Alibaba 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Buying from Alibaba

Global shipping
shop on alibaba

The Ladingo Team

Learn to safely and profitably source goods from the world’s leading online marketplace and directories

When seeking to start up a business, or expand an existing business to reach more customers in more markets, it’s important to secure two critical things. First, you must come up with a viable and profitable product idea that meets the needs and demands of the target audience. For example, BPA-free water bottles for health-conscious consumers, or ergonomic chair support for computer-facing company employees. Next, you need to find a method of sourcing these products that is both reliable and affordable.

Today’s we’re going to help you understand how to use Alibaba to best source your products and meet your business’ needs.

With millions of products from hundreds of thousands of suppliers, Alibaba is the world’s largest e-commerce company, larger than Amazon and eBay combined. It’s also the broadest and most inclusive directory out there, designed to connect mainly Asian suppliers with buyers from across the globe.

Let’s delve into how to effectively and safely source suppliers and manufacturers through Alibaba. We’ll go over the steps you need to take to successfully buy from the popular online marketplace, and other helpful information, such as when sourcing products overseas from Alibaba (and other international marketplaces) is recommended – and when it isn’t.

Alibaba 101. Your crash course starts… right now.

Pros and cons of buying from Asia & Alibaba

In general, sourcing products from Asian suppliers is a great way to cut your business’ overhead costs. Asian suppliers tend to have lower manufacturing costs, and there are many suppliers located in the Asian market to choose from. In addition, Asia is home to many niche product manufacturers, who produce items not necessarily available anywhere else. These suppliers are also eager to work with businesses of all sizes – and provide you with quantities at scale.

In particular, Alibaba provides comprehensive services from a single space, making it exceedingly easy to search for and order products from suppliers. As the biggest wholesale e-commerce website in the world, Alibaba cuts out the middleman, enabling direct sales from manufacturers with no hidden fees, and the backing of a large, trustworthy platform that ensures top quality product delivery.

Other benefits of buying from Alibaba include the ability to customize your product and packaging to reflect your brand image and logos, and the fact that your orders are sent to you – not your customers – so you can ascertain quality before supplying products you did not manufacture yourself.

That being said, buying from the Asian market, including from Alibaba, is often associated with lower perceived quality goods and labor standards, longer shipping times, and cultural and/or communication barriers between brands and manufacturers. This, on top of issues with intellectual property protection, payment security, customs clearance, and post-purchase support.

It’s up to you to decide whether the pluses outweigh the drawbacks for your business. With the right tools and strategic partners in hand, we believe you can leverage Alibaba to your business’ benefit and start buying from this global powerhouse.

How to buy from Alibaba

Step 1 – Create an account

Enter the Alibaba website and follow the instructions on the signup page to create your very own Alibaba account. You will use this account every time you search for and buy products.

Step 2 – Search for products

There are two main ways to search for products on Alibaba. You can either enter keywords into the search bar on the website’s main page, or select a category or subcategories from the left hand side of the homepage. In either case, you can filter the obtained results using the options on the left side of the search results page until you are presented with the products you seek.

If you’ve already done business with a particular supplier in the past, or have heard good things about a given supplier and are interested in purchasing from them alone, you can select the “Suppliers” tab next to the search bar. Doing so will enable you to search by supplier instead of by product.

Make sure any supplier you choose has all the necessary verification badges, providing their legitimacy as a merchant that delivers on their promises. You can also check up on their past deals, by searching online for comments or complaints made by other customers.

To cut down on shipping time and costs, search for suppliers with warehouses in your home country.

Step 3 – Request a quote

Click on the “Submit RFQ” option under “Company Profile” to request a quote. Be sure to specify your sourcing needs by including the product keyword, desired quantity, shipping location, and other relevant information.

If you request and receive quotes from multiple vendors, you can compare them to make sure you get the best bang for your buck.

Step 4 – Place your order

Before accepting a quote, you can ask potential suppliers to receive samples of the products you wish to order, at a cost. Doing so will help you ensure the items you purchase meet the quality standards you desire.

Once you’ve decided to accept a quote, contact the supplier to place your order. How do you contact Alibaba sellers? Click the “Contact Supplier” button, then fill in the details of your order. Be sure to write as concisely as possible, as not all suppliers are native English speakers.

Note that although the product listing most likely includes a minimum order quantity (MOQ) and price per unit, you can attempt to negotiate a more beneficial package for your business. Be sure to ask, and never demand. You can also negotiate the currency and a secure payment method – like PayPal, a letter of credit, or a third-party escrow account.

When placing your order, make sure to iron out all relevant information, such as who is responsible for paying the various shipping costs. Some sellers will offer a FOB, or Free On Board price, meaning that they agree to pay for the transporting goods to the port of loading, but you will have to pay for costs from the moment the order is loaded, until it reaches its final destination.

Step 5 – Pay for your order

Tabulate the total cost of the goods you are ordering, plus shipping costs, customs, import duties, import taxes, and other import tariffs. You can use Alibaba’s Freight Logistics team to help smooth the process, or you can contact a free, comprehensive logistics solution provider, like Ladingo, to enable full and transparent payments, and automated documentation completion.

Step 6 – Arrange for shipping

Even if you paid for FOB services, you will still need to secure transportation from your destination port to your last-mile address. With Ladingo, that’s one less item to cross off your to-do list. Ladingo takes care of all the heavy lifting for you, from your supplier’s factory and to your business’ warehouse, with no surprise costs at any point in time.

Bonus step – Dispute sub-par shipments

While we hope that your due diligence enables you to enjoy great customer service, seamless delivery, and amazing products, we are aware that this isn’t always the case. Should you experience any dissatisfaction from your Alibaba order, you can dispute it by filing a complaint with the Alibaba Help Center. You will need to take pictures of the goods you displeased with, and attach relevant documentation, such as the initial invoice, payment documents, and all other correspondences you and the supplier engaged in.

How to protect your business when buying from Alibaba

Is it safe to buy from Alibaba?

If you follow the steps to buying from Alibaba highlighted above, you’re one step closer to enjoying a safe consumer experience. But there are additional measures you can take to protect your business against the odd scammer or swindler.

First, know that there are different types of Alibaba suppliers. Gold Suppliers pay top dollar to be pre-qualified, hindering any drive to scam potential buyers. Products on offer from Trade Assurance Suppliers are inspected before being shipped off, and are guaranteed to arrive on time – or Alibaba is required to issue a refund. And Assessed Suppliers are monitored by third-party inspectors who issue detailed reports. We recommend selecting suppliers with all three of these accreditations.

Second, while you may be used to brand name products reflecting said brand’s reputation and track record of quality, “brand name” products sold on Alibaba are, more often than not, knockoffs. This is because licensed products simply are not offered on Alibaba. Avoid these goods like the plague, to avoid being subject to legal action. The same goes for products being sold at rock-bottom prices.

Third, if the supplier’s personal name and company name are one and the same, you may have cause for concern. You should also be suspicious of those whose email addresses are from freemium services, instead of those containing the company name.

Next, beware of suppliers who demand full, up-front payments, especially if they want to be paid outside of the Alibaba space. This is a major red flag that not all of their activities are on the straight and narrow.

Finally, it’s always a good idea to pick up the phone and call your suppliers to confirm orders verbally. Video calls are even better, as they let you see your supplier face-to-face, and can help you differentiate those who are trustworthy from those who are not.

Bottom line

Buying from Alibaba can be a smart business decision, so long as you do your due diligence, follow the steps, verify any potential suppliers, and partner with a comprehensive logistics solution provider, like Ladingo, to ensure your shipment arrives safe, sound, and without any hidden fees.

Want to learn more about Ladingo’s services for shipments from Alibaba? Contact us today!

Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Share on Twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on Linkedin


从中国向美国进口时应避开的3个主要雷区 美国从中国进口什么?不进口什么?美国人喜欢从中国进口商品——因为产品便宜,质量达标,而且中国工业市场的生产力一直都充足。事实上,在美国的大型市场上,包括亚马逊、eBay和沃尔玛,有30%-50%的卖家是中国人或从中国进口的美国人。然而,从中国进口商品的过程可能很复杂。以下是你必须避开的3个雷区: 1 – 选对供应商 从中国进口到美国的产品,在购买之前,你必须比较来自不同制造商或供应商的同类产品,以确保质量最好,价格最好。首先在阿里巴巴等网站上采购多个产品,直接联系供应商获取报价,并创建同类产品列表,以便比较。阿里巴巴是个不错的进口工具。我们建议经常查看“信用保障”和“金品诚企会员”框,以防止选到不可靠的供应商。你也可以尝试、Made-In-China.com等提供类似服务的网站。同样的流程也适用于选择从中国到美国的货运公司。仔细研究每一家运输公司提供的服务,确保你购买的货物能尽可能快速、无缝、实惠地安全送到目的地。如果跳过这一步,你将可能面临从中国向肯尼亚进口手机、等待发货的时间不合理、或者收到错误或有缺陷的商品等风险(由于语言差距相当大,并且在紧急情况下可能会在包装、运输等方面出错)。 2 – 努力解决“额外成本”问题——进口手续费、税费和关税 想知道如何从中国进口商品并享受最佳性价比?自然,你会想用尽可能少的钱把你的货物从中国运到美国,并通过海关。但从长远来看,采取一些常见做法,比如故意低估产品价值,或将某些产品归到其他类别来避税或减税,可能会让你得不偿失。从中国进口货物到美国时,一定要准备好以下文件,并且要保证信息属实: 美国海关发票 商业发票 装箱单 提货单/航运收据 到货通知 特别许可证 如果填错了这些文件,或经受不住诱惑而伪造文件,你可能会发现需要支付更多本不需要支付的费用。你还可能会受到处罚,比如长时间的延期处理,或者被禁止从中国进口商品到美国。如果你希望尽可能准确地估计可能需要缴纳的税款,请在下次购买前研究2019年从中国到美国的进口税。 大多数航运公司会报给你航运费率,甚至提供航运服务比较。一些工具可以帮助你对产品进行分类,但没有一个工具可以真正承诺完全落地的最终价格。Ladingo是唯一能够提供全部运费信息的工具,包括所有适用的税费和所有门到门成本。有了它,你就不必承担任何隐藏费用风险。 3 – 不了解你的货物 凭空猜测会让你付出很大代价。从中国发货时,你应该确切地了解货物的尺寸和包装类型。是用板条箱、装成货盘,还是只用盒子?这可能会影响到抵达港卸货的成本、燃油附加费,甚至是需要参与送货上门的人数。例如,如果是小物品,一名工人就可以将包裹送到门口,但如果是冰箱或托盘,则可能需要叉车以及两名工人来完成这项工作。这可能会产生意料之外的额外费用。向航运公司提供数据时,数据应尽可能准确。你选用的运输工具/航运公司必须确切知道供应商的包装习惯。   需要帮忙简化从中国到美国的货运? Ladingo免费的完整物流解决方案使得从中国到美国的拼箱和大宗货物进出口变得简单、实惠、无风险,让你可以避开这3大雷区,开始从中国无缝进口货物,并扩大规模。点击此处了解更多。

Read More »


成功实现国际航运的10个秘诀 Ladingo 队 October 10, 2021 “走出去”为注重增长的企业提供了巨大的潜力。然而,拓展国际业务并不总是一帆风顺,特别是当涉及到国际航运时。语言和文化障碍比比皆是。可能会突然出现不可预知的运输成本,延误也是家常便饭。即使你设法规避这些挑战,当地的清关流程和法规也可能使你的货物跨境运输或向国际商家订购库存以在本国转售变得更加复杂。因此,你可能会发现整个过程让人喘不过气来,令人望而却步。 话虽如此,但只要你有一点决心、毅力并进行一些尽职调查,你就可以克服与“走出去”相关的障碍,快速轻松地开始国际货物运输,并将你的业务提升到新的盈利高度。利用国际航运使业务全球化的好处包括获得更大的客户群和人才库、通过你的产品帮助更多的人、让你的公司获得更多和多样化的投资机会、提高你的品牌声誉等等。 如何才能成功进行国际航运,成为跨境电商巨头?以下是在纷繁复杂的国际航运领域应付自如的10个秘诀,以便帮助你实现大卖、大量运输、扩大业务规模。 1 – 在供应之前先评估需求 在你全力以赴与国际联系人建立合作关系以确保货物进口到你的国家,或向对方国家供应你的产品之前,请确保你想要运输的产品有市场需求。研究每个市场,为进入每个新地区制定策略。如果你的产品有市场需求–很好。如果没有,你将需要设计一个宣传活动,解释为什么每个目标市场的客户需要你的产品,以便在你开始用集装箱装货之前创造这种需求。 2 – 了解哪些物品可以在国际上运输,哪些不可以 每个国家都有自己的规则条例,规定什么可以入境和/或向谁销售,什么不可以。例如,以下物品不得从美国运往任何其他国家:气溶胶、生鲜农产品、香烟、大麻、香水(含酒精)、干冰、指甲油、弹药等。而不能运往美国的物品清单也有一长串。如果有疑问,就研究一下你想要进出的国家的进出口法规,以免被罚款或者被外国海关无限期地拒绝放行。 3 – 提前了解所有付款情况 为了使国际运输成本尽可能低,并避免任何隐性费用,重要的一点就是你要花时间研究一下需要支付哪些费用,以及每项费用是多少。标准费用款项包括货运代理费和最后一英里配送费,以及海关、关税和税费。这些费用取决于货物的大小和重量,以及产品的价值和被运往的目的地国家。请注意,你选择的托运人可能会选择包含额外的费用,如燃油附加费,以及周末配送和送货签字的额外费用,这些费用对你的客户群可能重要,也可能不重要。 为了降低成本,优先考虑与货运代理建立长期的合作关系,而不是一次性的谈判。与他们的合作越多,你的年度运费费率就越低。 4 – 研究你的竞争对手

Read More »