What is Alibaba? How does this website work?

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A lot of entrepreneurs look for suppliers on trade portals, that is why we decided to describe the Alibaba website. In the following article, we will answer the question ‘What is Alibaba?’, and we will briefly explain how this platform works. Many people probably know the answers, some of them even use or used this website, but there are still many importers who don’t know anything about it. The following article is mainly aimed at such individuals.

What is Alibaba?

Alibaba.com is a trade portal, a B2B platform, where the big number of companies from all over the world are registered. The website allows importers to find a supplier of the desired goods. Alibaba.com is owned by Alibaba Group Holding Limited. It was set up on 4 April 1999, and the Alibaba.com domain was registered on 15 April 1999. It immediately gained in popularity among entrepreneurs all over the world. It is currently the biggest B2B platform in the world. According to data provided by Alexa, that created a list of the most popular websites, it was ranked 175 (the data was last updated on May 2, 2018). The list concerns all websites available on the Internet. Among trade portals, the following websites were ranked higher than Alibaba.com:

  1. Taobao.
  2. Amazon.
  3. Tmall.
  4. eBay.
  5. AliExpress.

It is worth to pay attention to the fact that portals which were ranked higher than Alibaba.com aim their offer at the individual clients, not at the business ones, as Alibaba.com does. Amazon and eBay are the international websites (both buyers and sellers come from different countries in the world). The other 3 websites (Taobao, Tmall, and AliExpress) are also owned by Alibaba Group Holding. Taobao and Tmall are aimed at Chinese customers, because they are in Chinese. By creating these 3 portals, Alibaba Group Holding Limited, wanted to diversify its offer in order to make it look in the following way: Alibaba – importers from all over the world who are looking for suppliers from all over the world (mostly from China, because most of the companies registered on that website come from this country); AliExpress – individual clients from all over the world who are looking for Chinese products; Taobao and Tmall – individual clients from China who want to buy products not only from the Chinese suppliers, but also from some well-known companies which can sell their goods on such portals.

The conclusion that Alibaba is the biggest B2B platform is totally correct then.

We have already answered the question ‘What is Alibaba?’. Now we are going to write how the website works and how to use it.

How does the Alibaba portal work?

When we enter the home page, we encounter a web search. We can search for the particular product we are interested in, then the available suppliers of the product are displayed. We can also search for the profile of the particular supplier, if we know the company name, in order to get some information about it.

Searching products on the Alibaba home page

Alibaba.com provides us with a lot of options of selecting the suppliers. There are i.a.:

  • specifying the detailed specification of the product,
  • specifying the MOQ ( Minimum Order Quantity),
  • specifying the market the suppliers sell their products to,
  • specifying the country where the supplier comes from,
  • specifying if we are looking for a verified supplier,
  • specifying the annual financial turnover,
  • specifying what certificates we want the company to have.
Selecting of the best supplier on the Alibaba portal

After choosing the criteria, the suppliers are displayed. By entering the supplier’s profile, we can become acquainted with the catalogue of products which are offered by the supplier, as well as with the information that is on the website. What is important, as a matter of user’s convenience, Alibaba.com gives a possibility to review the profiles of suppliers without a necessity of signing up. It is necessary only when we want to chat with the supplier. The process of signing up takes only a minute and it is not complicated.

Verification information about the supplier on the Alibaba website

If we don’t feel like checking all suppliers one by one in order to find the product we are looking for, we can publish a post that informs what we are looking for. After a very short time, some potential contractors will respond to our inquiry. In order to use this option, it is needed to sign up.

When we have found the supplier, and we want to finalise our transaction, we should contact the supplier to set the payment conditions, delivery option etc.


In the above article you have found the answer to the question ‘What is Alibaba platform?’ and how Alibaba works. The next article will also concern this website – we are going to check if its users were satisfied with the suppliers they had found thanks to this website, as well as explain how to avoid frauds.

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About ChinaSafeImport Blog
Our blog contains articles about trade with China. Publications available on this blog allow you to find very important information and practical tips about import from China. We add new articles every Wednesday.

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