Manufacturing · Outsource

How do you find reliable manufacturers on Alibaba?

Svetlana Gluschuk QA Analyst

February 27th, 2017

I was hoping to receive advice from people who are familiar with outsourced manufacturing and/or Alibaba. I have no clue how to spot a scam on this site (or if we have any recourse with Alibaba if that happens). What have your experiences been with sourcing a manufacturer on Alibaba? What do you look for in this manufacturer, and what are some red flags that you have spotted?

Dane Madsen Organizational and Operational Strategy Consultant

February 28th, 2017

Alibaba offers a Trade Guarantee (you pay for it) that adds a 3rd party verification process. I have not used it nor anyone that has.

David Pariseau

February 27th, 2017

I've had reasonably good experience, though I only count on the site to identify potential suppliers or partners and then do normal due diligence after that to vet these. But, with the exception of 1 scam I've found the most of the suppliers are legitimate, though they span the gamut from a quality perspective. However, my experience has been largely with electronic components, I'd image the consumer electronics or apparel spaces might be significantly different.


Gabor Nagy Founder / Chief architect at Skyline Robotics

Last updated on February 27th, 2017

As @David said, due diligence is important, but often you can't find any information about a supplier, outside of Alibaba.

So, order a small quantity first, and absolutely insist on paying with PayPal, or a credit card that has fraud protection.

The number one red flag is, if a supplier only accepts direct bank transfers for payment!

With a direct bank transfer, you have no insurance against fraud, so if they won't accept PayPal, even for ordering a few samples, forget about them.

Also, make sure you create a separate email account for dealing with Alibaba and be prepared to deal with spam.

If you just search for a product, you'll get a lot of spam about, often unrelated products.

I searched for LCD screens for our VR headset prototype a couple of years ago, and I'm still getting a lot of LED lighting spam (a completely unrelated product)...

I only use AliBaba, if I absolutely can not get a part from anywhere else.