Safer, Better Business in China

Opinions, knowledge and resources from China Checkup's expert contributors


Alibaba Alternatives

Alibaba Alternatives

by Matt Slater 10 November 2013

At an estimated 810,000 paid suppliers way back in 2010, Alibaba is by far the largest online B2B sourcing portal. That doesn’t mean it has no competitors though – there are certainly many Alibaba alternatives out there. We’ve gathered a few here, although be aware that there is a (very) long tail of generic imitators, many of which are so similar they can be difficult to tell apart.

A Word of Caution about All B2B Sourcing Platforms

It shouldn’t need saying here, but unfortunately it does: B2B sourcing platforms like Alibaba, Global Sources and the rest should be seen as simple listings for suppliers. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that these platforms can do any work for you apart from searching for suppliers. It’s perfectly possible to find fraudulent activity, scams and very low-quality companies on any of them. As always, exercise caution and due diligence (see also: avoiding scams on Alibaba).

Global Sources

Global Sources is the best known Alibaba alternative, but they actually have relatively different business goals:

“Alibaba is trying to build an SME ecosystem through its subsidiaries Alibaba.com, Alipay.com, Taobao.com, AliExpress and AliLoan. Global Sources is targeting larger, more established exporters who are interested in its multi-media platform (exhibitions, online, print, private buyer events).

With each passing quarter, it is clear that these two companies are not exactly knocking on the same doors across China.”

 – Asia Business Media

General perceptions are that Alibaba is something of a huge free-for-all with massive variety in its community, whilst the community of suppliers on Global Sources is much smaller but generally more professional and higher-quality. This may be due to the fact that getting listed on Global Sources is significantly more expensive than doing so on Alibaba, and that Global Sources verifies all listings. As a result, there is a greater proportion of larger, more established suppliers on GS.

Also bear in mind that Global Sources started business in 1970, which makes it ancient by Internet standards. In other words, they’ve been doing this for longer than anyone else, if you feel that counts for something.

Doba

Doba is a little bit different as a platform to Alibaba and Global Sources. Rather than being a sourcing marketplace, it offers a global drop shipping service. It aims to offer an integrated service that covers many more aspects of being an importer or trader, from sourcing to sales to delivery. This approach may appeal to those who like the idea of the process being handled for them, but put off those who prefer to control things more closely themselves.

Yiwu Markets

If you want to meet your supplier face-to-face one of the best Alibaba alternatives is to pay a visit to Yiwu market in Zhejiang Province, a.k.a. the “largest small commodity wholesale market in the world”. Certainly this might be a good way to go if you are a sourcing a smaller, more generic product as there could well be hundreds of suppliers meeting your requirements, all camped within the same building and waiting for your visit.

Don’t worry if you can’t make it all the way to Yiwu yourself, there is the option to browse their virtual market where you can find the market’s suppliers and view their wares from the comfort of your office.

Bring on the Generic B2B Market Platforms

We mentioned above that there are numerous ‘generic’ B2B market platforms that seem to function in an extremely similar way to Alibaba and Global Sources. The first group of these here are the more popular of these, and then we’ve listed some examples of the very generic Alibaba-imitator type sites. These categorisations may well be unfair – if you think they are, let us know in the comments. After all, these platforms only seem ‘generic’ because they don’t occupy the top of the list.

DHGate

DHGate is relatively popular amongst these generic B2B marketplace platforms. One feature that makes it stand out is its system of handling payments itself, and only passing payment to seller when buyer confirms receipt of goods. It also tends to offer sellers with lower MOQs than other platforms.

TradeKey

TradeKey was set up in 2005, and is small but growing fast. It’s based in Karachi and seems to have big ambitions, but other than that there doesn’t seem to be a great deal to distinguish it from the other generics.

Made-in-China

Made-in-China is also a relatively old B2B platform, having been operating since 1996.

And the Generic Global B2B Market Platforms

After the B2B platforms listed above, you arrive at an endless long tail of highly-similar platforms each trying to be Alibaba alternatives. Search for a few of these and you’ll struggle to distinguish them:

  • EC21
  • ECW
  • ECPlaza
  • GlobalMarket
  • Manufacturers.com.tw
  • DIYTrade

These sites use almost identical layouts, identical functions and use various permutations of the same language for their taglines: “connecting”, “global”, “largest platform” etc. If you know of any advantages these platforms have, do share your knowledge in the comments.

See Also

Contact Us

If you have any suggestions or would like your service to be added to this page please leave a comment below or get in touch – info@chinacheckup.com




Matt Slater
Matt Slater

Author

Hi there, I'm Matt, the Founder & CEO of China Checkup. Originally from the UK, I am now based in Brisbane, Australia.

Frustrated by the scarcity of concise, high-quality and timely information about Chinese companies, I setup China Checkup whilst living in Shanghai in 2013.

My team are proud that China Checkup's company verification reports have now helped thousands of clients from all corners of the world to do business in China more safely.

  



View These Related Articles

What are the 6 Different China City Types?
What are the 6 Different China City Types?
This article takes a look at the 6 different China city types and the various levels of autonomy and power each type holds. China has over 700 official cities, from the metropolises of Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong dow
Continue Reading
Chinese Economic Reform - Timeline of Key Events
Chinese Economic Reform - Timeline of Key Events
Launched by Deng Xiaoping in 1978, the decades long process of Chinese economic reform has transformed China beyond recognition. This article highlights some of the most significant events during this period in the form
Continue Reading
The Top 10 China Business Podcasts
The Top 10 China Business Podcasts
Listening to China business podcasts can be a great way to get insights on the Chinese market, pick up new knowledge and get fresh perspectives. The great news is that there is actually a lot of great podcasts out there
Continue Reading

Also in Safer, Better Business in China

List of Chinese AMR Websites
List of Chinese AMR Websites

by Matt Slater 16 November 2020

This list of Chinese AMR websites includes links to the AMR branch website for each province/administrative region in China.

In case you're wondering, the acronym "AMR" stands for "Administration for Market Regulation", which is a newly-launched Chinese government agency created by the merger of many previous agencies, including the AIC and AQSIQ.

This super regulator is now responsible for a wide range of regulatory matters in Mainland China, so if you need to get in touch with them you should find this list of Chinese AMR websites useful.

Continue Reading

China AEO Certificate - An Introduction
China AEO Certificate - An Introduction

by Matt Slater 10 November 2020

The China AEO Certificate is a document held by companies in China engaged in import and export activities.

Issued by China Customs, the certificate specifies the company's enterprise classification, which determines their level of inspections and more.

Requesting and verifying a supplier's China AEO certificate can be a sensible measure to understand if they are registered with China Customs as an "Authorized Economic Operator" and to check their AEO type.

Continue Reading

China Province Abbreviations - An Introduction
China Province Abbreviations - An Introduction

by Matt Slater 30 October 2020

Did you know that China province abbreviations can be made using both Chinese and English languages?

Not only can all provinces in China be abbreviated to a two-letter code, but there is also a single Chinese character used to represent each.

This article introduces these methods as well as providing a full list of each China province abbreviation, from Anhui to Zhejiang.

Continue Reading