I know you want to learn how to buy from Alibaba.
That’s why this guide will answer all questions you have been asking about importing from Alibaba.
From the basic definition, checking quality, avoiding scams, shipping options to methods of payments – you will find everything here.
Keep reading to learn more.
- What is Alibaba?
- What is the difference between Alibaba and AliExpress?
- Who can Buy from Alibaba?
- What are the Benefits of Buying from Alibaba?
- Which Products can you Buy from Alibaba?
- What is the Step by Step Process of Buying from Alibaba?
- How do you Find Trustworthy Suppliers on Alibaba?
- How do you avoid getting Scammed when Buying from Alibaba?
- Can you buy from Alibaba to Amazon FBA?
- What is the safest way to pay Alibaba Suppliers?
- What is Alipay, and How does it Work?
- How do you Contact a Supplier on Alibaba?
- What is Alibaba Shipping, and How does it Work?
- Does Alibaba offer Door to Door Shipping?
- What other options are there for Shipping Goods from Alibaba?
- What are the Disadvantages of Buying from Alibaba?
- What are the Minimum Order Requirements for Alibaba Suppliers?
- How do you Verify Company Credibility on Alibaba?
- Which is the Best Incoterm to use when Buying from Alibaba?
- How do you Verify the Authenticity of a Product listing on Alibaba?
- What is Alibaba RFQ?
- How does Alibaba Handle Quality Control?
- Why are there Huge Variations in Pricing of Similar Products on Alibaba?
- How long does it Take to Receive Goods bought from Alibaba?
- What are the Import Duties and Taxes for Goods bought from Alibaba?
- Do you need an Import License to Buy from Alibaba?
- Can you use a Sourcing Agent to Buy from Alibaba?
- What are the Trading Company and a Manufacturer on Alibaba?
- What do ODM and OEM mean on Alibaba?
- Do Alibaba Suppliers provide Product Samples?
- How do you Find a Profitable Product Niche on Alibaba?
- Do you need a Freight Forwarder to Ship Products bought from Alibaba?
- What is the Return Policy for Alibaba?
- How do you Place an Order on Alibaba?
- Can you Buy from Alibaba for Personal use?
- Between Buying from Alibaba and Factory, which is better?
- Can you get Free Shipping from Alibaba Suppliers?
- How do you Source from Alibaba to start an Online Business?
- Do Alibaba Suppliers Provide Quotation?
- Which Currency can you use when Buying from Alibaba?
- How do you Track Shipment from Alibaba?
- Are there Alternatives to Alibaba?
- Can you Drop Ship from Alibaba?
What is Alibaba?
It refers to a wholesale marketplace, which allows sellers and buyers to sell and buy different types of products in bulk, globally.
It is regarded as one of the largest e-commerce websites in the world where buyers can source and buy different commodities affordably.
Alibaba has tons of suppliers, making it easy for you to buy single, numerous, or assorted items.
It depends on how you negotiate with the specific suppliers you are dealing with.
The platform allows you to interact directly with the manufacturer, which is beneficial since it facilitates easy and speedy delivery of commodities.
Moreover, it enables you to negotiate on competitive discounts and, at the same time, obtain custom products.
What is the difference between Alibaba and AliExpress?
There is a thin line between Alibaba and AliExpress.
Both are owned by the same company, but each operates differently with a specific purpose.
Each entity is also designed for a different target audience.
One major difference is Alibaba operates of a business to the business model and AliExpress works on a business to consumer model.
In short, with Alibaba, you’ll be dealing with manufacturers directly for the purchase of products in bulk.
On the other hand, with AliExpress, you can source products as low as a single piece directly, albeit at slightly higher rates.
AliExpress thus acts as a retail unit to Alibaba’s wholesale.
Therefore, you’ll find many potential clients using the former for sample products before placing larger orders on the latter.
Another difference is Alibaba offers the lowest unit cost for every product purchases on wholesale terms.
AliExpress, on the other hand, is ideal for newbies testing new products suitable for their niche.
Alibaba allows you to create custom products using your designs to suit your demands.
Alibaba vs AliExpress
In contrast, you can purchase items on AliExpress individually at relatively costly rates.
Alibaba is an ideal platform for frequent and experienced customers with an already established market.
This helps in reducing the risk significantly.
By contrast, AliExpress is ideal for newbies trying out with different types of products, running a passive income trade.
Who can Buy from Alibaba?
Anybody can buy items from Alibaba as long as you meet the MOQ.
It can be an individual, company, or government.
Alibaba has a directory, which allows anybody or any entity to purchase directly from specific manufacturers.
What are the Benefits of Buying from Alibaba?
It is beneficial in numerous ways to buy from Alibaba.
Some of these advantages include the following;
a) It provides an online directory for a wide range of manufacturers you can reach out to and purchase different types of products from.
The benefit here is it gives you broad options of suppliers to source from.
b) It allows you to design customized products, which suit your demands at affordable rates.
c) It has millions of products to select from, thus enabling you to have broad alternatives when looking for a suitable commodity.
d) It is a platform, which offers the lowest pricing when purchasing goods on wholesale. It thus makes it possible for you to increase your profit margin.
e) It makes it easy for you to evaluate the manufacturers or suppliers you’re dealing with.
It gives you the option to determine the type of supplier, check reviews, and a number of transactions carried out.
f) It allows for monitoring of the quality of items a customer is ordering before dispatching.
And this is fundamental since it prevents inconveniences and costs arising from returns.
g) It gives you control over the packaging and shipping of your product.
Therefore, you can be certain the products’ packaging, and specification criteria meet your specific demands.
Which Products can you Buy from Alibaba?
Product category on Alibaba
You can buy almost any item from Alibaba as long as it is legal in your country.
There are millions of different commodities on this platform.
Alibaba connects you to all sorts of manufacturers and suppliers selling all types of products.
The products include electronic components and supplies, healthcare products, beauty, and personal care and fashion items.
You can also buy equipment and machinery, automotive parts, home improvement tools, computers, and gaming gadgets, among others.
In short, there is a myriad of items you can buy from this eCommerce site.
What is the Step by Step Process of Buying from Alibaba?
It is a detailed process on paper but quite easy practically. These steps include the following;
1. Set up an Alibaba Account
The first thing to do is set up your account on Alibaba.
You need to use your credentials such as user ID and password to log in to this platform.
It is quite easy and direct since the interface is in English, which you can switch to your preferred language if need be.
2. Finding a Niche on Alibaba
Before thinking of purchasing any item from Alibaba, you ought to validate your niche.
Finding a niche enables you to identify trending products within the category you are looking for.
3. Find the Ideal Supplier
The moment you identify and find a niche category for your products, the next step is finding a suitable supplier for the items.
If you’re a frequent customer on Alibaba, it would be ideal to always have at most three core suppliers.
helps in strengthening a business relationship, reliability, and cohesive product collection.
If you’re a newbie, you can use several techniques to find the ideal supplier on this platform.
First, you can run a suppliers’ search at the homepage of this e-commerce website.
Type the specific product you’re searching for and narrow the search further to get the most suitable suppliers for your needs.
Under the Sort By option, you can choose by “response rate”, “Transaction level” or leave it at its default’s “Best Match”.
The “Transaction level” option is recommendable when seeking a supplier with the highest processed orders.
You can also opt for a “Response rate” if you’re looking for a supplier to build a good rapport with.
Essentially, your choice when narrowing options is dependent on your needs as far as dealings with suppliers are concerned.
Once you identify one, there is a need for ensuring you do due diligence to confirm you’re dealing with a legit and reliable party.
Some elements to look into in a supplier include ratings, reviews, past transactions, and modes of operations, among others.
4. Selecting the Product
This is the next step after finding the right supplier.
Ideally, it can be quite challenging to navigate the website to select products you want to sell from Alibaba’s platform.
You have to be extremely keen on this aspect by matching the products you’re looking for to factories on this eCommerce website.
An essential element to look into at this stage is unit price against MOQ.
It helps you to figure out whether or not your budget is within limits.
5. Get in Touch with the Suppliers
When you’re on Alibaba’s product page, you’ll see a relatively large orange button labeled “Contact Supplier”.
This button enables you to get in touch with the sellers before you place your order.
It is not compulsory to contact the seller before placing an order.
However, it would be an ideal opportunity to inquire and find out clarification regarding particular concerns.
The concerns could be about asking for a sample for quality assessment, or MOQ, or price negotiation or any issue you’d need clarification on.
6. Order Confirmation
After doing all the necessary formalities, including order payment, the items are sent to your delivery destination.
Upon receiving them, you’ll need to evaluate the quality to find out whether or not they match the specifications.
While at it, you are advised to assess and test each product you receive.
Verify if they are in good condition as soon as you can.
Also, countercheck the quantity to ensure it matches what you’d ordered for.
Of course, it can be quite challenging, especially where the order has a higher volume.
Even so, you can task your team members with this responsibility.
Furthermore, ensure the product packaging meets your requirements.
Pay attention to how every item was packaged and determine if it was suitable.
Once you assess the consignment, counteract accordingly if there is a need to.
For instance, if you find damaged items, you may want to raise a complaint about a possible return.
If there was a short landing, you could as well communicate to the supplier for possible replacement.
Basically, that’s the step by step process involved in purchasing items from Alibaba.
Once you start doing it practically on the website, you’ll notice it is easier than it sounds herein.
How do you Find Trustworthy Suppliers on Alibaba?
Some of the ideal ways you can use to find a reliable supplier include the following;
- Select a gold supplier – On Alibaba, you can filter the options to allow you to find gold suppliers only.
These are the type of suppliers who often subscription fees to Alibaba, thus tend to be more reliable.
It means Alibaba has verified the authenticity of a gold supplier, thus worth transacting with.
- Deal with a manufacturer where possible – On Alibaba, you’ll find two categories of suppliers; Trading company and manufacturer.
A trading company is more or less like a third party involved in listing and selling of commodities they do not produce.
- Manufacturer, in contrast, make the products they are selling. In most cases, manufacturers tend to have a limited and more niche product variety. The manufacturer is more reliable, organized, and cost-effective.
- Check the response rate – When searching for items on Alibaba, always check the item card showing additional information.
Go for a supplier with a response rate of over 70%.
A less responsive supplier is a sign of lack of seriousness or enthusiasm; hence can easily inconvenience you.
- Check if the supplier is verified – From the supplier’s homepage, you can be able to tell whether or not they are verified. The more verified details, the better chance to transact business with the dealer.
- Request multiple samples – Always ask for samples from the supplier before making a large order. Pay for the cost, and once you get them, assess to determine whether or not the quality meets your demands.
How do you avoid getting Scammed when Buying from Alibaba?
To avoid being scammed on this platform, you should be cautious of any supplier portraying characteristics such as the following;
- Offering extremely low prices – Mostly, you’ll find multiple suppliers selling similar products, but the price disparity will always be reasonable among all.
However, if you find one offering a similar product at let’s say half the price, that should be a red flag.
- Unwilling to send samples – A trustworthy supplier will always be ready to send sample products as long as you can pay for the same.
If you persistently ask for samples, but the supplier seems unwilling, avoid such since that’s a sign of a con.
- Rigid payment methods – Alibaba is an international ecommerce platform. It means suppliers expect to get customers from various nations.
Avoid any supplier who’s hell-bent on a specific mode of payment.
- Unwilling to accept Alibaba Trade Assurance – Alibaba Trade Assurance protects your transaction; hence you can easily claim money in case the deal doesn’t go through as expected.
Deal with any supplier unwilling to head this direction with a lot of caution.
- Unverified account – Since Alibaba offers a platform for thousands of suppliers, it becomes easy for anyone to create an account.
It makes it easy to be scammed even with “ghost supplier”. Therefore, always go for suppliers with verified accounts.
- Unregistered address – A reliable supplier should have a registered address, contact information, and in some cases, a website platform.
Avoid dealing with suppliers who regularly change their contact information, such as addresses and phone numbers.
Buyers are not Alibaba’s customers.
Instead, Alibaba makes money by selling membership to sellers or suppliers.
It is thus apparent it’s the sellers they’ll always keep on their side.
In essence, it explains the reason you need to be vigilant when looking for suppliers.
Can you buy from Alibaba to Amazon FBA?
The supplier, through a third party, will place shipping labels, package and inspect the products before leaving the warehouse.
Once your commodities are shipped to Amazon FBA warehouse, you’ll take care of the storage and related costs.
You are at liberty to decide whether to ship all products on Amazon FBA warehouse or allow Amazon to distribute your stock.
Prominently is to understand Amazon FBA has stringent rules regarding quality, labeling, and documentation.
What is the safest way to pay Alibaba Suppliers?
Different suppliers accept varied forms of payment on Alibaba, depending on a wide range of circumstances.
There are several payment options you can use for paying suppliers on this platform.
But only a few are regarded as safe, especially among legit suppliers.
They include the following;
This is an international online payment system for electronic money transfer from one user to another.
It is an electronic alternative for conventional paper payment methods such as checks and money orders.
It is safe, instant, and convenient.
However, both parties need to have PayPal accounts for the transaction to go through.
It converts foreign currencies at a fee and also can wire funds between users’ bank accounts.
It is a third-party online and mobile payment platform used in a wide range of money transactions.
It enables users to conduct transactions directly from their registered mobile devices.
It is a relatively safe payment option, which you can use to move funds between buyer and merchant accounts.
· Credit Cards
It is a mode of payment, which allows the buyer to pay for items without using cash.
The customer uses their cards, which has money to make purchases.
The buyer, therefore, transfers money from their account to the merchant’s account electronically using the card.
It is instant, safe, and convenient.
What is Alipay, and How does it Work?
It is a third-party mobile payment app used for transferring money from one user to another one.
It offers e-wallet service on a smartphone for fast and convenient payment methods.
You can also use Alipay for receiving international money from friends, relatives, and acquaintances in overseas countries.
It is easy to use since you only need to download the app on your smartphone and scan the QR code to complete your payment.
Another option is logging in to your Alipay account online and complete the transaction from that end.
Once the payment is successful, the status will appear as “Payment Sent” on the interface.
How do you Contact a Supplier on Alibaba?
There are four ways on Alibaba you can use to contact the supplier.
The product page on Alibaba has a large orange button labeled “Contact supplier”.
This button allows you to contact the supplier before making and actualizing your order.
The second option is clicking the “Get Latest Price” button, which is often quicker and a bit easier.
The downside of this option is most suppliers are unlikely to pay attention to messages from this channel.
The third alternative is using the “Start Order” button. Even so, this order is only sensible if you’re sure ultimately, you’ll order from the supplier.
In most cases, this is never the case, especially for first-timers.
The last option, in this case, is using the “Chat Now’ channel.
It is a comparatively, effective method for contacting the supplier directly.
However, it can be limited by time differences between the seller and buyer.
And this makes it difficult to coordinate or have effective communication.
Therefore, the “Contact Supplier” option stands out as the best channel for contacting the supplier directly.
It is more or less like sending an email, but this time on the Alibaba platform.
Upon clicking the button, you’ll find a space for typing your message to the supplier.
However, it is recommended to always be brief and straightforward in the message.
You’ll always receive a notification message on your email in case of a response from the supplier or their representatives.
What is Alibaba Shipping, and How does it Work?
It refers to the transportation of commodities you buy from suppliers in China to your preferred destination through Alibaba.
Alibaba acts as the middleman in picking the goods from the supplier’s warehouse upon payment of the order to the shipper.
In essence, Alibaba coordinates the delivery of the consignment from the supplier to the buyer.
Primarily, Alibaba cooperates with different shipping agents to facilitate the transportation of customer’s items from various suppliers to customers.
Once the customer provides the quantity of the products he/she is buying, the Alibaba agent calculates the weight and volume.
This information is then communicated to the shipping agent, who, in turn, provides a quotation for the shipment.
Then Alibaba will communicate to the customer to facilitate payment and enable shipping of the commodities to the delivery destination.
Mostly, Alibaba usually offers reasonably low charges than what the shipping agent quotes.
Once the customer pays, the products are transported to the destination using the preferred shipping mode.
Does Alibaba offer Door to Door Shipping?
Yes, albeit indirectly.
What happens with Alibaba is that the customer chooses their preferred mode of shipping and delivery when placing the order.
Alibaba, through your seller, coordinates with the ideal courier service such as DHL, FedEx, TNT, EMS, or China post, among others.
It is the courier service that delivers your consignment to your doorstep.
In fact, Alibaba door to door shipping is convenient.
What other options are there for Shipping Goods from Alibaba?
They are quite a number, but the major ones include the following;
Shipping from Alibaba
Airfreight – It involves the loading of your goods onto a cargo flight for transportation.
This option is relatively cheaper than using courier services, albeit taking more days for you to get the consignment.
It requires you to work with an air fright agent, it requires relatively less paperwork and enhanced security for your cargo.
Ocean freight – It involves using water vessels to transport the commodities from country of origin to country of destination.
Ocean freight is the cheapest mode of shipping goods from Alibaba, but the delivery time is a bit longer.
It is also ideal for shipping large consignment, especially when working within a tight budget.
Ensure you use FOB shipping incoterms in ocean freight to avoid any hidden costs.
Trucking – It is the use of cargo trucks for hauling goods purchased from Alibaba
It is ideal for mainland transportation, especially if the delivery destination is within proximity to the supplier.
Rail freight – It involves use of a cargo train to ship cargo from Alibaba. It is relatively faster than ocean freight and reasonably affordable.
It is also ideal for large consignment since one cargo train can haul an equivalent of up to about 400 trucks.
It has a safety record and helps in preventing congestion on the highways.
What are the Disadvantages of Buying from Alibaba?
The common disadvantages include the following;
- The MOQ for some products can be relatively high, which means the upfront cost will also be higher. It is advantageous since it transfers the risk to the buyer.
- Some niches pose difficulties since they have disparity between countries. For instance, in clothing and fashion, the Asian sizing is usually different from American sizing. This can lead to confusion for your key demographic.
- In some instances, the product photos tend to be different from the actual item you receive upon ordering. This makes it hard and frustrating to sell to the end-users.
- Buyers are likely to face legal actions, especially when selling products from Alibaba, which are branded, and they’re not officially accredited.
- In some cases, you may find faulty products or a short landing, which can be inconveniencing since the return policy can be frustrating.
Moreover, there could be instances of quality degradation, particularly in subsequent shipments.
What are the Minimum Order Requirements for Alibaba Suppliers?
It varies from one supplier to another.
However, most suppliers on Alibaba are always willing to negotiate with buyers on the ideal MOQ based on different factors.
It usually varies also depending on the unit cost for purchasing the product.
In many instances, most manufacturers will always try to find a balance between unit price and order quantity to determine suitable MOQ.
How do you Verify Company Credibility on Alibaba?
Alibaba verifies all credible seller accounts.
Before getting the verification badge, the seller has to attain certain stipulated conditions.
One way is by checking whether the supplier has a business license registration number.
Typically, Alibaba often verifies business licenses for each supplier every year.
It thus means the registration number of a company’s license is true.
The other way is by checking whether the company agrees to Alibaba Trade Assurance policies.
Trade assurance Alibaba
It shows commitment and goodwill from the seller’s perspective since, in most instances, this serves to protect the buyer.
You also need to obtain reports from the Assessed supplier.
This is one inspected with third parties, and you can download all the relevant verification documents regarding the same.
There are several websites, which you can use to verify the legitimacy of the supplier on Alibaba.
Most of these websites are coded in Chinese, so it becomes easier if you’re familiar with the language.
If not, you may need to translate with Google Chrome web browser.
These websites include China’s Commerce Ministry Database, CECIPS, QiChaCha, and China’s General Administration of Customs Database.
Which is the Best Incoterm to use when Buying from Alibaba?
Free on Board (FOB) is the arguably the best shipping incoterm when sourcing goods from Alibaba.
FOB is more secure and competitive than any other incoterms, including CIF.
FOB controls all the agents involved in the process hence allowing you to assert pressure to lower the commercial price.
This incoterm also enables you to acquire better insurance rates.
It’s necessary since you’ll be looking for a deal, which covers a significant part of the logistical transportation.
FOB minimizes costs hence allowing the buyer to obtain tax benefits such as lower VAT burdens.
How do you Verify the Authenticity of a Product listing on Alibaba?
Check the company’s profile – It is an ideal way of establishing whether or not the product listing is authentic.
A verified company with Gold membership would rarely list an unauthentic product on Alibaba.
Supplier accepts Trade Assurance Terms – A supplier who is ready to accept Trade Assurance terms will likely have authentic product listing.
Mostly, the terms cover the buyer hence the likelihood of the supplier suffering a loss.
Matching information – The product pictures must also correspond with the product information submitted.
- Is Alibaba cheaper than Amazon?
Most products listed on Alibaba are far much cheaper compared to those on Amazon.
In essence, the assumption is that you ought to purchase in bulk on Alibaba.
In other words, Alibaba is designed as a B2B eCommerce portal, and Amazon is a B2C eCommerce platform.
It is thus apparent buying from a B2B site will be cheaper than buying from a B2C site.
What is Alibaba RFQ?
It refers to a facility, which Alibaba offers to customers for posting buying requests.
It also allows buyers to handle each quotation on the platform of Alibaba RFQ service.
To access this facility, you have to join the Alibaba account and fill the necessary information on RFQ registration form.
Once you fill the form, you will submit it by pressing “Submit RFQ”.
Upon presentation of form, the Alibaba experts review it before they post or release it to the market. It is then matched with a suitable vendor.
All interested vendors search for related RFQ based on the name and category of the product.
You will then get quotes from the vendors via RFQ, which you evaluate, compare, and direct the quotations.
Alibaba RFQs are in two categories; Free and Paid.
The paid RFQ service is regarded as a quality RFQ in the Alibaba market compared to free RFQ service.
It is advantageous in terms of cost-effectiveness, convenience, and proactiveness regarding competition among vendors for your orders.
How does Alibaba Handle Quality Control?
Alibaba puts stringent measures to ensure suppliers provide high-quality products to their buyers.
Some of these measures include the following;
Supplier’s assessment and verification – Third parties contracted by Alibaba assess the suitability of most reputable sellers on Alibaba.
An assessment report is issued, confirming the authenticity of the seller to provide quality products.
Hiring third party inspection agents – Alibaba often recommends suppliers to seek services of a third party inspection agency.
In case the quality inspector rejects the batch, the buyer is notified and can as well file a dispute on Alibaba.
This helps in reaffirming the quality needs of products before shipping to the buyer.
Flagging unscrupulous suppliers – Alibaba has a policy of investigating and flagging of any supplier found guilty of selling compromised quality products.
This helps customers avert trading with such a company, thus protecting their interests.
Trade Assurance Program – Alibaba requires suppliers to enroll for the trade assurance program.
This program helps to protect the interests of the buyer from unscrupulous trades in case they provide poor quality items.
The buyer is refunded the money in case the quality does not meet the required standards.
Why are there Huge Variations in Pricing of Similar Products on Alibaba?
The price discrepancy on similar products is usually apparent on Alibaba due to various reasons including the following;
Alibaba is an eCommerce platform, which allows different sellers to market their commodities to different markets all over the world.
It majorly has two categories of sellers; manufacturers and trading companies.
Manufacturers often sell their products at relatively low prices compared to trading companies.
They are involved in almost all the manufacturing processes.
Therefore, overhead costs may be slightly lower.
Moreover, they also sell products in bulk, which makes the unit price a bit cheaper.
Trading company, by contrast, is like a third party in the selling process.
They source the products from the manufacturers and resell them to the buyers.
Trading companies often price their products relatively higher than manufacturers as a result of the overhead costs.
For instance, inland transportation, repackaging, and storage, among others.
The other reason is that a product may have been listed a long time ago when its cost was higher.
Consequently, new pricing reflects the correct figures according to the current market demands.
And in extreme cases, the quality of one product could be better than the other one, irrespective of prevailing similarities.
How long does it Take to Receive Goods bought from Alibaba?
It depends on a wide range of factors, such as your delivery destination.
If your destination is far away from the manufacturer, it will take more time to receive the shipment.
It is also dependent on the mode of shipping you prefer.
Express shipping is the fastest and can take between 8-48hrs to deliver the goods.
Air freight is also faster and can take up to eight days, depending on where you live.
Ocean freight takes longer, and you can wait for your shipment up to about 60 days also, depending on your location.
The bottom line is there is no standard shipping timeline for goods you buy from Alibaba.
It all depends on a wide range of factors and revolving circumstances.
What are the Import Duties and Taxes for Goods bought from Alibaba?
The customs duty is dependent on the value of goods as well as the delivery destination.
Each country has its policies and limits, which guide the application of taxes and duties for goods imported from other countries.
For instance, in the USA 800 USD, New Zealand 300 USD, Singapore 200 USD, Australia 1000 AUD, Canada 20 CAD, and West EU nations 22 EU, among others.
In other words, if you import product value under such goods value, you won’t have to pay any duty or tax.
Do you need an Import License to Buy from Alibaba?
It depends on the volume of goods you are importing from Alibaba.
If you are importing a few items or say a small quantity of relatively low value, you won’t necessarily need an import license.
In such a case, you can ask your supplier to courier them.
However, if you’re going to import from Alibaba and in most instances large quantity regularly, IEC becomes necessary irrespective of the medium of purchase.
IEC is Import Export Code, which means you’ll also need to clear the consignment with the customs department.
Can you use a Sourcing Agent to Buy from Alibaba?
It is a wise idea to seek the services of a sourcing agent to help you purchase goods from Alibaba.
If you’re a first-timer or lack the necessary experience in this trade, using a sourcing agent should be your best bet.
The influx of many unscrupulous suppliers on Alibaba in recent times is immense.
Therefore, using a sourcing agent is the ideal approach to determine genuine suppliers from frauds.
There are several ways you can use to find reputable sourcing agents for your Alibaba purchases.
You only need to be meticulous and thorough when recruiting the suitable one for you.
What are the Trading Company and a Manufacturer on Alibaba?
A trading company is more or less of a middleman between the supplier and the buyer.
It buys products from the company and sells them to buyers.
Trading companies typically price their commodities a bit expensive than manufacturers.
This is to enable them to raise enough revenue to cater for their overhead costs and profit margin.
The benefit of a trading company is they offer a wide range of products from various manufacturers.
It thus makes it easy for a buyer to source different products from one source.
Manufacturer, on the other hand, refers to the entity, which produces a specific product.
They have a specific niche, which at times tends to limit them when it comes to reaching out to the direct market.
Nonetheless, manufacturers are always organized and relatively affordable than trading companies.
What do ODM and OEM mean on Alibaba?
OEM vs ODM
ODM, an acronym for Original Design Manufacturer, is a term used for classifying factories supplying parts or final parts.
An ODM factory merely provides ideas for designing and manufacturing the products.
You may need to give the factory information such as expected functions, performance, and ideas of conception.
Ultimately, the company will suggest a few ideas for designing and manufacturing the final product.
Essentially, ODM is a company, which helps you to build a product, which suits your demands.
OEM, on the other hand, is a short form for the Original Equipment manufacturer.
In this case, you need to come with your product specifications, requirements, and detailed vision and give the OEM factory.
In such a case, the OEM company will start manufacturing the product from scratch, attend to your needs, and follow your will.
It is the ideal option if you’re looking for a supplier offering unique products under your brand name.
Do Alibaba Suppliers provide Product Samples?
Most legit suppliers will be willing to send samples, albeit at your cost.
Any supplier unwilling to provide samples even when you are ready to foot the bills is more or less likely to be a con.
How do you Find a Profitable Product Niche on Alibaba?
You need to do due diligence to determine the best product for you to sell.
Also, it depends on the specific part of the world you’re located.
There are several ways and tools you can use to identify a profitable niche on Alibaba.
They include Twitter, SEMRush, Google Trends, and Trend hunter.
You can as well search on Google using keywords of the product to find the niche.
Browsing Amazon can as well enable you to know the best niche for you to undertake.
Ideally, you need to browse various categories of best-selling products on Amazon.
You’ll notice some popular products already selling on Amazon hence making it easy for you to determine how they perform.
Above all, you also need to figure out the price point you’re targeting, and the demographic you’re mostly identifying with.
Do you need a Freight Forwarder to Ship Products bought from Alibaba?
It depends on the quantity of the consignment you are buying from Alibaba.
If the goods are few, you may leave the task to the seller, who’ll coordinate with the courier to ensure you receive your shipment.
The supplier will handle all aspects of making sure the product is safely shipped to your destination.
However, if the consignment is a bit large, there’s a need for seeking services of a freight forwarder.
Ideally, the shipment will need to undergo the regular clearance at the customs department.
In such circumstances, a freight forwarder comes in handy since they’ll facilitate the customs clearance process.
How do you Find and Choose a Reliable Alibaba Freight Forwarder?
When looking for a suitable Alibaba freight forwarder, there are numerous elements you need to consider.
Credentials and certifications – It enables you to determine the specialty of the freight forwarder and whether they are ideal for the task. While at it, ensure you also ask for references.
Experience – It is necessary since it determines how the freight forwarder handles different issues related to shipping.
An experienced freight forwarder will always know how to deal with several issues and circumstances.
Network base – The freight forwarder is responsible for handling your shipment both at the origin and destination.
Shipping from Alibaba requires considerable logistics, thus the need for a forwarder with an appropriate network of global agents.
Versatility – Always ensure you are selecting the right freight forwarder offering services you require.
However, they should also be flexible enough to handle other related tasks, which may need their input in different ways.
Customer service – The freight forwarder you are choosing should offer impeccable customer service.
Communication is essential in this trade as well as support in case there is a technical hitch.
Professional membership – It is vital since it allows the freight forwarder to build professional networks.
Typically, membership in such organizations demonstrates reliability, efficiency, professionalism, and financial solidity.
What is the Return Policy for Alibaba?
Several aspects surround Alibaba’s return policy.
You can return products bought at Alibaba on different grounds such as the following;
- Delayed delivery – If the supplier fails to deliver the consignment within the specific agreed time, the customer is obliged to return it.
- Quality variation – If the suppliers send an item with varying quality as the agreed upon, you may return and apply for a refund.
- Damaged product – If you receive a damaged item or one, which is tampered with, you can as well return it.
Importantly, is to understand the return policy for Alibaba is usually within 30 days upon delivery.
In all the instances, Alibaba investigates, mediates, and resolves the customer’s claims.
The aim is to obtain a satisfactory outcome.
This could include refunding the customer the purchase where necessary.
How do you Place an Order on Alibaba?
You start by searching for the products you’re looking for as well as the best supplier.
Ensure you also check the product description in the listing.
Check the unit price and other relevant information, including the shipping charges.
Find out the MOQ if applicable and then make your payments.
You’ll get a notification confirming receipt and payment of your order.
The confirmation also provides you with other relevant information, such as the expected date of arrival, among others.
Can you Buy from Alibaba for Personal use?
It is possible to purchase on Alibaba for personal use.
Even so, the only challenge would be MOQ since the design of this platform is for the B2B model.
Most suppliers often require buyers to purchase a minimum quantity; let’s say like ten or a hundred.
If you’re okay with it, you can go ahead and purchase.
Alternatively, if you only need one, you can ask to purchase a sample.
The downside here is samples are usually a bit costly considering overseas shipping for a single item is not cost-effective.
Between Buying from Alibaba and Factory, which is better?
Buying from Alibaba is better when you’re purchasing a wide range of products from different manufacturers.
It makes it easy for you to obtain assorted products from one source.
In the long run, it makes it cost-effective and hassle-free to source your products.
Sourcing from a factory is cheaper since you’ll get discounted rates on each unit.
It also enables you to save money and time since you’ll not need to go through a third party when sourcing products.
In a nutshell, bot options are suitable depending on your specific needs.
If you need to buy assorted products, buying from Alibaba is a better option.
On the other hand, if you are buying a specific product in bulk, it would be better to source from a factory.
Can you get Free Shipping from Alibaba Suppliers?
However, it depends entirely on the particular supplier or manufacturer you’re purchasing from.
You can always negotiate with the supplier to offer free shipping based on the quantity of the goods you are purchasing.
Notably, many suppliers often include the tag “free shipping” when quoting their products.
Even so, they always find a way to balance or rollover the costs into the unit price.
How do you Source from Alibaba to start an Online Business?
It is an involving process, especially for a first-timer. Therefore, you need to ensure you carry out due diligence and thorough background research.
Some of the core things you’ll consider doing include the following;
Find the product on Alibaba – Once you have an account on Alibaba, go your way out and determine your suitable niche.
While at it, you’ll find the ideal suppliers offering the product you like.
Initiate a conversation with the supplier – On Alibaba, all verified suppliers and manufacturers have their contact information pinned.
Contact your preferable one directly to get more information; you need to know about the process and product.
Obtain samples – Once the conversation is at an advanced stage and there is potential, ask for samples of your products.
It enables you to assess whether or not the quality matches your demands.
While at it, you can as well request for modification of the product where necessary.
Buy UPC codes for the products – If you’re satisfied with the quality and other features of the product, go ahead and purchase their Universal Product Code.
This refers to the figures on the barcode.
Price negotiation – Find the best price possible and also negotiate the price FOB incoterms.
In this case, it means the supplier shall cater for all costs up to the point of loading the consignment on a ship.
Do your calculations – Include all the charges and costs you’ll incur to determine whether ultimately, it will be profitable.
These include manufacturing, freight, customs, and taxes.
Hire a freight forwarder – Seek the services of a freight forwarder to help you in getting the consignment to your country of delivery.
Create Amazon Seller account – Create a free account on Amazon for a start and sign up to Amazon FBA. Then create a shipment in Amazon seller central.
Shipping – Upon verification and appropriate labeling, you can advise your freight forwarder to deliver the consignment to the Amazon FBA warehouse. Amazon FBA will split the shipment to its various fulfillment centers.
Marketing – Start marketing your products to your target market. Once the orders start flowing in, distribution takes place to the customers accordingly.
Do Alibaba Suppliers Provide Quotation?
It is the supplier’s quote that you use to negotiate and also make payments accordingly.
There is a service on Alibaba, which also allows you to request a quote from multiple suppliers hence enabling you to compare their rates.
Which Currency can you use when Buying from Alibaba?
It depends on the country you are buying from.
US dollar is the popular currency preferred among foreign buyers.
However, Alibaba also has an online transfer, which is essential in facilitating payment gateway for European importers.
This online transfer also allows the buyer to make payments in domestic currencies.
How do you Track Shipment from Alibaba?
Buying from Alibaba
Alibaba has in-house tracking services for all the buyers interested.
Primarily, you can get the Alibaba shipping packages through certain links upon request.
Another option is using a third-party tracking company to provide these services.
In this case, you provide the relevant details about your cargo, and the agency shall track it.
In this case, you also need to visit the third party tracking company’s website, fill the details accordingly, and enter tracking number.
Are there Alternatives to Alibaba?
Of course, they are quite several, and some of the common ones include the following;
- Global sources
- Made in China
- Thomas Net
Can you Drop Ship from Alibaba?
You can source for suppliers from Alibaba who can offer products on wholesale to allow you to fulfill orders for your dropshipping needs.
With this information, you can successfully buy from Alibaba.
However, if you have any questions or you’re looking for a freight forwarder to help, BanSar is here to help.