Product Sourcing via Alibaba: What You Need to Know for Success
by rodney •
February 16, 2016 •
Alibaba is now considered to be the Giant behemoth of B2B portals on the web, and we can safely and accurately assume that over 80% of Importers worldwide use Alibaba for their Importing needs.
The huge success behind Alibaba’s dominance among B2B portals is their streamlined process of identifying relevant suppliers for your product importing needs, Founder Jack Ma has made it possible with a couple of button clicks to get the source of all products in the world.
Did you know that most major corporations such as Nike do not have a manufacturing plant of their own ???
Their ideology is in hiring a team of designers, developers, and marketers who leverage their power into transforming these ideas and bringing them to life through other manufacturing plants, take Apple for example, each component in an iPhone or an iPad is simply designed by Apple, but for production it’s mainly outsourced and produced in third party factory.
The point to be made here is that anyone with a vision and strong willingness to create an idea or a product vision can make it to the top ladders, you don’t have to own a manufacturing plant or warehouses filled with raw materials, you can do well with a team of designers and marketers hired through freelance websites and go your way into becoming a Fortune 500 company.
Back to our main topic which is Alibaba, the service is fascinating, very easy to use and gives you a lot of criteria to filter through suppliers, the vast network of suppliers on the platform makes for an easy process of filtering and screening suppliers for your importing needs.
If you visited Alibaba lately, you probably would have noticed these little boxes above the product display section,it looks like this.
Trade Assurance: You should check this option, trade assurance is a new option in Alibaba.com that guarantees you a refund for your money if anything wrong happens when dealing with a specific supplier, you should check this to make sure that you are dealing with the best suppliers out there who are not afraid to refund you for a full amount if something goes wrong,this makes the potential supplier more trustworthy in terms of product quality and keeps your mind at ease.
Gold Supplier: by far the most important filter on the site, being a gold supplier means that this supplier has been verified and audited by Alibaba, and that he is paying a lot of money yearly to be listed at the top of the page search for certain keywords, think of it as paying in Google Ads so that your site shows up the first when someone is searching for a certain keyword, as the number of years shown beside a gold supplier increases, it’s better and better for you, so you should check this one as well, this metric alone is what puts apart the scammers from the genuine in China
Onsite Check: it completes what a gold supplier is and verifies that the supplier not only was checked by Alibaba but by a third party as well which gives the supplier more and more credibility and removes any worries you might have as well
Assessed Supplier: similar to Onsite check adding more and more layers of supplier authentication so you can be relaxed doing business with them.
Online: Shows if the supplier is currently online on Alibaba’s private messaging app (Trade manager) which is a lot better than normal email communication,as you get pretty much immediate responses from the suppliers,please check that as well and this is mainly the topic of this post,so to put it bluntly this is the secret i wanted to share with you. “Trademanager”
Making sure to check each of these boxes will filter the suppliers more and more giving you the best there is out there.
Now normally you will hear a lot of people say that, but this isn’t new, what i really want to discuss in this post is that how within 1 hour you can get a lot of quotations tailored to your specific needs in real time without having to wait for email replies.
This golden key is Alibaba’s built-in messenger “Trademanager” .
Trademanager makes it really easy to contact with any supplier, as you can start getting into action within minutes of your product search.
So what I would normally do and what have helped me a lot in getting a lot of quotations in a short time for my clients and for myself as well as the following:
Go to Alibaba then type the product name and be specific as much as possible.
When the results arrive start filtering by highlighting all the checkboxes available to filter through all of these results which takes you to the really important suppliers available.
Then, Geo target suppliers based on geographical location in China to get the best prices and quality, because in China there are certain cities that excel in producing a certain type pf product and enjoy government incentives just for starting a plant in one of these cities, so lets, for example, take USBs, Hard Disks, or Mobile Accessories in general, the most famous city for that is Shenzhen, and since the government gives incentives to people who are willing to manufacture electronics in Shenzhen, their prices mostly will be less than other electronics manufacturers in other regions, same with furniture for example, where it is very popular in a city called Foshan and therefore you won’t find cheaper furniture in any place in China at all, so to really get the edge you have to research your products availability city and Geo target it to get the best results, especially for generic keywords like aluminum and to do this head to the left side and scroll down to choose which country within China you need to find suppliers and mostly provinces with higher number of suppliers are the best ones to choose as it means a concentration of manufacturing in that particular province, but if you use the keyword “Aluminum Profile For Kitchen Cabinets” you are already locating the few suppliers that can really help you as you are really specific and don’t need to dig deeper geographically.
After getting about 10 genuine suppliers on the radar, open their pages and click the contacts tab, where you will see a blue icon that represents the Trademanager application, it’s a known rule of thumb that most suppliers who are readily and always online offer better customer service than those who are offline.
When you press this button, an instant messaging window pops up on the screen and you can start to chat with the supplier directly, (You have to be logged in and have an Alibaba account to do that)
You then start by introducing yourself your country of import and give more details about your company, or if you are importing for yourself, you can implicate that you serve a large group of clients who use you to outsource and locate suppliers for their products and they prefer to work through you, in a nutshell you are the middleman and at the same time you are the decision maker, this is very important so that they can give attention to your needs.
The next logical step would be to inquire about your needed product including all specifications possible, you want to be as detailed as you can in order to avoid any misunderstandings later on.
Once you agree on all the details request a formal quotation to your email urgently as you have to take a decision within 24hrs.
You will be surprised at the response rate, using this method alone can generate about 10 quotations within one hour from 10 different suppliers. Another thing you can do is that you can post a Buying Request and wait for the suppliers to contact you
If you do the above you will start to get a hang of how easy it is to contact overseas suppliers and request quotations on the spot, it’s empowering and gives you a feeling of control as well.
Make sure to also look at the markets and types of certifications the suppliers offer when you press on their page on Alibaba, you fairly need a supplier who exports more than sells in the domestic market which means a greater coverage and exposure to overseas markets and their regulations.