Opinions, knowledge and resources from China Checkup's expert contributors
by Matt Slater
29 November 2018
Last year we ran a simple experiment on our website to find out whether or not our audience trust Alibaba suppliers.
Thousands of visitors to our blog received the automated message from our live chat software "Just a quick question, do you feel that you can trust an Alibaba supplier?".
The 109 replies we received gave us some fascinating insights into the difficulties buyers face when deciding if they can trust Alibaba suppliers or not.
We received 109 responses to our question "do you feel that you can trust an Alibaba supplier?" and the results show a very mixed picture.
Note that this wasn't a multiple choice question, so we have reviewed each response and summarized the results as follows:
More than anything, the results show that despite the incredible range of products and Alibaba's assurances, the majority of users still feel uneasy when it comes to trusting suppliers on their platform.
Our advice is to take everything you are told with a pinch of salt and when in doubt, verify.
In addition to the above figures, our question also generated some interesting responses from our audience who shared some insights into their experiences on the sourcing platform.
Below we share some of their thoughts and experiences.
Many respondents simply replied "Yes", but often the ones that had more to say gave a qualified (... if, or ... but,) answer. Here are some of the more interesting responses:
"Yes once some communication has been made and a clear understanding of the company is available but always buyer beware!!!"
Great advice - there are many good suppliers on Alibaba but take your time to build trust and clearly communicate your requirements
"Yes - I do research first."
Conducting research and requesting key documents from Chinese suppliers can help mitigate risk.
"Yes, I feel that I can trust an Alibaba supplier."
"Some of them yes, others completely not."
"I know that there are lots of genuine suppliers there but also a few bad ones. I don't have 100% trust."
This is the right attitude to have, it is important to be cautious.
"Some of them, yes, I've been scammed, but there are a few that I would commend."
Unfortunately there are a few scams running on Alibaba but you can take steps to avoid them.
On the other hand, many of the users who responded in the negative were keen to add more details about their experiences. These comments give some great insights into the trust issues that buyers have using the Alibaba platform:
"No not at all. I just paid in full for a full container from China and the manufacturer is not answering my messages or phone calls!"
The dreaded silent treatment, hopefully it was nothing more than a delay.
"No, you need to check their history first before buying!"
Yes, take time to understand and verify the supplier and their track record.
"Honestly speaking I can not trust an Alibaba supplier if I don't do my own verification and there's a whole process on it. Unfortunately I can say that more than 60% of the suppliers shown in Alibaba are fake or fraud."
It is very important to verify that a Chinese company is legitimate and our company can assist you with this process.
"I don't know, I was cheated several times"
"I don't know, I was cheated several times"
It is important to recognize some warning signs that you might be falling victim to a scam.
"No, because we have been contacted by many and until now none was serious and they were unable to prove that they are genuine suppliers."
It is better to do no deal, than to do a bad deal or be defrauded.
"These days I can't trust any."
"I have a product that I want, but the supplier doesn't want to chat on the Alibaba website, only emails and demands Western Union payments"
Any suppliers that are demanding payment by Western Union should be treated with a very high level of caution, it is not a suitable payment method for commercial transactions.
"No, I have just been scammed by a Gold Member."
There have been many issues with Alibaba's gold supplier membership scheme over the years.
"Not every supplier can be trusted because they send the sample and when we officially order from them, the item is totally different."
"No, most non-Chinese suppliers have not proved to be trustworthy."
This is a good point, not all suppliers on Alibaba are Registered in China.
"No, I would have got scammed today if I didn't do my research."
"It's not good practice to trust without performing any verification on Alibaba suppliers. We have been submitting our demands on Alibaba for the last 5-7 years and have found 3 cheating suppliers."
This comment is very revealing - despite these 3 incidents, Alibaba remains the best website for sourcing, as long as you are verifying your suppliers.
"Not really, most of the products that they claim to have been made in their own factories are just images that they have taken from another source. So the same photo of the same product is found to be on the mini website of 30 different factories. A lot go onto western websites and steal their images and claim as their own product. Hmmm I wish it was easier to find reputable suppliers."
This is a very good point and illustrates why it is critical to carefully do your research. There are a lot of suppliers on Alibaba who make pretty wild claims about what they can manufacture, but in reality are trading companies with no manufacturing capacity. The prevalent attitude is "Get the order first, figure out how to make it later"!
"Not really... Hard to find a trustworthy seller..."
"Nope, not all. Need to check some of them."
As reflected by the comments above, when dealing with Chinese suppliers it is important to verify that they are a legitimate company and that their claims are credible.
China Checkup's company verification services make this process super convenient and are fast and affordable.
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Hi there, I'm Matt, the Founder & CEO of China Checkup. Originally from the UK, I am now based in Brisbane, Australia.
Frustrated by the scarcity of concise, high-quality and timely information about Chinese companies, I setup China Checkup whilst living in Shanghai in 2013.
My team are proud that China Checkup's company verification reports have now helped thousands of clients from all corners of the world to do business in China more safely.
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View this comprehensive list of cities in China from Ankang to Zunyi!
We have included all cities in China that are either at, or above, prefecture-level and they are listed both alphabetically and grouped by province.
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This list of Chinese AMR websites includes links to the AMR branch website for each province/administrative region in China.
In case you're wondering, the acronym "AMR" stands for "Administration for Market Regulation", which is a newly-launched Chinese government agency created by the merger of many previous agencies, including the AIC and AQSIQ.
This super regulator is now responsible for a wide range of regulatory matters in Mainland China, so if you need to get in touch with them you should find this list of Chinese AMR websites useful.
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The China AEO Certificate is a document held by companies in China engaged in import and export activities.
Issued by China Customs, the certificate specifies the company's enterprise classification, which determines their level of inspections and more.
Requesting and verifying a supplier's China AEO certificate can be a sensible measure to understand if they are registered with China Customs as an "Authorized Economic Operator" and to check their AEO type.
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