Alibaba is the e-commerce B2B giant that outshines almost all other e-commerce websites. A large majority of e-commerce players from all over the world source their products from Asian countries, especially China.
China is the world’s largest manufacturer of all kinds of goods. So, if you are a global e-commerce player, it is highly likely that you will find the product of your choice in Alibaba’s vast product catalogue of almost a million items and even more suppliers.
Steps To Find Suitable Products on Alibaba
Sourcing products of your choice from Alibaba is pretty simple and there are so many to choose from. However, there are a few aspects that you will need to pay attention to, to ensure that you are choosing the right products and more importantly, reliable suppliers.
1. Product or Supplier?
When you go to Alibaba’s homepage, the topmost search bar titled “What are you looking for” will offer you 2 options to base your primary search on:
1) Products and 2) Suppliers.
If you click on ‘Products’, the drop-down menu offers you a host of items from which you can choose. Once you have chosen the item, you will view all related details and a contact supplier button which allows you to mail the supplier directly with your questions.
Likewise, if you choose the ‘Supplier’ option, you may type in the Supplier’s company name (if you know it) which will take you to a page with all the items being supplied by that particular supplier. Or you can also type in the product eg: shoes, and it will take you to all the suppliers who deal with shoes of all types.
2. Concern Areas in Choosing Products
There are 4 main areas that you will need to pay particular attention to when choosing a product from Alibaba’s website:
Minimum Order Quantity
The MOQ for each product varies. Sometimes even different products from the same supplier have a varying Minimum Order Quantity, so don’t take things for granted. Always check the MOQ and remember this information will come in handy when you negotiate final costing for your orders.
Speaking of costing, on the product page you have chosen, you will see either a definite number or a range such as $4-$5 with a ‘Get Latest Price’ button next to it. Check the latest price before making up your mind.
The other thing you may notice is the term FOB price. FOB means Free On Board, that is, the seller will bear the costs of getting the product to the shipping port and on-board the ship. After that, all costs are the buyer’s ie: the actual shipping from the port to the final destination port, followed by road transport to the place of delivery.
Mode of Payment
This is a tricky one as it involves an international transaction with someone you have or may never meet, in a country that is probably alien to you. In such a situation, encourage the supplier you are dealing with, to utilize an Escrow service, as it would be beneficial for both of you. Bank transfers are also acceptable, except for the ‘full payment before delivery’ terms that could backfire. PayPal is another good option to protect your interests but charges high tax so that’s something you need to consider.
Quality of Product
Don’t rely on product images or opinions of sellers regarding product quality. Ask for samples as a trial run. Check the products thoroughly in the sample lot and in the final delivery, if you can. Especially if you choose to pack your products in custom boxes.
Concern areas with suppliers
Since everything about the products you want depends on the supplier, it is essential to be extra careful when selecting one. Here are some common issues that people have had with some suppliers on Alibaba.
Yes, it happens! The first rule when sourcing products from Alibaba is, buyers beware! The supplier that you email frequently or the great deal that you negotiate may not be that great in reality. Being diligent is the key when sourcing from Alibaba.
Before confirming a supplier, ask for the supplier’s business license certificate and speak to them on their registered business phone number. You are allowed to ask anything you want in order to achieve 100% comfort with your supplier. If a supplier begins to behave uneasy and is not willing to comply, then he’s probably not the one to be trusted.
Set up a video meeting; ask him/her to take his phone onto the shop floor if viable. In any case, be extra sure about your supplier's real identity before you place a confirmed order.
Supplier or Broker?
Use the same techniques of verifying to understand whether the supplier is an actual one or just a middleman. It is not necessary for you to deal with middlemen. Opt to only transact with the actual manufacturer. A third party will cost you extra and may not even deliver as promised.
Though Alibaba, as a company, has introduced some stringent supplier selection processes, it doesn’t hurt to carry out a little investigation of your own. If your main aim is to offer only the best to your customers, then make the extra effort to ensure you source the very best.
And of course, once you have the right products, it's your turn to make every delivery extra special with custom packaging.
Custom Packaging with Arka
Once you have chosen the product and supplier that fits all your parameters, give your product a boost with some custom packaging.
Custom packaging with Arka involves a simple process keeping in mind all our customers’ needs. The booking, selection and branding process is all online with clear instructions.
We accept small shipments of as less as 10 boxes for the best prices in the industry. Our turnaround time from order placement to delivery is less than 10 days. All our packaging material is recyclable and good for the environment. At our packaging facilities, we practice certified clean processes to churn out the impeccable final product. You can make your packaging more exciting with our mailer boxes or custom shipping boxes.
We have options for all business types: check our custom shoe boxes or our luxurious custom lip gloss boxes! Our team comprises of the best in the business to serve you with the highest efficiency. We value your product, brand, and customers like our very own. More than 2000 clients can vouch for it!
Inquire with us about outsourcing your custom packaging needs today.