Buying From Alibaba: 11 Product Sourcing Do’s and Don’ts

Step-by-step tips on buying from Alibaba, from finding suppliers and sending RFQs, to making a shortlist and using communication channels.

Alibaba sign near buildings

This post is by Gary Huang, founder of 80/20 Sourcing and an online seller on Amazon, eBay and Shopify since 2004.

As a private label business owner or ecommerce store owner, when you want to source a product from China the first thing that comes to mind is buying from Alibaba, right? Not so fast…

Alibaba certainly is the largest online directory of suppliers. However I always say that Alibaba is like the yellow pages. And there are hundreds of thousands of suppliers on there. And there will be the good, the bad, and the ugly.

So how do you separate the scammers and trading companies from the straight-shooting direct factories?

I’ve been based in China since 2008 and have worked with hundreds of Chinese suppliers. Alibaba is one of the tools I’ve used to source reliable suppliers, so I’d like to share some of my do’s and don’ts and help you buy from Alibaba successfully.

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Amazon Listing Variations Use and Abuse: Your Questions Answered

Amazon product variations are often used wrongly, sometimes by mistake and sometimes deliberately. Either way, suspensions can result.

Amazon listing variation misuse example - jeans and pyjamas

This post is by Leah McHugh, an ecommerce consultant for ecommerceChris.com.

Incorrect variation listings are rife on Amazon. Once you know what to look for, you’ll find them everywhere when you browse the marketplace.

Product listing policies are some of the least understood rules on the Amazon platform, and it’s easy to see why. They’re complicated. They differ for different categories, and the meaning of a policy often relies on how a specific word is defined. Sometimes, that special definition is not even provided to sellers in the available policy information.

In the last few months alone I’ve seen more product variation misuse cases than I have in the previous four years of working with Amazon sellers. Not because more people are abusing the listing variation policies, but because Amazon has taken more action to police these rules.

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Our Top 12 Articles of 2018: Trending, Popular and Controversial

Catch up on your reading with our pick of this year’s Web Retailer posts, which demystified topics, expanded horizons and got people talking.

Woman reading in front of fire

At this time of year, it’s good to take a step back and reflect on the months gone by.

We have selected 12 of the best articles from all those we published in 2018. In this roundup we:

  • Demystify Amazon’s Choice, Amazon Seller Central and Amazon Vendor Central.
  • Talk about the changes in the private labelling landscape across Amazon and eBay.
  • Provide a step-by-step guide on how to use Facebook Ads to target Amazon customers.
  • Delve into the murky underworld of Amazon’s dirty sellers and fake reviews.
  • Discuss eBay Promoted Listings and repricing tools for eBay.
  • Consider escaping the marketplace rat race completely, by starting a subscription box business.

So sit back, put up your feet and catch up on your festive reading.

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Product Quality Inspections: Your Questions Answered

Ensure the quality is up to scratch when working with factories in China, with this product inspection primer for ecommerce businesses.

Bottles on factory production line

This post is by Blair Quane, Director of Remote Control CEO.

Most consumer goods are now made in China, from plastic toys for dollar stores to the latest iPhones for Apple. Chinese factories make products for brands and retailers of every type.

When you are having products made in China for your own business, how do you know if you are getting iPhone quality or dollar store quality? How can you make sure standards are consistent across different production runs? How do you know that the goods are being handled and packaged properly?

Unfortunately, you can’t really know these things unless you are standing in the factory all day, looking over their shoulder. What you can do is arrange an independent inspection to check that the products are being made to your specification, then take action if the quality is not what it should be.

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Amazon Transparency Codes: What They Mean for Amazon Sellers

Amazon’s Transparency codes have huge potential for stopping the sale of counterfeits, but legitimate sellers are being caught in the crossfire.

Amazon Transparency codes app verification

This post is by Travis J. Stockman, a Juris Doctor graduate and paralegal with Rosenbaum Famularo, P.C., the law firm behind AmazonSellersLawyer.com.

Amazon’s Transparency codes system was recently implemented to address the problems with counterfeit products on Amazon’s platform. It helps brand owners reduce counterfeits while providing consumers with the ability to verify the authenticity of the products they purchase.

While the implementation of this program is likely to improve Amazon’s anti-counterfeiting procedures, it has been causing a lot of trouble for Amazon sellers who sell authentic products.

Even if a seller has no customer complaints or reported issues regarding the authenticity of their products, they may still find themselves receiving suspension notifications due to the roll-out of the new Transparency program.

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