Finding a reliable Chinese supplier for your products is the most important thing in the whole supply chain of your business.
If practically possible for you, we’d recommend you to pay a visit to China, to find suppliers from trade shows and wholesale markets.
This way, you will have a much better understanding of the supplier, product quality and even Chinese culture.
However, if you can’t come over to China, or if you prefer to explore suppliers online first, it’s also a good option.
In this post, I’ll share with you the top 6 China wholesale websites that you can make use of to find the most suitable supplier or products for your import from China business.
And without further ado, let’s jump right in.
Alibaba is the most well-known online B2B e-commerce platform in the world.
It was founded in 1999 by Jack Ma that you probably have heard of.
We’ll cover more details about it below.
Alibaba.com itself is a safe and legit marketplace that customers can trust.
They have their way of controlling the supplier quality.
- Gold Supplier (Supplier needs to pay a yearly fee to open their store on alibaba.com and get verified by third party inspection companies, so these suppliers are all real, registered businesses.
- Trade Assurance (Trade Assurance protects online orders when payment is made through Alibaba.com. That means, if you order from a supplier using alibaba’s online ordering system, they will protect you and make sure you get the goods you paid for. And if there is a dispute, they will get in, investigate and solve the problem)
If you order online and make payment through alibaba.com, you’re protected by alibaba.com in terms of quality and lead time.
If you order from suppliers and make payments offline, you will need to negotiate with suppliers on your own if you think there are issues.
Either way, it’s strongly suggested to be very careful in terms of choosing a supplier since it can ruin your business if you are not capable of handling high risks due to poor products or delayed shipment.
Choosing a Trade Assurance supplier does make you feel safe and protected, but it’s not guarantee that you’ll profit from it. To some point, you’re eventually paying more for Trade Assurance orders since suppliers will pay a commission to the alibaba.com platform, whereas suppliers don’t need to pay percentage of the order amount to the platform for offline payments.
On the contrary, for suppliers that are not ready to accept orders through alibaba.com, it doesn’t mean that they’re not a good supplier either.
You will need to evaluate the supplier and make your own judgement.
There are mainly two types of suppliers on alibaba.com: Manufacturer and Trading Company.
Manufacturers are basically the end factory that produces the final products and list them in their own store on alibaba.com. Such suppliers are usually able to offer the best prices for a given product, compared to trading companies.
Trading companies list products they buy in and sell on alibaba.com. Even though they may not produce the products themselves, they usually are very professional about what they sell, and their services are more professional, in general. And their prices can be same or even lower compared to a manufacturer listed on alibaba.com. The reason is that some trading companies have their own resources that are not listed on alibaba.com and they get good deals from their suppliers thanks to their bulk orders.
You will also see a supplier with two labels: Manufacturer, Trading Company. These are companies that produce products by themselves and they may also trade some of the products they list in their store.
Since alibaba.com is a B2B online ecommerce platform, it’s MOQ is usually high compared to other platforms like Aliexpress, 1688 etc.
We couldn’t name a general number for MOQ here since there are a huge number of different products with totally different nature.
For large machinery, usually MOQ is one; and for small items like clothing, usually 200 pcs/style etc.
But we have one tip for you:
Don’t just look at the MOQ they put on their website, you can ask suppliers about their MOQ directly and tell them about yourself.
More often than not, you’ll get a better deal after talking with them.
The Alibaba.com system requires listings (products) to come with a price range, which is solely determined by the company that uploads the product.
For a product of 10 USD, let’s say, the supplier can set the range as 9-11 USD, but they can also set it to 1-20, or 1-50. So this price range doesn’t usually present much accuracy or value.
It’s best for you to ask suppliers for prices directly and they usually quote you if you provide them with a quantity.
Alibaba.com is a very flexible platform in terms of communication. They have their own Trade Manager that is suggested. They also have an online inquiry form that you can use to inquire sellers of certain products or company information. You are also free to use Email, Chatting software like WhatsApp, WeChat, Viber, Skype etc.
However, we’d suggest you to use Trade Manager for security reasons.
If there is a dispute, Trade Manager and Email records are the only clues alibaba.com can get in and investigate to protect you. WhatsApp or WeChat records are not taken as evidence.
More details are covered in the buyer protection section.
Alibaba.com has its own escrow payment system that you can use for the utmost security. The secure payment is part of the Trade Assurance feature and it supports various payment methods:
- Credit card
- Apple Pay
- Google Pay
- Western Union
- Pay Later
Offline payments are also supported. These are payments that are actually more often seen until now whereas suppliers provide you with their bank information and you wire the amount to their bank account.
Shipping time and modes is totally dependent on the supplier. They can choose to use Alibaba’s logistics system for shipping by express like DHL, UPS, FedEx etc. Most suppliers are still using their own shipping agent for shipping by sea, by air, by railway or by express.
Depending on the destination, the time varies a lot.
Alibaba.com is the choice if we can only recommend one wholesale website to you. Their advantages are many and not limited to the below points:
- The largest supplier and product base in the world
- The best prices you can get (thanks to their large database)
- Trade Assurance and its secure payment is a big plus
- RFQ (Request for Quotation) allows buyers to get multiple quotes efficiently
No one is perfect and we do think further improvement can be made:
- The trade manager user experience is not that perfect and you may find it easier to use Email, WhatsApp and WeChat.
- For new buyers, it’s easy to get lost in choosing the best supplier since the database is huge and buyers may end up spending too much time hesitating
- The price range shown on product listings is not accurate
16526 reviews on Trustpilot averaged 4.2 out of 5. You may check from the link below.
Aliexpress is another E-commerce platform from Alibaba Group, focusing on small batch wholesales and retail.
You can order through Aliexpress just like you do on Amazon, Ebay.
Money Back Guarantee
Aliexpress promises your money back if the item you received is not as described, or if your item is not delivered within the Buyer Protection period. You can get a refund 15 days after the claim process finishes. This guarantee is in addition to and does not limit your statutory rights as a consumer, as granted by all mandatory laws and regulations applicable in your country of residence.
Click here for full details.
Aliexpress is a platform and not a direct seller of a certain product. So the quality is purely on the sellers’ side. However, the Money Back Guarantee buyer protection will help guarantee quality in an important way and will gradually improve the overall quality of the platform.
Some factories have their own international market department and open their own store on Aliexpress for small batch wholesale orders (a few pcs, tens of pcs each item etc.)
Trading companies and wholesalers
Trading companies and wholesalers are actually making the most out of Aliexpress. Since sellers need to keep stock, such suppliers have the ability to buy in products from factories, offline wholesale markets and sell online. They’re more flexible compared to factories who usually have to keep the machines running to produce large number of products that can be supplied to multiple buyers (trading companies, wholesalers etc.)
There are small players on the platform as well. They are usually small, a few people or even 1 person only. But they have resources.
There is no MOQ on aliexpress.com. You can buy even 1 pc at a time. If you want to buy more items or more quantity of an item, you can chat with the sellers and sometimes you can get a discount.
The prices are transparent as shown on the listing page. If you need to buy a larger amount, you can contact the seller directly to apply for discounts.
In general the prices on Aliexpress are very good compared to most platforms.
You can chat online with the sellers. If you’re using the Aliexpress app, you can chat with the sellers in the app.
Aliexpress supports many payment methods, including credit cards (Visa, Mastercard etc.), debit cards, alipay, webmoney, PayPal (partially).
Aliexpress supports many options for shipping as well, including
- AliExpress Standard Shipping
- Cainiao Standard For Special Goods
- AliExpress Premium Shipping
- UPS Expedited
- UPS Express Saver
Depending on your shipping information, the time it takes varies and that will show up after you fill your address.
When you choose a shipping method, you have the chance to view and compare all shipping options. Generally speaking, if you’re not in a hurry, choose one that’s cheap; if you need the items faster, then you may consider a faster option at a higher cost.
- Transparent, simple and smooth purchasing experience
- World wide shipping and delivery
- 24/7 support. If you have any question in the process, they will help.
- Products are cheap and good quality
- Millions of products
- If you buy in bulk quantity, the total cost is not as good as if you buy from Alibaba.com.
- Hard to save cost on shipping if you need to buy from multiple suppliers.
In either of the above cases, consider hiring a Sourcing Agent in China.
122,213 reviews averaged 3.5 on Trustpilot.
DHgate protects it’s buyers with their online payments, which will only be released to the seller if you confirm receipt of the goods. So it’s safe to buy from DHgate.
Mostly small trading companies and factories.
DHgate is mainly focused on small wholesale from tens of pcs to hundreds of pcs. Usually tiered pricing is offered and that means you can talk with the seller for discount if you buy more.
On DHgate, prices are decided by the sellers since the platform itself doesn’t sell anything directly.
Like Aliexpress, DHgate offers promotions and coupons that you can take advantage of to further reduce the purchase amount.
This is recommended. When you have a question to a product, using online chat is usually the most efficient way to get a response.
If the seller is offline or if you prefer, you can use Message as well, in which case sellers usually reply in 24 hours.
DHgate supports a variety of payment methods, including credit cards (VISA, American Express, Mastercard), debit cards, bank transfer etc.
If you’re OK with a cheaper and slower shipping method, use China post or ePacket. However, this has potential risk of losing your parcels since there is no tracking on these.
Or, you can choose to ship with express if you prefer to have them earlier or if the product value is high.
But if you’re buying in bulk, you can consider shipping with a shipping agent.
- Buyer protection measures are reliable
- Big supplier and product base
- Easy and transparent buying experience
- If you need to buy from multiple suppliers, you may end up paying more on shipping. In this case, using a shipping agent is a better option.
27372 reviews averaged 2.4 out of 5 on Trustpilot. Which is not a good signal.
Like Alibaba.com and Made in China, Global Sources is a B2B online marketplace connecting wholesale buyers and sellers globally.
But in general, it targets scaled businesses and not startups.
So big factories and trading companies are more seen on the platform.
Ranking is based on the price paid to show more information and receive better exposure.
Online-to-Offline (O2O) supplier maintains a comprehensive company profile online and is exhibiting at upcoming Global Sources trade shows.
The business scope of this supplier’s independently verified Business Registration, as licensed by relevant government agencies, allows it to manufacture goods.
Verified Supplier’s Business Registration profile has been independently verified with relevant government agencies.
The buyer safety measures help ensure product quality to a certain extent. But that doesn’t mean everything and as a buyer, you still need to check carefully whether a supplier meets your expectations.
Mainly large trading companies and large factories.
On global sources, suppliers usually require an MOQ. Depending on different products, that number may vary a lot.
However, it’s always recommended to email or message suppliers directly instead of solely checking information on their website, since the information can be outdated and the most efficient way is to ask them directly.
Global sources is a marketplace and it doesn’t control the prices offered by sellers on it. However, the prices on global sources are quite good thanks to the scale of the suppliers.
Most sellers support PayPal, T/T (Wire Transfer), L/C etc. However, this is something you’ll have to talk about with a specific supplier.
Just like suppliers on alibaba and made in China, the sellers will send the goods to you by sea, by air, by express or by train and truck. Depending on your destination, they will usually provide you with a recommendation. You can also ship with your own forwarder.
- Advantage in trade shows and exhibitions
- Prices are good in general
- Large supplier database
- Professional customer service
- Even though it’s a big wholesale website in terms of the number of suppliers, the choices are less than Alibaba.
1 review from Trustpilot only.
Made in China is another B2B marketplace like Alibaba and global sources. You can find wholesale suppliers on the platform.
Supplier with verified business licenses.
On-site verified supplier.
Secured Trading Services (STS)
- Manage risk with escrow payment system
- Negotiable settlement schedule
- Deposit payment function
- Personal customer service
Here’s more info for STS: https://www.made-in-china.com/secured-trading-services.html
Apart from buyer safety measures mentioned above, Made in China has a program of MEI Awards (Manufacturing Excellence & Innovation Awards).
In short, it’s a problem that selects the best products from each category. This is also a guarantee of quality.
More information can be found here: https://mei.made-in-china.com/
Large factories and trading companies.
There is usually a MOQ for most products because of the nature of suppliers (big manufacturers and trading companies).
It’s suggested to check and even negotiate with the suppliers directly instead of checking their listing information. This way, you may get a better deal if they get to know you well.
Made in China is a marketplace and all the prices are decided by respective sellers on the platform. However, in general, just like Alibaba and global sources, the prices are competitive thanks to the vast amount of suppliers.
You can either chat with supplier online for instant responses or us the “Contact now” button to send inquiries with more details.
Similar to Global sources and alibaba, on Made in China, various payment methods are supported for offline payments, including
- Wire Transfer (T/T)
- Credit Card
- Western Union
However, you need to check with your supplier for the best option.
Made in China suppliers usually send bulk products by sea, by air, by express, by train and truck.
The shipping time is dependent on the destination and shipping method and you can have a rough idea by searching on shipping websites, like http://en.sofreight.com/
*Disclaimer: we’re by no means affiliated with the above mentioned third party websites and do not bear any responsibility or liability for using of this site.
- Large supplier base
- Buyer protection measures
- The supplier base may not be as big as that of Alibaba and may present fewer options for buyers.
194 reviews averaged 2.9 out of 5 on Trustpilot.
1688.com is a wholesale website owned by Alibaba group, targeting China domestic market only.
It’s a platform that’s more often used by China sourcing agents and not people outside of China.
And you can think of it as the Chinese version of Aliexpress.
If you speak Chinese, you can also source from 1688.com.
7-day no reason refund is reliable. You can refund within 7 days after receiving the goods for no reason and 1688 will refund the fund after the sellers confirms receipt of the returned goods.
Tips: not every supplier supports it and you have to check carefully if your supplier supports it or not.
1688 is a marketplace like aliexpress and it doesn’t sell products directly, and thus they can’t control quality sold by the sellers on the platform.
However, they have measures to verify suppliers, which helps guarantee product quality in a certain way.
You can also check product reviews (but reviews don’t mean everything and there can be fake reviews just like any platforms, including giant Amazon, Taobao etc.)
Suppliers on 1688.com vary from directories, trading companies, wholesalers.
MOQ on 1688 is low, usually 1 or 2 for most products.
But for customized products, suppliers will have a bigger MOQ, which varies depending on the products. This is something you’ll need to inquire the suppliers.
Prices on 1688 is good in general since some factories sell on here directly.
But you will often get confused about who is a better option since sellers may use the same product description and same or similar prices.
1688 has a built in chatting feature, known as “阿里旺旺” and you can talk with sellers through the app.
If a supplier displays their contact information on the contact page, you can also contact them directly using phone calls, wechat etc. But it’s not recommended. Because if there is a dispute, chat records from “阿里旺旺” is the only proof that 1688 accepts.
- Online payment via Alipay and debit cards (China Unionpay only. VISA is not supported)
1688 orders are shipped to China mainland only and the speed is usually 1-3 days to reach everywhere in China mainland.
Shipping companies include Cainiao (Alibaba’s logistics service), SF Express etc.
- Large supplier database
- Good prices
- Buyer protection is reliable
- For China domestic orders only.
- Quality varies a lot and chances of buying poor quality products are considerable (Unless you know how to verify the best suppliers)
Now, I’d like to hear from you
Have you used any of these websites before?
Or maybe you have some experiences to share with others.
Either way, please leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to hear from you.