Alibaba is the world’s biggest directory of factories and suppliers platform with an amazing range of tools and services available to take your international trade to the next level.

In this post, we are going to focus on how to find the best suppliers on the Alibaba RFQ (Request for Quotation). Using the RFQ tool, we will be able to have factories come to us and be able to pick out the best option.

We will then cover how to use RFQ and communicate with those suppliers. This gives you a good option to ensure a perfect fit for your product or project.

1. What’s Alibaba RFQ? What’s the best benefit
2. Disadvantages of Alibaba RFQ
3. How to use RFQ to get best-matched suppliers
4. Practical RFQ template to find best-matched suppliers
5. Principles to identify the best among all RFQ suppliers

1. What’s Alibaba RFQ? What’s the best benefit?

Alibaba RFQ (Request for Quotation) is a service provided by Alibaba to global buyers to post buying requests and manage all quotations on the RFQ service platform.

How does Alibaba RFQ work?

It is quite easy to post an RFQ from the buyer’s end. All you have to do is to register an Alibaba account, go to https://rfq.alibaba.com/, fill in the RFQ form then click the “submit RFQ” button.

Once an RFQ is submitted, firstly it will be reviewed by Alibaba industry expert before it is being posted and released to the RFQ marketplace and matched to a suitable supplier.

The suppliers on the other side will be able to search and find relevant RFQ according to the product name, or category. If your RFQ intrigues the interest of the supplier, they will quote you through RFQ platform. Then you can review, compare and manage all the quotations.

Is it free to use RFQ service?

There are two types of RFQ service. One is Free RFQ service, which allows for at least 10 quotations from 10 different suppliers. The other is Paid RFQ service, where the buyer can choose value-added services to pay an extra of USD 9.99 for Urgent Request or USD 2.99 for Extra Quotes to get 10x quicker or 2x more quotes from suppliers.

A Paid RFQ will also be rated as a Quality or Priority RFQ by Alibaba in the RFQ marketplace, the suppliers will respond more actively.

value added service

What is the best benefit of using RFQ service?

1. Faster supplier response. If you search for suppliers directly on Alibaba, it may take you hours or days to develop a long list of suppliers for inquiry one by one; some of them may even do not reply. While a quality RFQ can attract suppliers to come to you and generate 10-15 quotes just within minutes.

2.More convenient price comparison. If you inquire 20 suppliers, you’ll probably get 20+ emails flooding in from suppliers, and need to check one by one. However, on the RFQ platform, you can easily check and compare all quotations just on one page to review them all.

3. More proactive supplier service. Suppliers coming from RFQ service are proactive to compete for your orders. They’ll also follow up closely after the quotation, trying to establish good relations with you.

Among those 10 or more suppliers, you can easily select 2-3 suppliers to continue with the conversation and order samples for the next step after comparing all quotes.

2. Disadvantages of Alibaba RFQ compared with directly searching suppliers on Alibaba.

Under the RFQ mechanism, you have no choice to choose the type of suppliers before the quotation. You will only know which company offers you the quotes at the time of receiving the prices. You’ll find some of the quotes coming from middlemen, a few of them from manufacturers.

While searching directly on Alibaba, most of the time, you will firstly review the suppliers’ company information and select manufacturers who look good to cooperate with. In this way, you actually do an initial supplier screening before working on the prices.  

Although you can get multiple quotations from RFQ, without prior supplier screening, it can still be hard for you to identify whether the quotes are the best prices. If you are unsatisfied, you’ll have to launch another round of RFQ until you find the one you are willing to do business with.  

Given the pros and cons of RFQ service, you need to analyze whether to go for RFQ service before clicking the submit button. If you value the quality of suppliers over prices, you could try RFQ service to quickly get in touch with multiple suppliers, then select 2-3 good ones for further evaluation. However, if you want to get the most competitive price in the very beginning, it is more advisable for you to search for suppliers directly on Alibaba.

3. How to use RFQ to get best-matched suppliers?  

When you post a buying request through RFQ, once approved by Alibaba’s industry expert, it will be released to the RFQ marketplace. How to stand out from millions of RFQs and attract quality suppliers is key to the success of finding best-matched suppliers using RFQ service.

In this section, we’ll show you how to develop quality RFQs through a real case. Talked with our friend Anna, an Amazon Seller in the USA, she’s willing to share her RFQ experience with us. Once she was looking for stainless wine tumblers and she’d like to post an RFQ to collect quotes. As Anna told us she received 10 quotes within just 10 mins; below is how she started her story.

Step1: Go to Alibaba RFQ main page: https://rfq.alibaba.com/

Step2: Complete the RFQ form as shown below:

RFQ sample-1

Note, here are some tips to make your RFQ more attractive to suppliers:

1. Specify your product name or category, specifications, and quantity. A precise product name or category can make it easier for suppliers to find your RFQ in the market. Also, there will be a MOQ requirement for Alibaba suppliers, which can vary from $1,000 – $3,000. If the quantity is too small, good suppliers will get less motivated to send quotes.

2. Upload photos of products you are looking for. With product photos, it will be more convenient for suppliers to see whether they have or produce the same products you require.

3. Main content: this is the most important part for suppliers to analyze your buying needs and rate this RFQ as a priority one or not. We’ll go into more details about this part in the following.

Step3: Submit RFQ by clicking the submit button.

As mentioned earlier, there are free and paid RFQ service, you can choose one type to best suit your current buying needs. In Anna’s case, she chose the Free RFQ service.

She also clicked “I agree to share my Business Card with quoted suppliers”, it means the suppliers can get all of her contact information-Email and Phone, as well as her registered company information, etc. With the contact info, suppliers are able to send her follow-up emails after quoting through the RFQ platform.

submit RFQ

Step4: Check quotations in the message center of RFQ dashboard

As you can clearly see, you can find all the supplier contacts and quotations in your message center and start reviewing them one by one.

RFQ dashboard-2

Step5: Select among suppliers for the next step

After reviewing the quotes and supplier profiles, if you are satisfied with 2-3 suppliers, you can talk with them directly either for further price negotiation or start collecting samples to check the quality.

If unfortunately none of these prices are acceptable, as said earlier, you can either launch another round of RFQ or try sending inquiries directly on Alibaba. It is up to you to decide the next step.

4. Practical RFQ template to find best-matched suppliers   

As the above case shows, it is really efficient for Anna to get 10 quotes within 10mins. However, this is not the usual situation, the key to a successful RFQ is to write quality RFQ content to attract quality suppliers.

With the approval of Anna, we’d also like to share with you the content she wrote, and help you analyze why it is a well written one.

RFQ Sample Template

RFQ template

The sample is rather short, consisting of 5 paragraphs, with each stating one key point.  

1. Introducing yourself and specifying the product you are purchasing in the first paragraph in a clearest and concise way. You can also mention your company name here.

2. Specifying the quantity you are purchasing. If it is a trial order, you can also state you’ll increase the quantity in the future.

3. Talking about Packaging. Some suppliers will quote you a low product price at first, then add a high packaging cost later. By discussing customizing packaging, you can also leave out suppliers who cannot offer personalized packaging.

4. Asking about Shipping cost. If you indicate to the supplier that you have your own freight forwarder, it demonstrates that you are a professional buyer, chances are the supplier will not rip you off on the shipping fee.

5. Detailing the address. If you’d prefer the supplier to help ship the products by sea to a specific place in your country, then the supplier’s freight forwarder will need a detailed address to calculate an accurate shipping cost.

In summary, quantity, packaging, shipping costs are all important aspects in order for a supplier to give you a solid quote. Besides this information, you can also include other questions you’d like to ask before submitting the RFQ. In this way, it’ll also be easy for you to identify professional suppliers by reviewing their responses to your questions.

5. Principles to identify the best among all RFQ suppliers

Always remember that price does not mean anything unless the supplier can deliver what you want. So what to look for once you receive quotations from RFQ suppliers? Still, take the wine tumbler case as an example, we summarize the key points below.

1.Select manufacturers over trading companies.

You can identify them by studying the supplier’s profile and product catalog. If it is a factory, they specialize in manufacturing certain types of products, eg. tumbler, and bottles, etc. While a trading company, they tend to have mixed product portfolios and buy products from factories. Their prices are also around 10%-30% higher.

2. Select suppliers located in the industry cluster of certain product categories.

For experienced buyers, they have an industry map in their minds. For stainless wine tumblers, most of the suppliers are concentrated in areas of Wuyi, Yongkang, Zhejiang province. If the supplier comes outside these areas, you can at least have a look at their quotes and profiles, then decide if to proceed further.

3. Select experienced suppliers and salesman with good communication skills.

Beyond the number of years, the supplier is established, you should also look at how the supplier responded to the questions mentioned in RFQ. For experienced sales, they will not only answer your questions in a professional way but also give you recommendations even before you ask.  

Good Example:

Although the language is not native, this supplier covered all aspects in RFQ.

Good example-comms

Bad Example:

This is just a general reply, mentioning nothing in response to the questions in RFQ.

Bad Example

4. Balance prices and quality. If you are satisfied with 2-3 quotes, you can get in touch with the suppliers and start asking for samples to compare the quality. Then you can have a more comprehensive consideration before settling for one supplier to work with.

If you want to know more about how to find reliable suppliers in China either on Alibaba or other channels, you can refer to our another article on 8 Powerful Principles to Find Reliable China Wholesale Suppliers (for Long Term Business)