Alibaba is the biggest business-to-business (B2B) market for wholesale goods. At least, that’s how it began.
Today, you can find dropshipping products and sellers who will fulfill your orders on Alibaba.
Alibaba dropshipping has caught the attention of eCommerce store owners all over the world because of how cheap its products are. We’ll answer all of your questions about Alibaba dropshipping so that you can do this more successfully.
So, let’s dive in!
Is It Possible to Do Alibaba Dropshipping?
Even though Alibaba began as a business-to-business (B2B) website that only sold in bulk, the idea has changed a bit over time.
These days, you can find dropshipping suppliers on Alibaba who will fulfill and ship your orders for you.
It might take some time, patience, and research to find the right supplier with good reviews, reasonable prices, and a fair number of minimum orders.
But once you find these suppliers, you can start dropshipping with Alibaba right away.
How to Start an Alibaba Dropshipping Business?
Whether you use Shopify, WooCommerce, eBay, etc., you can list any product you like on Alibaba on your online store.
When looking for Alibaba suppliers, the first thing to do is type in “your product + dropshipping” or “your product + private label” if you want to make changes.
Different products on Alibaba have different MOQs, which are easy to see in the search results.
If you’re starting out with a small budget and don’t have a proven best-seller yet, it’s best to find a supplier who will send out pieces one by one.
But you have to get the supplier to agree to work with you. For example, you can say that you want to test the product first, but that in the future you will place larger orders.
Here’s a great YouTube video that shows you how to get in touch with Alibaba suppliers and increase your chances of working together:
What Are the Differences between AliExpress and Alibaba Dropshipping?
AliExpress seems to be the first choice for dropshippers who are just starting out with their online store.
It’s good to know that’s not the only option, though.
Here is how dropshipping is different on Alibaba and AliExpress:
Most of the time, products on Alibaba are sold in bulk from wholesalers or directly from the manufacturer, so the prices are better. On Alibaba, you can also use the message function to talk with suppliers about the price.
Most Alibaba sellers will have a minimum order quantity (MOQ) in place. That could be 10, 100, 500, or even more. But you can find Chinese suppliers with a MOQ of just one piece. Each piece can be bought on its own on AliExpress.
You can see the product ratings on AliExpress, which makes it easier to tell if a product is good or not. You can only see the rating of the supplier on Alibaba, not the rating of the product.
Ease of use
AliExpress wins in this case. AliExpress is a much better place to work with dropshippers because it is a B2C platform. AliExpress sellers don’t require you to have a registered business, so you can order anything as an individual.
There will always be a minimum order number for white-label or private-label products that are made to order. In this way, there are more reasons why Alibaba is better than AliExpress than AliExpress. First, AliExpress suppliers are not the same thing as manufacturers. Most of the time, they buy in bulk and charge you more for what they bought.
On the other hand, you can find manufacturers or wholesalers on Alibaba who are willing to change your products or their packaging to fit your needs.
Alibaba is for business-to-business (B2B) transactions, so it only has a few ways to pay: wire transfers, T/T, lines of credit, eChecks, and letters of credit. AliExpress focuses on end customers and offers more modern and widely used ways to pay, such as debit or credit card, wire transfer, Western Union, PayPal, etc.
To set up a correct profit margin, you need to know how much your shipping costs are. There are two kinds of suppliers on each platform.
Some sellers offer free shipping but make up for it by raising the base price of the item. Other sellers charge for shipping.
Is AliExpress Better than Alibaba for Dropshipping?
As we’ve already said, each platform has pros and cons that depend on the dropshipping needs.
AliExpress is better for dropshipping single products to end customers if you’re new and haven’t tried any products yet.
But if you have a product that has been proven to sell well and a steady number of orders every day, Alibaba is much better. With Alibaba, you’ll get a better price and have the option to put your brand on the products.
When using Alibaba to find products, make sure you have either a supplier who will dropship your items or a place to store them.
You could also hire a dropshipping agent that has warehouses in China (and preferably, in the USA).
When you use their product sourcing services, many dropshipping agents in China will let you store your inventory for free. This is something you should think about.
What Are the Advantages of Alibaba Dropshipping?
Some of the good things about dropshipping with Alibaba are:
Less expensive when you buy in bulk; more ways to customize;
The chance to work directly with manufacturers;
Rating of the supplier shown; Price could be negotiated;
What Are the Disadvantages of Alibaba Dropshipping?
These are some of the problems with dropshipping from Alibaba:
MOQ (minimum order quantity) set;
There are fewer ways to pay;
Dropshipping services are harder to find;
It will be harder to order just one item;
Must first order a sample, since there are no clues about the quality of the product;
Requires negotiation skills;
Fewer tools for automating the integration of eCommerce stores;
Can a Dropshipping Agent Help Me with Alibaba Dropshipping?
You can find suppliers who are willing to dropship and take care of order fulfillment on the Alibaba platform. But this rarely happens.
Most of the time, you’ll need to hire a third-party dropshipping agent with a fulfillment center in China to help you out.
There are a lot of drop shipping agents in China who work with AliExpress, but not as many who work with Alibaba.
But if you want to use a dropshipping agent to find products, the best thing to do is send them a link to the product you need on Alibaba. Then you can give them the products and let them do their job.
Most of the time, Chinese dropshipping agents will buy directly from Taobao or 1688.com instead of Alibaba because the prices and minimum order quantities (MOQ) are lower.
Can I Use Alibaba Dropshipping for My Shopify Online Store?
Of course. Even though most integration tools are for finding products on AliExpress, you can use some of them to bring in products from sellers on Alibaba.
Importify is one of the best-known tools for using Alibaba dropshipping with Shopify.
If you think that Alibaba doesn’t give you enough choices, you can talk to dropshipping agents in China who can get the same products from Taobao or 1688.com.
Can I Use Alibaba Dropshipping for My WooCommerce Store?
You can add products from Alibaba to your WooCommerce store using Importify or other tools that do the same thing.
You could also find a way to export the products from Alibaba as a.csv file, which you could then import into your shop.
Are There Better Alternatives to Alibaba Dropshipping?
If you’ve never done dropshipping before, it’s best to start on AliExpress, which is made for dropshipping.
Since you won’t have any MOQs at first, using AliExpress for dropshipping is much easier and cheaper.
After that, when your dropshipping business is stable, you can work directly with a dropshipping agent in China who can get products from Taobao or 1688.com.
The unit prices and minimum order quantities on these two platforms are by far the lowest, which makes them perfect for any dropshipping business.
What Tools to Use for Automating Alibaba Dropshipping?
The fact that there are no tools to automate the integration of your online store is a big downside to dropshipping with Alibaba.
Importify is a tool that lets you add products from Alibaba to your store, but the list isn’t very long.
How to automate Alibaba dropshipping and what tools to use
Think about this before you decide to do dropshipping through Alibaba. It’s hard to do automated dropshipping through Alibaba.
Because there aren’t any automation tools, you’ll have to do a lot of the work by hand if you choose to dropship through Alibaba.
How to Find Good Alibaba Dropshipping Suppliers?
You can change the search bar on Alibaba to look for either products or suppliers.
You should use it to find suppliers, not products, for this purpose. So, with the search bar set to “suppliers,” type the product you need.
You can now find more than one place to buy the product you need in the search results. There are a few things you’ll be able to see:
The company’s main products; the country or region where the company is based;
Total income of the seller or business;
Top 3 places where the company sells its goods;
How many deals have been made in the last six months;
Value of transactions in the past six months;
How often the supplier replies;
It would be best to look for suppliers with a lot of transactions and a high response rate.
How to Look for Good Dropshipping Suppliers on Alibaba
Besides the above details, there are three other things to keep in mind:
Supplier Approved by Trade Assurance
You’ll see a filter that lets you look for only verified suppliers or suppliers with trade insurance. What does all of this mean?
When you see the Trade Assurance badge on a client’s listing, it’s a guarantee that protects you if the supplier doesn’t ship the products on time or if the products don’t meet the quality standards.
But figuring out if a product is good or not is often a matter of personal taste. Because of this, Alibaba will check to see if you gave the seller enough information about the product.
You are only covered if you asked for a certain kind of product and got something else.
If your supplier’s page has a badge that says “Verified Supplier,” that’s great! That means the company has been checked out by a third party on-site. This is the most reliable type of seller, so you should try to find them.
Lastly, the badge Gold Supplier is a paid membership for suppliers that gives them access to special features. Since it doesn’t prove anything, it doesn’t mean much to you.
Is There a Minimum Order Quantity for Dropshipping with Alibaba?
Most often, yes. Alibaba is a B2B platform, which means that it was only made for wholesale at first.
These days, you can find suppliers who don’t have a MOQ or will sell just one unit. But you have to show them and tell them why they should work with you.
How to Contact Suppliers for Dropshipping on Alibaba?
With the message feature on Alibaba, you can talk to suppliers and get all the information you need.
Most of the time, you’ll need to ask them things like:
How long does it take to make a unit?
What is the unit’s base price?
Can I order a sample and have it sent?
How much does it cost to ship?
When will the items be sent?
What is the minimum order quantity (MOQ)?
Do you offer discounts if I buy a lot?
What’s the guarantee and how do I get my money back?
Make sure your message is short, to the point, clear, and easy to understand.
The specifications of the product are also very important. Make sure you give the right information to your supplier about the product you want to get.
So, don’t be afraid to send details like the product’s material, thickness, color code, measurements, etc.
Is Dropshipping from 1688 and Taobao Better than Alibaba Dropshipping?
In general, products on 1688 and Taobao are much cheaper and the MOQ is lower. So, why aren’t they used by more dropshippers?
The trick is that both websites are written in Chinese. Because of this, the language barrier is a real issue. Even if you find a plugin that translates the website for you, most of the suppliers listed on these websites will speak Chinese.
As you can see, dropshipping through Alibaba is possible, but it might not be right for everyone.
If you’re new to the eCommerce business, it’s best to start with AliExpress dropshipping until you have a proven best-seller.
But once your business is stable and you want to grow and order in bulk, Alibaba is a great choice.