It can be a minefield when finding a supplier online through online websites, with many asking if Alibaba is safe to buy from. In most cases, YES!
I get it – it can be scary ordering from China or any other country using Alibaba to display products. You’re sending over a big wad of cash to someone you haven’t met, to source products you’ll never see, from a factory you’ve never been to. They could be anyone. 🤔
Today I’ll be answering the most common question which is “Is Alibaba Safe To Buy From?” for my readers. This is especially important if you’re ordering products to sell on Amazon FBA.
I’ll best address this through tips that I’ve learned on my journey.
Buying safely on Alibaba
When beginning your search on Alibaba, even just for product samples, you’ll want to
- Trade Assurance. This is where Alibaba will insure your order in case something goes wrong
- Verified Supplier. This means the company has been already checked for their legitimacy.
With them checked, it vastly reduces the search results to only reasonably solid suppliers.
Then you’ll want to check some other characteristics. Some things I look for:
- Their history on Alibaba. I’ve personally been on there for 6 years now. For that reason, the factories also see me as legit. I generally don’t touch suppliers under 5 years of history.
- The types of products they sell. Real factories only stay in one sub-niche and don’t venture further. Avoid those factories who sell backpacks, light globes and bathroom soap, because they aren’t a factory – they are a trading company!
- Where they are located. Factories generally are located in the same vicinity of each other. All the electronics manufacturers are in the same spot, as are the plastics manufacturers and the metalworkers.
This really comes through experience. Spending weeks or months on Alibaba will help you gain more confidence and security.
Attend Trade Shows
I can’t believe the amount of Amazon sellers who are still yet to attend their 1st trade show. The Canton Fair, for example, is a goldmine of excellent products for Amazon FBA where you can buy more safely than through Alibaba.
Not only does it get the sample analysis and basic questions out of the way,
But if you’re saving capital, you can still use trade fairs to your advantage. When you’re on Alibaba, ask them if they have attended any trade fairs, and if they have, ask which ones. You can then search on the trade fair website to validate.
Use inspection services
I always have my goods inspected from the factory prior to departure. My pick is V-Trust (my experiences here) but there is a range of services out there. Chinese factory scams are a real problem for Amazon sellers like myself, with V-Trust there to help us sleep better at night.
Before paying the remaining 70% balance on your order, you can get an inspection done. Better yet, is that I tell my factories that I’ll be getting an inspection done before even sending the deposit. If they have an issue with this, then I run. Any legitimate factory will have no problems with product inspections, as they want to work with you for the longterm.
Not only can you get inspections done for your products, but they can also inspect the factory. They can validate if it’s a real factory or just a fake shopfront. Likewise, they can check for human trafficking conditions to ensure the factory is complaint.
Avoid branded products
No real factory is going to display licensed products on Alibaba, such as Disney, Pokemon, CamelBak and Stihl. They are not the manufacturer of these products, because those factories are under super tight control from the big manufacturers.
If you see these, then please avoid. IP law isn’t so well enforced in China, as a country of copy-cats. If you try to order and import these into the United States without prior written approval from these brands, you’ll likely have your goods seized. This is where the responsibility falls on you, not the factory, to do your due diligence.
However, some of these factories do claim to manufacture at the same standard. If that’s the case, then great! You might have found a diamond in the rough. Personally, I don’t feel good going anywhere near anyone who uses the trademarks of another company to find Amazon sellers.
Conclusion: Alibaba is usually safe
Most people do get that initial fear of using Alibaba to find a supplier for their chosen physical product. They’re concerned about he dangers of selling on Amazon. Many ask if these online directories are even safe.
My simple answer is: Yes, you can buy safely through Alibaba. I’ve used it a countless number of times. I prefer to use RFQ and then discuss with suppliers on WeChat, before finally meeting at the Canton Fair. Works just fine for me.
But there are known scams out there where people question the safety of buying products from Alibaba for their Amazon store. People have lost money in the journey, and I’ve even had a failed product inspection done, as one of my
Is this Amazon business model easy? No. It takes a shit-ton of work. But if you’re willing to get started, then Alibaba is still one of the best places to safely source from, based on my experience, as I continue on my journey.