Alibaba is a well-known Chinese e-commerce wholesaler, that allows you to buy items of various kinds of items by contacting suppliers directly, and that is why many companies want to buy from Alibaba.
If you also plan to turn to this marketplace to buy wholesale products, read our article to find out what the pros and cons of this platform are and how to avoid any problems when importing products from China.
How does Alibaba work?
Step 1: Product Search
When you decide to buy from Alibaba you must, first of all, sign up and create your account by entering all your personal data and your email. To validate the email address Alibaba will send a message that you will need to open and then click on the relevant link inside.
Once you have registered and created your account, you will be able to access your personal area using the username and password chosen at the time of registration.
Once logged in, you can continue searching for products in three different ways:
- Type the name of the product you want to buy in the Product Search bar. 500 to 500,000 results will be displayed, but if you choose this option you will not receive any information about the supplier;
- Using the recently introduced Supplier Search option. The idea is always to carry out a search based on specific products to which you are interested but at the same time, acquiring useful information about their suppliers. For each wholesaler, in fact, it is possible to receive additional information called matching products by clicking on which you can view all similar items offered by the same subject. This option among the three seems to be the best because it offers the possibility of identifying those companies or wholesalers specialized in the production and sale of certain products. It is obvious, in fact, that the manufacturer who appears to sell a large number of items of the same kind on Alibaba will certainly be a more qualified and more reliable wholesaler. On the contrary, a supplier offering a limited number of items of the same type demonstrates poor preparation and knowledge of the product and therefore will be to be avoided;
- Request for Quotation i.e. the prospective buyer describes the product they are interested in buying, the maximum amount they intend to pay, the preferred shipping and payment methods. The request for a quote will be displayed by the sellers on Alibaba who will submit their proposals.
Step 2: Select the right supplier on Alibaba
Alibaba is a marketplace, therefore a platform on which product suppliers register and load the goods at their disposal. This means that the products you buy from Alibaba are not owned by Alibaba, but by third-party suppliers.
The portal welcomes over 5 million sellers and evaluating how reliable they are is the buyer’s task because although the platform provides reviews of suppliers and company information, it does not take any responsibility for the comparisons of the service that is then offered.
Precisely to avoid future problems and possible disputes, also because Alibaba is exempt from any liability for any misconduct by sellers operating within its platform, it is advisable to collect all kinds of information relating to the subject or company from which you intend to buy by reading all the reviews and positive opinions of other users.
Alibaba to help and direct importers towards serious and reliable suppliers identifies them with a gold medal placed next to the name. The latter are defined as suppliers of gold, i.e. suppliers whose regularity has been ascertained and certified by Alibaba itself.
To obtain the status of gold supplier, the interested party will have to pay a sort of monthly subscription amounting to 8,000 euros (the main source of income for Alibaba) and after the payment an employee of the well-known e-commerce will carry out all the necessary checks aimed at ensuring that the supplier company is duly registered and will proceed to carry out the checks relating to the name of the legal representative, the registered office and the share capital of the company.
In fact, it should be borne in mind that gold quartz, which identifies gold suppliers, does not certify the actual reliability of the latter, but simply that the company is regularly registered.
Consequently, while this represents a good starting point, it does not guarantee the buyer the seriousness and professionalism in the modus operandi of the supplier and even less the quality of the products.
In the presence of gold suppliers, the only thing you can be certain of is that you are dealing with a legally registered company.
Step 3: Contact the best suppliers
Once you have a list of about ten “reliable” suppliers for the products you intend to buy, you must contact them and request a quote.
Although this seems like the simplest phase of this process it really isn’t. In fact, most of the time communication with Chinese wholesalers does not turn out to be the simplest for several reasons.
- Language Barriers: although Chinese suppliers often speak English, their understanding is not always of the highest level, so create short and well explained sentences, it is better to add more details than leave things to chance
- Quote Precision: Chinese suppliers receive a lot of requests per day so they tend to leave out excessively generic quotes. Then get an immediate idea of what you want and write a detailed quote request.
- MOQs: Alibaba is a wholesale platform and suppliers tend not to respond or respond very slowly to quotes for very small quantities.
Step 4: Sample evaluation
Once the suppliers have been chosen and a quote requested, the next step is to order the samples from the selected wholesalers to see for yourself the quality and characteristics of the items you intend to buy. The samples will rarely be provided free of charge and even in this case the customer will still have to bear the shipping costs.
Buy on Alibaba: the Pros and Cons
Alibaba and variety
Alibaba is a huge platform and a giant of online sales, through Alibaba you can come into contact with millions of suppliers for any kind of product.
From electronics to footwear, accessories and home furnishings or even industrial machines on Alibaba you can find anything.
In the past, in order to contact a Chinese factory that produced goods for us, we had to travel all the way to China. Now it is possible to do everything online and this is an advantage not small.
On the other hand, there are so many suppliers that it is difficult to choose the one that best suits our needs.
Alibaba and prices
One of the main advantages of Alibaba is to offer a huge variety of products at very often very affordable prices and with very fast production times.
However, keep in mind that when it comes to affordable prices you always have to pay close attention to the minimum number of pieces imposed by the supplier, in fact often an economic price is closely related to the purchase of large quantities.
Alibaba and quality of the goods
Alibaba, as a simple intermediary, does not check the quality and originality of the goods for sale on the website and does not even check the truth of the images published on the product pages of its catalog.
Consequently, if you do not have the experience necessary to be able to identify a reliable and professional supplier, it is not uncommon to find yourself buying products completely different from the images that have been provided by the seller or even copyrighted or fake articles without even realizing it.
This is really dangerous because not only can counterfeit goods be stopped at customs, but the legal liability is yours.
Alibaba and Customs
Although many sellers on Alibaba can arrange shipping for you, virtually no one assures you of the passage to customs of your products.
If the checks are unsuccessful, the goods will be blocked and will not be able to enter the national territory.
The reasons for the blockage can be the most varied: from counterfeit goods to non-payment of customs duties, insufficient documentation and the lack of import certificates such as the EC certificate.
In short, the problems that could arise during the passage of goods to customs are different and Alibaba unfortunately does not offer any guarantee in this regard
Alibaba and Duties
The best sellers on Alibaba, the gold sellers can often arrange not only the production of the goods, but also the transport to the local port and shipping. If these operations were at your expense, it would be very problematic.
However, no one is able to calculate the duties that you will pay, also because these are imposed by the country of destination. So before ordering goods it is good to calculate the cost of duties and VAT that can sometimes weigh heavily on the total expenditure.
Alibaba and shipping times
Another painful note is related to the timeliness of deliveries. Alibaba does not guarantee in any way the punctuality of the shipments and this can cause enormous inconvenience, in fact when Italian buyers decide to buy certain products they do so also with a view to obtaining the goods within a certain period of time.
Think, for example, of a merchant who decides to buy from Alibaba a certain batch of electronic products to be sold during the Christmas period.
If the goods, instead of arriving around 10 December, arrive on the 10th of the following month, it is obvious that they cause the trader enormous losses in economic terms.
A valid alternative to Alibaba
In view of what I just said, are you sure you want to buy from Alibaba?
It is true that this marketplace offers the opportunity to choose from a huge variety of products of any kind, but it is also in this huge jungle of suppliers on the site not all are reliable and professional companies, so much so that the same suppliers certified by Alibaba with the gold plait are simply legally registered companies.
Moreover, the import phase is a fairly complex process and the fact that Alibaba does not assume any responsibility and even less assists the buyer in the procedure immediately following the sale, that relating to the shipment and the transfer of the goods to customs, is definitely a factor that must be duly taken into account.
Why not rely on an Italian partner, a partner like Yakkyofy, who offers a turnkey service that ranges from finding a reliable supplier, quality control, to document control, shipping, customs clearance and home delivery.
Thanks to Yakkyofy software it is really easy to send a quote request also for products and packaging branded with your logo.
Our team will evaluate your request and in a few days will send you back a quote including all costs including duties.
Trust a reliable Italian partner, trust Yakkyofy.