With a niche product to sell in one hand and a bundle of trendy keywords in the other, it’s time to find the right supplier so you have something to start selling through Amazon FBA. After all, without supply, how can you expect demand?
This is a big step on the road to becoming an Amazon seller, as you’ll need to find a reliable supplier who will ship good-quality products for a reasonable price. Yeah. If that doesn’t sound easy, it’s because it isn’t. I, too, was asking myself, “but how can I get hundreds, if not thousands, of items for an affordable price and still make a profit?”
Well, like any other major company in the world, you can turn to the world’s manufacturing hub: China. Several successful Amazon sellers flock to ecommerce platforms such as Alibaba or AliExpress to find a sea of suppliers developing quality products that are ready to send in bulk. However, you can also find some excellent suppliers on other platforms, such as JimTrade and Global Sources, or maybe even a local manufacturer that’s only a hop, skip and jump from where you live.
Whatever you choose, though, you’ll want to keep a few tricks in mind to ensure you’re getting the best supplier. In this guide, we’ll walk you through a straightforward way to quickly find a selection of suppliers on Alibaba via AMZScout, contact them, and get yourself supplied.
Still wondering how to find a product to sell on Amazon or how to find the best keywords to boost Amazon sales? We’ve got you covered.
Things to know before finding a supplier
Before jumping on the bandwagon and partnering up with a supplier, there are a few factors you should run through to make sure the fit is right. Just because the price is reasonable doesn’t mean the product is up to standard, and it’s hard to go back once you’ve thousands of products. So, keep these points in mind while searching for your partner in supplies.
Keep your options open
Who said once you’ve opened conversation with one supplier you need to stick with them for life? No one, and that’s why it’s perfectly fine to keep your options open and get talking to multiple suppliers.
Like any good negotiator in trades, speaking with different suppliers gives you an idea of the various costs of your product, its quality, shipping fees and more. You can then weigh the differences between each supplier, meaning you can choose a low-cost product with the right quality and design that fits your needs. Put yourself out there a contact a few suppliers, even from different ecommerce platforms, before you make your final choice.
Research your supplier
We want to think that every supplier will deliver a non-faulty product for a fair price and deliver it on time, but let’s stick with reality. The excellent news is marketplaces such as Alibaba have set up built-in protection services to make sure everything, from placing your order to delivery, is a smooth experience. That’s thanks to Trade Assurance, but you’ll still want to do some background checking of your own.
Purchasing a large stock of goods overseas can be daunting, especially when a majority of your communications and transactions are done online. So, you’ll want to quickly look up the supplier company before making a deal.
For example, I’m looking to contact a supplier for a product (Tumblers) they manufacture. A quick scroll through the Alibaba listing page leads me to the companies profile. Here, it tells me the name of the company, where it’s based, when it was established, pictures of the company floor, the main markets it supplies, factory inspection reports and more. It even shows a store rating (out of five) and on-time delivery rates.
These are good indications of a reliable supplier, but it’s also better to do a Google search of the company yourself. Checking to see if others have had problems with the products it manufactures, like a faulty design, will let you know if the supplier can be trusted.
Request a sample
You’re the seller here, so you may as well give one of your products a whirl, right? Mainly, this is just for you to know how the product works, if it’s up to standard, if there are potential changes you want to make and, of course, if you think your customers will enjoy it.
Requesting a prototype of what the supplier manufactures is a good way to show you mean business, and from there, you can gauge whether it’s worth placing an order. Get opinions from friends and compare them to your competitors – this is your chance to get to know the product.
Note that you will probably have to pay for the sample product + shipping. In the past, we’ve tended to pay US$20-$50 for tracked shipping to speed up (and guarantee) the sample reaches us.
How will you ship?
Selling a product through Amazon FBA is a popular method for many businesses, and suppliers know this, too. With this in mind, the right supplier will be able to ship to the Amazon Fulfillment Centre of your choice (keep an eye out on shipping charges). But would you prefer to see the products yourself before Amazon takes care of them?
That’s where you can make a choice to ship directly to a fulfillment centre or ship to yourself first. There are pros and cons to both:
- Shipping directly to an Amazon FBA centre means faster delivery times and lower costs, seeing as you’re making one shipping spend to your desired centre. However, this means you can’t assess the products for yourself first and are relying on supplier packaging to meet Amazon’s packaging requirements.
- Shipping to yourself may bump up the cost of shipping fees (seeing as you’re shipping to yourself and then a FBA centre), prolong selling the products and take up a lot of space, but you’ll also get the chance to check the quality of your products and make the adjustments you need.
Whatever way you choose, make sure you factor in the advantages and disadvantages. Shipping to an Amazon FBA centre takes a lot of the legwork out, but shipping to yourself gives you the time to make your product prime for the picking.
Talking to various suppliers on Alibaba can be difficult, especially if they don’t understand what you specifically want from the product they manufacture. Communicating through text doesn’t help, either. If you’re looking for customisations but find it hard to get the specifics across, show a visual example.
For example, while I was looking for art deco door handles without locks or keyholes, I found a supplier that had these door handles but still with a keyhole. Due to a language barrier, the supplier didn’t understand that I was looking for a handle without a keyhole. In order to get this across, I altered an image of the supplier’s door handles to show it without a keyhole.
Visual examples of what you need are an easy way to let the supplier know exactly what you’re looking for, so be sure to send a few snapshots over. Don’t want to sell a product that looks like nothing you envisioned on Amazon.
How to find the best suppliers for Amazon sellers
With the different marketplaces available to find a supplier for your product and the opportunity to search for a local manufacturer, there are plenty of ways to find the right supplier.
Let’s not kid ourselves, though. We’re after the most efficient way to partner up with a a supplier and get our products out there. That’s where Amazon seller software AMZScout comes in. Using its PRO Extension tool on Google Chrome, you can quickly look up a product you want to sell, hit the Find on Alibaba button and be treated to a list of suppliers offering your product of choice.
We’re here to guide you through the process. Don’t fret; it’s quick and easy.
Find a supplier through AMZScout PRO Extension
We’ve briefly touched on finding a supplier on Alibaba before in our how to find a product to sell on Amazon guide using the Product Database. However, the best method in finding the products up for supply is by using the AMZScout PRO Extension tool.
Installed the AMZScout PRO extension via Google Chrome? Let’s get started.
1. Open Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/) on your browser (preferably Google Chrome).
2. Search for a product you’d like to sell.
3. Click on the AMZScout Pro Extension icon located on the bottom left corner.
4. The PRO Extension tool window will open up, showcasing a list of data on each product shown. Click on the product you’re interested in.
Depending on whether you’re selling a product under a private label or reselling products, we recommend you choose a product that offers good a Product Score for Private Label (PL) or Product Score for Reselling. Both are rated out of 10 (the higher, the better).
5. Under the product, click on Find on Alibaba.
6. A new tab will open, sending you to Alibaba.com. It will show a list of products from different suppliers. These can be either be the exact product sold on Amazon or variations of the product. Here’s you can see how much a product is per piece and the minimum order in order to ship.
Consider the different options. Click on the product you’re interested in.
7. The product listing page will open. Here, you can find out more about the product, price, deliver fees, lead time needed per quantity of order and more. More importantly, this is where you can contact the supplier.
At the right hand side of the page, select Contact supplier.
From there, the rest is up to you. Suppliers can be quick to respond, sometimes taking as little as under two hours to reply. This is where you can negotiate what you’re looking for, the quantity you want to order, where you want it delivered and any other outstanding question you have.
As we said before, feel free to reach out to multiple suppliers, as you’ll want a company that fulfils your requirements. Once you’ve bagged yourself a supplier, you’ll be one (huge) step closer to selling your products through Amazon FBA.
How does Alibaba work?
On the topic of Alibaba, it’s best to get to know what the global marketplace is and how it works.
As you might expect, Alibaba is a Chinese-owned technology company specialising in ecommerce. Through its online B2B marketplace, Alibaba.com, it connects manufacturers and wholesalers mainly based in China to businesses worldwide. Need a truckload of meal prep containers delivered to a warehouse or an Amazon fullfilment centre lickety-split? A quick search on Alibaba.com will connect you to a manufacturer. From there, you can negotiate order numbers, delivery times and locations, and method of payments and boom – you’ve got yourself supply.
It’s the largest online marketplace for good reason. Alibaba provides an extensive list of suppliers manufacturing large quantities of products of all kinds for low prices. Being able to contact the manufacturer directly also means there’s no “middle man” malarkey, and individuals can also negotiate customisations to a product to make it stand out.
It can all seem a tad “too good to be true.” Unfortunately, sometimes it is. The good news is there are various precautions set in place, and there are easy ways to do background research on a supplier to ensure you’re getting a good deal. After all, you’re here to build a business and make money, not get swindled.
Is Alibaba safe?
The simple answer is: yes. But only if you know what you’re looking out for. As mentioned, Alibaba set up a Trade Assurance verification program to protect buyers from being scammed by dodgy suppliers. These types of suppliers may deliver terrible-quality products, outrageous prices for what is offered or may not send over the product.
That’s bad business for both buyers and Alibaba, so you’ll see a “Verified supplier” badge on many of the top-listed and most trustworthy manufacturers. To get this badge, the supplier must pass third-party inspections and authentications via TüV Rheinland (a well-known global inspection services company).
Check out the example below.
With this widget, you can see how long the company has been running, its on-time delivery rates, how many orders have been deliver, response time and more. Some suppliers will also boast certain services, or “Verified capacities,” that are worth noting. For example, the supplier displayed above offers minor customisations, centralised procurement, and small and large-volume orders.
This is a great way to know if a supplier you’re interested in is up to scratch, as they will be inspected and authorized by a reputable company to let you know it’s safe to negotiate.
Still, you’ll want to put trust in your own research skills, too.
How to stay safe on Alibaba
From middlemen posing as suppliers to manufacturers delivering poor-quality goods, you’ll want to keep yourself safe from any malicious suppliers out there. Here’s a few things to keep in mind.
Stay away from the middleman
One of Alibaba.com’s greatest strengths is communicating directly with a supplier – not a middleman. However, some listings may be middlemen in disguise who benefit from getting the most out of the supplier and the buyer. One noticeable sign you’re actually doing business with a middleman is how much a product costs, which is usually higher than it should be. However, there are other factors you can look into.
The first is the business license. Companies in China will have a Unified Social Credit Code on their business license. To make sure they’re legit, these can be looked up on the National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System (NECIPS). A middleman may show you a business license, but it’s better to see if everything lines up using the NECIPS.
Like below, put in the Unified Social Credit Code or company name here and see if it all adds up.
As Sino Inspection points out, another section to look out for is the business activities the company is involved in. If “Manufacturing” isn’t one of them, then it’s likely to be a middleman making trades. Of course, this also works with any shady company that may not be delivering what they claim to sell.
Refusal to ship samples
Samples are an important step in the process of selling quality products. If a supplier refuses the request of a sample, then something is up. Samples should be readily available by any supplier, as its an understood process of the transaction. If the “supplier” keeps evading the request, it’s time to move on to the next supplier.
Unable to answer questions
When communicating with a supplier, they should understand and answer all questions you have about the product. Whether it be the function of the product or the time it takes to ship, the manufacturer will know every step of the process – it’s their bread and butter. If they find it hard to answer these questions, or take too long to respond (days or weeks), then it’s a red flag.
Form of payment
Handing over a large amount of cash to a supplier based overseas is a critical step. This is where all your time and research, quite literally, pays off, and the amount one spends on quantity is nothing to sneeze at. If, for some reason, a negotiation doesn’t go as planned, you’ll want to be sure you have the opportunity to get your money back.
There are various forms of payment you may encounter when dealing with a supplier. Everyone wants a transaction to go smoothly (unless one of the parties have malicious intent), so it’s best to make an exchange the safe way.
For example, sending money with a straight-up bank transfer is quite risky. The supplier will receive the agreed amount before delivering the product, and it’s nearly impossible to get your money back if something goes awry. If a buyer uses the form of payment, they need to be absolutely sure they can trust the supplier.
This is why its recommended to use other forms of payment such as PayPal or escrow. The former is popular as its easy to use and allows order cancellation and a refund if a buyer encounters an issue. The latter allows a third party to hold the money until the supplier holds up the end of the deal, and only then is the payment, well, paid.
Using these two forms of payment offer the best security for you. Nobody wants to fork over a substantial amount of cash only to get nothing in return, so its better to negotiate the best form of payment.