Launching a product business or a simple side hustle has become increasingly easy with sites like Alibaba.com and Aliexpress.com.
Both sites are international marketplaces for bulk and wholesale products across various categories. They offer a wide range of items, including clothing, hair products, shoes, car parts, computers, kitchen products, and even toilet paper.
Now, let's discuss some essential pointers and recommendations when using these platforms.
Ask Questions and Seek Clarity:
Keep in mind that you'll often be communicating with associates based in China or other international locations. It's crucial to ask plenty of questions to ensure you have a clear understanding before making bulk purchases. Inquire about time frames, processes, manufacturing details, and any other relevant information. Sometimes, there may be slight language or translation differences, so utilizing photos and clearly communicating can help prevent errors.
Order Samples and Compare Manufacturers:
Ordering samples is vital to ensure product quality. However, it's not recommended to rely on a single manufacturer. Instead, identify 3-5 manufacturers selling the same product. By ordering from multiple manufacturers, you can compare various aspects, including shipping speed, communication, customization options, and prices. After assessing the samples, choose the manufacturer that best meets your requirements while keeping the others as alternative options.
Be Aware of Shipping and Customs:
Since items are shipped from overseas, shipping rates can be relatively high. Lower shipping rates may result in longer wait times. Aim to receive your samples within 1-2 weeks. Keep in mind that shipping transit can take 2-4 weeks, as packages go through multiple steps, including shipping, forwarding, and inspection by U.S. customs. Note that single-item shipments might not require forwarding, depending on the manufacturer's shipping method.
When you are getting 10, 20, 30, or 100 boxes like myself, keep an eye on your emails and phone calls. At any time, US Customs may require some additional information about what's in your packages. They may ask you for information such as the business name, EIN, business address, shipment descriptions, etc., if your manufacturer/shipper did not provide all these details. I have only seen this happen when my manufacturer shipped with UPS.
Communication and Payments on the Platform:
During the initial stages, it's advisable to keep communication and payments within the Alibaba or AliExpress platforms. While associates may suggest using WhatsApp or WeChat for better communication, be cautious as these platforms provide limited protection when transactions and communication occur outside of the app or website. If something goes wrong, it may be challenging to provide proof or resolve issues without proper documentation within the platform.
Start Simple and Gradually Expand:
You don't have to begin by ordering custom products. You can start by purchasing and reselling existing products without customization. Many Amazon sellers follow this approach, offering phone cases, wallets, electronics, accessories, and other popular items. Starting simple allows you to test the market and gain experience before diving into larger customization orders that often require higher quantities.
Remember, building relationships with manufacturers, establishing trust, and gradually transitioning to direct communication can make the process smoother. As you progress, consider developing documented agreements with trusted manufacturers.
These tips will help you navigate the platforms and explore various industries for potential manufacturers and vendors. It's done wonders for my electronics brand, NSPRE.
The difference in AliExpress:
AliExpress is a direct marketplace and it's much harder to find manufacturers for customization. With AliExpress, you must buy as-is. With Alibaba, you can buy as is, get your products custom or submit your own designs and have them molded.
For quick products to buy in bulks only, AliExpress is your place.
For customization and personalized specifications, Alibaba is your place.
Start Selling the products online:
- Shopify (Top and Best)
- Payhip (Free but lack customizability)
- WooCommerce (Expensive)
- Facebook Marketplace