1) Never purchase from a free or unverified member on any supplier website we have recommended or any you come across. When browsing for products and suppliers on sites like these, you’ll need to focus your selection for suppliers who have been verified by a trust pass sign or are listed as gold members.
These verified members pay a large fee to the site and this tells any potential importer that the particular supplier is serious, unlike free or unverified members who can pose quite a threat to deal with. You can read more about how suppliers are verified on the websites, however, the message is simple, by ensuring a supplier is verified then you immediately minimize risk of fraud and bad business.
2) Conduct a general scam search on the web to see if you can find the particular supplier listed anywhere. This guideline may be quite simple, however, it is very powerful in deciphering whether your nominated supplier is involved in any fraudulent activity. What you’ll need to do is simply type your supplier’s company name followed by the word ‘scam’ or ‘fraud’ in the major search engines such as Google.
Almost immediately once you see the search results, browse through the list and try to see if your supplier’s name is mentioned anywhere. If they are, click the link and read what the nature of the content is. It may only be a general listing or even a company profile.
These types of listings are fine, of course, as you are only looking for any negative comments by other previous buyers who dealt with the same supplier in the past. What you’ll notice is that more times than not, if a bad supplier is into fraudulent activity, chances are that other buyers before you would have been cheated.
Some sites and forums actually have a list already compiled of scam suppliers. AliBaba.com offers such scam watch lists and you may easily find these awareness forums through general searches online.
Recently, sites specifically targeting scam sellers such as http://alibabascam.com and http://alibabascammers.com allows buyers to be more aware and further prevent them from falling into any traps. If your supplier seems to be trustworthy or no results were found, then also look through any other industry related websites or forums that may mention the supplier’s name. You may not find anything, however it is crucial that you run this process as part of the guideline.
3) Once you have verified that your nominated supplier isn’t listed as a scam company, you’ll need to locate your supplier’s contact and company details. If they are verified on a supplier site, then the company details would be quite evident and not hard to find.
What you’ll observe when looking at your supplier’s details is mainly their office address, region, country, phone, fax numbers and email address. Most respected suppliers will have an informative website and a page of company history which is also important in order to determine just how secure your supplier is in their industry.
Another very important aspect to observe when verifying a supplier is the amount of time they have been verified as a supplier. Do be cautious with suppliers who have been online for a year or less and it is highly recommended to only select suppliers who have been members on websites as AliBaba.com for more than one year.
The next step to verifying details is to actually make a phone call to your supplier’s listed company number. It may cost you a few cents, but on the other hand, it may save you thousands. If their line seems to be disconnected or you hear an answering machine, then try calling again over the next two days (making sure these are business working days of course) and if you still don’t have a satisfactory phone reply, then it certainly isn’t a good sign at all and further research may be required.
Of course when calling your supplier, you’ll need to take note of your own time zone and what time it would be in your supplier’s country. If contacting by phone was not successful, your next place of verification would be to contact them via email where you can introduce yourself and request specific contact details for yourself including particular communications software such as Skype or MSN for more effective and faster communication.
If you still haven’t heard a response within 72 hours, then you’ll need to move on to another supplier and start the verification process once again, no questions asked.
However if you do receive a response eventually from your non-talkative supplier, make sure they can provide to you a legitimate answer for their absence.
For some suppliers, it may have just been that the company was out at a trade fair, it might have been a public or religious holiday, whatever the case, you’ll need to factor all this in when awaiting a response from any supplier.
4) As exciting as it is to import your first very own batch or container of stock, if you have never purchased anything from your supplier, then it is imperative that your first order be a small sample or test order only.
There are a multitude of importers, who when first starting out, order a complete quantity of stock almost immediately using their ‘own’ certification methodology which could have been a simple browse through the suppliers’ website without researching any further details whatsoever. If this is the path you prefer to take, you might as well start giving away your money.
In order to safeguard your business and select a respectable product source, you need to first advise the supplier that in order to ‘build trust’ and regardless of what minimum quantity they impose, you’ll be placing a small quantity order to test and examine their product prior to ordering a larger quantity.
You may be a little confused by thinking just how small your quantity ought to be. Well, that all depends on the range of products you intend to bring in. It may only be one type of product or range of products. Rule of thumb is that you can bring in at a quantity of at least one product per type.
This doesn’t include different styles as your supplier may have many styles for the same product. What you want to find out is the quality and functionality of the product the supplier is offering. Once this is done and your sample is received and you are satisfied with the product, only then can a justified decision be made.
When you finally sense an adequate level of trust for your supplier, you’ll also need to observe the fact that when you need questions answered, your supplier will be there to provide you with that support. Yes, it may be great to finally lock onto a reliable supplier for your products, however without any support and very little communication, you may find yourself in a pickle when you need to make an important decision and need to ask your supplier a question.
Keep in mind that some suppliers may take up to 48 hours to respond depending on how busy they are during a particular time of the year.
Most established suppliers will have other representatives communicate with you during busy times in order to assist you in answering your questions. If your supplier seems as though they are not responding, first find out whether there are any festivals or holidays happening in their country during the time you are asking for assistance.