Global Sources VS Alibaba

Are you stuck between choosing Alibaba or Global Sources for your wholesale needs?

Did you know that which one is the best for your business?

The first problem for people who want to procure wholesale online is which website to select. All of them seem to have the same function and work. Sadly, it is not as easy as it looks. Different B2B and B2C platforms cater to different needs.

The biggest difference between Alibaba and Global Sources is the types of products available. Alibaba is a B2B platform that has any product you can think of.

Global Sources mostly has electronics, gifts, mobile accessories, fashion. In short, the choice is limited.

In this blog, we will talk about more differences and similarities between Alibaba and Global Sources. The purchase process will also be talked about to make things easier for you.

Table of Content

Chapter 1: Alibaba VS Global Sources – Similarities and Differences Between Them

Chapter 2: Steps Involved in Buying From Alibaba and Global Sources

Chapter 3: How to Decide Which One Platform to Select?

Chapter 4: FAQs About Alibaba VS Global Sources

Chapter 1: Alibaba VS Global Sources – Similarities and Differences Between Them

1. What is Alibaba? What is Global Sources?

a. Alibaba

Alibaba was established in 1999 as an online e-commerce company by Jack Ma. It quickly climbed ranks and was soon declared China’s biggest online e-commerce company around 2014.

Every exporter, importer and businessman knows the name of “Alibaba”. It is a B2B marketplace and sells almost all the products you can think about. The product categories include electronics, gardening, household, kitchen and so on.

What is Alibaba

b. Global Sources

Many people are not aware of this but Global Sources has been in the market much longer than Alibaba. It has been in the market for almost 47 years now.

It was established in 1970 by Joseph Bendy and Merle Hinrichs as a print catalog. Trading companies and factories used to avail of its services.

It was in 2003 that the current directory format was launched. It is also a B2B platform but does not offer many products. It specializes in electronics, fashion, mobile accessories, etc. The product range is much smaller than what Alibaba offers.

What is Global Sources

2. Similarities between Alibaba VS Global Sources

Even though it seems like Alibaba VS Global Sources are the same, this is not the case. This misconception arises because of the multiple similarities between the two platforms. The major ones are mentioned below:

  • They are both B2B platforms that sell products in bulk. This means that you can’t log in and order 1 or 2 pieces of a good. You have to meet the Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ).
  • They are both your one-stop product sourcing platform. Starting from searching for a product, shortlisting suppliers, negotiating etc, everything can be done here.
  • They don’t directly sell products. They are a platform where different suppliers come and sell their products.
  • They are both online e-commerce platforms that were established in China.

3. Differences between Alibaba VS Global Sources


Global Sources

Goods Wide Variety Limited to electronics, fashion, mobile accessories etc
Suppliers 1 million 150,000
Supplier Regulation Deregulated Strict Regulations
Quality Mixed Good
Well-known Yes No
Mobile App Yes Yes
Product Categories More than 40 More than 20
Payment Mode Bank Transfer, Credit Card, Alipay, Letter of Credit, Western Union,  Webmoney, Qiwi, Boleto Letter of Credit, Bank Transfer, Cash, Western Union

Chapter 2: Steps Involved in Buying From Alibaba and Global Sources

Buying from Alibaba and Global Sources is almost the same. Both platforms have a user-friendly interface. Even if you are not familiar with the websites and are visiting for the first time, you can easily order products in no time.

Steps Involved in Buying From Alibaba and Global Sources

There are a few details that differ between the two platforms. Apart from that, most of the steps are the same.

1. Detailed Buying Process on Global Sources

  • Register your Account

Register your Account

The first step is to register your account. Even though you can search for products without registering, it is not going to be of much use if you are thinking of buying. So, the wisest step is to register your account first.

When you click on register, you will get two options. If you are a buyer, select buyer and register as one. For suppliers, they will choose the supplier and the registration process will be different and complex.

Detailed Buying Process on Global Sources

After clicking on suppliers, you will come across a form. Fill in the form and select the product alert categories.

This will allow you to turn on alerts for the products you are interested in. Once you have done, click on confirmation and confirm your account registration process.

  • Find suppliers online

Once your account is registered, the process is really simple here. You can also go on specific categories of your interest. Choose the product and you will have a list of suppliers providing that particular product.

Here, you can choose different suppliers based on your needs. Contact multiple suppliers and shortlist them, you will be allowed to choose an alternative if something does not work out with the supplier of your choice.

There are many ways in which you can find suppliers online as shown below.

  • Use Different Buyer Tools

Global Sources is user-friendly because it offers different buying tools. Through these, buyers can be guided better and have better buying options.

These tools have been formulated to help buyers navigate the products of interest easily, accurately and swiftly. Following are the buyer tools that Global Sources offers.

  • Sourcing News and Advice

sourcing news

The sourcing news and advice section has detailed information about what is new in the online marketplace. It has news and publications about the leading suppliers. Checking this allows you to know the latest trends and so on in the marketplace.

  • E-magazines

There are many electronic sourcing magazines available on Global Sources. There are different categories to choose from. Then they will talk in detail about what each issue has and what benefits you can get by registering with them.

  • Global Source apps

Several applications are present to make the buyer experience excellent. These apps are available for download on iOS and android systems both.

By downloading these mobile apps you can carry out searches and even contact suppliers in a matter of seconds.

Global Source apps

Even transactions can be held safely and securely on these applications. The entire buying process can be conducted through these apps.

  • Import/export services

Different services like credit card checks and insurance checks are provided to both the importer and exporter. Apart from this, Global Sources also offers inspection services.

If the buyer wants to be 100% sure that they are getting reliable goods, they can always ask Global Sources to verify the products before dispatch.

Import export services

Logistics is also provided by Global Sources if a buyer wants to avail it. Services like listing optimization and PPC campaigns are excellent tools provided to the suppliers.

  • RFQ

Request for Quotation allows you to ask suppliers how much they are going to charge you. It is a form that needs to be filled by the buyer. The form contains details of the order.

You need to fill out an estimate of how much goods you require, when do you require them, etc. To make the estimate accurate, you should include as much information as you can.


  • Place an order

Once you have selected the supplier based on the quotation and reputation, all you need to do is place an order. Price negotiation is also possible.

After finalizing things, you pay for the order and the order is confirmed. There are many options in which you can pay for the products. Select the option that is most convenient for you and the supplier.

2. Detailed Buying Process on

  • Register an Account

Just like Global Sources (or any other online e-commerce platform), the first step is to register your account. Again, you don’t need an account to surf the website or look for suppliers and products. You need one to make a purchase.

You will never be charged for any fees when you are registering, but you will fill out a detailed form which includes all your company details. It makes you seem like a credible buyer in front of the suppliers.

Detailed Buying Process on Alibaba

  • Search for products through categories or keywords

Searching on Alibaba is a tad simpler than searching for products on Global Sources. All you need to do is type the name of the product or manufacturer you want. Or, you can click and surf through different categories and reach the product you want.

  • Send an RFQ (Request for Quotation)

Once you have shortlisted a few suppliers, go ahead and send them a request for quotation. The request is accompanied by detailed information about what product you want, what quantity you want and when do you want it.

This information allows the supplier to know your demands and present a price that they think is relevant. If you are happy with the quotation, you can go ahead and negotiate further.

Register an Account

  • Contact multiple suppliers

As mentioned earlier, it is wise to contact a few suppliers. Even if you think you have selected the supplier you want, go for multiple suppliers. This will save you a lot of time in case the supplier of your choice does not work out.

Also, this allows you to compare the prices of different suppliers. If a supplier is giving you the same quality products for a lesser price, what’s wrong with it? You might be able to grab a good deal.

  • Place your order

Lastly, when you are done with choosing and comparing suppliers pick one. Don’t just place your decision on the price tag. Look for other things like the delivery times, reviews of other buyers, etc to be sure of the entire package.

Chapter 3: How to Decide Which One Platform to Select?

How to Decide Which One Platform to Select

Choosing between the two platforms is not an easy choice. There are many similarities. In this situation, there are a few things you can keep an eye out for.

1. Check their Product Availability

The discussions of Alibaba vs Global Sources will not be applicable if the product of your choice is not available on one platform.

For example, if you want to order a gardening hose for your gardening and outdoor business, you will first check both websites. This will ensure that the product is available on both.

If a garden hose is not available on Global Sources, you should go for Alibaba and the search will end. In case it is available on both websites, you will proceed to see which site has more reliable suppliers of your desired product.

This issue of product availability is seen in Global Sources. Alibaba has all the products you can think of.

2. Select according to their reputation

Select according to their reputation

Next, check the reputation of both websites. Even though Alibaba is more well-known and famous, it has had a negative experience. The U.S Trade Representatives blacklisted it for many years.

The reason was that Alibaba was selling counterfeit goods on the website.

The pirated goods being sold on Alibaba led it to an almost 5-year blacklist. In 2016, it was removed from the blacklist. This was tarnish on their reputation. Now, there is no such issue and Alibaba enjoys an excellent reputation.

On the other hand, as far as reputation is concerned, Global Sources has never had any trouble. So, if you want to be 100% sure and not gamble, you can go for Global Sources.

Alibaba has never had this problem again and has spent a lot of money on quality assurance. This ensures such problems don’t happen again.

3. Ask for a sample to check the quality of goods

Always ask for samples before you make the final purchase. Suppliers on either platform who don’t offer you samples might be fake and unreliable.

The important thing to notice here is that the samples being offered don’t need to be free. You might need to pay for them.

Ask for a sample to check the quality of goods

That is still going to cost you less. In case you don’t go for a paid sample and order the entire amount, you can end up losing hundreds of dollars. Small businessmen might even lose their business.

4. Judge your purchasing budget

Your purchasing budget plays a big role in deciding which platform to choose from. To be honest, both platforms have economical prices. You have to check what your budget for the product is and then decide which platform you want to buy from.

The type of product you are going for also influences the price. Electronic goods and gadgets usually have a higher price than other goods.

Chapter 4: FAQs About Alibaba VS Global Sources


1. Are the suppliers on both platforms trustworthy?

There is no straight answer to this question. The truth is both platforms have all types of suppliers on them. Even the verified suppliers are not truly reliable.

You can get a verified tag by paying the website. So, we don’t know whether they are trustworthy or not.

To be sure about the trustworthiness of the suppliers, you need to check out some red flags. These have been talked about a lot in former blogs that we wrote.

2. What does trade assurance mean?

Alibaba offers a trade assurance program. It is a free service that it offers to its buyers. This assurance program aims to build the confidence of the buyers and sellers.

It works by covering the buyer in case there is some quality-related dispute or dispute in the shipment of the order.

3. Why was Alibaba blacklisted?

Alibaba was blacklisted by the US Trade Representatives because it was caught selling counterfeit products. Because of these fake products, the US blacklisted them for almost 5 years.

In 2016, Alibaba improved its quality assurance techniques and was removed from the list.

4. Which platform is cheaper? Alibaba VS Global Sources

Both platforms offer very reasonable prices to businesses. As they are B2B platforms, they do have lower price as compared to B2C suppliers. Compared to each other, they are almost priced the same.


The answer to the question Alibaba VS Global Sources is not as simple as people would like. When it comes to product variety, Alibaba surpasses Global Sources by a huge margin. Apart from that, they are more or less similar in all the other aspects.

The choice between Global Sources and Alibaba is personal and depends on the buyer. We have mentioned a lot information about how to choose from them in this blog.

But the choice should be done according to buyer’s experience and personal choice. We at EJET Sourcing can source any product you want. Contact us to discuss everything in detail.