A Guide to Using Aliexpress.com to Import from China

Aliexpress.com belongs to Alibaba and like its more famous sister site to import from China, is an indispensable resource for importers looking to source products from China. Aliexpress.com and Alibaba.com are similar in a lot of ways, but also significantly different.

Aliexpress.com transactions are both B2B –Business to Business and B2C – Business to Customer. Essentially, Aliexpress.com connects Chinese suppliers with overseas buyers. The big difference between Aliexpress.com and Alibaba.com is that the latter is based on bulk orders and made to order products while Aliexpress.com focuses on small volumes of readymade products. Aliexpress.com is ideal for small and medium sized export businesses that cannot afford to order an entire container with items.

import from China with Aliexpress E-Commerce

Alibaba Group Holding Limited is a Chinese e-commerce company that provides consumer-to-consumer, business-to-consumer and business-to-business sales services via web portals. It also provides electronic payment services, a shopping search engine and data-centric cloud computing services. The group began in 1999 when Jack Ma founded the website Alibaba.com, a business-to-business portal to connect Chinese manufacturers with overseas buyers. In 2012, two of Alibaba's portals to import from China handled 1.1 trillion yuan ($170 billion) in sales. Suppliers from other countries are supported (with more stringent checks than for Chinese companies), but the company primarily operates in the People's Republic of China (PRC). At closing time on the date of its initial public offering (IPO), 19 September 2014, Alibaba's market value was US$231 billion. However, the stock has traded down and market cap was about $212 billion at the end of December 2015. In September 2013, the company sought an IPO in the United States after a deal could not be reached with Hong Kong regulators. Planning occurred over 12 months before the company's market debut in September 2014, with Reuters Instrument Code "BABA.N". The pricing of the IPO initially raised US$21.8 billion, which later increased to US$25 billion, making it the largest IPO in history. Buyers were actually purchasing shares in a Cayman Islands shell corporation, not in the Alibaba group, as China forbids foreign ownership of its companies. Alibaba's consumer-to-consumer portal Taobao, similar to eBay.com, features nearly a billion products and is one of the 20 most-visited websites globally. The Group's websites accounted for over 60% of the parcels delivered in China by March 2013, and 80% of the nation's online sales by September 2014. Alipay, an online payment escrow service, accounts for roughly half of all online payment transactions within China. Alibaba is planning to enter India and was in talks with Snapdeal in September 2014. Alibaba reported sales of $14.32 billion on China's Singles' Day on 11 November 2015, up 60 percent from 2014. It is the world's largest retailer as of April 2016. Alibaba entered India's e-commerce space with 25% stake in Paytm owner One97.

The minimum order quantity with Aliexpress.com to import from China is quite small and starts at just 10 units, whereas on Alibaba.com it is 300 units. Suppliers at Aliexpress.com are able to handle such small orders because they fulfill orders from many other small export/import firms.
Since suppliers at Aliexpress.com only sell readymade products, they list fixed prices for various quantities of a product. There is no negotiation on the prices, they are fixed and the same for everyone. The prices on Aliexpress.com are higher than that on Alibaba.com.

Products on Aliexpress.com are ready made and not customized. You don’t get customized or branded products from here. It is possible that the products made by the suppliers on Aliexpress.com are not entirely compatible with Western standards and may lack the compliance needed to get certain certifications.

For this reason, a majority of Aliexpress.com buyers tend to be from countries where standards are not as stringent as in the West, such as India, Russia, and regions such as South America and Africa.

Product quality with import from China is a big issue on Aliexpress.com, you may not always get what is advertised. The best way to make sure is to ask for a sample first and to order the rest only if you’re fully satisfied. Also, it is important to understand that the definition of quality varies from nation to nation – what’s high quality in Venezuela may not be so in Canada.

Some Aliexpress.com suppliers have a very bad reputation and are known to supply defective or low quality products. The best way to identify the good suppliers from the bad is to have a look at the user feedback. Customers are asked for their feedback on Aliexpress.com. Avoid suppliers that have gotten too many negative feedbacks.

The lead time on Aliexpress.com is minimal because only readymade products are sold here. It’s better to have the products ordered on the site delivered by air freight rather than sea freight because it is faster and also because the orders are likely to be small – which rules out sea freight, through which bulkier orders are shipped.

You will find business partners on Aliexpress.com. You can also seek business partners for import from China on Liverix.com as well. Do have a look around on our site for the best business partnership opportunities.