eCommerce Tips & Trends

Buying Wholesale from Alibaba: How to Buy from Alibaba

Learn how to buy from Alibaba. Our guide explores how to purchase wholesale products, importing from China and which is better Alibaba vs. Aliexpress.
Buying Wholesale from Alibaba: How to Buy from Alibaba

By Jules


July 9, 2019

Understanding how to buy from Alibaba can give your eCommerce business a key advantage. One of the world’s largest eCommerce websites, Alibaba is a great resource to use when it comes to buying wholesale products in bulk, making it possible to resell them at a nice profit.

However, before you start buying from Alibaba, it’s important to understand how the eCommerce platform operates and how to buy products on it. To that end, here’s a closer look at what Alibaba is, how works, how to buy from Alibaba and more!

What is Alibaba?

Alibaba, part of the larger Alibaba Group of sister websites like Taobao and Tmall, is a B2B online marketplace that offers retailers the opportunity to buy products wholesale and in bulk at affordable prices. On Alibaba, online merchants who intend to import from China and elsewhere are able to buy products directly with manufacturers, giving them the opportunity to buy inventory at discounted rates.

Bulk purchases dominate on Alibaba and oftentimes, manufacturers will only transact with you if you’re willing to purchase a certain minimum order quantity. The number that makes up a minimum order varies from one supplier to the other.

Apart from enjoying highly discounted rates, you’re also able to create your own custom-made products from scratch utilizing your own unique designs, a process known as private labelling.

In addition to Alibaba, Aliexpress and Alibaba Wholesaler are also options to buy from. Aliexpress is the retail version of Alibaba and is designed primarily with consumers in mind, as no minimum order requirements exist but product prices are generally considerably higher than Alibaba. Alibaba Wholesaler, on the other hand, is an online wholesale marketplace featuring products made from China that’s designed specifically for SMBs seeking to buy products.

How Does Alibaba Work?

On this Chinese wholesale website, both businesses and individuals are able to get delivery of products at wholesale prices, directly from the product manufacturers. The basics of how the platform works are:

  1. Determining the product category you’d like to buy from.
  2. Finding products displayed in several different categories, including electronics, apparel, health and beauty products and more.
  3. Reaching out to potential suppliers and negotiating the pricing with them.
  4. Placing your order. Once the product arrives, you can sell it on your online store.

Is Buying from Alibaba Safe?

Yes, but it's very important to verify the legitimacy of suppliers before buying from them and keep a watchful eye out for scammers.

Always do thorough outside research to confirm the supplier is legitimate and try to only buy from suppliers using Alibaba Trade Assurance, a free program in which Alibaba protects shipments by accepting full liability if they don’t arrive, handles buyer-supplier disputes and guarantees your money back if the order doesn’t meet the exact requirements agreed to by both you and the supplier.

Is Alibaba Only for Bulk?

No, Alibaba is not only for bulk. Even though the marketplace is built mainly for the bulk sale of wholesale products, individuals can still buy single items if the supplier agrees to it. However, buying single items on Alibaba is generally more expensive than buying in bulk on the platform.

Can Anyone Buy from Alibaba?

Yes, anyone can buy from Alibaba. Whether you’re an individual or a company that wants to import from China, you can order for products directly from manufacturers on Alibaba. The website essentially serves as an Internet directory where anyone can contact and buy directly from manufacturers.

How to Buy from Alibaba

In order to start buying from Alibaba, it’s important to know just how to buy from Alibaba! Here are the steps to successfully make purchases on the website:

  1. Create and verify an Alibaba account
  2. Search for products based on different categories
  3. Contact suppliers
  4. Negotiate minimum order quantity
  5. Verify offered price to avoid dealing with hidden charges
  6. Negotiate price and payment method
  7. Ask for samples
  8. Confirm quality of products through samples
  9. Make your purchase
  10. Resell the product on your own online store after it arrives

Advantages and Disadvantages of Buying from Alibaba

Buying from Alibaba has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a closer look at some of them!

Advantages of Buying from Alibaba:

  • Ability to design your own custom-made products
  • Ability to buy bulk wholesale products directly from manufacturers
  • Affordable prices
  • Increased control over product packaging
  • Lower manufacturing costs
  • Huge number of manufacturers and suppliers to choose from
  • One-stop shopping option

Disadvantages of Buying from Alibaba:

  • Higher upfront cost
  • Reality of products may differ from display images on website
  • Maximum order amount needed for discounted pricing

Tips for Buying from Alibaba

Before you start buying from Alibaba, keep these tips and best practices in mind!

  • Seek on-site verification of your potential suppliers
  • Conduct outside research of suppliers to confirm their legitimacy and quality
  • Take the time to look at products from multiple suppliers
  • Compare the prices and quality of products carefully
  • Maintain clear communications with potential suppliers
  • Be tough but flexible when it comes to negotiating pricing with suppliers
  • Only buy validated products to avoid legal issues
  • Never buy major brand name products, as there’s a strong likelihood that either they’re knockoffs or you could run into legal trouble for selling licensed products without approval

Buying Wholesale from Alibaba: Know How to Do It Right

If you intend to sell products online at competitive prices, then buying wholesale products from Alibaba could work for you. By having a better understanding of how Alibaba works and how to buy from Alibaba, your business can get the best deals possible on wholesale products directly from manufacturers and have a competitive edge in the world of eCommerce!