8 Alibaba Alternatives You Should Try When Importing From China

alibaba alternative

Table of Contents

When you want to source from China, the first thing that comes to your mind is Alibaba. But is Alibaba always the best choice for you? Not necessarily. This article will introduce Alibaba’s alternatives, which can help you find the most suitable supplier for different products.

1. 1688


1688 is also owned by Alibaba group, and the biggest difference between 1688 and Alibaba is that 1688 is specially made for Chinese domestic market while alibaba.com is for foreign customers. alibaba.com is like the tourist market for international buyers, while 1688.com is the local market.

screenshot from 2021 06 03 15 31 50
A Screenshot of 1688.com


  1. 1688 is rich in categories and has a wider product coverage than Alibaba, customers can find products that are not available on Alibaba.
  2. Customers can find suppliers that are not listed on Alibaba, because many Chinese suppliers and factories (who cannot speak English) only sell their goods in China with a lower price.
  3. You can directly find more manufacturers on 1688 and get the goods at the factory price, which will increase the profit margin. However, on Alibaba, many suppliers claim to be manufacturers, but in fact they are just trading companies. In the case studies part of our blog, we have analyzed many real cases concerning this issue.


Zhengzhou Olive Electronic Technology Co., Ltd., the company claims to be a manufacturer on Alibaba and is verified on this platform.

Zhengzhou Olive Electronic Technology Co., Ltd

However, in fact, the company is only a trading company which can be judged from its business scope since manufacturing is not involved.

Scope of Business


  1. The platform is only in Chinese and most of the suppliers can’t speak English, so the language barrier can be a big challenge for foreign customers.
  2. Many suppliers do not have import and export licenses.
  3. Because this platform is intended for Chinese consumers, foreign consumers who do not have an 1688 account with a Chinese bank card cannot make purchases. You may need a sourcing agent to help you agent buy the products on 1688, inspect qualities and repack to save international shipping costs.

2. Global Sources


Global Sources is the world’s first B2B online cross-border e-commerce site launched in 1995.

Global Sources launched the world’s first B2B online cross-border e-commerce site in 1995. The platform now has more than 10 million registered buyers and users from all over the world. Compared with the membership fee on Alibaba’s platform, the fee on Global Sources is higher, so some suppliers with insufficient strength will not choose Global Sources. The platform mainly focuses on Mobile Electronics, Fashion Accessories, Home and Gift Items.

Global Sources

In addition to providing product sourcing services, Global Sources also hosts various trade shows to facilitate cooperation. These trade shows are well worth attending if you can.


Global Sources Trade Show


  1. It is the largest private exhibition organization in Asia, which has attracted a large number of quality and experienced buyers and sellers.
  2. The entry threshold is high, and the suppliers with a certain scale, good foreign trade ability and international consciousness are gathered together, so that they can fully understand the needs of the customers, and the customers have a good purchasing experience.
  3. Suppliers have strong strength in mobile electronics, fashion accessories, home and gift items.


  1. Due to the high membership fee which increases suppliers’ costs, the product price will be higher than that of other platforms.
  2. With fewer suppliers, customers have less choice, which means that customers can’t shop around.
  3. Suppliers have higher requirements and they set a higher MOQ than Alibaba, so it is not easy for buyers to get the quotation — customers have to prove themselves to the suppliers at first for further negotiation.
  4. Similar to Alibaba, Globalsources are not too strict (less strict in fact) in verifying suppliers’ background. You have to verify what is said on a company profile on these platforms before placing orders.

3. DHgate


DHgate can support small orders. Many small overseas merchants, such as Amazon sellers and eBay sellers, will directly display DHgate’s product pictures in their online stores. And they don’t need to stock up or they only need to afford a small minimum order because the site provides Dropshipping service.


However, platforms like Alibaba, Global Sources, and Made in China can’t provide such services for them, so DHgate is definitely a good choice for small merchants to import products from China.


  1. Compared with other platforms, the minimum order quantity is small and suitable for small merchants.
  2. The platform provides buyer protection services, and the safety is guaranteed. The buyer shall first pay to DHgate through Paypal, and then DHgate will inform the Chinese supplier to deliver the goods. After the buyer confirms the goods, DHgate will transfer the money to the seller. But the buyer should pay for a 10 percent transaction fee.
  3. It can provide dropshipping service.
Dropshipping Service of DHgate


  1. The platform will charge service fees, which will lead to higher overall costs for buyers.
  2. The platform is not strict with product supervision, so buyers need to be careful of counterfeit and shoddy products.
  3. A mixed assortment of products, such as e-cigarettes and other products banned from export, can also be sold on it.
  4. Similar to Alibaba, this platform is also not too strict in verifying suppliers’ background. You have to verify what is said on a company profile on these platforms before placing orders.

4. Made in China


Made in China has been operating for more than 20 years since 1996. It is a large online B2B sourcing marketplace especially for machinery, auto, motorcycle parts, etc. Sellers on the platform are all Chinese while buyers can come from all over the world.

Made in China


  1. The service to the buyer is free and the price of the product is reasonable.
  2. Enquiry mail is sent one to one, so it is easier for the buyer to get a quotation.
  3. The suppliers of this platform are mainly small and medium-sized enterprises, so MOQ is negotiable.


  1. Compared with Alibaba, it is smaller and has fewer products to choose from.
  2. Business registration threshold is low, data audit is not comprehensive, which makes it easy to make consumers cheated by fake suppliers.
  3. It’s not strictly regulated. Even Diamond Grade Suppliers are not convincing.
An example of negative review

5. AliExpress


Aliexpress belonging to Alibaba Group, is a B2C platform in fact, but most sellers on the platform offer both retail and small wholesale services. Unlike sellers on Amazon who store their goods in overseas warehouses, sellers on AliExpress are all Chinese suppliers who ship directly from China to other parts of the world.



  1. Due to the small transaction amount of a single order of AliExpress, the value of the parcels delivered is generally low, which generally fails to meet the minimum tariff threshold of the importing country, thus reducing the tariff cost of customers.
  2. Easy process and simple procedure. A major advantage of AliExpress is that the transaction process is very simple. Exporters do not need to have the qualification of import and export and do not need to declare in person, which can be completed by the logistics side with simple operation.
  3. Customers can find the same products on Alibaba with lower MOQ.


  1. Most of the suppliers on AliExpress are middlemen, so the price of the goods will be higher.
  2. Unable to directly find the right manufacturer and keep a long-term and stable cooperation.
  3. Because it is very possible to cooperate with middlemen, the quality of the products cannot be guaranteed.

6. Yiwugo


Yiwugo is like an online Yiwu International Trade Market.


Generally, suppliers on Yiwugo also have offline stores, and the stores can be viewed through 3D real scenes on the website. It involves 16 categories of goods such as jewelry, toys, handicrafts, suitcases, hardware, small household appliances, sports and sports articles, clothing, shoes and hats, and bedding.



  1. The platform has an English version, so there is no language barrier for foreign buyers.
  2. Many of the suppliers are direct manufacturers, with no middlemen to make a profit, customers can buy products at a lower price.
  3. There is no deduction point on Yiwugo platform, so the cost of merchants is relatively small and the bargaining space of customers is relatively large.


  1. Suppliers can hardly speak English, so the communication can be difficult.
  2. Wechat needs to be downloaded which will not be available for foreign customers.
  3. Product quality can’t be guaranteed.
  4. Product information is updated slowly

7. Trade Shows

Trade shows are a good way to meet many suppliers quickly. Face-to-face communication can facilitate better communication with suppliers, check the quality of goods on the spot, and encourage suppliers to make concessions in terms of price, payment terms, packaging, product modification, etc., to reach an agreement.

There are many trade shows held in China, and you can find the information from the following website. The link is https://www.jufair.com/exhibition-34-147-1-0-0-0-1/

Trade Shows

The platform is only in Chinese, so you can use google translator to help you understand it.

8. Sourcing Agent

A soucing agent can represent the buyer to purchase goods to meet buyer’s requirements. The services provided by purchasing agents include selection of suitable suppliers, price negotiation, production tracking, quality control, product conformity and testing, transportation and logistics, etc. Until the customer is satisfied with the product. If you have just started a business and are not familiar with foreign trade, then a sourcing agent is a good option. And this is where we can help.



Apart from the platforms mentioned above, there are still many other ways for you to source products. Each approach has its own advantages and disadvantages, and if you have difficulty in sourcing products, please feel free to contact us.

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