Sourcing from China need not be synonymous with buying from Alibaba. Whether you could not find suitable sellers or products on Alibaba, there are many alternatives to Alibaba where you can get what you are looking for.
Many of these sites, like Alibaba, have high-quality suppliers, a diverse range of products and offer reliable services.
Access to a wider selection of products than what is available locally
Access to hard-to-find and unique products that can help you offer a differentiated product to your customers
China-based suppliers are often willing to produce small quantities or handle one-off orders for small businesses.
You have access to skills, materials and resources that may not be available locally
China sourcing offers substantial cost savings with cheaper labor and raw material costs
One of the most popular online marketplaces in China is Alibaba. Established to help small Chinese entrepreneurs connect with customers worldwide and increase international sales, the Alibaba marketplace operates in 200 or more countries. The Alibaba Group, since its inception in 1999, has emerged as a leader in online commerce. The company's profits reached $72 billion in 2020 while achieving a year-on-year 37 percent growth.
Alibaba is hugely popular and accessible. However, it also has many trading companies and middlemen that can be confusing for a first-time buyer. From counterfeit products to non-delivery of goods, buyers can face many issues when sourcing from Alibaba.
While Alibaba is the top online hub for wholesale buyers and sellers, many businesses encounter problems when sourcing from Alibaba, such as:
Quality issues: There are hundreds of suppliers on Alibaba, but there are also many trading companies, middlemen, and dubious contractors. If you are sourcing from Alibaba for the first time or are not partnering with a China sourcing company, finding the right supplier will involve a lot of hard work. Fake accounts and suppliers cause a lot of issues to customers. When sourcing from Alibaba, it is important to know that a 'trading company' is very different from a manufacturer. Trading companies are third-party sourcing agents and do not produce any goods. They source from one or more manufacturers (factories). Working with a trading company can mean businesses will not be able to have direct access to manufacturers nor be able to take legal action when things go wrong.
Differentiation: Many of your competitors may be sourcing from Alibaba as well and are able to offer the same price range that you offer. This will create a price war and make it difficult for you to differentiate your business from competitors.
Options: Many reliable China suppliers may not be on Alibaba. Relying only on Alibaba can mean you do not get to work with the best of suppliers.
Other reasons to consider alternatives to Alibaba can include:
You found that Alibaba is not working for your business.
You are looking for something more flexible and cheaper
You couldn't find the supplier you are looking for on Alibaba
You want faster delivery options and better customer service
You want to create a back up plan or diversify your supply chain
There can be multiple other reasons to look for other websites like Alibaba. Fortunately, it is easy to find a diverse range of China suppliers and sites like Alibaba for private label, white-label, or dropshipping business models.
Many websites like Alibaba are also thriving in the B2B marketplace in China while offering millions of suppliers, products, and services.
GlobalSources is one of the top competitors to Alibaba and is a preferred Alibaba alternative for many business owners. Here are some of the appealing features of GlobalSources:
The platform is in English, making it easy for business owners in the western world
You can find manufacturers from across the world on the site.
A very thorough vetting process that filters out trading companies and fake accounts
an easy and clean interface
more real manufacturers rather than 'trading companies'
While there aren't too many 'cons' of sourcing from GlobalSources, one of the issues can be related to price listings. Some listed prices on this Alibaba alternative may not reflect the true cost. You will need to directly contact the supplier to ensure the correct price.
As GlobalSources is designed to cater to larger businesses, the suppliers on the platform may have higher minimum order quantities or MOQ. As a result, larger quantities will have to be purchased, which makes it an unsuitable platform for those looking to test their business concept with a small order.
Suppliers on GlobalSources also expect more from the buyer, which is fair as they offer more reliable services than those on Alibaba. You may have to provide your business background as well as purchase volumes and the suppliers will assess if you are the right fit for them. It can take some work initially to build trust with the Global Sources suppliers and get them to respond.
Dropshipping is a popular option for online sellers who do not want to deal with warehouses. As a type of retail fulfillment model, dropshipping involves the store or retailer purchasing a product from a third party and shipping it to the customer directly. The store does not keep stock or inventory of the products it sells.
Chinabrands is the top dropshipping platform for wholesale sellers that connects millions of suppliers and retailers with users. Purchasing on this Alibaba alternative is easier and quicker as compared with Alibaba. As a dropshipper, you are sure to have a smooth user experience with Chinabrands making it easy to find products on the platform.
The marketplace has over 500,000 SKUs, while the registered users are over 100,000. Registered stores on Chinabrands exceed 50,000, while daily orders are to the tune of 10,000. A site like Alibaba has 46 warehouses across the world. When a buyer completes an order on your website, Chinabrands receives the information and directly ships it to the buyer from their nearest warehouse. The platform guarantees transportation within 24 hours for 95 percent of products. You will also get a tracking number to monitor the shipment, while after-sale assistance is also available for those who buy transportation insurance.
Chinabrands is also recognized as a top alternative to Alibaba on the basis of:
international payment services
competent logistics services
trust and safety
global distribution of warehouses
DHgate.com is one of the largest business-to-business e-commerce marketplaces in China. As a site like Alibaba, DHGate facilitates the trade of manufactured products from China-based suppliers to global buyers. Based in Beijing, DHGate has offices spread across the world, including the UK and the US. Founded in 2004, DHgate has emerged as a massive marketplace with more than 1.2 million merchants and 30 million or more product listings. Available in multiple countries and languages, this viable Alibaba alternative has an impressive range of products across diverse categories.
As an independent marketplace, DHGate facilitates the transaction but will not ship products. The individual sellers listed on DHGate will handle the shipping. With an app compatible with Apple and Android phones, DHGate makes it easy for buyers to access the platform on the go.
Review sites including SiteJabber.com and TrustPilot.com give high ratings to the marketplace. A key advantage of buying from DHGate is that there are no minimum order quantities for most of the listed items. This makes it an ideal marketplace to buy small amounts of products to sell yourself or to dropship them.
Buyers can see some details about the seller on the "store" on the DHGate site. You can view feedback scores, the number of transactions on specific items, and customer reviews. These metrics help buyers know which sellers have a good sales volume and have good customer reviews.
DHgate online, while being a website like Alibaba, offers lower prices as compared to Alibaba or AliExpress.com.
However, as with many other online marketplaces, the risks include the presence of counterfeits and unsafe consumer products. While no field surveys are conducted of suppliers on DHGate, it is important for you to verify the supplier's background before you buy. There is also no monitoring of quality at the product level, which means you will need to rely on a China sourcing agent to conduct quality audits of the supplier.
1688 is owned by Alibaba and is an online marketplace for Chinese suppliers and buyers in the domestic market. This site, like Alibaba, is available in Chinese only. It offers an array of products, most of which are related to fashion and beauty. Most manufacturers and sellers on the platform are flexible when it comes to price. If your niche relates to fashion and beauty, this Alibaba alternative is a great place to start. You can also find many suppliers and products that may not be available on Alibaba.
The site also offers you market intelligence on the availability of products and pricing.
One of the downsides of this site, like Alibaba, relates to difficulty understanding product descriptions as all the information is in Chinese. While you can use Google translation, the process is not always perfect. If you prefer to source products from 1688.com, it is advisable to work with a China sourcing agency that is well-versed in Cantonese and Mandarin.
As many sellers may not have an export license or the capabilities to export, you will need to work with a middleman for shipping. With products priced very low, the product quality can also be suboptimal for western markets.
Made-in-China is a popular Alibaba alternative and offers 3600 or more product categories. The online marketplace has 6.1 million suppliers while offering service in eleven languages. Regardless of what product you are seeking, you are likely to find it on Made-in-China.
While the marketplace is not as big as Alibaba, you will find suppliers with reasonable MOQs (minimum order quantities) that are perfect for small businesses. You can also find several smaller manufacturers on this site, like Alibaba, who might be willing to negotiate and offer personalized product options. You can also buy in bulk or source private label or white label products.
This is a great alternative to Alibaba for those in the automotive, machinery or industrial goods business. Car parts are the most popular commodities on Made-in-China, as are plumbing parts such as valves that you can buy in bulk for lower prices.
Made-in-China hosts several trade shows each year. If you are able to travel and meet suppliers in person, attending these trade shows will open up new trade opportunities.
Are you in the clothing and apparel niche? One of the best Alibaba alternatives for entrepreneurs in the apparel business is Yaaku.
Specializing in clothing, Yaaku features all types of clothing, including clothing for babies, kids, men, and women. Right from coats, dresses, coats, sports clothing to shoes, you can find a diverse range of clothing on Yaaku. You can also drop ship as suppliers on Yaaku offer retail products.
Other advantages of Yaaku are that you can get high-quality products, while the payment process is simple. Yaaku also offers fast international shipping. It is also possible to buy at wholesale pricing. However, you will need to directly contact the seller and negotiate the rates. Yaaku has a great range of clothing types as well as four shipping partners. Although there are no minimum orders required on Yaaku, goods can be a little higher in cost that can cut down your profit margin.
Chinavasion.com was launched in 2004 and is a suitable alternative to Alibaba. It has a large online marketplace with high-quality products priced at attractive prices. Chinavasion is an ideal site for those looking for wholesale electronics products. It also provides free dropshipping services for global customers. If you are looking to buy purchase electronics at wholesale rates, you can benefit from Chinavasion's secure, safe and simple website. The site also offers pre and post-sale services. There are also periodical sales where you can get retail priced items also for a discount.
As with Yaaku, if you want to negotiate the price, you have to directly contact the seller.
The retail product website like Alibaba from China was set up in 2007 and has continued to grow. However, unlike other marketplaces, Light In The Box stocks products that it selects after stringent quality control. Sellers do not post advertisements or handle the delivery. This makes Light In The Box more reliable than Aliexpress or other sites. While the site is reliable, you cannot make a wholesale purchase by default and will have to contact the site.
The site has thousands of products and diverse payment methods, while buyers do get protection.
Trade shows in China are the best way to meet suppliers in person and evaluate their authenticity. If you have the time and resources to travel to China to attend trade shows, you can review several suppliers and compare them quickly to make informed purchase decisions. Trade shows are also a great opportunity to discover new products. Many China suppliers may not reveal their entire product range online to prevent competitors from copying their idea. When you meet suppliers in person, they are more willing to disclose the full range. As one of the best alternatives to Alibaba, trade shows provide distinct advantages as you can build a strong relationship with suppliers.
Chinese culture is rooted in 'Guanxi' or personal rapport. When you can build rapport with suppliers, you can get better deals on price, packaging, payment terms, and product personalization, among others. While there are general trade shows, you can also attend industry-specific trade shows based on your business niche.
While there are many alternatives to Alibaba, buying products from these sites is not always a straightforward process. For many sites, you will need to contact the seller to negotiate wholesale prices while you will also not get the true price of products.
From language barriers and price negotiation to shipping delays and quality issues, buyers can face multiple risks when sourcing products from China. The China sourcing agency has the expertise and experience in all aspects of sourcing from China. This ensures that you avoid expensive and time-consuming mistakes, such as placing an order with an untrustworthy seller. With an extensive network of suppliers and partners, the agency has in-depth knowledge of the market. They offer assistance with:
Searching for and finding the right product suppliers in China
Verifying the supplier's certificate, business license, and factory capabilities
Negotiating price, terms, and conditions
Preparing manufacturing agreement in Chinese
In-person factory audits, inspection, and quality control
When you partner with a China sourcing agency, you get to experience these benefits:
Save money and time
Get high-quality products at lower rates
Avoid misunderstandings as a result of cultural differences or language barriers
Ensure you get good quality products with on-site quality audits and background checks
Minimize shipping delays
Find another reputed seller in case you need to cancel your contract