Is Alibaba safe? A guide to safe shopping on Alibaba

Panna Kemenes

Alibaba is an online wholesale platform with a global reach. The platform aims to make it easy for businesses around the world to source and buy wholesale products.

But as with any online retail site, it’s best to do some research before you buy. With so many online scams around, you may be wondering, ‘is Alibaba safe to buy from?’.

This post will explore how you can use the platform safely and minimize the risks of buying from Alibaba.

Send and receive international payments
with Wise 🔒

Is Alibaba safe?

Yes, for the most part, the Alibaba safety level is high. Founded in 1999, the company has a long-standing reputation. The website provides suppliers with a secure digital platform to do business on an international scale.

Customers can find online stores with sellers and products in every category, from consumer electronics to apparel. But this comes with its risks. The more sellers and items, the more difficult it can be to assess each one and mitigate the risk of fraud.

Is it safe to buy from Alibaba?

Generally speaking, yes. However, issues can arise when bad actors use the platform to try and scam buyers into spending money on falsely-advertised goods.

Alibaba has earned a respectable score of 4.1 out of 5 on the review platform Trustpilot from over 17,000 customers.¹

Positive reviews on the platform highlight:

  • Excellent prices
  • Timely delivery
  • Well-packaged goods

Some of the negative reviews mention the following:

  • Lost products
  • Shipping issues

In the instances of lost products, it could be that the orders were lost during transit, or that the buyer fell prey to foul play.

Can you get scammed on Alibaba?

Yes, it’s possible to be on the receiving end of a scam through the Alibaba website.

Some people online mistakenly believe that the website itself is a scam. The reality is that it’s the few scammers that make it onto the platform that cause the issues.

The good news is there are steps you can take to check the authenticity of the seller and avoid getting scammed.

Alibaba safety

How do I know if an Alibaba seller is legit?

Before recent changes, it was difficult to work out whether an Alibaba seller was legit. It’s much more straightforward now. This is due to the introduction of the title ‘verified supplier’ on the platform.²

When doing supplier search, you can now check if the seller is a verified supplier on Alibaba.

Alibaba defines a ‘verified supplier’ as someone who has:

  • Passed on-site verification measures
  • Received approval from third-party inspection companies
  • Published verified videos of their facilities

There are other actions you can take to ensure the seller you’re dealing with is legit.

For example, you can:

  • Check their previous customer reviews
  • See if they sell a variety of goods with verified purchases
  • Test their products before buying in bulk
  • Browsing the web for evidence of the supplier
  • Select a safe payment method - Alibaba offers Secure Payments which are processed through Alipay
⚠️ Security tip: Never give out your credit card details, social security number, or other personal details directly to online sellers. It's best to pay through a secure payment platform. If a seller asks for more information than seems necessary, treat it as a red flag, and report it where possible.

What should you avoid on Alibaba?

If you want to make sure your buying experience through Alibaba is positive, then you’ll want to avoid the following:

  • Big brand labels

Many consumers are interested in branded products. As a result, it’s a common guise used by scammers to lure you in. Scammers will post fake ads of big brand goods, as they know people will pay good money for them.

Yet big brand labels are rare to find on Alibaba, so this should be a red flag. If the price seems far too cheap for what the product is, then you should avoid it.

  • Free account suppliers

While this isn’t a hard and fast rule, you should be skeptical of buying from suppliers that don’t have ‘Gold’ accounts.

If the supplier isn’t willing to spend some money to come across as authentic to buyers, then proceed with caution. Free accounts don’t have to undergo strict verification measures, so this is a further reason for concern.

  • Making assumptions

Just because a potential supplier looks legit, has a ‘gold’ account, and a professional-looking website, it could all be a front. As with any online transaction, you should always be on the lookout for red flags that indicate a cause for concern.

  • Purchases without research

Impulse buying is something everyone is prone to from time to time, but when it comes to online purchases, a little research goes a long way.

A simple web search can tell you if the supplier's company has a website or presence outside of Alibaba, which would speak to their authenticity.

Checking customer reviews can also help you to see if the seller really does provide quality products.

You can even look up lists of known scammers operating on Alibaba to make sure you aren’t dealing with one yourself.

  • Getting fixated on a deal

While you might have found the best deal on the internet, it’s always good to be able to walk away.

If you enter into a conversation knowing that you can just as easily leave it, you’ll have more leverage. In this position of power, you can ask your supplier some verification questions or request documentation to prove their authenticity.

Patience is a virtue when you source products with online platforms such as Alibaba. You can weed scammers out easily when you’re not in a rush to buy from them.

Pay international suppliers with Wise

Now that you know if Alibaba is safe, and what to watch out for, all that’s missing is a convenient payment method.

Wise is not a bank, but a Money Services Business (MSB) provider and a smart alternative to banks. Wise Business is a safe way to pay international wholesale suppliers.

Pay overseas suppliers
in one click with Wise

With a Wise Business account, you can pay your suppliers in their own currency at the mid-market rate.

Regardless of what country the supplier is in, you can pay for the goods without hefty conversion fees, leaving more profit for your business.

🔍 More wholesale articles:

manage-your-international-business


Sources:

  1. Read Customer Service Reviews of www.alibaba.com
  2. Introducing Verified Suppliers

All sources checked February 11, 2022.


Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

Money without borders

Find out more

Tips, news and updates for your location