Why Alibaba Is Not Your Absolute Answer To Sourcing in China 


Sourcing from Alibaba is not the best decision if you are looking to find a manufacturing partner to build a long term relationship. If you are purchasing small amounts of commodities or conducting a one-time transaction then maybe the site can work for you. However, if you are serious about building a successful business and producing quality products then you need to find an experienced reliable supplier to be your partner.

Alibaba makes the naive think China sourcing is easy. The truth is sourcing in China is not easy! Alibaba is simply a directory of potential manufacturers of particular products similar to the yellow pages.  Without conducting due diligence, you are never quite certain that you have found the right supplier and you cannot trust Alibaba to do this for you.

Furthermore, a gold supplier badge for companies on Alibaba does not mean that the company has indeed been verified in the way that you would expect.  It does NOT guarantee a quality supplier. Many of these suppliers are in fact trading companies and middle men and things can go crazy wrong with your business transaction very fast.

A Time article in 2011 revealed after an investigation was carried out “about 100 Alibaba sales people, out of a staff of 5,000 were responsible for letting fraudulent entities evade regular verification measures and establish storefronts.”  Has this situation changed since 2011?  We expect that the system has improved. However, we continue to receive calls from companies requiring our help after they have been scammed by suppliers listed on Alibaba. Notwithstanding, we do believe that there are good suppliers on Alibaba, but to discern the good from the bad feels like shooting in the dark.

Finding the right supplier can prove difficult especially when manufacturing your product. There are certain criteria a supplier must meet before you hand over your money. The first criterion is that the supplier MUST be verified. A visit to the factory is the best solution.

However, if you are unable to get on a plane to China, you should at least make contact with a reputable sourcing agency that provides quality inspection services or a quality control service provider and have them do an in-person factory audit. Buyers should provide the service provider with its manufacturing requirements and product specifications. This will be used to carry out the on-site factory audit.

On completion of the audit a full report including the legitimacy, export capability and the factory’s production capacity to manufacture your product according to specifications will be provided. The fact is that companies can hide behind their online profiles but there is little that they can hide behind in real life.  Should the factory complain about the inspection, this is a major RED flag and you should move on.

Click on this link to download our FREE article on Finding the Right Supplier.

A common issue that buyers experience is that the product, when received does not match the specifications provided to the supplier. This is because there was no quality control in place or that the supplier was unsure about your specifications.  However, part of this responsibility falls on the buyer.  Buyers must specify their quality requirements in detail to the supplier to ensure that they do not receive sub-standard goods. If they don’t, chances are the supplier would look to cut corners and substitute low grade materials to manufacture the product.

In China, quality control is an absolute must. Inspections of products at different stages of the production process are part of good manufacturing quality control. These inspections help to ensure that all your requirements, specifications and criteria are being incorporated and implemented accordingly by the manufacturer.

To learn more download on our FREE article on Product Quality Inspections in China.

Another area of concern is product safety compliance. Regardless of how much the buyer thinks that the price of the product is fantastic, he is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the product is compliant with country-specific regulations. To ensure that the supplier understands the safety requirements, the buyer must outline his needs to the supplier from the very beginning. This ties back to quality issues that are all too common on the Alibaba website.

A familiar scenario is where a factory would agree to manufacture your product to meet your specifications and promise to comply with international regulations and safety standards, but this is not the case when the container arrives on the port and is held up in customs because of non-compliance.  If for some reason or the other the product is allowed through customs and ends up in the hands of a consumer and they are injured as a result, the buyer may end up fighting an up-hill legal battle that he is sure to lose. To alleviate the stress of this situation documentation should be provided by the factory to demonstrate that they have successfully shipped manufactured products in the past.

Buyers should request information from suppliers on their export experience. Suppliers with an export focus that produce goods for a foreign market will comply with foreign product safety standards and produce their products at a higher quality standard. This information gives an indication of whether or not the selected supplier can meet your needs. Moreover, such information should be requested by buyers at the supplier selection stage of the sourcing process.

It is clear that from the information put forward, that due diligence should be carried out before selecting a supplier. Finding the right supplier is critical to your sourcing success in China or anywhere else for that matter. Be SMART!!  If what is on offer sounds too good to be true then it probably is not.

Should you require any assistance with your China sourcing, please contact us at info@invenitt.com or call (868) 271 3438.