How Trustworthy is Alibaba.com?

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I am looking to sell some things on eBay for Halloween this coming season. I have found some items that seem good on Alibaba.com. I want to order from them, but I want to know first if it is reliable to order from them. They use Western Union and Escrow. Will I order my items and never have them come?
Has anyone ever bought from Alibaba.com? What was your experience?

Other wholesalers want a license proof. I want to do this easier for my first year.
#alibaba #alibaba.com #alibabacom #ebay #trustworthy #wholesale
  • Profile picture of the author amcg
    I've use Alibaba and other sourcing marketplaces however I'd always try and deal direct with a supplier (versus a wholesaler, the typical company on those places).
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    • Profile picture of the author timpears
      Originally Posted by amcg View Post

      I've use Alibaba and other sourcing marketplaces however I'd always try and deal direct with a supplier (versus a wholesaler, the typical company on those places).
      How do you determine if the vendor on Alibaba is a middleman or the actual source of the product?
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      • Profile picture of the author Importexport
        Originally Posted by timpears View Post

        How do you determine if the vendor on Alibaba is a middleman or the actual source of the product?
        Hi Tim,

        You have a copy of my book, so I suggest you look for the extensive answer in Chapter 10 Choosing Suppliers. The latest revision now has 5 1/2 pages in that chapter. If you would like a copy of version 13.4 just let me know. It also contains an updated review of Alibaba and Globalsources, neither of which would I recommend without serious reservations.

        For the benefit of those interested who insist on using Alibaba or other B2B sourcing platforms and not the ones that I recommend: There are only a handful of suppliers listed on Alibaba who are almost certainly genuine manufacturers. Not all gold suppliers are in this category, so you need to note that in addition to being Gold suppliers they should have next to their name a blue circle with a red tick in it.
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        • Profile picture of the author Pizzamailer
          Importexport, I'm interested in a copy of your book. I have moved to the Philippines and am interested in possible importing products here from China for resell. My Wife is Filipina, so we intend to establish a retail business in her name. Thanks.
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          • Profile picture of the author Importexport
            Originally Posted by Pizzamailer View Post

            Importexport, I'm interested in a copy of your book. I have moved to the Philippines and am interested in possible importing products here from China for resell. My Wife is Filipina, so we intend to establish a retail business in her name. Thanks.
            Hi Pizzamailer,

            You can find my book by clicking on the link in my signature. Any problems just PM me.
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            • Profile picture of the author Importexport
              Originally Posted by tdanz View Post

              Some advice from me: ask for contact details of previous consumers and contact those and ask how the deal went. Also if the seller has a good rating on alibaba they are usually legitimate.
              You can also try C a bit more expensive but better buyer protection.
              Originally Posted by Stefan Shields View Post

              Alibaba is huge so I would say that it is trustworthy although I wouldn't know myself because I've never used it.
              Very few Chinese suppliers will give references. As for ratings, they are almost no indication whatsoever of a supplier's merits.

              Gold supplier ratings are bought. The price for a long time was $2,990, but it was reduced recently to $299. It has gone back up to its original price, but thousands of suppliers acquired Gold Supplier status on the cheap. There is no extra verification done when a supplier becomes a Gold Supplier.

              Verified suppliers are ones that Alibaba have verified actually exist. That is all they verify! There is no checking up on their manufacturing ability (almost all say they are manufacturers but they are not) and no checking of their financial status, or of their reliability in any way.

              dhgate.com operate in a similar way to Alibaba and so do almost all the big sourcing sites. You cannot rely on ratings.

              There are a few safe sourcing sites that have real manufacturers listed and where what you see is what you get.

              And Stefan, size is no way to determine reliability. Alibaba have huge financial resources and consequently they advertise heavily. That is why so many people suggest them as a good source.

              I suggest that before using sourcing sites, newbies should type in the site's name at Ripoff Report | Scams, reviews, complaints, lawsuits and frauds. File a report, post your review. Consumers educating consumers. and see what actual users of the sites have experienced.
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              • Profile picture of the author Leo Zhong
                Originally Posted by Importexport View Post

                Very few Chinese suppliers will give references. As for ratings, they are almost no indication whatsoever of a supplier's merits.

                Gold supplier ratings are bought. The price for a long time was $2,990, but it was reduced recently to $299. It has gone back up to its original price, but thousands of suppliers acquired Gold Supplier status on the cheap. There is no extra verification done when a supplier becomes a Gold Supplier.

                Verified suppliers are ones that Alibaba have verified actually exist. That is all they verify! There is no checking up on their manufacturing ability (almost all say they are manufacturers but they are not) and no checking of their financial status, or of their reliability in any way.

                dhgate.com operate in a similar way to Alibaba and so do almost all the big sourcing sites. You cannot rely on ratings.

                There are a few safe sourcing sites that have real manufacturers listed and where what you see is what you get.

                And Stefan, size is no way to determine reliability. Alibaba have huge financial resources and consequently they advertise heavily. That is why so many people suggest them as a good source.

                I suggest that before using sourcing sites, newbies should type in the site's name at Ripoff Report | Scams, reviews, complaints, lawsuits and frauds. File a report, post your review. Consumers educating consumers. and see what actual users of the sites have experienced.
                Hi, as I know, the price you mentioned is only for Global gold suppliers while not for Chinese Suppliers.
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                • Profile picture of the author Importexport
                  Originally Posted by Leo Zhong View Post

                  Hi, as I know, the price you mentioned is only for Global gold suppliers while not for Chinese Suppliers.
                  The situation has changed very much since I made that post nearly 3 years ago.

                  Now, unless a seller signs up and pays to buy a Gold Supplier badge they can't receive any buyer inquiries. As a result, the previously almost worthless Gold Supplier badge has now become totally useless as a guide to trustworthiness.

                  Walter Hay
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  • Profile picture of the author Importexport
    Originally Posted by TemperThompson View Post

    I am looking to sell some things on eBay for Halloween this coming season. I have found some items that seem good on Alibaba.com. I want to order from them, but I want to know first if it is reliable to order from them. They use Western Union and Escrow. Will I order my items and never have them come?
    Has anyone ever bought from Alibaba.com? What was your experience?

    Other wholesalers want a license proof. I want to do this easier for my first year.
    Hi TemperThompson,

    You should understand that Alibaba are not the sellers of the products. They are a B2B sourcing platform and they list thousands of suppliers. Some suppliers may be good and some may be not so good.

    Firstly, NEVER pay by Western Union. You could easily lose your money that way. As far as Alibaba's escrow system is concerned, I recently posted information on that subject on the thread Importing from China - What's your best advice and/or resource?

    Also, it is important that you know that many, if not most, of the suppliers listed on Alibaba who call themselves manufacturers are in fact wholesalers or traders, so you will not get the best possible prices by dealing through them.

    I teach safe sourcing of small or large quantities direct from the manufacturers at genuine ex-factory prices.
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  • Profile picture of the author AJMontoya
    Here's some tips : NEVER pay using Western Union. In case you run into a scammy seller, they will take your money and there's nothing you can do about it. ALWAYS pay with a credit card. Because if the seller tries to take your money, you can always file a dispute with your bank, and you'll get your money back within 30 days. Credit card companies know how many fraudulent transactions go through Alibaba and AliExpress, so they will side with the buyer in the event of a dispute.

    Another way to spot someone who is likely a scammer is to look at their list of the items they are selling. Most legitimate sellers on Alibaba are manufacturers, not resellers. Which means they will focus their store on a specific niche of items. If you see a seller offering everything under the sun (clothing, furniture, car parts, electronics, housewares, sporting equipment...) 9 times out of 10 they are not legitimate sellers. Think of it this way: a company manufacturing tablets is not going to be sewing underwear too.

    Another tip : just because a seller has a "Gold Member" star on their account, that doesn't mean they are legitimate. Sellers on Alibaba can pay to get that Gold Member status to make them look more official, when they still scam people out of money.

    If you're going to buy on AliExpress, don't buy from anyone who doesn't have positive feedback left on their product pages. If they have no feedback, that either means they are brand new sellers with no reputation, or they don't deliver products and cancel transactions before buyers can leave feedback.

    This all seems scary, but once you figure out how to spot the fake sellers from the legitimate ones, Alibaba and AliExpress are both gold mines for the import/resell business. A bulk of my ecommerce business is reselling items I import, so you can be very successful if you use these websites wisely!
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    • Profile picture of the author Importexport
      Well TemperThompson, xismfofx22 has given some very good advice.

      I would just add a couple of things to what he/she wrote. Positive feedback can be bought and is being provided by professional feedback and review suppliers. Sellers on sites including eBay, Aliexpress and others sell to these people and get great feedback, but it is the seller who is paying for the goods in the end. The buyer who provides the feedback usually gets to keep the goods for free, and will often receive payment also. The moral of the story here is; you can't necessarily believe the feedback. It may be genuine and it may not.

      The other point is that I would never recommend using either Alibaba or Aliexpress, with one exception. On Alibaba there is a fair degree of safety using Gold suppliers ONLY if they also have 2 other things next to their listing. 1. a blue circle with a red tick in it, and 2. They must offer escrow as a payment option. I have writtten about the Alibaba and Aliexpress escrow service in my previous post on this thread.

      I only recommend certain safe sites to people I teach sourcing and importing because there is not doubt that manufacturers listed on those sites are genuine manufacturers, and the verification process is thorough. It does not just establish that the business exists, which is all that is involved on other sites. It is still necessary to do your due diligence on any supplier regardless of where you find them.
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  • Profile picture of the author Silas Hart
    My advice is to either pay in small payments by PayPal which makes it really easy to get your money back if you are scammed (and yes, companies in China use PayPal - if they say they don't then its because they lose their PayPal account for obvious reasons) - or send a wire transfer through Wells Fargo which has a level of protection.

    I got scammed years ago by receiving the wrong goods 6 weeks after I sent the money and the manufacturers response was that I didn't specify that I want a high quality version of their product and I was just SOL and it was a lesson to be learned. It was furniture and they never told me they had two different kinds of quality - I later found out that they were just buying the items from someone else on Alibaba and forwarding me the inventory. Wells Fargo pulled the money from the same account at their Chinese Bank, putting them very much into the negative and ceasing their financial operations until their debt was paid back to their bank.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ecommerce Advice
    Have to say 'ImportExport' I purchased your book last week and it is very good - If you are importing it is well worth reading.
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    • Profile picture of the author Importexport
      Originally Posted by Ecommerce Advice View Post

      Have to say 'ImportExport' I purchased your book last week and it is very good - If you are importing it is well worth reading.
      Thanks for your kind comments.

      Importing is the easiest part of the buying/selling process. In my view the hardest part is choosing a product to sell. I am not expert in that field. There is some good advice on WF, particularly in posts by Auctiondebteliminator.

      The hard part, which is where so many get caught, is sourcing. Alibaba is a good case study in this regard, because although it is huge, with money to burn on advertising, they do not seem to be prepared to thoroughly assess suppliers.

      As a result there are thousands of suppliers listed there who are masquerading as manufacturers, but are traders. Many of them are just opportunists who try to get your order, then try to buy the products from a manufacturer.

      Don't think this only happens on Alibaba. Most of the big sourcing sites have almost identical procedures for what they call "verification". All they do is to check that the business actually exists!
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  • Profile picture of the author tdanz
    Some advice from me: ask for contact details of previous consumers and contact those and ask how the deal went. Also if the seller has a good rating on alibaba they are usually legitimate.
    You can also try dhgate.com a bit more expensive but better buyer protection.
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  • Profile picture of the author Stefan Shields
    Alibaba is huge so I would say that it is trustworthy although I wouldn't know myself because I've never used it.
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  • Profile picture of the author TheRankedReview
    As I posted in the other thread, suppliers on Alibaba will rip you off 99% of the time by selling you counterfeit items or telling you to send payment using Western Union.

    Also, I would NOT recommend paying with PayPal as your account will get limited, trust me. PayPal recently ended its partnership with DHGate (similar to Alibaba) due to counterfeiting. So, avoid using PayPal as they will catch on after a couple of payments and you will get your account limited as they think you are purchasing counterfeit items and selling on eBay.

    I know this because half of my clients are in this mess right now and they have to wait 180 days to get their money out of PayPal after purchasing junk from Alibaba.

    Depending on what you are looking for, there are some suppliers that are legit but VERY hard to find. Be careful and NEVER EVER use an offline payment method such as wire transfer or Western Union.
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    • Profile picture of the author Importexport
      Originally Posted by TheRankedReview View Post

      As I posted in the other thread, suppliers on Alibaba will rip you off 99% of the time by selling you counterfeit items or telling you to send payment using Western Union.

      Also, I would NOT recommend paying with PayPal as your account will get limited, trust me. PayPal recently ended its partnership with DHGate (similar to Alibaba) due to counterfeiting. So, avoid using PayPal as they will catch on after a couple of payments and you will get your account limited as they think you are purchasing counterfeit items and selling on eBay.

      I know this because half of my clients are in this mess right now and they have to wait 180 days to get their money out of PayPal after purchasing junk from Alibaba.

      Depending on what you are looking for, there are some suppliers that are legit but VERY hard to find. Be careful and NEVER EVER use an offline payment method such as wire transfer or Western Union.
      Thanks for the sound advice. Counterfeits look very attractive, but they can be a disaster. They are likely to be confiscated and the importer's name and address are flagged so every shipment ever after is delayed for thorough inspection.

      Alibaba, AliExpress and Dhgate are not the only ones to be wary of. See my post earlier today.

      I agree that wire transfer and WU should not be used.

      There are safe sourcing sites, but you will never see them mentioned on forums. Sourcing from China can be extremely profitable, but only if you know what you are doing.
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  • Profile picture of the author WillMitchell
    As has been hammered on throughout this thread, it doesn't matter if you trust Alibaba - they're just a directory of manufacturers, more or less.

    What matters is if you trust the specific manufacturer you're dealing with, and this must be determined on a case by case basis. It involves a lot of knowing what to look for and trusting your gut.

    As with any platform like Alibaba, where it's easy for businesses to pay to put themselves in front of a huge stream of leads, there are bound to be a bunch of bad apples. However, there are still diamonds in the rough for just about any niche, if you're willing to dig for them.

    Here are a few quick tips to help you identify a quality supplier and keep your money safe:
    • Ask for single samples. Most quality suppliers are more than willing to ship these for you (although obviously you still have to pay for it).
    • Don't start out buying bulk - This is like trying to throw all your eggs in one basket from 10 feet away while wearing a blindfold. Just asking for trouble.
    • Use PayPal. If you don't have a PayPal account, try to use escrow or, worst-case scenario, a credit card. But honestly, PayPal is much easier to deal with and much safer. Plus, if a company "won't accept" PayPal, it probably actually means they were banned from the program. Bad news.
    • There's no money in counterfeitting. In other words, you're not going to make bank dropshipping if you're trying to sell fake Rolex watches or Gucci bags... Find a legit product and find a legit way to sell it to people who want it.

    If you'd like more information, I highly recommend you check out this post on my blog about how I find profitable Alibaba products.

    Either way, best of luck!

    - Will
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    • Profile picture of the author Importexport
      Originally Posted by WillMitchell View Post

      As has been hammered on throughout this thread, it doesn't matter if you trust Alibaba - they're just a directory of manufacturers, more or less.

      What matters is if you trust the specific manufacturer you're dealing with, and this must be determined on a case by case basis. It involves a lot of knowing what to look for and trusting your gut.

      As with any platform like Alibaba, where it's easy for businesses to pay to put themselves in front of a huge stream of leads, there are bound to be a bunch of bad apples. However, there are still diamonds in the rough for just about any niche, if you're willing to dig for them.

      Here are a few quick tips to help you identify a quality supplier and keep your money safe:
      • Ask for single samples. Most quality suppliers are more than willing to ship these for you (although obviously you still have to pay for it).
      • Don't start out buying bulk - This is like trying to throw all your eggs in one basket from 10 feet away while wearing a blindfold. Just asking for trouble.
      • Use PayPal. If you don't have a PayPal account, try to use escrow or, worst-case scenario, a credit card. But honestly, PayPal is much easier to deal with and much safer. Plus, if a company "won't accept" PayPal, it probably actually means they were banned from the program. Bad news.
      • There's no money in counterfeitting. In other words, you're not going to make bank dropshipping if you're trying to sell fake Rolex watches or Gucci bags... Find a legit product and find a legit way to sell it to people who want it.
      - Will
      You say about Alibaba "they're just a directory of manufacturers, more or less." but in reality there are only very few real manufacturers on Alibaba. Most of the suppliers listed are traders, so you can't get the best prices because they add their margin when they buy from the manufacturers.

      It is possible to locate real manufacturers by using one of the few safe sourcing sites where what you see is what you get, but that does not include any of the sites recommended in this thread or in fact anywhere on WF.

      I agree with your tips, but unfortunately very few real manufacturers use PayPal, or credit cards. Those suppliers who do are traders or wholesalers, so for maximum profits you must go direct to the real manufacturers.
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      • Profile picture of the author WillMitchell
        Originally Posted by Importexport View Post

        You say about Alibaba "they're just a directory of manufacturers, more or less." but in reality there are only very few real manufacturers on Alibaba. Most of the suppliers listed are traders, so you can't get the best prices because they add their margin when they buy from the manufacturers.

        It is possible to locate real manufacturers by using one of the few safe sourcing sites where what you see is what you get, but that does not include any of the sites recommended in this thread or in fact anywhere on WF.

        I agree with your tips, but unfortunately very few real manufacturers use PayPal, or credit cards. Those suppliers who do are traders or wholesalers, so for maximum profits you must go direct to the real manufacturers.
        Duly noted, pretend I said suppliers, not manufacturers.

        I'll admit it's been a few years since I was super active on Alibaba, but hopefully the general message of what I was saying still rings true:

        Be careful. Do lots of research. Trust your gut.

        Basically, don't put yourself in a position to get scammed. I know it's still possible to use Alibaba to find great drop shipping opportunities because my readers tell me about it all the time - you just have to be thorough and smart.
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      • Profile picture of the author kb11
        Originally Posted by Importexport View Post

        You say about Alibaba "they're just a directory of manufacturers, more or less." but in reality there are only very few real manufacturers on Alibaba. Most of the suppliers listed are traders, so you can't get the best prices because they add their margin when they buy from the manufacturers.

        It is possible to locate real manufacturers by using one of the few safe sourcing sites where what you see is what you get, but that does not include any of the sites recommended in this thread or in fact anywhere on WF.

        I agree with your tips, but unfortunately very few real manufacturers use PayPal, or credit cards. Those suppliers who do are traders or wholesalers, so for maximum profits you must go direct to the real manufacturers.

        If most manufacturers do not take credit cards or PayPal how do you pay them to be safe on your end?
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        • Profile picture of the author Importexport
          Originally Posted by kb11 View Post

          If most manufacturers do not take credit cards or PayPal how do you pay them to be safe on your end?
          @kb11,

          That's a long story that begins with using safe sourcing sites. On those sites you find manufacturers whose credentials are clearly and openly presented.

          They are not just "verified" suppliers or "Gold Suppliers". For those who don't know, let me explain that verified means they exist and Gold Supplier means the business not only exists, but they have bought gold status to give the impression to buyers that they are better to deal with. They have done nothing to earn your trust.

          An important part of the answer to your question relates to knowing that you are dealing with genuine, well established and properly checked manufacturers. For the rest I am sorry but you will need to get my book.

          I can say that in 22 years of importing from China I and my franchisees never lost money through a supplier's failure to deliver, or failure to deliver as specified.
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    • Profile picture of the author goldenbbq
      Will,
      I went to your blog and it's extremely usefull, you are being really generous to share it for free.. I was ENLIGHTED, did you ever try dropshipping though? I was thinking how folks can have their suppliers dropship their items for their e.g. amazon FBA or ebay without having them go around and start to supply directly leaving the middle man"me" out? any thoughts? thanks.
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    • Profile picture of the author goldenbbq
      Will, I just noticed the dropshipping thing is already mentioned in your blog, sorry didn't pay attention, I am def buying your amazon book in this field, in the very near future. Need to digest the info you give in the blog first. You gave so much good info so I guess it will be more useful to combine that by purchasing your book.
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  • Profile picture of the author CollegeCEO
    I've used Aliexpress and had great experiences. Like ImportExport said, there are a lot of "traders" on the site posing as manufacturers. Take WillMitchell's advice when dealing on Alibaba. I also recommend starting out with small orders first and then scaling up over time when you gain the trust of the supplier and have confidence in their quality.
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  • Profile picture of the author jbthemummy
    Deal only with the Gold Suppliers on eBay. Simple as that.
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    • Profile picture of the author Importexport
      Originally Posted by jbthemummy View Post

      Deal only with the Gold Suppliers on eBay. Simple as that.
      Hi jbthemummy,

      I am sure you mean on Alibaba. We all make slips occasionally.

      Many people think it is safe to deal only with the Gold Suppliers on Alibaba, but they do not understand how the verification and accreditation process works.

      Verification on almost every popular sourcing site, not only Alibaba, is a very simple process. All it involves is to verify that the business actually exists!

      Does that make everyone feel safe and secure
      about dealing with verified suppliers?

      No? ....
      So you want extra security and you decide the safest thing to do is to deal only with Gold Suppliers? WRONG!

      Gold Suppliers are just plain, ordinary verified suppliers, (remember that means that the business actually exists), who have been willing to spend $2,990 to BUY the grand status of Gold Supplier. So they not only exist, they also have $2,990 to spare to make people think that are are somehow safer to deal with than those who don't spend that money.

      BUT WAIT...... There is a little twist to the story. A few months ago, Alibaba decided that they could attract more buyers to their site if they listed a whole lot more Gold Suppliers, and they succeeded.

      They did it by reducing the price to buy Gold Supplier status from $2,990 to $299. Now suddenly there is a huge increase in the number of Gold Suppliers listed and many more buyers thinking that there are huge numbers of suppliers that they can trust. A brilliant marketing ploy, but who benefits? Not the buyers.

      For those readers who may ask how do I know all this? The simple answer is that I am registered as a seller on Alibaba even though I am an importer. Alibaba continually send me
      updates for sellers and I have found it interesting to keep acquainted with their site.
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      • Profile picture of the author gearmex
        Originally Posted by Importexport View Post

        Hi jbthemummy,
        For those readers who may ask how do I know all this? The simple answer is that I have been registered as a seller on Alibaba since I began exporting in 1978, and they constantly update me on the latest information. Since I began importing in 1987, Alibaba have continued to send me emails and I have found it interesting to keep acquainted with their site.
        Alibaba opened in 1999 but hit the big time in 2005 to public...what i missed here?
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        • Profile picture of the author Importexport
          Originally Posted by gearmex View Post

          Alibaba opened in 1999 but hit the big time in 2005 to public...what i missed here?
          Hi gearmex,

          You are right. I slipped up because I was thinking of another sourcing site that I have a long association with; GlobalSources, whose business probably provided the blueprint for Alibaba.

          My association with Alibaba began not long after their beginning and although I was no longer exporting by that time, my former Chinese agent was immediately registered as a seller, handling Asian sales of the products that I had been exporting until I sold the exporting business. I have been registered with them since 2000.

          Both of these portals as well as others such as dhGate, and madeinchina.com work along very similar lines. It is a successful format and generates billions in revenue.

          Unfortunately changes have taken place with expansion and all of them now allow suppliers to list without carrying out thorough checking. They all refer to suppliers as "verified", but there is no real justification for using that term.
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          • Profile picture of the author Importexport
            There is so much about Alibaba that has been published but is not known to most people unless they read financial news, so I thought I would add a link to a news item from the Economist. http://http://www.economist.com/node/18233750

            It is headed Alibaba and the 2236 thieves.

            For those who don't want to read the whole article, here is a small extract:
            "Alibaba, China's leading e-commerce platform, faces the same challenge, but more so. It operates in a country where fraud is rife. And it has grown at a dizzying pace: 56m people use its business-to-business website, it claims, and 370m use Taobao, its online mall. This week it ran into trouble. On February 21st, in a filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Alibaba admitted that it had granted "gold" status (a mark of supposed integrity) to 2,236 dealers who it says subsequently defrauded buyers."

            Two of Alibaba's senior executives at the time resigned in the usual Asian way of "accepting responsibility" which is in effect an attempt at taking the heat off the company.

            In my opinion the situation was made worse recently when Alibaba discounted their Gold Supplier fee from $2990 to $299 for a couple of months. This resulted in a flood of new Gold Suppliers on the site, but warriors should realize that Gold Supplier status has always been bought, not earned.

            It is worth noting the Economist's comment about Gold Supplier status: "(a mark of supposed integrity)"
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          • Profile picture of the author Ethan F.
            Originally Posted by Importexport View Post

            It is possible to locate real manufacturers by using one of the few safe sourcing sites where what you see is what you get, but that does not include any of the sites recommended in this thread or in fact anywhere on WF.
            Would you mind sharing how to locate real manufacturers? It's nice that you're telling people to watch out for gold suppliers because it's just a purchased badge to make people feel safe, but if you want to give out real value to other warriors here, you could share how to find the manufacturers without making them buy your guide
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            • Profile picture of the author Importexport
              Originally Posted by Ethan F. View Post

              Would you mind sharing how to locate real manufacturers? It's nice that you're telling people to watch out for gold suppliers because it's just a purchased badge to make people feel safe, but if you want to give out real value to other warriors here, you could share how to find the manufacturers without making them buy your guide
              Hi Ethan F,

              I do provide a lot of useful information to warriors in my frequent forum posts, but there are good reasons, (apart from wanting people to buy my guide ) why I don't just publish the details online.

              If you have a look at this thread If your secret B2B portals are so safe why don't you share? you will find there not only an explanation of why I don't simply broadcast the names of the safe sourcing sites, but also a lot of helpful information.

              I have no doubt that many people, rather than spend $50, will use that information and try sourcing without professional guidance. That is entirely their choice. If people take notice of what I post on WF their risks will be reduced, but I can't post 39 pages, so they will miss some important information. As you will see if you follow the link above, there is some information it is better to not publish on the forum.

              I was not a complete novice when I started importing. My first job after college was with a big shipping company and later I had a business exporting to Asia/Pacific countries for 9 years before I began importing. Another 22 years as an importer has probably made me immune to scams.

              You would expect that with all that knowledge I would have avoided being scammed, but I was caught in my early days of importing and it cost me in today's dollars about $12,000. The interesting thing is that it was not a supplier in China, or any of the other countries where I sourced supplies, but it was a local air courier company rep that caught me.

              To be fair, it was not the company itself but an unethical sales representative. I later discovered from a friend in the industry that many sales reps in the industry made good commissions by verbally quoting way too low and procrastinating about putting the quote in writing. Then when the goods arrived the importer was hit with a huge freight bill and had to either pay up or lose the goods.

              I would have gladly paid $50 for an insurance policy that would help me avoid losing the huge sum that little scam cost me. There are many other ways to lose money importing, and from what I read on WF a large number of warriors have found those ways to lose money.
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  • Profile picture of the author jbthemummy
    Hi Importexport,

    Thanks for sharing some excellent insights. Yes I did mean AliBaba. Ofcourse with each seller you must do your own due-diligence but if I had to chose from an ordinary seller and a Gold Supplier. I think you know which one I will pick.
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  • Profile picture of the author pablo4103
    Don't buy from this company:

    b2c-buy


    Scam, kept my money. Luckily I only ordered a sample. And I also second when they say never order with Western Union. You have no way of getting your money back. Wish I would have read this thread before I placed my order.
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  • Profile picture of the author adss30
    Agreed . Never use western union for money transfer , prefer escrow or paypal.
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    • Profile picture of the author Importexport
      Originally Posted by adss30 View Post

      Agreed . Never use western union for money transfer , prefer escrow or paypal.
      You will rarely find genuine manufacturers using PayPal, and they never ask for payment by Western Union. If they ask for payment through WU, you run the other way.

      If you are lucky enough to find a real manufacturer on Alibaba they may be willing to accept payment by escrow, but remember to read Alibaba's fine print regarding their escrow service. It has a short time limit for you to lodge a dispute and many suppliers are expert at procrastinating until that time limit runs out.

      Once that time expires Alibaba will not accept a dispute, and you are left with no way of recovering any loss.

      You can avoid all these worries by only using safe sourcing sites such as the few that I recommend. All of the popular sites have negligible verification requirements and it is almost impossible for you to tell whether or not you are dealing with a genuine manufacturer or a trader.

      Some people might ask: Does that matter? The answer is it matters a lot because it amounts to a huge difference in your profit margin.
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  • Profile picture of the author amcg
    How do you determine if the vendor on Alibaba is a middleman or the actual source of the product?
    Sorry for not replying sooner but my short answer is; do your homework. When you click through to a supplier's page on Alibaba, look for signals that they are in fact a manufacturer (TUV/SGS certs) and make contact. When you receive a reply, you should be able to determine pretty quickly whether they're a serious manufacturer.

    You can do business with wholesalers, I've done it, but you then accept that your margin will be thinner and your supply chain more complex.

    My long answer to the question; get your feet on the ground i.e travel, but that's a separate topic.
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    • Profile picture of the author Importexport
      Originally Posted by amcg View Post

      Sorry for not replying sooner but my short answer is; do your homework. When you click through to a supplier's page on Alibaba, look for signals that they are in fact a manufacturer (TUV/SGS certs) and make contact. When you receive a reply, you should be able to determine pretty quickly whether they're a serious manufacturer.

      You can do business with wholesalers, I've done it, but you then accept that your margin will be thinner and your supply chain more complex.

      My long answer to the question; get your feet on the ground i.e travel, but that's a separate topic.
      @amcg,
      With your experience you may be able to tell reasonably quickly if the supplier really is a manufacturer, but I know from helping hundreds of people learn about sourcing, most people cannot tell.

      My point in relation to this specific thread is that if a site is so bad that it has 36 complaints listed on Ripoffreport.com, and it is well known that most suppliers listed as manufacturers are not genuine, why risk it?

      I know that few people bother to read right through a thread, so I suggest you might look at post #30 on 10.28.2013. Here is the first paragraph:

      There is so much about Alibaba that has been published but is not known to most people unless they read financial news, so I thought I would add a link to a news item from the Economist. http://http://www.economist.com/node/18233750
      It is headed
      Alibaba and the 2236 thieves.

      Even if you don't bother to read the whole post including the brief quote from The Economist article, the headline to that news report says enough.
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      • Profile picture of the author Silas Hart
        Alibaba is an avenue, not a distributor. Just like any avenue, you could walk down the street and get scammed by shady characters if you don't put a little bit of logic behind your decisions, or you could walk past the shady people with their overly tempting offers and find a business that does things legitimately and will sell you something of value. So, are you going to let yourself get scammed by all of the shady street merchants trying to sell you a "100% real Rolex" from a little cart sitting on the curb - and then say "That avenue is nothing but scammers"
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        • Profile picture of the author Importexport
          Originally Posted by Silas Hart View Post

          Alibaba is an avenue, not a distributor. Just like any avenue, you could walk down the street and get scammed by shady characters if you don't put a little bit of logic behind your decisions, or you could walk past the shady people with their overly tempting offers and find a business that does things legitimately and will sell you something of value. So, are you going to let yourself get scammed by all of the shady street merchants trying to sell you a "100% real Rolex" from a little cart sitting on the curb - and then say "That avenue is nothing but scammers?"
          I have never suggested that the Alibaba sourcing platform is populated only by scammers, or even mostly by scammers.

          In other posts I have stated that there is no doubt that many people have been very satisfied with their dealings with suppliers on Alibaba.

          I would personally not go there looking to source products when I know there are much better places to go where I would not have such concerns. As one who teaches sourcing, it is my obligation to guide my students to safe sourcing sites.
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          • Profile picture of the author Silas Hart
            Originally Posted by Importexport View Post

            I have never suggested that the Alibaba sourcing platform is populated only by scammers, or even mostly by scammers.

            In other posts I have stated that there is no doubt that many people have been very satisfied with their dealings with suppliers on Alibaba.

            I would personally not go there looking to source products when I know there are much better places to go where I would not have such concerns. As one who teaches sourcing, it is my obligation to guide my students to safe sourcing sites.
            My post wasn't directed towards you. I get asked the same question as the title of this thread (all of the time), and although I don't use Alibaba much anymore I do have a lot of history with it. When people label the entire site as a bunch of scam artists looking to rip off westerners then it stops people from looking there, when in a person looking to make a living importing items should be looking everywhere and constantly building their network. What my post really meant was, buyer beware and always do your homework - not "Alibaba is great!" when in fact I know that 99% of Alibaba is crap.
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            • Profile picture of the author djnz
              I've had nothing but success with Alibaba. The company I work with has a 6 year "Gold Supplier". Older the better I think.
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              • Profile picture of the author Importexport
                Originally Posted by djnz View Post

                I've had nothing but success with Alibaba. The company I work with has a 6 year "Gold Supplier". Older the better I think.
                As I stated in my post on 23rd, "In other posts I have stated that there is no doubt that many people have been very satisfied with their dealings with suppliers on Alibaba." I do not see that as a reason to recommend Alibaba, when there is so much evidence that a large number of people have had bad experiences with them.

                As far as the merits of dealing with Gold Suppliers is concerned, it should always be remembered what a Gold Supplier is. They are just a verified supplier who has bought a badge to make people think they are better people to deal with.

                I am continually getting advertising material from Alibaba offering me Gold Supplier membership. This is a cut and paste from an email received this week:

                Please note: the buying offers here you can see are only very small percentage, because 98% buyers send inquiry to suppliers directly. If you join Gold Supplier, have TOP priority ranking in search result, make sure serious buyers can see you first and send you more inquiry. This is why suppliers buy Gold Supplier status.

                Because I know the real facts of sourcing, I will continue to refer my students to safe sourcing sites only. Please note that I don't only exclude Alibaba, but I also do not recommend places like madeinChina.com, Tradegate, DHgate, GlobalSources, Indiamart, Aliexpress, etc.
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                • Profile picture of the author djnz
                  Originally Posted by Importexport View Post

                  As I stated in my post on 23rd, "In other posts I have stated that there is no doubt that many people have been very satisfied with their dealings with suppliers on Alibaba." I do not see that as a reason to recommend Alibaba, when there is so much evidence that a large number of people have had bad experiences with them.

                  As far as the merits of dealing with Gold Suppliers is concerned, it should always be remembered what a Gold Supplier is. They are just a verified supplier who has bought a badge to make people think they are better people to deal with.

                  I am continually getting advertising material from Alibaba offering me Gold Supplier membership. This is a cut and paste from an email received this week:

                  Please note: the buying offers here you can see are only very small percentage, because 98% buyers send inquiry to suppliers directly. If you join Gold Supplier, have TOP priority ranking in search result, make sure serious buyers can see you first and send you more inquiry. This is why suppliers buy Gold Supplier status.

                  Because I know the real facts of sourcing, I will continue to refer my students to safe sourcing sites only. Please note that I don't only exclude Alibaba, but I also do not recommend places like madeinChina.com, Tradegate, DHgate, GlobalSources, Indiamart, Aliexpress, etc.
                  I understand what your saying. I'm very happy with the contacts I have made from that site. There is some good to be found there that's for sure.
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                  • Profile picture of the author Importexport
                    Originally Posted by djnz View Post

                    I understand what your saying. I'm very happy with the contacts I have made from that site. There is some good to be found there that's for sure.
                    As I posted earlier, there is no doubt that many people have been very satisfied with their dealings with suppliers on Alibaba.

                    My point is why go to a site where there is "some good to be found", when it is so obvious that there is much that is not good.

                    Many people who are satisfied with what they have bought on Alibaba are very happy with the low prices they have paid, but they are unaware just how substantially less they could have paid if they had gone to a real manufacturer.

                    It is very hard to find them on places like Alibaba and the other popular sourcing sites.
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  • Profile picture of the author arsenir57
    Banned
    [DELETED]
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  • Profile picture of the author 3wCorner
    Research the supplier first if they have a website and reviews.
    Then do not use money transfer in online shopping. Use credit cards or paypal so that in case there's a product dispute, you can get your money back.
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    • Profile picture of the author Importexport
      Originally Posted by 3wCorner View Post

      Research the supplier first if they have a website and reviews.
      Then do not use money transfer in online shopping. Use credit cards or paypal so that in case there's a product dispute, you can get your money back.
      Do you really think you can trust everything that suppliers say on their website?

      Also, don't you know that reviews are often bought? There is a big market in selling reviews.

      Walter Hay
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