How Alibaba works

How Alibaba works

Recently your friends spoke to you enthusiastically about Alibaba, a Chinese e-commerce site that allows you to buy products of various kinds wholesale. Driven by curiosity, you decided to try it too, but before proceeding you would like some advice about it. Well, I’m happy to inform you that you’ve come to the right place at the right time!

In the next paragraphs, in fact, I will explain how Alibaba works and I will guide you in creating your account on the site. Then I will show you how to buy the products made available by suppliers operating on this platform, what are the requirements to sell products in turn and how to use the official application of Alibaba for smartphones and tablets. In short, you will really discover everything there is to know!

Before going into the heart of this article, however, I would like to make a proper clarification: unlike AliExpress, another famous online retail sales site owned by Alibaba Group, the company that controls the website, Alibaba offers only the sale of wholesale products. This means that often you can not buy individual products, but only large quantities of the same item. Furthermore, purchases are not made at the touch of a button, but by making direct contact with the various suppliers. All clear? Well, then let’s put aside the chatter and go immediately to the action!


  • How Alibaba works -How to register with Alibaba


  • How Alibaba works – How to buy on Alibaba


  • How Alibaba works – How to sell on Alibaba


  • How Alibaba works – How Alibaba works on smartphones and tablets

How Alibaba works – How to register with Alibaba

How Alibaba works

As is the case with other e-commerce sites – Amazon and eBay, just to name two at random – even on Alibaba you can search for a product and browse through the multiple categories of the site without making any registration. For the purchase of products, however, it is essential to register for the service. Now I’ll explain how to do it.

First connect to the login page of Alibaba and click on the free entry that is placed under the orange “Register” button. Then fill in the form that you see on the screen, selecting your country / region from the appropriate drop-down menu, indicating if you are a supplier, a buyer or both and typing your name and surname, the name of your company, the phone number , your e-mail address and the password you wish to use to access the service.

Finally, enter the Captcha code in the appropriate box and, after viewing the Subscription Agreement, click on the orange Send button to forward your application to the Chinese e-commerce giant.

How Alibaba works

Within a few seconds, you will receive a welcome e-mail containing a confirmation link: click on the latter to confirm your e-mail address and make your first access to Alibaba.

Subsequently, every time you want to log in to your Alibaba account, go to the service access page, enter your e-mail address (or your member ID, which you can find after first signing in by clicking on the item My Alibaba> Account setup and the password you chose during registration and click on the orange Register button.

How Alibaba works – How to buy on Alibaba

How Alibaba works

After creating your Alibaba account, you can finally start buying products from suppliers operating on this very famous Chinese e-commerce site. Before explaining how to do this, however, I want to make some necessary clarifications.

As you will have noticed by reading the terms of use of the service, Alibaba assumes no responsibility for the occurrence of any problems or disputes between a buyer and a supplier. It is up to the user – in this case to you – to make sure that the supplier you are in contact with is trustworthy. To be on the safe side, you can rely on the so-called Gold Suppliers (or Gold Suppliers), ie those companies whose identity has been officially certified by Alibaba: you can easily recognize these suppliers by a gold medal next to their first name.

That said, let’s see how you can actually buy products on Alibaba. First, log in to your account by following the instructions that I have provided you with a few more paragraphs on and, when accessed, search for the product you want to buy by browsing through the many available categories (on the left), or typing a keyword in the search bar located at the top.

Then narrow down your search by checking the boxes that appear on the left, under one of the available boxes: Category, to select a specific product category; Product filters, to indicate the characteristics that should have the product you are looking for; Supplier filters, to select the geographic area from which to purchase, view the advertisements coming from the Gold Suppliers and so on.

As soon as you have identified a product that could be for you, click on its descriptive image to view its details: the minimum quantity to buy, the price, the product specifications, the payment methods accepted by the supplier (bank transfer, PayPal, AliPay, letter of credit, etc.) etc. and, if you are willing to close the purchase, click on the orange button. Contact the supplier.

On the page that opens, use the editor you see on the screen to get in touch with the supplier, formulate any questions or concerns about the purchase of the product and forward your purchase request (you can use up to a maximum of 16,000 characters ).

How Alibaba works

After writing the message to send to the supplier, check the box Recommend suitable suppliers, if this supplier does not contact me in the Message Center within 24 hours, in order to receive from Alibaba other related offers in which case you do not receive a reply within a day finally, click on the orange Send button to submit the request.

Now you do not have to do is wait for the response from the supplier to continue with the negotiations, come to an agreement with the same and possibly to proceed with the purchase of the product you are interested. I recommend you scrupulously follow the instructions given to you by the supplier and refer to the agreements made (especially regarding the quantity of goods ordered and the methods of payment accepted) to avoid problems or complaints from the latter.

In addition to the “classic” purchase of a product, on Alibaba it is also possible to perform an RFQ (Request for Quotation). What is it about? Basically, the buyer publishes a request in which he indicates the type of product he is interested in, the quantity, the price he is willing to pay to the supplier; consequently it evaluates the various proposals made by the suppliers and decides with which to conclude the deal.

If you decide to formulate an RFQ, click on the item Get Estimates (from the home page of Alibaba) and, in the drop-down menu that appears, click again on the Get Quotes button. In the Web page that opens, fill out the form that you see on the screen (indicating in the appropriate fields the name of the product, the required quantity, etc.) and, as soon as you have filled out the form in its entirety, click on the Get Estimates button! If there are any suppliers interested in your ad, you will be contacted promptly and you can make your request to them.

How Alibaba works – How to sell on Alibaba

How Alibaba works

Do you have a legally registered business and would like to expand your business by opening a shop on Alibaba? Well, if you want to sell on Alibaba you not only need to create an account on the Chinese marketplace website, but you must also authenticate it by following the instructions provided to you during registration.

Alibaba, in order to protect its users, requires that the sellers reveal in a precise and detailed manner a whole series of information regarding their business (company name, address of registered office, type of activity carried out, share capital, etc.) , thanks to which the user can ascertain the identity of the latter and its reliability. Therefore, if you have an activity and want to open a seller account on Alibaba, be very careful in indicating all the information requested to avoid problems in the verification process of your account (you can do this using, for example, a company e-mail).

As soon as your account is verified by Alibaba, you can finally start selling your products on the Chinese marketplace by entering them in one of the many available categories, completing in detail the tabs related to your products, accompanying them with descriptive images and indicating the payment methods that you accept. Naturally, all products that you decide to sell must comply with the Product Publication Policy and the terms of use of the service. Understand?

Anyone with a legally registered activity on Alibaba can open their own free “seller” account. However, I remind you that users classified as Gold Suppliers can benefit from greater visibility within the marketplace. To be approved as a Gold Supplier, however, not only must you have a verified account, but you must also pay an annual contribution to Alibaba, the cost of which may amount to some thousands of euros.

How Alibaba works on smartphones and tablets

How Alibaba works

Would you like to use Alibaba on your mobile device? In this case, all you need to do to use the service on your smartphone or tablet is to download the official Alibaba application available on both Android and iOS.

When the download is complete, start the app and, to log in to your account, presses on the item My Alibaba (bottom right). Then tap the Subscribe or Register button, enter your login credentials in the appropriate fields and tap the Subscribe button to log in. If, on the other hand, you want to create a new account, tap on the Register for Free link and fill out the form that appears on the screen (the procedure is similar to the one I described in the paragraph where I explain in detail how to register with Alibaba).

To navigate within the marketplace, tap on the item Home (bottom left), presses the item All categories and, in the screen that appears, select one of the available categories, or type the name of the product you wish to purchase directly in the search bar located at the top.

As soon as you have identified a product that interests you, press on its description to view its details and use one of the buttons located below to contact the supplier: Chat now, to send a message to the supplier; Send a request, to start the purchase negotiations with the latter or to send the order to order the product.

Whenever a supplier will respond to your requests, you will receive a notification that you can check by tapping on the Messenger item (below). To manage all your orders, however, go back to the My Alibaba section and, in the screen that appears, tap the Manage Order item. Easy, right?

How Alibaba works