Unlike its big brother, Alibaba, AliExpress has become the go-to supply source for many small to medium online businesses. As we mentioned in our How to Find Trending Products to Sell Online, AliExpress’s popular page offers key insights into trending products and has become a leading supplier source for starting eCommerce sites.
Although you may not find products as cheaply as you would on Alibaba, this drop-shipping and supplier platform has a host of small distributors and traders that allow small or new businesses to get started without having to outlay for large quantities.
As popular as AliExpress is for drop-shipping, navigating through tens of thousands of suppliers as a new online seller, can seem like trying to find a needle, in well, a stack of needles. But sit back, relax and take a deep breath, we’re going to guide you through it, to help you find just the right supplier for your business.
Here is your survival guide to choosing the right supplier in seven steps.
Step 1: Fine-Tune Your Requirements
Before you can find the right supplier, you need to be very clear about exactly what products you’re looking for and how many you’re looking for. What products will you be selling? Do you need a manufacturer or trader? Have you identified your initial demand for the product you’re looking for a supplier for? Or do you plan on dropshipping?
Step 2: Supplier Research
It’s safe to say that there will be an abundance of AliExpress suppliers selling just the product you are looking to sell or drop ship. So how do you find them? A simple product search will enable you to find a list of possible suppliers to choose from.
Like above, each possible supplier for the product you are wishing to buy or drop ship, will be listed with the price, shipping costs, how many orders they have completed and how much stock they have.
Step 3: Supplier Audit
This is the most comprehensive, and important step. There are a number of ways to find and weed out suppliers from your list in your search of the right supplier.
Check Basic Details of the Supplier
You will want to look at the supplier’s details. Look at their business name and what they’re selling. If someone is selling rubber piping, for example, is their company name Tiantai Fuhua Rubber or Yiwu Huancai Jewelry? It’s safe to say the former is producing rubber products which means they are a manufacturer,while the latter is just loading products to trade in smaller quantities. Also, look at when the store was opened,how many units they have sold,and most importantly, what their overall feedback is.
You can do this by hovering over the supplier’s name in your product search. The feedback score will show you the supplier’s selling volume, while the positive feedback rate will show you the general feedback the supplier has received. You will want to narrow your list down to suppliers that have at least a 95% Positive Feedback Rate and 2,000 Feedback Score to ensure the supplier you choose is reputable.
Check Other Products Sold By the Supplier
Look at other products sold by the supplier, are they in the same niche as the product you’re looking for? Or are they selling a variety of types of products? When comparing suppliers, compare their product catalogs. If you’re looking for clothing for example, choose a supplier who sells within the market specifically, as this will help ensure better pricing, quality and professionalism. It also means when you’ve locked down a professional supplier, you can get a variety of products from them within your niche.
Step 4: Determine Product Authenticity
Once you have narrowed down your supplier list to reputable options, it’s time to compare specific products. You can do this in the following ways:
When it comes to supplier price, it’s important to tread lightly. Cheaper is not always better and quality will likely decrease with the price. You will find a lot of suppliers offering products a lot cheaper than their AliExpress competitors, but these are more often than not, either a new AliExpress trader that doesn’t have any sales feedback — making it hard to determine if it’s a new trader trying to break into a competitive market, or they could, unfortunately, be a scammer.
However, AliExpress has a handy tool to weed out any less trustworthy suppliers, by looking at the listed supplier’s details, you can see how many units were sold at that price.
Scroll down and click on the Seller Guarantees to check each products warranties and guarantees.
Step 5: Check for ePacket Service
ePacket is a shipping service specially set up to service online stores which makes shipping out of China quicker and cheaper. This is the most important step for AliExpress drop shippers as it will ensure better delivery and customer tracking — A.K.A improve overall customer service and make your sales funnel more efficient. When sourcing suppliers, you will notice that regular shipping can take anywhere from 20 – 60 days. This why it’s imperative that you find a supplier that offers an ePacket service that could cut the shipping time to 7 days. When faster delivery is a key eCommerce trend, this is an absolute MUST to business success.
You can check this ahead of time if the supplier offers ePacket and what their delivery time would be by checking the shipping and payment options above. ePacket is now available in around 30 countries. These include:
- Great Britain
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- United States
Step 6: Communicate Directly With Your Short List
Now it’s time to get in touch. Communicating directly with your prospective suppliers is a must. Ask enough questions to judge their professionalism and reliability. Ask specifics about each of the products, the shipping and delivery details and try to negotiate better rates on bigger orders. This is a particularly important step if you’re drop shipping, as their professionalism and product quality will make-or-break your online businesses.
Use the online messaging or chat to open communications and take note of how long it takes for the supplier to reply to your inquiries. But be sure to be aware of the time difference, China time (UTC +8).
Step 7: Order Samples
Finally, before you order a huge quantity or lock in your drop shipping partner, place some test orders. Order or negotiate a sample directly from the supplier before finalizing your deal. Then, if you’re drop shipping you will want to order more samples as a ‘customer’ by going onto your online store and ordering a product to make sure the product arrives in the time negotiated, how it is packaged and at the quality you agreed upon.
There you have it, 7 steps to finding the right supplier. If you’re looking for more tips for bulk ordering, here’s an Alibaba guide to finding the right supplier.
Nicole is a content writer at StoreYa with over fifteen years experience and flair for story telling. She runs on a healthy dose of caffeine and enthusiasm. When she's not researching the next content trend or creating informative small business content, she's an avid beach goer and coffee shop junkie.
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