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Aliexpress Clone Website - How to Create a Website like Aliexpress?

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Yuri Musienko
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This task is undoubtedly very difficult. The reason is that the world's most successful marketplace, AliExpress, celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. This means that the success story contains many different trials and errors, merits and demerits, ups and downs. In order to start this path and achieve success in the shortest possible time, you need to decompose into its components everything that we know about this platform and determine what should be adopted and repeated from this, as well as how much time and, of course, money it will take.

First of all, you need to understand what AliExpress is like as a project. After clicking on the link, a global virtual trading platform appears in front of the client, which enables the client to buy goods that are produced in China, Russia, Europe, Turkey and other countries. This marketplace is currently deservedly considered the largest in the world, since already in April 2017 the number of users worldwide exceeded 100 million people. Like any marketplace, this platform provides intermediary services between two types of customers: a buyer and a seller / manufacturer.

Outside, from the standpoint of an average client, this platform is simple: it positions itself as a small business retail store in order to be able to help small Chinese firms or private entrepreneurs sell their products. Nevertheless, there are many internal problems and ambiguities. For example, due to a specific policy, the first feature appears - the difficulty for foreigners to open a store. And this restriction is very difficult to bypass, since for this you need to indicate a valid address within the republic and a phone number. And this is important, because if a clone of a site is being created, then you should consider how much it is worth implementing this moment in your own marketplace. In our opinion, this has both positive and negative sides: the positive is expressed in the fact that the platform supports the national small business, which has a positive effect on the moral image of the company, and the negative is that no other country in the world has such richness and diversity of small business, as China, so support exclusively for “ours” is not very profitable in terms of matching earnings with investments. And this is just one point out of many. This article aims to understand all the problematic aspects of the sample and highlight the most profitable strategy for your own platform.

Development, requirements, pricing policy

As a rule, the structure and specificity of development is determined by the type of marketplace. In this case, the original type is copied - B2C. This type is quite popular, so it will be very problematic for a new player to gain a foothold in the market due to very strong competition, high risks and a huge number of offers.

At the same time, a fairly convincing argument in favor of choosing this particular structure is the global statistics, according to which 83% of wholesale buyers search for a product directly on trading sites, 77% prefer to do this using search engines, and wholesale or B2B and retail (B2C) marketplaces account for 40%. Online sales are growing by 10-15% annually, and marketplaces play an important role in this. The sales of the platforms AliExpress and Alibaba account for about half of the total e-commerce sales in China, which is more than an impressive achievement. These numbers allow you to compete with Amazon and eBay here and now.

The next step will be the answers to several questions (the answer is a figurative definition for a specific solution, which will be more profitable to implement than any similar):

  • what audience are you looking for? Is your offer interesting to potential buyers? What level of service is required? What additional services do potential sellers and buyers need?;
  • what will you sell: goods or services? What is the minimum order quantity? Are you planning a narrow or broad specialization of the project? How is the search for suppliers and buyers in the market going now? What product information is needed to make a purchasing decision?;
  • what documents and permits are required for the transaction?;
  • how to attract clients to the site? How much can it cost?;
  • who should be entrusted with the implementation of the project and strategy? What IT platform will the project be implemented on?;
  • what is the best way to monetize your project: payment for an order, listing or additional services? Will there be payments for goods and services through your platform or directly on the websites of companies?
Any nuance can reflect in the successful start of the project. It is better to deal with each separately. A complete copying of a Chinese business giant can work the same way as playing games on smartphones: if a copy has no features different from the original, then users react negatively to it by default, since they already successfully use what the developers of the copy took as a sample.

So, the answers are given. Now you should conduct analytics and choose not only the right tools for the job, but also assemble a team that will be interested in improving this business - saving a sufficient amount of time and money, since you do not have to redo the project several times. Already at this stage, it should be understood that the already considerable amount invested in the development should immediately be multiplied by at least two, because the initial calculations do not include marketing, advertising and customer acquisition.

Now you need to decide what requirements are put forward for the project. A marketplace is being created, which in simple words means a civilized online trading platform, which has its own rules of the game, with the help of which the activity of sellers and buyers is clearly regulated and protected. Below is a detailed discussion of everything that should be unambiguously implemented in such a project both at the program level and with regard to decisions in team work. This is equally important, since any mistake in the selection of team members and the tools with which they will help the future owner of the marketplace achieve the goal can be fatal.

Cost (labor and money costs) that make up the marketplace

The costs of creating a trading platform vary greatly depending on the specifics of the business and the required functionality, so it is very difficult to give exact numbers. Nevertheless, it will not be difficult to make approximate calculations.

As mentioned above, development can be either custom or boxed. There are a lot of the latter on the market. The development of the basic version will take from one and a half to two months, and in terms of financial costs it will cost approximately $ 13,000. Custom or individual development of the marketplace will take about a month more, and the price will approximately triple.

This information is certainly not enough, so now we should figure out in more detail the labor costs and what minimum functionality should be implemented not from the point of view of the user and owner, but from the point of view of the developer and programmer. So, here is a list of the main parts (modules) of any marketplace:

  • authorization and registration module;
  • module for managing data and roles;
  • administration module;
  • search module;
  • module for managing goods or services;
  • module of social interaction;
  • notification module;
  • payment module.
It is important to know at least basic functional information about each of them. This will make it possible to relatively competently control the work of the development team, at least at the level of the internal structure of the future business giant.

Authorization and registration module

As a rule, it has standard authorization using email and password, but it is quite possible and in this case it is even necessary to extend it with authorization via social networks or two-factor authentication via SMS or other sources. During registration, the mail is usually confirmed by sending a verification code to the specified email address. Accordingly, there is a page where this code is verified, as well as a password recovery function. The development of this module takes on average 40 to 80 hours.

Module for managing data and roles

Its functional load is to provide the ability to create and edit personal and company data, as well as validate personal data, upload files and images, create roles and restrict access rights. The development of this module takes from 60 to 120 hours.

Administration module

Thanks to it, you can view and manage all data in the system, including transactions, and it is also responsible for dispute resolution, analytics and statistics. Due to its versatility and complexity, its development takes from 150 to 300 hours.

Search module

The function of this module is searching by fields, filtering and sorting data, limiting data output, optimization and acceleration. This module is developed depending on the qualifications of specialists and their number from 80 to 200 hours.

Module for managing goods or services

Due to this module, it is possible to add, edit and delete goods and services with a different set of fields, as well as categorize data and manage the state of goods and services. It will take 80 to 200 hours to develop this component.

Module of social interaction

Due to this module, you can create chats for communication between suppliers and consumers, as well as the ability to rate (like / dislike, stars, plus signs or any other analogue points) the seller and the product, leave reviews and comments, and create ratings. This is another of the complex modules, its development takes from 150 to 300 hours.

Notification module

Using this part, you can both create instant notifications, and set up email or SMS distribution, create push notifications. The development of this module takes from 80 to 160 hours.

Payment module

This component allows you to bind cards to accounts, establish integration with payment systems. It is also responsible for viewing and managing transactions, as well as operating payment history and canceling payments at the right time.

A characteristic set of components

A marketplace like AliExpress has a whole list of characteristic components. They are the simplest set of components that reflect the very essence of the concept of "marketplace":
  • availability of involved sellers;
  • monetization through commissions, subscription fees or a percentage of sellers' sales;
  • the possibility of selling the same goods by different sellers;
  • sale of not only goods, but also services: for example, ordering food, selling air tickets, etc.;
  • clear and regulated rules of payment, delivery of goods, resolution of disputes.
The basic set, thanks to which the copy of AliExpress will work, is something like this:
  • personal account of the supplier;
  • buyer's personal account;
  • showcase, search, filters, rubricator;
  • shopping cart and online payment;
  • order tracking system;
  • admin panel for adding new suppliers and moderating their products;
  • mobile applications that repeat the functionality of the site in a more convenient version;
  • CMS for the marketplace to manage content;
  • e-commerce payment systems;
  • the ability to develop additional modules.

Innovation and features

Due to its long existence, Aliexpress has developed several innovative approaches to building a successful business model that will survive the test of both time and the human factor. Yes, the created site, of course, is the most part of success, but without a competent financial and social policy, it will soon cease to pay off and will be forced to liquidate.

Never give up

The first rule of success from the Alibaba management perspective is the Never give up strategy. Its meaning is that the product is protected by the manufacturer / seller to the bitter end. Everything possible is done for security, including the initial closure of all reports, access to which can only be obtained upon request. This is absolutely reasonable and at the same time specific, since Chinese entrepreneurs have an absolutely unique experience in e-commerce, which is almost impossible to get in any other market.

This explains their desire to keep their work. That is why the manufacturer not only defends any innovation, but also backs it up with facts. On the one hand, this is, of course, a positive moment, since such a policy allows you to avoid many problems associated with the privacy policy, but at the same time, the approval time sometimes increases. This problem can be solved quickly enough if you choose a convenient page builder for solving internal problems. Tilda is best suited because, unlike Alibaba's marketplace, any clone of it is unlikely to go deep into security policy.

Here you have to choose between two losses: either in safety or in the organization of work. If the first problem can be solved by attracting other funds, for example, a larger number of specialists, then the problems with time and staff management will definitely not solve the problem.

Using opportunities against matching networks

The essence of this vague phrase is that you need to make decisions as quickly as possible, regardless of how many approvals are at the moment. If there is a good idea that is relevant right now, then you should throw as much as possible, if not all the energy, into its implementation.

For example, at one time, coupons were the main tool for promoting discounts in the Middle Kingdom, and promotional codes that are popular today were underestimated. For a long time, they were on sale landing pages exclusively in the form of PNG images. Only highly motivated buyers used them. Later, the employees of the company had the idea of creating a simple widget with promo codes, but they faced a problem: due to the sale, the code freeze mode was in effect, and also literally a week before the idea appeared, planning ended and all resources were allocated a month in advance. And then the strategy of “using the opportunities” worked - the idea “fired” and resources were found, thanks to which the widget was launched in just a couple of days. This strategy is very profitable and withstands the test of time, but at the same time it demonstrates one of the problems of AliExpress - the lack of consistency that seems to exist by default for such business giants. The marketplace is very dynamic and even somewhat spontaneous. Over time, the problem was turned into an achievement, because there is now a reasonable balance between quality and speed. The bottom line is that projects don't hang up. Staff building can be described as kanban: each manager has his own team, which makes planning more flexible.

Language policy

The AliExpress office team mostly speaks three languages at once: English, Chinese and Russian. Moreover, the level of proficiency is extremely high, not to mention the fact that in the office there are those for whom these languages are native. Thanks to this, a rather interesting sublimation of three cultures at once occurs, which is only beneficial to the service, because even the smallest markets cannot be entered for a long time without understanding the culture of those who create it, being both sellers and customers, not to mention those who dictate their policies to them, being much bigger. Moreover, by analyzing the largest markets, it becomes much easier to understand those that are more specific and smaller.

Also, a lot of attention needs to be paid to the communication skills of the team. As you know, a good communicator is not one who is always in a positive mood and is able to draw attention to himself, but one who can correctly and clearly express the desired thought. Any misunderstanding can result in hours of wasted on clarification and additional development time.

Special approach to interfaces

If you take a responsible approach to start a clone, then in everything. Chinese culture, namely, hieroglyphics, has led to the habit of local merchants to fill the workspace to the maximum, to the last pixel, so that each piece of space can be profitable. Moreover, in contrast to words, hieroglyphs in a relatively small part of the interface can be written in almost arbitrarily large amount of information. It should be borne in mind that users from Europe and America are accustomed to much cleaner, if not to say - airy interfaces, which means that when copying, you should rather look for a compromise than choose between these two options.

It is also worth touching on the issue of personalization. As the employees of the marketplace say, it is easier to count the places where it does not exist than to list all where it was implemented. And this, perhaps, can be confidently called one of the recipes for success. It is thanks to this approach that the fast disposal of unnecessary traffic was established, due to which AliExpress offers the user only what he wants to see.

Irregular working hours

Chinese culture has left its mark here too. The most honorable title and highest praise for local residents is not “good man/brother/husband/sister/wife”, but “honorary worker”. That is why the support service works around the clock and seven days a week. No matter when the client writes, he will be answered. And this approach is being implemented at absolutely all levels. Requirements for this come not only from top management, but also from department heads, team leaders and even from ordinary employees to each other.

Main mistakes when creating a marketplace

The classic problem is the wrong tools and team. The development cost varies depending on the specific business: a marketplace can be created on the basis of so-called "box" solutions, or you can order custom development. Often, in order to save money, the owner chooses boxed solutions at the initial stages. This looks like a completely logical decision in the face of a lack of finances and time. The problem is that such options have limited flexibility, which is why customizing the boxed version often takes much more time and effort than developing such functionality from scratch. This is why choosing the right tools is so important.

A mistake in choosing a team can be called, for example, the adoption of a so-called one-man band. It is necessary to choose clearly oriented specialists, each of whom is a professional in his field. Also, it is not quite the right approach to choose a team that fulfills absolutely all the whims of the customer, since such employees in most cases simply try to complete as many tasks as possible in order to get a large salary. Most likely, they have no interest in success. At the same time, the pros take care of not only their finances, but also their reputation, thanks to which their help will be directed towards the successful completion of the project.

Invention and implementation of "cherry on the cake" during development

Often, customers, right in the development process, begin to come up with new features that hardly fit into the already generated structure. It's good when there are resources that can be spent on this implementation, but sometimes the client gets carried away with the process and wants to spend a decent part of the budget on things that are practically unnecessary to launch. The result is that there is not enough money for marketing, attracting customers. There is only one solution to the problem – stop in time and pay attention only to priority tasks. It is better to add non-priority tasks after launch.

Good luck creating your own B2C marketplace!

Aliexpress Clone Website - How to Create a Website like Aliexpress? key takeaways:
  1. Development, requirements, pricing policy
  2. Cost (labor and money costs) that make up the marketplace
  3. A characteristic set of components
  4. Innovation and features
  5. Never give up
  6. Using opportunities against matching networks
  7. Language policy
  8. Special approach to interfaces
  9. Irregular working hours
  10. Main mistakes when creating a marketplace
  11. Invention and implementation of "cherry on the cake" during development
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