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Aliexpress.com is a transaction-based wholesale platform for importing small volumes from China. It’s a huge resource for innovative and profitable products that cannot be found elsewhere in low quantities. While ordering products from Aliexpress is simple, there are a few things you can do to minimize your risks and increase your chances for long-term success. This article tells you why!
Based in America, Europe or Australia? Read this first!
Many products listed on Aliexpress are manufactured for the Chinese domestic market. These products may be just fine, but most are not compliant with product safety directives in Europe, America and Australia. Importing non-compliant items is illegal, and may result in a forced recall or major fines, in case anyone is injured or damaged.
Notice that it’s always the importer that is responsible for ensuring that imported items are compliant with relevant standards and directives. Chinese suppliers, including those selling on Aliexpress.com are not responsible.
If you still wish to import items from an Aliexpress supplier, you shall consider a laboratory test before making a larger order. You must also confirm which standard and/or directive is applicable to your product, in your country.
But there is help to get. You can either hire a China sourcing consultant, or purchase our Starter Package – which includes confirmation of applicable product safety directives for your product, and sourcing of compliant suppliers. Click here to read more.
Step 1: Source products and suppliers
Aliexpress is home to small Chinese trading companies and unlike Alibaba.com, where you have a lot of verified information on each Gold Supplier, you have very limited information on a Aliexpress supplier profile. This makes the supplier selection harder to define, but Aliexpress ]compensates for this shortcoming with customer feedback. For this reason, the supplier selection shall be based on buyer feedback to a large extent. The positive feedback number is a good start, but you’ll get a more balanced impression of the supplier if you review the negative feedback as well.
Product selection is also an important factor when selecting a supplier on Aliexpress. You might want to expand your product selection in the future and the best thing is always to stick to one or two reliable suppliers, instead of sourcing new suppliers each time you need to stock up.
1. Does the supplier have 95% or higher positive feedback?
2. What kind of negative feedback has the supplier received?
3. Is the supplier receiving more or less negative feedback recently?
4. Is the supplier specialized in your product or is it trading a little bit of everything?
Step 2: Price research and sample
It’s possible to buy products directly online, but it might be possible to get a better deal if you negotiate the price directly with the supplier. The most straightforward way is to prepare an Excel spreadsheet with product links and a number of quantities you want to get quoted
A common mistake importers make when negotiating the price with Chinese suppliers is that quality is negotiated down with the price. If you push the supplier too hard, it might simply end up sending a lower-quality product. The best way to avoid this issue is by stating clearly to the supplier that you will only accept a product with the same specifications as the one advertised on Aliexpress
When you’ve agreed on a price, it’s time to buy a couple of samples. There’s a risk that the sample will not match your expectations, so order samples from more than one supplier, 2-5 is better. That way, you don’t need to start all over again if one or two suppliers doesn’t match your requirements. Remember, there’s no universal definition of “good quality” and this could also be reflected in the supplier feedback. What somebody in one country considers to be good quality might be considered junk in your market
Step 3: Confirm order and payment
When you have confirmed a supplier and the number of products, it’s time to place the order and pay. In order to avoid fraud, we strongly suggest that you split the payment in two, one before the products are prepared for delivery and one after. Many suppliers need to purchase the products from another trading company, and there’s always a risk that something will be out of stock. It will also give the supplier an incentive to prioritize your order and speed up delivery.
When using PayPal, it’s possible to add additional terms to the invoice, thus adding a layer of extra security. If the supplier breaches these terms, you can open a dispute and PayPal will freeze the money until it has been resolved. If you win the claim, the money will be refunded. It’s like a “mini” Sales Agreement, and those really make a difference when importing from China. However, the Invoice Terms must be drafted by you. Below we give you an example of what it might look like for 200 units of wrist watches:
Payment terms: 50% Deposit (before order) / 50% Balance (After supplier sends photos of the packed products to buyer’s email)
Case material: Stainless steel / Case colour: IP Rose Gold / Watch band: Leather
Shipping included to the buyer address: Yes
This payment shall be refunded in case the supplier would breach against any term
Review the positive and negative feedback
Prioritize suppliers that are specialized in trading your product (e.g. watches) instead of selling a little bit of this and that (e.g. leggings and phone chargers)
Compare prices of different suppliers
Negotiate price, but ensure that you are still negotiating on the same product
Order samples from more than one supplier
Add additional terms to the PayPal invoice
Pay 50% before the products are ready for shipment, and 50% after
Complete Aliexpress order process
1.Select 5- 10 suppliers.
2.Select products from each supplier.
3. Send your enquiry to each supplier.
4. Obtain quotations and compare prices.
5. Make your final supplier selection.
6. Order samples from 2 – 5 suppliers.
7. Review samples.
8. Make your final supplier selection.
9. Draft a list of payment terms and send it to your supplier.
10. Confirm the payment terms and require your supplier to add them to the PayPal invoice.
11. Deposit Payment (50%).
12. The supplier sends photos of the packed products.
13. Balance Payment (50%)[If approved].
14. Supplier ship your products.
15. Make a final Quality Inspection upon arrival in your country.
16. Report any issues, wait a few months before sending any positive feedback.
This article is provided only for informational purposes only and neither the author nor any companies and/or service providers mentioned in this text makes any representations as to the accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article. This article only represents the views of the author and is not endorsed by any company and/or service provider mentioned in this text.
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Co-founder of Asiaimportal (HK) Limited and based in Hong Kong. He has been quoted in and contributed to Bloomberg, SCMP, Alibaba Insights, Globalsources.com, China Chief Executive, Quartz Magazine and more.
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