Tired of Scams?! Try these Top 10 Alibaba Alternatives!


By Friday January 6

Got hoodwinked on Alibaba?

Sick of slow supplier communications?

Want some alternatives to rocket business performance?

You’ve come to the right place! At SaleHoo, we’re well aware of the ins and outs of running a successful eCommerce business, and we know dealing with Alibaba can be both a blessing and a curse.

The B2B behemoth is the largest marketplace of its kind, and home to over 150,000 suppliers offering products at low prices (predominantly from China), making it a go-to for many businesses looking to order in bulk.

However, despite Alibaba’s dominance in the market, its reputation in the industry is questionable. All too many buyers report being sold poor quality goods or counterfeit products, products arriving damaged, and the platform’s Trade Assurance not doing anything to protect buyers as promised.

So while Alibaba can still offer great deals if you’re doing your homework on vetting suppliers, it never hurts to take a look around for viable Alibaba alternatives.



 

 

What is Alibaba and how do people use it?

Alibaba is a B2B marketplace, which means that it provides a platform for businesses to find suppliers for buying wholesale products.

Any site merely showcasing individual products and letting you check out directly with no minimum order quantity (MOQ), such as AliExpress or Amazon, is not a true B2B platform. These would instead fall under the umbrella of B2C.

On B2B platforms like Alibaba, you will generally have the option of contacting the supplier, and negotiating prices and order amounts directly with them. So while Alibaba does display suppliers’ products and prices, these prices are not necessarily accurate or reflective of your eventual purchase agreement. While Alibaba and AliExpress are under the same parent company, the ways that they operate are vastly different.

Suppose a business is looking for suppliers on Alibaba. This means they’re running their store under a wholesale rather than a dropshipping model, where they order bulk products and store them – at a business premise, i.e. a warehouse, or a Third Party Logistics (3PL) facility.

Steps for finding suppliers on Alibaba:

  1. Register an account (free) and use the app or desktop site Alibaba.com to start your search
  2. Search by category, product, or manufacturer
  3. Check product listings for price per unit (PPU), minimum order quantity (MOQ) and shipping estimates
  4. Contact suppliers through live chat to discuss the potential order and conditions
  5. Contact a few suppliers and choose the one that suits your business best
  6. Finalize the purchase agreement, and process payment
  7. A typical order run may…
    1. Involve 1-4 months to manufacture the product
    2. Take up to 1 month+ to ship by sea.
    3. Require 1 week+ to clear customs.

So you see that the logistics are really a lot more involved than with, for example, a dropshipping business, which requires little advance setup to get a store up and running. With wholesale buying, you need to be more organized and plan ahead to ensure you always have adequate stock quantities.

The Pros and Cons of Alibaba

As with anything, there are positives and negatives to using Alibaba, so let’s take a look at some of the main factors buyers point out when purchasing on the platform.

PROS

  • ✅ Sourcing products from manufacturing and traditionally exporting countries like China tends to be a whole lot cheaper
    • → This brings down product prices and increases profit margins
  • ✅ Small businesses are able to find suppliers with smaller order quantities in the vast line-up of Alibaba suppliers
    • → High order quantities can be a barrier to businesses just starting out, as they just won’t have enough capital
    • → Smaller orders mean smaller initial risk if a business doesn’t end up being able to shift their inventory
  • ✅ The large choice of suppliers on one platform makes it easy to compare options

CONS

  • ❌ Slow (and expensive!) shipping: When shipments have to travel long distances via sea (due to the larger sizes of wholesale orders), this comes at a cost of both money and time!
    • → This makes business planning and strategy more variable and complex
    • → It’s harder to be reactive, e.g. if a business has a sudden surge in sales and needs to stock up fast
  • ❌ Poor quality goods: Without the ability to do a site visit and check out the products in person, you run the risk of receiving poor quality or counterfeit goods
    • → Selling poor quality products will hugely impact the brand’s reputation and standing with customers
  • ❌ Suppliers aren’t vetted: Just about anyone can become a seller on Alibaba, making it impossible to know which suppliers you can trust.
    • → As probably THE most important partner to your business, you really need to know that you can trust your suppliers, or else have your business suffer considerably
  • ❌ You may get scammed. Unfortunately, there are countless shady characters on the platform that are simply out to get your money. Alibaba does try to purge scammers from its website from time to time, but it’s an impossible tide to stem.

As you can see, there are plenty of good reasons to look for Alibaba alternatives to fulfill your supplier needs. As popular as Alibaba may be, sometimes it’s just not worth the risk.

Alibaba Alternatives

1. SaleHoo Directory

How many suppliers are listed: 8000+ (20,000 more coming soon)
Location of the suppliers: Global
What type of business is it best for:

  • Suitable for those just starting, on the way up, or seasoned pros
  • Those wanting to find reliable business partners to accelerate their business
  • Buyers wanting the confidence of buying from prevetted suppliers

What it actually is:
The SaleHoo Directory is a HUGE database of manufacturers, wholesale and dropship suppliers, offering over 1M products – which is set to more than triple in the coming year.

SaleHoo helps you find your perfect supplier via product or keyword search, or by browsing one of the many product categories. Refine your search with useful filters, such as supplier type and shipping destination, and easily narrow down your choice to a select few, which you can contact using one of the many expert-designed email templates.

Another invaluable feature of the SaleHoo Directory is Labs, the industry-leading research tool based on real-time market data. Here you can compare product performance in-market, filter by sell rate (and more), and discover the upcoming product trends. 

Together this suite of tools will ensure that you’re finding top reliable suppliers for winning products and accelerate business growth in no time.

2. GlobalSources

How many suppliers are listed: 150,000
Location of the suppliers: China and HongKong
What type of business is it best for:

  • Those wanting similar suppliers to Alibaba
  • Businesses looking to place large orders (high MOQs)
  • Businesses wanting to white label

What it actually is:
Global Sources is a Hong-Kong-based online B2B marketplace that focuses on large-quantity orders and suppliers that offer white labeling Although most of the suppliers listed are based in China and Hong Kong, Global Sources’ admission criteria are stricter than Alibaba’s, and they require a large membership fee of around $14700 - $29400.

This means it attracts large manufacturers and a few select trading companies, rather than the multitude of smaller trading companies you find on Alibaba, as these are the ones that can afford to be permanently on the platform.

As a result, Global Sources is less suitable for small-scale buyers as well, since you have to place very large orders. Global Sources suppliers are held to high standards by the platform, so they expect the same from buyers too – you’ll need to supply business background info and prove that you’re a viable business partner for these big players.

3. DHgate

How many suppliers are listed: 2 million+
Location of the suppliers: Mostly China
What type of business is it best for:

  • Businesses looking for similar suppliers to Alibaba
  • Small to medium businesses looking for MOQs as small as one piece
  • Those who want to check out products in person at Digital Trade Centers

What it actually is:
Beijing-based DHGate is very similar to Alibaba in both looks and functionality. It’s a B2B (and B2C, to some extent) marketplace featuring mostly Chinese suppliers, catering particularly to small and medium businesses. Those that can’t afford the higher MOQs of the likes of Alibaba and GlobalSources.

One of the main differences that sets DHGate apart is its Digital Trade Centers – these are physical stores located around the world where buyers can inspect products in person.

Another thing that sets it up – albeit not in a good way! – are its higher prices. Apparently, you can expect to pay up to 25% more for the same products that you’d find on Alibaba. This is partly because this Alibaba alternative hosts exclusively third-party sellers as opposed to manufacturers and direct suppliers.

4. Made-in-China

How many suppliers are listed: 6.1 million
Location of the suppliers: China
What type of business is it best for:

  • Particularly those looking to buy mechanical equipment
  • Buyers wanting to buy from audited wholesalers

What it actually is:
Made-in-China is another China-based Alibaba alternative, a B2B marketplace featuring products in over 3600 categories, with a particular specialty in mechanical equipment such as manufacturing machinery, industrial equipment, and electronics. However, you’ll find a vast range of suppliers on this platform.

Much like Alibaba, you don’t add products to your ‘basket’ and instead use live chat to negotiate the terms of a purchase agreement. The good thing about this is that MOQs and PPU are negotiable, and you might well find a good deal here.

One interesting feature is that Made-in-China offers the ability to meet with suppliers face-to-face, or online, creating that extra bit of trust between buyers and suppliers. The majority of wholesalers are also audited to some extent.

5. Inventory Source Supplier Directory

How many suppliers are listed: 4000+
Location of the suppliers: China and US
What type of business is it best for:

  • Businesses wanting to combine dropshipping and wholesaling
  • Those preferring to go with a smaller directory at a cheaper price

What it actually is:
Inventory Source is a dropshipping and wholesale supplier catalog featuring a smaller number of suppliers, each with a supposedly very large product catalog. There are 26 different categories, covering anything from pet supplies to books and apparel.

Access to the directory is free, which Inventory Source uses as a jumping-off point to sign customers up to their dropshipping automation and inventory management software. These will give you access to features like one-click order processing, inventory sync, and product feed mamagement. Pricing plans are $99/month or $150/month, which places them amongst the higher-end pricing plans in the industry.

6. Wholesale Central

How many suppliers are listed: 1400+
Location of the suppliers: North America
What type of business is it best for:

  • North American retailers looking for local suppliers
  • Both dropshipping and wholesale retailers
  • Those wanting a smaller database with free access

What it actually is:
Wholesale Central is a solid database of North American suppliers with minimal faff. The site has a basic, easy-to-navigate layout, and does what it says on the can: provide supplier info.

You’re able to search suppliers by supplier type, price point, and category, and can easily access contact info with no registration or fee required.

One thing to keep in mind: There are no strict rules about who can advertise themselves in the Wholesale Central directory, so it’s vital you’re careful about assessing which suppliers are reliable and which aren’t

There are no products listings available whatsoever, so it’s a bit more of a pared-down Alibaba alternative.

7. Worldwide Brands

How many suppliers are listed: 8000+
Location of the suppliers: North America
What type of business is it best for:

  • Those wanting lifetime access to an American-based directory
  • Suitable for dropshippers and wholesalers alike
  • Suitable for all sizes of business, although smaller businesses may struggle with the hefty sign-up fee

What it actually is:
Worldwide Brands is a comprehensive directory of wholesale and dropshipping suppliers based mainly in the USA and Canada. Reviews are generally favorable with many praising the easy refund process and friendly customer service.

The site itself is functional, if a little outdated-looking, and offers easy search functionality to find the right suppliers for you. Many suppliers here are happy with a low MOQ, which makes it accessible to smaller and new businesses. However, the hefty $299 pricet ag may put some off, even if it does give you lifetime access.

If you can’t find a particular product, you can submit a product request form, and the Worldwide Brands team will help to track down a supplier for you. A nice touch!

8. eSources UK

How many suppliers are listed: 110,000+
Location of the suppliers: UK and international
What type of business is it best for:

  • UK sellers looking for local suppliers
  • Businesses who have yet to set up a store and organise hosting

What it actually is:
eSources UK is a UK-based trade directory established in 2005, with free access for buyers and both dropshipping and wholesale suppliers listed.

The free buyer plan gives you full access to the database and supplier contact details; the premium plan (from £6.25/month for an annual plan) includes an eCommerce website with free hosting and a bunch of additional data and business insights to run your business. 

Only some of the suppliers on eSources UK are verified, however – these are marked with the TradePass icon.

9. Top10Wholesale

How many suppliers are listed: 2000+
Location of the suppliers: Global, but specializing in ‘Made in USA’
What type of business is it best for:

  • US-based businesses
  • Businesses interested in products verifiably “Made in the USA”

What it actually is:
California-based TopTenWholesale was founded in 2005 and is a supplier directory featuring a few thousand suppliers, importers and dropshippers. Although having its main seat in the US, the company has offices and representatives around the globe, and fulfillment centers in both the US and China.

The directory is free to access and lets buyers contact suppliers through an internal messaging system.

A special feature the company prides itself on is its verification process for suppliers and buyers seeking products from Made In The USA vendors. They also seem top verify all sellers’ authenticity before listing them on the site.

It looks to be a flourishing community of buyers and sellers and well worth checking out, especially if you’re a US-based retailer.

10. India Mart

How many suppliers are listed: 7.3 million
Location of the suppliers: India
What type of business is it best for:

  • Businesses looking for well-priced supplier alternatives outside of China
  • Retailers in the textiles and clothing niche
  • Sellers looking to delve into the pharmaceuticals market

What it actually is:
IndiaMART is one of the largest free B2B marketplaces in India that boasts a huge range of product categories. With the Indian market and economy on the rise, and only set to keep growing with its substantial workforce, the Indian supplier market is becoming more and more attractive for retailers too. China watch out!

Although featuring a wide range of products, the platform will be particularly appealing for businesses related to textiles and clothing, as this is a market India has been a global superpower in for years now.

Another interesting aspect of IndiaMart is its over-the-counter pharmaceutical dropshipping service, which is unique amongst supplier directories. However, retailers beware! Pharmaceuticals carry with them their very own bag of worms, with various legislations and restrictions that need to be considered before delving into this market.

If you want a new avenue of product and supplier research, especially looking into the future, IndiaMart is definitely one to watch. China is leading the pack now, but its Asian competition is catching up!

Which Alibaba Alternative is right for me?

And there you have it. As you can see, there’s a whole world of Alibaba Alternatives out there! We hope we’ve given you the data and confidence to try something new, and say goodbye to constant scams and supplier hassles.

When trying to decide which of these 10 options is right for your business, you really need to take into consideration all aspects of your operations:

  • What kind of products do you sell?
  • Where do you want your supplier(s) be located?
  • What’s important to you: fast shipping or low PPU?
  • How much of a risk are you willing to take with unvetted suppliers?

Every venture is unique in its requirements, so only you can decide which of these Alibaba Alternatives is going to be a winner for you.

If you want an all-rounder Directory that will enable you to keep all your options open when it comes to supplier location, product type and shipping times, AND give you lots of flexibility to adapt as you grow, the SaleHoo Directory is an excellent choice.

It’s huge directory of top suppliers, and the fact that they’re all carefully vetted gives you the confidence that you’re going to keep growing your business, whatever the next step along the way.

If you have any questions about any of the above, or you need some eCommerce-related advice, don’t hesitate to reach out to our 24/7 support team of experts.

Until then, all the best with your ventures!

 

 

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