Starting an online business? First, you need a killer idea followed by partnering with a trustworthy supplier.
By numbers, Alibaba is the largest ecommerce company in the world, making up 80% of China’s online shopping market — but is it a safe space to source products with confidence?
Marketplaces like Alibaba and AliExpress make it easy for your business to find a manufacturing partner or wholesale supplier all around the world, yet selling remains a daunting process for many entrepreneurs, not least because of the potential security risks it poses to your operation.
In this article, we explore all there is to know about sourcing products from Alibaba and outline how to stay safe using a platform so broad in scope.
Alibaba is a comprehensive B2B marketplace and ecommerce directory that connects suppliers with buyers all over the world.
While most of the platform’s clientele are from Asia, the Alibaba group has a strong presence on the global stage, owning three Chinese marketplaces: Taobao, Tmall and Alibaba.com.
There isn’t much you won’t be able to find when sourcing products on Alibaba, which is why, alongside the Amazons of the world, this marketplace is one of the most popular online shopping destinations on the web.
But one question remains: is Alibaba safe?
Since launching in 1999, Alibaba has become an attractive platform for buying and selling — and for the most part trading companies, merchants, and suppliers on Alibaba are reputable and trustworthy. The company also offers a robust trade assurance policy, which protects your payments amongst verified suppliers through its bespoke payment platform.
Trade assurance protects you and your business from getting scammed or receiving poor quality products through Alibaba. But as with any online marketplace where many moving parts are involved, making a purchase does not guarantee a seamless user experience.
To avoid scams on Alibaba, you must do your due diligence and avoid something that feels too good to be true. Read on as we explore how to improve your safety and spot a red flag when finding products on such a gigantic marketplace.
Sourcing products on Alibaba is generally a safe process, but it’s even more secure for those who know what they’re looking for. In this section, we explain how not to get scammed on Alibaba and help you source quality products for your customers.
The aforementioned trade assurance offered by Alibaba is a great way to keep your money safe from bad suppliers. Trade assurance protects against scams or receiving otherwise poor quality products from a supplier you thought you could trust.
When payment is made through Alibaba.com, the trade assurance protects your online order to provide greater peace of mind. It works alongside extended customer service to give you a refund if its verified suppliers let you down.
Here are some of the benefits of using Alibaba’s trade assurance solution:
Relying on this service is a great way to source products you can sell with confidence, but not every supplier is signed up to the scheme, so there are some extra measures you should know about before making your order…
Gold Supplier is a visual trust indicator for buyers looking for serious, professional suppliers.
This is a premium service where suppliers pay a membership fee for gold status on the Alibaba platform.
Members are subject to safety checks via a third party supplier assessment in return for a more comprehensive way to promote products and maximise exposure — this makes Gold Suppliers among the most reliable operations on Alibaba.
As a buyer, you can spot a Gold Supplier status by looking out for an icon like this:
Gold Supplier isn’t the only verification process on Alibaba. Often it’s advised to check a supplier’s verification status across a number of levels.
Alibaba has its own verification system, which works as a safeguard for buyers by ensuring its suppliers are a legally registered business.
Not sure what you’re looking for? Alibaba’s levels of verification look like this:
These evaluations and supplier audits are carried out both by Alibaba and a third party inspection/auditor — meaning the checks are a solid, unbiased solution for finding trustworthy suppliers.
Protect your bank account on Alibaba using a safe payment method that guarantees you a refund. Here are a few payment methods available and how safe we think they are:
Choosing a safe payment method is important because not all suppliers support trade assurance, which makes it a little more tricky to get a refund and recoup shipping costs.
Found a trustworthy supplier on Alibaba and settled on a safe payment method? Now you should build a professional understanding and ask any questions needed to clarify things.
Here are some examples of what you should ask your Alibaba supplier:
Getting to know Alibaba suppliers plays a vital role in building professional trust. Remember to ask lots of relevant questions, acquire information, and establish your quality standards.
Need some extra reassurance before committing to a supplier? Check the quality of your purchase by asking for a sample product. Samples are an important part of the quality check process, especially as you cannot touch what you see on the screen.
Some suppliers charge for samples because they receive lots of requests; others supply them at a discount or for free — it depends from supplier to supplier, but don’t commit to a large order before doing your due diligence and inspecting the product for yourself.
Ecommerce marketplaces don’t get much bigger than Alibaba, which makes it all the more important you know how to stay safe, secure your brand, and source quality products for your customers.
Use this guide to help navigate the ecommerce giant and build a fruitful partnership with trusted, professional suppliers.