If you’ve made a decision about your overseas source for products you want to sell online, it’s probably Alibaba. By the numbers, Alibaba is the biggest eCommerce supplier in the world. That’s bigger than Amazon and eBay put together.
So what is Alibaba?
Basically, it’s a comprehensive directory connecting buyers and suppliers (mainly Asian suppliers) across the globe. They have literally millions of products to choose from and tons of suppliers ready to fill your orders.
Start Your Search
Purchasing items using Alibaba is pretty much self-explanatory. It isn’t much different from a marketplace like eBay. You can browse through the categories or perform an item -specific search to find exactly what you want.
You have two search options on Alibaba. One is utilizing the product descriptions for your search, something like “dog collars”. That will bring up lots of results in the dog collar category.
Or, you can use a drop-down menu and search for suppliers rather than for products. That way you can find the manufacturers who specialize in whatever type of products you’re looking for.
Using the Product Pages
Before you begin searching Alibaba, you should know a few things about the product pages. In our previous section our example was “dog collar”, so we’ll keep that as our example here.
This will be one of the first pieces of information you’ll want to have. Price is always a good place to start. We can see that a listing — for example — has a price of two to three dollars (US) FOB or “Free on Board”, meaning the seller is also going to pay the costs associated with getting this product to the marine port (For Asian products this is the cheapest way to go) and you, the buyer, will pay costs associated with the actual transporting of your goods across the ocean to its final destination.
MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity)
The next source of information you’ll need is the MOQ. This is the smallest number of items a manufacturer is willing to sell on one order. The thing to remember about MOQs is they’re not chiseled in stone and are usually negotiable.
The MOQ in our ‘dog collar’ example is 200 units. When we multiply that using the high-end side of the price, three dollars, we’re looking at an overall figure of around $600 plus the shipping. This is a necessary thing to know going in so you have a starting place for your negotiations.
Once you understand how the MOQ and pricing work, you’ll probably need to know how to make payment to a supplier. There are pros and cons to the methods of payment available, so it would be your decision to choose the one that works best for you.
Those are the very basics of trading on Alibaba. There’s obviously a lot more to know, but one of the best ways to learn is by exploring the Alibaba marketplace.
Alibaba is probably not the best place to start an online business. With Amazon, for instance, all you need to do is send customers to Amazon to buy. The same goes for Clickbank, making these US-based vendors much better places to start and learn about online eCommerce.