Alibaba Request for Quotation (RFQ): A Complete Guide

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Learn how we can help you gather price and product data from Asian factories

The free Alibaba RFQ service enables you to receive quotations from multiple suppliers, in a matter of days. All you need to do is to fill in a form and click on the submit button.

If used the right way, Alibaba’s Request for Quotation service can help you save hours of work, as you don’t have to contact suppliers one by one.

But as always, you need to use it the right way.

In this article, you will learn how you can save time and money using the RFQ service while making sure that you provide enough information for the suppliers to calculate an accurate unit cost.

In addition, you will also learn what to look for once you receive the quote.

How can the Alibaba RFQ service help me?

Alibaba.com is the world’s largest supplier directory. Even the most obscure product search can result in hundreds of suppliers.

It can take forever to shortlist suppliers and contact them one by one.

Even worse, many of them don’t even reply.

Now, what if you could turn the table, and let them come to you? That’s the idea behind Alibaba’s RFQ service.

In essence, you add product information, and a number of suppliers will submit quotes based on your requirements.

All you need to do is wait. Or well, that’s the idea at least. Continue reading Alibaba Request for Quotation (RFQ): A Complete Guide

Importing Supplements from China: A Complete Guide

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supplements

Planning to import supplements from China to North America, Europe or Australia? In this comprehensive guide, we cover everything importers must know when procuring the following types of supplements:

  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Herbs
  • Acids
  • Dietary substances
  • Food additives
  • Protein
This is covered
  • Part 1: Supplement Manufacturers in China
  • Part 2: Supplement Regulations in the US, EU, and Australia
  • Part 3: Ordering Process

Supplement Manufacturers in China

How do I find supplement manufacturers in China?
Alibaba.com is the primary supplier directories for sourcing supplement suppliers in any category. More than 1900 suppliers are listed on Alibaba.com in the following supplement factories:

  • Sport Supplements
  • Protein
  • Herbal Supplements
  • Memory & Sleep Healthcare Products
  • Milk Powder
  • Antioxidant

While most supplement suppliers listed on Alibaba.com are based in Mainland China, you’ll also find suppliers from India, Japan, Europe, and the United States. Continue reading Importing Supplements from China: A Complete Guide

Alibaba OneTouch: 4 Ways Importers Can Benefit

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OneTouch Platform

The OneTouch platform is an Alibaba owned platform, helping Chinese manufacturers and trading companies streamlining the exporting process. From their Alibaba account, suppliers can access order financing, manage logistics and export procedures.

In return, Alibaba got access to a wealth of trade information, offering direct benefits to Importers in other countries.

Keep reading, and learn how the Alibaba OneTouch helps both suppliers and their customers around the world.

This is covered

  • What is Alibaba OneTouch?
  • How does OneTouch help manufacturers?
  • How can OneTouch help me as an Importer?
  • What is the difference between Trade Assurance and OneTouch?

What is Alibaba OneTouch?

OneTouch is an Alibaba owned platform, mainly focused on helping Chinese suppliers streamlining the exporting process.

From a supplier perspective, the exporting process can be fairly complicated, as it involves:

  • Order financing
  • Export tax refund (months later)
  • Booking shipments to customers around the world
  • Export licenses
  • Export customs clearance
  • Customs inspections

Order financing and the overall bureaucracy have been more of an issue for Chinese exporters, compared to those in more developed countries.

Unsurprisingly, Alibaba is taking the lead and bridge the gap using technology.

Apart from the obvious benefit the OneTouch platforms offer Alibaba Gold Suppliers, there’s something even bigger.

The OneTouch platform helps suppliers transition from old fashioned export receipts and company seals – to an all-in-one digital export dashboard. This in turn gives Alibaba.com access to Chinese export data, in a way that has never been done before.

For example, Alibaba is already using the OneTouch platform to set Trade Assurance limits. Continue reading Alibaba OneTouch: 4 Ways Importers Can Benefit

How to Find the Best Clothing Suppliers on Alibaba.com in 8 Steps

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Starter Package: Apparel & Textiles

With thousands of suppliers to choose from, sourcing clothing and textiles on Alibaba.com can be overwhelming.

Unless you have manual, that breaks down the process in actionable steps:

1. Find the right keyword and use the ‘Supplier search’ function

2. Review the supplier page

3. How to read the TrustPass profile

4. Review product pages

5. Select suppliers, submit techpack and request quotations

6. Order product samples from 4+ suppliers

7. Place your order with Alibaba Trade Assurance

8. How to book a sea or air shipment

1. Find the right keyword and use the ‘Supplier search’ function

Using the right product keyword is the key to success when sourcing products on Alibaba.com. All suppliers have their own product focus, and we need to be sure we only identify those that are relevant.

A few examples follow below:

  • Bamboo rayon t-shirt
  • Polyester yarn
  • Organic cotton baby clothes

Don’t go too specific, you won’t find matching suppliers.

Supplier search

Once you’ve found the right keyword, you must switch from product search, to supplier search. After all, we are here to find qualified factories, not product listings.

By now you should see a list of suppliers. I just searched “Organic cotton baby clothes” and got 832 options to choose from.

Obviously, that’s too many suppliers to process.

How to filter suppliers

The left column on Alibaba.com gives you many options for further filtering suppliers.

When sourcing clothing and textiles on Alibaba.com, I suggest that you only focus on ‘Mgnt Certification’ which enables you to filter suppliers based on the following:

  • ISO 9001
  • BSCI
  • ISO 14001
  • SA 8000
  • IS 13485

I primarily filter clothing suppliers based on BSCI, and in some cases, ISO 14001. These suppliers also tend to perform better in terms of quality and compliance.


Watch this video to learn how to get your product made in China, Vietnam & India

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2. Review the supplier page

BSCI, which is a social compliance protocol used in the clothing and textile industry, filtered the number of suppliers down to only 20. That’s easier to manage than 832 suppliers.

This is about as far as we can get, using the search function.

Now it’s time to open the supplier page, and make an assessment based on the information we find on their company page.

Use this checklist

  • Are they listed as a trading company or manufacturer?
  • Are they specialised in your product category?
  • Do they offer the same types of fabrics?
  • Do they provide factory images?
  • Do they have uploaded test reports? (i.e., REACH)
  • Do they have uploaded factory audit reports?

Gold Suppliers

You can also see the number of years a supplier has been a Gold Supplier.

This is of some interest, but certainly not the main thing I look at.

Alibaba Trade Assurance

It’s a big plus if the supplier is part of the Alibaba Trade Assurance program. I get back to that further down in this guide.

3. How to read the TrustPass profile

Alibaba.com provides verified company information for every Gold Supplier. This information can also be used to assess if the supplier is qualified or not.

When sourcing clothing and textile products on Alibaba.com, the only piece of information that truly matters here is the registered capital.

Look for suppliers that have at least RMB 500,000.

Suppliers with less registered capital are more likely to be traders.

fabric printing

4. Review product pages

Many buyer’s go straight to the product page, and then start reviewing the supplier page and TrustPass profile.

But what’s the point of spending time reviewing product pages, if the supplier is not qualified?

But that’s not the only reason I save the product page for last:

a. Many suppliers don’t provide accurate product listings. In many cases, you just see a few product photos, and a basic spec sheet.

b. Most suppliers only use product listings to ‘demonstrate’ what they can make for you. It doesn’t mean that they actually have the materials in stock, or even a pattern file ready.

c. Hence, product listings don’t really matter. What does matter, however, is the suppliers’ capabilities and main product focus.

There are of course exceptions, but this is the situation for most suppliers.

5. Select suppliers, submit techpack and request quotations

At this stage you should have a shortlist of at least 10 suppliers.

You can get in touch with the supplier, either by clicking on the ‘Contact Supplier’ button or ‘Chat Now’.

Your success from this point and on will depend largely on how you introduce yourself.

Most new customer leads are extremely vague. Hence, the suppliers don’t even bother to respond to many quotation requests.

Use this checklist to maximize the number of successful RFQs:

a. Provide patterns, specification sheets and component images

b. Introduce yourself and your company

c. Clarify that your intention is to get a quote, order samples and then place your first test order.

d. Request the supplier’s Wechat ID.

e. Follow up a few times per week until you’ve received your quotation

You should give your supplier at least 4 to 7 days to provide quotations.

alibaba clothing factory

6. Order product samples from 4+ suppliers

Despite the fact that you’ve already invested significant time in vetting suppliers and requesting quotations, the real test remains.

Making product samples.

This is not a small task. In the textile industry, I’d say that the fail rate is normally around 50%.

To avoid a situation where you have to start all over again, I strongly advise you to buy product samples from at least 4 suppliers.

Assuming that 2 supplier fail, you still have 2 options left.

Prices

Expect to pay around $50 – $200 per sample, excluding delivery fees.

You can either pay via the Alibaba payment gateway, or directly to the supplier.

Lead times

Most suppliers need at least 30 to 40 days to produce the product samples.

Request photos before the supplier ships the samples. That way you can spot quality issues, without having to pay $50 in shipping fees.

7. Place your order with Alibaba Trade Assurance

The Alibaba Trade Assurance protects you in 2 ways:

A. If the goods are not shipped on time (as specified in the digital purchase contract)

B. If the products are not matching the specifications (as stated in the agreement)

However, the coverage only applies if you strictly follow this process:

Step 1: Place order through Trade Assurance

Step 2: Use Alibaba Trade Center (Under My Alibaba) to communicate with the supplier

Step 3: Create Purchase Contract on Alibaba.com

This contract is only valid for the products. Trade Assurance doesn’t cover any warranties, replacements or other services agreed upon between the Alibaba supplier and the buyer.

This should be included in the Purchase Contract:

  • Patterns
  • Seams
  • Tolerances
  • Material specifications
  • Bill of Materials
  • Label Files
  • Compliance Requirements (i.e., REACH)
  • Export Packaging
  • Prints & Artwork
  • Packaging

You must also specify the final delivery date, quality check terms and incoterms.

Step 4: Confirm contract

Step 5: Make payment: Credit Card or Telegraphic Transfer (ONLY use the designated account)

You should also follow up each order with a quality check, before shipment.

The Trade Assurance doesn’t cover refunds or replacements once you have approved the order.

8. How to book a sea or air shipment

Once the goods are quality checked, lab tested and approved, you can go ahead and book the shipment.

You essentially have 3 options:

a. Let the supplier book the shipment (I suggest you avoid this)

b. Book a shipment via Alibaba (This is still under development, but they are expanding their logistics network worldwide)

c. Book a shipment via Freightos.com, Flexport.com or other online platform

Import duties, and other taxes, are paid once the goods arrive in the port of destination.

Do you want to import textile products from China, Vietnam or India?

It can be hard to go from a design drawing to finished product. To help you manage the entire process – from creating a specification, to sampling and quality control – we created a Starter Package for Apparel & Textiles:

a. Manufacturer Lists

b. Product Specification Templates

c. Label Samples (USA & EU)

d. Tutorials, Video Walkthroughs and Task Lists that guide you step-by-step through the entire process

In addition, you can also book quality inspections, lab testing and shipping directly from the platform. Click here to learn more.

Alibaba Trade Assurance Explained: What Importers Must Know

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Click Here to Get the
Starter Package: All Categories

Since Alibaba launched it’s Trade Assurance program in 2014, we’ve received countless questions about what it is, and how it can help importers reduce risk.

So, we decided to take a closer look, and uncover what the Trade Assurance is, and how it can protect start ups and small to medium sized businesses, buying from manufacturers in Mainland China. As we did that, we also found out that the Trade Assurance is only as ‘assuring’ as you make it to be.

How the process works

Below follows an overview of the Alibaba Trade Assurance process.

Step 1: Place order through Trade Assurance

Step 2: Use Alibaba Trade Center (Under My Alibaba) to communicate with the supplier

Step 3: Create Purchase Contract on Alibaba.com

This contract is only valid for the products. Trade Assurance doesn’t cover any warranties, replacements or other services agreed upon between the Alibaba supplier and the buyer.

Step 4: Confirm contract

Step 5: Make payment: Credit Card or Telegraphic Transfer

ONLY use the designated account

Trade Assurance protects you in 2 ways:

A. If the goods are not shipped on time (as specified in agreement)

B. If the products are not matching the specifications (as stated in the agreement)

This video from Alibaba shows what the interface looks like:

What is Alibaba’s Trade Assurance Program?

The Alibaba Trade Assurance Program is meant to add an extra layer of security to overseas buyers of goods, primarily, from Chinese suppliers. As such, the Trade Assurance allows the buyer to receive a refund, if any of the following occurs: Continue reading Alibaba Trade Assurance Explained: What Importers Must Know

How to Buy Products From 1688.com: A Complete Guide

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1688 Alibaba

Click Here to Get the
Starter Package: All Categories

1688.com is just like Alibaba.com, but all in Chinese, and for the domestic market in China.

Some believe that they can find better deals, by going directly to suppliers on 1688.com, instead of Alibaba.com.

But is that really true?

Keep reading, and learn if 1688.com suppliers are really offering lower prices, how to pay them and if they even have export licenses.

What is 1688.com?

1688.com is a B2B supplier directory owned by Alibaba Group. Just like Alibaba.com, 1688.com is portal were you can find factories, wholesalers and trading companies, in virtually any industry.

So why is it called 1688.com, and not Alibaba.cn? In Chinese, 1688 reads as “Yao Liu Ba Ba”, which (kind of) sounds like Alibaba.

Substituting words for similar sounding numbers is common in China and all over Asia. Continue reading How to Buy Products From 1688.com: A Complete Guide

How to Order from Alibaba in 3 Steps

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Starter Package: All Categories

Do you have a product that you would like to order from a supplier on Alibaba.com? Ordering from Alibaba.com might seem like a simple task but a quick search on Google or the Alibaba forum proves the opposite.

This article provides you with a step by step guide to ordering from Alibaba.

Step 1. Sourcing products on Alibaba.com

There are three ways to source products at Alibaba. Product Search, Supplier Search or by posting a Buying Request. The Supplier Search is the latest Alibaba search option and in my opinion superior to the other two, below I explain why. Continue reading How to Order from Alibaba in 3 Steps

Selling on Amazon.com From Overseas: By Ariel B. C.

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Almost half of our readers are located outside of the United States and the European Union. Yet, the majority of our customers in these countries are mainly selling in the US or Europe. Or both.

One of our subscribers, Ariel, is one of them.

In this article, he explains how he started selling in the United States, on Amazon.com, while being based in Israel and Europe.

Please tell us a bit about yourself and what you did before starting with your current business

I was born in France, and moved to Israel about 20 years ago.

I always had a passion to travel, so, logically, I always searched for source of incomes that can be managed from any places in the world.

I studied economics, but worked a very briefly as an employee. Only about 2 years, then I began to import goods from the United States, to France for several years when I still lived there. Essentially motorcycles and accessories.

When I arrive in Israel, I first worked in software for a big company.

In parallel, I began to sell online about 10 years ago, at Ebay France, managing the shop digitally from Israel while having a partner in France taking care of all the “physical” work.

Then I discovered Amazon FBA nearly 4 years ago, and I found it was a perfect fit for me.

It allows me to be free of all the worries about warehouse to stock my inventory and also I don’t have to deal with packaging and shipping every unit sold to the customer.

It also can be run from any place, so I can make a living while travelling around the world.

About a year ago, I was able to quit my job as an employee and work full time on my online business.

For half a year, I have a VA from the Philippines helping me with recurring tasks and social media. Continue reading Selling on Amazon.com From Overseas: By Ariel B. C.

How to Improve the Supplier Response Rate on Alibaba.com

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wayne-qulito

If you’ve ever tried to reach out to suppliers on Alibaba.com, you know how hard it can be to make them respond to your request for quotation.

That said, Alibaba suppliers often have good reasons for not responding to inquiries.

In this interview, Wayne Zhang explains what you can do to improve your Alibaba supplier response rate, which communication apps to use and much more.

Wayne, please tell us about yourself and how you got into sourcing

Oh my, unfortunately, I do not think this will be a type of an answer that packs in a lot of “Hollywood” like action, but just a plain simple reality. I used to work for a company that provided similar services to foreign clients from around the globe.

And, truth be told I worked there for a while, right after I graduated from University.

I studied commerce, and one of my foreign languages was English, so it seemed like a great idea at the time, and it was. My responsibilities included finding clients, going through their requests, find products at a price they requested, place an order and make sure the final shipment was sent out. So, I did everything from door to door, sort of speak.

I considered this to be a great start of my career because already back then I saw myself working in this industry for a long time because, in my opinion, it had potential.

I was right.

I learned a lot while working for my first company and it equipped me with a very valuable set of skills that eventually proved to be very advantageous in building my own business. I knew that I want to have my own company one day, so I worked hard, saved money and just went for it. Continue reading How to Improve the Supplier Response Rate on Alibaba.com

The Art of Finding the Right Supplier on Alibaba – By Gary Huang

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Gary Huang 8020 Sourcing

You can find a supplier for anything on Alibaba.com. There are often too many supplier, rather than too few. As such, you might find yourself trying to navigate between hundreds of different suppliers in the same product category – all with varying levels of expertise (or lack thereof).

Rather than flying to China and visit 200 suppliers, you need to use information available on Alibaba.com, to identify the supplier that is the right choice for your business.

And that is exactly what this interview with Gary Huang, founder of 80/20 Sourcing in Shanghai, is about.

Gary, tell us a bit about yourself and how you started 80/20 sourcing

I’m originally from the US and born and raised in Los Angeles. I’ve been working and living in Shanghai since 2008. Some people say the sourcing is like a black box.

Since I am a 2nd generation Chinese American and being culturally and linguistically fluent in both cultures and countries – I have an unfair advantage in being able to do better business between China and the US.

I started 80/20 Sourcing because I saw that a lot of online Sellers and small business owners were struggling with sourcing products from China.

So I decided help online sellers and small business owners save time and money when sourcing products from China and to scale their online businesses. 80/20 Sourcing offers video courses, webinars, coaching, and free articles which can be found at www.8020sourcing.com. Continue reading The Art of Finding the Right Supplier on Alibaba – By Gary Huang