What is the difference? Alibaba, AliExpress and Chinese e-commerce Stores

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Do you know why you should buy something at AliExpress? Or is it better to look for Chinese online stores? We will tell you the main difference between the three most used options. Alibaba, AliExpress and Chinese webshops.

There are mainly three levels for purchasing in China. Buying directly from the manufacturer by using Alibaba. Another option is using AliExpress and order wholesale goods from businesses, agents or shops (known and unknown). The last level is probably the most reliable one, buying of main Chinese webshops which concentrate on export to the rest of the world.


To understand the purpose of AliExpress we need to know their provenance, which is Alibaba.com. Alibaba is the elder brother of AliExpress, and they both belong to the Alibaba group. Alibaba is a business to business (B2B) portal to connect Chinese manufacturers with foreign buyers.


The essential specialties are; you will have to negotiate your order by email, and you cannot order already made products. So if you place an order, the manufacturer will start the production afterward. Therefore, you can specify individual wishes or entirely manufacture your “self-made” product. Though, there is a counterpart. There is a minimum order quantity (MOQ) and the delivery time is often six to eight weeks. The latter is because that is the regular shipping time with freight shipping to familiar places in the rest of the world.

Afterall Alibaba is for business who can afford to order bulk and want to resell their brand products. In spite, you need to be certain that the manufacturer knows what you want and delivers the quality you want. To minimize the risks you will have to do a lot of research.


AliExpress is a marketplace for mostly business to business connections. The big difference between Alibaba is the MOQ; you will often have to order minimum quantities of 10-100 items. This is ideal for smaller business which cannot afford expensive investments. But want to benefit from buying volume quantities of already produced products and get price discounts for larger orders. Now some suppliers will even offer the chance to buy one piece. In that way, they almost act like a regular store/webshop.


However, those sellers are certainly not webshops. AliExpress offers their users/customers a delivery warranty. So when the product does not arrive, or it broke you can claim your money back. But what many people don’t know is that you will not have any product warranty later on.

AliExpress tries to simplify the process and creates an opportunity for countless more buyers oversea. They are connecting Chinese manufacturers/small shops with oversea clients.

Chinese Online Shops

So for what reason you should buy at one of the available Chinese webshops? There are many Chinese webshops out there, and at the time of writing, we (www.compareimports.com) compare 15 of them.

Some shops are delivering their customers a great experience and others somewhat less. But in the end the, it is all about 20 to 100 regular stores to compare on their reliability, delivery time and warranty policies. Read our reviews of the Chinese shops you can find on CompareImports.

For comparison, on AliExpress you can buy stuff from god knows how many stores/sellers. There is an excellent internal review system where you can find out if the store is trustworthy and the experience of other buyers. However, each seller can create their policy. So you will have to know if the quality of your product is right? How long will it take to deliver? What is the product warranty policy? And if they offer free shipping? Thus the questions which you need to answer for a shop once, are necessary for every single seller/shop on Aliexpress.

Those questions are pretty clear for web shops. We know that Banggood, Gearbest, and Chinavasion offering excellent and reliable services. If we buy a product over there, we could trust the part that everything will be alright. On AliExpress you have to check for every single product if the supplier is reliable and worth to buy. Next to the product warranties which differ. Last bu not least, it is often difficult to determine if the product is genuine on AliExpress.

What should we Chose?

Alibaba AliExpress China Webshop (e.g. DX, Banggood, Gearbest)
  • Customize Design/Brand
  • Price
  • Product Quality Knowledge Required
  • Delivery Time 6-8 weeks
  • Mimimum Order Quantity (100+)*
  • Fast Delivery
  • Overwhelming Offer and Cheap
  • Minimum Order Quantity (10-100)*
  • Warranty Issues
  • Warranty
  • Buy Pieces
  • Customer Service
  • Local Warehouses
  • More Expensive

So why should you buy something at AliExpress? You should order at AliExpress if you are looking for getting larger quantities. Because most of the time they have first-class prices on larger quantities.

China e-commerce stores also offer wholesale pricing with discounts, but those are often not that cheap. They focus on buying products in pieces. Something which is not always available on AliExpress. But if you can, it is worth to consider when the price is appealing.

The primary downside from buying stuff on AliExpress is their product warranty. You can get a full or partial refund when the ordered product not arrives or is not what you expected.

When the product breaks within a few months after arrival (not even through your fault), for example, a broken contact for charging. You don’t get any warranty. The offer you will get is to send the product back to let the seller repair it for you. Sounds great right? All the costs involved shipping back, repairing, the replacement parts, shipping back again will all be for yourself. And those costs are often extensive regarding the initial price of your product.

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