If you want to start a successful dropshipping business, you need to know how to find the right products and work with reliable suppliers.
In 2023, with more options to choose from, you may have heard of Alibaba – one of the world’s largest wholesale marketplaces.
So, how to find great Alibaba dropshipping suppliers and products? In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know.
What is Alibaba?
Alibaba is one of the world’s largest online e-commerce platforms, and Jack Ma founded it in 1999 through the launch of its e-commerce website Alibaba.com.
Alibaba is where buyers and sellers from all over the world can connect and conduct transactions. It is a secure and trustworthy platform used by millions of businesses.
Alibaba is based in China but serves businesses in over 190 countries and regions and 40 industries, offering more than 5,900 products in various categories.
In the beginning, Alibaba’s focus is more on business-to-business trade rather than a direct-to-consumer or individual approach.
Its business typically consists of suppliers selling products in bulk at wholesale prices to small and medium-sized businesses worldwide, reselling the products on the domestic market for a profit.
As per this model, many items available for purchase require a minimum quantity. However, some allow you to buy just a few at a time, and Alibaba has no problem with people buying products to enjoy for themselves! That’s Alibaba.
You may learn more on our blog for Alibaba for details below:
Is Alibaba.com Legit? How to Buy from Alibaba?
What is Dropshipping?
Dropshipping is when a seller sets up a website and buys products from a third party (usually a wholesaler or manufacturer) as needed, rather than stocking inventory.
And then, the product is shipped directly to the consumer, a form of order fulfillment where the seller does not keep a list of its products.
Tips: The seller does not need to stock products, order large inventory quantities, or fulfill the order. Instead, a third-party supplier will ship the product on behalf of the seller.
Dropshipping is a supply chain model where the seller can ship products directly from the wholesaler’s warehouse to the customer’s address without dealing with logistics and administration.
It allows dropshipping to focus on the “real” aspects of their business: growth scalability.
Dropshipping is great for businessmen because you don’t need to open an actual store, hire employees, keep the lights on, pay overhead, or stock products.
Instead, you open an online store and wholesale from suppliers who already have the products and warehouse.
What is the Alibaba Dropshipping Center?
Alibaba Dropshipping Center is like a dropshipping app. It was launched in early June 2021, and it is a free tool that allows anyone to use the global supplier database quickly and efficiently.
You can use Alibaba Dropshipping Center to find dropshipping suppliers and products on Alibaba.
It helps you quickly search for dropshipping products on Alibaba with no minimum order, low shipping costs, fast shipping, and fast processing time, allowing you to process orders more efficiently.
Is Alibaba Dropshipping Safe?
Yes, dropshipping from Alibaba is 100% safe. The prerequisite is to use Trade Assurance’s free service, which provides buyer protection for orders purchased through Alibaba.
Trade Assurance covers:
- The product is not shipped according to the agreed schedule
- The product does not meet quality standards
Trade Assurance requirements:
- The supplier must be a Trade Assurance supplier
- The order is placed on Alibaba.com
- Payment must be made using Alibaba’s payment platform
If there is an issue with the order, the buyer can dispute it and request a refund within 30 days of delivery. Alibaba investigates the claim and asks for documentation if necessary.
If the seller refuses to cooperate with Alibaba, the buyer will receive a refund directly. So, trade assurance protects buyers from fraudulent and unsafe products.
In short, Alibaba Trade Assurance prevents you from being scammed or receiving low-quality products, which is certainly the feature that a sizeable B2B business platform should have.
You may learn more on our blog for Alibaba Trade Assurance for details below:
Complete Guide: How to Use Alibaba Trade Assurance?
Alibaba Dropshipping Pros and Cons
In recent years, the rapid growth of Alibaba Dropshipping has a lot to do with its low manufacturing costs.
Low manufacturing costs are the main attraction for those who want to get their dropshipping business off to a good start.
Of course, everything has pros and cons, and Alibaba dropshipping is no exception.
1. Lower costs
You can buy out from lower-priced suppliers and thus get bigger profits.
2. Better customization opportunities
Many suppliers on Alibaba can provide you with customization opportunities such as label customization, design, etc.
3. More product choices
Alibaba has more than 5900 product categories for you to choose from.
4. Advantages of the Alibaba platform
Such as trade assurance, the Alibaba platform interface is more straightforward.
5. No need for an actual store
6. No need for inventory management
7. Lower risk
There are no inventory requirements and no geographical restrictions, significantly reducing the risk of dropshipping business.
1. Payment methods are too few
There are four most common payment methods on Alibaba: bank transfer, Alibaba Trade Assurance, card payments, and Paypal.
2. Long time spent in case of a dispute
Although Alibaba has its trade assurance, not all suppliers have it, and when a dispute occurs, it will take some time to resolve.
3. Long shipping time and customs clearance cost
As Alibaba dropshipping is usually done by Alibaba suppliers to help sellers ship to buyers, it takes a long time to ship from China. There are customs clearance costs when it reaches buyers’ local area.
4. More challenging to find dropshipping services
“Made in China” is considered low quality in some places. Thus, it is more challenging to find dropshipping services.
5. Difficult to build a brand
The general scope of customization is labeled, and the minimum order quantity requirement is not high, which is a challenge for entrepreneurs who want to build their own brands.
How to Do Alibaba Dropshipping Step by Step?
Suppose you want to do Alibaba dropshipping but don’t know how to get started, don’t worry. Here’s a step-by-step guide to safely sourcing products on Alibaba.
Step 1. Start searching for products and suppliers
Buying and using catalogs from Alibaba is fairly simple and similar to other marketplaces like eBay.
First, go to Alibaba, search for the products you want to sell, and then use the sidebar on the left to target the right suppliers.
Here are two common ways to search:
- Search for a product based on its description, for example, “men’s leather shoes”, which will bring you thousands of results.
- From the drop-down menu, you can search for manufacturers specializing in “men’s leather shoes” items by selecting a supplier instead of a product.
Step 2. Check Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ)
MOQ means the minimum order quantity, which is the smallest order the manufacturer is willing to accept. However, this minimum order quantity is often negotiable.
Once you have searched and found the product you are interested in, read its details and the packaging and delivery information. Pay attention to the minimum order quantity (MOQ) for each product.
You may learn more on our blog for MOQ for details below:
The meaning of MOQ. The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need
Step 3. Set up a list of potential suppliers
For some reason, most of the Alibaba suppliers you approach will not be successful.
For example, they may:
- Unable to meet your verification requirements
- Not enough stock or capacity to take on more work
- Offer unacceptable payment terms and refuse to negotiate
So, it is better to create a list of potential suppliers. With it, you will find at least one supplier who meets your requirements and is willing to work with you on Alibaba dropshipping.
The right supplier should:
- Sell the products you want
- Have a minimum order quantity of 1 piece
- Offer a reasonable price
- Be verified and offer a trade assurance
- Have good reviews
Tips: Build a list with 5 to 10 suppliers. If you have enough time, you can go up to 20+.
Step 4. Contact suppliers
The easiest way to contact suppliers on Alibaba is to use the platform’s messaging service. However, some suppliers prefer that you call, email, or use WeChat – the largest messaging app in China.
The main purpose of the contact is to find out if the supplier has products in stock and if they are willing to do dropshipping in the countries where you plan to sell.
Many sellers are based in China, and English is not their first language. Many will use Google Translate to translate your information from English to Chinese.
To ensure communication is as straightforward as possible, keep your message clear, concise, well-formatted, and without spelling errors, which will help the manufacturer and ultimately provide you with a more helpful response.
Step 5. Negotiate the price
In Alibaba, you can negotiate prices with your suppliers. By this point, you should have several potential suppliers that you have reviewed and are seriously considering.
Compare the prices listed by other suppliers for similar products, which will give you an idea of the best price for the product you are buying.
In addition, when negotiating prices on Alibaba, you should consider the profit margin you expect.
If the seller agrees to lower the price, make sure that the price reduction is enough to get your target profit margin for your dropshipping business.
Step 6. Request for samples
After identifying a supplier for your Alibaba dropshipping business, consider asking them for a product sample.
This step will allow you to test the quality and verify that the actual product on Alibaba matches its description.
Some details to evaluate include:
- Quality of materials
- Quality of production (e.g., sewing, finishing)
- Packaging (e.g., fragile items have adequate padding, professional packaging)
- Whether the product functions as expected
Some Alibaba suppliers offer free samples based on the promise that you will place a bulk order.
Other suppliers charge a fee because of the work required to prepare and ship the samples. Again, this is something you can negotiate.
Step 7. Agree on a payment method
There are four most common payment methods on Alibaba: bank transfer, Alibaba Trade Assurance, credit and debit card payments, and Paypal.
1. Bank Transfer
Transfers to Chinese suppliers are usually made using wire transfers, also known as T/T payments.
Suppliers generally expect to receive full payment before production begins with this payment method. It is a slow and cumbersome payment method, so it is not well suited for dropshipping.
2. Alibaba Trade Assurance (ESCROW)
Alibaba Trade Assurance is a form of hosting. A third party holds your money until the supplier completes your order.
They pay the supplier only after confirming that the product has been delivered and is in good condition. So, it is a very safe way to transfer money.
However, it is as slow and cumbersome as a bank transfer. Even secure, it is not suitable for dropshipping.
3. Credit and Debit Card Payments
Alibaba facilitates payment by all major credit and debit cards, including MasterCard, Visa, and American Express.
However, the disadvantage of paying by card is that you will pay a fairly high transaction fee compared to other options.
Paypal is probably the most common online payment method for Alibaba dropshipping. It is easy for buyers to use and offers relatively good buyer protection.
However, not all Alibaba suppliers will accept it because of the fees charged – which are usually the seller’s responsibility.
Step 8. Place an order and connect your store
If there are no problems with the samples or the test order goes well, you can connect your store to Alibaba and start selling the product immediately.
You can also use Alibaba Dropshipping Center to automate tasks such as submitting orders and payments.
Automate the Dropshipping process by linking your Alibaba account to one of Alibaba dropshipping partners, such as Modalyst, Dropified, and Spocket.
These partners help customize data and post product information to your store.
How to Find Reliable Alibaba Dropshipping Suppliers?
If you are looking for reliable dropshipping suppliers, you first want to visit Alibaba’s website.
In Alibaba, you can switch the search bar to find products or suppliers. Enter the product you need when the search bar is set to suppliers.
In the search results, multiple suppliers will be listed, and you will be able to see:
- Supplier’s main products
- Supplier’s country/region
- Supplier’s total revenue
- Top 3 markets where the supplier sells its products
- Number of transactions in the last six months
- Transaction value in the last six months
- Supplier’s response rate and positive reviews
Tips: It is best to look for high response rates and transaction volume suppliers.
In addition to the above mentioned, there are 4 points to note:
1. Trade Assurance
When you see a trade assurance badge on a supplier’s listing, it is an assurance that it will protect you if the supplier does not deliver on time or if the product does not meet the required quality.
2. Verified suppliers
Although you can choose to work with any Alibaba supplier (including unverified suppliers), it is safer for you to select a verified supplier.
A verified icon means that the supplier has been screened and certified by Alibaba. In addition, by ordering from a verified business, you can get a free supplier check report from Alibaba.
3. Gold Supplier
Alibaba offers sellers the option to pay to become a Global Gold Supplier. These suppliers pay a fee and undergo an independent on-site verification.
While buying from a Gold Supplier does not guarantee the product’s quality, it reduces your risk of being ripped off by scammers.
4. Suppliers with good reviews
A good way to find a reliable supplier is to look at their Alibaba reviews, revealing helpful information on the supplier’s profile page.
There are three standards for reviewing suppliers: supplier service, on-time shipping, and product quality. As you can see from the above, a rating of about four stars is acceptable.
You may learn more on our blog for Alibaba Reviews for details below:
Alibaba Reviews (2023 Updated): All You Must Know Before You Buy
If you think there is something wrong with a supplier, don’t hesitate to ignore it. Leave and find another legitimate supplier who can help you with Alibaba dropshipping.
How to Find Right Alibaba Dropshipping Products?
The success or failure of the dropshipping business depends on choosing the right products to sell.
First, product research is necessary to find items that are in high demand and can generate high sales.
Secondly, you also need to choose dropshipping products that can be sold at a healthy price and that do not have much competition.
Here are 7 factors to consider when picking the best dropshipping products:
1. Popular products
Popular products tend to be impulse purchases and are usually very inexpensive.
Most shoppers can afford to spend $30-$40 without considering whether the item represents good value or whether they need it.
2. Good-selling products
A. Brightly colored, eye-catching, and fun items. For example, pocket money toys.
B. Useful items that solve everyday issues for consumers. For example, a neck phone holder provides an option for holding the phone to the ear for long periods.
3. Hobby-based products
Some people don’t care about money, and they want a great product to satisfy their hobby. For example, many amateur golfers own golf clubs that cost more than their cars.
4. Seasonal Products
Products may also be seasonal. For example, you will sell more umbrellas during the rainy season, but very few in the height of winter.
5. Unique products
Unique products are not easily available in local stores. People often use the Internet to search for items they can’t find locally. It is highly sought-after if something is hard to buy in an actual store.
6. Repeat Product Purchases
If you regularly sell repeat purchase products, you can grow a loyal customer base that comes back more often.
Because repeat buyers are more easily convinced, you can advertise new products and see if they buy.
7. Small size products
Unlike more large items, smaller items are easier to ship to your customers at a low price because free shipping is not subject to a price cap.
Therefore, when choosing products to sell, try to pick products that are light in weight and small in size.
Tips from Alibaba Dropshipping
In Alibaba, there are many high-quality suppliers, but some bad ones are also. It can be a daunting task for any small businessman to dropshipping from China easily.
Here are 5 Alibaba dropshipping tips to help you review suppliers before placing an order:
Tip 1. Before buying in bulk, buy a sample from the supplier and check their price and shipping. Also, check the condition of the package when it arrives.
Tip 2. Look for suppliers that have good reviews.
Tip 3. Find an excellent dropshipping plugin that helps you automate the process. It makes your job faster and better.
Tip 4. Always look for better prices from different suppliers and choose the one with the lowest price and best reviews.
Tip 5. Pay close attention to other shippers and always try to improve your business practices.
Alibaba Dropshipping FAQ
1. Is Alibaba safe?
Yes, Alibaba is a safe marketplace to source products and connect with manufacturers. But like all marketplaces, there are good sellers, and there are bad sellers.
You can use Alibaba Trade Assurance as an additional security measure. This escrow service protects payments until the buyer confirms satisfactory delivery.
2. Can anyone order through Alibaba?
Yes, anyone can order through Alibaba, whether an individual or a company. Alibaba allows you to order bulk products from manufacturers in China.
3. Does Alibaba do dropshipping?
Yes, you can use Alibaba dropshipping to purchase products. However, the process is a little more complicated than using AilExpress.
Most of the suppliers on Alibaba are manufacturers who want to sell large quantities of products to wholesalers and retailers.
4. How do I start a dropshipping business?
You can try Alibaba’s dropshipping suppliers. They offer direct export for your customers, making the whole process easy.
You just need to open an e-commerce store and leave the rest to Alibaba dropshipping suppliers.
5. Why is it so expensive to ship from Alibaba?
Shipping from Alibaba is expensive because the US is very far from China.
Since each supplier has its own shipping costs and delivery times, you can reduce the cost by negotiating with suppliers. Please note that fees may vary depending on the Alibaba shipping time you choose.
Learn more about Alibaba shipping costs by reading our article:
Complete Guide: 10 Ways to Save Alibaba Shipping Costs
6. What are the features of the best Alibaba dropshipping suppliers?
The main features of the best Alibaba dropshipping suppliers are:
- They must have a verification badge
- Must allow trade assurance orders
- Make sure it’s a gold supplier
Alibaba Dropshipping Conclusion
As you can see, Alibaba dropshipping is doable but may not be for everyone. If you are new to the eCommerce business, it is best to start with Alibaba dropshipping until you have a proven top-selling product.
Sourcing products from Alibaba for your dropshipping business can be challenging and time-consuming.
However, once you reach a certain level of stability and want to scale up and order in bulk, Alibaba dropshipping is a good choice!
I am Yan, the founder of Yansourcing, the best sourcing agent in China, who can quickly and safely help you buy and import from China. If you have any questions about importing from China, don’t hesitate to contact us.