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[Solved] Alibaba vs AliExpress: What's the Difference?


Alibaba vs AliExpress are both the most popular online marketplaces. Both platforms offer a wide range of products and services, but some key differences exist between them.

Both marketplaces have contributed to the success of thousands of eCommerce businesses and online retailers owned by Alibaba Group. China's giant Alibaba Group is owned by Jack Ma, one of the wealthiest men in China.

If you're thinking about starting an online business or expanding your current eCommerce operation, you may be wondering if AliExpress or Alibaba is the better platform for your needs.

This article will compare and contrast the two platforms, so you can decide which one is right for your needs. It will also brief about their APIs and how to use them efficiently. Every merchant and retailer has different business needs! 

Alibaba vs AliExpress each platform suits different online retailers!

By the end of this blog, you will know which one you need to visit right away, their integrations and how to use them efficiently. So, let's jump into the difference between Alibaba and AliExpress!

Alibaba vs AliExpress: What's the Difference

Are Alibaba and AliExpress the Same Thing?

No, Alibaba and AliExpress are not the same! They are both owned by Alibaba Group, but they serve different functions. Each website targets specific customers.

Simply put, these sister companies think of Alibaba as "the wholesale marketplace" and AliExpress as "the retail marketplace." Alibaba is primarily a B2-B platform, while AliExpress is geared more towards consumers.

What are the Differences between Alibaba and AliExpress?

Before outlining some key differences between Alibaba and AliExpress, let's understand each platform and how to use it efficiently! 

What is Alibaba? 

Alibaba is a business-to-business (B2B) marketplace that connects international suppliers with buyers. This platform is perfect for companies that want to source products in bulk. 

Alibaba has many products and services, including electronics, fashion, beauty, home, and more. The cheap labor in China and the vast selection of products make Alibaba an appealing option for businesses.

Before using Alibaba, let's look at the professional services offered there:

  • Freight international logistics services: You can find third-party logistics providers (3PL) on Alibaba. These services help with shipping, customs clearance, and more. 

  • On-boarding support and seller success services: Alibaba offers various services to help suppliers get started on the platform. These services include online marketing, product photography, and more.

  • Trade Assurance: a free order protection service: This service covers orders shipped via certain logistics providers. It protects buyers if their order is not delivered or is not as described.

  • Product inspection and monitoring services: Alibaba offers quality control services to help buyers verify the quality of their products. These services include product inspection, lab testing, and more.

With bulk orders, you can negotiate custom pricing with vendors. Additionally, there are various payment methods available on Alibaba, making it easy to find a method that works for you.

How to Use Alibaba?

Alibaba's platform is easy to use. You can create a free account and start browsing products. When you find a product you're interested in, you can contact the supplier directly to discuss pricing and shipping options. Let's get into details:

1)First, create a free account on To sign up, you don't need any business license but verify if you can legally sell products in your target market.

2)Second, start browsing products. You can use the search bar or browse through the different product categories. Don't forget to put filters and sort the most relevant search results.

3)When you find a product you're interested in, click on the listing to learn more. And make a list of suppliers for your relevant products.

4)Alibaba allows you to get a post a request for quotations. With this approach, you can contact multiple suppliers at once and get competing quotes.

5)If you're happy with a supplier's quotation, you can start negotiating the price, shipping terms, and payment method.

6)Once you've agreed and are satisfied with a supplier, visit their profile to check for verifications and how trusted they are. For it, you can check their company certificate, third-party verifications, and trade references.

7)You'll need to sign a contract with the supplier to place an order. This contract will outline the details of your agreement, such as pricing, minimum order quantity, shipping terms, and payment method.

Alibaba is a great platform for businesses that want to source products in bulk. If you're looking for individual items, AliExpress is a better option.

What is AliExpress?

AliExpress is a consumer-focused marketplace. It's a top cross-border eCommerce platform connecting individual buyers with suppliers. Do you know about AliExpress Professional Services?

  • AliExpress Shipping: This is a shipping service given by Cainiao Network of Alibaba Group. This end-to-end logistics service includes first-mile pickup, international line haul, consolidation, customs, and last-line delivery service. 

  • Buyers Protection Policy: It guarantees safe and secure transactions, scam protection, and a money-back if you don't receive your order within the buyer's protection period.  

It's a perfect place for dropshipping business, mostly known for low and competitive prices. And the minimum order quantity is often one unit, making it an excellent option for businesses that want to test products before ordering in bulk.

How to use AliExpress? If you want to start shopping on AliExpress, here's what you need to do:

1)First, create a free account on

2)Second, start browsing products. You can use the search bar or browse through the different product categories.

3)When you find a product you're interested in, click on the listing to learn more.

4)Don't forget to look at the free shipping option and seller ratings before placing your order.

5)Place an order and fill in all the delivery information.

6)Pay for your order using a secure payment method.

7)Once you've placed your order, you can track it online.

And that's it! You've successfully placed your first order. Do you know eCommerce New Shoppe is most downloaded shopping apps in 2022?

Understanding the difference between Alibaba and AliExpress?

Now that we've gone over the basics of Alibaba and AliExpress, let's compare these two marketplaces from different aspects:

Customer Pricing

Alibaba is geared towards businesses that want to source products in bulk. Prices are usually wholesale prices, which are lower than retail prices. AliExpress is geared towards individual consumers. Prices are usually retail prices, which are higher than wholesale prices.


Alibaba offers customization options for products. This means you can work with a supplier to create a product that meets your specific needs and requirements. AliExpress does not offer customization options for products.

Minimum Order Quantity

Alibaba has a minimum order quantity (MOQ) requirement for most suppliers. This means you'll need to order a minimum amount of products from a supplier before they do business with you. AliExpress does not have a minimum order quantity requirement for most suppliers. This means you can order one product unit from a supplier.

Payment Methods

Alibaba offers payment methods, including Alibaba Trade Assurance, PayPal, and wire transfers. AliExpress offers different payment methods, including PayPal and credit card.


Alibaba offers shipping through Logistics. It provides couriers or freight shipping while Aliexpress gives couriers and dropshipping.

Customer Service

On Alibaba, look at suppliers that have complete customer service. For it, keep an eye also on reviews and ratings. There's a good procedure for official complaints and disputes. On AliExpress, you have an option for live chat only.

Quick Comparison Table

Now you have developed a good understanding of both platforms, so let's get on a quick comparison and measure them!

AliExpress AliExpress
Marketplace style Business To Customers Business To Business
Normal Sellers Retailors Manufacturers, Exporters, Wholesale & trading companies
Targeted Buyers Consumers and resellers Businesses
Order Protection Yes Yes
Dispute Resolution Yes Yes
Is Financing available? No Yes
Private Labelling 12″ x 22.5″ Multiple parcels
Any MOQ? No Yes
Shipping Rates Mostly Free or minimal Varies
Prices Fixed Negotiable
Products Ready To Ship Raw, customized, readymade products
Dropshipping Friendly Yes No
Secure Payments Yes Yes
Buyers Countries 200+ 190+
Seller Countries 6 200+
Avg. Shipping Time 1 – 4 weeks 15 days to months

Which is Better: Alibaba or AliExpress?

To know which platform is the best option, start weighing your requirements. Both have great advantages for retailers and whole sellers. So depending on your business model, both can be great for your online store. 

Alibaba is better if:

  • You're looking for products in bulk.

  • You want to customize products.

  • You're looking for competitive pricing.

  • You have a large budget.

AliExpress is better if:

  • You're looking for products in small quantities.

  • You want to dropship products.

  • You're looking for low prices.

  • You have a small budget.

No matter which platform you choose, be sure to do your research and due diligence to find the best supplier for your needs. Here are 4 eCommerce international shipping options for your business.

If you're a business owner or buyer looking to source products in bulk, then Alibaba is the better option. If you're an individual consumer looking to purchase products at retail prices, then AliExpress is the better option.

Integrate AliExpress API or Alibaba API to Power Your System

Both platforms offer extensive APIs to help you automate your business processes. These APIs display products on your website, create orders, track shipments, and more.

But what are Alibaba and AliExpress APIs? An API is a set of programming instructions that allow the software to interact with other software. APIs display products on websites, create orders, track shipments, and more.

  • Alibaba Cloud offers businesses a suite of cloud computing services, including data storage, networking, and analytics. The Alibaba Cloud API allows developers to access these services programmatically.

  • The AliExpress API allows developers to access the AliExpress marketplace programmatically. The API can display products on websites, create orders, track shipments, and more.

The Alibaba and AliExpress APIs offer a wide range of features and capabilities. However, the Alibaba API is more comprehensive and offers more services than the AliExpress API.

If you're looking to integrate AliExpress or Alibaba into your business but feel confused with the process, KeyDelivery is your easy way to go! They make the shipment and tracking simple and cost-effective to give the best value for your money.

Connect KeyDelivery REST API once to manage your shipping needs and free time. They will look after the complex APIs integration and protocols. Give them a contact or sign up KeyDelivery to enjoy the robust APIs integration and make your business management easier!

Final Thoughts

Alibaba is a Chinese eCommerce company, while AliExpress is a subsidiary of Alibaba. They are both similar but have some key differences. Both offer great products and deals, but knowing their differences is essential to making the best purchase decision for your needs. 

Alibaba is for B2-B businesses, while AliExpress targets retailers and direct customers. If you want to connect to Alibaba or AliExpress API easily, KeyDelivery can help. Have you tried sourcing or shopping on either site? What was your experience like?

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Grow your business with KeyDelivery!

  • Integration with 1200+ carriers.
  • Access the best discounts for USPS, DHL, UPS, and more.
  • KeyDelivery is free for 500 shipments each month.
Sign Up Free Contact Sales