Author Topic: Buying from Alibaba  (Read 2115 times)

FL_MM

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Buying from Alibaba
« on: July 31, 2017, 08:37:02 PM »
Has anyone purchased directly from the Chinese factories thru Alibaba? Are there custom fees? Any tips?

TheFixer

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Re: Buying from Alibaba
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2017, 08:57:21 PM »
I bought some car parts, carburetors specifically, for the vintage cars I work on.
One vendor never sent product, kept coming up with excuses, was able to get refund from Alibaba, but the guy continued to sell product he obviously didn't have.
Two other vendors did ship the product. Prices were ludicrously cheap, and products turned out to be junk.

Have seen other junk from China on customer's vehicles.  Works as well as expected for the price (10% of the OEM price=10% of the quality).

So far it's been a total bust for me, but Shopify is always telling me how if I added a chinese accessory line to my shopify store I could be making big money, like the hipsters selling curated beard grooming products.



toganet

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Re: Buying from Alibaba
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2017, 12:40:29 PM »
I'm actually looking into buying a large quantity of a certain inexpensive item as part of a new product launch, but I'm holding off due to the "unknowns."  I'd be interested to hear of anyone's experience as well.

HipGnosis

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Re: Buying from Alibaba
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2017, 04:28:51 PM »
I JUST opened an account on Alibaba.
So I'm posting to follow.

I have a couple small bluetooth devices and tried to buy some accessories (that they come with) for them as I have multiple vehicles.  I emailed multiple Ebay and Alibaba sellers - they won't sell me just the accessories.
So I'm thinking of buying enough of the devices (with the accs) to get a discount and sell all but 2 or 3.

I started to sign up an Amazon seller account, but I stopped when I got to where they 'need' my cell #.

2Cent

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Re: Buying from Alibaba
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2017, 01:03:29 AM »
The type of stuff you want to buy is simple stuff that can be made in bulk. Think 500 fidget spinners to sell on for 3 times the price. T-shirts with a certain print. Not complex electronics or car parts.

Syonyk

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Re: Buying from Alibaba
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2017, 10:42:37 AM »
I've purchased a few thousand 18650 cells and an awful lot of nickel strip through vendors I found there. No issues so far, but those aren't complex items.
My random project blog - ebikes, DIY, fans, and more: http://syonyk.blogspot.com

toganet

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Re: Buying from Alibaba
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2017, 11:51:25 AM »
The item I am researching is small, cheap, and already mass-produced for a different purpose.  I have an "off-label" use for it that I am test marketing now.  Based on feedback so far I could sell these easily, but it would be simple for anyone to reproduce what I'm doing and undercut my price.  So, I am looking for a way to customize the item in a way that both increases the sale price and creates a defensible brand identity -- even if that only delays the copycats.  I expect this product to be a quick, niche fad at best -- I just want to maximize my takeaway.

JuicyCrab

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Re: Buying from Alibaba
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2017, 11:03:18 PM »
I've been using Alibaba for years now to find vendors and manufacturers of sporting goods we sell. I've probably bought over $500,000AUD worth of goods for my business to date.

Here are my best tips:

  • Country of origin doesn't matter, there are great and terrible manufacturers from every country
  • Always produce samples prior to the main run, get every detail right before agreeing to a large order
  • Negotiate on price and MOQ. They will always try for a large order before negotiating down to smaller quantities at a fractionally higher price
  • Try 3-5 different companies for sampling before deciding to work with one. Spend the money on the sampling process to avoid massive cost losses on a big order done wrong.
  • 30% deposit, 70% once the order is complete. Most will agree to this unless it's a tiny order (<$2000AUD)
  • I ship via DHL most of the time, freight is fast and cheap. Most vendors have DHL accounts if you choose to use them
  • Watch out for middle men suppliers. Ask for images of your goods being made. Most use Wechat and Wassap to communicate as well as email.
  • Use gold supplies and verified suppliers
  • Be patient and understand English will be their second language. Some have amazing English, others not. Simplify your sentences with easy words and use diagrams/illustrations to show design and changes
  • Better to resolve issues with a trusted manufacturer than finding a new one.

EDIT: Avoid Western Union for sending money overseas, use paypal or a bank or a FX bank that  specilise in sending funds to overseas accounts.

Good luck!
« Last Edit: August 04, 2017, 11:06:00 PM by JuicyCrab »
insert any quote from Alan Watts....

HipGnosis

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Re: Buying from Alibaba
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2017, 12:04:32 PM »
I've been using Alibaba for years now to find vendors and manufacturers of sporting goods we sell. I've probably bought over $500,000AUD worth of goods for my business to date.

Here are my best tips:
...

VERY informative.  Thank YOU!!

the500millionaire

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Re: Buying from Alibaba
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2017, 09:25:46 PM »
I have made several purchases from Alibaba and found it to be the perfect wholesale source for a consumer electronics online store. We found a few different suppliers in China that provided items such as Bluetooth speakers, smart phone cases, and the like.

Many of the manufacturers that you can find on their website even offer personalized services such as featuring your brand logo on their manufactured products. They also provide stock photos that give you ready-to-use product images on your online storefront.

You can find pretty much anything on there, and most places are great about working with you even if you are not ordering a significant amount of inventory.

Here are some of the challenges you will face:
- At first, the language barrier is rather noticeable. Most of the sales personnel speak fluent English, but you can tell that English isn't their first language. Don't let this scare you away, it just takes some getting used to.

- You are ordering inventory from China, so don't expect it to come overnight. DHL is a major carrier, and they do a great job of getting your order to you from halfway across the world. However, you are going to want to give yourself plenty of lead time between when you place your order and when you need the inventory.

- Alibaba is simple to use when placing an order, however, it's not as straightforward as say the Amazon "Buy-it-now button." The sales process takes time, especially as you start to develop relationships with different sales reps. Ask lots of questions, and be receptive.

Also, you need to be careful that you don't get scammed:
- Be careful to vet the companies that you do business with. Alibaba is like the Amazon of wholesalers. You can get great products at cheap prices. However, you want to really do your research on customer reviews before you pursue business.

- ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS PAY THROUGH ALIBABA.COM. If anyone offers to accept payment outside of the Alibaba website, run like hell. They are trying to scam you.

- As a side note- DO NOT use Western Union. I always used Pay Pal and never had a problem.

- Order a small sample order before you go all-in on a major inventory order. You are dealing with sales reps who are trying to push product. You want to make sure that you are happy with your order before you sink thousands of dollars into your inventory.

- Your goal should be to build long-term relationships with you suppliers. They want to make a customer out of you as well, so work with them. Do not try to gouge them on prices, but don't let them take advantage of you either.

The $500 Millionaire
the500millionaire@gmail.com

ChpBstrd

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Re: Buying from Alibaba
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2017, 10:03:48 PM »
I was trying to buy mountain bike tires on eBay. Nobody was selling for reasonable prices. About $18 was the cheapest.

On Alibaba, I could buy 200 for $2 each. I was tempted to set up shop for 198 tires at $10 plus S&H.

However, details were slim. They didn't even tell how many grams the tires weigh. In the end I noped out. But I'm still curious about whether/how people make this work.

HipGnosis

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Re: Buying from Alibaba
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2017, 09:09:06 AM »
I was trying to buy mountain bike tires on eBay. Nobody was selling for reasonable prices. About $18 was the cheapest.

On Alibaba, I could buy 200 for $2 each. I was tempted to set up shop for 198 tires at $10 plus S&H.

However, details were slim. They didn't even tell how many grams the tires weigh. In the end I noped out. But I'm still curious about whether/how people make this work.
Did you contact (one of) the seller(s)?  I'd be shocked if they wouldn't give you all the details you ask for.
Can bike tires be shipped w/o a box?  I've gotten motorcycle tires online and sometimes they come with just a piece of paper with the shipping info taped around the tire.  That's gotta make shipping cheaper.

Syonyk

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Re: Buying from Alibaba
« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2017, 09:12:27 AM »
I've gotten a muffler and lead pipe with a label on the muffler. The delivery guy and receptionist both looked so confused by this...

You definitely have to contact the sellers. If they won't get you what you need, try others.

I've been mostly happy with my purchases but they're batteries and nickel strip. My bank has finally figured out that I wire money to China and stopped checking to see if I'm getting scammed. :)
My random project blog - ebikes, DIY, fans, and more: http://syonyk.blogspot.com

Mgmny

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Re: Buying from Alibaba
« Reply #13 on: September 07, 2017, 10:06:20 AM »
I have just used AliExpress for personal items (about 25 orders so far), and I have received everything I ordered, and i only have thrown away 1 order of the 25 upon arrival. Everything else is working out.


BrandNewPapa

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Re: Buying from Alibaba
« Reply #14 on: September 07, 2017, 10:19:37 AM »
I've purchased a few thousand 18650 cells and an awful lot of nickel strip through vendors I found there. No issues so far, but those aren't complex items.

Can I ask what you're using the cells for? I was thinking about building my own power wall. Are they lithium? Is the quality good? Have you done any serious testing of them? What is the chemistry?

Syonyk

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Re: Buying from Alibaba
« Reply #15 on: September 07, 2017, 10:58:21 AM »
Can I ask what you're using the cells for? I was thinking about building my own power wall. Are they lithium? Is the quality good? Have you done any serious testing of them? What is the chemistry?

I rebuild electric bike batteries for people, and specialize in one particular type of older system, so they're matched to that.  Yes, they're lithium - spinel LiMn.  Define "serious testing" - I've capacity and IR tested them (they're consistent and fine), and verified that they're legitimate cells.  I'm not ordering UltraFire or something, they're a very specific chemistry and model to work with these older pack designs.  If you are using new cells, the sort of testing required for junk cells isn't needed - they've passed QC at the factory and all I do is verify voltage on the modules after I build them.  I've yet to have a bad cell show up in thousands of cells (I've pulled a few that were slightly dented by the production machinery, but that's just me being cautious - they worked fine).

If you want to store serious amounts of power, especially at low C rates, 18650s aren't the right answer.  Get prismatic cells and use those instead - I have some old electric car batteries that are something like 65Ah cells (give or take).  Those are much, much easier to make significant storage packs out of.  They're harder to heat and cool, but that's not an issue when you're running at C/10 or C/20 rates instead of C or 2C or 5C rates.

If you do insist on using 18650s, please invest in a spot welder.  The majority of "DIY Powerwall" builders are soldering, which is explicitly mentioned in pretty much every data sheet as something you shouldn't do.  It stresses the cells thermally - I can touch the end of a cell immediately after finishing spot welding, and generally let them cool between welds (I'll run a row of welds down the cells, then come back and do another pass, so there's less heat flux - you can't do that soldering).

I'm pretty happy with what I pay per kWh for large orders, but despite having an off grid office, I don't power it with lithium - flooded lead is still a great storage mechanism if you have enough panel to charge things, and since I do, lead is a lot happiest plodding along at 100% SoC for most of the day.  That stresses lithium.

If you do insist on building something with 18650s, consider segment fuses, absolutely install a high quality balancing BMS with pack cutout capability (so the BMS can terminate charge or discharge if a bank gets out of voltage range), and don't be stupid.  The bulk of "WOW DIY POWERWALL!" builds I see are a structure fire waiting to happen.  They start with junk, abuse the junk more, and then spend a while explaining about how they don't need a proper BMS because they check it, at least, you know, for the first week or so.
My random project blog - ebikes, DIY, fans, and more: http://syonyk.blogspot.com