Aspiring to start dropshipping? You need two elements – a trending product idea and a reliable source of supply. You may have done your homework, chalked out your business plan, and identified a product that’s just ripe for the market. The next step forward is to find the ideal supplier.

Living in a globalised society, connecting with manufacturers or wholesalers half a world away has never been easier. Yet, overseas sourcing can be a daunting venture for the uninitiated.

This guide is your compass, steering you safely through a global business directory that is Alibaba. Alibaba offers many categories, including hot, trending, and affordably priced consumer products. And in this guide, we’ll learn the ins and outs of Alibaba dropshipping, what it is, why you should consider it, and how to do dropshipping on Alibaba.


What is Alibaba Dropshipping?

Dropshipping is where you don’t keep the products it sells in stock. Instead, when your online store sells a product, it purchases the item from a third party – often a wholesaler or supplier – and has it shipped directly to the customer.

Alibaba takes this concept and amplifies it. Alibaba, known as the ‘Amazon of the East,’ is a massive online marketplace where you can source products directly from suppliers at very competitive prices. Now, combine that with dropshipping, which will be called Alibaba Dropshipping.

It’s all about the scale and the prices. While other platforms cater primarily to B2C markets, Alibaba primarily deals with B2B transactions. It means you’re dealing directly with manufacturers, wholesalers, or large-scale suppliers, skipping the middlemen and sourcing products at incredibly low prices.

To top it all off, with Alibaba’s dedicated dropshipping centre and partnerships with popular eCommerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce, managing your dropshipping website has never been easier. They’ve effectively streamlined the entire process, so your focus remains where it should be – scaling your business and satisfying your customers.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve got a lot more ground to cover. So, stick with us as we delve deeper into why you should even consider dropshipping on Alibaba.


Why Consider Dropshipping on Alibaba?

  • Alibaba operates on a B2B model, allowing you to purchase directly from manufacturers and factories, often resulting in lower prices than retail-focused platforms.
  • With nearly 2 million niche products across major categories, Alibaba provides a massive product pool for your online store.
  • Alibaba’s platform fosters direct communication with suppliers, encouraging transparency and clarity in your transactions.
  • Alibaba currently supports direct connections with major eCommerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce, making it easier to manage your online store.
  • Alibaba’s dropshipping centre offers a suite of free tools for product searching, order tracking, and shipment management, reducing your operational hassles.


How to Dropship on Alibaba? A Step-by-Step Guide


Creating a Free Buyer Account on Alibaba

Starting your Alibaba dropshipping business begins with a simple step: creating a free buyer account on Alibaba. To do this, go to the Alibaba homepage and click on the “Join Free” button.

This will prompt you to provide the necessary information, including your email address and a unique password. You’ll also be required to enter some basic personal or business information to complete the registration process. Once done, you’ll receive an email to confirm your account.

By clicking the verification link within the email, you’ll officially be registered on Alibaba, putting you one step closer to launching your dropshipping business.


Connecting Your Alibaba Account to Your Online Store

Having created your Alibaba account, the next step is to link this account to your online store. This connection is vital as it facilitates the smooth transfer of product details from Alibaba to your store.

To achieve this:

  1. Navigate to the Alibaba dropshipping centre and look for the option to add your store.
  2. Follow the prompts to input your store’s details and confirm the link.
  3. If you encounter any technical issues during this process, remember that Alibaba’s customer service team can offer assistance.


Starting Your Search for Suppliers

With your store connected, it’s time to begin finding dropshipping suppliers. First, use the search bar on Alibaba to look for the specific product you’re interested in selling. From the search results, apply filters like Trade Assurance, Ready to Ship, and Fast Dispatch to narrow down your options. These filter options help verify the supplier’s reliability and ability to meet your delivery requirements.


Checking the Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ) and Price

When identifying potential suppliers, scrutinize each product page for details such as the Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ) and the unit price. The MOQ is the smallest amount of a product a supplier is willing to sell per transaction. The unit price, on the other hand, is the cost per item, which typically decreases as the order quantity increases. Understanding these factors is crucial for pricing your products competitively and ensuring profitable operations.


Compiling a List of Potential Suppliers

After reviewing MOQs and prices, it’s essential to build a list of prospective suppliers. This list should consider their verification status, Trade Assurance participation, product pricing, MOQ, and overall customer reviews. Aim to compile a list of at least 5-10 suppliers as a starting point. Remember that not all suppliers will be a perfect fit, so it’s best to have several options.


Contacting Suppliers and Discussing Dropshipping

Once your list is ready, reach out to the suppliers via Alibaba’s built-in messaging service. It’s necessary to discuss key factors such as their MOQ, unit cost, estimated delivery times, and preferred payment terms. Be sure to ask for a sample of the product to verify its quality firsthand. When communicating with suppliers, especially those based in non-English speaking countries, clear and concise language is vital to avoid misunderstandings.


Agreeing on a Payment Method

Payment is a critical aspect of your supplier relationship. Alibaba provides various payment options, including bank transfers, Trade Assurance, credit and debit card payments, and PayPal. However, each method has its advantages and drawbacks. For instance, while PayPal offers speed and buyer protection, some suppliers may not prefer it due to high fees and the risk of chargebacks. Hence, it’s vital to agree on a mutually convenient and secure payment method.


Shortlisting Suppliers, Ordering Samples, and Selecting a Supplier

After discussions with suppliers and receipt of product samples, it’s time to shortlist your preferred suppliers. Take into consideration the quality of their products, their communication, MOQ, pricing, and estimated delivery times. Once you’ve decided on a supplier, confirm the dropshipping arrangement and establish an open line of communication for future orders.





Importing Products into Your Store for Selling

With a supplier selected, you can now import their products into your online store. To do this, go to the Alibaba dropshipping centre, find your supplier’s products, and add them to your import list. You can then customise product details, such as product descriptions and images, before importing them to your store. Proper product presentation can significantly influence your customer’s buying decisions.


Settling Orders and Fulfillment with Suppliers

Once a customer places an order, the information is automatically sent to Alibaba. From here, you can manage orders in the Alibaba dropshipping centre. Your role involves settling payments with the suppliers, who then fulfil the orders. Finally, they package the product and ship it directly to the customer.

Regularly monitoring and managing this process will ensure seamless and efficient fulfilment of orders.



Embarking on dropshipping with Alibaba is akin to navigating a road filled with immense potential and opportunities. Yes, it can seem a bit daunting at first, but with careful planning and the right guidance – like this guide, you just followed – it can become a fulfiling and profitable adventure.

Shopify dropshipping on Alibaba is not merely about transactions and profits; it’s about building relationships with your suppliers and, importantly, your customers. When you make decisions, such as which products to sell or how to respond to customer inquiries, it’s important to prioritise providing value and satisfaction to your customers.




Can you sell on Shopify from Alibaba?

Absolutely yes, you can sell products from Alibaba on your Shopify store, making it a popular strategy for many entrepreneurs. Here’s how you can do it:

  • First, you’ll need a Shopify store to list and sell products. If you don’t have one yet, you can create one through Shopify’s website.
  • You’ll also need a free buyer account on Alibaba, where you’ll find suppliers for the products you wish to sell.
  • Use Alibaba’s search tool to find products you’d like to sell and suppliers who offer them. Look for suppliers who have been verified and offer Trade Assurance for added security.
  • Check the supplier’s Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ) and pricing. Ensure that they align with your business model and allow for profit margins.
  • Get in touch with potential suppliers to discuss the possibility of dropshipping. Use Alibaba’s messaging service for this and ask about specifics such as shipping times, payment terms, and product customisation options.
  • Once you’ve chosen a supplier, agree on a payment method that suits both parties. Alibaba offers options like Alibaba Trade Assurance, PayPal, bank transfer, and credit/debit card payments.
  • After finalising a supplier, you can import their products to your Shopify store. Customise product details, such as the title, description, and pricing, before you publish them.
  • As customers place orders on your Shopify store, you’ll need to relay these orders to your supplier for fulfilment. Shopify simplifies this process with automatic order syncing.




Is it illegal to sell from Alibaba on Amazon?

No, it’s not illegal to sell products from Alibaba on Amazon. This is a common business model known as dropshipping on Amazon. There’s no legal restriction to this practice, and you don’t necessarily need an LLC to sell on Amazon FBA. However, you should ensure that you comply with all of Amazon’s seller policies and local and international trade regulations.


Can I sell products on Alibaba from India?

Yes, you can certainly sell products on Alibaba from India. Alibaba’s international B2B platform allows sellers worldwide, including India, to list their products and reach millions of serious buyers globally.


Does Alibaba charge to sell?

Yes, Alibaba does charge to sell on its platform. The standard seller plan costs $3,499 per year. This plan provides various benefits, including unlimited product postings and an initial keyword advertising budget of $500. This aims to facilitate greater visibility and reach for your products on the platform.


What items are banned on Alibaba?

Alibaba has specific policies that restrict the sale of certain items to maintain the legality, safety, and quality of transactions. Banned items include but are not limited to:

  • Abortion tools
  • Products related to animal or organ cloning
  • Products related to animal or human experiments
  • Products that may cause detrimental harm to the environment or society


Do I need an import license to buy from Alibaba in India?

No, you do not generally need an import license to buy from Alibaba in India. Alibaba is an online marketplace connecting suppliers and buyers, facilitating bulk purchases without requiring special credentials like an import license. However, while you may not need an import license to buy from Alibaba, it’s important to remember that certain categories of goods may still require an import license as per Indian customs regulations.


What is the cheapest way to pay Alibaba?

One of the most cost-effective methods to pay for purchases on Alibaba is using your debit or credit card. It’s an easy and swift method, with most transactions getting processed in roughly 1-2 hours. Alibaba accepts a wide range of cards, including Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.


What are the disadvantages of Alibaba?

  • Since most suppliers on Alibaba are based in Asia, particularly China, language and communication can often be challenging.
  • Alibaba deals with an extremely large number of suppliers, which can lead to variations in product quality.
  • Many suppliers on Alibaba are based overseas, which can lead to long shipping times and higher costs.
  • While Alibaba has systems in place to prevent fraud, there’s always a risk of encountering dishonest suppliers who fail to deliver on their promises.


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