Sourcing on Alibaba: the Ultimate FAQ (30 answers)

DocShipper's sourcing service is a solution for corporations and individuals seeking for trustworthy Asian suppliers for their products that can assist you in locating the best suppliers for your needs, whether you need a manufacturer, a wholesaler, or a distributor, today we help you to optimize the sourcing on the largest B2B marketplace in the world is Alibaba, a fair playing field where established companies and start-ups may both source their inventory from Chinese factories.

It's still a fantastic tool to find products, but it may be tremendously difficult to utilize, especially for new company owners. Discover some of the most frequent questions importers have regarding Alibaba today in our ultimate FAQ !

Concerning Alibaba

What is Alibaba?

Alibaba is an online store where manufacturers and the goods they produce are displayed. It gives companies the chance to purchase items in bulk directly from Chinese vendors at incredibly inexpensive costs. Along with other online tools and services, the company offers cloud computing, digital payment, and other services to assist businesses in running their operations and interacting with clients globally.

Who makes use of Alibaba?


Is Alibaba a swindle marketplace?

Alibaba is not a marketplace for scams. Despite the fact that there have been some instances of fraud and scams on Alibaba, the firm takes these problems extremely seriously and has put in place a variety of safeguards to stop and solve them. Alibaba has a system of authentication and verification that aids in confirming the reliability of the manufacturers and suppliers using its marketplace. The business also provides a trade guarantee program, which gives customers additional security in the event of disagreements or problems with their orders.

Can I use Alibaba to dropship?

Alibaba can be used to dropship items to clients, thus the answer is yes. However, Alibaba's platform, which is primarily created for B2B transactions between businesses, does not have dropshipping as its main focus.

You won't be able to purchase individual items as required via drop-shipping because the majority of Alibaba products have a MOQ (minimum order quantity) of over 100. You might be able to if you're drop-shipping some massive objects, like machinery. However, it might be wiser to look at Ali-express if you want to try samples.

Is Alibaba the same as Aliexpress?

No, AliExpress and Alibaba are not interchangeable. Although they are both owned by the same company, the two platforms have different uses and are aimed at different audiences.

Alibaba is essentially a B2B (business-to-business) platform that links producers, distributors, and wholesalers with other companies all over the world. The minimum order quantities (MOQs) might be rather high, but it provides a wide variety of items in huge numbers.

AliExpress, on the other hand, is a B2C (business-to-consumer) site that enables lone customers to buy goods in smaller quantities, frequently without any MOQ limits. It provides a large selection of goods at affordable costs, including electronics, apparel, accessories, and home goods.


Alibaba Sourcing & Product Sourcing

What exactly is a MOQ on Alibaba?

The least amount of a product that a supplier is prepared to sell on Alibaba at once is known as the MOQ, or minimum order quantity. The MOQ might range from a few hundred to several thousand pieces, depending on the provider and the product.

The manufacturing costs, the supplier's stock levels, and the time needed to set up the production line are commonly used to calculate the MOQ. For items that are more difficult to create or call for pricey tooling or materials, suppliers could impose a higher MOQ.

It's critical to evaluate the MOQ and how it will impact your total expenses and profit margins when thinking about making a purchase from Alibaba. If the MOQ is too high for your requirements or price range, you might want to think about looking for suppliers or items with lower MOQs.logo minimum order quantity

Can I purchase less than the MOQ?

Generally speaking, it might be difficult to make a purchase on Alibaba for less than the MOQ because this is the lowest quantity that a supplier is ready to create and offer for sale. Negotiating with the provider to see if they will make an exception in your circumstance is doable, but.

It's crucial to conduct research and comprehend the expenses associated with manufacturing and transporting the goods before contacting the supplier. The supplier may not agree to your request if it would be too expensive to produce less than the MOQ. The supplier can also demand a higher price per unit from you or charge you more for manufacturing fewer units.

Are Alibaba’s items of good quality?

Depending on the seller and the product, the quality of the items on Alibaba might vary greatly. While some suppliers offer products of the highest caliber, others might offer products of lesser caliber.

Before making a purchase from a supplier on Alibaba, it's crucial to conduct research to make sure you get high-quality products. Alibaba's search criteria may be used to locate suppliers who have received good ratings and reviews from other customers.Before placing a larger purchase, you may also ask the supplier for product samples so you can assess the quality.

Are the branded items offered on Alibaba authentic?

Not all branded products supplied on Alibaba are genuine, but you may boost your chances of getting genuine branded products by engaging with approved suppliers, asking paperwork, and authenticating the products.

How can I prevent scammers on Alibaba?

Scammers on website  In order to stay safe when sourcing items and avoid scams on Alibaba, you can:

-Check the supplier's biography, testimonials, and ratings.

-Ask the supplier for their company license and registration number, or use the "Verified -Supplier" or "Gold Supplier" programs on Alibaba to confirm their identification.

-To guarantee the items are authentic and of high quality, request product samples.

-To pay for your orders, use the safe payment mechanism provided by Alibaba.

-With regard to product needs, delivery schedules, and quality standards, be explicit with the provider.

-Think about having the items inspected by a third party before shipping.

You can also look our articles on the best sellers on Alibaba.

What should I keep in mind when purchasing from Alibaba?

The product excellence. Making sure they are of acceptable quality is the biggest challenge when purchasing items from China; you don't want to be left with goods you can't sell!

How much shipping will cost. Even though the products themselves may be inexpensive, you also need to account for shipping costs, so the actual cost of purchasing from Alibaba is not as low as some people might like to believe. Not only do you ship abroad, but you also ship a lot of merchandise. This implies that shipping will very certainly be expensive.

Your provider. When making a purchase on Alibaba, you must take great care to work with a reputable vendor. In the part after this, there is further information.

How can I keep quality concerns under control while purchasing from Alibaba?

There are various ways to make sure your goods are made to a high degree of quality, including hiring agents to inspect them in China before you pay for them. We strongly encourage you to study our guidance on policing the caliber of goods produced in China.

About Alibaba Manufacturers

How can I find a reliable supplier on Alibaba?

You may search through providers to locate suppliers that are genuine and reliable by using the precautions and filters that Alibaba has set up. Among these security measures are:

Suppliers of gold. Scammers won't often pay for a membership because it is an annual fee and they are typically removed from the platform once a client complains, giving them only a month or two to operate.

Verification on-site. Alibaba will send representatives to the plant to check that it is indeed located where it says it is and to look around the construction site. In order to confirm that the supplier is a legitimate company, they will also check the company's legal status.

Supplier evaluation. A supplier evaluation is similar to a more thorough on-site verification; you have access to ten times more data, including things like factory recordings.

To negotiate a deal with Alibaba suppliers, you should first do research on the product, market demand, and industry standards. Then, identify potential suppliers with good ratings and customer feedback. Contact them and ask for their best price and relevant information. Compare quotes and negotiate a mutually beneficial agreement that meets both parties needs. Finalize the deal by getting everything in writing and clarifying important details, such as shipping times and payment terms.

Why aren’t Alibaba suppliers replying to me?

Several factors could be at play if Alibaba suppliers don't respond to you:

Your communication could not be precise or thorough enough: Make sure your message expresses your expectations, requirements, and product specifics clearly. Suppliers could not react if they don't have enough data to deal with.

The provider could be overworked: Some suppliers might get a lot of questions, which makes it challenging to answer each one right away. You may try sending a considerate reminder message as a follow-up.

The vendor might not be eager to collaborate with you: Some suppliers might only accept a certain kind of clientele or have a minimum order requirement that you might not be able to meet.

Concerning Buying from Alibaba

buying from marketplace

When purchasing from Alibaba, you can use a variety of payment gateways, including well-known ones like Paypal and Western Union as well as less well-known ones like Alipay and Alibaba Trade Assurance.

A wire transfer is the first type of payment transfer; it sends money from your bank account straight into the bank account of your provider. There are hazards involved with this payment method, but we'll talk about those in the next question. It is not a very secure mode of payment. Using an escrow service is an additional choice; in this case, a third party will hold your funds until you confirm receipt of the products. Escrow services are provided by Alibaba's Trade Assurance

These are quite secure because your supplier doesn't get paid until you've given your approval that the goods have arrived.

Although using credit cards to pay for goods is a viable option, it is not recommended because of the possibility of credit card fraud.

Paypal is a well-known and well-liked service that is also generally safe. The issue is that because it is so safe, many suppliers refuse to utilize it. Although Paypal is known to freeze legitimate accounts as well (without releasing any funds), freezing fraudulent accounts is still beneficial to you. As a result, many providers refuse to utilize Paypal.

The Alibaba Group's AliPay is essentially the Chinese equivalent of Paypal. Although the transaction costs are much higher—over 10%—the majority of Chinese suppliers have and make use of Alipay.

DocShipper Alert : Newcomers to the import/export industry frequently mix up the insurance offered by the carrier with that offered by the forwarder. The modalities are quite different! The automatic insurance offered by the carriers has a very low level of coverage and a rather narrow scope of execution. If you have a doubt on some freight forwarders, do not hesitate to contact us.

What’s the problem with paying Alibaba suppliers through Western Union and wire transfers?

It might be hazardous and possibly not the best choice to pay Alibaba vendors through wire transfers or Western Union. These payment options provide little security and raise the possibility of fraud since con artists frequently use them to take advantage of unwary customers. Additionally, they are opaque, which can result in delays and make payment tracking challenging. It is often advised to utilize the Secure Payment system offered by Alibaba or another secure payment method since they provide better protection, more transparency, and quicker processing times, all of which can contribute to a successful transaction.

What exactly is Alibaba Trade Assurance, and why should I use it?

Alibaba Trade AssuranceAlibaba provides a payment protection program called Alibaba Trade Assurance that enables you to seek a refund if your manufacturer delays your shipment or if the goods aren't delivered to the acceptable quality standards. Alibaba Trade Assurance is usually a wise choice if it is offered. However, not all suppliers provide it; Trade Assurance isn't a platform-wide guarantee. Another thing to keep in mind is that Trade Assurance only provides coverage up to a specified dollar level; typically, this ranges from $10,000 to $30,000.  

Alibaba’s Delivery and Shipping

How are my Alibaba purchases delivered?

Depending on the shipping option you select and the supplier's location, your Alibaba purchases may take a while to arrive. Suppliers on Alibaba often provide a variety of delivery choices, including:

Express shipping is the quickest method of delivery and typically takes 3 to 7 days. Express shipping costs more than other shipping methods but provides quicker arrival.

Faster than sea freight but slower than express shipment is air freight. Delivery of air freight typically takes 5 to 15 days.

The slowest and most affordable shipment method is through sea freight. Depending on the destination, the delivery time for sea freight might be several weeks or even months.

You may follow the development of your order using Alibaba's site after it has been sent. To obtain information on the progress of the shipment, you may also get in touch with the provider. Some suppliers could also provide you a tracking number so you can follow the progress of your order on the website of the shipping company.

It's vital to keep in mind that shipping internationally may be charged for customs clearance as well as other costs like import taxes and levies. These charges differ based on the value of the items being sent as well as the country of delivery. To prevent unforeseen charges, it is crucial to investigate these fees before making a purchase.

What are my shipping options?

DocShipper shipping options

The most well-known alternative is courier services, which follow a similar workflow to purchasing items from Amazon and deliver your purchases within a few days. However, once goods reach a certain size, courier services skyrocket in price.

Another option in logistics and supply chain management is utilizing a freight forwarder, which is a specialized intermediary that arranges the transportation and logistics of goods. They can handle various modes of transport, including air, sea, and land. 

A flight will be used to load and transfer your items, and it is less expensive than using a courier service. A freight forwarder must be hired if you want to ship something by air because it will take a few extra days than a courier.

Compare the three international shipping methods.

As DocShipper, we can evaluate the three international shipping options - express, air freight, and sea freight, to assist you choose the optimal one for your requirements. For urgent, tiny goods of high value, express delivery is the fastest but most expensive alternative. For bigger cargo that must be delivered promptly, air freight is faster than sea freight. For large, heavy items that are not time-sensitive, sea freight is the most affordable but slowest alternative. The urgency, size, and value of your package will determine the option you choose. 

To assist you in selecting the ideal shipping option for your requirements, DocShipper may offer tailored solutions.

What is the most cost-effective way to transport items from Alibaba?

The size, weight, and number of the things you need to ship from Alibaba will determine the most affordable method. For bigger and heavier cargo, sea freight is typically the least expensive but also the slowest alternative. For products that are too large for fast delivery but yet need to be delivered soon, air freight may be a more economical choice than express shipping. You must take your shipment's size and weight into account, as well as the destination, the urgency of delivery, and the costs associated with customs clearance and other expenses.

DocShipper info :

You may pick the finest shipping option for your purposes with the assistance of a reputable logistics company like DocShipper, who will also make sure your package is delivered promptly and safely, do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

What should I know about customs while importing from Alibaba?

To prevent delays and fines while importing from Alibaba, it's crucial to be informed of customs laws and procedures. Your cargo will need to pass through customs clearance before delivery, and you could be required to pay import fees and taxes on your imported products. It is crucial to make sure your goods adhere to the laws and requirements of the country you are shipping them to, since some things can have entry restrictions or be outright forbidden. The customs clearance procedure might be made simpler by working with a customs broker.

You may use DocShipper to assist you negotiate customs laws and processes and make sure your shipment arrives securely and on schedule.

Can I have my items shipped directly to an Amazon FBA warehouse?

Yes, you may arrange for your packages to be delivered straight to an FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) facility. FBA inbound shipment is what is happening here. By having your supplier or logistics company bring your items straight to an Amazon warehouse for storage and fulfillment through FBA inbound shipment, you may save time and money.

Create a shipping plan in your Amazon Seller Central account if you want to ship straight to an Amazon FBA warehouse. The goods being transported, the amount of each product, and the Amazon warehouse where they will be kept are all listed in the shipment plan.

It is significant to know that when shipping to Amazon FBA facilities, there are precise guidelines for labeling and packaging. Products must be packed and branded in accordance with Amazon's specifications, and each item must have an own FNSKU (Fulfillment Network Stock Keeping Unit) label.

Docshipper Tip : You may handle the regulations and procedure of delivering directly to an Amazon FBA warehouse by working with a logistics company like DocShipper. They may save you time and help avoid problems with your shipments by making sure that your items are correctly labeled and wrapped in accordance with Amazon's specifications.For more information about this service you can contact us.

Alibaba’s Product Quality and Safety

Quality control and safety

How does Alibaba ensure the quality and safety of its products?

To guarantee the reliability and security of its products, Alibaba has put in place a number of safeguards. Among them are confirming suppliers' legal standing, providing payment protection and quality assurance through the Trade Assurance program, enabling customers to rate and review suppliers, providing services for product inspection, requiring third parties to certify specific products, and ensuring compliance with national and international laws. These precautions guarantee that customers obtain goods that fulfill their requirements and quality standards while also assisting them in making educated purchase decisions.

How to make sure that the products bought on Alibaba are complying with safety standards?

One can do research on safety standards, look at supplier ratings and reviews, request product samples, use third-party inspection services, confirm compliance with regulations, look for certified products, and work with a reliable logistics company like DocShipper to ensure that the products they purchase on Alibaba adhere to safety standards. One may make sure that the items fulfill safety requirements and quality standards by performing these actions.

What product safety regulations do I need to know before buying from Alibaba?

It's crucial to do research on the product safety laws that apply to the items you're interested in before making a purchase on Alibaba. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, EU rules, RoHS, REACH, FDA, and ISO are a few examples of regulations that may be relevant.


DocShipper Alert :

 It’s crucial to ensure that the supplier can offer paperwork and proof that the products conform with these regulations. Working with a reliable logistics company like DocShipper can assist guarantee that items are correctly packaged and labeled to meet requirements. For more informations contact us.

Legal Concerns Regarding Alibaba

Is it legal to import from Alibaba and sell in the UK?

relevant laws on Alibaba

As long as the goods adhere to all relevant laws and UK product safety standards, it is lawful to import 

goods from Alibaba and sell them in the UK. Depending on the kind of goods being imported, importers should make sure 

that the items they are importing adhere to the necessary laws and standards, such as those established by the UK government and the European Union. It is crucial to correctly label items and present pertinent paperwork, such as invoices and customs declarations.

DocShipper info :

It’s crucial to ensure that the supplier can offer paperwork and proof that the products conform with these regulations. Working with a reliable logistics company like DocShipper can assist guarantee that items are correctly packaged and labeled to meet requirements. For more informations contact us.

Who is liable if something goes wrong with a product - me or the supplier?

Liability for defective products might vary depending on the nature of the problem, the kind of product, and the relevant laws and regulations. In principle, the supplier might be held accountable for any damages or injuries if the issue was brought on by a manufacturing flaw or a failure to adhere to safety regulations. However, the importer may also bear some responsibility if the importer's actions, such as failing to thoroughly inspect the product or labeling it incorrectly, contributed to the issue.

Before making a purchase, it is crucial to agree upon precise terms and conditions with the supplier and to carefully review the supplier's warranties, return policies, and liability clauses. Additionally, using third-party inspection and certification services and working with a dependable supplier with a solid track record can help reduce the risk of issues and liability.

Is there a method to ensure that I’m not held responsible for everything that goes wrong?

You may take a few measures to safeguard yourself from being held accountable for anything that goes wrong with your Alibaba transactions. These comprise outlining your relationship with the supplier's terms and conditions in detail, using a written contract or agreement that specifies each party's obligations and liabilities, working with a reputable logistics company like DocShipper, and obtaining product liability insurance. You may avoid being held accountable for problems that could occur with your Alibaba purchases by following these instructions.

DocShipper Advise : We help you with the entire sourcing process so don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!

  • Having trouble finding the appropriate product? Enjoy our sourcing services, we directly find the right suppliers for you!
  • You don't trust your supplier? Ask our experts to do quality control to guarantee the condition of your goods!
  • Do you need help with the logistics? Our international freight department supports you with door to door services!
  • You don't want to handle distribution? Our 3PL department will handle the storage, order fulfillment, and last-mile delivery!


DocShipper Sourcing | Procurement - Quality control - Logistics


Alibaba, Dhgate, made-in-china... Many know of websites to get supplies in Asia, but how many have come across a scam ?! It is very risky to pay an Asian supplier halfway around the world based only on promises! DocShipper offers you complete procurement services integrating logistics needs: purchasing, quality control, customization, licensing, transport...

Communication is important, which is why we strive to discuss in the most suitable way for you!

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