Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 1 second

Low production costs equal a higher margin – something that any business savvy company strives for. To do this they often turn to questionable suppliers or opt for inferior material. Other times they elect to buy supplies in bulk – as many suppliers offer a discount the more of the same item that is purchased all at once.  While Amazon, and E-bay are popular e-commerce destinations for bulk supplies – Alibaba, a Chinese B2B online commerce company that specializes in bulk shipments and cheap prices is becoming well known in the global community as the one-stop-shop for all B2B supplies. But with accusations of scam artists, wrong items, and delayed shipments it has left many companies wondering about the safety of Alibaba.

If you’re one of those businesses that are wondering if the “Amazon of China” e-commerce business is safe to use – you’re not alone. The short answer – Yes -Alibaba is completely safe. IF you do your research. Alibaba isn’t a website where you pick a wholesaler to work with and hope for the best. It takes time to research a reputable company, vet them, get samples, and compare pricing. If you’re not willing to do that – you may not have the best experience using the website – and may even get scammed.

The first thing you should do when comparing companies is to vet the manufacturer. What do the reviews say? If they have gotten numerous positive reviews – you know they have produced positive results. But beware of the reviews that give 5 stars and say nothing about their experience. “Thank You!” or “Great Job!” or “Product is perfect!” may very well be fake. Look for reviews that are at least a few sentences long and give details about the product purchased.

Alibaba gives awards and verifications to top suppliers – look for those when deciding which manufacturer to go with. While it’s still good to vet the company you decide to work with – Alibaba takes some of the leg work out of it for you. Gold Suppliers are the most coveted verification in the Alibaba world – and manufacturers will often work hard to keep their gold status. Look that an organization is a Verified Supplier and has Trade Assurance – which includes multiple safe payment options, and worry-free shipping.

In his YouTube video, Josh Morris suggests that legitimate manufacturers will go through hoops to ensure that you’re a satisfied customer. They will be willing to answer any questions, give you a quote, and even send you samples. He concludes, “A good supplier will give you tons of information – booklets, pamphlets, price sheets, quotes. They’ll give you all the details about shipping – everything.” He speculates that a good supplier wants you as their customer while a scam artist would rather just have your money.

In a rush for your product – Alibaba may not be the best marketplace to shop at. In his YouTube video, John Santos states that he has had a lot of disappointing orders that were anything but satisfactory. “It is a shot in the dark,“ he says about purchasing from Alibaba. “…You have to be aware that more than likely your order won’t come in right the first time.”

While Alibaba is safe for many companies shopping for bulk supplies – it is important that you take the right precautions when doing business on the popular e-commerce site. Make sure that you fully vet the supplier and ask questions. It’s OK to ask for samples and ask about less-than positive reviews. And remember – if it’s too good to be true – chances are it probably is.

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Danielle Loughnane

Danielle Loughnane earned her B.F.A. in Creative Writing from Emerson College and has currently been working in the data science field since 2015. She is the author of a comic book entitled, “The Superhighs” and wrote a blog from 2011-2015 about working in the restaurant industry called, "Sir I Think You've Had Too Much.” In her spare time she likes reading graphic novels and snuggling with her dogs.

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