China Manufacturers Directory is the number one business-to-business (B2B) online marketplace for importing products from factories in China. There are thousands of manufacturers and trading companies offering direct from factory and wholesale products. Most of the suppliers listed are brokers or agents of manufacturers; however you can still expect big discounts compared to sourcing from local wholesalers, depending on the quantity of your purchase.

Some people refer to Alibaba as the eBay counterpart of China. This is a common misconception. Alibaba differs from eBay because it is not intended for individuals; it is a B2B (business to business) directory of manufacturers and suppliers mostly from China. Although a substantial number of the suppliers are from China, there are also exporters from India, Vietnam and Bangladesh.

Review of Alibaba is a great place for start-ups and import export businesses looking to import products. You don’t need to pay a sourcing company to find and assess suppliers for you anymore, you can do it yourself but there are real risks and responsibilities that every importer needs to be across.

The two key issues are:

  1. Limited legal recourse – an overseas based website. There are limited legal options to remedy a problem. If something goes wrong when you buy online from China or if you encounter  fraud or issues with your order – initiating legal proceedings in a foreign country is going to be costly with questionable chance of success
  2. Importer is responsible – Neither the supplier nor the website is responsible for complying with Australian Laws. In Australia the importer is wholly responsible for ensuring products comply with laws, standards and clearance requirements. Shipping product without checking these many requirements may result in product being confiscated or destroyed by Customs

How to Buy Off – Manufacturers in Asia

  1. Due Diligence of Chinese vendors – as an importer on Alibaba, it is your responsibility to examine the facts that are presented by the supplier. You should not rely solely on the posts, images and content provided by the supplier, and always get external verification prior to paying for a commercial order
  2. External Verification of Manufacturers in China – Alibaba does provide some authentication and verification material of supplier companies. However, the reports and inspection material must be current, not more than six months old to be credible and relevant to a current product.
  3. Get Factory Inspection of Supplier to Verify Facts – fraud is one issue; more common however is the issue of inexperienced importers being taken advantage of by exporters.

Scams on Alibaba – Is Alibaba Safe to Buy From?

Alibaba is not the problem, it doesn’t matter what the platform or method of business, there is always a risk of doing business with a supplier you have not properly verified. Anyone can create an account on Alibaba or any B2B manufacturer directory website, and upload images and make grand claims. Don’t commit to a commercial order with an anonymous supplier that does not have proper credentials, without getting external verification – a factory inspection.

My Import Label’s Learning Program Solution

My Import Label offers a complete guide to selecting better products and suppliers when buying online from China through Alibaba,, or  This guide is ideal for small companies who are new to importing that need the expertise of a freight forwarder to check products before committing to a commercial purchase.

With this program you can:

  1. Test your product idea for much less – a low cost virtual assistant so you don’t have to fork out for costly seminar training, or a sourcing company. You can DIY import, with a professional import network at your fingertips, and get the big decisions right
  2. Select better products – identify which products are best suited for you to import to Australia. It will support you to know what to check, how to check and comprehensively assess the suitability of the product to be imported
  3. Select better suppliers – better select suppliers and filter from 30,000, down to a handful you can then start sampling from


Need more help buying from Alibaba? Our Trader program will help you source from China using Alibaba more safely and with less risk.

Get your idea into action – Get Started

by Ben Crawford How to Buy Off – A Tool for Importers

My Import Label