Finding a Supplier/ Manufacturer

You can’t start an online business without a product. And you have to choose the right supplier/manufacturer to get started. The goal of this step is to know where you will get your inventory. It’s time to research the potential manufacturers and decide on the best one for your business.

Among the most popular sourcing options for private-label sellers is Alibaba. Alibaba is the world’s biggest supplier marketplace.This site is a good place to begin your search for an overseas manufacturer who can supply bulk orders of your product. Alibaba is completely safe when you know the signs to look for; you just have to choose the right supplier. 

With Alibaba you can buy a single item if you negotiate with a supplier and they agree to sell you one item. It is a wholesale marketplace where you can buy products in bulk affordably. However, the real benefit of Alibaba is the ability to work directly with a manufacturer. You’re able to get high volume discounts and create your own custom products from scratch using your own designs.

Pros of Buying from Alibaba:

  • Alibaba has the lowest wholesale pricing allowing you to make a higher profit.
  • There are millions of products within an extensive selection of niches.
  • The ability to design your own custom products affordably.
  • Easily assess reputable suppliers based on their Supplier Type, number of transactions, reviews, and response time and rate.
  • You gain more control over your product packaging and shipping allowing you to provide a better customer experience
  • You can monitor the quality of products before they are sent to the customer which can help lower refund rates

When making this choice with Alibaba, you have to make sure that you conduct your research and you choose a legitimate supplier to work with. Alibaba provides its own quality assurance metrics such as its Verified Supplier and Gold Supplier memberships. You can also check the supplier’s product page where you can view information such as their response rate and the number of transactions they’ve had in the last six months. At a minimum you want to make sure that your private label supplier meets the following requirements:

  • Accepts Trade Assurance, Paypal, or AliPay (Most secure payment methods)
  • They’re a Gold Supplier
  • Has been assessed and certified checked onsite by Alibaba

You want to keep your money as secure as possible. So checking all these boxes is a way to make sure you protect yourself when looking for a good supplier.

Check out these tips and guidelines in finding the perfect supplier(s):

  • It is recommended creating a longlist of 10 or more suppliers and contacting each of them. You can get in touch with them using the messaging system of Alibaba. 
  • You may want to avoid any language barriers and find someone who will be easy to understand
  • Check on the suppliers’ response rate and time. Pay attention to how quickly they respond to messages.
  • Suppliers should be able to provide good answers to your questions, as well as ask good questions of their own regarding sizes, colors, and other specifications.
  • Check if they have a good rating for product quality. Consider them if they have above 4 stars rating.
  • Check how many transactions they had in the past six months. This indicates how popular their products really are.
  • It will also be preferable to find a supplier who has experience working with other Amazon sellers and is familiar with Amazon’s requirements. You’ll also need to know how flexible they’ll be if you need to make changes after an order has been placed.

After communicating with each supplier, narrow down your list to two or three suppliers that you want to work with. Then, request for product samples from each of them. You may also want to buy some competitor products off Amazon for comparison. After reviewing everything, you can decide on which supplier to work with. Once you find a product you want to buy, you’ll need to reach out to several suppliers. In your conversations with suppliers, you’ll want to do 3 things:

  1. Evaluate their responsiveness.
  2. Negotiate prices.
  3. Building a strong relationship with them.

You’ll agree on a price, then you can place your order. The inventory will arrive shortly afterwards and you’ll be able to start selling online.