Lately, I’ve gotten quite a few emails for people asking me how to ACTUALLY find the products to sell on Amazon. I thought it was so obvious but now I realize, when you’re not enveloped in this world, it’s not obvious at all.
It’s actually quite amazing how much knowledge you acquire when doing this sort of business, but I digress…
Considering I speak with suppliers on nearly a daily basis, I figured it makes sense to share with you all exactly how I find the products I sell on Amazon.
So, let’s just jump right into it!
Alibaba – The Holy Grail of Suppliers
If you didn’t know, Alibaba is the largest supplier database in the world. You can find literally any product fathomable and if not, you can at least find a factory that will make it for you.
Most people who are selling with Amazon FBA are sourcing their products directly from suppliers listed on this website.
There is a method to the madness. You can’t just go up on there, type “garlic press” and pick the first factory that comes up.
Like any research and information gathering process, you have to make sure that you’re doing things correctly.
Go to Alibaba and type in your product. For this example we’ll use the famous garlic press example.
You’ll see a list of suggestions pop up. Click on whatever is most applicable to your product, or just hit search.
Alibaba has some filters that ensure you are dealing with reputable suppliers. Three of these filters are, Trade Assurance, Gold Supplier, and Assessed Supplier.
What does that mean?
If a supplier has “Trade Assurance” it means that you can pay your supplier through Alibaba, and are protected by Alibaba’s policies. For example, if you’re supplier sends you a bunch of defective products, you can open up a dispute with Alibaba and get your money back. Trade Assurance essentially protects you from getting scammed out of your money by some shady factory.
This signifies that this supplier has paid an annual fee to retain this designation. I believe it is (don’t quote me) about $10,000 per year to have this designation. All this does is show that the supplier is serious about doing business and that they generate a lot of business through Alibaba, therefore it is important for them that customers trust their factory.
Assessed Supplier means that a 3rd party inspection company has gone to the factory and ensured that they are a real factory doing business as they advertise.
Personally, when I do searches I always make sure that “Trade Assurance” and “Gold Supplier” are checked. This will immediately cut out any scammy or illegitimate factories.
I don’t often select “Assessed Supplier” because it severely limits your choices as many suppliers haven’t used this 3rd party service to authenticate their factory.
But that’s ok. I will generally use my own inspection company go to the factory to do an inspection after my goods are produced.
Now that we’ve selected our filters we get a large number of results, which might be overwhelming at first. I look through the listings and a few things pop out at me.
I see some listings advertising that they are the “HOT Seller” on Amazon. I try to avoid factories like this.
Think about it. If the factory already knows that loads of people from Amazon are searching for their product, then there is a good chance they know how the system works and can take advantage of unsuspecting buyers with higher prices.
You’ll also see in the screen, on the right side, that many of these are trading companies. You can tell by the name and the low MOQ (100 pieces).
If you don’t have thousands of dollars to spend upfront for a normal order, then a trading company might be a good option. But long term, it’s best to try and work directly with the factory, otherwise you’ll be paying more for the same goods.
Another thing I look at is response time. If they have above 90% response rate and less than 24 hour response time, that’s a good sign. You want your factory to take your business seriously, and this is one way to weed out the lazy or unresponsive ones.
Click on the listing and go through the information. Do they have good photos of the product, factory, and all relevant information? Factory information, staff, required certifications, FAQs, etc?
You should be able to get a good feel for the factory by going through their listing and seeing how filled out it is. If there are only a few pics that look half-assed then probably not a factory you want to work with.
At this point I’d send out a message asking for specific information about my product. A sample message will look something like this:
Hi, My name is Harrison Bevins and I am the procurement agent at YourCompanyName, LLC. I am interested in your product and would like if if you could answer the following questions:
- We need a target price of $5 in order to make this order work—please advise if you can make this happen.
- Please quote me prices for 200, 500, 750 and 1000 units?
- Where in China are you located?
- Are you an agent, factory, or trading company?
- What are your lead times?
- What are payment terms (i.e. 30/70)?
I need you to advise best possible price and also give me at least three other options of similar items that you have so that I can review them with my boss. Any qualities you can send us to pick from would also be helpful. Please send us quality standards. Also its company policy that we don’t pay for samples so I need to make sure you are able to provide me with samples. What would it cost to ship samples to (enter city and zip code here)? We are really looking to build stronger partnerships with new factories. Thank you, Harrison Bevins
Send this email to 10-20 suppliers and wait for the responses. You might get some that respond right away and you might get some that don’t respond at all. This is another way to narrow down your choices.
Keep track of all this information in a spreadsheet. This is imperative for evaluating which supplier you will go forward with in making the final order.
1688.com is the Chinese version of Alibaba. You can find most of the same products as Alibaba on here but in Chinese. If you want to hire a Chinese sourcing agent or translator to help you in this route, then go ahead.
When you hire a sourcing company, they will most likely have Chinese staff who will solely use 1688.com as the pricing is lower and you will get direct access to the manufacturers. But keep in mind, you will pay a service fee for using the agent, typically 3-5% of the total order value.
Sourcing products to sell on Amazon might seems a little scary at first but after finish your first order it becomes much easier! You will realize it’s quite straightforward and just takes a little time and patience.
There are also great benefits to learning how to do this on your own. You will become better at communicating by learning the business lingo and develop a better understanding of what are and what aren’t favorable terms. Ultimately, you will improve your negotiating skills and learn how the Chinese do business.
One day I plan to create a custom product from scratch and I know that all of the experiences I’ve gained here in China—working with factories and sourcing products via Alibaba—will help me tremendously in making sure that I do things right.
I hope you enjoyed this article and learned a thing or two.
If so, comment down below and let me know what you think or what you would like to learn next.
As always, I love getting comments and feedback from my readers.