I have been reading alot about Alibaba lately. I have logged in and looked around, and cannot figure it out. It seems that I can only buy things in 10K lots, or 50Kg shipments but it seems like lots of people also do regular shopping on that site. How is this done? I tried looking at Tmall but that is all in ideograms, and I cannot read it.

I don’t think Alibaba is so much a consumer site as a wholesale site. You buy stuff to re-sell, or buy stuff to use in the making of new stuff (think Etsy) and then sell. Like Costco but in larger quantities, smaller pieces and more inventory (or rather more vendors with inventory).

The companies offers multiple portals:

One you might try is Aliexpress

I’ve used AliExpress and that seems more for consumers. Takes a while to learn how to navigate, though.

Like the OP, I tried to figure out once how AliExpress worked. Best I could figure was it was a front-end for companies out of Shenzhen. Kind of like Ebay+Paypal; you pay Aliexpress, and some guy sends you the stuff.

Unfortunately 90% of the reviews I read were really bad, but I want to be swayed, 'cause there are some products I saw there that I can’t get anywhere else.