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How to DEAL with Alibaba suppliers?

June 3, 2015 by Andrew Minalto - 82 Comments
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contact-chinese-suppliersSo you have researched countless niches, searched through months of eBay data on Terapeak and filtered down your choices to a few potential products… and it’s now time to head to Alibaba and find some suppliers!

BUT, maybe you’re a new business, just starting out on eBay, and this is your first time importing?

You don’t have any experience dealing with wholesalers in the UK, never mind factories and suppliers in China… Plus this is your first order as a sole trader, so will suppliers even speak to you!? Do you meet their MOQs?

If any of these worries sound familiar to you, then you are not alone! I receive many emails every week from entrepreneurs just like this, who have done most of the hard work, but get stuck when it’s time to actually contact suppliers and put their order together!

And that’s what today’s article is all about.

I want to help you, by giving some tips on how to contact suppliers on Alibaba and how to properly present you and your business. More than that, I’ll also give you some templates that you can adapt and use yourself, to make this process as easy as possible.

But let me first start off by saying that really, there is nothing to be scared of. Suppliers in China are, generally speaking, much easier to deal with than wholesalers and distributors in the UK. As long as you are respectful, sound fairly serious (you don’t want to come across as a complete newbie/amateur!), and meet their requirements – then you have nothing to worry about.

It’s not like with some branded items here, where distributors will only deal with bricks and mortar sellers, who have been in business for decades – not at all! Chinese suppliers are generally very fair and keen for your business, as long as you present yourself well.

So without further ado, let’s get to it!

Initial Contact

The first stage when contacting new suppliers on Alibaba is of course the initial contact/message. I personally usually prefer to use Alibaba’s live chat for this, simply because it’s easier to speak to many suppliers quickly and you don’t have to wait for a reply.

When using Live Chat on Alibaba, try doing it early in the mornings (6AM-8AM, GMT) while it’s still business hours in China. This increases your chances of seeing most sales reps online. Of course, many companies on Alibaba have live support working 24/7, to cover Worldwide time zones but I have found that in early mornings there are higher chances of getting someone to talk to you.

Some of my students prefer to simply send an email to multiple suppliers, as that way you will receive replies back to your email and though it takes a bit longer, it is easier to keep track of everything.

Either way, that just depends on your personal preference, and the message you use will be very similar regardless of how you’re contacting them.

From my years of dealing with suppliers in China, I have found that this is a perfect starting template:


My name is Andrew Minalto and I am searching for a reliable supplier of [product XYZ]. I came across your company in my research and wanted to get some further information regarding your [minimum order quantities, FOB pricing, and also the possibility of OEM packaging].

So could you please get back to me as soon as possible with the above information? My email is xyz@gmail.com

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you and hopefully placing an order with your company.

Kind regards,
Andrew Minalto
(London, UK)

And that’s it!

Simple, polite, and to the point – which is all you need.

Of course depending on what you’re looking for and if you have any specific requests, you can alter the email slightly; the key is to ensure you ask for all the initial info that you need in order to evaluate a supplier. This will not only save you time, but it is also makes you seem more professional and like a serious buyer, which is helpful later on.

Here is a real life example of this “template” in use:

first-contactAnd here is the email reply that was received back in less than 12 hours:

supplier-replySo, as you can see, from one email we were able to get a full product and price list (which included information on MOQs) as well as details about OEM packaging. No need to go backwards and forwards for days or weeks on end, if you are clear and concise in your opening email, you can get all the information you need in less than a day!

And really that is the no.1 goal of the opening contact. You want to get all the important information that you need in order to decide how to proceed. Of course you have to tailor this slightly based on your individual requirements, but I’m talking about info like:

  • Pricing
  • MOQ
  • Sample Availability and Pricing
  • Payment & Shipping Methods
  • OEM Options
  • Manufacturing Lead Time (especially important if it’s a custom product)
  • Etc.!

Just use the opening contact template, and then proceed from there, and you’ll find it’s incredibly easy to get all this info!

Here’s a further example from an eCommerce Magnates customer who recently contacted me to ask for help approaching suppliers on Alibaba, after he’d had some trouble with UK and European distributors being uninterested in dealing with him:

(click on images to see in full size)


next one:

small-live-chatAs you can see, in just 10 minutes using Alibaba’s live chat service, he had received quotes and sample information – with no problems at all. And he actually spoke to 4-5 suppliers in one go!

I hope this illustrates that really there is nothing to worry about at this point, and rather than this being a week or even month long process that some people drag it out to, it can be done within an hour or so!

So what next?

Well generally once you’ve found a supplier who passes all of your filters (check out this guide if you need some help with actually finding the right suppliers: http://andrewminalto.com/alibaba-scam-exposed/) and you’ve contacted them, and their pricing and everything else seems good, it’s time to get some samples!

Again, don’t be put off by this as all good suppliers are happy to provide samples (if they’re not, then you should take that as a sign to keep searching).

At this point, I will usually follow up with an email along these lines:

“Dear Ms Yip,

Thank you for your email.

I have gone over the information you sent, including the price list, and we are happy to go ahead with an order from you.

However, we of course would like to get some samples first to test the quality before moving on to our real order, so can we please arrange to have samples for products X, Y and Z?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

This is a very straightforward email and basically all you are doing at this point is reminding them that you are a serious buyer and are not just looking to get free samples/by-pass their MOQ – that’s why I mention the future, “real” order.

Usually you will receive a reply confirming the cost for those samples and details on how to make payment.

*Note – sometimes the samples will be free (you just pay for shipping) but sometimes they won’t be. There is no one set rule for this and it really depends on the factory and the value of the products etc.

All of this is very straightforward and simple (no real supplier will refuse to supply samples before you place a real order).

Now after you’ve got samples and tested them, you’re pretty much ready to move forward with arranging a factory inspection and getting ready to place a big order.

However, as I always stress to my 60 Day Blueprint customers, it is a lot safer to slowly increase your order amounts, until you are completely satisfied and sure of the reliability of your new supplier.

But how do you do this if your ‘safer order’ amount is below their MOQ!?

Well, one thing that I’ve learnt in my many years of importing is that the MOQ is negotiable! Yes that’s right, most suppliers are more than happy to lower their MOQ by as much as 50%, especially if they feel there’s a possibility of further orders from you in the future.

And that’s where our last email template comes into play – how to get any MOQ that you want!

“Dear Ms Yip,

We have received and tested the samples you sent and I am happy to say that the quality of the products was up to the standard we need to be able to use you as a supplier.

We are now ready to place an order of higher quantity, however to meet our quality control and rules for purchasing from new suppliers, we would like to order 200 pcs, rather than our usual amount of 500.

That way, we can test everything at a higher scale and also get feedback from our retail customers.

Once this order is complete and as long as everything goes well, we can then use your factory as our primary supplier for all future orders.

Please get back to me as soon as possible so we can arrange the order details.

Kind regards,

And believe me when I tell you that many times more often than not they will be 100% happy to sell to you at a lower MOQ.

As in essence you’ve ‘flipped the script’ and instead of you trying to prove yourself to them, they are trying to show you that they’re a reliable supplier.

Also, the fact that you have had some previous contact with the company (getting samples, arranging a factory inspection etc.) really does help in this regard as well, as they view you as a serious buyer who has conducted him/herself professionally up to now.

To save money on international payment fees when paying your Chinese suppliers, you should consider companies that specialise in overseas money transfers as you can get better exchange rates compared to typical providers like banks or PayPal. With companies like TransferWise,​ your money is always converted at the mid-market exchange rate, making them u​p to eight times cheaper than banks​ when paying international invoices.

Setting up the payment is simple as well. You sign up for a free account, set up your transfer by entering your supplier’s bank account information and state what currency you’d like to pay them in and then fund your transfer. Options include bank transfer and debit/ credit card.
Whilst they may not offer payment protection like PayPal, they’re FCA regulated and so are kept to the same stringent regulation as a bank and keep your money secure. For more details and an overview of my experience with them, check out my review here.

And that’s pretty much it!

I receive a lot of messages asking specifically about the wording of emails when contacting suppliers from Alibaba and I hope that today’s article and the templates will help you with this! If you need help with other aspects or importing from China, then please take a look at some of my other guides, such as:

And as always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below and I’ll answer your personally.

Otherwise, until next time!

All the best,

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  1. Thanksa lot Dear, really worthy

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Sebastian! 🙂

  2. Hello Andrew,

    Thank you so much for the clear information in all your articules. This is very useful.

    Once you find a provider and this does not accept Trade Insurance on Alibaba, is this a sign to be scammed? I have a provider which has 11 years as a Golden Member but they only accept T/T. How can I make a deal or contract with this provider if the order will be out of Alibaba system? In case the provider do not reach the quality parameters or the delivery date, how can I claim my money back?

    Thank you so much!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Antonio,

      Thanks for your comment.

      No, if the supplier doesn’t accept Trade Assurance, it doesn’t automatically mean they’re scammers. BUT, of course, that increase the risk significantly. Especially if they only accept wire transfer for payments.

      How can you stay safe with such a supplier? You can’t. You will have to accept potential risks if you place an order with them and wire transfers are not reversible.


  3. What to do if an alibaba vendor contacted me first? Does that mean that it is a scam?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      It could be a scam or not, hard to say…

      Where did they get your contact details from?

  4. Hi Andrew. My FBA account is all set up and I’m in talks with a supplier arranging for some samples to be delivered. I’m based in Birmingham UK, and they’re happy to ship via air freight, so I’m presuming once I’ve received the goods and I’m happy with them, I can put in a larger order. My question is, how do I link my order with my Amazon business to that my main order gets shipped to an FBA warehouse and not my home address ! Any other tips you could give me would also be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks a lot !

    – Callum

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Callum,

      Thanks for your comment.

      You can’t ship orders from China directly to Amazon. Amazon can’t act as an importer, so this won’t work.

      You either send goods first to your home and then forward to Amazon warehouse OR use a middle man – an Amazon prep company or freight forwarder who can do this for you.

      But direct shipment is not possible.


  5. Hi Andrew,

    Great article. I have one question for you. In relation to doing business in China, what is your input on intellectual property. For example if i sent my designs to a supplier in China, how can i safe guard my IP.


    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi James,

      You can’t safeguard it. I mean – World’s richest companies can’t even do it so don’t even waste time/money on that 🙂

      If they want, they will copy you.


  6. Hello Andrew,
    Thanks for the advices given on your website.
    If I want to have a company such as UPS/Fedex to take care of the delivery (from the factory to my door), which incoterm should I ask my supplier to quote for?

    At the moment I’ve asked to know the FOB prices, such as suggested per your website and my supplied answered: “I have a question, you requested FOB price, the quantity is very small, the FOB cost is much higher than the product value, can you explain more about the FOB price in your mind?”

    My product value is around 0,50$/pcs, and the size is really small (pen).

    Thank you for your help

    Thank you for your help.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Renee,

      Thanks for your comment.

      If the product is very small, you will most likely want to use courier delivery.

      So ask your supplier to get a courier shipping quote for you and go with that. Chinese suppliers will be able to get cheaper courier prices than you do so there’s no point in arranging that on your own.


  7. Hi Andrew,
    I’m now moving ahead with my first order from Alibaba, after I’ve followed all your advice… so I’m just wondering, if the MOQ is 500 and I’m a brand new seller, is that too much to start with? Will I be able to sell all 500? It feels kind of scary for me. 500’s a lot…

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Miri,

      Thanks for your comment.

      IF you have done a good job on the product, listing etc., AND there’s good demand for the product, 500 units is nothing for Amazon.

      Especially if you plan on using PPC aggressively in the beginning to launch the product – as long as you’re ready to invest money in those clicks, you will get sales.


  8. This is great, just what I was looking for.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Rachel! 🙂

  9. melissa monroe

    Hi Andrew,
    Could you read the email I received relating to a trade assurance order on alibaba & tell me if this is normal practice. The supplier received payment of $1684 then was unable to complete the order.

    First of all, I am very sorry for bring the trouble to you. About your trade assurance order 505760770017195,all of a sudden we found that there is no money under your seller’s account, so we need to apply the refund from Alibaba directly.

    Please kindly offer us the document as below:

    For registered companies:

    1) A color copy of your Certificate of Incorporation, Articles of Incorporation or Business License

    2) Take a picture when you stay in your company with the company’s business license/tax certificate held in hand.

    3) The frontal photo of the bank card you made the payment for this order or bank account transaction.

    For individuals or sole traders:

    1) A color photo of at least one of the following documents: Passport, National Identity Card, driver’s license.

    2) Take a photo when you hold the documents in hand.

    3) The frontal photo of the bank card you made the payment for this order or bank account transaction.

    Wait for your update information.

    Thanks for your understanding and cooperation.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      It does not sound normal at all.

      It actually sounds very dodgy and I wouldn’t do what they ask you to do.


  10. Hi Andrew,

    I placed an initial order with a supplier using Alibaba Trade Assurance.

    Now that I’ve made the initial payment, I’ve found the supplier less responsive and is reneging on certain terms of the mutually agreed purchase agreement.

    They’ve gone past the 30 days time frame for completion of the order and now because of Chinese NY they’re shut down for 2 weeks.

    Have you had a similar experience?
    Would you recommend going through Alibaba to dispute them exceeding the time frame. I’m starting to think these purchase agreements aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi AJ,

      And you’re right – they’re not worth anything, especially in China.

      I would still try to resolve the issue with supplier directly though if at all possible as TA often sides with seller anyways.

      It is in your best interest to work with supplier to complete your order.


  11. Hi Andrew,

    Thank you for the useful information in this article, as you know it is hard finding the right supplier and when you do you have to make sure everything is backed up just incase anything goes wrong on the suppliers end so you can get your money back, the question I want to ask you is do you have a pre payment contract template that you send them just incase anything goes wrong? And what payment do you prefer wire transfer or paypal when paying? Thank You

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Joey,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I have covered these questions in great detail in other posts. Please take a look at my blog archive here:


      Go to Product Sourcing & Importing section.


      1. faryal

        hi Andrew ,
        i just asked about sample and the cost was 35$ which means 4025 rupees in Pakistan that cost more thn a sample product is thr any other way for ask free sample delivery ?

      2. Andrew Minalto

        Please check this post where I cover product samples in more detail:



      3. Michael DeVore

        Hello Andrew,

        I received a confirmation of Trade Assurance dispute in my favor. They claim a refund in 7 business days. It has been 12 business days and live chat keeps telling me the same nonsense “trust us for a few more days”. I am wondering if this is a scam now and they will keep saying the same thing until I give up.

      4. Andrew Minalto

        Hi Michael,

        I don’t know, I have never had a dispute on Trade Assurance.

        So I guess you just need to keep contacting them and asking for updates on this.


  12. Ashley Mitchell

    Im starting my first online business and this article was truly helpful in so many ways thank you so much.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You’re welcome Ashley! 🙂

  13. Hey Andrew,

    I was wondering if it was bad etiquette to agree on a price for MOQ then not going through with the supplier after inspecting their sample.

    I’ve been talking to some suppliers and just wasn’t sure if it would make me look bad if I didn’t go through with them after not being satisfied with the sample they gave.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Jem,

      No, this is perfectly fine and happens all the time.

      This is the main idea behind getting samples – to see product’s quality. If it’s not good enough, you move onto next suppliers.


  14. Hi, if I am an individual who just wants to receive a sample from a supplier in alibaba. Do you think it is safe to provide my real address to them?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Daniel,

      Yes, of course – why not?

      Don’t really see any problems with that – everyone does that.


  15. Hi Andrew,
    I have been contacting suppliers on Alibaba using your template, and have had some of them email my gmail account successfully, but others have attempted to email the same account and the email has not been received. Is this a common issue with chinese emails not making it through?


    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Craig,

      You mean – their emails go direct to your spam/junk mail folder?

      Yes, that is quite common so you want to keep an eye on that spam box and un-filter legit emails.


  16. Hi Andrew,

    I have just joined Alibaba and I sent a message to a manufacturer just enquiring about a product. i then later on started getting whatsapp messages from two different people in China who manufacture the product. is this normal?

  17. Hi Andrew,

    Is it possible to order and build a relationship with a manufacturer just through email or is it best to speak to them over the phone, Thanks

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Robert,

      Yes, of course it is possible to deal just via email or IM like Skype.

      There’s actually not much point in calling them as everything can be discussed via email.


  18. Hi Andrew, I am just about to put in my first order on Alibaba. Importing goods from China to UK I am just not sure if I can ask the manufacturer to ship the order to Amazon FBA center in UK directly. I was wondering if thats the way to go ahead or there is another method?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      No, you can’t do that as Amazon CAN’T act as importer for you.

      Please check this post for more information:



  19. LaShonda Washington

    I need a step by step process on how to send my idea to a supplier like my own invention I have in mind I seen a similiar product on there website and I want the supplier to create build one that I am in need of….I’m not sure what buttons or links to click on

    1. Andrew Minalto

      You simply send a message to supplier via Alibaba or use the Live Chat system to discuss this directly with supplier.

  20. I got an email from a company saying they use WesternUnion or their company account. They are on Alibaba and under trade assurance. Does it seem like a scam? Below is their response to me.

    { ” Dear Griffin
    Tks for your inqruiy about our bookend.
    Please send us your company’s name ,websit and contact way for our file.
    We can supply samples for customer which pay samples fees and Express charges.
    Payment Terms: Western union or pay our factory bank account.
    Manufacture time: 45-60 days after received deposit.
    Our minimum order amout is USD4500.00
    Waiting for your reply.
    Yours sincerely
    Tony Zi ” }

    1. Andrew Minalto

      I’m sorry but I can’t tell you whatever it’s a scam or not based on such small information.

      What is the product in question?

      Many suppliers on Alibaba will take WU, especially for samples, but it doesn’t mean they’re scammers.

      Please take a look at these articles and learn more about Alibaba scams:



  21. Maggie Jones

    Hi Andrew,
    My question revolves around samples for the first time from a new supplier. How many should I order since the shipping cost are so high? What is the best way to ship? Also, what is the best way to pay, some suppliers only accept Paypal for the samples.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Maggie,

      If the shipping costs are high, order just 1 item. Sample usually means – 1 unit.

      PayPal is best for samples so use that.


      1. Maggie Jones

        The estimated shipping cost I am receiving is around $50, is there any way to lower that? What is the cheapest shipping method?

      2. Andrew Minalto

        $50 is already ok/cheap.

        You won’t find ways to send samples from China vie courier cheaper.


  22. If a supplier only wants me to pay through paypal and not Trade assurance do you think that is safe?

    Thank you for this article

    1. Andrew Minalto

      I can’t tell whatever it’s safe or not based on just this one thing BUT in general yes, PayPal is ok to use and very, very rarely scammers will use PayPal as you can basically always get money back through PayPal if something goes wrong.

  23. Andrew, thanks for the info and wish I’d seen your site a few days ago. We made our first deal on Alibaba. Yes he’s Gold, from Turkey. Very easy to text. Lots of communication. Ordered 2 Makita tool kits for $400. Shipped through Radiant Express Logistics. Paid Western Union using Visa. Then tracking showed they left Turkey. Arrived Mexico….but instead of 2 units it was 9. Then heard from guy, saying mistakingly sent 9. If we sent $300 now, could pay additizonal $400 after delivery and get all 9. Lots of texting. Sent $300 cash WU. Tracking showed left Mexico. Now guy says a custom fee is due of $35 per unit. I feel sick. Should I have any hope?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Donna,

      I’m sorry but you have been scammed 100%.

      You’ll never see that order. If you paid using VISA via WU, start a charge-back process with your card company.

      And take a look at this post covering most popular scams on Alibaba (your story is one of them):



  24. Hi Andrew,
    I found your post very helpful. I am new to importing. I have been working with a Alibaba supplier for a product I want to sell on Amazon. I am very confused as to have them ship the products to me and I personally inspect them to send it to FBA or Supplier to FBA. Amazon requires you to send shipment to their various warehouses. Any suggestion? How do I ensure that they abide by Amazon packing rules. Also, are the price per unit negotiable?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Charmi,

      Take a look at this post:



  25. Hi Andrew,

    Would it be advisable to enter to an agreement (i.e. Buyer-Seller agreement) with the Alibaba seller?

    I want to be assured that the transaction would be protected by law, but at the same time, do not want to over-complicate the process, as I am just starting a business.

    By the way, great article!


    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Izad,

      You can of course make such agreements but in reality – what you’ll do if supplier doesn’t follow it?

      I would rather advise to have transaction via Trade Assurance and there have all the terms laid out. Then if something goes wrong, you at least have Alibaba to look into it.


  26. Hi Andrew,

    Firstly, thank you for all of your fantastic advise.
    I was just wondering in order to make a fair comparison how many suppliers you suggest should be contacted when sourcing a new product . I realise this can vary sometimes but as a general rule of thumb so to speak?

    Thanks again.,

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Depends on the product of course but at least 10-20.

      The more, the better!


  27. Hi Andrew,

    Great information!
    I have noticed some suppliers will email me instead of responding to my messages in Alibaba website, why do they do this?

    Is it recommended to go through with the order outside of Alibaba? They have been gold member 4 years, verified supplier, on site checks and provide address and contact details.


    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Lauren,

      Many suppliers use email for communication – it’s just simpler/easier form of communication than Alibaba’s message system.

      You can still ask them to organise order via Alibaba though if you don’t feel confident enough about them.

      But I also do orders outside Alibaba with my regular suppliers. So both options can be ok, if you know that supplier is genuine and trustworthy.


  28. Hi Andrew, thanks for this excellent blog and information.

    I have a question about advertised prices, this seems to be very misleading as f.o.b price ranges advertised are nowhere near what the manufacturers catalogue prices are. For example, I will see an item listed for fob 1-2usd then when I contact the supplier, the quoted price is much higher. Do you have nay experience/thoughts with this, can the prices be negotiated? At the moment the prices advertised are of no use to me!



    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Sam,

      Yes, the advertised prices are wrong in 99% cases. I personally ignore advertised prices completely.

      I get in touch with each supplier that I’m interest in and get REAL prices from them, for order size/quantity I’m interested.

      You have to understand that advertised prices can’t be real by de facto as product price will always depend on the quantity you order.


  29. Hi Andrew, I found this article very helpful. I have received several emails from suppliers and their inquiries. I was wondering what would be the best way to respond in sounding professional and as if I am not super new to this.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Michelle,

      Don’t worry about it really – just reply in a normal, usual way you do.

      Chinese suppliers are not picky on who they work with, so they won’t refuse dealing with you based on the words you use in your message 🙂


  30. Hi Andrew

    Thanks for all the helpful info. I have a question about purchasing a product on Alibaba to sell FBA on Amazon. I have a professional sellers account with Amazon and an account with Alibaba. My question is, Alibaba is asking me to confirm my business profile although I am not actually a business per se. Will this be a problem when I contact suppliers on Alibaba and am I less likely to get a response if I am not an “actual” business. Any feed back on this issue would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks again

    1. Andrew Minalto

      HI Ed,

      Thanks for your comment.

      No, don’t worry about it. Suppliers on Alibaba really don’t care (in most cases) who they sell to – all they care is that you place those orders and pay! 🙂


  31. Hi!

    First off, thank you so much for all your useful information; it’s extremely helpful.

    I had a question about how shipping would work for small items, such as keychains or rings. Like if I just bought 50 or 100 would there be fees after it arrives in America, could I just have it sent directly to myself, would paperwork need to be filed? I have never ordered from a manufacturer before, so I’m not sure what all is needed.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Christie,

      Small items, small quantities like these are usually sent via courier service (DHL, TNT, UPS etc.).

      They take care of all the paper work and IF there will be any taxes to be paid, they will inform you about it when goods arrive in the US and take care of paper work too.


  32. Hello,

    Your site is soooo helpful. Thank you for your expertise. I recently asked for samples and the supplier wanted a fedex, ups or dhl account number so she can send me the samples. Should i pay through paypal as oppose to giving her my ups account?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Frances,

      Please check this article for more information on samples shipping:



  33. I very much appreciated this, and your other articles. I am in contact with a manufacturer in China (Sinosky Corporation Limited) that I found on Alibaba. They seem to have all of the criteria you mention to look out for — 12 year gold supplier with Trade Assurance. I am looking to have them manufacture knit gloves for children and have a few designs that I had created and would like re-produced. Is there a risk/need to protect myself from sending my designs and having them copy the idea? This is not something I can patent but it is a concept that I would not want others to duplicate until I get my product out in the market.
    Thanks in advance for your feedback.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Michelle,

      Yes, there’s a risk and there’s nothing you can really do about it. You can of course sign a contract with supplier but in reality it’s a piece of paper that gives you no protection whatsoever.

      So basically you just need to hope that company you’re dealing with is genuine and won’t steal your designs. Maybe they won’t see them as something valuable and won’t even consider stealing your work.

      But it actually doesn’t matter – if you’re very successful and sell a lot of this product, other manufacturers will start copying you anyway.


  34. […] Go to Alibaba.com and search for your product. 2) Find the best suppliers using these filters. 3) Contact them – get prices and terms and then negotiate the best possible deal. 4) Put together a virtual order […]

  35. […] professionally and politely (take a look at this post if that’s something you struggle with: How To Deal With Alibaba Suppliers) then you will almost always get a response from these Chinese […]

  36. HI Andrew,

    First of all can i just say, embarrassingly so, I had to use a calculator to answer the verification!

    Anyway, I have been talking with many suppliers on Alibaba the past couple of days. I have been very close to making an order but I am still very wary so i have started looking at sourcing agents. I have been wanting to use Dan Cassidy (young money china) which I’m sure you’ve recommended before. But he appears to be AWOL at the moment and is website Fetch china hasn’t worked since day 1 so I’ve had to find alternatives.

    Have you heard any positive (or negative for that matter) reviews on my office in china or maple sourcing?

    Thanks for your time and always look forward to your blog posts.


    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Tyler,

      I’m sorry but I can’t help with sourcing agent recommendations – those few times I have used them in the past, it always ended up with some problems so I simply don’t use sourcing agents anymore.

      I’m sure there are many legit sourcing companies out there but you’ll have to do some online research to find best ones.


      1. Hi Andrew

        Thanks for the reply.

        Would you recommend to go ahead with Alibaba then? I can’t seem to find the manufacturer for the product i want to import. And the suppliers who have offered me a low price, such as $340 including delivery by DHL i think may be too good to be true.

        Ive also read on another forum where they don’t rate the supposed ‘safe’ features of a alibaba supplier. The gold membership was apparently reduced by 90% before their IPO. The verification feature only suggests the ‘company’ is where it says it is and that the Escrow payment method which is supposedly the safest way for transactions, can be used in the suppliers favour by submitting any tracking number regardless if the product is correct or in working order. Its also common for any issues with the Escrow, the suppliers will wait till the deadline is up and the case is cancelled.


      2. Andrew Minalto

        Hi Tyler,

        You should read my other posts/guides on how to find legit suppliers on Alibaba, avoid scams etc.:


        There are many, many legit suppliers on Alibaba but you really have to know what you’re doing.


  37. Hi Andrew,
    Thank you for this article. I found it very useful.
    Once you find a supplier with FOB price, how does the relationship between a supplier and freight forwarder work? Which one should I contact first? What will the freight forwarder want from me to arrange the shipping?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Noury,

      You’ll always contact supplier first to arrange order and everything. Then you simply contact freight forwarder, give them order size/dimensions, factory address and they will then contact supplier directly to arrange pick-up time and everything else.


  38. Hi Andrew,

    Do you find you get a lot of emails sometimes with suppliers? Pestered is too strong a word, but it’s nearly there! I have a 3 month long email conversation with nearly 50 emails one of my prospective suppliers (in gift box category) and would regularly get chasing up emails in between my deliberations.

    A supplier I have gone with is similar, but not quite as bad.

    Is it due to desperation for our business, pushy sales, or just the way business works out there?


    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Paul,

      Yes, this is quite common. Not all suppliers are like that, but from time to time I get such situations when they send emails almost every day with new offers, updates etc. etc. IF I don’t work with that supplier, I simply ignore/mark as spam those emails in gMail and I don’t see them anymore.

      It’s just the way Chinese work I guess! 🙂


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