Getting your own business up and running on Amazon starts with a big problem. Where can you source your products from? Unless you have the fortune to know someone who knows someone and who can get you in touch with a reliable supplier, Alibaba could be a good start.
Wondering if this is the right place to source your products? Find it out in our Alibaba reviews.
1. What is Alibaba and How Does it Work?
Alibaba is one of the biggest marketplaces that help business owners meet suppliers. You can literally find anything here, from the smallest to the biggest items.
Since you’ll get in touch with the actual manufacturer and not a reseller, you’ll even be able to order private label products or ask for product alteration and customization to meet all your business needs.
Based in China, Alibaba comprises an impressive amount of sellers from this country, which is renowned for being one of the major exporters in the world.
If you want to source your products elsewhere though, know that it’s also possible to find manufacturers from almost anywhere in the world on this website.
Due to its extensiveness, navigating the platform could seem overwhelming at first, but it’s actually quite easy to use once you become familiar with it.
Here is how to use Alibaba to find the best products and suppliers for your business:
- Join Alibaba by clicking on the appropriate link. You will be required to fill in your email address and confirm it, then fill in your details in a form. Alternatively, you can sign in using a social media account.
- From your dashboard, you can check your orders, transactions, lists of favorites, and also exchange messages with the sellers. To search for products, simply click the View More button on the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
- Search the product you’re interested in, select the seller, and place your order. That’s it!
If you feel that searching for products and sourcing buyers is too much of a hassle, the AliSource Tool lets you post a buying request automatically. The request is visible to all sellers on Alibaba and AliExpress and allows them to contact you directly with an offer.
2. Is Alibaba Safe?
This is a complex question with a complicated answer: Yes and no.
As far as the platform is concerned, Alibaba is legit and safe to use. But this doesn’t come with guarantees that you’ll get the products you ordered.
Because the service encompasses thousands of sellers, it’s near impossible to screen them all. However, it’s rare to place an order and not receive it.
Receiving what you paid for is a whole different matter, though. The main issue users from Western countries face is the language barrier. Most of the manufacturers on Alibaba are Chinese, and not all have a good grasp of English.
Trying to explain concepts and product customization in a language you don’t speak could turn into a disaster, and automatic translators are not always helpful.
You could solve the issue by asking a translator to help you, or you could trim out the sellers and only work with those labeled with a Gold Supplier seal on their page, who usually speak a decent amount of English. This medal also shows the manufacturer is trustworthy and that most buyers have been satisfied by the orders received.
While nothing can actually replace a face-to-face meeting with a manufacturer, Alibaba could turn out to be an excellent alternative for small business owners who can’t afford a business trip to China just yet.
All you have to do is learn how to buy from Alibaba and take all necessary precautions to ensure the successful outcome of your purchase.
3. Alibaba Dropship
Another of those important decisions you must make as an upcoming business owner is whether you want to resell products you bought from a manufacturer or join a drop shipping program. The latter comes with a host of benefits.
Drop shipping is basically a contract you close with a seller who agrees to store your products, manage, and ship orders to end consumers on your behalf. It’s similar in a way with Amazon FBA, although you won’t have to pay any warehouse fees nor worry about how to get the products from the manufacturer to Amazon’s warehouse.
While we agree that drop shipping is a valid solution for most starters, unfortunately, Alibaba is not the right place for such an arrangement.
Because this platform focuses on B2B transactions, most sellers here only work with bulk orders. If you happen to find someone willing to sell en-detail, rest assured the product will come at an unjustified price.
Alibaba is the right marketplace for people who want to start their own business either by selling on marketplaces like Amazon or who have a warehouse and plan to launch their own e-Commerce.
If you’re still interested in drop shipping, you can still use Alibaba to source product ideas and even to connect with suppliers that work with both Alibaba and Aliexpress.
The latter is a retail branch operating under Alibaba umbrella but is targeted and open for consumers. Although many manufacturers sell on both platforms, it is much more likely to close a good dropship deal on Aliexpress.
4. How to Buy From Alibaba: A Complete Guide
A quick look at your buyer dashboard on Alibaba will reveal plenty of options to buy. You can search for a product and get in touch with the sellers, or search for sellers by region and see who’s manufacturing the product you’re interested in.
To buy from Alibaba without any help from a tool, the easier method is the one described below.
Search your product.
If you already know what you want to sell, type the product’s name in the search bar and press enter. Otherwise, you can browse product categories and subclasses until you find something you’d like to sell.
At this stage, you can save products in your list of favorites, and decide which interests you the most after you’re done browsing.
When checking a product on Alibaba, you’ll see that there is an entire list of manufacturers ready to produce it for you.
If you want to increase your odds of getting what you ordered, narrow down your research to Gold Members only. Then, pick your favorite ones, about 3-5 suppliers, and send them a message regarding the product and quantity you want to buy.
Check your message center on your dashboard after a few days and see who responded. It is highly uncommon to not receive offers from all sellers you contacted, so there is a big chance to have quite a few messages waiting for you.
Close a deal.
Decide which offer is the best and contact the manufacturer. It is a good idea to have an agreement at hand at this stage and send it to the manufacturer to get a signed copy. Close your deal and wait for your order to arrive.
If these steps seem too overwhelming, you can also opt to use the AliSource Tool mentioned earlier. This works more or less as a reversed search. All you have to do is express your interest in a specific product.
The tool will notify all manufacturers of your interest, and all you have to do is check your inbox regularly and wait for the best deal to arrive.
While this method could seem attractive, keep in mind that the amount of offers received could overwhelm you.
Creating an account, using, and closing a deal on Alibaba doesn’t require rocket science. Yes, there are a few things you should pay attention to, such as the reliability of the seller and the real characteristics of the product.
At the end of the day though, sourcing your first products here is quite simple. And the manufacturers can dispatch their orders either to you or to a warehouse, depending on the type of agreement you close.
We hope our Alibaba review has helped you understand whether this is the right place to source the products for your e-Commerce business and that you’ll be able to thrive with the articles bought here in case you decide to give it a try.
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