Updated by Neil
The majority of importers prefer to find their suppliers through online marketplace searches. This chapter describes in detail the three most frequently accessed marketplaces for Asian products. The Alibaba.com website is the largest online marketplace for suppliers closely followed by Global Sources and 1688.com. This chapter also contains the first two steps of the supplier process: Searchfor suppliers on Alibaba and Request Quotes.
Search for Suppliers on Alibaba
Alibaba is the guide book for new importers and the common working grounds for the experienced, long-term ones. At Alibaba, you can find it all, millions of products, suppliers who are trustworthy and proficient. These suppliers will manufacture the products at a quality, time, and price best suited for you. Here is how you achieve the most out of this website:
- Enter search keywords you find to be relevant. It will help if you start by typing in your customers’ features often describe which your product should possess. English is not the Chinese suppliers’ first language, so you should be creative in finding out the most suitable keywords.
- Filter through the search results. You should skip the first results that appear on the screen as they are mainly paid advertisements. You should select the “gold suppliers” icon if too many results pop-up.
- Examine the data provided visually. It would be best to look at all the images provided by the manufacturers in the search results. This will help you visualize what you want in a product.
- Employ the “common thread” test. The common thread shows the specifications of the products that a supplier is selling. You can identify whether the supplier is a manufacturer or a trading company by looking at the common threads. For instance, if a company sells products in a particular material like stainless steel, that usually indicates that they are a factory. But if a supplier is selling almost everything regardless of product categories, they are probably a trading company.
Search for Suppliers on IndiaMart
- The website works similar to Alibaba. Enter keywords that are relevant to your search. It is pretty accessible since the language is English.
- Use filters while searching and make it more precise according to your needs.
- Do a thorough check while deciding to buy the items. Look at the product and examine the data provided.
- Use Best price option and enter your mobile number to receive even better prices on a deal.
- You can toggle the search between product and supplier while searching.
Search on tradeKorea
- This website is also very accessible to English speakers.
- You can search for products on this website using relevant keywords for the product or an HS Code.
- You can toggle between products, companies and buying offers when searching on the site.
- Be thorough and look at the product visually and examine the data to understand what you want to buy.
Search on FOBSupplier
- Use the search bar to find your product.
- As there seem to be no filters that can be used, make sure to use relevant keywords of the product.
- If there are no visuals provided, contact the seller for photos before buying.
- Be thorough while checking the products.
Search on Indotrading
- Before searching, change the language on the homepage from Indonesian to English.
You can search on the bar for the needed product. Make sure to put in relevant keywords.
- As the search results will yield, Indonesian results are extra careful while searching.
- Look at the products thoroughly and visualize them to see if they fit your need before buying.
- You can Request quote your prices on the website hence take advantage of the opportunity.
Global Sources and 1688.com
Global Sources is the second largest online supplier marketplace for Asian products after Alibaba.com. Many suppliers and importers prefer this website. They have a lesser number of suppliers, but the quality, company reputation and overall service are thought to be better than Alibaba.com.
1688.com is another larger supplier marketplace. According to a Chinese saying, 1688 means to “make big money”.
All Chinese e-commerce sellers know about this marketplace. It is mainly a domestic supplier marketplace as the entire website is in Chinese. You may find it difficult to find suppliers there, and if you do the quality may be lower than what you are used to. The majority of suppliers there may not even have an export license. They could not legally ship products to the United States. You can use a trading company as an intermediary to avoid this issue.
A request for quotation(RFQ) is the same as a Call for Bid(CFB), requesting the product’s price. It is a business process in which an individual or company asks for a quotation from a supplier of the work that they are looking to purchase. A typical RFQ does not only inquire about the price of the product but also other relevant information.
Create a Request for Quotation(RFQ) Letter
Construct the most acceptable letter. Make sure you structure the message correctly. Here are some guided steps to help you achieve your goal:
- Introduce your company: Put a little “about us” section at the beginning of the letter so that your work looks professional and trustworthy.
- Include details about the product you want to buy. Their sizes, quality, materials used, specifications, images, and any customization that you want to do.
- Provide the quantity estimates that you want to order. This would attract and engage the potential buyer. It would show that you have a purchasing plan. It would help if you offered an attractive annual purchase volume for the supplier. The first order that you make should at least be 500 to 600 units of the product. Otherwise, they would skip past your request, thinking you are not serious about it.
- Ask for the price quotation for the product.
Follow-up on responses: Use a spreadsheet to watch who is responding when. The speed of their responses tells you about their interest in dealing with your company.
- Alibaba and Global Sources online marketplaces are both great options for sourcing products and suppliers.
- You should follow the steps provided in this chapter and use Alibaba to pick out quality suppliers for your product.
- It would help if you were specific and engaging when you request quotations so that your company looks more professional. Hence, improving the response rate and increasing your supplier pool.