Alibaba is a business to business marketplace. The site helps small businesses find the supplies and products they need at budget friendly prices. The company is based in China and focuses primarily on Chinese manufacturers however the site is not limited to Chinese companies. Companies from all over the world use Alibaba to find or sell products. The site covers a diverse collection of items, ranging from transportation and environmental merchandise to shoes, packaging, toys, apparel, chemicals and agriculture. The user can search products, suppliers and buyers. A country/region filter option helps narrow down the user’s options. Each product is displayed with an image, description, details, packaging and delivery specifications and origin information. Users can add items to a follow list or contact the supplier directly with questions.
Alibaba was founded in 1999. The website was intended to provide users with a global marketplace to find the items they need at affordable prices. The company currently works within three markets, including global trade, Chinese and transaction-based wholesale platforms. The site has been around for a while, however it has received some criticism from users who met with issues related to the companies they were buying from. The website is mainly used for advertising, so users should always approach a purchase with caution before handing over their money.
Alibaba is unique because of the variety of items found on the site. There are other sites that offer a wide selection, however Alibaba gives the user a wide range of merchandise from companies all over the world. The user can purchase larger quantities as well. The site is intended for businesses while many other online marketplaces are focused on the consumer. Companies can make bulk purchases to receive bulk discounts through Alibaba.
The Alibaba website has all the elements of any basic retail site. There is quite a bit of merchandise, and in some ways the user interface suffers for it. The user is given a number of thumbnail images to review. Each image is listed in the search results along with a short overview of the product. This gives the user all the details they need before committing to visiting the product page. The downside is that the user may feel overwhelmed as they scroll through all the text and images.
A new user can join the Alibaba community by clicking the blue “Join Free” link in the upper, left hand corner of the Alibaba homepage. The registration form on the next page asks the user to provide their country location, state or county information, what type of user they are (either a supplier or buyer), first and last name, company name, telephone number, email address and password. The user is advised that they must confirm their email address prior to accessing their new Alibaba account.
Alibaba welcomes buyers and suppliers to create an account for free. There is no subscription fee or other fees required when joining the business to business community. Users are not required to make a purchase to maintain an account. Most items will have a minimum quantity requirement, and the user will have to pay all applicable shipping and handles fees when making a purchase. This is determined by the seller and not Alibaba.
Alibaba is a global marketplace intended specifically for businesses. Businesses can purchase supplies and merchandise they need from other businesses in bulk quantities. The site provides advertising for a wide variety of manufacturers and companies in numerous industries. Users should proceed with caution and research a seller before making a purchase to ensure that they are legitimate. Many sellers come from countries all over the world and may be hard to track after the user has paid for their merchandise.