A professional associate of mine in the United States recently spent some time online browsing through the “Alibaba.com” website, and he was positively impressed by what he saw. In fact, he was so impressed that he asked me: “Why Do I Need a China-Sourcing Company When I Can Use Alibaba?”
His perception after reviewing their website was that if a company would source from an Alibaba “Verified Supplier” and then use the Inspection Services of Alibaba’s partners, it would be able to have a high degree of confidence that the products received would meet its requirements.
While it is true that Alibaba offers a means to accelerate the sourcing process, and they do offer a variety of additional services for additional fees that are intended to facilitate the on-time shipment of good quality products, their offerings fall short of the services and support that a well-established China-Sourcing Company such as Victure Industrial Co. can provide to its clients.
Let’s start with the following disclaimer that appears on the Alibaba website under their description of what a “Verified Supplier” is: “Any assessment, certification, inspection and/or related examination related to any sellers on Alibaba.com are provided or conducted by independent third parties. Alibaba does NOT inspect/guarantee product authenticity of sellers or assume any liability on the authenticity, accuracy and timeliness of any information in respect of such assessment, certification, inspection and/or related examination.”
They are happy to help you identify potential suppliers, and to offer you other services from third-party providers (for a separate fee), but at the end of the day, you are ultimately still on your own to determine if the product supplier you are looking at is really capable of meeting your requirements and if they will be able to fulfill your orders in a timely manner with good quality products.
It is also still very possible that you could get “scammed” even though the supplier you selected was found on the Alibaba site. In fact, Alibaba has a “FAQ” that addresses the question of “What can I do to avoid scammers?”, and part of their answer is to “Use other offline and online methods to verify the supplier’s details”.
You are also still on your own to develop and manage the relationship with the supplier(s) you select on the Alibaba site – which is quite important if you are looking for a continuous source of supply to provide appropriate quality products for your customers.
This supplier relationship management responsibility brings all of the challenges with language / communications, cultural differences, time zone differences, etc. that have been previously discussed in multiple other articles about doing business with companies outside of your home country.
I have a client company in Germany in the e-commerce business who learned the hard way that even though they found a supplier in China on the Alibaba website, they still needed direct representation on the ground in China to deal with resolution of product quality issues that caused many problems for the client with its customers. Before they engaged my team to help them, they were not able to solve the problems on their own.
Unfortunately for this client, by the time they engaged my team to help them, they had accumulated lots of very bad reviews of the product they were obtaining from that Chinese supplier, and those bad reviews stained their reputation and caused them to lose sales and the related revenue.
In addition to addressing product quality and supplier relationship management issues, a well-established China-Sourcing Company such as Victure Industrial Co. can provide a wide-range of other in-house supply chain service offerings that can be “tailored” to the specific needs of each individual client and be managed through a single interface from the China-Sourcing Company to the client.
While Alibaba does offer access to various supply chain services, those services are provided by unaffiliated third-party companies, and Alibaba does not offer any kind of comprehensive end-to-end management of those third-party providers. Their role is simply that of a “matchmaker”. After the match is made, they step out of the picture and leave you to take the relationship(s) forward on your own.
At Victure, our objective is to become your trusted business partner and to provide you with the support you need at all phases of the supply chain from initial sourcing up to the time finished products arrive at your receiving dock.
Your success is our success, so we have a vested interest in ensuring that you are working with the most appropriate suppliers to meet your requirements and that you have the optimal supply chain in place to take the products you need from the factory shipping dock to your receiving dock within the time-frame you require. You cannot obtain this type of support from Alibaba.
Join the following groups for off-shore sourcing opportunities-
China Sourcing- https://www.linkedin.com/groups/4462099/
India Sourcing- https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8454669/
Vietnam Sourcing- https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8815822/
Asia Sourcing- https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8909383/
Gifts and Premiums- https://www.linkedin.com/groups/4421652/
Circular Economy- https://www.linkedin.com/groups/13908783/