1. Speak to our customer support team live today
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Thanks for visiting The Wholesale Forums! Register for FREE today and gain access to more information. Sign up with Facebook, Twitter, or Google.

AliExpress, Sourcing Agent or Visit

Discussion in 'China Sourcing' started by oakandthread, Mar 19, 2016.

  1. oakandthread


    Mar 19, 2016
    Hi Everyone,

    I'm new here so sorry if this is a silly and long question. I've started a shopify store and I'm looking to source my products. It's a small consumer good - not very technical so I wanted to see which method you all would recommend and if you had any tips. I'm just starting out so I dont have a massive budget but I have the ability to grow this fast once it gets going as I already have some customers signed up and waiting. Here are my options:
    • Ali Express- Found the products I'm looking for, though there seems so be a lot of scammers - I'm not sure how to navigate my way around it with samples and FOB as well as standard timelines to get this all going.
    • Sourcing Agent - friend mentioned this, any good recommendations?
    • Visit- totally not ideal because it would cost a fair bit but if it comes down to it I'll pay a visit to the canton fair
    Looking to see if anyone can share their experience with the above three and if you guys have any recommendations.

  2. Low Cost Sourcing

    Low Cost Sourcing

    Aug 30, 2015
    I find it a little bit strange that you have customers waiting on a website which you at present do not know what you are going to sell or at what price? If this is true then about 100% of all new website owners would love to know your secret.

    Anyway, on to your questions.

    1. AliExpress is technically a retail website and does not deal with samples or FOB. Every product whether in singles or bulk has a price either with free shipping or with additional shipping costs which you can pay.

    There is a chance you are getting AliExpress and Alibaba mixed up and if this is the case then please let us know.

    2. A good sourcing agent can be a good thing as they can check out and verify factories, quality check products and much more but if you are looking for small quantities of many products then this can be very expensive.

    3. Making contact and visiting factories personally can be a great way to do business but as above, if you are only looking for small quantities of each product, most factories will be unwilling to deal with you.

    You have stated you have only a small budget, even though we do not know what this budget is, my guess is that you should try to deal with small order specialists such as those you can find on Alibaba, as this will be your best option to get reasonable prices. Remember to do your due diligence on any potential supplier and not trust things like gold supplier status as this is not earned it is bought.

    Good luck.
  3. oakandthread


    Mar 19, 2016
    thanks for the help, to clarify, I know exactly what I'll be selling - the method is just what I'm inquiring about. I wanted to get samples as I didn't want to wait a while to have Ali Express ship things over just to verify that the quality might not be up to par. Though now that you pointed out, maybe Alibaba might be the best route. Do you have any insight and tips on the Alibaba route?
  4. Low Cost Sourcing

    Low Cost Sourcing

    Aug 30, 2015
    On Alibaba, you can set buying leads, basically stating what you would like to buy and suppliers will send you quotes.

    Be very careful as depending on the products, the Chinese might think it is something else, especially if the Americans call it something different to what we do in the UK.

    Samples will be very expensive, even when they claim it is free as they will offer 3-4 "free" products but you will have to pay $30-50 to get these shipped to you.

    If you can prove that your future business may be worth it, you may be able to negotiate truly free samples but that will be on a supplier by supplier basis.

    Make sure you do your due diligence on any supplier. Just because they might be gold members means nothing as this is a badge that is not earned but is bought directly from Alibaba.
  5. Global Sources

    Global Sources

    Dec 1, 2008
    As a beginner, it would be best for you to start sourcing online, but it also depends on your budget.

    1) Most beginners start with online sourcing. A couple of tips:

    - Do your due diligence and choose a good manufacturer that is experienced in your product category

    - Get samples shipped to you before you place an order

    - Create a detailed “Purchase Order” when placing the order (Most problems in China sourcing happen because of miscommunication between supplier and buyer, so try to be as specific as possible when communicating with your supplier)

    - Know your product and the certifications / approvals required to import the product into your country. The supplier might not always be aware of this

    - Have an inspection agency check the products before they are shipped out of China, especially for bigger orders. Inspection cost ranges from US$100 to US$300 per day. There are many inspection companies such as AsiaInspection.com, V-trust.com…

    Alternatively, you may consider GlobalSources.com for online sourcing. We have more export-focused suppliers; most are manufacturers; you can also source online from exhibitors at Global Sources’ trade shows.

    2) If you have more budget, you could consider hiring an agent who could help you with most processes including sourcing, negotiating, shipping, customs, etc. Guided Imports (www.guidedimports.com) is one such company that specializes in helping online sellers with private labelling. Their fee is about US$1,000 per product. You could contact Sam Boyd at [email protected] for more details about their service.

    3) Trade shows are typically for more advanced importers, but if you have the budget, visiting a show can save you time and effort sourcing. There are shows in Hong Kong and Guangzhou (Canton fair) that you can consider attending. This article explains the advantages of attending trade shows, and which ones to consider attending: http://www.smartchinasourcing.com/h...how-to-attend-a-sourcing-show-like-a-pro.html

    Hope this helps.
  6. Robbie Wettlaufer

    Robbie Wettlaufer

    Mar 23, 2016
    Thanks Global for the info and the links. Very professional. I'm also a noob, but on the other end, living in China trying to make it as a small end sourcing agent. Your post is helpful to all sides.
    rodney beech likes this.


    Jun 8, 2013
    All good points made by Low Cost Sourcing & Global Sources.

    It's important to understand the following when buying from China and this is in addition to what has already been mentioned in the above posts:

    1. The difference between a trading company and a factory.
    2. The importance of the Proforma Invoice. (This is in effect your contract)
    3. Approving the sample before production. (Don't try to save time)
    4. Ensure that any and all amendments have been checked & verified.
    5. The importance of the packing, packaging and carton markings. (Think this through)
    6. Ensuring payments are made to the company who has issued the Proforma Invoice, not to a personal account.
    7. Ideally have the an inspection of the final shipment before making the final payment.
    8. Verify certificates if any are needed for your product. (There are many forgeries out there)
    9. Confirm arrangements for faulty goods.
    10. Understand that many Chinese suppliers speaking English will have a different interpretation of what you ask for, always get them to confirm in writing as well as with photos if possible.
    In answer to the 3 options:

    Aliexpress: This is more a retail platform. Alibaba is good for information & suppliers, but due diligence is required at EVERY level of the order process.

    Sourcing Agent: A GOOD agent will save you money and should look after everything from start to finish, including best rates for shipping, UK forwarding and after sales service.

    Visit: This depends on your order value and whether it's cost effective.

    I would always advise a visit, if only to see new products, understanding the different qualities and prices available for every single product and to understand the difference in business culture and understanding, which will enable you to fully comprehend what is involved.

    Ultimately, you want to minimise your risk as much as possible.

    If it's your first time to import, use an agent, so you can fully understand the process of sourcing & comparing samples, supplier evaluations, approving samples, Proforma terms, Incoterms, payment methods, quality control, shipping, UK forwarding & delivery to your door.

    Best to sleep well at night.

    After a few transactions, you should have sufficient experience to understand what is required and what to do.
  8. rodney beech

    rodney beech

    Mar 8, 2017
    hi robbie..can you contact me please regarding importing items from guangdong to uk
Back to top

Share This Page