over 100 million products listed across different categories like apparel, bags, electronics, and more.

Minimum order quantity (MOQ)

While MOQs on Alibaba can be as low as 1-2, suppliers typically ask for a large MOQ to keep the product prices low. It’s also possible to buy a single product through Alibaba as a sample so that you can check the product quality properly before placing a big order. Single sample product pricing will usually be higher than the actual bulk pricing of the product

Note: Some low-priced products on Alibaba may have an MOQ of 50-1000 units.

Since AliExpress is a retail shopping website, there is no MOQ requirement. However, the pricing per unit does decrease as you buy more units of the same products.

Shipping and logistics

Sellers on Alibaba offer shipping services, and the shipping cost can depend on the type of product and the shipping method you choose. 

The shipping fee is decided based on the number of products you purchase. While some sellers offer free shipping, you may want to consider a paid shipping option if you want reliable and faster deliveries. You can also negotiate the shipping cost directly with the seller and get a confirmation about whether you will get a tracking link or not.

Alibaba also offers dropshipping of over 1 million products listed on its platform. You also get access to free tools that allow you to directly import important product information from Alibaba to your own online store. 




AliExpress offers free shipping on most products. The usual delivery time to Australia can be between 10-20 days. Depending on the seller and products, you can also select a shipping method of your choice. Although you may have to pay more for faster delivery.

Dropshipping is also available on AliExpress, and it’s pretty seamless.

Target audience

Alibaba.com is a B2B marketplace, so the usual buyers are other businesses. Typical Alibaba buyers include wholesale distributors, sourcing agents, and B2C retailers.

AliExpress is the retail counterpart of Alibaba and the usual buyers are direct customers and retailers.

Support for English language

Both Alibaba and AliExpress support the English language and make it easier for international buyers to connect with sellers and communicate directly with them.

Managing refunds and customer complaints

Alibaba’s Trade Assurance is a free service provided by the marketplace that gives buyers a money-back guarantee and after-sales protection. When a buyer places an order and pays for it, the money is held in an escrow by Alibaba. The payment is released by Alibaba to the supplier when the order terms and product quality expectations are met. 

AliExpress also offers buyer protection and allows free returns up to 90 days after receiving the order. You can get your money back if the order is delayed or you aren’t satisfied. 

Private labelling

Many sellers on Alibaba offer private labelling and customization of products. 

You have the option to add your company’s logo and packaging. You can also customise the graphics on the product. However, the MOQ for private-labelled products is usually higher. 

Sellers on AliExpress do not offer private labelling.

Alibaba vs AliExpress: The final verdict

Alibaba and AliExpress can connect businesses in Australia with Chinese sellers. With international shipping, buying products and getting them delivered to your warehouses is easier.

The right marketplace between the two will depend on your exact requirements. If you want to purchase products in bulk or buy private-labelled products, Alibaba is the way to go. But if you want to order a low quantity of products and get them delivered quickly, AliExpress is the better option. 

Disclaimer: The information contained is general only and largely our views. Before acting on the information you should consider whether it is appropriate for you, in light of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Although information has been obtained from and is based upon multiple sources the author believes to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy and it may be incomplete or condensed. All opinions, estimates, mentioned products/services and referenced material constitute the author’s own judgement as of the date of the briefing and are subject to change without notice. WorldFirst shall not be responsible for any losses or damages arising from your reliance of such information.

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