Alibaba is one of the world’s largest B2B marketplace which is making millions in revenue on a daily basis. It is very popular since it is the main portal which connects Chinese suppliers to the rest of the world. It does not cater single purchases but is mainly home for businesses looking for suppliers and factories that can provide mostly white label products in larger quantities. Ordering from Alibaba has become a go-to move for many small businesses who are looking for quality products at cheaper rates.
On the other hand, not all Alibaba transactions go smoothly as we have also heard of fraudulent cases, scams and acquisition of Alibaba fake products which some customers have experienced. Apparently, these cases are close to inevitable with B2B marketplaces and considering Alibaba’s size and reach, the number of scam cases are quite substantial. While straight up scams are relatively rare (where you don’t get any goods), Alibaba quality problems are very common and you can learn a lot from Jack Ma’s attitude, the founder of Alibaba, by reading this article. In this wiki article, we will share some tips on how to ensure the quality of goods when ordering from Alibaba.
Ordering from Alibaba: Quality Assurance
Quality problems when buying from Alibaba is always a major concern regardless if you are ordering a few pieces or by bulk. You always want to make sure you are getting what you paid for and in the same state as advertised on the site. Ensuring product quality when ordering from Alibaba is actually possible for most products but can be an impossible task for a few ones. The quantity is also a huge factor since it would be nonsense to check each product considering you order 5,000 boxes of a certain product wherein each box contains 40 pieces; that would be a total of 20,000 units. Factories often see orders for simple products at relatively value as a one-time interaction with a client and don’t bother too much to check.
The first and most basic tip to ensure product quality is by physically checking the quality of a product yourself. Normally you will only be able to check a sample sent to you in advance. However, that sample isn’t necessarily representative. The only way to make sure if all product is up to your standards and is manufactured the same way as how the final sample was presented is to see each product for yourself. Then again, this is only possible with Alibaba small orders, you would have to travel and it’s not applicable for significant productions. Large quantity orders would take a lot of time for a physical check.
The second tip is to hire a quality control company to monitor the manufacturing and implement a quality assurance program for you. There are a lot of QA companies out there who can do the task for you in exchange of a small fee while you simply sit back and relax at home. Simply make sure your manufacturer and the QA company you have hired are not associated with each other so they can work independently without being biased of their tasks.
Quality assurance companies are equipped with highly-trained and experienced personnel who are experts when it comes to quality control. They have the right tools and knowledge to get the job done and make sure the quality control program goes according to plan and Alibaba quality problems don’t occur.
The third tip is to enforce the quality assurance process directly on your manufacturer. Manufacturing companies have built-in quality control procedures and even though these procedures may not be similar to your quality assurance practices, the objective is one and the same. Some say this option is not reliable given manufacturers can easily lie about the state or quality of products once they come out of the production line. When you are working for longer with a given manufacturer, make sure to implement such a system with concrete instructions.
However, ordering on Alibaba has some general disadvantages. While you have some degree of protection (that only works as long as the company doesn’t disappear, change it’s name, or presents faked evidence), you are paying for that through higher prices on the platforms. Furthermore, suppliers there know that many of their customers are rather inexperienced. It’s hence much better to establish direct contact with a factory that you are vetting through your own visit or a third party company. It’s probably also a good idea to get help from a sourcing services company, because they can usually get you better prices (there are a lot of middlemen and trading companies on Alibaba). They have access to local directories and often collaborate with some private label manufacturers directly.
Ordering on Alibaba has Downsides
When ordering from Alibaba involving large quantities, you cannot expect the exchange to happen much like in an over-the-counter setting like on Amazon. The supplier or manufacturer will definitely provide terms and conditions of their services. As a keen customer, you need to understand these terms and conditions before committing to an agreement with the supplier/manufacturer you are ordering from. In case there are Alibaba problems which may arise, you have a legal case to stand for and file against your supplier or manufacturer. The common problems are unlikely to go away any time soon.
Ensuring the quality of goods when buying from Alibaba should be a protocol for any business regardless of its size. The complex nature of a B2B marketplace calls for such standard since trust cannot easily be given and there is a great amount of money involved in the transactions. Fortunately, quality assurance will later be solidified once you are able to build a harmonious and long-term relationship with your supplier or manufacturer to avoid Alibaba quality problems.