A comprehensive guide to how to find supplier on Alibaba

What is Alibaba?

Alibaba is arguably the largest wholesale website in the world; there are thousands of suppliers and suppliers across industries you can find on this platform.

As it is so big and anyone can open up a store on this marketplace, not all suppliers are reliable and can be trusted. So, in this article, let’s find out about how you can effectively navigate Alibaba’s endless numbers of suppliers and products.

Before we get started, there are a few points that are worth mentioning when it comes to buying from Alibaba

  • There are both trading companies and manufacturers on Alibaba; both can be reliable.
  • Alibaba offers the lowest possible wholesale cost per product.
  • Alibaba is suitable for entrepreneurs who have experience with dealing with suppliers, negotiating prices and handling customs regulations.

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What does Alibaba include?

There are 3 sourcing sites that Alibaba has to offer. They are Aliexpress, Alibaba Wholesale and Alibaba.

Which one you choose will depend on the quantity that you are able to purchase. The best price will always come from Alibaba, but it also requires the largest MOQ. If you want smaller MOQs, either Alibaba wholesale or Aliexpress are better options. Let see what’s the difference between these sites.

Take this charcoal bamboo toothbrushes as an example.

Aliexpress

  • Price: $1.63
  • Minimum Order: 1 piece

Minimum Order on Aliexpress

Alibaba Wholesale

  • Price: $0.45 – $0.55
  • Minimum Order: 1000 pieces

Minimum Order on Alibaba Wholesale

Alibaba

  • Price: $0.12 – 0.24
  • Minimum Order: 5000 pieces

Minimum Order on Alibaba

So, what is the take-away?

If you’re just starting your business and want to test ideas with a small order, Aliexpress is for you. Then, if you want to start placing larger orders, Alibaba Wholesale is the better option.

Once your business has grown big enough, and you can deal with large quantities, buying from Alibaba will help you maximize your profit.

Each platform is designed to provide you with what you need along your buying journey.

How buying from Alibaba is like?

Alibaba offers a wide variety of product categories ranging from apparel, textiles and accessories to machinery, industrial Parts & tools.

How buying from Alibaba is like

Once you have a product that you want to source, you’ll need to reach out to several suppliers to find the best option for you. While reaching out to the suppliers, you’ll want to do 3 things:

  1. Evaluate their responsiveness (the more responsive they are, the more reliable).
  2. Negotiate prices.
  3. Building a strong relationship with them.

Once both parties agree on a price, you can place your order, and afterwards, when the inventory arrives depends on the supplier’s lead time.

How to search for products on Alibaba

In order to buy from Alibaba, you will need an account. Here is how it works –

Step #1: Go to Alibaba and click on “Join Free”

Go to Alibaba and click on Join Free

Step #2: Enter your Email address and verify that you own it.

Step #2: Enter your Email address and verify that you own it

Step #3: Fill out your basic information.

Password, location, first name, last name, and telephone number. Where Alibaba asks you for “Company name”, the name can be anything you want, they will not ask you to verify it.

Step #3: Fill out your basic information

Step #4: Confirm

Confirm your personal information and complete the opening of your new Alibaba account, and there you go, now you can start buying products on Alibaba.

How do I find the right supplier?

Alibaba is safe to buy from as long as you know the signs to look for. The most dangerous obstacles to finding the perfect supplier are the scammers.

Fortunately, it’s not difficult to avoid these low lives.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to evaluate suppliers and safely buy products on Alibaba

Step #1: Review the supplier profile

How to find reliable suppliers

The Company section contains information that is verified by Alibaba.

You can get a good idea about whether the supplier is reliable or not by looking at the following sections.

What is Alibaba Trade Assurance?

Trade Assurance is the safest way to buy products on Alibaba.

Trade Assurance is a free program to use through Alibaba. This means Alibaba will protect your order and be responsible for it until the inventory arrives at your door.

So if for some reason you place an order and you never see your products, Alibaba takes full liability. Then, they handle disputes with the supplier for you.

Alibaba wants to create an easy and safe buying experience for its customers. For that reason Alibaba guarantee your money back in case your order didn’t meet the exact requirements you and the supplier agreed to.

And on the supplier side, Trade Assurance uses a credit-rating system. It gives the suppliers a reward to ensure your products delivered on time, in proper condition.

How do you pay with Alibaba Trade Assurance?

Here are the steps to pay using Trade Assurance according to Alibaba:

Order with a Trade Assurance supplier

  • Pay the supplier following the steps on Alibaba
  • Receive the shipment
  • Leave feedback on the order for the supplier

When you’re searching for a supplier, choose one with a Trade Assurance symbol and place an order like you normally would with any other supplier. Alibaba will be the one securing your order.

This is some FAQs about Trade Assurance on Alibaba.

FAQs about Trade Assurance on Alibaba

Another way to be safe on Alibaba is to make sure the supplier accepts secure methods of payment.

Best Payment Methods to Use on Alibaba

Legit suppliers on Alibaba will accept these payment methods: AliPay & Credit Cards

Yes, you can pay with credit cards on Alibaba. If you never receive the products Alibaba will credit you back your money. Then they’ll open a dispute with the supplier on your behalf.

Best Payment Methods to Use on Alibaba

Some legit suppliers don’t offer Alipay and Credit Cards, especially those from Vietnam. If the payment term can only be T/T (usually 30% as a deposit and 70% against copies of documents), make sure that the account you transfer your deposit and balance to is a company account, not a personal account. If you are asked to transfer to a personal bank account, high chances that the supplier is a scam.

Step #2: Check supplier status

Another way to check if your Alibaba supplier is reliable is by seeing if they have onsite checks and are gold suppliers.

Check supplier status

Suppliers cannot themselves put these icons on their listings. Alibaba has to send third party inspection companies to their factories, verify everything they claim is true, and there is an actual business in the registered address.

Legit suppliers always make certain that their businesses are verified so that you feel completely safe and comfortable to work with them.

businesses are verified so that you feel completely safe and comfortable

This supplier went a step beyond Alibaba onsite checks, and paid for their own verification from a company in France (Bureau Veritas) to come in and inspect their factory. That’s where the Gold Supplier symbol comes from.

supplier went a step beyond Alibaba onsite checks

Step #3: Always be cautious of quality issue

Quality is a serious risk when importing from China and Vietnam. Quality issues, in fact, are a bigger reason to lose money than getting scammed. Quality issues can never be completely eliminated, but they can be minimized, but a “good manufacturer” is continuously monitoring quality and always take responsibility if you receive defects.

You know it’s time to walk away from a supplier when they claim to be completely free of defective and damaged products. There is no such thing in mass production, so what you should expect is the least amount of defects, not free of defects.

How to place an order on Alibaba

Communicate with Your Suppliers

First, why this is important…

It’s always the buyer’s responsibility to make sure your Alibaba supplier is legit and that the products are of high quality. Because if you’re thinking about buying a product in bulk, you might want to do deeper research and make sure.

Top 3 Tips to Stay Safe on Alibaba

  • Reach out to them and begin a relationship. Ask for photos of their business license and company profile. Contact the phone number in the company listing on Alibaba and ask them what their procedure is for sampling products.
  • Get samples. There is no way that you can confidently invest in a product without samples or “small test orders”. That’s the only way to verify the quality. Be wary of suppliers that only allow you to place large orders.
  • Think abundantly. There are plenty of suppliers out there. If one doesn’t work out then you can move on to the next one.

Step #1: Sending the first email

Here are a few important questions to consider for your first email:

  • MOQ & Pricing

Sending the first email

The pricing and MOQ seen the product post can be not the real price and MOQ. It might be the supplier uploaded the product a long time ago and now things have changed, or they just did not pay attention to these sections while uploading.

So you should ask about MOQ and pricing in your email.

  • Pricing For Samples

Some suppliers charge you for providing sample, some do not. So you should ask them about this. When you request a sample, you’ll certainly have to pay for the shipping.

  • Payment Terms

You want to make sure that the supplier accepts the payment terms you’re most comfortable with.

Please note that T/T 30% as a deposit and 70% against copies of documents is a widely used by suppliers, so this payment term is not as risky as it might sound. Just make sure that before accepting this payment term, you have made sure that the supplier is a verified gold supplier.

  • Product Catalogs

You can also ask for catalogs of the products that the supplier is supplying. Every reliable supplier has a collection of catalogs of their products. If they invest in making these catalogs look neat and professional, that is another sign that they are trustworthy.

Step #2: Working on product requirements and contract terms

You are the one who knows exactly what you want for your product… so you will have to communicate with the supplier on a regular basis and make clear about your product requirements (color, shape, model, etc).

You will also want to make sure that contract terms between you and the supplier are easily understood and reasonable. This is so that when there are issues, you have a benchmark to follow.

Step #3: Placing an order

Once both sides have agreed on everything product-wise and contract-wise, you can place an order.

Case Study

This guide seems really long and somewhat complicated (but that’s really what it takes to keep yourself safe). Let me wrap this chapter up with a real case study.

Let’s assume that I’m looking for a supplier of water bottles.

What are the steps I’m going to take from verifying this supplier to having the first interaction with them.

Step #1: I’m going search for water bottle suppliers on Alibaba search engine.

going search for water bottle suppliers on Alibaba search engine

Step #2: I’m going to look for something similar to the product that I’m looking for, and which supplier among these looks reliable.

which supplier among these looks reliable

I found this one. They are a gold supplier and have a Trade Assurance simple. The diamond tells you that they have made transactions on Alibaba over the last 6 months.

Step #3: I’m going to check their company profile.

check their company profile

Scroll down you’re going to see they provide a lot of certificates.

With the signs I have discovered in this step and the second step, I can already be sure that this supplier is totally legit.

Next I’m going to reach out to them for the first time.

Step #4: I’m going to send them the first email to ask for their company profile, product catalogs, sampling policies, payment terms, MOQ and pricing for the item that I’m looking for.

Keep in mind that, from this point on, you can keep asking questions about their business and their products, just ask as many questions as you need to. Reliable suppliers is not reluctant to answer any questions that you might have.

Every supplier has a team of consultants who can walk you through their business procedures and consult you on their products, so take it slowly and learn with them along the way.

Step #5: I’m going to work with them on their contract terms, my product requirements, pricing and anything needed.

At the end of this step, I will have everything finalized with them.

Step #6: I’m going to place an order.

To sum this entire chapter up, Alibaba is a very powerful and effective platform for you to source products from China and Vietnam. What you need to protect yourself to do is to follow this guide and be patient to verify suppliers. The efforts will pay off. ☺

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