Alibaba is a popular B2B and B2C eCommerce site used by many businesses and consumers worldwide. It has millions of products of all categories, with good quality, wide variety and low prices. Being one of the biggest eCommerce sites, it is reliable and safe.
But as a new buyer from Alibaba, you might have doubts about its safety and reliability. Maybe you have heard of scams occurring on Alibaba. Or you are concerned about loss of profit. No need to worry because EJET is here to help.
In this article, we will cover all important aspects of Alibaba: how it works, benefits of buying from Alibaba, its safety and reliability, and some useful tips about buying. After reading this guide, most of your concerns will vanish.
Any potential buyer will ask the question ‘Is it safe to buy from Alibaba?’ The concern about safety is justified; after all, you don’t want to incur losses and get scammed. Here are a few reasons why Alibaba is a safe and reliable online marketplace that you can order from.
1. Alibaba Is One of the Biggest Ecommerce Sites in the World
Alibaba.com is one of the biggest eCommerce sites in the world. It is the largest B2B company, and the fifth largest online company by revenue. It is also in the top 50 public corporations in the world and is listed on the Forbes Global 2000 list.
With this much importance, it is no doubt that Alibaba is one of the safest and most legit sites in the business.
Furthermore, it has a wide variety of products, hundreds of categories, good quality goods, and millions of users in the world. It is widely used by many businesses worldwide as an essential part of their business. The sourcing business just would not be the same if it weren’t for Alibaba.
2. Alibaba’s Seller Verification
If you’re still worried about its safety, then Alibaba has a specific feature for you: verified sellers. These are some of the most trustworthy sellers on the site, from which you can buy safely.
Verified sellers are those whose aspects of their company’s profile, management system, production abilities, product management, quality control, and process control have been analyzed, certified and examined by an independent third party. In simple terms, all aspects of their business have been inspected in detail and approved as being reliable.
Many sellers on Alibaba have this feature, and it is very safe to buy from them. They have a separate verified tag on their profile. So you can identify them easily.
Basically, your money will be safe with Alibaba until you are satisfied with the quality. If there is quality issue or delay in shipment, you can get refund or open a dispute.
Either way, you will not get scammed. Hence, Alibaba pays a lot of attention to the safety and security of the buyer’s money by preventing frauds.
4. Alibaba Trade Assurance
Alibaba Trade Assurance is a buyer protection service offered by Alibaba. It enables secure payment from buyer to supplier, and has a refund mechanism in case of wrong order.
This is how it works: you send the payment after placing an order to the Alibaba bank account. Then Alibaba releases the payment if things are up to the mark, meet the quality requirements, and the deadlines that were set by you. If the shipment is delayed or the products don’t conform to the promised quality, you will get a refund.
So this is one of the safety features that Alibaba offers. It saves you from losses and scams. Therefore, if you’re worried about buying from Alibaba, use this service and the buying process will be very safe.
5. Seller Credentials
Apart from the verified sellers, there are gold sellers, who pay for their accounts. The verified sellers and companies go through third-party inspections, so you can see how much information about them is verified. These are known as checks.
There is the basic ‘A&V check’ – you can check the seller’s business license and contact information. Then there is ‘online check’. These include more factors like business type, factory location, ownership status, photos of operation, and certifications.
And last is ‘assessed supplier’ – information about the export license, process management, R&D, verified products and videos. So more of the seller credentials can be seen and verified according to these factors.
All of these aspects indicate that Alibaba invests a lot to make sure that sellers on the site are good and reliable; third-party tests are conducted for these various aspects of the seller.
Chapter 2: 6 Steps Process to Buy Safely from Alibaba
As you can see there are many safety mechanisms in place in Alibaba. But if you’re still worried and want to be extra careful, then here are 6 steps you should follow to buy safely from Alibaba, and to find a reliable supplier.
1. Check Seller Profile on Alibaba
The first step is to check the seller’s profile. On the profile, you’ll find many indicators and features that will tell you more about the seller, like the products they sell. It depends on the type of seller you’re dealing with.
For example, there are many ‘checks’ (third party checks) that each supplier can have. A&V checks means that you can check the seller’s business license and contact information.
You should look for seller with ‘online check’. These include more aspects like business type, factory location, ownership status, photos of operation, and certifications. All this information is verified for these types of sellers, which makes them more reliable.
The very best sellers are those with ‘assessed supplier’ tag, which have all these previous aspects, as well as information about other certificates, export license, process management, R&D, verified products and videos. Most of these will also be gold members; they pay for their accounts. These are most reliable sellers.
2. Check Reviews and Ratings
Another step is to go through the reviews and ratings of the products you want to buy. These are given by the customers who have bought the products before, so they’re a good indicator of the quality, reliability and durability of products etc.
This will give you the idea of how good the products are. The same should be done for the companies and sellers.
Too many negative reviews and very low ratings mean you should avoid the product or the seller, because they’re not very good. On the other hand, too many good reviews are bad as well, because some sellers give fake reviews on their products to boost sales.
Just be mindful of these factors while you read the reviews. A moderately good rating, and mainly good reviews from a variety of customers in different parts of the world is what you should look for.
3. Buy from Verified Suppliers and get extra suppliers as backup
In the previous chapter, we mentioned verified suppliers, who go through third party inspection on various aspects of their business and credentials. It is in your best interest to only buy from these verified sellers.
The more information that is verified about the seller, the better it is. These sellers are reliable, trustworthy and deal in good products.
This means you won’t have issues about quality, shipment, quantity, price or authenticity. But if you have any urgent orders, then it is always a good idea to have some backup supplies from other sources.
You only need to do this the first time because later on you will find out if the seller on Alibaba is reliable or not. So it is just an initial precaution.
4. Check Product Catalog
Before buying any product, check the product catalog, the product catalog includes information about the product like its features, description, price, design, dimensions, weight, availability, color, and customer reviews etc.
You need to go through all the information listed. The more information that is listed, the better it is. If there is less information about the product, avoid buying it as it can be of low quality, defective or fake.
Apart from all this information, there are other things you should check. If the product catalog also includes actual pictures or videos of the product, then that is ideal. Make sure to read the customer reviews as well.
Good reviews generally indicate that the product is good. Sometimes the customers also share pictures of the products they received; you can compare those pictures to the pictures of the product as listed on the site. If they resemble, then the product is good.
5. Order and Inspect a Sample from Alibaba’s Suppliers
If you’re buying from a seller for the first time, or buying a new product, order a sample before placing out the actual order. This will be a good test to know if the products are good and meet your requirements. If you like the sample you can continue buying more. There are two ways to do this on Alibaba.
First, you can search the suppliers who sell the product you’re looking for on Alibaba. Then, you can message the supplier directly with details about what products you need.
You should ask questions about the price, availability, quality and all the information you are looking for. Then you can decide how much to order as a sample.
The second way is to use the Request for Quotation (RFQ) tool. This is a feature that helps you to find the suppliers who can provide the product you’re looking for.
To do this you have to fill the form, where you write all details of the product like the category, design, materials, and quantity etc. You can also upload images, and specify the payment method. The request will then be sent to the relevant suppliers; you will get a response from those who can meet your needs.
6. Use Secure Payment Methods
Lastly, always use secure payment channels to deliver funds. This is to prevent scams and frauds.
Instead opt for safe methods like Bank Transfers, PayPal, and credit cards. These are a lot safer, you can get refunds, there is protection against scams, and less risk involved. But the best and most secure method is the escrow service provided by Alibaba, which is Alibaba Trade Assurance.
Alibaba Trade Assurance is a buyer protection service that enables secure payment from you to the supplier. It also has a refund mechanism in case of wrong order.
Basically, you place an order and then send the payment to the Alibaba bank account, instead of directly to the supplier.
Then after you receive the order and you are satisfied, Alibaba will release the payment to the seller. If something goes wrong on the seller’s part, you will get a refund. So you should always opt for this method when paying.
Chapter 3: How to Verify a Good Supplier on Alibaba
As with all online commerce sites, there are all kinds of sellers on Alibaba. Some are good and reliable, others could be scammers. It is up to you as the buyer to find good and reliable sellers. Here are a few tips on how to verify a good supplier on Alibaba.
1. Know about Alibaba Gold Member, are they worthy of trust?
There are two types of seller accounts on Alibaba: free members and gold members. Free members are those who don’t pay for their accounts. While gold members are those who pay for their accounts; they get extra benefits of going so and are usually reliable sellers.
There are various degrees of gold membership: basic, standard and premium. It can cost anywhere from $1,899 to $6,499.
Now the question remains if you should trust gold members are not. We can’t say anything with certainty but consider this line of reasoning. If they were scammers, they wouldn’t pay so much money for an account.
It is likely that scammers are usually free members of the site. On the other hand, gold members are more serious about their work, so they pay for their accounts. Therefore, it is unlikely that gold members will scam you; they are mostly reliable.
2. Check the numbers of years of those Alibaba stores
The companies and sellers whose products you buy from Alibaba differ greatly. Some are quite old and have been there for many years. While you will find that other is very new, even a few weeks or even days old. The same is the case for accounts; some are very old and some are very new.
In order to find who to buy from, the general rule of thumb is to buy from old accounts, sellers who have been in the business for many years. Not only are they good at their job but they are also reliable and trusted.
Since Alibaba continues to work to remove scammers on their site, it means old accounts are safe and reliable, while newer ones are not that safe. They could be scammers, so try to opt for old sellers.
3. Check suppliers’ business licenses
Some good sellers will list their business licenses on their profiles. This means they have legally registered business operators, and probably have been in this business for long.
This also implies they are in the export/import business and know the ins and outs of the whole business, even if they haven’t been working on Alibaba for long.
These licensed sellers are usually very reliable. Usually, they will also have other aspects as well like verified seller status or gold membership.
You will also find other certificates and information on their profile like business type, factory location, and photos of operation, export license, process management, R&D, verified products and videos.
Chapter 4: Potential Risks to avoid when Buying from Alibaba
Even with all these safety tips, there are a few risk you need to be aware of. Look out for these red flags when buying, to stay safe from scams.
1. Lower prices of products, higher prices of transportation
One of the biggest pitfalls when buying from Alibaba that you need to avoid is low price and high transport cost combination. Sometimes sellers with lower price products will try to compensate for the low price by giving a high transportation cost. The cost is a lot more than the price of the product itself.
This can sometimes happen when you buy samples. Even otherwise, when you order a small quantity of goods, which has low price but you have, for example, express delivery, the price of the transportation and shipping will be very high; this is unfeasible.
Solution: You need to watch out for this type of situation. You can try to order in bulk to save on production and shipping costs. But generally, you should avoid it if the shipping cost is too high compared to the product price.
2. Buying famous brands’ products, especially digital products
The majority of scams on Alibaba is when the seller promises a good quality and genuine good, but it is actually low quality and fake. The most common way they do it is with brand names like Apple, Samsung, and Nike etc.
You may be tempted to buy these branded products for such a low price but it is almost always a scam. The low price should tell you that this product is fake because genuine branded products are very expensive.
Solution: Always avoid this ‘too good to be true’ phenomenon. If the product has brand name, you should know it is most likely fake. And if it has very low price, it is definitely fake. So don’t fall into this trap. Always avoid branded products, especially electronics as these are the most popular.
3. Trusting 100% that Alibaba Trade Assurance can protect buyers
Alibaba Trade Assurance is one of the best services of its kind. It offers very good protection for buyers and a mechanism against scams. But it is not the ultimate shield against scams.
If you blindly trust that it will protect you against all kinds of scams, then you are at risk. Although this is rare, there are some ways in which scammers can outsmart the system.
For example, even if you know you haven’t received the goods yet, the scammer can give fake evidence to convince Alibaba that they have sent the package.
Solution: To avoid this, always make smart and careful choices. Don’t blindly trust Alibaba Trade Assurance to protect you from everything.
Take matters into your own hands by checking the credentials and status of seller and company, check their reviews and ratings, and only deal with old and trusted suppliers. Order a sample before buying in bulk. Make these practices a business habit.
4. Buying from Sellers with Free Accounts
Buying from free account sellers increases the risk of being scammed. We are not saying that all free accounts belong to scammers but the possibility increases a lot more if the account is free rather than gold.
Since free accounts don’t have anything at stake and are not verified, they are more likely to engage in scams, but this is not the case for gold members since they paid money for their accounts.
Solution: Always try to opt for gold members when buying from Alibaba. If their accounts are old and verified, then all the better. You still should check all their credentials, product catalog, and other information as well, but buying from gold members at least decreases the risk of scams.
5. Buying Products with Very High or Very Low Ratings
As we already mentioned, very high or very low ratings are red flags. Very low ratings mean the products were not liked by the customers; they are defective, of low quality, or fake.
Very high ratings can mean the seller has given good ratings to his own products by the wrong means; these are fake good ratings. This isn’t always the case of course; sometimes the products are good. But it is better to be on the safe side.
Solution: Make it a habit to check the reviews and ratings of each and every product before buying. This will give you the idea of how good the products are like their reliability, durability, authenticity.
You should look for and buy products with a moderately good rating, and mainly good reviews from a variety of customers in different parts of the world. Avoid buying products with very high or very low ratings.
6. Personal Dealings with Suppliers outside of Alibaba
Sometimes the sellers will ask to connect with you outside of Alibaba. They usually do this to ask for your personal information like location, email, and other contact info.
Sometimes they’ll offer a much lower price too when meeting in person or contacting via phone/email. This is a red flag that you should look out for because there is a big possibility they are trying to scam you.
Solution: First of all, you should avoid any personal dealings with sellers. Keep all contact and communication limited to Alibaba and don’t give out any personal information.
If you are offered a very low price, avoid the seller, and don’t commit to any payments initially, as it could be a scam. If you want to consider personal contact, then see if their email or contact number is the same as listed on Alibaba. If it isn’t, then avoid them.
7. Using Insecure Alibaba Payment Methods
Sometimes the sellers will ask you to pay into their personal bank accounts which is completely illegal in international trade. Also, cash payments are not insecure payment methods since these are not recorded by banks. Avoid using such payment methods under any circumstances.
Solution:When paying, only opt for safe payment methods, like credit cards, bank transfers, and PayPal, etc. But the best and most secure method is the escrow service provided by Alibaba, which is Alibaba Trade Assurance.
It saves you from scams and losses, and has a refund mechanism. So always opt for this service. Also, avoid sellers who insists to be paid through Western Union.
Chapter 5: Tips to avoid potential risks when buying from Alibaba
Since there are risks involved in buying from Alibaba, here are some general tips and guidelines to keep in mind when you are buying.
1. Don’t order fake products from Alibaba
There are some sellers on Alibaba who are selling fake products. There are tips to identify these fake products.
First of all, check the product catalog the – features, description, price, design, dimensions, color, and customer reviews etc. If there is less information about the product, avoid buying it as it can be fake.
Also check the reviews. Sometimes the customers also share pictures of the products they received in the reviews; you can compare those pictures to the pictures of the product as listed on the site. If they don’t resemble, then product is fake.
And lastly, avoid branded products like Apple, Samsung, and Nike. These products are usually listed as cheap but they are fake. And avoid very cheap products. The very low price means that the product is likely fake.
2. Find out several suppliers of the same level who sell similar products
Before buying from any supplier, find other similar sellers that sell the same products. For example, you will find many sellers on Alibaba that sell electronics. So you should select a list of potential sellers.
Then check the credentials and status that have been mentioned in the article. It is better to have a wide range of options instead of sticking to one seller.
The next step should be to shortlist the number of sellers, depending on their credentials, prices of their products, customer reviews, and other factors. Then you can order samples from each one, and finalize who you want to work with.
This is a long process, but it is thorough and will make sure you make the right choices in a smart way. It will definitely benefit you in the long term.
3. Let the third party check the quality of the products and audit the supplier
This one is a little costly but if possible, you should hire a third-party inspection company to check the quality of goods. You should do this when you order your samples from sellers first.
Third-party inspection will ensure that all quality controls, tests, functionality and standards of the products are met completely, and then give you a review.
The audit company will even check things that you might miss yourself, so it is a good idea. Once you receive the review, you can finalize if you want to work with the seller again or not. If not, you can choose another supplier.
4. Use the escrow service for payment
When paying, only opt for safe payment methods, like credit cards, bank transfers and PayPal. But the best and most secure method is the escrow service provided by Alibaba, which is Alibaba Trade Assurance. It saves you from scams and losses. So always opt for this service.
This service enables secure payment from you to the supplier. It also has a refund mechanism in case of wrong order. Basically, you place an order and then send the payment to the Alibaba bank account, instead of directly to the supplier.
Then after you receive the order and you are satisfied, Alibaba will release your payment to the seller. If something goes wrong on the seller’s part like delay or bad quality, you will get a refund if you win the dispute.
5. Don’t buy in bulk at the start
Make it a practice to buy a sample first before placing the full order. This will be a good test to know if the products are good and meet your requirements, and if the seller is reliable.
If you like the sample you can continue buying more. If you buy in bulk at the start, you can incur losses. For example, if you don’t like the product, you can’t resell it and it goes to waste, along with your money. Or maybe the seller doesn’t deliver and you get scammed out of your money.
You have options to choose from when ordering a sample. Either directly message suppliers with details of what you need like the price, availability, quality and all the information you are looking for.
Or you can choose the Request for Quotation (RFQ) tool. You need to fill the form, where you write all details of the product like the category, design, materials, and quantity etc.
Chapter 6: Frequently Asked Questions if is Alibaba Safe and Legit
1. Is it safe to order from Alibaba?
It is generally safe to order from Alibaba; the site is very safe and reliable. However, you need to find good and trustworthy sellers on your own. There are indicators to tell which seller is reliable.
2. Can you get scammed on Alibaba?
As with any online site, it is possible to get scammed on Alibaba. Look out for red flags on Alibaba, use secure payment and always by from good sellers to avoid scams. See the tips we mentioned in this blog to avoid being scammed.
3. What is a verified supplier on Alibaba?
Verified suppliers are those whose aspects of their company’s profile, management system, production abilities, product management, quality control, and process control have been analyzed, certified, and examined by an independent third party.
4. Can you trust sellers on Alibaba?
Look out for assessed sellers, gold members, and verified sellers on Alibaba. These are reliable and trusted sellers. Avoid free accounts.
5. Does Alibaba Trade Assurance protect buyers?
Alibaba Trade Assurance is a buyer protection service. It enables secure payment from the buyer to supplier and has a refund mechanism in case of wrong order.
If the shipment is delayed or the products don’t conform to the promised quality, you will get a refund. So this is one of the safety features that Alibaba offers to protect buyers. It saves buyers from losses and scams.
Alibaba is one of the largest e-commerce sites in the world. It has many safety features and buyer protection policies that ensure it is a safe and legit site.
This article explored the potential risks, the safety features, and the ways to buy safely from Alibaba. By now, you know that a lot of it has to do with sellers and how you need to verify the reliability of sellers yourself.
That means the kind of experience you have on Alibaba depends mostly on you. Smart and careful choices will make it a great experience. And to answer your question ‘Is Alibaba safe and legit?’ the answer is yes. So keep these tips in mind, proceed with caution, and start buying from Alibaba now.