If you are an online seller, you probably have heard of Alibaba.
Alibaba is short for Alibaba.com, a site built by Alibaba Group. As a bridge between global suppliers and buyers, Alibaba has generated more than 100 million monthly visits according to Semrush.
Alibaba is a directory of worldwide wholesalers and manufacturers. It hosts a wide range of products across different categories from apparel to home tools. These products are available with low prices. Most of them have requirements for minimum order quantity, which partially lowers the cost per unit.
Thanks to its product variety and affordability, many retailers outside of China import products from Alibaba. However, some customers are suspicious about whether Alibaba is legit and safe to use.
If you have the same doubts, keep reading! In this article, we will dive deep into the legitimacy of Alibaba.
What is Alibaba?
Alibaba is a leading B2B wholesale marketplace founded by Alibaba Group in China. Since its launch, Alibaba has evolved into an expansive hub connecting millions of buyers and sellers across the world.
Alibaba provides a variety of products that range from clothing to consumer electronics, hardware tools, and beyond. Most products on this platform are from wholesalers and manufacturers and at a low price. But they generally have MOQ requirements. This on the other hand further lowers the price per unit. If you buy in large quantities, some sellers may also offer you additional discounts.
Is Alibaba legit and safe to buy from?
Alibaba is owned by Alibaba Group, one of the largest eCommerce companies around the world. Launched in 1999, Alibaba has been in operation for more than decades, and it has gained prominence in eCommerce. So of course this platform is legit.
In terms of security, Alibaba itself has taken various measures to secure your data and payments.
Alibaba uses SSL encryption to secure the transmission of data between you and the platform. This encryption can protect your information such as login credentials and payment details. Additionally, this platform has transparent data privacy policies outlining how your data is collected, stored, and used. You can read these policies before placing an order from it.
Alibaba also launched a Trade Assurance program, which protects you in your whole purchase journey. If your order is not delivered, goes missing, or arrives with defects, you can ask for a refund within 30 or 60 days after delivery.
Safe payment methods
Alibaba accepts multiple safe payment methods like Afterpay, PayPal, and credit cards. Afterpay allows you to buy now and pay later. This means you can check the item before you spend money on it. If you want to make payments at checkout, PayPal and credit cards are good payment options. They give you payment protection and add one more layer of security to your transactions.
On-time Delivery Guarantee
Another reason why Alibaba is safe to buy from is that it has an On-time Delivery Guarantee. For a delayed order, you can get a coupon as compensation. You may apply this coupon next time you buy from Alibaba.
Positive customer reviews
When we consider whether Alibaba is safe, we should take others’ opinions for reference. For this, we checked Alibaba’s reviews from its customers. On Sitejabber, Alibaba has a rating of 4.57 stars from 13,791 reviews. At the same time, it gets a 4.4 score out of 5 from 22,724 buyers on Trustpilot. These numbers suggest that most customers are satisfied with their experience with Alibaba.
However, Alibaba serves only as an intermediary between you and suppliers. Suppliers from China and other regions sell on this site instead of Alibaba itself. You may still come across scams as you do on other marketplaces like Amazon. You need to do your diligence before making a deal with a supplier. Effective tips to avoid scams on Alibaba will be provided later.
Why is Alibaba so cheap?
Alibaba is well-known for e-sellers because of its low prices for a vast range of products. Here are several reasons to explain why Alibaba is so cheap.
Firstly, Alibaba connects you directly with manufacturers and wholesalers. No other middlemen are there to share profits with the suppliers. So they can set a low price and still earn a decent profit. Secondly, Alibaba caters to businesses and individuals who buy in bulk at one time. This lowers the cost per item. Another important reason is that the majority of products on Alibaba are produced in China. Compared to developed countries, labor and production costs are lower in China. It allows for more competitively priced goods.
8 types of potential scams on Alibaba
Though Alibaba is legit and safe to buy from, you can still run into scammers on this website.
Here are 8 types of potential scams on Alibaba. Identifying them is beneficial for you to stay safe when shopping.
1. Buy one thing and get another
Some unreliable sellers may use attractive but fake information to drive sales. For example, they can exaggerate the function or upload appealing but not related photos. When you get the item, you find it is not as described or showcased.
In some cases, you can even get a totally different item. For instance, you may receive an ugly hat when you order a piece of coat.
2. Your item never arrives
If you source from Alibaba, you probably get your products from China. The package can be easy to lose when shipped overseas. But sometimes, an undependable seller likely uploads a false tracking number and never sends you the item.
3. Alibaba Trade Assurance doesn’t work
Some customers complain that Alibaba Trade Assurance has never worked for them. Something went wrong with their orders, and they filed a dispute to get their money back. They said, however, Alibaba made an unfair judgment and refused their request.
4. No customer service for post-sale issues
Some buyers say that they got no response from customer service after they bought something from a seller.
Alibaba allows both businesses and individuals to sell on the platform. Some fraudulent sellers may sell their goods out and then leave here forever. This results in unsolved problems for a small number of customers.
5. High quality sample but poor quality order
This is a common scam on an eCommerce platform including Alibaba. Unreliable suppliers send you a high quality sample so that you can do business with them. But they send inferior products for subsequent orders.
6. Some sellers entice you to make deals privately
Another scam is the seller asks you to pay them outside of Alibaba. Typically, they provide you with several benefits that are hard to say NO to. If you make deals with them privately, you probably get ripped off.
7. The seller improves the price after the quotation
As you experience in a retail store sometimes, the supplier promises you a low price in the quotation. Then they improve it once you are prepared to place the order.
8. The item doesn’t comply with the regulations or laws of your country
On Alibaba reviews, some buyers claim that their items don’t conform to the regulations or laws of their country. As a result, these products are detained by customs and they face a loss. This might happen because the seller fails to provide the right product compliance certificates. Or these products are not allowed to be imported into your country.
How to avoid scams and buy from Alibaba safely?
You may come across scams on Alibaba as you do on another marketplace. However, if you practice these tried-and-tested tips, you can avoid any potential scams and buy from Alibaba safely.
1. Read the product description carefully
In this fast-paced world, it is tempting to buy something at the sight of its title. But this is not enough if you want to get exactly what you pay for.
Unreliable sellers often craft appealing titles to attract customers. Some important information can only be found in the description. In addition, a title can’t include more specific information such as the material, size, variation, and functionality. Only if you read the description carefully, you will have a full idea of what your product is.
2. Check the store reviews and product reviews
Store reviews and product reviews provide references for whether you should buy from a seller.
Store reviews are rated based on the supplier service, on-time shipment, and product quality. A 4.5 or above score typically indicates a trustworthy seller.
Product reviews are focused on a product in terms of its price, quality, function, and delivery time. By reading product reviews from previous buyers, you can get a better idea of what the product looks like and how it works.
3. Check the company profile
On the company profile, you can see the location, years of experience, main categories, and other important information about the seller. This will help you make a more informed decision.
You should also pay attention to some badges the supplier has, such as Verified, Trade Assurance, Gold Supplier, and Supplier Index. If you don’t understand what these badges mean, familiarize yourself with them now.
Verified: This badge suggests that the seller is verified by a third-party institution like SGS or Intertek. Usually, these institutions assess and verify the suppliers’ company profile, production capabilities, products, and process controls.
Trade Assurance: Trade Assurance is Alibaba’s protection program. It protects you along the whole journey from purchasing to shipping.
Gold Supplier: Gold Supplier is a paid membership on Alibaba.com. If a supplier registers the premium membership, this supplier must take the business seriously.
Supplier Index: This phrase refers to the supplier online performance index(SOPI). The performance of the supplier is evaluated according to presentation quality, product popularity, transaction volume, and service quality. The SOPI is classified into 6 levels. The higher your supplier’s level, the better.
4. Select a safe payment method
Alibaba supports various payment methods including major credit or debit cards, PayPal, Google Pay, Apple Pay, bank transfer, etc. The payment options may slightly vary by country or region. You can select a secure and widely used payment option. Generally, credit cards and PayPal are good options as they provide one more layer of protection to their users. When Alibaba fails to solve your dispute, you may take your money back by filing a dispute with your payment provider.
5. Understand the refund & return policy
Even if you are purchasing a seemingly good product, you still have a chance to return it for some reason.
Before making a purchase, familiarize yourself with the seller’s refund and return policy. Ensure you know the conditions under which you can return a product and get a refund, and how the process works.
If the seller tells you that they don’t accept returned items, you had better look somewhere else.
6. Stay updated on the shipping status
Where is your parcel? Is it late or lost? Staying up-to-date with the shipping status can help you find out the answer.
After your order is shipped, the seller will upload the tracking number for it. Use the tracking information to check the shipping status regularly. If there are any delays or issues, contact your supplier for a resolution immediately.
7. Ask the seller detailed questions
You will never know if a seller is really a good one until you talk with them. Reliable sellers are honest about their products, prices, and services. They make almost everything transparent for you. Meanwhile, they are easy to communicate. This can help avoid misunderstandings and save time for more essential aspects.
When you find the supplier is unable or unwilling to answer related questions, this supplier is probably not professional. Working with them can cause potential risks.
8. Buy a sample before placing a large order
Before placing a large order, you had better purchase a sample. This allows you to check the quality of the product and the reliability of the seller. Once the product or seller’s service doesn’t meet your expectations, you can look for a new supplier. Many sellers on Alibaba can send you free samples. So you assess the supplier by yourself at nearly no cost.
9. Use quality inspection service
Other than buying a sample, using a quality inspection service is another way to ensure product quality.
If you rely on Alibaba, you can choose Alibaba’s production monitoring service. Alibaba also teams up with other third-party institutes to provide product inspection. But they both charge a fee for their service, which can be costly for tight-budget businesses.
Alternatively, you can take advantage of some platforms like Sup Dropshipping for quality inspection. Before the shipment, we conduct product checks to ensure your item is in good condition. We tailor the inspection according to your requirements. It may cover the weight, size, color, performance, etc. For customers at Level 3 or higher, the product checks service is available for free.
Contact our customer service if you plan to work with us.
1. Is Alibaba a scam?
Alibaba is a legitimate company owned by Alibaba Group, one of the largest eCommerce companies in the world. Alibaba has been in operation for decades, connecting numerous buyers and sellers globally. It is safe to use in most cases.
However, there may be scams like on other online marketplaces. You should exercise caution and follow our tips to avoid potential scams.
2. What’s the difference between Alibaba and Aliexpress?
Alibaba and AliExpress are both subsidiaries of the Alibaba Group, but they have some key differences. Alibaba is a B2B platform for wholesale trade, connecting businesses for bulk purchases. Most products have MOQ limits and they are sold at a low manufacturing price.
AliExpress, on the other hand, is a B2C platform that caters to individual consumers, allowing them to buy products in smaller quantities. Products on this platform have no MOQ requirements, but the price is slightly higher.
3. Can anyone buy from Alibaba?
Though Alibaba caters to businesses, it also allows individuals to make purchases. The thing is that you may be charged a little higher per unit if you cannot meet the MOQ requirement.
4. How do I know if an Alibaba seller is legit?
A legitimate seller usually has these metrics,
- Have a 4.5 or higher store score
- Specialize in a category
- Have a decorated storefront
- With more than 3 years’ of experience in the industry
- Offer responsive customer service
- Sell 10 or more items
- Provide Trade Assurance
5. What if you were scammed on Alibaba?
Once you find you have been scammed, report the issue to Alibaba customer support immediately. If it involves money, ask for a refund in no time and contact your payment provider. Meantime, consider reporting the incident to the relevant authorities.
6. Can I use Alibaba for dropshipping?
While Alibaba is primarily a platform for bulk purchases, it is possible to find suppliers who are willing to dropship. However, dropshipping arrangements should be negotiated directly with suppliers. It’s crucial to communicate clearly, set expectations, and ensure that the selected suppliers are reliable and capable of meeting the requirements of a dropshipping model. Here is a guide on how to do Alibaba dropshipping.
Alibaba is a legit platform, and it is safe to use mostly. It has taken various precautions to protect you from scams.
However, Alibaba is only an intermediary connecting you with the supplier. Scams may still occur if you come across an unreliable seller who rips you off.
To stay safe, you should exercise caution and practice our tips. If you consider the alternative to Alibaba, you can work with Sup Dropshipping.
Sup Dropshipping provides all-in-one services from sourcing to shipping. Except for Alibaba, we are also experienced in finding competitive products from 1688 and other sites. 1688 is the sister company of Alibaba, but the price is more affordable as there are lower overhead costs.
Register here to explore more about us!
About the Author
May is a blogger at Sup Dropshipping with over 5 years of experience in eCommerce. May’s passion for eCommerce drives her to stay updated on the latest trends and share her expertise with you through her blog. In her spare time, she likes to read a novel or chat with friends.