AliExpress.com is likely one of the most well-known online marketplaces for getting wholesale goods at direct-to-consumer prices from Chinese manufacturers. It has products for cheap, which can be made even less expensive through the use of general or merchant-specific coupons. Plus, AliExpress has buyer protection guarantees that can help you out if things don’t go quite right with your order.
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Still, orders can be expensive when you factor in that they have to be shipped from China (especially if you choose expedited shipping options), and might also take a while to get to you. Speaking of that, you can’t be a seller on AliExpress unless you live in mainland China.
So what if you want to explore some other options? Well, you’re in luck! There are plenty of other cheap online stores, some of which do Chinese-manufactured wholesale similar to what AliExpress does, and others that are easy on your wallet for other reasons. We’ve rounded them up and broken them down for you.
What is covered in this article:
- 13 sites like AliExpress for discount shopping online
- AliExpress alternatives comparison table: what and how they sell, best features, weaknesses, and more
- Precautions to take when dealing with wholesalers online
- What PayPal is, why it’s used, and shops like AliExpress that accept it
- Other resources for online discount and wholesale shopping
Get ready, get set, save!
13 sites like AliExpress for discount shopping online
A well-known e-commerce titan, eBay.com is an AliExpress alternative that trades higher prices for quicker and more convenient service. What sets it apart is that, in addition to buying items directly, you can also bid for them in auctions or submit price offers to sellers. If you’re skillful (and a bit lucky), you can get stuff at lower prices that way.
It may not be based in China, and its sellers may not (all) be wholesale retailers, but Amazon.com is one of the websites like AliExpress, and a juggernaut of e-commerce – with good reason. High-quality products (some of which are unique to Amazon), a reputation for great customer service, and a premier club (a.k.a. Amazon Prime) with a whole host of goodies that include free media libraries! It’s a bit of a pricier option, though.
Overstock.com began in Utah, in 1999 as a seller of liquidation-priced goods from e-commerce websites that collapsed in the “dot-com bust” of the late 1990s and early 2000s. It still sells some of those products today, but its offerings have expanded to include new items, as well. One of its signature features is its “Worldstock” line, which gives the majority of the profits made from selling unique handicrafts from around the world back to the local artisans who made them.
Bonanza.com is a unique online marketplace that contains over 20 million items from over 50,000 entrepreneurial sellers. It’s great for finding handcrafted stuff and rarities that are hard to find elsewhere (hence the slogan “everything but the ordinary”). With a powerful but easy-to-use shopping interface and low service fees, Bonanza is a very popular online marketplace whether you’re looking to buy or sell. Some people like it even more than perennial e-commerce powerhouses like Amazon, eBay, or Etsy!
Another Chinese online store, LightInTheBox.com has over 1 million items for sale, ranging from clothing to small electronics to furniture to sports equipment and more. Its items are mainly spread out across its main website and its companion website, MiniInTheBox. Similar to AliExpress, it ships to over 200 countries and regions, accepts most major forms of payment, and uses major international couriers like UPS and FedEx.
As we noted above, MiniInTheBox.com is an offshoot of the China online shop LightInTheBox. As its name implies, MiniInTheBox deals more with small-sized electronic items, such as computer accessories, cell phone accessories, other electronic accessories, jewelry, and lighting. Its services are similar to those of LightInTheBox, with factory-direct prices, fast shipping with local warehouses in Europe and North America, and a 30-day money-back guarantee on most items.
Similar to MiniInTheBox, DealExtreme features direct-to-consumer prices on all kinds of Chinese-manufactured electronics (though it does have clothing, toys, and accessories, too). It ships most of its items anywhere on Earth with no shipping charges if your order is over $20. It also has a community forum where you can view full product reviews and get help with any questions or problems you may have. However, it has a considerably smaller inventory, with only about 400 suppliers and 300,000 total items.
Dedicated to giving you “the best bang for your buck” when it comes to ordering stuff online, BangGood.com offers competitive prices and low shipping fees on Chinese-manufactured goods from all shapes and sizes. Unlike some other direct-from-China retailers, there is never a minimum quantity required for anything that you order on BangGood. It also features several secure payment options, including PayPal. Like DealExtreme, though, it’s a somewhat small outlet, with only about 150,000 product listings.
Another Chinese website getting in on the direct-to-consumer market, GeekBuying.com is rather small, offering only about 10,000 different types of items. It specializes in electronics and associated accessories, but also features jewelry, home furnishings, and sports equipment. Many of its products can be shipped for free if they come from a nearby regional warehouse and/or weigh less than 2 kg, though shipping times can be a bit long (and the costs expensive) if you’re not near one of these warehouses in the U.S., Europe, Hong Kong, or mainland China. And it also has pretty good customer service.
The “top” part of TomTop.com is certainly well-earned; this Chinese wholesale supplier is one of the best-reviewed AliExpress alternatives on this list. Even the Alibaba Group, the parent company of AliExpress, recommends them. They have plenty of promotions to save you money, and they have a reputation for delivering orders exactly how they’re supposed to be. The one common complaint is the slow shipping times.
DHGate.com is named after the city of Dunhuang in China, which was a key stop on the legendary “Silk Road” trade route between China and nearby territories. DHGate continues that spirit by offering wholesale prices on over 30 million products from over 1.2 million sellers worldwide. Do note, however, that some things that you buy from DHGate have to be bought in bulk; you can’t buy just one of them.
Now owned by retail giant Walmart, Jet.com allows you to order items online from its distribution centers or from popular big-box stores. All orders over $35 get free shipping, as do all returns. However, there are a bunch of tricks that you can use to hammer down the prices of your orders on Jet. These include buying multiples of the same item, buying items that all ship from the same place, waiving your ability to return an item, and using a payment method that’s cheaper to process (such as a debit card instead of a credit card). So, with Jet.com, which will you choose: price or convenience?
UPDATE: As of June 4, 2020, Jet.com is no longer operational.
DinoDirect.com is another direct-to-consumer marketplace for people wanting to buy goods at wholesale prices from small and medium-sized retailers in China. Its major claim to fame is its commitment to keeping shipping costs low, which is a common pitfall of ordering items all the way from China. Over 300,000 items on DinoDirect can be shipped almost anywhere in the world with no shipping charges.
AliExpress alternatives comparison table: what and how they sell, best features, weaknesses, and more
|Website||Best feature||Biggest weakness||Can you sell on it?||What / how it sells|
|Supplier-specific coupons save you even more||Shipping is slow and expensive||No, unless you live in mainland China||Wholesale general products from Chinese manufacturers|
|Auctions or best offers can get you lower prices||Difficult to cancel or return orders||Yes||Peer-to-peer sale, auction, and price offers of general products|
|Ability to trade in items for store credit||Prices are somewhat expensive||Yes||Direct-to-consumer and peer-to-peer sale of general products|
|Customer-friendly shipping and return policies||Can't sell your own stuff||No||Direct-to-consumer new & liquidation items, as well as international handicrafts|
|Sells rare and unique items||Item selection and seller pool are somewhat small||Yes||Direct-to-consumer used and unique general goods from entrepreneurs|
|Reliable shipping services||Shipping is slow and expensive||No, unless you have a business license||Wholesale general products from manufacturers, mostly from China|
|30-day warranty on all items||Smaller, more specific inventory than its parent||No, unless you have a business license||Wholesale goods from manufacturers, mostly from China; specializes in electronics|
|Can often get free shipping||Few sellers with small, specialized inventories||No||Wholesale goods from manufacturers in China; specializes in electronics|
|No minimum order requirement||Small product inventory||No||Wholesale general products from manufacturers in China|
|All items come with a 1-year repair warranty||Specific, limited inventory||No||Wholesale goods from manufacturers in China; specializes in electronics|
|Runs many promotions||Slow shipping speeds||No||Wholesale general products from Chinese manufacturers|
|Huge inventory +with millions of suppliers worldwide||Some items have to be bought in bulk||Yes||Wholesale general products from manufacturers, mostly from China|
|Offers several trade-offs to reduce item costs||Only available in the U.S.||Yes, but you have to apply and be accepted||General products both direct-to-consumer and from trusted retailers|
|Low shipping costs||Not all items have free shipping||Yes||Wholesale general products from manufacturers, mostly from China|
Precautions to take when dealing with wholesalers online
While shopping online can be convenient and inexpensive, it’s not without its pitfalls. And rightly or wrongly, wholesalers – especially in the China wholesale scene – don’t have a great reputation when it comes to issues of fraud and counterfeiting. So while we’re not saying you shouldn’t buy from them at all, it’s good to be a little more cautious and scrutinizing than normal when you’re thinking about making a purchase from one. Here are a few tips.
1. Beware of prices that seem too good to be true.
Even if you think you’ve found a bargain on something, shop around and see what other websites are charging for similar items. If the site you’re buying from is selling for 30%-50%+ cheaper than its competitors, that’s a major red flag that the item is counterfeit or the whole deal is a scam.
Also be aware that “hidden” fees – like shipping charges and export/customs taxes – can drive up the price of items. So even if an item looks cheap, be sure to check the website’s shipping policies to make sure that the bill for getting your order to you isn’t going to make what you bought just as expensive as if you got it at home.
2. Be extra careful with certain types and brands of merchandise.
There are certain classes of items that are particularly popular bait for fraud on wholesale websites. Electronics are a big one, especially movie/TV show discs, video games, and computer memory storage devices. Also watch out for popular brands such as Apple, Samsung, Adidas (especially their shoes), Disney, and even some major Chinese brands like Huawei. The companies that own them usually control the prices of their products internationally, so even if their branded come directly from Chinese manufacturers, their prices shouldn’t be much lower (if at all).
While not all of these types of products sold on China online shopping sites are rip-offs, you should still be very vigilant when attempting to buy one. They’re usually expensive purchases (even if individual units are cheap but you buy them in bulk), and seeing as they’re coming all the way from China, it’s that much more of a hassle to make a return if something isn’t right.
3. Deal only with suppliers you trust, even if that means doing extra research.
Most websites will have seller feedback systems, including things like a ratings scale and order reviews. Those are helpful, but also check for things like if a seller has had a paid account (and how long they’ve had it). You can often also contact a seller directly and ask any questions you need to.
If you’re still not sure, look at the prices and reviews of other items in the seller’s shop. You can even look a seller up using a common search engine and see if they’re everything they claim to be. Do whatever you need to in order to feel confident buying from a particular seller, because it’s often much easier work than having to fix a problem later that was caused by an uninformed choice.
4. Use safeguards and discretion when paying to avoid fraud.
Never pay a seller outside of the website where they’re advertising their products, and never use an unsecure payment method like a money order, bank transfer, or check. In addition, never give an ecommerce seller personal information (and that includes filling it in on a third-party website they direct you to), and never confirm delivery of an item before you’ve received it and checked it over for quality.
In addition, always pay for anything you buy on any ecommerce website – especially those that do wholesale – through the website’s internal checkout system. Also be sure to use a secure payment method, like credit card or PayPal. This all gives you extra layers of protection for your money and your identity, so you can avoid mishaps or at least deal with them more easily if they come up.
What PayPal is, why it’s used, and shops like AliExpress that accept it
We’ve mentioned that PayPal is a secure payment method that you can use to protect your money and personal information when shopping online. But what is it exactly, how does it work, and why should you use it? We have a detailed introduction to it here, but for the purpose of using ecommerce portals such as AliExpress, here’s a quick rundown.
PayPal is an online money management system that you can link to your credit card, bank account, or both. Then, you can use it to make payments online, deposit or withdraw money from a secure online pool, transfer money to other PayPal users, and more.
So why use it on sites similar to AliExpress? Well, there are two major reasons:
- It takes care of all the upfront authorization of your online payments for you.
You only have to put your credit card or bank account details into PayPal when you link those sources of money to your account. Then on websites that accept PayPal, you don’t have to input any other financial information; just select PayPal as your payment method, log into your account, and you’re done! This protects you from having to repeatedly give out your personal financial information on every website that you want to shop on – and stores the information on one secure server instead of across many.
- It acts as an extra intermediary in case a problem happens with your payment.
Instead of just relying on your bank or credit card company to fix a transaction that goes bad, you’ve got PayPal on your side as a first line of defense to help you out.
So, if you’re looking for that extra peace of mind, here are the alternatives to AliExpress that accept PayPal as a form of payment:
Other resources for online discount and wholesale shopping
Take your online discount shopping experience further with some advanced tips on staying safe by spotting fraudulent seller activity before you get caught by it. We also have some suggestions on other places to get cheap clothing, as well as how to shop for cheap while on the go.
- Online Shopping Safety Tips – Some general precautions to keep in mind when shopping online, no matter where you’re getting your products from.
- How to Avoid Being Scammed on eBay – If fraud can happen on an ecommerce giant like eBay, it can happen on pretty much any ecommerce site. Here are some tips straight from the source on how to avoid them.
- The Best Online Shopping Sites for Discount Women’s Clothing – Our suggestions for getting new threads for the lady in your life (which may be yourself) without breaking the bank.
- The Master List of Best Shopping Apps – Get your bargains on the go! We’ll review the top ways to shop on your mobile device.