Alibaba is a great channel because of the quantity of qualified suppliers that are using the platform. Once you have found out which product or type of products you want to source, the next step is to reach out to the suppliers. This post will inform you with an email script that will get a response from suppliers, the information you need to gather, and how to organize the information in a way to make a decision on which supplier to go with.
Below is the email script I use to talk with suppliers. It has worked for me to get responses and begin dialogue. I generally reach out to the supplier on Alibaba's chat system but then move my conversation over to Skype. Remember, Asia is about a 12 hour time difference for the United States, so our night time is their working time. Here is the script:
I am looking for [Product or Category] for the US market. If our initial order goes well, I think I can order [High Number] every month.
Can we begin discussing this business?
My skype is [skype name]. We have been selling [Product or Category] very well from a US supplier so far.
[Position: Senior Buyer/VP of Operations]
Key Information To Gather
Once the conversation is started you want to reach out to several different suppliers. Try maybe 10 or so suppliers to get a range of different quotes. These are the pieces of information that are important to you as a buyer:
- Lead time
- Ex Works PI shipping arrangements
- Size: weight, length, height, width
- Private Label
- SampleTerms of Sale
Once you contact the suppliers, they are usually pretty good at responding within one business day. If you reach out to a lot of suppliers, you will be receiving A LOT of information. It is important that you organize the data in a way that you are able to make a good decision based on the responses of the key information you gathered. The strategy I recommend is using a Google Sheet to keep your information organized:
This example of "Meat Claws" (don't source this product FYI), organizes the supplier, the listing, the product, price, lead time, MOQ, Size/Weight, Private Label availability, and terms of sale. It clearly lists all the pertinant information in order to make a good decision based on your own criteria. Things you need to ask yourself and decide what is most important to make the best decision:
- Is price the most important thing?
- Should I sacrifice price for better lead times?
- Is this the exact product I want based on size and weight and material?
- Is private labeling this product make or break?
After answering some of these questions, grade the supplier and choose the best one. Feel free to steal this email script and Google Sheets. Hopefully this will help you in selecting suppliers for your products. Please reach out if you have any questions on qualifying suppliers.