Find out if it is safe to order from Alibaba…

“I find it hard to trust online marketers.” “No! I can’t shop with Alibaba; I don’t even know their policies”. “How sure am I that I won’t get scammed on Alibaba?” These questions roar in the hearts of potential customers who want to take a step on importing from China. I understand all these, and that’s why I’m here to help.

This guide will reveal some potential risks and problems you might run into when you order from Alibaba. I will also include some helpful tips to guide you on how to avoid these risks. Kindly read further to find out more about this.

But, the real question is, ‘what exactly is Alibaba?’ Some new importers may not have some come across it so let me help.

Alibaba- What is it?

Alibaba is an online marketplace. It is a business-to-business (B2B) market place actually, but the Alibaba group is the parent company of about nine other companies. So, yes, it’s a massive one.

But, mostly when we talk about Alibaba, we venture it down to the online selling platform when it’s a whole lot more than that. It is one of the largest B2B selling platforms across Asia as a whole. It is a simple way to reach out to manufacturers and suppliers of the product. The great deal is that they provide a better way to find low-cost goods.

It is a great starting point to find cheaper products if you want to buy in bulk, and if what you need fits into any of these, you’re good to go:

  • You need to buy products in bulk.
  • You want custom products for a cheaper rate.
  • It would be best if you had a cheaper way to import cost-sensitive products.

Is Alibaba Legit?

Here is my sincere answer for you: Yes! Definitely! Sure! Alibaba is a legit place to shop. It is tested, trusted, and certified.

At Alibaba, strict laws and regulations are put in place to ensure that most business transactions are safe for importers. Here is the risk; Alibaba is just a platform that creates opportunities for suppliers to connect with buyers, and that’s all.

Now, it all boils down that the dealings all depend on you and your supplier. Alibaba does not have a way of intervening when the problem is that of misuse of services. So, you’ve got to be very careful when choosing to do business with a particular supplier.

Later in this post, I will list some potential risks to avoid and run away from them. I will also give a guide on how to find reputable suppliers before making any transactions. You need to know these. Well, pay attention.

Who will you come across on Alibaba?

On Alibaba, there are two types of businesses or supplying companies you will meet. You will come across the manufacturers and the trading businesses (the wholesalers).  

The Manufacturers

On Alibaba, manufacturers put their goods up for sale. They will use this eCommerce platform to promote and advertise their products themselves and supply these products to importers, most likely in very high Minimum Order Quantities (MOQs).

Because they deal with custom-made products, they will only supply at high MOQs as stocks are not held. They produce the goods on demand, and usually, such goods carry the company logo.

So, if you want to order from a manufacturer on Alibaba, you had better gather a reasonable budget for this.  

The Wholesalers

The wholesalers or trading companies buy directly from factories and sell to importers at lesser MOQs and a little higher rate.

They will sell unbranded products. Some sell niche goods that they offer at a lesser MOQ than those you will get from the producing factories. Most prefer to import from wholesalers because you don’t need to get enormous quantities if you want to start a small scale business.

Those are the two types of suppliers you will run into on Alibaba. You can choose to do business with any of them. It’s all up to you and your business type.

 Now, you have to spot out some risks and traps you might get caught up with on Alibaba on your part as an importer. So, from my little experience, I will give you a list of some potential risks to watch out for when ordering on Alibaba.

Some Risks you might run into when ordering on Alibaba.

 These risks are usually prevalent, as I’ve come across them a couple of times. They are relatively superficial and can be easily spotted out if close attention is paid. Take a look at these:

a. Payment is made, but you don’t get your products.

This is one of the most common problems online shoppers run into while ordering from online platforms. However, I have to say that this is most likely impossible on Alibaba.

But, if worse comes to worst and does happen, there are measures to take on the platform. It is advisable to avoid this by only dealing with reputable suppliers. You’ll get to know how to source reputable suppliers later in this article.

b. Low priced goods, pricey shipping fees

Although shipping from China may not be in small bucks depending on the country you’re importing from, it shouldn’t be over-the-roof.

Sometimes, suppliers may put up low priced products on their profiles and then rip you off with the shipping fees. I got my products for a low rate from my experience, and the shipping fees were three times the price of the products. It was disheartening.

They do this to entice the buyers, and before you know kit, you’ve placed your order. A reputable supplier wouldn’t do this. The more bitter truth is that they might not be charged such fees from the shipping companies. Greedy businesses do this.

It would be best if you were on alert when ordering from such businesses as they might have something else up their sleeves.

c. Selling fake products to importers.

Since many trading companies and suppliers sell branded products (which shouldn’t be) at low prices, these products will undoubtedly be fake or infringed. It would be best if you didn’t fall for the price rate to avoid these at all costs.

d. Put up low prices to indulge you and increase the price when you’re placing your order.

If you want to order products, the prices lower than your market inquiry, stay alert. You might be told that the price you already confirmed has changed or is currently unavailable.

Most times, this happens when you have already tested the samples and decided to order. So, it’s best not to be carried away by cheap products on Alibaba.

e. Sound samples, defective products

This is a significant risk. Suppliers may be so tricky to the extent that they provide you with excellent samples. You test them and find them suitable. But, when you place your order, and your goods get to you, you find out that the products have been mixed up with fake or defective products.

This is very disappointing and can lead to further complications that may be detrimental to your business.

Those risks are not exaggerated and can happen to anyone. So, below are tips to help you avoid them.


Nine tips for safe ordering on Alibaba

As a new importer, you will need a little orientation and guidance. Here are some tips to help you order from Alibaba safely. Chew these over and order rightly!

1. Do the right searches.

When you try to search for any product you want to import on Alibaba, a good step in that process is to ensure that your search is refined. On Alibaba, there is a way to filter your search results of suppliers.

When checking it out, ensure that you tick the boxes that say Gold suppliers, Accessed suppliers, and Trade assurance. When you do this, you get more reputable suppliers on your feed. But what do they mean? 

· Gold suppliers

These are companies that commit to supplying reliable goods and services on Alibaba. Every month, these companies subscribe to Alibaba to have this status to their name and business. They will most likely be trustworthy.

· Accessed suppliers

These are companies that have gone the extra mile to pay external services (third party services) to help them verify how legit their business is. This would be a bit harder to achieve, so they will be a reputable company.

· Trade assurance

For trade assurance, companies have a one-on-one contract with Alibaba. It is a free service, but a contract guards the authenticity. With this trade assurance, these three things must be upheld by the company unless there will be a breach of contract.

  • Shipping must be done on time. Alibaba will provide a refund if the suppliers don’t ship your products by the agreed time documented.
  • Protection for your payments.
  • Quality protection services. Alibaba will also provide a refund of your payment if the quality of what you received does not suit what is stated in your business agreement.

All these are what you should include in your searches to find the right suppliers.


2. Check the authenticity of the company.

Want to find out more about a company? Easy! Just use Google. Google can provide you with more information about a real company than you ever thought were existent.

You should check out the company’s name, contact info, and business websites. The website of the company should contain relevant information about the origin and growth of the company.

You can use this style to find out if there are any scam traces related to the company. In your search toolbox, type in ‘scam by {company name}’ if there are any related cases, it is best to forget doing business with them.

3. Check out customer reviews.

Every supplier on Alibaba has public feedback and reviews from past customers. These are actual ratings given by other importers. It will have a lot to say about the reliability of the suppliers.

When checking this, compare the reviews of different suppliers and find out which is more reputable. This might tell you about the quality of their services.

4. Don’t be moved by too cheap products.

‘Not all that glitters is gold.’ That’s a relatable saying. Don’t be carried away by how cheap the products are as they may be defective or counterfeits. This might harm your order and therefore delay your business.

5. Check their samples

This is very paramount. No matter the supply you need, it is essential that you check the product quality before you order in bulk. You can also ask the suppliers to provide samples of their products so you can qualify the product.

Demanding for samples of the products from different suppliers is also possible. You can get to compare the products and find out which one is best for you.

6. Ask relevant questions.

When communicating with the suppliers, ask them relevant questions. Ask them about their policies, standard, code of conduct, and protocols they have in place to ensure successful business transactions. You can also ask for pictures as evidence.

Ensure that they answer these questions directly and satisfactorily. If they try to avoid some of your questions, stay alert.

7. Use secure payment methods.

When ordering, use payment methods that are protected. Such may include PayPal. PayPal adds more security to your order. To do this, you might have to work off Alibaba with your supplier as the platform does not offer this payment method.

The only setback to this is that your order will not be protected by Alibaba but by PayPal Purchase Protection Program.

Either way, you don’t lose out on both sides. That’s fair enough.

8. Learn the art of negotiation

On Alibaba, negotiation is allowed. You have the opportunity to negotiate on the MOQs. So, don’t be scared by this. It would be best if you didn’t go into negotiation upfront. Get to know about the products, order samples, and then you can try asking the supplier to export to you at a lesser MOQ. Who knows? You might get lucky. Just ensure you negotiate reasonably.

9. Ask the suppliers for references.

Most suppliers have US or UK based references as a way to build trust with importers. Remember that you have to make a money transaction with a stranger. How do you get to trust them? Let them provide references you can contact.

So, here is a quick checklist you can use when choosing suppliers

  • Product quality
  • The price range of products as compared to other suppliers with the same products
  • Customer service reliability
  • References
  • Reputation on Alibaba

Wrapping up

So, let’s answer the question again. Yes! It is safe to order from Alibaba. Just some necessary precautions, and the ride will be smooth. Friend, I hope this guide is comprehensive enough and has been able to take away that burden of doubt off your mind.

Thanks for reading! Have a blissful shopping experience!

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