Global Sources Versus Alibaba for Foreign Product Sourcing/Manufacturing

Clients sometimes ask me whether they should be using Global Sources or Alibaba as a first cut for finding foreign product suppliers. My response is that “I hear better things about Global Sources.” Asia Business Media just did a post, entitled, Alibaba and Global Sources: Competing less and less, explaining differences between Alibaba and Global Sources:

If we make some rough, back of the envelope calculations: Global Sources posted US$94 million in online revenues. If we estimate that the average supplier paid RMB 40,000 (US$6,000) in 2010 to post its products online. That results in approximately 15,700 paid suppliers on the Global platform. had nearly 810,000 paid suppliers in 2010 – but that figure includes suppliers on both the International and the China platform. If we just look at the International platform,, there were almost 132,000 paid suppliers.

Even if there were perfect overlap, which there is not, that would mean that just 12% of’s suppliers were also on Global Sources. reports that there were 132,000 paid suppliers on its International website which generated revenues of US$494 million. That results in an average of US$3,740 (RMB 24,500) per supplier.

So has 132,000 suppliers paying RMB 24,500. Global has 16,000 paying RMB 40,000. In all likelihood, these two companies are not going after the same suppliers.

Alibaba is trying to build an SME ecosystem through its subsidiaries,,, AliExpress and AliLoan. Global Sources is targeting larger, more established exporters who are interested in its multi-media platform (exhibitions, online, print, private buyer events).

With each passing quarter, it is clear that these two companies are not exactly knocking on the same doors across China.

What do you think?

Alibaba v. Global Sources?

Who do you use? When and why?