What Is Alibaba?
Alibaba Group Holding Limited, also known as Alibaba, is a Chinese multinational technology company specializing in e-commerce, retail, Internet, and technology.
How To Buy From Alibaba In Uganda
What is Alibaba?
Alibaba is a massive online wholesale ecommerce platform based in China founded by Chinese businessman Jack Ma. It is essentially a directory of Chinese factories and trading companies in China.
Despite being a Chinese founded platform, Alibaba has suppliers from all over the world, but majority of them are located in China. In fact, their website and mobile app have a feature where you can filter suppliers by country.
The platform was designed for Business-to-Business (B2B) transactions, meaning it targets small and large businesses that buy goods in bulk for resell.
The sellers on Alibaba are manufacturers, wholesalers and suppliers with factories that specialize in manufacturing and selling products to resellers world over.
Alibaba is not meant for single unit buyers as it was designed for retailer or wholesalers who source products in large quantities for their businesses. Most sellers on Alibaba have set Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ) which must be met before you do business with them. Their MOQs are in tens, hundreds or even thousands.
Whereas some sellers set their MOQ to 1, it becomes too expensive to ship one item from China to Uganda. For example you can spot a nice shoe which costs UGX 150,000/- in Uganda going for only UGX 5,000/- on Alibaba. But if you are shipping just 1 pair here, it could cost you UGX 300,000/-, whereas if you were shipping 200 pairs, it could cost the same amount to ship. This is why Alibaba is not for single unit buyers or those who are looking buy few items for personal use.
However, the Alibaba Group have another ecommerce platform called AliExpress which is specifically designed for final consumers who are want to buy goods in small quantities for personal use. AliExpress offers a wide range of really cheap products, some of which ship to Uganda for free.
Also read; How To Shop On AliExpress From Uganda
Things you should know about sourcing products on Alibaba
- Alibaba is not used for single unit purchases. It is for bulk purchases.
- Alibaba is primarily used to source products from China.
- Alibaba is not your ordinary e-commerce website like Jumia
- Buy at own risk. Alibaba does not offer any buyer protection. If you receive defective goods or get scammed, expect no refund.
Why you should source goods from Alibaba
The most common reason Ugandan entrepreneurs want to source products from China, and in particular through China’s ecommerce platform Alibaba, is because they want to take advantage of the low manufacturing costs in China. The cost of manufacturing in China is way cheaper than it is in Uganda, Africa, Europe and other parts of the world.
Cheap products are great for small businesses that are looking to make a profit by selling them at competitive prices, however, that isn’t the only reason Alibaba is an attractive place to find goods. Below I list the reasons why you should source your goods through Alibaba:
- Alibaba has a huge number of suppliers you can choose.
- Extremely low priced products, giving you a high profit margin
- Alibaba is dominated by Chinese manufacturers who are great at designing products
- You can get any quantity of products you need. Chinese are masters ta mass production
- China’s production lines are more refined and organized than for Uganda or Europe.
- You can find and order for unique and rare goods.
- You can get goods customized specifically for you.
- The platform has great talents which can make anything even if you just give them an idea.
- Rumors of all Chinese products being poor quality are not true.
Does Alibaba ship to your house?
Alibaba will deliver to your door. Although Alibaba is a B2B website, the delivery depends on the courier you choose and the address you fill in. If you buy a product from a supplier in Alibaba, the supplier will deliver it to your home based on the address you filled in and express delivery.
What do I need to know before buying from Alibaba?
- Verify suppliers. Alibaba has its own verification program in place that includes several levels of verification.
- Ask questions and follow up. As you begin narrowing down suppliers, make sure to ask a lot of questions about their business and their products.
- Get samples.
- Be prepared to walk away.