Planning to launch your own online business amid this pandemic? Learn how to find suppliers on Alibaba for your product.
Whilst I'm going to teach you how to sort through the manufacturers and find ones that manufacture the products that you're looking to sell, unfortunately, there isn't some magical process that you can follow to pick the best one – you're simply going to have to email quite a few.
You should go to the home page of Alibaba and type in the product that you’re looking for; I'm going to use vitamin pills as my example
when I click search what Alibaba is going to do is it’s going to show me all of the different listings with the product listings for vitamin pills and some of these will inevitably be bottles
But a lot of time they will actually be vitamin pills. There are a lot of them, so obviously I can't contact all of these suppliers, in fact, there are thirteen thousand four hundred and seventy-three products listed below, so obviously I cannot contact them all, so I'm going to have to filter the results down even further.
It's important to note that there's not actually thirteen thousand four hundred and seventy-three different products listed, because of the fact that suppliers will oftentimes post multiple listings for the same item, so what we need to do is come and filter the results to show suppliers
Now we've gone from over thirteen thousand to six hundred and seventy-four, which is a lot better, but we still need to filter these results down even more.
Come and click on gold supplier:
This isn't a great filter, because most suppliers choose to upgrade to gold because it's still really cheap, but here you can see we're down to six hundred and twenty-six suppliers
From here, if you've got too many suppliers like I do here to have a manageable amount to go through and contact, what I would suggest that you do is you go, and you click on the assists supplier tab now only do this if you've got if you have too many to manage like this one here because not many suppliers become assist:
but if you've got hundreds of suppliers listed for your item, this is a good solution for narrowing the results down even further. Now we’re down to 50 suppliers:
which is a lot more manageable. From here, what you're going to do is you're going to contact at least 20 of these different suppliers and then see what they respond with, and that's it – it's honestly that simple.
Unfortunately, though, as I see it, there isn't a magical formula that you can follow to vet good companies from supplier companies on Alibaba. You're simply going to have to do that yourself through communicating with them.
To do that, you're going to have to send an introductory email I've included a template that you can use in this article to give you even more information. I'm going to go through each section of the template and explain to you why I have included it.
In this first section, you are aiming to create authority, even if you are a single seller who is just starting out – you'll get more apples if you look like you are a bigger business with employees, that is why you email as though you are ripped for a business and act as though you have someone in a higher position of authority for you.
In the section I make a claim about my sales, how you feel about doing this is up to you. If you want the highest response rates going to be doing at least 1 million dollars in sales, even if you aren't, if your moral compass doesn't let you do this, then you can remove the section.
Be sure to stress that you want to create a profitable partnership and that you want it to be long term as this is very important for Chinese manufacturers.
In this section outline what you want to purchase including the specifications, such as the size, color and other things like that – don't mention minimum order quantity this is a red flag for a lot of these suppliers, and it indicates that you don't have much money, which decreases the chances that they will work with you.
In this section, we ask important questions that we need answers to. Asking questions also has the added benefit of helping us separate suppliers that are good at communicating and those that aren't.
We ask questions about samples because getting a sample is crucial. Once you identify a shortlist of suppliers that match your budget and that communicate the best, you'll be picking which supply to work with usually off of the quality of your sample product.
In terms of packaging, it's not usually crucial what type of packaging you use; different suppliers will have their own preferences. For example, if you were manufacturing supplements, different suppliers would have different types of bottles that they would prefer to use.
There are also questions in here about the final order; we are asking for details on how long manufacturing will take and the product per unit including air express because when it comes to private labeling for your first product, it's best to pick one that has good profit margins with air shipping included, as it'll be easier and faster to restock and manage your inventory. The zip code that I've included in this email is the zip code for an Amazon FBA warehouse in Arizona.
Once they reply to your email on this with the cost per unit, you can reply and let them know how many you want based on your budget, you can negotiate with them, and you'll need to be realistic that the smaller the quantity order, the higher the cost per unit.
In this email, I've also asked that PayPal be the form of payment for both the sample and the order, some companies will be put off by this, and they will only want to work with bank transfers this is okay, and it does not in any way indicate that they are a scammy business. From their perspective, large corporations who are they prefer business partners never use PayPal, they only use bank transfers as they are more cost-effective since PayPal has percentage-based fees, however as a new private label FBA a seller, I recommend you stick to PayPal at first as it gives you a bit of buyer protection. If something goes wrong, you have a chance of getting your money back if you use a bank wire transfer, your money is basically gone forever, and you need to trust them to follow through.
The final section here, I asked them to reply. Skype works best; if they can add you on skype, then you can have all of your questions answered in one single conversation and have them ship you a product sample that will hopefully arrive in less than a week.
If they don't communicate with Skype and rely on emails in you might be going back and forth for like ten plus emails, an alternative is also to ask them to set up a phone conversation, which can be a great way to establish if they are a legitimate business.
In this section, I've also asked about doing a sample order, the reason for this is that as you are new, you only want to do a small order, manufacturers are sometimes put off smaller quantity orders below 1000 because I'd rather work with big businesses. By calling it a sample order, you increase the chances that they'll take a smaller order quantity from you.
Once they've worked successfully with you, they'll be keen to keep working with you even with smaller order quantities.
You can impact your supplier based on the responses that you've received and the quality of the sample product. Here are three tips for picking your supplier and Alibaba.
#1 do not judge a supplier based on the Alibaba response rateA lot of people are understandably put off suppliers that have a response rate that is below 80% because, of course, good communication and speedy responses are very important for business. The thing, though, is that the Alibaba response rate is based upon how fast they respond to your messages using the Alibaba messaging system and not through email and Skype. In fact, some suppliers will give you a quick one-sentence reply using the Alibaba messaging system and then sends you a link to the email just so that they can improve the Alibaba response rate.
Don't be put off this either the key is to see how quickly they respond to your emails and Skype messages.
#2 Manufacturers vetting your business should be avoidedThroughout this process, we'll try to make our business look as big and professional as possible to increase the chances that companies are going to want to work with us. Some manufacturers, though, are more selective, and they'll only work with companies that are going to buy and big order quantities, such as Walmart. If a manufacturer replies and they focus on your business and try to ask you questions about that rather than focusing on the order, then I would recommend that you avoid that manufacturer. The chances are they are reading your business to see if it is a small business or a big business, and they are not going to work with you anyway, so just cut your losses and move on to the next one.
#3 it is okay to work directly with the sales rep rather than with the companyIn another article I made which gives tips on importing items from China, I mentioned that you should avoid working with a middleman because usually the prices that they will charge you are more than working with the company directly. This is often sound advice, as often times sales individuals are people that are working for multiple companies giving you inflated prices as they are getting a commission cut from the sale. But occasionally, this isn't true, sometimes a sales rep will have a pre-existing relationship with the supplier, and they'll be able to negotiate lower prices than you could have if you had been working with them directly.
If they speak better English than the internal staff at the company, then they can act as a communicator for you. To maximize your profit potential, treat everybody equally in the vetting process. If a middleman offers you a better price and they are a better communicator, then it doesn't matter that they are not with the company directly.