Alibaba is one of the platforms you should use when buying or importing goods from China and other Asian countries. Alibaba sells affordable products and has billions of suppliers you can work with on its platform. it can be quite daunting if you don’t know how to properly shop on Alibaba and you might end up getting scammed.
In this article, you will learn how to safely shop on Alibaba like a pro from searching for quality products to verifying suppliers and choosing affordable and reliable shipping methods.
Before you start shopping on Alibaba.com Let me first introduce you to the basics of Alibaba.
What is Alibaba
Alibaba is the world’s largest eCommerce company with more than 600 million people using the Alibaba shopping app every month. Alibaba has operatives in more than 200 countries in the world. You can connect with millions of manufacturers around the world on the Alibaba website. It was founded by Ceo Jack Ma with 17 other people with a mission of making it easier to do business anywhere.
This company is made up of 3 main sites Taobao, Tmall, and Alibaba.com. Alibaba is a marketplace of manufacturers, the Alibaba online sourcing market place has enabled everyone from small business to big businesses to work directly with manufacturers all over the world. you can find detailed information about the Alibaba group here
How Alibaba works
This can be better explained with an illustration,
SO THIS IS MR X vector pic
Mr. X lives in America and wants to use the Alibaba site to find a manufacturer who can make him T-shirts.
To reach those manufacturers Mr. X have to create a buying request on Alibaba.com, a form that describes exactly what he wants to be made
Within a day of posting his request, he got replies from Manufacturers in China, India, Turkey, etc.
He further filters the manufacturers by ditching any company that isn’t gold suppliers. Gold is a tier manufacturer on Alibaba platform competes for this means there may be some background checks to ensure that these companies are legit.
Among the remaining suppliers, Mr. X will check things like prices, delivery time, feedback ratings, customer reviews, etc…
Finally, Mr. X chooses one of the suppliers and discourse the requirement
The next thing Mr. X will have to do is pay money so that supplier can start manufacturing the T-shirt. The money goes into an escrow account and is not released to the manufacturer until Mr. X receives the T-shirt and is satisfied.
Can Alibaba be trusted/Is Alibaba safe?
The Straight forward answer is YES!.
Alibaba can be trusted, Alibaba trade assurance program provides a safety net for buyers ensuring that their orders are protected when payments are made through Alibaba.com
When you enter into a contract with a supplier, the cost will be given back to you if the supplier fails to meet the contract terms.
Alibaba Trade assurance allows business owners to buy with confidence and this builds trust among buyers and suppliers around the world. Until the goods you ordered for getting to you in good shape the supplier will not get paid.
As long as you follow the right steps while shopping on Alibaba you will not get scammed. Read this Alibaba trade assurance guide
Is Alibaba a buy now pay later platform
Alibaba offers a buy now pay later payment option, this is a new payment method that lets you finance your Alibaba purchases in 10 minutes. With this option, you don’t have to pay your supplier in advance.
They offer up to $150,000 credit with an interest rate from as low as %1.25 per month. I believe they will look at your credit score to qualify you for this loan. The drawback, however, is that this payment option is only available to buyers from the US, hopefully, it will extend to other countries soon. Read the Alibaba finance terms here.
How to delete Alibaba account
Follow this 10 easy steps to delete your duplicate Alibaba account,
- Log into your Alibaba account
- Drag the cursor to my Alibaba on the right side of the dashboard.
- From the dropdown menu click on my account
- Copy your member Id because you are going to need it in the next step
- Under personal information click on the member profile.
- Click on the deactivate account on the right side of the dashboard.
- Paste in the id number that you copied and type deactivate my account in the space below.
- Scroll down the page and tick your reason for account deactivation
- Next step is to hit deactivate my account button
- The last step clicks ok on the popup to complete the process. Viola!! Your account has been deactivated, Alibaba will delete the account in a few days. Watch this quick video if you get stuck.
Also, read 10 most frequently asked questions on Alibaba.com
Alibaba shopping method in 5 easy steps. (+Video)
Step 1-Create an Alibaba account
The first thing you should do is go to alibaba.com go ahead and click on join free at the top left of the dashboard it will take you to another page where you will enter your email address you can use any email address to register your Alibaba account.
- Enter your email address, 1
- slide the verification box to the right and type in the code that appears below,
- Check the box to agree to Alibaba user agreement and then
- Click next.
After this you will receive a confirmation email from Alibaba .when you open the email click on the complete button to verify your email this will then take you to another page where you can complete the registration.
On the next page
- Enter a new password for your Alibaba account ( Use a password that is easy to remember)
- Choose your location
- Select buyer option (you can choose both if you intend to also use the platform to sell )
- Enter your full name
- Add your company name (It is okay if you are a single buyer and don’t have a company yet. just make up any name, no one is going to check. eg‘’ Tracy white Ltd’’.this is how to buy from Alibaba without a company.)
- Enter your phone number and click on the confirm button.
Congratulations!! Your account has been created. Click on Go back to the homepage, this will take you straight to your Alibaba account where you can start shopping. Join Alibaba
Step 2-Alibaba Product and Supplier Sourcing
In this article, I am going to assume that you already know what you want to buy on Alibaba.com. If you don’t, watch this tutorial on how to brainstorm hot product ideas.
After you’ve made your research and you know exactly the products you want to buy you need to search for a supplier who can give you a frequent supply of this product.
-Product Sourcing On Alibaba
There are many ways to search for products on Alibaba, but I am going to explain the 4 most major ways.
- 1Keyword search you can search for a product on Alibaba by just typing the name of the product in the search bar this works well especially if you know the exact product that you would like to buy. when you type in the product keyword it gives you a variety of products to choose from.
- 2Picture Search these methods give you accurate search results. if you see an item somewhere and you don’t know the name you can just snap a picture of it and upload it through the picture search icon and it will bring out the same item and similar items as well.
- 3Search by Category if you don’t know exactly what to buy you can browse by the various categories available on the platform until you see an item that interests you
- 4Alibaba Sourcing software Alibaba has a chrome extension sourcing software that can be used to easily source for products you see online. This one is my favorite it is a new feature. if you have this extension added to your chrome browser you can be on amazon or any other site and when you see something that you like on that site quickly launch the extension it will sort for the exact item for you on the Alibaba platform. cool right?
Keyword search gives Variety to choose from
Picture Search Gives Accurate Result
-Supplier sourcing on Alibaba
when you type in the product keyword by the left side of the search bar choose supplier instead of product
When you use any of these 4 methods above to search for a product it brings out a lot of products and suppliers, and because you can’t contact all these suppliers the best thing to do is to filter them to weed out suppliers that don’t meet certain criteria
go ahead and search by suppliers, you will notice that the total number of suppliers for this product is far less than the number of products displayed on the site, this is because most suppliers post multiple pictures of the same product.
When ordering from Alibaba always source for suppliers in the trade assurance program, Gold suppliers and verified suppliers. By doing this it will ensure that you are dealing with quality suppliers and also reduce your chances of getting scammed,
>>>>>>pics of gold, verified, trade assurance more
Suppliers with the gold badge are those that have met certain criteria put in place by the Alibaba team to ensure quality, this means that there would have been a certain level of background checks on these suppliers before qualifying them like gold.
The trade assurance program will protect your money in an escrow account. the money will not be released to the supplier until you receive and confirm the products that you paid for, it means that if your potential supplier doesn’t meet the terms in the contract you can get back your money. This helps to build confidence in buyers.
By following this process you will automatically weed out those suppliers that are not up to standards and this will reduce your chances of being scammed
If you are just starting and will like to test the market for these products I suggest you start with a few quantities. and so we’ll go ahead and look for suppliers based on the quantity range that we will like to buy or a supplier who can give us a fewer quantity, also by filtering out suppliers with higher Moq we will have fewer suppliers to contact.
>>>>>>Pics of the remaining numbers of suppliers
You will notice that the number of suppliers has reduced after applying those filters
Now go ahead and compare their prices, check their feedback rate, response rate, and transaction rate. After this, the next step is to communicate with these suppliers.
in summary, the 3 steps to search for items
Step 3 – Contact supplier on Alibaba
Contact at least 10 to 20 of these different suppliers and see what their responsibilities are, You can be able to tell a good supplier from a bad one by simply communicating with them.
If you are a single buyer who is just starting, you will get a more quick response if you act like a big business with employees.
Use the chatbox to chat directly with the suppliers after that you can email or skype them .there is usually a big-time difference so sometimes you might have to spend the night up chatting on skype with a supplier.
Download the free message template here
Because most of the Chinese suppliers are native Chinese speakers when communicating with them make sure you use simple English and words that are easy to understand, avoid using jargon this will ensure that there’s no confusion about what is being said.
Don’t be a nervous buyer Know your manufacturer as well as you can ask them a lot of questions before purchasing anything from them, ask them the type of questions people ask in your industry if you don’t know those types of questions check on google.
Tell them the exact specifications of what you want them to produce for your colors size material texture etc. Be very detailed if possible use pictures or clear sketches.
Also, ask them if they have an onsite check available to ensure that your products are being checked for quality before shipping.
You should be polite and respectful when communicating with a supplier no one wants to be disrespected right?
Some suppliers will suggest that you chat outside Alibaba platform for easy communication, it is however not recommended to do so, I recommend your keep a record of your message thread with the seller Just in case the need arises to use it as evidence in the future.
When you are satisfied with the product specifications and communication with the supplier move on to the next step. Payment and shipping address.
- Request for product sample
- be polite
- ask questions do not assume anything
- Be specific
- use picture if possible
Step 4 -Payment And Shipping on Alibaba
Before your supplier requests for payment, he or she will ask for your shipping method and shipping address. Now pay very close attention in this section
Direct and indirect shipping method
When everything is finalized the supplier will ask for your shipping address this will be used to determine the cost of shipping to you or your freight forwarder in China.
After that, the supplier will send a quotation to you which carries the final price and quantity of the product and other details like weight, color, size, etc including shipping fee.
There are many ways to ship your products to your doorstep but not all of them are cost-effective
Most newbies on Alibaba.com make the mistakes of going for the shipping option available on the platform, by doing that they end up paying far too much for shipping. Using a courier service like DHL or FedEx the cost is usually too high and will eat into your profit. I don’t recommend that at all the best way is to get a freight forwarder company to work with they make your shipping easy at an affordable rate.
Freight forwarders are responsible for bringing your product safety and timely from point A to its destination.
It can be very difficult to understand the shipping and customs process especially if you are just starting and have not imported before. this is why an experienced freight forwarding will save you more stress and mistakes and loss of money.
Freight forwarders deal with all the warehousing tracking transportation, booking of cargo space, preparing of shipment exporting of documents, negotiating freight charges, handling cargo insurance, filling of insurance claims and clearing customs to get your products shipped from China.
Compare about 5 different freight forwarders and Keep an organized record of the companies you have received quotes from including the services each of them provides. And then use this list to compare and contrast the companies to find the one that is right for your needs.
Where To Find Freight Forwarders
1-Freight forwarders on Alibaba
There are thousands of freight companies that you can work with on Alibaba. Use the same sourcing method to source for freight forwarders on Alibaba.com, When you type in freight forwarder in the search box,
it brings out thousands of freight forwarders that are registered on the platform. you can weed them down by eliminating suppliers who aren’t verified and those that are not in the trade assurance program. After which you can compare prices and contact suppliers for their cost pern kilogram.you will also be able to see reviews from their previous customers.
Freightos is Another company that lets you get quotes from thousands of freight forwarders within minutes of typing your product details on their website. Join Freightos.
Fiata is an international federation of freight forwarder’s association
Go on to Fiata.com on the top left header hover over membership and then click on search individual members.
The next step is to choose China as the region and also select the town where you will be doing business and click the submit button You will be connected to a list of licensed freight forwarders in that area.
If you are shipping to Africa you can follow the same process above or download a list of verified agents and freight forwarders that ship to Africa with their shipping rates.
4-Ask the supplier
Another option is to as the suppliers to recommend good freight forwarders for you.chances are your supplier has been selling to buyers in your country and might know some good forwarders.
Download agents for west Africa – Chrisvic, spread it, others like value handlers
Also, read this article on how to effectively transport your goods from China at a reduced cost.
Pros and Cons of shopping on Alibaba
As well as being the biggest eCommerce company Alibaba also has its advantages and disadvantages.
- Discount Coupons
- Language in English
- Trade assurance program
- Varieties of suppliers and products
- Easy Sourcing
- High MOQ
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
In Conclusion, the best way to shop on Alibaba is to learn the right way Alibaba the biggest eCommerce of suppliers that supply to more than 200 countries in the world .alibaba does not have its products.to shop on Alibaba create an account search for products and suppliers verify the suppliers, ask a lot of questions to be specific with your requirement also opt for freight forwarder service instead of direct shipping from Alibaba this will save you a lot of costs and increase your profit. In other to avoid getting scammed always make payment with the Alibaba trade assurance program.
LOVE is Sharing
Kindly share this article to help friends and loved ones. Leave a comment below to let me know if this guide was helpful. Also, tell us the methods you use in importing products from china.