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How to select Alibaba suppliers？(7 Key Points)
The first step of purchasing from China is to find suppliers. For beginners, Alibaba is undoubtedly the best choice for you. It is the world’s largest business-to-business e-commerce platform, with millions of vendors listing millions of products on Alibaba. Finding suppliers is easy. The hard part is choosing the right supplier and avoiding scammers and other middlemen.
After watching this blog, you will know how to quickly screen Alibaba suppliers, how to find lower prices, how to avoid encountering scammers, and how to buy a small number of products from Alibaba. Be sure to watch the entire blog, or you’ll miss the chance to find the best supplier. Ok now, let’s get to the point.
Why do we need to screen suppliers?
The suppliers on B2B platforms are all mixed up. You must have heard a lot of stories about bad purchasing from Alibaba, so you are afraid of being cheated.
Here are some of the stories on Quora about buyers being scammed in Alibaba:
First, I want to clarify one thing here. That Alibaba itself is not a scam. Alibaba is the world’s largest B2B cross-border e-commerce platform, which belongs to Alibaba Group together with Taobao and Alipay.Alibaba is a platform to connect suppliers and buyers. It doesn’t sell any products to you. Like other e-commerce platforms, there may be some scammers on Alibaba, but that doesn’t mean the platform isn’t reliable. By this logic, you could say that eBay, Amazon, and Lazada are scams, because you can also find many unethical businesses on these sites.
There are two ways to get cheated in Alibaba.One kind is you paid the money, but the supplier did not deliver goods and disappeared, this kind of supplier belongs to scammer.The other is that the appearance, quality or parameters of the products you buy are not in line with your expectations, or your supplier does not abide by your promises on price, quality and delivery time. This supplier is an inferior supplier and cannot be called a scammer.
First kind of scams
The first situation often happened before 2016, because Alibaba was not a mature e-commerce platform at that time. The reason why Alibaba can be so successful is that it has very low requirements for suppliers at the beginning. Almost everyone can become a supplier on Alibaba and it almost doesn’t need any fees. Later, Alibaba became the most densely populated place of suppliers in China, which attracted countless international buyers who wanted to purchase from China. But because Alibaba had no restrictions on suppliers at the time, it allowed some scammers to be the suppliers.
Later, Alibaba gradually became powerful and began to improve the mechanism and functions of the platform. Alibaba started charging suppliers for access to its platform, and also increased its requirements for suppliers. As you can see on Alibaba, verified supplier, trade assurance, this shows that these suppliers are indeed real and not scammers.
Now, it costs hundreds of thousands of CNY to become a supplier on Alibaba, and Alibaba also checks a set of documents on its suppliers, meaning it is now almost impossible to encounter the first kind of scam on Alibaba. But we still recommend you to cooperate with Chinese suppliers on Alibaba. Because Alibaba was built in Hangzhou, China and its headquarter is also located in China, they have better control over Chinese suppliers.
Second kind of scams
The second kind of scam still happens frequently. After all, Alibaba only restricts the conditions for suppliers to enter in, instead of in-depth investigation into the product quality and moral quality of suppliers.
In our past working life, many buyers complained to us, “The supplier is dishonest and always fails to deliver the goods on time.” “My long-term cooperative supplier always raises the price for various reasons. Should I change the supplier? It takes a lot of time to find a new supplier. “” Why is the quality of the bulk products I received different from the samples? How can I protect my rights?”
Basically, the problems encountered by the above buyers are very difficult to solve. The first is that these issues are not against the law, but morally wrong. International lawsuits can be very troublesome, even if they are breaking the law, and you must ensure that you have sufficient evidence.
Secondly, Alibaba will not be responsible for your price and quality. Only the delivery time and price can be guaranteed If you make a deal through the trade assurance order, .
Finally, you can not return goods to China, because in this case, the freight and taxes will even exceed the value of the goods. If you come to China to negotiate with suppliers in person, it will also be a large cost
So even though many buyers know it is cheaper to buy from China, they would rather pay more to buy locally or cooperate with some big expensive companies. A lot of people have always wanted to try but were afraid to buy from China.
Then the best way to avoid being cheated by inferior suppliers is to learn to screen suppliers. In the following article we will tell you “how to screen suppliers on Alibaba”. Of course, the same is true for other B2B platforms.
7 key points for selecting the best quality suppliers:
Let’s take the purchase of phone case as an example:
You can go to the homepage of Alibaba.com first, and then type “phone case” into the search box, and you can see a total of 155,088 products. At this time, you must be at a lose, because you can’t choose from thousands of products, which are so confusing that you can’t choose.
The first thing you should do, of course, is to narrow the range of suppliers by finding product keywords that are more in line with your needs. For example, a liquid silicone case, cartoon phone case to replace the phone case. In short, the more accurate the keywords, the better. At this point you have narrowed your product choices by about 20 times.
You should then filter through these as you browse products.
Location of Supplier
After screening, you can filter to the relevant manufacturer. Why is that? Because each province in China has a different product category. If you find some suppliers on Alibaba in a region, for example, if you want to buy electronic products, and they are in Zhejiang or Shanghai, it is almost 99% certain that they are trading companies.
They either buy products from somewhere else to complete their catalog (95% in all cases) because of the most developed area for electronic products in Shenzhen. Of course, a few are actual manufacturers.
But even if they make the product in their own region, they may be less attractive in terms of price, have less experience in making the product, and their raw material suppliers are far away. And ultimately make them less competitive.
You find suppliers for a particular product in a particular province for a variety of reasons.
1. The product’s infrastructure is good. because there are many suppliers in the area that supply parts for the supplier’s final product
2. Workers in this field are skilled in producing this particular product.
Make it easier to produce products. Most likely, it has also improved the quality of its products.
3. The region imposes preferential rates on factories that produce certain products.
For example, China’s toy industry is most developed in Chenghai City, Guangdong Province; China’s mask industry is most developed in Xiantao City, Hubei Province; and China’s wig industry is most developed in Xuchang City, Henan Province.
If you don’t know much about where certain products are made, you can do a Google search or leave a comment below.
Gold suppliers, Verified supplier, Trade assurance,
Basically, there are 2 types of suppliers on Alibaba: gold suppliers, verified suppliers. You will meet suppliers that support trade assurance, and they can be easily identified by the icon. Under each type, there are manufacturers and trading companies for you to choose.
How to become a supplier of Alibaba.com?
Conditions: Individuals cannot become paid members of Alibaba. It must be an enterprise operating entity products registered with the Mainland Industrial and Commercial Bureau. (Both production and trade types are available). And will be charged by Alibaba.
The service type company (such as logistics, testing and certification, management services, etc.) will not be able to become the suppliers on Alibaba, and offshore companies and individuals also will not be able to join it.
1. Prepare company business license
2. Contact the local Alibaba account manager for processing
3. Choose a cooperative promotion plan and prepare expenses
4. The account manager will help them register and activate.
There are two types of members on Alibab.com. The basic member is RMB 29,800 per year, and the premium member is Gold suppliers, which costs RMB 80,000 per year. In addition, if the supplier need more additional traffic, they need to purchase traffic promotion products. There are 3 types of traffic products on Alibaba.com:
1. Top sponsored listing
After buying the top sponsored listing, the product will rank first in the year, with a unique crown logo. The cost ranges from several thousand to several hundred thousand, depending on the popularity of the keyword.
2. P4P (Pay For Performance)
Behind the top sponsored listing, suppliers can bid for the top 5 positions of the keyword, pay-per-click. local IP and repeated clicks will be blocked. There are several levels, such as 30,000 and 50,000 RMB.
3. Product Showcase
Product Showcase is the main product of the supplier, and it will have more exposure opportunities than other products of the supplier. Product Showcase are those products you see after entering the supplier homepage. Usually, showcase products are behind the top sponsored listings and P4P products.
The gold supplier is a paid member of Alibaba. The third-party and Alibaba staff also verified their identity through on-site inspections.
As we mentioned above the charge for gold supplies is about ￥30000 per year, which it’s cheap for a supplier. In fact. gold supplier is the most basic member of Alibaba. And it’s so easy to become a gold supplier on Alibaba.
Next to the Gold Supplier logo, you can also see the age of the company. We prefer suppliers that are more than 5 years old, as this is a sure sign that it is an established company. The chances of them becoming scammers are very slim. Fraud accounts simply don’t last that long., they will be caught sooner or later.
A verification icon indicates that the supplier has been verified and verified by a third-party agent. These checks have been conducted to ensure that the gold supplier is a legitimate and existing company, but does not verify its business reputation.
As we mentioned earlier, the verified supplier is an upgrade of the gold supplier. The cost is more than twice that of the gold supplier, about ￥80,000 a year.
Alibaba official explains of Verified supplier: A Verified Supplier is a supplier for whom certain aspects of its business type and company structure(e.g. trading company, manufacturer or both)，company profile, management system, production capabilities, and product and process controls have been assessed, certified and/or inspected by independent third party institutions via online and offline means.
However, it is not all that difficult to become a verified supplier.
Verified supplier annual fee will be equivalent to the annual salary of one Shenzhen worker, while the average salary in Shenzhen in 2020 is 7,825 CNY. It’s actually more expensive to buy additional traffic tools. It should be noted that Verified Suppliers’ test results for the business type are not so credible. It is not difficult for a trader to pretend to be a manufacturer, and it does not matter to Alibaba whether the supplier is a manufacturer or a trading company, since they will charge for it anyway.
Suppliers that support trade assurance
In the case of quality differences and delayed shipments, the supplier agrees to use trade guarantees to protect the interests of the buyer.
Trade Assurance is Alibaba’s own platform for placing orders and managing payments. If the supplier accepts the trade guarantee, it is another good sign for a legitimate company. When the order is trade guaranteed (if completed correctly), you gain the protection of the order and can use a more secure payment method, such as a credit card.
But trade guarantee orders can still be problematic if you don’t use them properly, especially if there are differences of opinion about the quality of the goods delivered. To minimize problems, you must be very specific about your order, write down all item specifications in the order, adhere to payment deadlines, etc.
The best way to protect interests is to make a deal with suppliers through trust orders on Alibaba. However, for some large customized orders, this may not be possible. Handling fees for trade assurance orders are high, with Alibaba charging around 2%.
You can select the verified suppliers and Trade Assurance filter directly on the search page, under the Supplier Types dropdown menu. Trade assurance, the verified supplier does not guarantee that the supplier is the manufacturer. It is not very difficult for the trader to pretend to be the manufacturer. But this at least shows that these suppliers are real, because “trade assurance, verified suppliers” require suppliers to pay to apply.
Even for the same keyword, there are a lot of different products. In this case, it is a better choice to choose a product picture that is similar or identical to the product you need. In this way, you will save a lot of communication costs and even procurement costs. Because if the supplier has already produced or sold similar products, he must know more about the product and your requirements than other suppliers. And he didn’t have to develop the product.
But pay attention to confirm the product picture with the supplier again when inquiry, because the picture is old and the supplier may have upgraded the product. Or some traders may steal the pictures of factories, and the products they actually sell may be inconsistent with the pictures.
For products whose product pictures and company addresses match, you can carefully browse the product details page to learn more about the products.
Points requiring your special attention:
- Product specifications, such as whether the voltage and current of the charger meets your requirements
- Material: Even if you don’t know much about the material, you should know the material of the product. This is conducive to your judgment when selecting suppliers. The cost of different materials is not the same. Take plastic as an example, PP plastic particles 8500-10000 CNY/ton, ABS 11600 CNY/ton, PET price is 7500-8500 CNY/ton, PVC 7500-10000 CNY/ton, PE 6500 CNY/ton, from cheap to expensive: PE-PP-PET-PVC-ABS. Obviously, ABS plastic is more expensive than other materials.
- Function: whether the function of the product meets your expectations
- Certification: Check to see if the supplier has the certification required in your country. Usually, suppliers will display their certification on the product details page. If you ask the supplier to apply for the certificate you require, the supplier is likely to ask you to bear the cost of the certification.
- Product details: carefully observe the appearance of the product design you like. If you are not satisfied with some of the designs of the product, the cost of changing the mold of the product is also very high.
Just like buying clothes, it’s better to be able to buy one that satisfies yourself completely, but when we can’t find one that is very satisfied, we can also consider the most suitable one.
The price on Alibaba is not the final sale price, it is just a price range for your reference. Different customization requirements can lead to different prices, so you can only get a final quote after telling the supplier your detailed requirements. How to make an inquiry to a supplier?
Note: Even the price range may not be true, as many vendors will deliberately write their prices very low in order to attract customers’ attention. When you make an inquiry, you will find that the final quotation of the product is not in the price range displayed on Alibaba.
Ready to ship
If you want to buy a small number of products on Alibaba to test, you can select Ready to Ship to screen the products.
Ready to ship means it’s a product that the supplier already has in stock, so you can buy it in small quantities. But b=asically, you can’t customize your logo. The price is usually more expensive when you buy smaller quantities, and you have to pay for expensive shipping. In this way, the price of Ready to Ship is essentially equal to the retail price of the product.
But if you really want to purchase a small amount of product from a supplier to test the market and product quality, this is a good option. If you have a long-term purchase in mind, remember to ask the supplier if the product is available for the long term before buying. Because some products that are ready to ship may also be slow-moving goods by the company, the supplier may not stock them after clearing out the inventory.
Transaction information and customer reviews
Next to the company profile, you can see the product’s transaction information. Including the sales volume of the product in a year, the number of transactions, the number of customers, the country of customers and other information. Of course, the statistics here are trade assurance orders, not including the private transactions of orders between buyers and suppliers. So this cannot be the only criterion to judge the sales of the product. But usually suppliers prefer to do business with you through a trade assurance order on Alibaba, because it helps to improve their store’s rating. The higher the transaction amount, the higher the supplier level, the more supplier rights and business opportunities will be obtained. This is also a way for Alibaba to increase customer stickiness.
On the product homepage, you can see customer ratings and comments on the product. However, most product reviews are still relatively small. Buyers are not very familiar with this after-sales evaluation function. Only a small number of people will take the initiative to evaluate when they receive the goods. Some suppliers will invite customers to evaluate, of course, this is generally when the customer is satisfied. Generally, there are fewer negative reviews of products. You can check this item carefully, and be extra careful with products with bad reviews.
The above are the 7 core key points to help you select Alibaba suppliers. I believe you have a little more confidence in sourcing from China.
With the above skills, you can probably filter out 90% of the suppliers. After selecting our satisfactory supplier, the next step is to make an inquiry. Inquiry is not simply asking the price, there are also many skills. Before you rush to send your inquiry to the supplier, plan what you want to say and the questions you need to ask. In the following blog, we will introduce you to inquiry techniques.
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