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

Alibaba Alternatives

by Matt Slater November 10, 2013

Alibaba Alternatives

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 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.

  

 


Related Articles

Which Bodies Manage Chinese Lab Accreditation?
Which Bodies Manage Chinese Lab Accreditation?
Chinese lab accreditation is managed by different accreditation bodies depending on whether the laboratory is located in Mainland China, Hong Kong or Taiwan. When you are importing products from China, requesting test reports to demonstrate that the
Read More
Can You Trust Alibaba Suppliers?
Can You Trust Alibaba Suppliers?
Last year we ran a simple experiment on our website to find out whether or not our audience trust Alibaba suppliers.  Thousands of visitors to our blog received the automated message from our live chat software "Just a quick question, do you feel tha
Read More
5 Ways to Check Chinese Certificates are Legitimate
5 Ways to Check Chinese Certificates are Legitimate
Has your business ever needed to check Chinese certificates for fakes or forgeries? If so, you are not alone. Regrettably, it is quite common for some unscrupulous Chinese companies to use fake or altered certificates, unfairly tarnishing the reputat
Read More


Also in Safer, Better Business in China

Make These 4 Checks Before Sending a China T/T Payment
Make These 4 Checks Before Sending a China T/T Payment

by Matt Slater March 20, 2019

One of the most common ways to pay a Chinese supplier is to make a China T/T Payment, but it is not a method that comes without risk.

We regularly see cases where Chinese suppliers request payments to individual accounts, third parties, offshore accounts and offshore entities, rather than to their own Mainland Chinese corporate bank accounts.

Before sending a China T/T payment, pause and take a moment to make these 4 simple checks - they will help you ensure your payment is really going to the correct Mainland China entity.

Continue Reading

List of Countries with Freight Trains from China
List of Countries with Freight Trains from China

by Matt Slater February 25, 2019

In recent years freight trains from China have been capturing newspaper headlines by arriving in more and more countries.

Perhaps there is no more striking example of this then when the first China to Spain cargo train returned to Yiwu having covered a world record 16,156-mile round trip in 2015.

Read this article to learn about China's push for international rail cargo and find our which countries have already received freight trains from China.

Continue Reading

China Phone Codes - An Introduction
China Phone Codes - An Introduction

by Matt Slater January 24, 2019

With multiple international codes, hundreds of area codes and numbers of different lengths, making sense of China phone codes can be challenging.

Determining if a Chinese phone number is a mobile or a landline, and knowing where in the country it is located can be a useful way to better understand who you are dealing with.

If you want to learn more about China phone codes, including international codes, area codes (both 2-digit and 3-digit) and mobile codes, then this article is for you.

Continue Reading