When sourcing suppliers, most people will come up with Alibaba, the world’s largest B2B trading platform. There are millions of Chinese suppliers in every industry. In each product category, there’re still thousands of suppliers, and most people don’t know how to select their most suitable supplier.

As dealing with all kinds of Chinese suppliers for years, I’d like to share how to find good suppliers to enhance your safety when buying from Alibaba.

Step1 -- Search your desired product using specific keywords

Directly using the product name to search is the easiest way. And remember to use related keywords if you want to get more Chinese suppliers for your desired product.

Take plush toys for example. You can search for “plush toy”, “plushies”, “soft toys”, “soft doll”, and “stuffed animals”. These keywords will lead you to all suppliers of “plush toys” in China.

Or if your desired product is the X hose. You can use the keywords “X hose”, “magic hose”, and “garden hose”, to search on Alibaba. Then, get all the relevant results on Alibaba.

Step2 -- Identify where the product is manufactured, and reduce suppliers’ scope

When searching for “X hose” on Alibaba, you will discover that most suppliers are concentrated in Zhejiang and Guangdong. And Zhejiang gathers several times as many suppliers as Guangdong. In this case, you can ask 5-10 suppliers in Zhejiang and Guangdong for quotations under the same quality and requirements. Then compare them to know the product’s price range and avoid unreasonable higher quotes.

For some product categories, I share a practical tip to help you judge where the industrial cluster is. For example, searching for fishing gear, you will find that more than 60% of the products are from Weihai, Shandong. This means that fishing gear is produced in this area and it is easy to find a real factory here.

Step3 -- Figure out your demand and screen good suppliers on Alibaba

I can tell you that around 80% of suppliers on Alibaba are trading companies. Do not spend too much precious time finding factories. This is challenging, even for native Chinese people.

If you source 3 types of products and order 200 pieces per type, you should buy from trading companies, even if their price per piece is a bit high as compared to manufacturers. Because trading companies have smaller MOQs and more product choices. While factories usually specialize in one product and require a large order quantity, like 2,000 pieces or more.

The following suggestions will help you in choosing a good supplier for making your purchases:

Look for the company’s name and address

Typically, manufacturers choose their names according to the product, raw materials, and production technologies.

When searching “X hose” on Alibaba, you’ll find suppliers named,

  • XX Rubber And Plastic Technology Co., Ltd. — The production of magic hose requires the use of rubber. This tells you the supplier can produce it at a low material cost.
  • XX Arts & Crafts Co., Ltd. — This supplier might have just uploaded the sale of magic hose on Alibaba to supply this product to two or three customers in a year.

Browse the supplier’s catalog and product description

Manufacturers specialize in one product category. For example, LED lighting factories are limited to LED and lamp production. It’s impossible for them to manufacture kitchenware or cosmetics, etc.

While trading companies usually sell many different types of products. For example, they might sell LED lighting along with related products like party supplies and totally unrelated products like garden tools.

Alibaba trading company's catalog reference
Alibaba manufacturer's catalog reference

Note that professional trading companies typically sell similar products and describe their products in detail. This is primarily due to their experience in manufacturing that particular product for years.

After carefully following the above-mentioned steps, you will have a long list of suppliers. Now, it’s very essential to communicate with suppliers and ask for samples to choose suitable, good suppliers on Alibaba.

Step4 -- Judge whether a supplier takes you seriously

Real-time communication is important. This reflects the supplier’s attitude. You’d better choose suppliers actively responding to you, for example, the ones who are enthusiastic about answering your questions about product materials, features, quality, process, etc.

If a supplier always responds to you after a long time, obviously, he doesn’t take you seriously enough. Once you place an order and problems occur, he won’t contact you on time, not to mention actively solving problems.

Step5 -- Evaluate if suppliers are professional in your target product

Ask suppliers sufficient questions. Professional suppliers not only answer you in time but also supplement your problems and give you some suggestions according to your situation.

Taking Xhose as an example, you can ask the supplier what’s the price for 50FT, 75FT, 100FT, and 10FT hose, the width and weight of the textile, rubber materials, specifications related to rubber, connecting accessories available, maximum water pressure and so on. Inexperienced suppliers are not able to answer all questions well, due to a lack of product knowledge and little or no experience in selling the product.

Step6 -- Ask for quotes and samples to choose your best suppliers

Ask for quotations as much as possible. Don’t get excited about low prices too early, as you pay what you get. Suppliers quoting 15% lower prices tend to supply products that can’t reach your requirement.

There indeed exist some suppliers who would quote around 5% lower price. Usually, these are very small trading companies willing to narrow their profits to receive orders.

The same important thing is to order a few sample products to visually check the product quality and overall effects. Especially complex products like jewelry, different materials, or processing techniques, lead to different quotes. Take a look at samples at different prices and choose the one according to your budget and requirement, thereby finalizing your supplier choice. Also remember to get extra 1-2 suppliers for backup.

How Jingsourcing supports your sourcing in China

It’s easy to source suppliers on Alibaba, but the difficulty lies in getting good suppliers who can deal with your order seriously and responsibly. Finding experienced sourcing agents like Jingsourcing can resolve your concerns. Our advantages include:

The most competitive quote

We have our own supplier database to obtain factory-direct prices, at least 5%-10% lower than Alibaba’s.

Our cooperative factories are located in industrial clusters specializing in target products and can always provide the most competitive prices. For daily-use products, which are majorly manufactured in Zhejiang and Guangdong, we have gathered a lot of suppliers in the 2 areas. Suppose you want to source beauty products, we will find suitable Guangzhou factories from our database. Manufacturers in other areas will quote higher due to the higher cost of materials and labor.

MOQ friendly to small businesses and newbies

For small custom orders like several hundred pieces, many Alibaba suppliers will not take it seriously. Because the quantity can’t reach the MOQ and they can’t earn much money.

But we can do it, as we cooperate with our suppliers for a long time and have good relationships with them. Even if your order 300 pieces, they are willing to produce for us.

Rich experience in complex products and customization

When it comes to complex products that need several factories to work together, for example, remote control toy cars with many custom parts like PCB, plastic body, etc., most suppliers are not willing to do that except for very large order quantities.

We are able to do it and will ensure the product meets your expectations. The first step is to exactly understand your ideas through communication. Then, we select suitable factories from our database to make sample products and send them to you. And refine the sample until you think it is OK.

Management of the entire sourcing process, minimizing your risks

Compared to local sourcing, purchasing overseas involves more risks. We have successfully helped 4000+ clients to source products from China. Many of them are customizing products in small quantities. Some of them are purchasing multiple types of spot goods with large order values like $500,000.

Multiple sourcing is time-consuming and tedious. For each product type, we will compare the price quoted by dozens of suppliers, and choose several good suppliers for your confirmation. This smoothes your process of supplier selection. And we’ll check product quality for each category, and consolidate all the goods you require for shipping to your designated place.

For custom products, we not only simplify your process of supplier selection but also help you manage the entire custom phases from a product idea to a prototype and finished product. We’ll keep you informed about each supply chain link and ensure your order time and quality, minimizing your risks.

Want to source Chinese suppliers and products in an easy, cheap, safe way?

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