Alibaba is the place to start if you’re searching for an international supplier.
You may have already heard of Alibaba. It is, after all, by some measures, the world’s biggest e-commerce site. That’s right, it’s bigger than Amazon!
Alibaba hosts millions of merchants, hundreds of millions of users, and acts as a business to business marketplace for almost any product you can think of. As of December 2015, Alibaba had over 407 million active users and over these last twelve months, it managed over $300 billion (that’s with a B) transactions on its sites, which is more than eBay and Amazon combined.
Alibaba clearly is the no. 1 place to go to when searching for international suppliers.
These are the 4 steps to finding international suppliers on Alibaba:
- Search For Your Product
- Add Potential Suppliers to the Compare Box
- Analyze the Suppliers in the Compare Box
- Add Potential Suppliers to Your Suppliers Sheet
Start by watching this video tutorial.
Step 1. Search For Your Product
How do you find international suppliers on Alibaba?
- To start your search, you first need to create an account at Alibaba.
- Next, get started by searching for your product in the search bar.
- Once you’ve run your search, you want to sort the results by:
- Trade Assurance – this ensures on time shipment and pre-shipment product quality.
- Gold Supplier – these are pre-qualified suppliers.
- Assessed Suppliers – these companies have been assessed by a third party assessment company and an assessment report is available for download.
- Make sure you check all boxes, as shown in this screenshot:
- If you want, you can further refine your product search in the left side menu, to get exactly what you’re looking for. Two other things to keep in mind are:
- Don’t sort by minimum order quantity (MOQ). It’s not necessary, MOQ is usually negotiable. Cast a wide net first, and then narrow down your supplier options once you’ve seen who is willing to play ball, and who’s not.
- Look for suppliers that offer a high quality differentiated product. Amazon sales are highly driven by product reviews. If you sell a low quality product, you may be hit with negative reviews. Also, the manufacturer of such a product may not be able to provide you with the best options that you need to lay your FBA business on solid ground.
Pro Tip: Don’t get caught up with all the different opportunities that you find on the internet. Remember that you are looking to manufacture a single product to sell on Amazon, so don’t get overwhelmed with the endless possibilities. Remember, your objective is to find a single profitable product to sell on Amazon and finish your product research phase by contacting each prospective supplier to properly assess their capabilities to manufacture your differentiated product.
Step 2. Add Potential Suppliers to the Compare Box
Now that you have your filtered the search results, how do you evaluate the remaining suppliers?
Alibaba has a very cool tool for this: the Compare Box. The Compare Box is an extremely powerful function which allows you to compare different suppliers against each other. With this tool, you’ll be able to start screening each potential supplier before contacting your favorites.
How does it work?
If a supplier looks legitimate, has the product you want, and is able to fulfill the order, add them to the Compare Box.
You can do so by clicking on the Compare button under the product image:
Once you’ve found about 15 suppliers that look like they fit your needs, it’s time to compare them.
Click on My Cart at the bottom right of your screen, and then on Compare.
You will now see the Compare Page:
Step 3. Analyze the Suppliers in the Compare Box
Now that you have all this supplier information right in front of you, score the suppliers by answering the following questions:
- Look at the product and company details. Does the product fit your needs? What other products does the company offer?
- Look at the supplier’s website. Do they look like a professional business organization or more like a fake company with no web presence?
- Will the supplier let you make adjustments to the product?
- Do they offer private labeling? Under “contract manufacturing” it will indicate whether or not private labeling is offered. If you look at the screenshot below, you can see that this supplier not only offers private labeling but will also design the label for you if desired.
Keep the suppliers that come out as winners. And if a supplier doesn’t make the cut, you can easily remove him by clicking on the Remove button:
4. Add Potential Suppliers To Your Suppliers Sheet
If you still have a good feeling about one or more suppliers, meaning you felt comfortable with their product and business history, now’s the time to start adding data to the “Suppliers Sheet” in your Market Research Spreadsheet.
At this time you should be able to complete the following columns for each supplier:
- Supplier Name
- Product Name
- Product Link
- Weight (if listed online)
- Dimensions (if listed online)
- Unit Price
So that’s how you find an international supplier on Alibaba.
If you’re only interested in finding an international supplier, you can skip the next section and directly go to the section on how to contact suppliers. But if you’re also interested in learning how to find local supplier son Google, keep on reading!