Philip Martin He is a pharmacist who loves digital things and owns both the physical pharmacy at 61 Galileo Street in Madrid and the e-commerce galileo61.com. Despite the fact that most sales in the online environment are made through its own website, it also uses the marketplaces of Amazon Y aliexpress, alongside other smaller ones to complete the circle. He’s the one showing us some of the differences he sees between buying on the Alibaba Group platform and the marketplace par excellence that still exists: Amazon.
In the first place, one of the curiosities that Felipe Martín points out relates to the consumers who choose to shop from these big ones, rather than doing it on other less brilliant sites. “Many times, out of ignorance, people buy products on Amazon that are well over the normal price. They have internalized the idea that buying in this channel is cheaper, when it is not always the case, but they do not bother to compare.” As an example, he cites Supradyn, a vitamin complex, the usual price of which is around 18 euros and costs up to 25-28 euros at Amazon. “The best thing is that we sell it in two days. This happens to us with many products that we sell more expensively than on our own website, especially on Amazon Prime. This also happens on Aliexpress,” he explains.
Finding a niche or a specific product that generates a higher margin than usual is a challenge and an interesting opportunity for anyone selling. However, Martín warns that this is not easy. In his case, the first niche he discovered when he started selling on Amazon about 6 years ago was orthopedics.
“Then we discovered a market niche in orthopaedics. At that time there was a very important company in Andalucia and we sold a lot of items of this type on Amazon, things that we didn’t even know existed. We registered with the Galileo 61 brand and managed to sell more than 300 crutches per month, more than 20 walkers and more than 20 wheelchairs. The goods arrived here and we then sent them to Amazon, from where they were distributed throughout Europe. We sold from a pharmacy in Chamberí to Germany, France or the UK,” he says. Later, they stopped selling these types of items because the inventory took up almost the entire warehouse.
After it became possible to operate on Aliexpress from Spain, Felipe Martín also joined the new channel. It’s an alternative that many companies have embraced, some with not-too-orthodox practices, such as For example, buying from Alibaba at a lower price and then selling at a higher price on Amazon. “That’s not the case with us – the pharmacist clarifies – because in order to win the customer’s trust you have to meet quality/price standards and be transparent. Everything we sell on all channels corresponds to our official suppliers, most of them national brands.”
Pros or cons between one and the other
Regarding the main differences that can be seen between one platform and the other, the following stand out:
Easier to get into Aliexpress. Currently, Aliexpress is trying to position itself in Spain to catch up with Amazon, which is why the registration task becomes much easier for both the buyer and the seller, and the requirements are fewer.
The quality. Initially, Aliexpress only sold Chinese-made products that were associated with inferior quality, but now it has sellers from all over the world. “People understood that now on Aliexpress you can buy the same brands as on any other website and products from all categories.” This perception of Martin is not shared by everyone. “I think people continue to associate Aliexpress with low cost and volume, so we’ve excluded that platform for now, even though it’s growing strongly in Spain,” he explains. Victor RuizCEO of Vita Vodkaa product postulated as a premium spirit.
Sell: Based on his own experience, Felipe Martín says that not only is it easier for him to sell and upload a catalog on Aliexpress than on Aliexpress, but he also gets better margins Amazon, where bidding is usually more intense, a factor that makes positioning difficult. Another inconvenience that Amazon appreciates is that previously there was the option to create your own brand, a process that is now very complicated and bureaucratic.
The commissions: “I don’t know other articles, but in our case that we sell alcoholic beverages, the commissions of 15% are prohibitive for us”, he explains Jago Gonzalezout of i have the ice cream. However, Martín points out that in his case on the Alibaba platform, the commissions paid are lower.
delivery times. They’re still typically longer on Aliexpress than Amazon, a handicap for nervous consumers. Many of the products offered on AliExpress at very attractive prices are shipped directly from China or Russia, so it takes between 7 and 10 days to receive them. Now they are also starting deliveries from Spain and developing their own logistics, but they have not yet reached Amazon’s times and the service is more expensive.
The products. Aside from the already mentioned association of Alexpress with low-priced items, another peculiarity that Martín points out is that not all products work the same in one marketplace as in another. In their case, they sell a lot of parapharmaceutical products, “it’s strange, but what we sell the most on Amazon, for example, are vitamin complexes and Lelo condoms, while on Aliexpress we sell cosmetics better.”
the brands: Aside from the current complexity of creating a brand on Amazon, another downside pointed out by Yago González is the risk of small brands being overshadowed by an Amazon white label. “We, who aren’t products and sell multiple brands, don’t care, but I know others who have started selling their own brand on Amazon and once they verified that it works, they saw how Amazon did it copied and then introduced its own product at a better price. I don’t like it,” he concludes.