What is the difference between Aliexpress and Alibaba

Aliexpress and Alibaba are sites that are similar to each other in terms of assortment and interface. There is even an opinion that they are competing sites. However, both online stores belong to the Chinese company Alibaba Group, which was founded by Jack Ma. Along with Taobao, Tmall, etc. Among others, there is one major difference between Alibaba and Aliexpress. The former is focused on wholesale of goods, while the latter is focused on retail. In this article, we will reveal other aspects of how Alibaba and Aliexpress differ from each other.

Alibaba: main focus on B2B

difference between Aliexpress and Alibaba

Alibaba is primarily a B2B (business-to-business) marketplace focused on wholesale trade. Here, companies and entrepreneurs can purchase lots of goods directly from manufacturers and suppliers, often at special prices and conditions. Alibaba allows for large-scale purchases and is ideal for businesses engaged in reselling goods.

AliExpress: main focus on B2C

AliExpress, on the other hand, is focused on retail customers (B2C, business-to-consumer). This platform allows individual buyers to purchase goods in smaller quantities, most often in single items. AliExpress is suitable for personal use as well as for small entrepreneurs who do not need large quantities of goods.

The main differences between the trading platforms for buyers

Payment and delivery methods

A variety of payment methods are available on Alibaba, including bank transfers and third-party payment services. Shipping large shipments requires more complex logistics and often transportation arrangements.

AliExpress uses payment methods more familiar to the retail buyer, such as credit cards, PayPal, and others. The shipping process on this platform is usually simpler and many standard options are offered.

What is the difference between Aliexpress and Alibaba

The ordering and payment process on Alibaba is often inconvenient for online transactions. Some sellers don’t have a “Start order” button, which complicates the purchase process. In most cases, buyers have to contact the seller directly to discuss payment and shipping details. On Alibaba, customers only see products in the catalog, and a personal communication with the seller is required to get detailed information about the price and terms of purchase. In contrast, AliExpress functions as a regular online store, where the entire buying process is organized through the site’s user interface.

Assortment of goods

On Alibaba, you will find products from different parts of the world. At the same time, AliExpress is more focused on selling products from manufacturers in China. Both online marketplaces offer a wide range of products, from small items (such as key chains, notepads, tassels) to large-scale machinery, car parts and manufacturing equipment. While the range may be similar in some cases, the suppliers and prices will not always be identical.

Volume of trade (wholesale, retail)

On Alibaba, sellers often set a minimum order quantity (MOQ), making the platform preferable for wholesale purchases.

On AliExpress, buyers can even order a single item, making the platform ideal for retail purchases. It is also possible to purchase a single item on Alibaba, but the price will usually be higher compared to a bulk purchase. And there will be an impressive shipping cost to add to that.

Bargaining power

On Alibaba, the haggling process can involve negotiating prices, shipping and production terms.

On AliExpress, prices are usually fixed and the buying process is similar to traditional online retail.

Shipping and logistics

On Alibaba, shipping large shipments requires more complicated logistics and often shipping arrangements.

On AliExpress, shipping is usually simpler and many standard options are offered. AliExpress also has warehouses operating in the country of residence of the customer. In this case, the parcel reaches the addressee very quickly. Unfortunately, in 2024 there are no such warehouses in our country.

Buyer protection

One of the key features of the AliExpress platform is the system of buyer protection. Its essence is that the seller does not receive payment for the goods until the buyer confirms its delivery and compliance with the order. In contrast, Alibaba does not offer this kind of protection. Returns of goods on this platform can be difficult.

Other difference between Aliexpress and Alibaba

Alibaba offers a more personalized approach to customer service, tailored to the needs of the business.

On AliExpress, customer service is standardized and similar to regular online retailers.

Which is better Aliexpress or Alibaba

Since the target audience of these marketplaces is different, the best choice is the one that fits your consumer goals.

How Alibaba and Aliexpress differ for sellers

Model of interaction with buyers

Alibaba requires direct communication between sellers and consumers to discuss order details, including price, shipping terms and minimum order quantity.

Aliexpress provides a standardized shopping interface where shoppers can directly place an order without communicating with the seller.


Commissions on Alibaba can vary depending on sales volume and product category. Different subscription models for sellers are also possible.

Aliexpress usually charges a flat commission on sales, which makes calculations simpler and more transparent for sellers.

Logistics solutions

Alibaba emphasizes international bulk shipments. Sellers often have to organize their own logistics and customs procedures.

Aliexpress offers integrated logistics solutions through linked services such as AliExpress Standard Shipping, simplifying the shipping process for sellers.

Marketing and promotion

Alibaba requires a more active marketing strategy from sellers to attract B2B customers.

Aliexpress provides sellers with tools to promote products within the platform, including various advertising options and participation in promotions.

Requirements for sellers

Operating on Alibaba involves more serious preparation for trading. Including the availability of documentation and certificates for wholesale.

Aliexpress is more accessible for beginners and small sellers who want to enter the international market.


Alibaba differs from Aliexpress in that they cater to different market segments and offer different services and features to their customers. The choice between these platforms depends on the needs of a particular buyer or seller. If you need to buy one or a few items, it is better to use Aliexpress. This site is simpler and more convenient. In addition, sellers there provide coupons and promo codes, as well as regularly hold promotions and sales. Now you know the difference between Alibaba and Aliexpress.

Maria Kolman
Digital marketer and author with 10 years of experience. A regular AliExpress shopper since 2015, I have made over 350 orders and won 23 disputes with sellers. I study the nuances of buying and selling on the Chinese marketplace, share the information and latest news I gather. I help AliExpress shoppers find great deals and win disputes. I answer questions in the comments.
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