E-commerce is tearing down entry-barriers for SMEs at a rapid pace, reducing time spent sourcing suppliers, making otherwise unthinkable partnerships possible and laying the foundation for the emergence of one-stop import-export platforms.
But there are still major obstacles for SMEs who want to start sourcing from China. A high perceived risk of doing business with overseas suppliers, and an overall lack of confidence stifle the entry of new entrepreneurs to the worldwide marketplace.
Simplifying trade while building confidence for SMEs are key ways which Alibaba has identified to forward its mission, "to make it easy to do business everywhere", and Alibaba.com's Trade Assurance service is the flagship solution to do just that.
Trade Assurance is a free order protection service offered by Alibaba.com. The short answer to what that means is simply – Trade Assurance ensures that the order you receive fulfills the obligations specified in your contract with a participating supplier. If the order does not, you can claim the covered amount by seeking arbitration from Alibaba.com.
It's also an optional service, meaning that not all suppliers choose to or are qualified to offer orders with Trade Assurance protection. This allows Alibaba.com to select qualified Gold Suppliers as Trade Assurance suppliers, further reducing risk for SMEs buying on the platform.
Main benefits of Trade Assurance
The specific benefits of Trade Assurance can be summarized as:
- On-time shipping protection
- Quality protection
Besides offering overall protections and guaranteeing useful advantages in the event an order-related dispute, Trade Assurance is also an ideal tool for SMEs with limited experience sourcing from China. The minimum order value of a Trade Assurance order is only US $100. Typical Trade Assurance orders fall within the range of US $1,000 – $30,000. Also, as Trade Assurance covers the "initial payment" it serves to protect your deposit in the event of a shipping or quality-related dispute. So if something goes terribly wrong, you can actually get your deposit back!
Using Trade Assurance
To use this service, you need to place a "Trade Assurance order". There are two ways to place Trade Assurance orders. The simplest method for placing orders with Trade Assurance is basically like placing any other order online. Simply select the "Start Order" function on any product details page in the search list or a Trade Assurance supplier's minisite. You can also draft a Trade Assurance order yourself and ask a participating supplier to confirm your order.
You can start a Trade Assurance order on the following pages:
1. Products details page:
2. Supplier's minisite
3. Quotation detail page (in My Alibaba)
You can also source products with Trade Assurance suppliers by filtering your search results:
Trade Assurance order process
1. Place a Trade Assurance order and make sure that your product quality requirements are clearly described in your order contract. After an order is confirmed, your next step is to set a shipping date and indicate that the order will adhere to quality standards set in the contract – these details are the basis for eventual arbitration in the event of a dispute, so be sure that they are as specific as possible.
2. Negotiate with your supplier and confirm the covered amount for your order. If the supplier does not ship your order on time or the quality of your products does not meet standards agreed upon in your contract, you have the right to open a dispute and request a refund. In the event of a dispute where order details are not clearly defined, Alibaba.com applies a third-party's recommended industry-standard quality protocol.
3. Make sure you send your payment to the supplier's Citibank bank account designated by Alibaba.com. The supplier's Citibank details can be found on the order page. If you choose to pay via Credit Card or e-Checking, please follow the steps on the order page to process your payment.
- Always confirm the Trade Assurance order's "covered amount"
- Make sure your contract clearly states all order specifications
- Keep a record of all correspondence with your suppliers
- Trade Assurance is currently only available for suppliers based in Mainland China
To learn more, visit the official Trade Assurance page here: tradeassurance.alibaba.com