No, AliExpress is not the best option for bulk purchases at all.
1. You can find analogs of almost any product in China
Most likely, you will find the same product, only cheaper. And no matter where you originally purchased the product – in most cases it is still made in China.
Recently an entrepreneur, vacationing in Thailand, tried tea, as she thought it was local, and decided to establish a supply of it to her country. She took a batch to try it out. And when the goods sold out, she decided to buy more and turned to the suppliers: she didn’t have to go herself every time. The same tea was found in China. And for a lower price, too. The entrepreneur set up deliveries from China and was satisfied with her decision.
China today can be called the world’s manufacturing base, where you can find goods for all needs, tastes, and wallets.
Apple also orders its iPhones and iPads from China, having found manufacturers that meet its standards.
Tourist guides in Stockholm explicitly warn tourists: T-shirts with Swedish symbols and other goods in souvenir shops in the tourist area are made in China. Only handmade wooden sculptures are locally made, priced from $1,000 in the local currency equivalent.
The notion that China is a supply of cheap goods of dubious quality is long outdated. Chinese manufacturers are ready to provide any quality, the only limit is how much you and your client are willing to pay for it.
2. If your product needs to be certified, it has to be done in your country.
Certificates are required to sell certain goods in the United States. Often entrepreneurs ask for such certificates from a Chinese supplier and refuse to buy if he does not provide them. Or they are prepared to do so, but only in electronic form.
In reality, even if the supplier provides a certificate with all the necessary seals, it will just be a piece of paper with no legal effect. And you don’t need a Chinese document to pass certification.
Certification is required, for example, for products for children, chemical products, and products in some other categories.
Intermediaries usually do not do certification themselves, but law firms specialize in these services. Some intermediaries have such partners, and they recommend them to clients.
3. AliExpress and even Alibaba are not the best options for purchasing
AliExpress is a retail resource, moreover, it is oriented to foreigners. That’s why prices there are among the highest in the Chinese segment of the Internet. At Alibaba, prices are lower, but this platform is also aimed at foreigners. Of the secure sites, where the processes of redemption and payment are fully automated, and the money is blocked on the supplier’s account until the buyer confirms that he has received the goods and has no claims, it is more profitable to buy on those which are oriented towards the Chinese client.
Here are similar resources:
- “1688” is a site for Chinese wholesalers. If you need more than 10 items, look for a supplier here. However, sellers may have restrictions on the minimum batch: some have 10 units, and some have as many as 1,000.
- Taobao is a retail resource, similar to AliExpress, but for the Chinese. It’s a great option for purchasing sample items, which are often unprofitable for wholesale suppliers. Also suitable in a situation where you need only a little: five scarves, three swimwear, 10 packs of cosmetics of various kinds, and so on. If you’re interested in a larger batch, it’s more profitable to buy on “1688”.
- Tmall is a premium segment retail site. Optimal for purchases for personal needs or very small quantities of products of exclusive quality for the most demanding customers. From the pluses, we can highlight free shipping in China and a thorough check of the suppliers, which almost eliminates fraud. To be safe, use china post ems tracking to know what state the item is in and where it is now.
The businessman ordered a batch of goods on Tmall, but the supplier didn’t have the necessary quantity in stock. But 1688 found similar products, and for less money. Since then, the entrepreneur has been buying from 1688. He has reduced the cost of goods and sells them at the same price as before.
If you work with the premium segment, on Tmall you can see if anything new has appeared for your profile. Offer dispersion is lower than on other sites. Also, on Tmall, you can buy samples or small batches that are not handled by wholesalers. In other cases, the product you have looked at on Tmall, it is better to search for and buy it on “1688”.
4. If you come to China, you can find more favorable conditions than on online sites
Chinese suppliers do not only trade on the Internet. Offline markets, where it makes sense to look for them, are located, in particular, in the cities of Yiwu and Guangzhou. The Futian Market in Yiwu is considered the largest in the world and is a “city within a city” with rows of stores.
A personal visit to the market is an opportunity to find goods cheaper than even at “1688”. Although it can be the other way around – there are lower-priced offers on the Internet. It is necessary to compare each case.
It is also worth coming to China to find a product that is not represented in the U.S. and use it to find a niche in your state. Or to test business ideas.
Manufacturers of products on the market are usually concentrated in the vicinity of the same city. So you can not only take a closer look at the goods but also visit factories whose products interest you. Personal contact with the owner is an opportunity to negotiate deliveries on better terms than the standard ones.
For visits to markets and factories better find a guide who is well versed in the area (in the same “Futen” without training it is easy to get lost), and ideally – and speaks Chinese. English at such markets, and on the local buyer-oriented online sites, is a poor helper.
Machine translation, say from Google Translator, will not always help.
5. If you are not satisfied with a product, you should talk to the supplier before refusing it
Precedents, when a supplier makes adjustments to order at the request of a client, occur regularly. Here are a few examples.
One customer was not satisfied with the fact that the inscriptions on the toy packaging and the instructions in the kit were in Chinese. At the customer’s request, the supplier supplied these goods with materials in English.
The customer was ready to take the batch of clothes, but without the character patches that were on the trial samples. After negotiations, the supplier shipped the goods as requested. Another entrepreneur, at his request, received a batch of products without the manufacturer’s logo.
The owner of a small store decided to order umbrellas with her company’s logo from China to sell in the USA under her own brand. She was prepared to take 100 pieces for a test run but was afraid that the cost of production would rise considerably because of the printing of the logo. The supplier made a counter-offer: if the order was increased to 150 copies, he would print the logo for free. That was the deal.
Suppliers in China are eager to meet the customer’s needs. But on one condition: if they consider the deal profitable for themselves.
And if you want an exclusive product for your needs, you can find a manufacturer in China who will agree to produce it.
6. It’s better to check the goods at the warehouse in China, if possible.
A common cause: you received the goods, but inside the package is not what you ordered. Or not exactly what you ordered. This does not necessarily happen because of malice. A more common cause is a mess in the supplier’s business processes or banal inattention. You can’t say that all the Chinese are completely inattentive to customer requests, but there are quite a few of them.
When bundling flaws are discovered already in the states, it is usually impossible to do anything about them. And if you manage to negotiate the shipment of the missing items, it’s long and expensive. If problems are identified in China, however, disputes are resolved more quickly and easily.
7. The supplier will gladly provide not only the product itself but also photos and videos of it
If you need product photos or videos showing the product in action, tell that directly to the supplier or the intermediary through which you make the purchase.
The entrepreneur decided to open a new line of business – an online children’s clothing store from China. Looked at the proposals, ordered samples of items of interest. When he received, looked, and felt, ordered in bulk everything he liked. It was time to launch the website. To develop it, I needed photos, all of them in strictly defined parameters of quality, size, and resolution. The photographer demanded a lot of money, so he asked his supplier if he had such photos. The supplier provided them free of charge. The client used these photos to decorate the site, saving money on the photographer’s services.