The Expert’s Guide To Online Shopping In Uganda

The Expert’s Guide To Online Shopping 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.

Things you should know about sourcing products on Alibaba

  1. Alibaba is not used for single unit purchases. It is for bulk purchases.
  2. Alibaba is primarily used to source products from China.
  3. Alibaba is not your ordinary e-commerce website like Jumia
  4. Buy at own risk. Alibaba does not offer any buyer protection. If you receive defective goods or get scammed, expect no refund.

Do you pay taxes when you buy from Alibaba?

While you won’t have to pay sales tax when you purchase items from Alibaba, you will have to pay import duties by Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) since you’ll be importing products from another country.

All goods imported into Uganda attract customs taxes except for goods imported for personal use and whose value is below $50. Any goods imported into the country whose value is more than $50 (about UGX 180,000/-) are taxable.

The taxes range between 24-65% depending on the type of goods being imported. The basic customs duty is 24% on most products. But before you order anything on Alibaba, make sure you first get tax information for that particular product from URA website or any URA office near you.

So, what is the actual Cost of shipping from Alibaba to Uganda?

Alibaba is located in China and most of its suppliers are Chinese. So under this section, I will be discussing the cost of shipping from China to Uganda.

The cost of shipping goods from China to Uganda depends on several factors. Some of these factors are predictable while others are not. Below are some of the factors affecting shipping cost from China to Uganda.

  • Distance between Uganda and China. Too long thus costly.
  • Uganda’s landlockedness – goods can’t enter directly.
  • Delivery times. Low cost for long times and high cost for shorter times.
  • Price fluctuation of fuel. When fuel prices rise, shipping costs too go up.
  • Trading currency. Most sellers trade in dollars which is way stronger than Uganda shilling
  • Season of shipping. Busy seasons cost more.
  • Terminal fees

Does Alibaba have free shipping?

When you hear the term free shipping, keep it mind that it doesn’t exactly mean that.

There are a handful of Alibaba suppliers that have indicated free shipping on some of their products but it is not free in anyway because shipping costs are hidden in the final product cost.

Actually, in reality, there’s nothing like free shipping. The free shipping thing is done by some suppliers though it is not a recognized trait of Alibaba.

So, literary, we can say some Alibaba suppliers do offer free shipping but it is not something you can count in your favor as they secretly charge you for it.