Let’s Be Honest.
Sourcing great products can be a tough and tedious process, especially if you’re sourcing overseas in China through supplier sites like Alibaba and AliExpress.
And it’s easy to focus on the “negatives” while sifting through 1000’s of potential products to re-sell.
Complaints against the AliExpress seller, low ratings, thinking too many of a product have already been sold or just having a bad feeling from a previous experience you’ve had can complicate the process.
These negatives are always the easiest things to focus on when checking out a seller on AliExpress. The fact is though, there will always be more negative reviews left on a platform like AliExpress.
However, in order to move your business forward, you need to move past these possible obstacles.
So, if you feel like you’re getting stuck and only seeing the “negatives” on AliExpress, it’s important to understand this:
There are HUGE benefits when sourcing from China, so let’s not throw it out as an option because of the “negatives” you’re encountering.
The fact is, many people predict that China will be the largest economy in the world in the 21st century and will soon surpass the United States. Even though the cost of manufacturing in China has risen in recent years, the country is still often the cheapest location for American retailers and manufacturers to source goods or products.
So, you may be asking yourself… “What exactly is AliExpress, and is it really a legitimate platform to get started with?”
First of all, keep this in mind…
AliExpress is not a store, but rather a platform that connects trading companies and wholesalers (mainly located in China) with consumers or re-sellers (like you and I).
Second, they’ve got the numbers to prove they are legitimate and need to be taken seriously.
This past November during their “24 hour Singles Sale” they did over $9.3 Billion Dollars in Sales!
(Yes, in just 24 hours)
And a record number of orders were placed (over 278 million orders), nearly twice as many as 2014 sales, with over 42% of that volume being done on mobile devices.
Yes, AliExpress is a legitimate platform… and it’s growing fast.
So, despite your possible apprehensions, the easiest and most cost-effective place to START your searches for suppliers in China are B2B sourcing platforms like Alibaba / AliExpress.
Thousands of suppliers are listed on these sites, and you can streamline your search and increase the number of legitimate sources by using their filter results.
Alibaba and AliExpress have large directories of “suppliers,” and some are simply Traders or Wholesalers and NOT Manufacturers.
You won’t get the best price from Traders or Wholesalers, so you need to do your own research and due diligence on potential suppliers to understand exactly which one they are.
Again, no need to get worried, you just need to know going in that a little research is needed.
Now, if you’ve never ordered anything from Alibaba or AliExpress before, you may be worried about the process and things like how you can trust whether your order is going to show up or not.
Those are normal concerns with anything new.
When purchasing from another country, it’s usually just the “unknowns” and inexperience that brings up that concern.
To help alleviate that concern, AliExpress has buyer protection in place, which is pretty rare when it comes to Chinese Goods, so it helps in giving you more confidence in making purchase decisions.
What if your order doesn’t arrive on time, or in time?
No problem – you can get a refund.
Is an item not quite the same as what was in the original description? You can get a Partial or FULL refund and you get to keep the product.
AliExpress also has you covered in case of “foul play” and they make it easy to choose your shipping process by showing you all your options.
BWhen it comes to shipping, keep in mind – Free Shipping isn’t always the best way to go depending on what you are purchasing.
With free shipping usually comes much long delivery times and your packages being handled a lot more (increasing the potential of getting damaged)…
…so keep these kinds of factors in mind when making your shipping decisions.
Another common fear when dealing with Chinese suppliers is…
…How do you know if you are purchasing a genuine product or a knock off?
Well, AliExpress has you covered there too.
They have a “Genuine Guarantee” badge which is usually offered (where it matters) for things like the purchase of products like fine jewelry, electronic cigarettes, computers, communication devices, consumer electronics, watches, sportswear and accessories.
Keep in mind that NOT ALL merchandise has this feature as it may not even be needed.
It’s also important to know a few more terms you’ll find there and what they mean.
Be aware that “Verified Suppliers” may only mean that the companies are verified to exist. It does NOT mean that their reputation, production capability, or quality has been verified.
A “Gold Member” is simply a status they can buy, as in they paid to have that badge, and it really doesn’t mean anything beyond that.
So where the heck do I start?
Here are some simple steps will help guide you in the right direction.
First, you need to understand how the Seller’s Ratings system works.
Do you understand the Seller Ratings that you’re seeing?
Do you know how to read them and what they even mean?
Do you know how the Sellers are ranked?
These may seem like basic questions, but they are really important guides in making intelligent decisions. Let’s break this down step-by-step.
What Do The Stars Mean?
Star Ratings are based on member satisfaction after a completed transaction.
The number of Star Ratings a Seller receives after a given time period is then converted into a points system that results in their FeedBack Score.
Here’s How that Feedback Score System Works
Conversion from Star to Feedback Score Points
5 Star or 4 Star Ratings = +1 Point
3 Star Ratings = 0 Points
2 Star or 1 Star Ratings = -1 Point
Once the feedback score points are added up, this takes us to the next set of ranks: Medals, Diamonds and the Crowns.
The totaled score is on the far right as shown below. If the seller earns 3-9 points, they only earn a Level 1 and one medal.
What Does All These Medals, Diamonds and Crowns Mean?
Well the stars on the seller page represent an average of the feedback score. If you look beside the stars, you will find the number of votes the average was based on.
If the seller only had 5 people rate them and has 5 stars, that’s not enough feedback to make an intelligent decision. You’ll want to find a seller that has a lot of votes and ratings. This gives you a better idea of the true average.
Next, you’ll want to click on the vendor and then the rating symbol.
Now you can really start to dig around!
We don’t source any products with less than 3 diamonds… ever.
In fact, here’s the guide we personally use when sourcing:
Make sure to check how long the seller has been selling for. Anything over 3 years is gold. We try and shy away from any stores less than 3 years old.
Top Rated Seller Badge:
Once a seller has provided excellent service over a period of time, AliExpress will give them a Top Rated Seller Badge.
AliExpress reviews their seller’s monthly and only the best-of-the-best are promoted as Top Rated Seller. It can’t be bought – they can only be earned and they can also be lost quickly if they don’t maintain their status.
Important – Don’t Forget To Read The Description Box:
To avoid some serious disappointment, be sure to read the Description Box carefully.
It has all the smaller details of the products, which may seem minor, but this section is really important, so you need to do some diligence here.
You’ll want to think about things like:
Is the product exactly what you want?
Do you like the logo?
Are the products components correct?
What all comes in each order?
Is everything in the picture included?
Is there anything in the package that is not in the pictures?
These are just a few of the many questions you need to ask as you review listings.
While it should be obvious, but you’d be amazed how many stories I’ve heard or seen of where the description wasn’t even checked…
How do I know this? Because I’ve made these same mistakes myself!
On the sellers page, you will see a “Seller’s Guarantees” tab this tab is especially important if you are buying a higher priced item.
There are many sellers who have their own set of guarantees, but you’d do well to ignore these since there is no way to enforce their 3rd party guarantee.
The “Return Extra” is a great find in a Vendor and acts as an insurance in case the item isn’t genuine or it get’s damaged during shipping. This means there will be ZERO problems returning it.
Using The “Chat” And “Messaging” Service:
Take advantage of the chat and messaging service provided by AliExpress to ask questions, voice any concerns, and to iron-out any and all details you have about your purchase – prior to shipping.
This is also a good way of bargaining or communicating with the seller. Try sending a message to the buyer offering a price that makes more sense before finalizing your purchase and see what happens.
So What Does This All Mean?
Well, simply that there are a lot of factors to consider before placing an order with a supplier.
The biggest tips here are to understand and follow the Seller Rating System the way that we suggest.
It’s also good to be impartial about a potential product and to not fall in love with it.
Yes, Do NOT fall in love with a product.
You are not shopping for yourself. You are shopping for products that fills a need and that will be purchased.
We sell all sorts of products that I have zero interest in (and in niches that I wouldn’t have even known about) that sell very well with some serious profitability. Falling in love with a product could cost you a lot of time and money in the long run.
You also always need to validate the product.
This means that you only want to purchase a handful of them to ensure that they actually sell before making a large commitment. We’re okay even trading “4 quarters for a dollar” just to prove the concept that the product actually sells. It’s easy to negotiate better deals and larger quantities once you know how you have a proven seller on your hands.
When sourcing a new product to sell, we also like to ensure that we can ship directly to the end consumer (without any invoicing).
This way you can test faster and see if there’s a demand for that particular product. This is a huge speed-to-market factor in testing multiple products at once before you have even touched them.
Bottom Line – if you follow this guide and do your research and due diligence…
…you will ultimately discover some great products to sell, and hopefully establish some long-lasting business relationships to help build your business.