It’s easy to say straight off that DHgate and AliExpress can be great for people looking for cheap products and business owners looking to source products to resell at higher prices (with juicier profit margins!).
These online marketplaces are certainly not lacking in products and you can be confident you’ll land upon something interesting just by browsing.
It’s true that DHgate and AliExpress are similar, and neither one is necessarily better - it all comes down to your own preferences and needs.
This article breaks down the key features of each marketplace and explains what each is best used for.
Tip: Dropshipping is taking the world by storm! With this business model, you can sell items online without ever having to hold inventory. This is because the supplier of your products will ship them to customers on your behalf. Many suppliers on DHgate and AliExpress can dropship their products for you. Want to know more about dropshipping? Check out our guide that details how to get started dropshipping in five steps!
DHgate is a Chinese marketplace attracting millions of customers from all over the world to their website every year. It was developed to facilitate transactions between small-to-medium businesses and customers around the world. The ‘DH’ in its name refers to a city in China called Dūnhuáng, which was historically the point on a major global trading route where goods would enter and exit china.
AliExpress was launched several years after DHgate in 2009 as a retail solution to their parent company, Alibaba, a wholesale marketplace. AliExpress receives significantly more monthly visitors than DHgate, hitting 453 million in December 2021, whereas DHgate had 16 million visitors stop by.
Both marketplaces offer millions of products through their third party sellers, which list their products on the marketplace. This means that quality can be hit or miss - but more on that later!
DHgate differs from AliExpress in that it offers bulk pricing (i.e. lower prices, the more units you buy) if you want to use the platform for purchasing wholesale, on top of being able to purchase individual items. It also features more replicas of brand name products, which AliExpress regulates more strictly.
If you want to benefit from lower wholesale prices on AliExpress, you will need to swap over to their wholesale counterpart, Alibaba.
We have taken a more in-depth look at each in the following table:
What is DHgate for?
As mentioned, the DHgate marketplace features a vast range of finished products which can be purchased individually or in wholesale. Many sellers offer dropshipping arrangements by request.
This makes DHgate a potential option for business owners who want to buy products for their store at wholesale prices or to find suppliers to dropship for them.
DHgate is also known for their replicas of brand name products. While selling replicas is not legal, DHgate appears to loosely monitor the incidence of replicas being listed on their site. This is in contrast for AliExpress, who strictly ensures that sellers cannot list replicas easily without getting shut down.
There are some further considerations for using DHgate:
- Sellers are not vetted so be careful to read customer reviews and seller return policies to minimize your risk of getting stung.
- Shipping times can be long (about 14 to 30 days).
- Because DHgate supports exclusively third party sellers, there may be variation between the quality of various products. Read customer reviews for each product to gain more purchasing confidence.
Screenshots of DHgate Marketplace
Who should use DHgate?
Because DHgate offers finished products that can be bought individually or in wholesale. The platform can be useful to both consumers or business owners who want to buy products to resell or to dropship.
Because suppliers aren’t vetted, DHgate may be best used by people who are confident evaluating suppliers and taking precautions to ensure that they can trust the sellers they purchase from.
What is AliExpress for?
AliExpress can be a great place to source cheap products, with lots of options.
Unlike DHgate, AliExpress doesn’t offer wholesale, which means you will not get discounted ‘bulk’ pricing the more units you buy.
However, many AliExpress suppliers are open to forming dropshipping arrangements, so business owners may wish to use the platform for this purpose.
A similarity that DHgate and AliExpress share is that neither vet their sellers, so we suggest that buyers tread carefully by reading customer protection policies and customer reviews before making any purchases.
Because any and all suppliers can list their products on the site, shopping on AliExpress can be time consuming as you may need to evaluate potential sellers before purchasing.
But, for dropshippers, there are solutions to these problems!
If you use a tool like SaleHoo Dropship, then you will have access to millions of pre-vetted AliExpress products, which have been prior tested for quality and reliability. These products can easily be added to your Shopify store in one click.
Most dropshipping tools will import product information together with their corresponding product to save you from having to manually input product specifications and descriptions, so you can start selling faster.
In order to streamline your role as a dropshipping business owner, we highly recommend taking the time to have a look at the tools out there to use with AliExpress.
Screenshots of AliExpress Marketplace
Who should use AliExpress?
AliExpress is best suited for buyers who want to purchase individual products, or business owners looking to establish dropshipping relationships with Chinese suppliers.
As with DHgate, it is important to be cautious when using the platform. We suggest checking out customer reviews and seller policies before making purchases.
Alternatively, use a tool like SaleHoo Dropship to take the guesswork out of finding AliExpress suppliers by browsing millions of pre-vetted products to one-click import into your online store.
There are plenty of other online marketplaces out there to use - we’ve just looked at two of them (albeit popular ones)!
You may wish to try using DHgate and AliExpress and see which one you like more, there’s no stopping you as it costs nothing to use each.
We’ve also included some resources for you below, if you’re interested in finding out more about how AliExpress can be used with SaleHoo, or some of our top picks for places to sell online.