How to Find the Best Verified and Legitimate Suppliers on Alibaba
The global retail ecommerce market size exceeds USD 4.2 trillion and sales are projected to grow to over 5 trillion dollars by 2022. This means it is a golden opportunity to get into retail ecommerce right now and prosper. However, sourcing is at the core of ecommerce operations and you must find a wholesale bulk supplier you can trust to deliver quality goods in time at reasonable prices. One of the best sources for wholesale products is Alibaba. However, sourcing is no walk in the park considering the complexities involved when you buy on Alibaba. It is difficult to find verified and legitimate suppliers but this guide should help you to make informed decisions. Finding a legitimate, trustworthy supplier on Alibaba is like mining for gold: it takes much effort.
What do buyers expect?
As a typical buyer you would have normal expectations such as:
1. Trustworthiness of the supplier
2. Quality products
3. Reasonable pricing
4. Timely delivery
5. Excellent customer service
It is difficult to find a supplier with all these qualities, especially on online global B2B marketplaces like Alibaba. Alibaba, however, has various categories of suppliers that will give you a fair indication about their legitimacy and trustworthiness. In addition to this it is always advisable to conduct due diligence rather than repose prima-facie trust on the seller's say-so. This is how you go about finding legitimate and verified Alibaba suppliers.
Alibaba classification and accreditation for sellers
In general, Alibaba does carry out rudimentary vetting of suppliers but that is no guarantee of trustworthiness or reliability. This type of suppliers is in a different class as detailed below:
Assessed Suppliers: If you want total reliability then look for suppliers carrying the assessed suppliers' badge. Third party inspection agencies monitor these suppliers and check their products, issuing reports on such checks.
Trade Assurance Suppliers: Suppliers with this accreditation by Alibaba have their products inspected prior to shipping. Such suppliers also assure timely deliveries backed by Alibaba with a refund policy.
Gold Suppliers: Alibaba carries out extensive vetting and certifies suppliers as Gold suppliers on payment of fees.
It is best to source direct from a manufacturer. In that case look for ISO certifications and other third party verifications and certifications. Avoid middlemen and agents because, when it comes to price negotiations or complaints redressal they will have no say or standing.
The shortcut to finding reliable, legitimate and verified suppliers is to look for the above qualifications of suppliers on Alibaba. You can reasonably expect fair prices, quality products, timely supplies and good services from suppliers with all the above accreditations.
Now that you know, you can sign up for an account at Alibaba. The process is somewhat lengthy and requires care. If you are not familiar with this process you can engage an ecommerce services expert like Digitalcommerce to do it for you.
Once you are registered you can login and start your search. First you use keywords and search in that product category. Once the results show up you can switch to the search by suppliers tab and see the list. You will be able to see if suppliers are accredited as stated above. You can shortlist these and initiate discussions with them.
Know your requirements
Before you get to that you must know what you are looking for, its pricing and how it affects viability of your ecommerce venture, quantity you will buy and sell and other factors. These are discussed below:
(1.) Conduct a feasibility study to know volume sales you can attain.
(2.) What will be the final price? A search on Alibaba will give you an approximate price of the item to which you add overheads, freight, insurance (if not included in the price), handling charges and customs duty as well as GST. You will know your landed cost. A survey of local markets will give you an idea about the price at which these products sell so you can calculate if you will be making a profit by selling.
(3.) How much can you invest? Can you arrange external financing if you plan to hold inventory?
So now, we are back to Alibaba to find out suppliers who are legitimate, verified and trustworthy. The Alibaba labels, as stated above, are fair indicators but you should conduct external due diligence on your own.
Assuming you have found suppliers who are gold labeled, are certified assessed suppliers and trade assurance suppliers, you proceed with due diligence.
Suppliers in the above category may specify a minimum order quantity but are amenable to supplying smaller number as samples in order to convince their buyers. Place a trial order and see just fast they ship the item. This is a pointer. When the product arrives do check it for quality, looks and other product-specific parameters. In short, it should be as offered. You can also check the product packaging and labelling.
Online reputation, feedback and rating on Alibaba
One of the best metric to identify legitimate and trustworthy suppliers is to look at their rating on Alibaba. It should be higher than 90%. Read through the feedbacks given by their buyers. That gives you a truer picture of the seller's product quality, speed of response and services to customers.
An additional step to take is to visit the seller's website to know more about their company, policies and products. Also conduct a Google search. You might come across forums that give opinions and reviews of the supplier.
Once you have initiated contact and have received a response, take it a step further by engaging in a video chat. You can see the person face to face, just as if you are holding a meeting. It should give you a fair idea about the seller's credentials.
Emphatically dwell on the refunds/replacement arrangement. Even if the seller sends quality products these are likely to be damaged in transit. If a seller is ready to put in place some type of replacement/refunds system or a system to compensate you then you know you can trust them implicitly.
You will find it wiser to select two to three Alibaba accredited suppliers for one product and get samples, conduct due diligence and then procure products from them.
If all this looks like a challenge to you, since it really is, then it is better to engage an ecommerce expert like Digitalcommerce to set up the supply side for you.
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