Alibaba is a well-known Chinese online wholesaler. You can buy a wide range of goods by contacting the suppliers directly, which is why so many companies want to buy from Alibaba.
If you want to buy wholesale products from this marketplace, read our article to find out what its pros and cons are and how to avoid problems when importing from China.
How does Alibaba work?
Step: Product Search
When you want to buy something from Alibaba, you must first create an account by entering your personal information and email. Alibaba will send you a message that you must open and then click on the link in to confirm the email address.
Once you have signed up and made an account, you can use the username and password you chose when you signed up to get to your personal area.
Once you’ve signed in, you can keep looking for products in three ways:
In the Product Search bar, type the name of the item you want to buy. If you choose this option, 500 to 500,000 results will be shown, but you won’t get any information about the supplier. Use the recently added Supplier Search option instead. The goal is to always do a search based on specific products you’re interested in while also getting useful information about their suppliers. For each wholesaler, you can actually get more information by clicking on a link called “matching products.” This will take you to a page where you can see all similar items sold by the same subject. This option seems to be the best of the three because it lets you find companies or wholesalers that specialize in making and selling certain products. In fact, it is clear that the manufacturer who sells a lot of the same kind of items on Alibaba will be a more qualified and trustworthy wholesaler. On the other hand, a supplier who only has a few of the same kind of items shows that they haven’t done enough research or know enough about the product, so they should be avoided.
Request for Quotation: The potential buyer describes the product they want to buy, the most they are willing to pay, and the best way to ship and pay for it. The sellers on Alibaba will see the request for a quote and then send in their proposals.
Step: Select the right supplier on Alibaba
Alibaba is a marketplace, so it’s a place where people who sell goods can sign up and load the goods they have for sale. This means that the products you buy from Alibaba do not belong to Alibaba, but to third-party suppliers.
The portal has more than 5 million sellers, and it’s up to the buyer to figure out how reliable they are. The platform gives reviews of suppliers and information about companies, but it doesn’t compare the services that are then offered.
It was easy to buy from China.
Because Alibaba isn’t responsible for any wrongdoing by sellers on its platform, it’s best to find out as much as you can about the product or company you want to buy from by reading reviews and positive comments from other users. This will help you avoid problems and possible disputes in the future.
Alibaba puts a gold medal next to the name of serious and reliable suppliers to help importers find them and point them in the right direction. The second group are called “gold suppliers,” which means that Alibaba has checked out and approved their reliability.
To become a gold supplier, the interested party will have to pay a sort of monthly fee of 8,000 euros, which is Alibaba’s main source of income. After the payment, an employee of the well-known e-commerce site will do all the necessary checks to make sure that the supplier company is properly registered, including checking the name of the legal representative, the registered office, and the share capital.
In fact, it’s important to remember that gold quartz, which lists gold suppliers, doesn’t vouch for the reliability of those suppliers; it just makes sure that the company is registered regularly.
So, while this is a good place to start, it doesn’t guarantee the buyer that the seller is serious and professional in how they do business, nor does it guarantee the quality of the products.
The only thing you can be sure of when dealing with gold suppliers is that you are dealing with a legal business.
Step: Contact the best suppliers
Once you have a list of about ten “reliable” suppliers for the products you want to buy, you must contact them and ask for a quote.
Even though this step seems to be the easiest, it really isn’t. In fact, communicating with Chinese wholesalers isn’t always easy for a number of reasons.
Language Barriers: Chinese suppliers often speak English, but their English comprehension isn’t always the best. Write short, well-explained sentences, and add more details than leave things to chance.
Quote Accuracy: Chinese suppliers get many requests every day, so they tend to leave out quotes that are too general. Then, decide right away what you want and write a detailed request for a quote.
MOQs: Alibaba is a wholesale marketplace, and suppliers usually don’t respond to quotes for very small quantities or respond very slowly if they do.
Step: Sample evaluation
Once you’ve chosen your suppliers and asked for a quote, the next step is to order samples from the wholesalers you’ve chosen so you can see for yourself the quality and features of the items you want to buy. Samples are rarely given away for free, and even when they are, the customer still has to pay for shipping.
Buy on Alibaba: the Pros and Cons
Alibaba and variety
Alibaba is a huge platform and a giant of online sales. You can find millions of suppliers for any kind of product through Alibaba.
On Alibaba, you can find just about anything, from electronics to shoes, accessories, home decor, and even industrial machines.
In the past, we had to go all the way to China to talk to a Chinese factory that made things for us. Now, it’s possible to do everything online, which is a big plus.
On the other hand, there are so many suppliers that it is hard to choose the one that best fits our needs.
Alibaba and prices
One of the best things about Alibaba is that it has a huge range of products that are often very cheap and can be made very quickly.
But keep in mind that if you want to find cheap prices, you should always pay close attention to the minimum number of pieces that the supplier requires. Often, a cheap price is closely tied to buying a large amount.
Alibaba and quality of the goods
As a middleman, Alibaba doesn’t check the quality or originality of the items for sale on its website. It also doesn’t check if the pictures on the product pages of its catalog are real.
So, if you don’t have the experience to know how to find a reliable and professional supplier, you might end up buying something that looks nothing like what the seller showed you, or even something that is copywritten or fake and you don’t even know it.
This is very risky because not only can fake goods be stopped at customs, but you are also legally responsible for them.
Alibaba and Customs
Even though many sellers on Alibaba can set up shipping for you, almost no one can guarantee that your products will get through customs.
If the checks don’t work, the goods will be stopped and won’t be able to get into the country.
The reasons for the blockage can be very different. It could be because of fake goods, not paying customs duties, not having enough paperwork, or not having import certificates like the EC certificate.
In short, there are many different problems that could happen when goods go through customs, and Alibaba does not offer any guarantee in this area.
Alibaba and Duties
Gold sellers are often the best sellers on Alibaba because they can not only make the goods but also get them to the local port and ship them. If these operations were at your expense, it would be very problematic.
But no one can tell you how much you will have to pay in duties, because these are set by the country where the goods are going. So before ordering goods it is good to calculate the cost of duties and VAT that can sometimes weigh heavily on the total expenditure.
Alibaba and shipping times
Another thing that hurts is how late the deliveries are. Alibaba doesn’t guarantee that shipments will arrive on time, which can cause a lot of trouble. For example, when Italians buy certain products, they do so with the goal of getting them within a certain amount of time.
Think about a business owner who wants to sell some electronic goods during the Christmas season and decides to buy them from Alibaba.