Looking for a reliable guide on how to buy from Alibaba but not sure where to go?
Heard of Alibaba but feeling uncertain on how to start safely?
No matter you are running your brick-and-mortar store or setting up an ecommerce shop, sourcing the best products is the very first step of your long-term success.
Don’t worry, we know your concerns and pains in getting your supply chain solutions in place.
In this article, we will guide you through every step of buying from Alibaba:
- Why Buying From Alibaba
- How To Register a Buyer Account
- Tips on Searching For a Product/Supplier
- Methods To Evaluate a Supplier
- Ways To Negotiate & Get the Best Prices
- How To Pay Safely
- How To Choose the Best Shipping Methods
Ready？ Let’s start the Alibaba journey!
Why Buying From Alibaba?
What is Alibaba?
Alibaba is a Chinese multinational technology company specializing in e-commerce, retail and web services founded in 1999.
Listed on New York Stock Exchange, Alibaba owns a wide range of subsidiaries like AliExpress; Ant Financial and alibaba.com.
Alibaba.com is a well-established site where over 10 millions of international buyers search for products and suppliers.
According to official statistics and estimation, there are at least 150000 professional suppliers as of January 2022.
Look no further to Alibaba if you are looking for general or consumer goods as it comprehensively covers all major and niche product categories.
Even if you are sourcing professional items like production machineries for industrial use, rest assured that there are always relevant suppliers for your selection.
What’s more, the user interface of alibaba.com is also easy to navigate.
In fact, there is an upcoming annual sourcing conference in March when you can get bargains from quality suppliers.
So, it is definitely the first B2B sourcing platform that we recommend using in 2022.
How To Register An Account To Buy From Alibaba?
Registering for an Alibaba buyer account is the very first step of your sourcing journey.
As shown in the image, it is quite a straightforward process. You are only asked for basic information like country/region; email address; company name and phone number to officially become a buyer.
Contrary to what most beginners think, importers do not necessarily need to register for a business or provide any business license to buy from Alibaba.
You are only required to provide a business name that is legally registered in your locality.
To put it simple, as long as you belong to a business entity, you can provide a business name to register a buyer account instead of creating a new company just to buy from Alibaba.
Of course, it is highly recommended that you register with a business email to look more professional for suppliers.
A small tip here: established suppliers do look at your profile to see if you are a legit buyer, exactly like how we get business done in real life.
More experienced buyers might be interested in becoming a Pro Buyer in Alibaba to enjoy more benefits, but we will touch on this part in a separate article.
How To Search For a Product/Supplier on Alibaba?
Searching for a product or a supplier within Alibaba is as easy as performing a search on Google.
Visit the homepage and you will instantly notice the search bar appearing at the very top of the page, with an eye-catching, simple and orange design.
The dropdown section on the left allows you to choose either on a product or supplier level.
Input the keywords of your products then you will be presented a page of search results with relevant product listings.
You can also click on the camera icon on the right side to search for a product by uploading a product image. In this way, you can get an idea on where your competitors are buying from.
Apart from the obvious search bar option, you can also search for a product and get detailed quotations by submitting a “request for quote” at the latter section of homepage.
Your inbox will then receive quotes and product information from responsive suppliers that match your product specifications.
If you would like to get assistance for getting quotations, contact a sourcing specialist and leave your inquiries here for more info.
How To Buy From a Reliable Alibaba Supplier?
It seems to be a daunting task to screen and select a suitable supplier for your sourcing project, especially for beginners.
Luckily, Alibaba has established an easy way for buyers worldwide to qualify a potential supplier.
To make things clear for buyers, Alibaba categorizes suppliers into Gold Supplier; Verified Supplier and Trade Assurance Supplier.
Not to be confused by its name, gold supplier is actually at a lower tier than verified supplier which annual membership fee is nearly a double of the gold supplier package.
Verified suppliers are businesses whose management system and production capabilities have been certified and inspected by third party institutions such as TÜV Rheinland.
However, Gold Suppliers are only verified by Alibaba officials. Any business entities with commercial abilities can pass the assessment of Alibaba. Therefore, we usually advise buyers to be more cautious over the capabilities of gold suppliers.
Trade Assurance Supplier are suppliers that accept payments directly through Alibaba’s payment portal, enabling full order protection.
In our opinion, all credible suppliers should support payment via the Trade Assurance program as this is a key signal that the supplier is trustworthy and willing to assume responsibilities in case of quality problems.
Other than looking at these badges, buyers should also evaluate a supplier via customer reviews; recent transaction volume; on-time delivery rate; response time and relevant certifications to determine its production and trading capabilities.
Before committing to work with a supplier for customization or product development purpose, a factory check is strongly advised. Contact a supply chain specialist for more information.
How To Negotiate & Get the Best Prices on Alibaba?
Without securing good prices & terms from suppliers, your business might end up unprofitable.
Negotiating with suppliers on Alibaba is no difference to any other forms of business negotiations: You need to pay attention to real market conditions.
First, you need to be super clear about what you are actually sourcing. You should inform potential suppliers with detailed and correct inquiries, including information like product specifications, quantity and safety requirements.
At the same time, you should submit your “request for quotes” to at least 5 suppliers to get an idea on the average price levels of your inquired product, especially if you are planning to produce a customized item.
With sufficient quotes from multiple suppliers, you can then select three suppliers for further negotiations and in-depth “due diligence”.
Usually, suppliers are willing to offer small percentage of discounts for orders of higher quantity, but this should not be your only weapon.
An insider tip here is that you should emphasize a high possibility of returning orders in the future and the lucrative outlook of your target markets. This is a convincing signal to suppliers that you are a serious and established buyer.
There is no definite answer to how to get the best prices from suppliers as industry varies.
However, buying from Alibaba is just like striking deals at offline trade fairs: you need to demonstrate your passion on your own business and of course confidence on forming a long-term partnership.
How To Buy From Alibaba/Pay Safely?
As briefly explained on previous section, trade assurance suppliers offer protection on your orders.
Try not to pay your suppliers with other methods like telegraphic transfer and Paypal as Alibaba has no obligations to monitor transactions made out of the platform.
Another important tip is that you should always order samples to test the product quality before any serious commitment. In this way, you can also be certain that the supplier is legitimate and not a scammer.
If you are paying via non “Ali” method, always make sure that you enter into formal contractual agreements with the supplier. Define the legal obligations clearly upfront, sign the documents by both companies’ representatives.
We will present more case studies and tactics about secure payment on Alibaba in future blogs.
How To Select the Best Shipping Methods on Alibaba?
“Ready To Ship” products are popular choice for buyers without the need to customize their own products.
You are not required to negotiate with suppliers directly on price or even shipping terms and methods, because every single detail of the international trading process is already listed clearly with set templates.
The only step you need to take is to select the best shipping terms for yourself as all “Ready To Ship” products are guaranteed to be shipped to the exporting port within 15 days after placing an order.
If you are ordering 10 pieces of RC toys from a supplier, sea freight is not an ideal shipping method.
Instead, you can simply select express delivery using the pre-set template and pay directly to receive your products at home, pretty much the same as you order on a retail basis.
Therefore, choosing the best shipping methods depends on your order quantity and destination.
Verdict On Buying From Alibaba
Buy from Alibaba is not a difficult task.
However, you need to do your homework, particularly negotiating with potential suppliers to truly understand the products and the supplier you are sourcing from.
Give Alibaba a try if you have never used it before for sourcing, the variety of products available and easiness to navigate won’t let you down.
To facilitate your sourcing process on Alibaba, contact a trustworthy sourcing expert is a smart way to make things easier!