I have put a lot of time and effort into this blog, and over the last ten years, I have constantly reminded everyone that Alibaba is NOT the place to go if you’re looking for branded goods. I have explained in detail how Alibaba scams work and what the top ten most popular scams are, and my number one rule always comes down to:
Stay away from branded goods! If you do, the chances of you getting scammed on Alibaba is reduced by 99%!
Scammers like to “work” with branded goods because there is a high demand for them from uneducated people! These people continuously fall for crazy deals like “buy three PS4 consoles and get three free!” and other similar nonsense. That’s why scammers mostly stick with branded goods—it’s the easiest and most lucrative niche for them to be in!
Now, when I talk about branded goods and Alibaba, I’m always talking specifically about Western brands, such as:
- And similar
By now, it should be 100% clear that you can’t buy these goods wholesale on Alibaba.com. Yes, there are a few legitimate Hong Kong-based electronics distributors, but for the most part, these products are high-risk items that you should not source from Alibaba.
But what about Chinese brands? Can you source Chinese branded goods on Alibaba and get genuine items? Let’s find out!
It’s 2020! The times when Chinese manufacturers only produced goods for companies in the US, Europe and other parts of the world are long gone. Today, Chinese manufacturers have taken matters into their own hands and are producing many popular, high-quality products that are sought-after brands outside of China.
Take Huawei, for example. They’re now the second-most popular smartphone manufacturer in the world, falling just below the tech giant Samsung. If it wasn’t for the whole Huawei ban in the US, they would probably be in first place by now.
Another example is DJI. They basically built the entire drone industry from the ground up, turning a gimmicky gadget into an everyday item that most people are now familiar with. DJI is now the leading drone manufacturer in the world, and no one questions the product quality just because it’s a Chinese brand. In fact, I think most people don’t even realise that it’s a Chinese brand.
There are many more such success stories in various industries and many of them are not that popular amongst the general public because they operate in niche markets. For example, the whole vaping industry was also built by China-based companies like Smoktech, ELeaf, Aspire, Innokin, Kangertech and others. They actually DOMINATE the whole vaping industry as clear market leaders and innovators.
So, there is no doubt that Chinese companies can create amazing, high-quality products and even market them to the world under their own brand names. The question is: can you buy these items in bulk from Alibaba.com?
Yes, you can! You just have to be extremely careful.
The first thing you need to understand is that many such Chinese brands are so popular right now (as we’ve mentioned, Huawei, for example) that Chinese factories are making copies of them—just like they do with Nike shoes or Apple products! Yes, Chinese manufacturers are copying other Chinese brands, as funny as it sounds!
This means that you have to be very careful when approaching suppliers on Alibaba to ensure that you do not fall for any scams or receive fake/counterfeit goods.
Ideally, if you can, find the Chinese company’s direct Alibaba profile. You won’t be able to do that for large corporations like Huawei or DJI, but many smaller brands will have their own Alibaba profiles. If we take a look at the vaping industry, most of the popular Chinese brands (like Kangertech, Smoktech and others) have Alibaba profiles. So, you can easily find and contact them, knowing that you’re buying directly from the factory.
If that’s not possible, the first thing I would do is check out the website of the brand you’re interested in to look for any information regarding distributors/wholesalers.
If there’s no such information available, send them an email and ask about their authorised distributors/resellers in China. Often, though, these companies will have official distributors in Europe, the US and other countries, so they will simply ask you to contact your local distributor. In most cases, this means that you won’t get good enough prices, but it’s always worth getting in touch to ask.
If that doesn’t work out, you can try searching for the product on Alibaba and simply look for the most genuine/established company you can find for that product. By that, I mean a company that is a Gold supplier, has been a Gold supplier for at least three+ years (the longer, the better), accepts Trade Assurance, has reviews on their profile, and has a decent transaction volume.
Once you find a company or several companies like this, contact them and ask them directly whether they sell genuine items or copies. Also ask them if they are official distributors and if they can provide any evidence to support that (a letter, certificate or something else).
Then, using all of that information and some common sense, decide whether or not it is worth taking the risk. I would always start with a sample order to check that the goods you receive are genuine.
Many Chinese companies use some sort of verification system, like QR codes, to verify that product is genuine. But these can be tricked, too. Ideally, if you can, try to buy the same item locally from a reputable source. This way, you can compare the items side by side and look for any differences that may reveal it as a copy.
This procedure will obviously depend on the item in question. Sometimes, you can easily spot a copy by just looking at it, while with more complex products, like electronics, you have to really know the product inside and out to verify that it is genuine.
If the sample order is ok and the supplier ticks all the boxes, you can proceed with a real order. But keep in mind that this doesn’t guarantee that the real order will be the same!
Sometimes scammers send out a genuine sample and then, when it comes to the real order, they send you fakes. For this reason, when ordering such high-risk items, always use Trade Assurance and fund it with your credit card. Never use a wire transfer or other payment methods that offer no protection whatsoever.
If you place a Trade Assurance order and you receive fakes, you will be able to get your money back by carrying out an inspection and showing that you have received counterfeit goods.
There’s even more you can do! When you place your first real/large order, arrange a pre-shipment inspection. This way, by paying just $118, you can have a real person go to the supplier, inspect the goods, and verify that they’re genuine. Just make sure that you provide the inspector with enough information to properly check and approve the goods.
There’s no question that dealing with branded goods, even if it’s a Chinese brand, carries a higher risk compared to unbranded goods. So, you have to understand that things can get messy and you must be prepared for that. That is simply the risk you are choosing to take.
With unbranded goods, it’s so much easier as you are always dealing directly with factories. Plus, scammers are not interested in that stuff anyway. You will still need to worry about the quality of your goods and things like that, but in 99% of cases, factories aren’t trying to scam you by stealing money or sending something you haven’t ordered.
The same information I have covered so far can be applied to other Asian countries, like South Korea, for example. Korea is famous for its beauty products, and there are many very popular Korean skincare brands that are sought-after worldwide.
Be extremely careful with products like these as there are TONS of fakes on the market, including on Alibaba!
Usually, a super-low price is a clear indicator that the items are fake, so be extra careful with cosmetics/skincare products.
Another tip: Sometimes, you don’t even have to deal with wholesalers on Alibaba. You can source genuine, Chinese branded goods for attractive prices and low MOQs on AliExpress!
Again, many such brands will have an official store on AliExpress, and if you find one, the chances of you getting fakes are very low. Just read through all of their reviews and look for any signs that it’s a fake store. You only want to deal with an official, brand-owned AliExpress store.
And that’s about it! I have given you a few examples here, but the same principles can be applied to sourcing less known Chinese branded goods on Alibaba. With smaller brands, it’s usually easier as they will often have their own Alibaba profile, so you can order directly.
If you have any further questions, leave them in the comments section below the post. I will personally reply to all of them within 24 hours, Monday to Friday.