In my last article we talked about “The Search” and I explained some ways to conduct a search on Alibaba and a few of the features you can use to have success with your search.
As there are so many suppliers on Alibaba things can get overwhelming and in many cases you will find yourself going around in circles due to the sheer number of suppliers that can provide what you are looking for. As a general rule, I try to cull my supplier selection down to 3 to 5 suppliers. It is no good banking on one factory and it is good to get quotes from at least 3 suppliers so that you know the price you are being quoted is fair.
In order to cull your selection of suppliers down so that you can start to contact them for quotes, I look at the following things:
- Gold Supplier Status: It seems every supplier on Alibaba has some sort of gold supplier status, so with this in mind we generally look for factories with the most years as a gold supplier. If the supplier has only one or two years, I would move on to a different one.
- Onsite Check: This is where Alibaba staff as well as third party verification agencies checks the suppliers premises and makes sure everything they represent online actually takes place where they say it does. They also provide deeper information on the supplier such as physical address, years doing business, main products produced, telephone numbers, and the manager’s names.
- Other Website: It is always nice if the supplier has their own website (other than that of their Alibaba site). Something you can further look into and decide whether or not you would be happy giving them your money in return for goods.
The above are not fool proof checks however if you are unable to make the trip overseas to personally pre-check the factories, these are the only tools you have available on Alibaba. As I mentioned in the previous article, this screening all depends on the type of product you are looking to import. Obviously food, chemicals, electrical items and natural products will need a higher degree of due diligence as well as other certifications to get them into Australia and confirmed as being safe. It is always good to check with a shipping agent before your supplier search to discover exactly what requirements need to be met in regards to the specific product you are importing.
Third party verification companies can also be used to be your eyes and ears on the ground when selecting a supplier as well as following the items through production.
So hopefully the points above will help you in selecting a small range of suppliers to contact for quotes. The more you scan the supplier pages on Alibaba, the more you will understand exactly what to look for in relation to the product you are sourcing.
Next time we will look at the important information you need to have when reaching out to suppliers to quote.