It is highly unlikely to find the perfect seller on Alibaba on the first try. Thousands of sellers offer similar products, so you never know if the one you choose is the best possible partner. Fortunately, there are some proven methods for selecting reliable suppliers. Here are some tips on how to find the best suppliers on Alibaba, one of the most popular B2B portals.
How to find the best suppliers on Alibaba
Alibaba.com is an e-commerce platform and often importers’ first choice to source products. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced importer, it is important to use the potential of import tools that support your business. The following tips will help you find a supplier from China that meets your expectations.
1. Instead of searching by product, search by supplier
The most common way of sourcing products is simply looking for products. One of the most important factors is the price and the quality. However, the better way is to select a reliable supplier first and then negotiate the price.
Our tip: on the Alibaba home page in the search bar, change settings from “Products” to “Suppliers.” Then enter the industry of your chosen product. Many companies in their names include the industry they supply products from.
2. Use filters “Verified Supplier” and “Trade Assurance”
On Alibaba, there are services such as Trade Assurance and Verified Supplier. Trade Assurance is Alibaba’s protection service covering orders placed on and paid for via the website. A Verified Supplier is a seller that was verified by a third-party institution.
Our tip: when looking for suppliers in the industry you are interested in, tick off the “Trade Assurance” and “Verified Supplier” boxes below the search bar. It will increase your chances of a successful transaction.
3. Select the target markets
Regulations vary between countries. For example, there is an obligatory CE mark for electronics and toys on the European Union market. On the US market, the FDA regulates foods and medicines. Products have to comply with the regulations.
Our tip: select the target markets from the list on the left side of the website and click “Confirm.” Filtered suppliers should have the certificates required in the chosen area.
4. Tick off certification boxes
Quality certifications are different from obligatory ones. One of the most famous standards is the international ISO9001 standard and the BSCI audit standard. Companies with such certifications strive to improve working conditions and comply with best practices in the industry.
Our tip: select standards from the list on the left and click “Confirm.”
5. Check how many years the supplier has been selling
Generally, the more years the seller is on the website, the more experienced they are. As a rule of thumb, reliable suppliers have been on Alibaba for at least 3-4 years.
Our tip: when selecting the supplier, look for how long they have been on the platform. When you go to the company profile, you can see how many successful transactions the supplier had and the number of reviews. Our experience shows that suppliers with over twenty recent positive reviews are worth considering.
6. Check the supplier’s core products
Each seller specializes within its industry. The key products are listed on the right under “Main Products.” Check the list to see if the provider supplies the products you want to source. Generally, the narrower the range of products, the more specialized the supplier is and the better the quality.
Check individual offers on the supplier’s profile. A good offer includes key parameters and has real photos.
Our tip: click on a supplier’s name and click “Products” → “See all categories.”
7. Analyze the supplier’s location
One of China’s characteristics is the industrial manufacturing clusters that vary between provinces and towns. It means that each area specializes in manufacturing goods from a selected industry. Industrial clusters optimize the production process and increase competitiveness.
Our tip: check if the manufacturer you chose is located in the production area of the industry. We have a series on production areas in China.
8. Quality of customer service
Communication between the parties is required to have any negotiations. You can contact the chosen supplier via Alibaba, e-mail, or WeChat (Weixin). It is important that communication runs smoothly and the seller is willing to provide information such as MOQ or the production process.
How to find the best suppliers on Alibaba
We’ve presented eight ways to find the best suppliers on Alibaba. Even if the supplier you chose on Alibaba seems reliable and is a Gold Supplier or Verified Supplier, you should always have them additionally verified.
Also, be sure to do quality control before shipping from China to verify if the products meet all requirements.
See how to import from Alibaba step by step.