AliExpress is the behemoth of low-price marketplaces for dropshippers.
But it’s not without its drawbacks – slow shipping, poor quality and lack of support are just some of the problems users report from the Chinese platform.
If you’re running a dropshipping business (huzzah!), you may be asking yourself: are there any alternatives worth doing business with?
The short answer is, yes! There certainly are. There’s a whole host of lesser known wholesale and dropshipping marketplaces out there, only waiting for you to discover them. AliExpress isn’t the be-all and end-all when it comes to supplying your online store, so in this article we’ll get you acquainted with some of your other potential business partners, including some cherry-picked suppliers from the SaleHoo Directory.
What is AliExpress?
AliExpress started out in 2010 and is an offshoot of the Alibaba group. Its parent platform alibaba.com (launched in 1999) is a B2B marketplace where manufacturers and suppliers (mostly from China) can sell their products in bulk to international businesses. AliExpress was created as a B2C version where manufacturers and resellers are able sell products in smaller quantities directly to consumers. While it’s not technically a dropshipping supplier, dropshippers around the world have flocked to AliExpress for sourcing their products due to its low pricing and convenient logistical set up.
Aside from great prices that translate to healthy profit margins for dropshipping businesses, other advantages to AliExpress include a huge product offering, easy international shipping, plus integration with various scaling and automation tools, such as SaleHoo Dropship or Spocket.
On the other hand, there are plenty of reports of scam accounts and low-quality products that look nothing like what was advertised. And if your customers want to return an item (which becomes increasingly likely for reasons stated above), the process is often so complex that you end up having to let them keep the product and refund them anyway. Bad news for your bank balance if it keeps happening!
Best AliExpress alternatives
Regardless of your own personal experience with AliExpress, it never hurts to keep your options open and shop around for the most competitive prices. So let’s take a look at some of the best alternatives out there and how they stack up against the Chinese giant.
SaleHoo is a platform for eCommerce entrepreneurs that offers 8,000+ dropship and wholesale suppliers, 1.6 million high-quality, branded products at low prices, an industry-leading market research tool and 24-hour support. You have the option of choosing your own suppliers from their huge global Directory, or – if you like the idea of dropshipping from AliExpress but want more security – its Dropship tool enables automated upload of pre-vetted high-profit products. So you can scale your business with the peace of mind that you won’t get scammed.
Good for: Finding trusted suppliers worldwide
Drawback: If choosing your own supplier, you may need to contact a few before you find the right fit for your business.
Payment options: Credit/debit cards, PayPal
Delivery times: Vary depending on your supplier
Can you dropship? Yes!
DHGate was one of the first cross-border B2B marketplaces in China and while it has a smaller user base than AliExpress’ 150 million, its 10 million strong community of buyers still speaks for itself. It features many of the same products as AliExpress, so represents a good point of comparison when shopping around for the best prices. What’s unique about DHGate is that even though it started out as a B2B platform, its lack of MOQ (minimum order quantity) means it attracts plenty of direct consumers now too – making it ideal for a dropshipping business model.
Good for: Finding competitive prices
Drawback: Less regulation around counterfeits means there are more fake label items on the platform
Payment options: Credit/debit card, ApplePay (USA and other select locations), Paypal
Delivery times: 5-30 days dispatched from individual sellers (mostly China-based)
Can you dropship? Yes
Very similar to AliExpress, Banggood features a huge product catalog of more than 100,000 products, but their speciality is Chinese consumer electronics – such as Xiamo smartphones, Eachine drones, projectors, robots and more. As an added bonus, their 4 star Trustpilot rating means you can use their services with confidence.
Good for: Niche electronic products
Drawback: Reports of inconsistent product quality
Payment options: Credit/debit car, PayPal, bank transfer, various location-specific options
Delivery times: 2-30 days from globally distributed warehouses, using ePacket or Air Parcel
Can you dropship? Yes, they have a dedicated dropshipping program.
4. DX (Dealextreme)
DX.com promises extreme deals and you certainly get them on yet another Chinese platform that appears to be selling just about everything. In its top deals section you’re often able to get up to 50% on selected products, so it’s a great one for the bargain hunters out there. Unfortunately Trustpilot is rife with negative reviews of poor quality products and worse customer service. And while it offers free worldwide shipping on most products, this option is reportedly extremely slow.
Good for: Finding deals
Drawback: Poor customer service
Payment options: Credit/debit card, Paypal, installments
Delivery times: 14-30 days
Can you dropship? Yes.
Part of the Alibaba group and attracting over 800 million users, Taoboa is the biggest online marketplace in the world, beating even Amazon. Think of it as a more organized version of AliExpress that’s only in Chinese. It’s targeted at Chinese customers and international shipping often isn’t an option, so you’d need to use either an official TaoBao shipping forwarder or a buying agent for delivering outside of China. And unless you happen to be fluent in Mandarin, there is the obvious language barrier too. However, prices are extremely low so jumping through a few hoops may be worth it.
Good for: Sourcing very low-cost products
Drawback: Available in Chinese only
Payment options: Credit/debit car, WeChat Pay, Alipay, Western Union, China local bank transfer
Delivery times: Varies greatly depending on how you organize shipping
Can you dropship? Yes, there are some apps that enable integration between Shopify stores and TaoBao, such as Dropast and Taocarts.
Lightinthebox is yet another full-scale marketplace that sells everything from clothing to gardening tools – but it does have a focus on lifestyle products such as those in fashion and beauty. Westerners may find the site a little easier to navigate than some of its more flashy counterparts.
Good for: Finding lifestyle products on an easy-to-navigate platform
Drawback: Unclear if they support dropshipping
Payment options: Credit/debit cards, Paypal, Klarna, various other location-specific options
Delivery times: 15-30 days from Chinese warehouses
Can you dropship? Unclear
7. Worldwide Brands
Similar to SaleHoo, Worldwide Brands is a supplier directory for finding wholesale and dropshipping suppliers. To get access to their directory, you have to pay for lifetime membership, which costs $299. While their site itself looks outdated and in need of modernizing, they do regularly add suppliers to the directory and keep improving functionality for filtering etc.
Good for: Sourcing your own suppliers
Drawback: High up-front cost
Payment options: Credit/debit car, Paypal
Delivery times: Vary depending on the suppliers you pick and their location
Can you dropship? Yes.
Gearbest started out as a marketplace for buying cheap electronics wholesale, but it’s since expanded to a whole range of product offerings and sells directly to consumers. While Gearbest is similar to AliExpress, once you get to the website you’ll see how its products are quite different. You can even find branded electronics for great prices, such as Huawei and Lenovo.
Good for: Cheap branded electronics
Drawback: No dedicated dropshipping programme, though there is mention of dropshipping on the site
Payment options: Credit/debit card, Paypal, various location-specific options, interest-free installments over 6 months (US only)
Delivery times: 2-30 days. Choice between Expedited, Priority Line, Registered and Unregistered Air Mail from 4 warehouses around the world.
Can you dropship? Yes.
As the name implies, Geekbuying is another Chinese marketplace with a gadgets and electronics focus. It mainly sells B2C but there is a channel for enquiring about wholesale prices. Dropshippers are able to set up a dedicated account where customers will receive orders with your name and branding on it. They also have some EU warehouses and a 4.3 star rating on Trustpilot.
Good for: Gadgets
Drawback: Allegedly sells some gray market products, such as counterfeits
Payment options: Credit/debit card, Paypal, Klarna, various location-specific options
Delivery times: 2-50 days. Choice between different shipping options. The slowest (unregistered air mail) is free on all orders.
Can you dropship? Yes, they have a dedicated dropshipper account you can set up.
Tomtop is an established online store that has been around since 2004 (longer than AliExpress!). It regularly updates and adds to its huge product catalog and has a good rating of 3.9 on Trustpilot. Product offerings are similar to AliExpress, so it’s a good option for comparing prices and getting the best deal.
Good for: Comparing prices
Drawback: Dropshipping option not easily accessible unless you’re Chinese-speaking
Payment options: Credit/debit card, Paypal, bank transfer, various location-specific options
Delivery times: 3-35 days depending on shipping option and location
Can you dropship? Yes, through their sister site QuarkSCM, which is in Chinese
11. Kole Imports & Closeouts
Kole Imports is the AliExpress of the US. They offer thousands of products in a broad range of product categories and have been supplying bulk merchandise to businesses around the globe for the last 30 years. Originally a wholesaler, they now also offer dropshipping accounts through a dedicated channel.
Good for: Sourcing US products for the US market (= fast shipping)
Drawback: US products mean higher prices and potentially smaller margins for you
Payment options: Credit/debit card, Paypal, bank transfer
Delivery times: Vary depending on location. Tracking provided
Can you dropship? Yes, through a dedicated platform
Doba is an easy-to-use shopping platform that connects dropshipping businesses to suppliers and lets them easily import products straight to their website or shop – with a broad range of marketplace integrations. While at first glance it seems like the perfect deal for someone running a dropshipping business, full membership doesn’t come cheap at $49.99 / month, and a host of negative reviews make you wonder whether it’s really worth paying that much.
Good for: Easy product upload to multiple shops
Drawback: Bad customer reviews
Payment options: Credit/ debit card, Paypal, prepayment to save 3% on product prices
Delivery times: 5-30 days
Can you dropship? Yes.
Shenzhen-based TVC Mall is the self-proclaimed Chinese leader in wholesale mobile phone accessories. It sells accessories and replacements parts, with products across all mobile phone brands. It has consistently good reviews with reports of fast processing times, decent shipping and helpful customer service.
Good for: Wholesale mobile accessories
Drawback: Rigid returns policy
Payment options: Credit/ debit card, Paypal, bank transfer
Delivery times: 2-25 days, depending on chosen carrier
Can you dropship? Yes.
Yaaku is a Chinese wholesale supplier for women’s, men’s and kids’ fashion. You can bulk order products like t-shirts, sweaters, pants, dresses and more at incredibly low prices. Reviews on sites like Trustpilot are consistently good, highlighting fast shipping, good quality products and responsive customer service. A great option for someone with a bit of capital to spend and wanting to target a fashion niche!
Good for: Wholesale fashion from China
Drawback: Not set up for dropshipping
Payment options: Credit/ debit card, Paypal, Western Union
Delivery times: 5-20 days depending on carrier
Can you dropship? No.
BrandsDistribution started in 2006 and has since established itself as one of the world-leading distributors of branded clothing and fashion accessories. They stock over 120 brands, ship to more than 170 countries in the world and reportedly process over 180,000 orders every year. Their dedicated dropshipping channel is called BDroppy, which you can trial for free but costs a minimum of 99 Euros per month for their basic plan.
Good for: Branded fashion items
Drawback: High monthly cost for a beginner
Payment options: Credit/ debit card, Paypal, Bank transfer, Klarna, MyBank
Delivery times: 5-15 days (USA), 2-8 days (Europe)
Can you dropship? Yes (BDroppy)
Wholesale2B is yet another set of business management tools for making running a dropshipping business a whole lot easier. Filterable product search, one-click product upload and bulk order fulfillment are some of the features that can help streamline your business here. You can check out the product catalog for free, but if you want to use any of its features for your store, you need to sign up for an account for a minimum of $29.99 a month.
Good for: Automating your dropshipping business on a variety of platforms
Drawback: Ships only to the US and Canada
Payment options: Credit/ debit card, Paypal
Delivery times: Differs depending on supplier
Can you dropship? Yes.
Top tips on choosing the right alternative for you
With a whole host of interesting AliExpress alternatives buzzing around your head, you might be wondering how the heck you’re going to pick one! Lots of options are great but it’s also too easy to get overwhelmed and end up doing nothing. Here are a few tips to help you along.
Know your niche
First off all, know what you want to be selling. Do you have a particular product focus that can lead you in a particular direction? As you saw from our line-up above, there are some dedicated platforms catering to electronics, fashion and brands. If your niche doesn’t fall into any of those categories, one of the broader range alternatives will work better for you.
Know your customer base
Second, think about your customers. Where are they located, what are their preferences? Would they prefer faster shipping from a more local supplier and pay the premium rates, or are they likely to be after a good deal? Profiling who exactly will be buying from your shop will help you make the right choice when it comes to picking a supplier.
Once you’ve narrowed things down to one or two suppliers you like, be sure to order some samples of the products you want to sell. This will give you some insight into shipping times and also means you can be sure about product quality and accuracy.
Trial customer service
Lastly, put your chosen Ali Alternative’s customer service to the test! Whether you make up a query or ask a few questions about your trial order, it’ll give you the chance to monitor response rate and how easy it is to communicate with them. Things may go wrong with future orders, so you want to make sure you’re able to get in touch with someone helpful if you want to process a return or similar.
Top 11 SaleHoo suppliers to work with
To give you a few more options in your supplier search, we’ve cherry-picked a few dropshipping suppliers from popular niches straight from our SaleHoo Directory.
This supplier of premium Turkish textiles has been honing their craft since 1986 and recently introduced digital printing to their repertoire. Curtains, cushion covers, wall hangings, this supplier combines traditional craft with a modern design aesthetic.
This Sweden-based company deals in high-end fashion items and was originally mainly a wholesale supplier. Lucky for us they recently launched a dedicated dropshipping program that is opening them up to working with the world’s finest online entrepreneurs. As well as clothing, they also supply shoes, jewelry, sunglasses and bags.
Chinavasion sells gadgets and electronics at low prices. Signing up as a dropshipper is easy and free of charge. Since electronics can sometimes have quality issues, we recommend doing samples of anything you want to add to your shop to have that quality assurance for your customers.
CNCAPS stands for custom caps and they’re in the business of headwear in all shapes and sizes – from fedoras to baseball caps. Many of them customizable and some made to order, so get in touch to get into the hat-game!
Pets is always a reliable and profitable niche with few dramatic dips in sales, even when the going gets tough! Finnigan’s is a UK-based pet brand that originally specialized in hand-made collars with custom engravings, but they’ve since expanded to leads, harnesses, sleep accessories and more.
6. HS Seashells
This US-based company has been around since 1966 and has perfected the art of nautical home decor – from lamps, vases, ornaments, frames to party and wall decor. Originally a wholesaler, they also work as a dropshipping supplier these days and are able to blind dropship too.
LA Linen Inc. is a US0based manufacturer of decorative textile items that offers wholesale and dropship services to retailers. They’re also open to private labeling with the general minimum order of $10,000 USD per order and a production time of 7 days.
This supplier designs natural healthcare items utilizing acupressure techniques which are side effect free and easy to use – treating all kinds of symptoms from insomnia, anxiety and nausea to carpal tunnel and wrist pain. They also have a new product for neck pain relief for use at hair salons (Basin Bliss).
Tinklylife is a pet lifestyle brand founded in the Upper West Side New York City. They use
lively color tones and original designs to make one-of-a kind products for our favorite friends. They’re renowned as the classy, stylish brand for pets. To enquire about dropshipping partnerships, get in touch on email@example.com.
10. UNFI eSolutions
UNFI eSolutions (or Honest Green) is a US-based wholesale and dropship supplier for natural, organic, conventional and specialty foods. This supplier is ideal for retailers who have an extra budget to shell out in setting up an account as they have a one time membership fee of $750.
11. Zakia’s Morocco
Zakia's Morocco is a US-based, majority female-run manufacturer of skin care products using traditional Moroccan methods, such as Hamman-style scrubs and cleansers. Their ingredients are largely sourced directly from Morocco artisans and they work with women’s collectives to source the Argan Oil used in their products. To work with them as a dropshipper, get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.
As you can see, there’s a world of high-quality suppliers out there that can be great alternatives to AliExpress. Some may even offer advantages that the Chinese giant can’t – such as unique product qualities and faster shipping.
If you’ve liked our selection of suppliers and are keen to browse some more, why not try it out here? You’ll be able to browse through thousands of reliable suppliers in various different popular niches, make solid supplier connections, and start selling right away!
And if you have any other eCommerce related questions or concerns, let our customer support team know! They’re available 24/7 and always happy to help.