November 15, 2019

How to Find a Good Supplier on Alibaba: Exploring Risks and Ways to Avoid Them

Founded by Jack Ma in the year 1999, Alibaba is a trendy ecommerce website today that helps in connecting wholesalers and buyers. Alibaba is an e-commerce site aimed at wholesale buyers. If you need only few units of products, here you are unlikely to be able to conclude such a deal. Nevertheless, manufacturers are represented on Alibaba who are ready to fulfill small orders, but the price for each unit will not be very small.

Here are tens of thousands of products in various categories, so picking up the right product for production and subsequent sale is not difficult. However, there are certain risks and difficulties in using this trading platform. And in order to overcome them, you must know exactly what you will encounter during the search for goods and manufacturers.

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Advantages of Finding Supplier on Alibaba

There are many good reasons why finding a manufacturer on Alibaba provides many benefits such as: 

  • extensive selections of manufacturers and products to select from, a wide array of niches;
  • a massive number of global suppliers;
  • enable you to make your custom items from scratch making your own designs and styles;  
  • lowest wholesale cost for every product;
  • transparent search system for manufacturers and products.

Disadvantages of Finding Manufacturers on Alibaba 

Finding suppliers on Alibaba has its own disadvantages such as:

  • the minimum number of items when ordering is large; 
  • there are lots of scammers ready to get money from you;
  • the view of the finished product doesn’t always match what is on Alibaba;
  • the complexity of product quality control;
  • the chance of obtaining a large number of defective goods is higher;
  • high production and delivery times.

How to Begin Searching for a Supplier 

Prior to starting your search for a high quality Suppliers on Alibaba, first and foremost, you are required to register. Registration is easy; in fact, it only takes about few minutes. 

  1. Go to and click Join Free link.


2. Go through the email verification.

3. Fill in the personal details for registration.

4. Complete the registration.


If you wish, you can personalize your profile in order to more effectively use all the features of To do this, you need to click on Personalize Now button and answer few questions. It takes a couple of minutes. However, this step is optional. You can return to it later or skip it.

You can also register through the Alibaba App. 

When registering, we recommend you to use a different (non-primary) email. The fact is that Chinese suppliers send a lot of letters, so your main email can simply be spammed with unnecessary information. If you do not have an additional email, just create it.

Search Options 

The best thing about Alibaba is that you can search right manufacturer by Product or search by Supplier. By looking for suppliers, you can see a list of high-quality manufacturers on Alibaba than just long list items to buy. Suppliers will display all the products they have generated on their webpage. And you can choose those manufacturers with whom you want to discuss important details.

Alibaba Product Search Tab allows you to search the products you are looking for and then choose a Supplier. All you need to do is to key on the keyword, and you will be flooded with many items to select from. 

Search Tips

When you try to find a product and suppliers who can manufacture and sell it for you, you will be faced with the problem of choice. Hundreds of manufacturers, judging by the description on the Alibaba website, will be able to do this job for you. Therefore, your task is to choose the right manufacturer. To find the best Suppliers on Alibaba, use filters to help narrow your list. And then among the selected 15-20 you can find the right one.

Several filters are available for search. You can install them all, which will significantly reduce the list of potential manufacturers. However, this may happen when only a few sellers will satisfy your criteria. Therefore, we recommend using several required filters:

  • Supplier Types;
  • Trade Assurance;
  • Gold Supplier;
  • Assessed Suppliers.

The remaining options are less important, but you should also be aware of them. We will consider all of these criteria below.

Supplier Types 

On Alibaba, there are many types of suppliers to choose from. These include: 

Trading Companies. These are businesses that deal with a selection of items and often have a close connection with manufacturers. These companies earn money by putting in a margin to the actual item they deliver to sellers or merchants. 

The disadvantage of such companies is that they simply buy goods from the supplier, and then sell them to you. Because of this, the cost of a unit of product increases. Therefore, you will not be able to set the maximum margin on your products, because you need to remain competitive among other Amazon sellers. However, most of these companies can order small batches of goods. And for individual sellers, this is important.

Wholesalers. Like trading companies, wholesalers put in the margin to the expense of the items they offer in order to make money. The only difference is that the wholesalers have a storehouse.

This is an advantage for you, as your goods can be stored in a special warehouse. In this case, you do not need to worry about having your own warehouse or paying Amazon to store goods. However, since such companies still charge an additional price in order to earn money, you will either have to raise the price of your product, or accept a smaller profit.

Factories. When looking for suppliers on Alibaba, this kind of supplier must be at the top of your mind. Factories are businesses that produce the items you are planning to sell. On Alibaba, most companies are not factories, as their marketplace is flooded with wholesalers and trading companies. The advantage of factories is that they have the necessary equipment and qualified personnel. Therefore, if you need to make changes to the product, develop a completely new product on the basis of an existing one or urgently change any characteristics of the product in accordance with the demand trends of buyers, the factory will not have any problems with this.

Search Filters 

On Alibaba, you’ll be dealing with manufacturers, but if you want to keep away from the scams as well as low-quality products, the company offers search filters you will want to use. 

Trade Assurance. This is a free service provided by this company, which helps to make trust between suppliers and buyers. Trade Assuranceguarantees your defendance from the items ordered and not delivered on time, the items don’t correspond quality standards. If something of this occurs, the company will pay for the items, and you will get a refund. Therefore, it is a remarkable way to keep away from scams. 

Gold Supplier. Gold is a premium membership for manufacturers or suppliers on this online platform. Suppliers paying $10,000 or more are given with many ways to market their services and items. 

Since the amount of the commission is quite large, most fraudsters are unlikely to agree to pay it. Therefore, if a Supplier has Gold status, this serves as an additional indicator of their reliability.

Assessed Suppliers. This might be the best supplier to deal with. Companies marked with this sign have been specially inspected by third-party inspection firms. Therefore, you can be sure of their honesty and reliability. During such inspections, the equipment with which the company works, the materials used in the work, the quality of the finished product are evaluated. It is quite difficult to pass such a check, so not every company agrees to this. Nevertheless, for you this is an additional guarantee that the manufacturer is reliable.


This is the exact location of your supplier. If you want to know how to find the right Supplier on Alibaba, you need to consider many factors. One of them is the region in which production is actually located. The fact is that in China, certain regions specialize in the production of certain types of goods.

Most factories are located in Guangdong province. These are companies that specialize in the production of electronics, toys, clothes, shoes, kitchen utensils, etc. Of course, other provinces and regions also produce similar products. It is important for you to choose a company that is located in the province where the most similar enterprises.

Moreover, if you are not particularly versed in what region of China the enterprises, which  producing similar products, are located, simply use other filters to search: Trade Assurance, Assessed Suppliers, Gold Supplier.

Past Export Countries

These are regions the suppliers have been exported items to in the past. Choosing a country will narrow down results to Suppliers. If a manufacturer has delivered goods to Europe or the USA in the past, this is a good sign. This means that the items are high quality as well as meet the quality standards of the mentioned country. However, such a filter is optional. This information can assist you in evaluating your overall supplier or choosing a specific manufacturer among several.

Trade Assurance and Gold Supplier are "must have" filters, but filtering through Export Countries and Region are optional if few results are found. 

Further Filtering Suppliers 

You can instantly filter the results further with the use of some other factors:

  • Transaction level - shows the manufacturer's cash flow for a certain period; if the amount is insignificant, and the period for which it was earned is large enough (from six months or more), this is not the best choice.
  • Response rate - the percentage of responses that the manufacturer gives; do not worry if this indicator does not reach 100%; a level of 75% and above is sufficient, because he can give many answers directly via e-mail, and this will not be counted in the overall rating of his answers on Alibaba.
  • Time listed on Alibaba  - the time during which the company is registered on the Alibaba website; of course, the longer it is presented here, the better, however, it is necessary to take into account the total number of transactions, level of response, Gold status and many other factors to choose the best one.
  • Time listed as a Gold Supplier - manufacturers do not earn this status, but buy for money; so the longer it is active, the more reliable the supplier.
  • Response time - how quickly the supplier answers your questions.

What You Need to Do to Start Cooperation with the Manufacturer 

Prior to start a conversation with the manufacturer, first, you need to look for 15-20 manufacturers who either made the same goods. After knowing the suppliers, you believe, can give you the best items or products, your next move is to call them. Getting in touch with the manufacturer is easy and stress-free. 

When contacting every supplier, you need to clarify important points for the seller. 

Request the Supplier

When making a request, first, you need to know that sales reps you are dealing with likely do not speak English. This is why you have to use easy to understand phrases.

What You Need to Say in Circulation

When making a request, don’t forget to introduce yourself and explain your objectives. Don’t forget to indicate the type of product you want to get, the features it must have. You also need to consider product measurements, specs, materials, packaging, as well as other vital points. 

The more accurately you describe what you need, the more likely it is that the supplier will give a quick and clear answer to your request.

If you plan to make changes to a product that a supplier already produces, for example, applying a logo, resizing, adding functional details, ask him about it. This is especially important if you are making a request not directly to the Factory, but to the Trading Companies.

What You Need to Ask the Supplier 

As a client, you only want to get the best. So, when you are dealing with suppliers, there are lots of questions you need to ask them to get the best product. Some of these questions are: 

  • Can you manufacture this product?
  • Are you a Trading Company or a Factory? 
  • What are the experiences concerning these products?
  • What packaging options can you offer? Can you make packaging with an individual design according to my layout?
  • What is your lead time regarding samples as well as trial order? 
  • Do you accept PayPal for the full order?

The following list of questions does not include many important points. But for the first request to the supplier this will be enough. Once you get the answers, you can assess how interested companies are in the transaction. According to the answers of suppliers, you can also understand whether it is worth further to correspond with them, since not every one will give you a complete list of answers.

Assessment of Response

Suppliers normally respond to your request within 24 hours. Once they respond, you need to check it. 

The interested supplier will always answer all your questions and even provide additional information about the product or about its services. If you want to understand how to find Alibaba Supplier, with whom you can discuss further cooperation, use the tips.

  • The answers to your questions are clear and complete.
  • The supplier uses in the answers a clear specification of the goods, indicates the exact dimensions, materials, etc.
  • The manufacturer takes the initiative, talks about those details that you have not yet considered in your letter.

If the supplier doesn’t meet your expectations or doesn't respond to your needs and requirements, then you must look for other options. 

What Should Alert You When Dealing with the Manufacturer?

First of all, you should delete the manufacturer from your list if his letter contains a minimum of answers or these answers are incomplete. The manufacturer interested in the transaction always seeks to fully answer all customer questions.

The second point is the requirement of advance payments. If at the stage of negotiations and at the stage of discussing the cost, the supplier asks for a full prepayment for the goods, this should alert you. A common practice is an advance payment of 30-50%, the rest you pay after inspecting the finished consignment at the supplier’s warehouse.

Third, but no less important - a long response to your letters. Dealing with Alibaba is a business, and every entrepreneur understands the importance of a quick response to customer questions. If the manufacturer responds slowly, it may not be worth collaborating with him.

When to Talk about Product Prices?

In the first discussion, you must avoid talking about the prices. In the first appeal you should not talk about the prices of the goods. When you receive responses from the suppliers, among them you need to choose 5-6, which most satisfy your needs. And only then to discuss the cost of the sample and products.

Sampling of Goods

It is vital to ask the sample from your supplier. There are several reasons for this:

  1. You want to personally verify the quality of the finished sample.
  2. If necessary, you can make changes to the finished product until its serial release, if you do not like anything.
  3. You want to compare samples offered by different manufacturers in order to choose the best solution.

Check with the supplier at the negotiation stage how much the finished product sample will cost and whether they he can send it directly to you.

Another important point is the time it takes to produce a sample and deliver it. Sometimes you may need delivery by air, so it’s better to clarify this opportunity right away.

After the delivery of the samples, check each small detail. Make sure to check the packaging as well.

Purchase Order Contract and What Should Be in It

When everything is fine, your next step is to make a purchase order contract. Make sure the contract includes important information.

  • Production - product specification (color, size, materials, equipment), packaging (type, appearance, material), the number of units of goods in a batch and other similar details.
  • Total cost - unit cost and total cost of a consignment.
  • Delivery - a description of the methods of delivery, packaging of goods for delivery, the timing of shipment of goods from the warehouse of the factory, etc.
  • Photos of your products and packaging layout (if necessary).
  • Inspection - a description of the procedure for checking goods: who will inspect the product, how often such inspections will take place, who will perform the inspection (a third-party company-auditor or the factory itself), in what form will audit reports be submitted, etc.
  • Payment - the payment procedure for a consignment should be described, including terms, methods of transfer, etc.
  • Confidential Information - an agreement that the supplier will not disclose information about your product, its specifications, etc.
  • Additional Information - documents, photos and other materials that need to be attached to the order.

Finding the right supplier is not an easy task. You need to take into account many factors, negotiate with a dozen manufacturers, find out absolutely all the details, and finally agree on a price that is beneficial for both of you. Therefore, you must understand that this process will not be easy and simple. However, it is better at the start of the business to find a reliable supplier that will meet all your requirements than to invest in goods of dubious quality. We hope our experience will help you find the right supplier on Alibaba.