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  • #978447
    AgentMail
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    Hi All,

    Just wondering if anyone has/does use Alibaba to purchase goods. I am finding it hard to understand it – is it like an Ebay type site? How reputable is it? what has been your experiences? Look forward to hearing the feedback

    #1107218
    Johny
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    Alibaba is a B2B (business to Business) portal that introduces you to potential suppliers. It is a completely different from ebay.

    Essentially, you can search a product and it will provide a list of potential suppliers. You can wade through those suppliers (depending on the products there can be thousands) and through that decide which supplier you are interested to buy from, based on the information they provide.

    Another similar site is Global Sources. Alibaba is the largest with something like 78 million members., GS would be second.

    You would normally use these types of website if you are ordering product in at least reasonably high quantities because most will work on supply of minimum order quantities (MOQ)

    Generally, in the case of Alibaba, the suppliers are listed with “Gold” members at the top. Gold members are those who have paid to list their products and therefore get listing preference. Alibaba does some verification checks to ensure gold members are legitimate.

    Having said that, there is a history of problems with the legitimacy of many gold suppliers in Alibaba. You will find complaint after complaint against all members of Alibaba (including gold members) who have scammed people.

    I do know a couple of years ago there was an instance where over 2,000 gold memebrs were cancelled as they were shown to be illegitimate companies where buyers were scammed.

    So, Alibaba/GS are an excellent source for identifying a group of potential suppliers, but I would always do some independent verification rather than rely on the verification provided by Alibaba.

    Added to this, and one of the major problems in dealing with Chinese suppliers, is that there is no system in place that can really offer you a guarante of the level of product quality or service quality you will receive.

    You can get some protection by using various methods, but there is always a risk in dealing with companies in China.

    Thats not meant to put a complete dampener on things as there are many opportunities in dealing directly. But it is not even in the ball park of buying something from the guy down the road.

    I had previously written a bit about using sites like Alibaba as well as some other stuff here:

    http://www.asiasupplierreview.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=214

    Now, if you are looking for smaller quantity orders, then there is Aliexpress
    (A subsidiary of Alibaba). This site is a bit more like ebay in that it offers customer reviews and you can buy in single lots or smaller lots. (Prices will be higher though). No bidding though.

    And, once again don’t rely completely on the customer rating system as I am also aware that some people from Alibaba were charged for deleting negative reviews.

    Hope that helps a little.

    #1107219
    Cat – GLC
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    Hey Carl,

    Are you coming to the catch up next thursday at Mt Cootha?

    Happy to discuss alibaba with you.

    Cat :)

    #1107220
    ozluck
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    AgentMail, post: 118865 wrote:
    Hi All,

    Just wondering if anyone has/does use Alibaba to purchase goods. I am finding it hard to understand it – is it like an Ebay type site? How reputable is it? what has been your experiences? Look forward to hearing the feedback

    Alibaba is for the supplier and not for the buyer, so I would ask you to go to the site with caution.
    Alibaba’s so called verification is rigged where feedback and other verification are not valid.

    90% of the time the manufacturers are sole traders working out of his living room with a laptop and offer prices that are too good to be true.

    However there are genuine suppliers but then the products they supply can be a little expensive.. and we all understand why.

    I suggest you make a trial order for 1 unit and increase on a smaller pace.

    I hope this helps
    Sam

    #1107221
    Johny
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    90% of the time the manufacturers are sole traders working out of his living room with a laptop and offer prices that are too good to be true.

    However there are genuine suppliers but then the products they supply can be a little expensive.. and we all understand why.

    90% of the time??? I would welcome you to substantiate this.

    I don’t understand why they are “a little expensive”. I welcome your reasoning for this also.

    #1107222
    SavvySME
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    I’ve used alibaba to start a few of my businesses and it’s been great.

    It’s basically a place to surf for suppliers for your product and you find a lot of the more high end manufacturers have large minimum order quantities.

    Here are a few tips for people that are looking to use alibaba as a source of supplier:

    1. Look for the badges alibaba gives manufacturers “gold supplier” badge is one that is a must to avoid the dodgy suppliers, it will also how many years they have been a gold supplier for, so the higher the better. Keep in mind that if they are running a sustainable business with this their reputation will be more important than taking advantage of one order so this is a good background check.

    2. Use the live chat option. When you surf people’s profiles on Alibaba it will tell you if they are online and offline. Choose a time in the middle of the day to surf (depending on which country your supplier is in) and make sure you have a chat to them online first before making your decision. This gives you a chance to ask any questions, request quotes from them etc. This also shows you that the company has employed someone to be available for you to communicate with during the day. It is important that they have an open communication channel at all times in case you bump into any difficulties or have any questions.

    3. Create a sample. Make sure that you are meticulous with creating samples before you produce a large batch. You should test the wear and tear as well if possible, since quality is a huge thing. I’ve have bracelets made that, when exposed to water, lost the gold plating and turned silver. Since I made the mistake of creating a large batch already, I just had to include a little card that warned the user that if exposed to water, it may lose it’s gold. A warning is better than an unpleasant surprise.

    4. Get orders with tracking – confirm the shipping method used and make sure you get tracking. I have less experience with this since I’ve mainly used carriers such as DHL and Fed-Ex but someone else in this forum may want to provide you with a more detailed answer.

    5. If you are packing multiple things you may want to send your batches between manufacturers and pay for a small fee to pack it. (e.g. if you have a box packaging for a product) you can get the manufacturers to co-ordinate making the item and moving your products to another location to get packed before sending it to you. This is a great time saver and manufacturers usually have good partnerships between themselves to make this happen smoothly.

    I hope the tips help you on your Alibaba journey. Make sure you always choose the suppliers that have the best communication and ratings. I’ve had many that disappear on me after a few emails (luckily I didn’t purchase).

    Thanks for reading,

    Wendy

    #1107223
    LucasArthur
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    Great thread,

    I personally use Alibaba as a yellowpages for china and then when i visit China i check in on the supplier to verify their existence..

    This too has some issues, although i have not incurred this, that the person you are dealing with is actually an agent and not the manufacturer although they will meet you at the factory and represent themselves as being the source… over time this tends to show itself though…

    Its all about caution, if its too good to be true it sometimes is just that. Do your due diligence, check how long it takes to reply, check the email address, google map it (good luck as not that easy at all times), call the factory, ask for photos of products and see how long to respond (do this with multiple products to check on the backgrounds etc)… and the list goes on…

    Enjoy it though, its a huge learning experience and one that pay pay dividends…

    Cheers
    Jason

    Jason Ramage | Lucas Arthur Pty Ltd | E: [email protected]   P: 61 3 8324 0344    M: 61 412 244 888
    #1107224
    Divert To Mobile
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    ozluck, post: 118951 wrote:
    Alibaba is for the supplier and not for the buyer, so I would ask you to go to the site with caution.
    Alibaba’s so called verification is rigged where feedback and other verification are not valid.

    90% of the time the manufacturers are sole traders working out of his living room with a laptop and offer prices that are too good to be true.

    However there are genuine suppliers but then the products they supply can be a little expensive.. and we all understand why.

    I suggest you make a trial order for 1 unit and increase on a smaller pace.

    I hope this helps
    Sam

    Sam is absolutely correct on all points.

    #1107225
    PetesPlans
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    I have visited many factories in China that are on Alibaba. All have been genuine, sometimes employing 500 people or more.

    I read a forum discussion recently (not here) that pointed out the need for more caution with popular gadgets like mobile phones, ipod things etc. Often either not genuine or resellers, or selling factory seconds.

    As already mentioned, a handful of questions can often show if they are genuine or not.

    Also, when i find a Chinese company (on Alibaba for example), i go straight to Google, make sure the company exists, and possibly even find the same contact name that Alibaba has… not fool-proof, but a bit of reseach doesn’t hurt.

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