What is Alibaba? Is Alibaba Legit?


Global e-commerce is becoming more and more popular, particularly with companies based primarily in China. These companies are perfectly primed to take advantage of lower priced goods directly where many of them are manufactured.

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Image Source: Pixabay.com

For consumers, the question quickly surfaces of whether or not these sites can be trusted to deliver the commodities that they promise. How are they able to sell products for such a considerable discount?

One of the newer global e-commerce sites, Alibaba, has been making waves stateside for years now as shoppers wonder, “Is Alibaba legit?” Even more pressing might be the simple question, “What is Alibaba?”

Taking a look at Alibaba reviews and company history, we’ll break down whether or not you can trust the e-commerce platform and examine the best ways to keep your money safe from scams.

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What Is Alibaba?

Alibaba is a China-based e-commerce site with three distinct branches. Alibaba.com reviews confirm that the most popular arm of its site is Taobao, which features consumer-to-consumer purchases on a platform very similar to eBay but catering specifically to in-country customers.

While this may not seem like it would generate the largest source of income, it is important to keep in mind how many Internet users reside in this part of the world.

According to an article by Forbes, China had an estimated 618 million users last year, and the number continues to rise year over year. Current Internet users still represents less than half of the total population.

The second part of its business is known as Tmall, which serves to bring official merchant storefronts to consumers in China. Large companies, such as Apple or Nike, can take advantage of this section of the site to expand their customer base further into China.



Alibaba relies on its merchants and small vendors, who list items on its sites, to store and ship their own goods. As a result, Alibaba has no warehouse or stock that may one day be marked down for an even steeper discount. This also means that it has very little control over timely shipping and handling.

However, the response to “What is Alibaba?” is probably best answered by taking a closer look at the two most well-known arms of the business that function stateside: Alibaba and AliExpress.

These two sectors connect merchants in China with consumers around the world to provide them with a much broader customer base. Merchants can be large-name brand retailers, such as Nike, all the way down to smaller, local businesses for unique goods that can’t necessarily be purchased stateside.

Alibaba reviews are quick to point out that the company doesn’t actually profit from the sales made. Instead, it makes its proceeds through advertisements and search placements to its vendors. The site itself does not sell items but, instead, provides a way for others to sell. Co-founder Jack Ma describes it as a site that “helps others to do e-commerce. We do not sell things.”

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Image Source: Alibaba Offices

With the sheer volume of vendors present on Alibaba, all looking to hawk their wares quickly, it must be difficult to vet each one with care to make sure they are legitimate. The vast array of products combined with the overwhelming number of merchants leaves many consumers wondering, “Is Alibaba safe?” or “Is Alibaba legit?”

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Is Alibaba Safe?

With over 286 billion dollars in online transactions last year, it’s obvious that people are flocking to this global e-commerce platform. Some are even referring to it as the “Chinese version of Amazon." With that much money continuing to flow through the site, it begs the question, “Is Alibaba legit?” Alibaba reviews are a little mixed on what you can expect from the e-commerce platform, regardless of the huge volume of business it conducts each year.

Many people feel comfortable with the payment option available, known as “Secure Payment.” While the website does immediately obtain the payment from your bank account, final payment is not released to the merchant until your order is officially delivered to you. This is easily traced through the “Transactions and Logistics” portion of the site. When your order arrives, notify the merchant with a quick confirmation on the website so Alibaba can release the payment.



If you’re looking for an Alibaba review that gives an even better option to keep your finances secure, this one, from Tech in China, offers a comprehensive explanation of the benefits of the Alibaba inspector service.

Consumers question whether it is worth it to make purchases from other countries because of the headache involved with returns. Take care of things before you even order by hiring one of several inspection companies through the site to take a look at the history of the merchant as well as to provide an inspection report of the goods you want to purchase.



How to Avoid a Scam

Since we have focused on the question “What is Alibaba?” it’s time to move on to ways to have safe transactions on this website and avoid the more prevalent scams. Here are a few top ways from an Alibaba.com review to help you make better purchases:

  • Avoid name brand items. Many shoppers complain that name brand items came in as counterfeit, if they ever showed up at all. This is one of the cases where Alibaba’s secure payment option comes in handy. If your package never arrives at your doorstep, you can file a complaint with the company and have Alibaba refund your purchase.

As far as counterfeit products are concerned, indicate that counterfeits run rampant, even as the company works to tame the problem. It has faced lawsuits from high-end retailers complaining that the retailer “provide[s] the marketplace advertising and other essential services necessary for counterfeiters to sell their counterfeit products to customers in the United States.



  • Don’t make large purchases without testing the waters. Just because it seems like a stellar deal to order 100 units of mp3 players that you plan to resell at a profit doesn’t mean you have smart business sense. Ordering in bulk from a merchant you have no experience with means that you may end up with 100 units of subpar quality that aren’t worth what you originally spent. Avoid having large quantities of useless junk shipped from overseas by trying smaller batches first, even if it means a higher unit price.
  • Don’t skip doing your due diligence. There are plenty of places to seek out an Alibaba.com review. Check around the forums and message boards for popular scams related to the items you’re interested in purchasing or for fraudulent orders placed with the same retailer. Remember to take advantage of Alibaba’s secure payment option, even if there are other choices, to be able to protect your investment.

It’s difficult to answer the question “Is Alibaba legit?” because there are a plethora of individual merchants looking to sell their wares. Alibaba itself bears no responsibility in any part of the transaction from beginning to end. It is merely a platform that provides payment services and the integrated e-commerce to make a global transaction possible.

That being said, Alibaba does offer great services to put your mind at ease if you use them in conjunction with a small dose of common sense.

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Alibaba Reviews

So, what is the verdict on the viability of Alibaba? While it seems that there is the potential to find a reputable merchant through its e-commerce platform, complaints abound on forums and Alibaba.com reviews. To take an overall look at how other consumers would rate their experiences, looking at well-known review sites for their Alibaba reviews helps to lend insight into the buying experience.

On Sitejabber’s Alibaba.com review, Alibaba has earned three stars, with almost 400 reviews total. When looking at the breakdown of the scoring, it seems that almost equal reviews are five stars and one star, with few reviews in between. The even division between excellent and poor reviews would indicate that there are almost equal numbers of reputable vendors and not-so-reputable vendors, increasing your odds of encountering a scam.



Trustpilot’s Alibaba reviews (almost 100 submissions) gave the site an overall 1.5 star rating. The lower star ratings lend credibility to the multitude of negative reviews to be found for Alibaba. For every happy customer who found a great bargain, there seems to be plenty of other disgruntled customers seeking a refund.

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Image Source: Trustpilot’s Alibaba reviews

Even the Better Business Bureau doesn’t have a glowing Alibaba review. While the business itself is not Better Business Bureau accredited, it does have an F rating because of its failure to respond to more than 200 complaints filed within the last year. Complaints applied to almost every aspect of the business: advertising, billing, delivery, and warranty issues. However, the largest basis for complaints was related to issues with the product received.

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Image Source: Better Business Bureau


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Conclusion

What is Alibaba, really? Is it just another online scam waiting to happen? Is Alibaba safe?

It appears that the site itself takes very little responsibility for the actual purchases made. Instead, each individual vendor or merchant is responsible for the marketing, shipping, and ultimate satisfaction of the end user. Alibaba reviews, like those on Sitejabber, would indicate that there are just as many merchants out to scam people as there are genuine sellers.

If you find a great deal and want to give the site a shot, make sure to do your due diligence to avoid setting yourself up for failure. Just because it looks legitimate doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll receive what was promised. Some deals just aren’t worth the risk. Read through any Alibaba review site and you might decide to take your money elsewhere. 

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