It’s time to go on Alibaba.com.
But how exactly do you find the right kind of product? How do you find a supplier you can trust?
Or what if I can’t find any of the products I need?
It’s okay, breath. You got this because I’ve done this!
In just 5 steps, I am going to show you exactly how to find a fool-proof supplier who can provide you with the ideal product.
A note on Alibaba
Alibaba is a wonderful resource to find suppliers, but it has gotten a bit of a bad rap over the last few years. So I want to preface this blog with a quick note telling you that speaking for me personally, I have had tremendous success using Alibaba.
But I will admit that if you don’t follow some simple to use, but easy to miss, steps to scrutinize your suppliers (like, ensuring that they provide a commercial invoice) and avoid being scammed, it can cost you.
That being said, Alibaba has proven time and time again that they are willing to strive for improvement. Alibaba back in 2015 fired a lot of their managers for taking bribes. They cleaned house and provided better tools to help you. But you have to know how to use those tools. That’s why I am writing this blog!
Step 1. Search the keyword of the product you are looking for on Alibaba.com
So what exactly are the keywords you are looking for? It’s very simple, if you go to your competitor’s page on Amazon and look at their title, and you reduce that title down to the essential core words that describe what the product is; those are your keywords. So you need to extract out all of the extra verbiage and examine the title in its most basic form.
For example: “Blue iconic funny coffee mug for men.”
If you reduced this title to its essential core words, it would just say “coffee mug.”
You would want to use those keywords to search on Alibaba.
Pro tip: If you cannot find a supplier who can build the product, this is a good problem. This means it will be very difficult for competitors to copy you. Find a supplier who can build a product of the same material of the same approximate size. This means the chance of this supplier having the right equipment to develop your product is very strong. But you will have to be more persuasive on getting them to build a mold or set up their equipment to develop your unique product.
We go very in-depth on how to do this in the Just One Dime Amazon FBA Mastery membership.
Step 2. Filter for the kind of supplier you want
a. Under supplier types select Trade Assurance and Verified supplier.
Trade assurance means when you pay your supplier the upfront 30% for manufacturing your product, you do not pay the remaining 70% of owed funds until you click a button verifying that the supplier built the product exactly the way you requested.
They do not get paid until you approve the payment. Until then, your money sits in escrow, safe in a third-party holding place, which gives you a lot of leverage in case your supplier messes something up.
Verified supplier means the supplier has been verified by Alibaba as a legitimate, registered business.
b. Under Supplier location, select the supplier country location you want.
Note: if you selected trade assurance or verified supplier in the previous dropdown, then country options will usually only be China, Hong Kong, or Taiwan.
Pro tip: If you are looking for a Chinese supplier, you can select which region the supplier is located in. This gives you a huge advantage. For example, clothing manufactured in the China province, Zhejiang, tends to be lower in price but also cheaper in quality than clothing manufactured in Guangzhou. By knowing the right province, you can save yourself a lot of time, and also ensure you are getting higher quality products.
c. Under past export countries, select the country you want the product to be exported to. If the supplier has no previous experience exporting to the country where you will be selling your products, you may run into customs complications unless you hire an experienced freight forwarder yourself.
d. Ignore the next five drop-downs
- Minimum Order: You are not looking for a minimum order quantity yet
- Price: Price is irrelevant until you find out if the supplier can build your product
- Ready to Ship: This is a terrible option because we need a uniquely built product that is differentiated from the competition.
- Sample order: Any legitimate supplier can send you a product sample.
- Material: I rarely use this one because usually, the product I'm having built is a combination of materials, not just one.
Step 3. Click on the product listing that looks closest to what you want built.
This one is relatively obvious, but if you are new to using Alibaba, you may not be aware. You want to find the product listing that is closest to what you want to build and simply click on it.
Say it’s a reasonably customizable product like a plain mug.
If we look to the right of the mug, we can find a ton of information about the supplier:
The number of jewels gives you a quick snapshot of how many transactions this supplier has conducted. The more transactions, the greater the experience they have, and the more trustworthy they are.
This number also indicates something of the supplier’s actual capacity for this product, so if you want to handle bigger shipments, more jewels are definitely a good thing. Think big and you will
Step 4. Scroll down and click Company Profile.
This gives us an overview of the supplier and some necessary details that will inform our decision to work with them.
Notice the Business Type. This is Very simply the type of business this supplier is in. It should come as no surprise that he is a manufacturer, but what is interesting is that they are also a trading company.
A trading company does two things. Not only will they build the mug for you, but if you request a product they (supplier A) cannot build, they will find another supplier (supplier B) that will build it for you, then B will then ship it back to A, who will then go ahead ship it to you or the Amazon fulfillment center.
This ultimately means that this supplier will charge more since they are also acting as a sourcing agent. This is either good or bad, depending on what resource you have more of at the time. If you have more financial resource than this can save you a ton of time trying to find a supplier to build your product.
The location will show you exactly where this supplier is located. This can be extremely useful information.
The annual revenue is pretty cool. This will actually tell you how well the company is doing business-wise.
There is a ton of information about the company on the page and throughout the tabs. You can even discover information about quality assurance, R&D; it’s all there. The purpose of this information is to give you a solid understanding of what kind of company profile this has.
It’s not total assurance you are dealing with a scammer, but having all of this information sure makes it seem more unlikely.