Has it been a while since you visited Alibaba.com? If so, you need to take a second look at this online marketplace. Alibaba is no longer just a directory to find suppliers. (Yes, it's still that, but it's also much more.)
Today, buyers seeking to source products can find just about anything from anywhere on Alibaba, along with a wide range of services such as safe payment solutions, financing options and exporting tools. All of this is available online, which enables buyers to find what they want without the hassle and expense of traveling overseas or exhibiting at tradeshows.
Here's what you can expect from the Alibaba experience.
- Sourcing made simple. By visiting Alibaba, you can find manufacturers all over the world who make every imaginable product. It's easy to search by a wide variety of factors, such as Popular Products, Low Minimum Order Quantities, Hot Products or Top-Performing Suppliers.
- Financing solutions. Alibaba offers an e-Credit Line - a line of credit designed to help finance purchases from Chinese suppliers on Alibaba. You can draw from this line of credit any time as long as you're making a purchase of over $5,000 and have sufficient available credit. The E-Credit Line makes it easier to act quickly on business opportunities, because you don't have to drain your cash reserves to pay for products. And it lets you get trade financing quickly, without the extensive paperwork involved in traditional loans, and with minimum requirements for credit line applicants.
- Verified identity. If you're new to international sourcing, suppliers may be hesitant to respond to you because they're not sure your business is legitimate. Alibaba's Business Identity program verifies buyers as legitimate businesses, making suppliers more likely to answer you. Verification makes you stand out to suppliers, and is completely free to you.
- Inspection services. Alibaba's Inspection Service lets you order services online from professional third-party inspectors whose qualifications have been verified by Alibaba. Inspectors visit Chinese manufacturing or port facilities to conduct inspections and provide reports (including photos) certifying to you that the products meet your desired quality standards.
- Protected payments. Purchasing from overseas suppliers can be stressful, as you wonder whether you'll receive what you ordered in exchange for your payment. Alibaba's Secure Payment service helps eliminate this worry. Secure Payment works like an escrow service: An independent third party holds your payment until you receive your shipment, and only then releases payment to the seller. Secure Payment can even help you get a partial or full refund if you're not satisfied with the products or don't receive them on time. It also simplifies payment by supporting a variety of payment methods, including credit cards and bank transfers.
- Safe trade. Go one step beyond Secure Payment by purchasing from suppliers who participate in Alibaba's Trade Assurance program. Trade Assurance provides coverage for participating suppliers up to a certain amount. When you're seeking a supplier, just be sure to look for those with the Trade Assurance badge in their listings. Check how much Trade Assurance protection they have to make sure it matches the amount of your planned purchase. Once you choose a Trade Assurance supplier, Alibaba creates an online contract between your companies that specifies delivery dates and product quality standards. If your shipment doesn't arrive on time, doesn't arrive at all or doesn't meet your agreed-upon standards, you can obtain a full refund up to the amount of the supplier's Trade Assurance coverage.
Alibaba has gone far beyond its early beginnings to become a true one-stop shop for any global entrepreneur seeking to source products internationally. Where else can you find everything you need, from products to financing to exporting services, all in one place?