Alibaba remains the dominant e-commerce B2B platform in mainland China, and it will likely remain so for decades. This guide does not argue in favor of alternatives over Alibaba. Still, we merely list platforms that are reliable and can provide an Alibaba alternative in China for when you’re looking for additional suppliers/product options. Alibaba is the best website for international buyers trying to outsource production to China. The website is synonymous with manufacturing in China because the first thing people think about when they’re about to place an order is the supplier directory. In the past, buyers would have to fly out to China and make deals with factory owners, and these days placing an order is only a few clicks away on Alibaba
Alibaba has many downsides, and you could argue the websites below might give you a better deal on many popular items. The reason: It’s too big. Alibaba has little regulation and attracts everyone – from product suppliers to Chinese middlemen, trading companies, and even your competitors. This makes it harder to cut through the noise and find the products you need at the lowest price possible. There are hundreds of alternative e-commerce websites for Alibaba. Many of those alternatives are focused on specific geographic regions such as Vietnam or India. We’ll focus exclusively on mainland China and list the best alternatives for this market for this guide.
If you are interested in other countries, please check out our guides for
Alibaba For Business In Mainland China // Still Worth It?
The short answer: Yes. Alibaba is still a reliable e-commerce platform that connects manufacturers in China to buyers and retailers internationally. It remains the largest B2B trading directory with over 1M+ products for sale and over 40 product categories. The company was founded by billionaire Jack Ma in 1991 and since grown into the #1 B2B trading platform in China. Alibaba also owns the sister B2C platform AliExpress. The company headquarters are in Hangzhou, China. Alibaba has users from every country on earth and millions of active traders/agents who make million-dollar deals every day.
Pros Of Using Alibaba In Mainland China:
- Registering for an account at Alibaba is free and takes only a few minutes. It’s a user-friendly website that allows buyers to connect with suppliers and place orders immediately. It’s also free for accounts to start listing their products.
- Easy navigation and product display, helping you choose from 1M+ products customized and manufactured to your desires.
- B2B trading platform provides lower prices. Customer-aimed platforms like AliExpress and eBay provide higher mark-up prices while Alibaba has factory prices that keep costs low for buyers.
- Factories are mostly in mainland China. This gives you easy shipping options and access to a near-unlimited inventory of products. It is the single largest product directory for conducting business in mainland China.
Cons Of Using Alibaba In Mainland China:
- Non-existent customer support. If you run into problems with a supplier or get scammed, you’re on your own. While it’s possible to file a complaint against a supplier, Alibaba rarely bothers getting involved and/or solving your dispute.
- Lack of quality control. Everyone can register as a vendor on Alibaba, which makes quality control impossible. There is no guarantee the products you’re buying will be the same quality as the ones listed on the product descriptions or even fake/counterfeit products.
- Harder to find specific products. The fact there are so many suppliers, middlemen, and trading companies on Alibaba makes it harder to shift through the quality ones.
- MOQs. Many Alibaba traders impose “minimum order quantities” before they allow you to place an order, which means you need to have a relatively large budget to get started.
- Lack of quality suppliers. Many quality suppliers purposely avoid registering for Alibaba and only use other websites such as Global Sources for a higher degree of protection. We at Cosmo Sourcing can put you in touch with those suppliers.
Top 15 Alibaba Alternatives For Mainland China // RANKED
001 // AliExpress
The main alternative to sourcing products on Alibaba is its sister company AliExpress. AliExpress is the best website to get started when establishing your business in China and want to spend little money upfront. AliExpress is owned by Alibaba and aimed at regular customers around the world. It works similar to eBay, and the sellers there ship internationally. Most of them are from China, making shipping to other parts of mainland China cheap or free.
While AliExpress is an excellent website for starting, you’ll also place larger orders with the suppliers there. Just keep in mind it’s not the place to scale your business, and you’ll eventually have to go back to Alibaba (or the other websites listed below) if you start scaling.
The easy availability of products on AliExpress comes at a cost: You’re paying a higher markup. For instance, if you were to purchase an e-bike conversion kit on AliExpress, you may end up paying $300 while the same kit can be had for as little as $150 on Alibaba. The tradeoff is that the Alibaba supplier might ask you to place an order for 10-50 kits before they start producing for you. AliExpress also has middle-men who refuse to reveal the products’ origin and won’t put you in touch with the supplier. This means you’ll be missing out on building a relationship with your supplier.
The bottom line is that AliExpress is great for starting, but not great for scaling a product! Expect to pay 25-50% more on average than Alibaba and a higher risk of disappearance as many vendors there are middle-men and not manufacturers.
- Website: https://www.aliexpress.com/
002 // Global Sources
Global Sources is the most well-known sourcing website outside of Alibaba for B2B transactions. Global Sources mainly offers products originating in China, and the suppliers can be similar or identical to those of Alibaba. However, Global Sources stands out by providing a higher-quality platform for suppliers. If you want to source products of higher quality and other protections that you lack on Alibaba, Global Sources is, in many ways, superior to Alibaba. The company is even more experienced in exports and has 45 years in the sourcing business. You can expect better products and more reliable factories on GS. For a full overview, please read our article on Global Sources vs. Alibaba.
Global Sources has a higher vetting process than Alibaba – they don’t allow just any vendor to sign up and start selling. This significantly lowers the risk of doing business with Global Sources suppliers. The tradeoff is that GS suppliers expect more commitment from buyers than those on Alibaba. They may even express selectivity about buyers and inquire with personal questions like what your company does, what volumes you’re used to purchasing, etc. They do this to vet the right customers for their business. Global Sources also offers the advantage of hosting trade fairs in China, making it easy to meet its largest suppliers firsthand and negotiate business.
Note: There are also middle-men and trade agencies operating on Global Sources. However, they tend to be more open about who they are and what factories they work with. This means there’s a higher degree of transparency on GS than on Alibaba. The company itself emphasizes the Asian market (China specifically) and most suppliers, there are domestic Chinese suppliers. The biggest ‘niches’ on Global Sources are fashion, home, electronics, and gift items. Overall, even though you get a smaller product variety, Global Sources is the greatest alternative to Alibaba/AliExpress for trading on the Chinese market.
- Website: https://www.globalsources.com/
003 // Chinabrands
Chinabrands is a China-centric marketplace that is growing exponentially and offering thousands of products across various markets. The main advantage of Chinabrands is that all vendors are required to offer their products in wholesale, making it easy to purchase large amounts of a certain product as the company encourages it. We recommend Chinabrands for customers looking to place larger volume orders from the get-go.
Chinabrands suppliers offer drop shipping abilities for suppliers, making it easy to set up a dropshipping business directly without touching the products you’re buying. There’s a huge product variety with thousands of potential products, and wholesaling is encouraged. The service is also completely free of charge, unlike other alternatives like Global Sources. The only downside is that there are fewer buyer protections than other alternatives, and if you receive a damaged product, you’ll have to fight hard to get a refund. The suppliers here can ship internationally, and they can ship directly to your customers.
- Website: https://www.chinabrands.com/
004 // DHGate
DHGate is a large Chinese B2B platform that has 15 years in the e-commerce business. DHGate’s platform connects Chinese manufacturers to domestic and global wholesale customers who want to purchase bulk products. DHGate has a unique platform that stands out among other B2B platforms by providing discounts on higher-volume orders. Their system automatically adjusts the price of products and lowers the price as you increase the product quantity. This way, buyers don’t have to reach out to suppliers to lower their orders.
We recommend DHGate because it’s an established platform with lots of convenience for bulk ordering/wholesaling and great prices. DHGate also has a buyer protection program that places customers first. If the product arrives damaged, you’re guaranteed a refund as long as you cover the shipping return fee. DHGate also has a mobile app that makes trading on the website easy (and has other mobile-specific shopping).
- Website: https://www.dhgate.com/
005 // Made-In-China
Made-In-China is a Chinese trading website for suppliers and buyers that specializes in more heavy-duty manufacturing. Made-In-China offers top-grade industrial goods and machinery, which are hard to find on websites like Alibaba. If your company is manufacturing vehicles or industrial goods in China, you’ll find parts on this website that are impossible to find on other B2B websites. Made-In-China puts you in touch with suppliers that sell in bulk. Unlike the other websites on this list, you can’t buy directly on the website, but you must go through the supplier personally.
Despite the more niche-specific focus, Made-In-China has thousands of products for sale and relatively low prices. The downside is that you can’t purchase directly, and you must contact suppliers personally before you can get a sample or place an order. The website lacks buyer protection and encourages buyers to purchase a sample before they place a larger order.
- Website: http://www.made-in-china.com/
006 // HKTDC
HKTDC is a popular B2B platform in China that was started in Hong Kong and grew to become one of the largest Chinese trading websites with over 130,000 active sellers. HKTDC is heavily experienced in the B2B industry and functions similar to Alibaba. However, similar to Made-In-China, you cannot purchase directly from the website. Buyers have to inquire about quotes and negotiate the price (including shipping costs) directly from the website’s suppliers. They can purchase a sample if they wish.
HKTDC’s main advantage is that it has a strong base of Chinese suppliers, making it easy to source products to mainland China. It’s possible to do white-label and private label on HKTDC. The quality of the goods is high. The downside is that you’re at an increased risk because there’s no buyer protection and little support. You have to trust the supplier if you want to place an order. There is also no drop shipping option, and most suppliers here deal with other Chinese traders.
- Website: https://www.hktdc.com/
007 // 1688.com
1688 is a B2B supplier directory based in China that belongs to the Alibaba group. 1688 is smaller than both Alibaba and AliExpress, but it’s their main solution for mainland Chinese suppliers looking to trade with other countries’ suppliers. 1688 is very China-centric, and most suppliers there only speak Chinese, which means you’ll need a translator if you want to buy from the website.
The suppliers on 1688 exclusively cater to the mainland Chinese market. This makes it easy to source products you need at a low cost in the country. There are few downsides to using 1688. One is that most products there are aimed at the Chinese market, and they’re usually of lower quality than products you’ll find on Global Sources or Alibaba. What’s more, these products don’t meet international export standards – think twice before purchasing from 1688 if you plan to export internationally. It’s possible to license the products for international export, but you’d be adding extra costs.
The biggest advantage of 1688 is that you can find products at rock-bottom prices because the website is filled with local Chinese manufacturers who offer their products without mediators. Many products on 1688 are not available on other B2B trading websites listed here. The reason is simple: The suppliers are not selling for the export market, and their products are meant for internal consumption.
Note: Conducting business on 1688 will require you to speak Chinese (or hire a translator), and you’ll be able to source products at the same rate native Chinese entrepreneurs sell to each other. We do not recommend buying in 1688 if you’re going to export products internationally, and we only recommend it for buyers who plan to do business in mainland China. The low product cost could be worth it if you’re willing to compromise quality.
- Website: https://www.1688.com/
008 // LightInTheBox
LightInTheBox is an easy-to-use shopping platform similar to AliExpress in functionality. The advantage of LightInTheBox is that it serves as a B2C platform for the local Chinese market where you can source a range of products such as electronics, toys, footwear, fashion, and more. Customers can order small quantities, which makes it ideal for new manufacturers to try out products before they commit. Most products on LightInTheBox are basic products that make it harder to source rare industrial products or parts. The prices are lower than average, though.
Consider using LightInTheBox if you want a wide range of suppliers/products, low prices, and don’t plan to commit early on. The website can ship outside of mainland China and offers a basic degree of buyer protection. The downside is that it’s harder to source products in bulk here, and even if you do, there’s no guarantee you’ll get a discount – you have to reach out to every supplier manually.
- Website: https://www.lightinthebox.com/
009 // Banggood
Banggood is a B2B and dropshipping platform focusing on the Chinese market that offers advantages for international customers conducting business in China. It is a relatively large marketplace with a wide variety of products ranging from electronics to kitchen appliances. Banggood is a favorite among drop-shippers who purchase products at factory prices and re-sell them for a higher markup later.
The main advantage is that the prices are low, and the flexibility is great concerning payment options, shipping to customers, dropshipping customization, and buyer protection. The downside is that shipping is not as fast as on other B2B websites, and their refund time is a bit longer than average (4 days after a product return).
- Website: https://www.banggood.com/
010 // TinyDeals
TinyDeals is an e-commerce platform based out of Hong Kong that caters to Chinese manufacturers and suppliers. TinyDeals’s product selection comprises popular retail products, such as tech/electronics, wristwatches, and toys. The prices on TinyDeals are generally on par or lower than Alibaba, and Chinese wholesalers primarily use it.
TinyDeals offers advantages such as dropshipping and numerous payment options. The marketplace itself is quite sizable, with thousands of product offers. The only downside is that shipping is generally slower if you’re going to use it for dropshipping. Customers get more protection on this website with free return shipping (the supplier has to cover it). Refunds are issued promptly on broken items.
- Website: https://www.tinydeal.com/
011 // DealExtreme
DealExtreme, or ‘DX’ in short, is one of the longest standing B2B websites in China with over 15 years in the wholesaling/retail business. DealExtreme provides a mix of customer-aimed products and wholesaling options for entrepreneurs. The website has thousands of products for sale in varying niches like fashion, sports, electronics, etc. The website owners often put up hot deals, and the prices are some of the lowest compared to Alibaba.
The main advantage of DealExtremee is weekly and daily deals. You’ll often find great deals on wholesale products, and you have a wide variety of products with hundreds of product categories. The downside is that the payments may take as long as three days to clear with their payment system. Shipping for products might be slow unless the buyer purchases expedited shipping.
- Website: https://www.dx.com/
012 // Yaaku
Yaaku is the primary alternative to Alibaba for fashion products in mainland China. Yaaku has thousands of clothing products with sub-categories for men, women, children, and infants. Buyers can source a wide range of clothing products ranging from t-shirts to coats and even footwear. The prices are some of the lowest in the fashion industry, and suppliers are willing to dropship directly to customers outside China. It’s also possible to negotiate wholesale prices directly from the website by reaching out to the sellers.
Yaaku’s main advantage is that it’s 100% fashion-oriented, making it the most reliable website for sourcing textiles of various kinds. There are thousands of products to choose from, and buyers can purchase them wholesale. The goods tend to be high-quality, and it’s easy to get started on the website because it doesn’t impose minimum order quantities. The site is constantly upgraded with fashion items like watches, belts, and more.
- Website: https://www.yaaku.com/
013 // Chinavasion
Chinavasion is a B2B retail marketplace focused on the Chinese marketplace, and the platform has tens of thousands of products for sale. The products on Chinavasion are in various industries ranging from garden tools to jewelry and fashion. The platform supports dropshipping and constantly puts up “Hot Sale” offers where buyers can source products at a low cost.
Chinavasion is one of the best websites to buy products in bulk. The website is free but has an optional “VIP” program. The products can be shipped to China or internationally. The only downside is that the maximum amount of items is capped at 200 per purchase. If you want to order a higher quantity, you have to contact Chinavasion in advance.
- Website: https://www.chinavasion.com/
014 // ECVV
ECVV stands out among B2B platforms because it services buyers in mainland China directly. Instead of allowing buyers to contact suppliers and negotiate the process, the company does this for them. For instance, a buyer can sign up and state their desired product, order quantity, and shipping details. ECVV will then analyze a list of suppliers and give the buyer the option to order from those suppliers. ECVV offers other advantages, such as customizing the packaging requirements and numerous shipping options.
ECVV has a retail option for non-wholesale customers. The only downside is that ECVV doesn’t accept PayPal for purchases. It is the only website of this kind to offer customized service for all wholesale customers.
- Website: https://www.ecvv.com/
015 // GearBest
GearBest is a B2B platform that specializes in the wholesale of electronics and hobby products. The site offers a wide variety of products (including clothing/fashion)
but its main focus is electronic accessories such as chargers, USB cables, headphone accessories, and more. If you’re on the market for electronic wholesale products, GearBest is a great place to start.
GearBest offers buyers advantage such as numerous shipping options and fast shipping due to global warehouses. The platform is free to use, but buyers can upgrade their membership by purchasing the “Partnership” program or the “Associate” program.
- Website: https://www.gearbest.com/