No matter what types of products your business sells, sourcing product overseas offers you a wide variety of competitive and operational advantages. Some of the benefits of global sourcing include:
- Access to a wider assortment of products than you may be able to find domestically
- Access to unique, hard-to-find products, which can attract more customers
- Access to suppliers worldwide, which means you have many more options than you have domestically
- Overseas suppliers are often more open to working with small businesses or producing small quantities.
- You can increase your total supply capacity by using multiple suppliers globally or in different regions, which can also protect you against supply chain problems caused by natural disasters.
- You can gain access to resources, materials or skills that you can't find domestically, such as the ability to manufacture a specific type of product.
- Sourcing overseas is a learning experience that can provide a stepping stone to selling in new markets overseas.
- Overseas manufacturers generally offer substantial cost savings compared to sourcing domestically.
Now that you know all of the advantages of sourcing overseas (if you didn't already), where do you get started in finding the products you want to sell? One of the best places to begin is at Alibaba.com. Alibaba has the world's most comprehensive directory of global suppliers, primarily from Asia. This online marketplace connects buyers and suppliers from all over the world.
No matter what you sell (or want to sell), chances are you can find a supplier of that product on Alibaba's website. With hundreds of thousands of suppliers listed, providing literally millions of products, Alibaba's pretty much got everything you could possibly want.
Some of the most popular product categories on Alibaba include apparel and accessories, automotive, health and beauty, sporting goods and toys. However, you can also find electrical and telecom equipment and components, industrial parts, construction materials and plastics.
If the idea of searching through millions of products sounds overwhelming, don't worry. You can look at all the categories on Alibaba.com and then drill down within each category. Viewing the categories in detail can also give you insights into what's currently hot. For instance, in Textile & Leather Products category, "Gray fabric" and "Chair cover" are a couple of subcategories (gray has been a hot color in fashion for a while now, and definitely for this fall and winter). And when you click into the details of the Textile & Leather Products category, you'll see market trends, popular products and popular search keywords. All of this can all help you see what the competition is doing and how you can stand out—or get a jump on them.
Of course, you can also just input your search terms and search by product type or supplier type. You'll get tons of results that you can filter by factors such as the supplier location, the minimum order quantity (MOQ), the supplier's ratings on Alibaba.com and more.
Still nervous about ordering from a new supplier halfway around the world? Whether you're experienced in global sourcing or whether you are new to the concept, one way to source with confidence is to use Alibaba's Trade Assurance program. Here's how it works: Just start searching for suppliers on Alibaba.com, looking for those with the Trade Assurance seal on their profiles (you can filter your search so those suppliers are all you see).
Check how much Trade Assurance coverage these suppliers have so that you can choose one with enough coverage to match the price of your order. Trade Assurance participating suppliers are rated and reviewed by other buyers, so it's easy to see how well they deliver. Once you choose the supplier you want, Alibaba creates an online contract stating the delivery date, quality standards and other terms of the purchase. If the product isn't on time or doesn't live up to the quality standards in the contract, Trade Assurance will refund your costs up to the Trade Assurance covered amount.
Sourcing overseas can benefit your business in many ways - and so can using Trade Assurance.
Learn more about Trade Assurance