The evolution of the tech-oriented world has reshaped the way businesses work. Today, more and more customers shop online. Competition is raging among Amazon sellers like you, affecting the demand and supply dynamics significantly. The competition will also move you to focus on finding unique sourcing alternatives for your product to stay ahead in business.

The Common Global Sourcing Alternatives are 

  1. Alibaba
  2. Global Sources
  3. DHgate
  4. AliExpress
  5. 168.com
  6. Trade Shows
  7. Sourcing outside of China

No matter the size of your business, the quality of your product and the reliability of your suppliers are factors that will help grow your business. Let us now focus on the global sourcing alternatives for you.


Everyone knows that Alibaba is the 900-pound gorilla in the area. They have a star CEO, millions of suppliers and goods, and an enormous campus in Hangzhou that competes with Google’s campus in Silicon Valley. Alibaba is dedicated to e-commerce on the Internet, including business-to-business (B2B), retail, and consumer sales portals. It also offers online payment services, a price comparison search engine, and cloud data storage services. 


  • Immediate access to a countless number of global suppliers at any time.
  • Easy navigation of product and categories
  • Low wholesale pricing can mean big profits by buying your product at rock bottom prices and selling at premium retail prices.


  • High potential of scams: Alibaba has a wide range of suppliers, but many untrustworthy suppliers offer inferior quality products. You have to work hard to discover the good ones.
  • Many reliable suppliers purposely select NOT to be on Alibaba. If you depend only on Alibaba, then you will never discover them.
  • You never know whether the supplier is a manufacturer. Will they produce and control the quality and that time or place your orders in other companies? You have to use other services to check the information on a Chinese company.


Global Sources is a Hong Kong-based business-to-business multichannel media company that serves buyers and suppliers online and offline since 1971. Global Sources offer an online list of suppliers comparable to Alibaba and organise trade shows in Asia. You might wonder, What’s the difference between Global Sources and Alibaba? Generally, the suppliers on global sources have more knowledge in the export market, so they’re more likely to comprehend your needs. Also, you manage to find less sceptical factories than on Alibaba. Many big-box supplies use Global Sources as part of their sourcing method.

Additionally, these suppliers foresee more from you. Typically they will inquire about your company purchase volumes and background. It’s only fair that they want to see if you are the exact fit for them. So, sourcing from Global Sources may take more preliminary work to build trust and get thorough suppliers’ responses.

A supplier who lists on Global sources also displays their products at offline fairs, which increases their credibility. By purchasing booth spaces, they have more skin in the game than an online arbitrator who can vanish overnight. There are trading companies on Global sources. However, they operate more transparently than those on Alibaba.


  • Arguably better quality suppliers than Alibaba and fewer trading companies.
  • Strong in fashion accessories, mobile electronics, home, and souvenir items.
  • Better user background for Western consumers.


  • A smaller choice of suppliers than Alibaba.
  • Requires more effort to get quotations – you must verify yourself to suppliers.


DHgate.com is a Chinese business-to-business and Business-to-consumer cross-border e-commerce marketplace that facilitates the sale of manufactured products from suppliers to small and medium retailers. It is one of the largest B2B cross-border e-commerce trade platforms in China. DHgate is an online list of suppliers that is aimed at small-business buyers. DHgate offers lower MOQs (minimum order quantities) – as low as one piece.

There are an enormous variety of products on DHgate to be an adequate resource for certain niche things. They also include an escrow service to preserve you.


  • An enormous variety of products
  • Lower Minimum Order Quantities.
  • Escrow service – DHgate Purchase Protection.


  • Higher rates (at least 25% more)
  • Dealing with arbitrators – higher tariffs, hidden factory, risk of vanishing overnight.
  • Difficult to organise a long term relationship with the immediate manufacturer.
  • Presence of counterfeit goods.


AliExpress (owned by Alibaba) is similar to eBay, with merchants from China shipping worldwide. They sell unique items and tiny wholesale lots. This is great if you want to test the waters with a small order or to sell locally.

AliExpress is suitable if your volume is small or if you’re just beginning. It is not recommended to grow a scalable business because you will be dealing with an arbitrator who will not disclose the factory to you. This means you won’t get a reasonable price. Another major drawback is that you are not creating a relationship with the supplier, which is crucial if you want to create an endurable business.


  • Find the same goods as those assigned on Alibaba
  • Lower MOQs
  • Escrow service for additional protection (but you pay more)


  • Higher rates (at least 25% more)
  • Dealing with arbitrators – higher prices, hidden factory, risk of vanishing overnight
  • Difficult to organise a long term relationship with the immediate manufacturer
  • Beware inadequate and counterfeit goods.

5. 1688.COM

1688 is an online list of Chinese suppliers and is a sister company to Alibaba. The big difference 1688 as an Alibaba alternative is that suppliers in 1688 cater to the Chinese market.

Why does that matter? Well, China’s quality criteria usually are lower than those established in the US, UK, Germany, and other Western countries. So, suppliers on 1688.com are used to developing lower quality and lower-priced goods.

Another problem is that most of the suppliers in 1688 do not have export permissions. This means that they cannot afford to lawfully ship products outside China and bargain with an intermediary company with export consent. This increases costs and complexness to the supply chain.

Finally, the 1688 website is entirely in Chinese. The suppliers do not speak any English because they barely cater to the regional market. The language barrier will make communications very difficult unless you happen to understand Chinese.

On the other hand, 1688 does offer some benefits. First, you can find direct Chinese suppliers that you will not learn on Alibaba. Nevertheless, the main reason is that they are not selling to the export demand, and their goods may not be a good fit for those markets either. Prices can be very inadequate, as suppliers are occasionally willing to withstand wafer-thin profit margins.

1688 can also give market intelligence on pricing and product availability that would be hard to find elsewhere.


  • Wide range of Suppliers 
  • rock-bottom pricing on goods
  • Excellent market knowledge on pricing


  • Potentially lower goods quality and lousy fit with western markets
  • Most sellers cannot export, so you will need to go through an agent
  • Language barrier if you don’t understand Chinese


Trade shows are an excellent way to meet many suppliers quickly. Chinese culture is entrenched in relationships. When you meet suppliers, face-to-face can instantly create those relationships now and help encourage suppliers to compromise on price, expenditure terms, product modifications, packaging, and more.

They are a great chance to browse and uncover new products. Many suppliers will not display all of their goods online, particularly the latest products, to protect themselves from their competitors. However, if you meet them face-to-face, they will be willing to show you their entire range. The best goods are often behind closed doors.

As a global sourcing alternative, trade shows are a world apart.

 Below are three types of trade shows: general trade shows, industry-specific fairs, and regional marketplaces.

General trade shows

General trade shows include the famous Canton Fair and the Global Sources Gifts and Home Show. These are decent if you don’t have a particular product or classification in mind and are open to new product suggestions. It is also a great way to specify new movements.

The drawbacks include being unfocused and the risk of spending time just wandering around. The Canton fair is ENORMOUS, and you can easily spend various days walking around the place. There is a wide range of quality, prices, arbitrators, and even defrauders there, so be knowledgeable.

Industry-specific fairs

For a more targeted strategy, several industry-specific trade fairs are comprising HKTDC, Global Sources (https://www.tradefairdates.com/), MAGIC for fashion (https://www.entrepreneur.com/encyclopedia/trade-shows), CES for electronics ( https://www.webretailer.com/b/alibaba-alternatives/) Intersolar for solar, Automechanika for automobiles and portions, and the list goes on. You will meet many related suppliers. If you meet them face-to-face with suppliers, you can assess new trends, goods, and pricing all in one visit.

Note that these fairs generally meet only once or twice a year, so you must propose. It may not be inexpensive when you deem airfare, ground transportation, visa, hotel, entertainment, etc., depending on the particular location.

Sourcing agents and trading companies

Depending on your desires and budget, it may make sense to outsource this work to experts. It will conserve time and headaches so you can concentrate on your strengths to expand your business.  


  • Find decent suppliers through their networks.
  • Pick up on red flags rapidly.
  • Optimise logistics to conserve time and money.
  • To negotiate fair pricing and terms with factories.

Eflex Sourcing is an example of a sourcing agent with experience with Amazon Sellers in helping sellers, like you, a source for genuine suppliers for over five years. With Eflex sourcing, you are guaranteed to find genuine suppliers with the best prices.


With the recent tariff hikes, the expense to do business in China increases each year. Increasing labour costs, rising material prices, strict environmental laws, and other factors make it more costly to source from China.


  • Potential language barriers: Furthermore, vying countries like India promise consumers ease of communication that China can’t deliver. Since English is the second language of most Chinese factories, it can lead to misinterpretations between merchants and Chinese suppliers. But with English as their principal language, mix-ups are likely with Indian suppliers.
  • Products not found in China: There’s also a fair chance that other countries may produce goods not located in China. It could make it more impossible for your competitors to duplicate you. These developing alternatives usually enable product customisation too. And having a great product is key to ensuring your business from rivals!
  • Smaller orders: Another plus for sourcing outside of China is order quantity. Some business owners have established that other countries tend to allow merchants to buy in small amounts. It means sellers can begin with a minimum order quantity (MOQ) much lower than 600 pieces, and it also implies a lower initial capital investment. This further increases a seller’s recreational advantage, especially when testing new goods.

Examples of Sourcing tools outside China include:

  • ThomasNet

 Country: United States

Cost: As a customer, there is no expense incurred for using ThomasNet’s Supplier Discovery. 

Verification Process: While it is not clear how ThomasNet assesses their suppliers, they give critical advice for each, including the supplier’s location, annual income, the year someone found the business, and the number of workers.

Search filter provision: Thomas.net provides you with an alternative to filter your searches by quality certifications and location for additional peace of mind.

Finding good suppliers in the USA is very valuable. It allows you to get your product to the market quickly. Consumers also trust US suppliers over Chinese suppliers. 

  • The Wholesaler UK

Country: United Kingdom

Cost: The Wholesaler UK’s list is free for customers, and only suppliers pay.

Verification Process: The Wholesaler UK has a strict confirmation process. In fact, not only do they ascertain each supplier’s address before enabling them to list to the website, but they also motivate customers to report any difficulties.


Sourcing is not a one-size-fits-all profession. One B2B platform or global sourcing platform may not have the best suppliers for your desires, so it makes sense to glance at alternative sourcing outlets as well as trade shows, referrals, factory visits, and other tactics. Feel free to use the sourcing tools like thomas.net to find suitable suppliers for your product at the right price.

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