B2B (business-to-business) online shopping services allow companies to cooperate easily. The term B2B indicates the act of selling online goods between companies. Offers from Chinese suppliers can generally be found on popular websites such as Alibaba and other equally noteworthy online platforms. In this article, we will discuss the various lesser-known alternatives to Alibaba in the Chinese market.
What is Alibaba?
Alibaba is one of the most popular B2B online shopping platforms among Chinese exporters. It offers a wide range of products manufactured by Chinese companies such as clothing and textiles, vehicle parts, machinery, furniture, accessories, and many others. Although Alibaba is currently the leading B2B online shopping service in China, other platforms offer a similarly wide selection of products.
The more famous alternatives to Alibaba include services like Made-in-China, Global Sources, and 1688. Besides these few websites, however, other B2B online shopping platforms, such as TradeKey, DIYTrade, HISupplier, and ChinaAseanTrade. Therefore, before making a final decision, it would be worth checking out the different available services.
Made-in-China is a service used particularly by companies focused on placing wholesale orders. While Alibaba focuses on smaller industries, streamlining the export market, Made-in-China covers larger transactions, facilitating international trade. Made-in-China’s stock includes a vast selection of products. The list of available product categories can be found on the left side of the website.
Filtering searches on Made-in-China
The search function on Made-in-China works in a very similar way to Alibaba. Searching for a product can be done by selecting one of the available categories or inputting a specific product name at the top of the page. Additionally, Made-in-China also introduced a function to search for a product using a picture, although many other filtering options are available. For example, when searching for a bag, this service allows us to choose a specific fabric, style, capacity, and even look for bags for a particular season or a special occasion.
When searching for goods, we can also view products manufactured in a specific city or from a chosen supplier. This makes it much easier for users with a specific area of interest to browse Made-in China’s wide selection of products.
Made-in-China’s website possesses a clear and intuitive UI, which provides a lot of detailed information on each product. We can find all the necessary information on the profile of a selected product, including information regarding all the different payment methods available and the MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity). From there, we also have the option to contact the supplier and order samples directly.
Types of suppliers on Made-in-China
It is worth noting that Made-in-China allows us to search by types of suppliers. Thus, we can find different types of merchants, including Audited Suppliers, which is the equivalent of the Verifier Supplier badge on Alibaba. It means that the company has been adequately vetted and assessed by an independent external institution to increase its credibility. Only Audited Suppliers are verified through such a complex process. Furthermore, made-in-China allows users to view an Audited Supplier’s audit reports. All we have to do is enter the appropriate number listed on a selected supplier’s profile on the official SGS website.
To make sure of a supplier’s reliability, it may be worth having it verified yourself, especially when making large orders. Both in the case of Audited Suppliers and regular merchants, Made-in-China allows us to arrange a factory visit. This is Made-in-China’s apparent advantage, which ensures greater security of large orders.
Global Sources is a popular platform that has been operating for over 50 years. It allows companies from all over the world to establish trade partnerships. Indeed, Global Sources houses Chinese manufacturers and suppliers from other countries, such as South Korea, Vietnam, and India. These products are divided into 13 main categories, which are then broken down into smaller ones.
Filtering searches on Global Sources
Searching for goods on Global Sources is a very simple process. All you need to do is select a specific category or enter the name of your desired product in the search field. What distinguishes Global Sources from other similar services is its very complex and detailed filtering options. These options are handy for importers with specific expectations. However, most of the available filtering options apply to the seller instead of the goods.
Sorting results on Global Sources can be done by selecting:
- Type of supplier;
- Product/Company certificates;
- Location of the factory;
- Supplier ranking (based on their number of stars);
- Country of origin;
- And others.
After selecting the profile of your chosen product, you gain access to detailed information about it. You can also check the product’s price, MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity), payment methods as well as certificates. Here you can request samples and contact the supplier. In order to send a message to the supplier, select the “Inquire Now” or “Chat” option. Global Sources also allows us to see whether the website or an independent company has verified a company. However, it is important to bear in mind that this does not ensure a company’s credibility. It is, therefore, worth ordering a report for additional verification.
Trade fairs on Global Sources
Another advantage of Global Sources is the ability to find information about upcoming trade fairs. To select a specific industry, all you need to do is find the “Trade Shows” option on the Global Sources homepage and then select the category of your choosing. You will then be redirected to a page showing all the upcoming events and all related details, where you can also register for any shows.
Unlike Alibaba and Made-in-China, which center around international trade, 1688 focuses on trade between Chinese companies. As a result, the website is only available in Chinese, making it difficult for foreign importers to navigate. These are the main features that distinguish this website from other similar services. However, this does not mean that foreign companies are not allowed to place orders on 1688. On the contrary, foreign companies might find many interesting offers on it.
Searching for goods on 1688
Searching for products on 1688 functions in the same way as on other similar platforms. We can do it by using the search engine at the top of the homepage or selecting one of the categories available on the left side of the website. Detailed information on every type of goods can be found on the product’s profile page, similarly to Alibaba or Made-in-China. 1688 also allows us to check how the price of a selected product changes depending on the number of items purchased, as shown in the picture below. Thus, we can see that buying a product in quantity larger than 20 lowers its price significantly.
Contacting a supplier on 1688
The main point that differentiates 1688 from other B2B shopping platforms is the messaging option. Since purchasing goods can only be done using Chinese currency, i.e., RMB, this usually prevents foreign importers from ordering from 1688. Therefore, they first have to fill out a form and send it to the seller before making direct contact with them. Overcoming the language barrier can be done by enlisting the help of an agent who will help you communicate with the supplier.
TradeKey is a platform that allows us to find both Chinese goods and products from many other countries. It is a truly global service used by a variety of international importers and exporters. As a result, the website can be accessed in 7 different languages. Products on TradeKey are divided into almost 40 categories, providing website users with a wide selection of goods from various industries.
Filtering searches on TradeKey
Searching for goods on TradeKey is no different from the websites we discussed earlier. However, while filtering options on Made-in-China allow us to select any Chinese city, TradeKey lets us specify the desired country of origin. It can also show us how many offers for a specific product come from different countries.
In contrast to other B2B shopping platforms, TradeKey offers much more information on each product. While browsing for goods on TradeKey, many detailed pieces of data can be seen even before selecting a product’s profile, making it much easier to compare the vast selection of offers available on the website. We can, for example, find the MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity), approximate delivery time, and type of material, all while browsing. Next to each product, there is a supplier’s name with a flag indicating its country of origin. From there where can also quickly contact the supplier by sending them a message by selecting the “Contact Now” option.
Finding Trade Fairs on TradeKey
It is worth mentioning that TradeKey provides us with its own search engine dedicated to Trade Fairs held all around the globe. These events offer an excellent opportunity to find interesting products and to establish trade partnerships with new companies. On TradeKey, you can find all the necessary information about any upcoming Trade Fairs.
Like TradeKey, DIYTrade is a global shopping platform that has been operating for the last 21 years. It is part of the DIYSite Group, which is also a parent company to ChinaBestPrice.com and RCBestPrice.com. DIYTrade is mostly home to Chinese manufacturers. There you may find both unmarked goods, on which you can place your logo of choice, as well as replicas of other popular brands. The website is available in only two languages: Chinese and English.
Filtering searches on DIYTrade
Finding a specific product can be done by selecting one of the 18 available categories or entering the product’s name at the top of the homepage. DIYTrade’s website possesses fewer filtering options compared to the previously mentioned shopping platforms. However, DIYTrade lets you select a more specific subcategory, as well as the type of supplier (e.g., manufacturer, trading company, etc.) and their account type. Thus, we can only check offers from suppliers who have acquired the 3rd Party BizVerify badge (the equivalent of a Verified Supplier badge on Alibaba and the Audited Supplier badge on Made-in-China). This means that the company has been verified and audited by an independent company. Although this does increase a company’s credibility, its reliability is still not fully guaranteed.
3rd Party BizVerfiy suppliers also offer the possibility to find out about the company that carried out the inspection and other detailed pieces of information by clicking the green 3rd Party BizVerfiy sign next to the product’s name. You will then be redirected to a page showing all the necessary details, as seen in the picture below.
Contacting suppliers on DIYTrade
There are two ways to contact certain suppliers on DIYTrade. You can either do this by choosing the “Inquire Now” option, which will allow you to send a message through the DIYTrade website, or using a “Live Chat” method of the supplier’s choosing, such as Skype, WhatsApp, etc. By choosing the second option, you can expect a much faster reply.
HiSupplier is another international B2B shopping platform, which predominantly sells Chinese products. Their website is available in 11 languages, making it much easier to navigate for foreign users. Their wide range of products is divided into 26 main categories, broken down into smaller subcategories. Most of the goods on HiSupplier can be found in categories such as machinery and industrial Supplies, vehicles and transportation, electronics, and construction and decoration.
Filtering searches on HiSupplier
Filtering searches allows us to select various details depending on the chosen product. For example, when searching for headphones, we can select a specific style of headphones and their operating functions. When searching for a suitcase, we can choose a particular type of clasp, material, style, and color. The available options thus change depending on the kind of goods we might be interested in. This leads to a significant increase in the website’s clarity. Additionally, that same panel allows us to sort the displayed items by their subcategories, main export markets, company type, and even their certificates. It is nonetheless essential to always verify the authenticity of any certificates before making a purchase.
We will find detailed information on any given product on its profile page. On it, we will find the product’s price depending on the ordered amount, check the available payment methods, new Incoterms regulations, and much more. To contact the supplier, select the “Inquire Now” option or any other available method, e.g., Skype.
Types of suppliers on HiSupplier
On HiSupplier, you might come across sellers with an SGS Verified Supplier Gold badge, whose authenticity has been verified. According to the platform, they offer an inexpensive and valuable service. As always, these badges do not guarantee a supplier’s credibility, although they do increase their reliability.
ChinaAseanTrade is an online shopping platform offering not only Chinese suppliers but also many sellers from around the world. However, Chinese suppliers naturally make up the largest portion of sellers on this website. All the available goods are divided into 41 main categories, the biggest of which include furniture (>22 000 offers), construction, and real estate (both >15 000 offers).
Filtering searches on ChinaAseanTrade
Searching for goods on ChinaAseanTrade can also be done using two methods – either by choosing a category or entering a product’s name in the search bar located on the homepage. However, it is worth noting that by selecting a category, we will gain access to a greater amount of filtering options. This allows us to choose several choices on the panel displayed above, including the country of origin (China, ASEAN member country, and others). We can also sort the results by type of supplier account by checking the Gold Supplier or Onsite Checked options.
Another function worth noting is the ability to compare several offers in different respects. Simply select the “Compare” option in the empty boxes next to the products of your choosing, and then choose the “Select to compare” option, as shown in the picture below.
Contacting suppliers on ChinaAseanTrade
Once you have chosen a product you would like to purchase, you may contact the supplier for further details. To do so, select the “Contact Supplier” or “Contact Now” option on the profile of any given item. Remember to mention your desired order size, total order price, payment method, and delivery method in your message. Additionally, ask for any necessary certificates and documents before making a final purchase.
Alternatives to Alibaba – summary
Alternatives to Alibaba include all the platforms discussed above, such as Made-in-China, 1688, TradeKey, DIYTrade, HiSupplier, and ChinaAseanTrade. Although they work in similar ways, they all provide their own specific functions that may or may not suit the user’s preferences. However, every platform contains a comparably wide selection of goods, making it worth comparing their offers before making your final purchase. We also need to consider the fact that there are many risks involved when online shopping. It is therefore worth verifying a company’s credibility by ordering a report or inspecting their factory. By taking these extra steps, you can be sure of your supplier’s reliability and confidently make purchases on Chinese B2B online shopping platforms.