Whether you’re buying wholesale or employing the dropshipping approach, finding the correct suppliers may make or break your eCommerce business.
It’s critical to identify suppliers who will provide high-quality products on schedule and at a low cost so that your business may run smoothly and generate a positive return on investment.
It’s also crucial not to sell what everyone else is selling, and otherwise, you’ll get lost in the crowd.
Today, we’ll look at Alibaba and Worldwide Brands, two of the most popular supplier directories for discovering eCommerce product suppliers.
Alibaba is a free online directory that is one of the largest in the world.
On the other hand, Worldwide Brands is not free, leading many merchants to question whether paying a fee to use their directory is worthwhile.
Would joining Worldwide Brands give you a competitive advantage in the market by providing you with access to exclusive, high-quality suppliers?
We’ll compare the two directories today so you can make an educated selection for yourself.
The first thing we’ll look at is the location of suppliers on each platform.
The fact that most Worldwide Brands’ suppliers are situated in the United States is something the company takes pride in.
This isn’t to say that they’re all based in the United States; there are plenty of suppliers worldwide.
You have the option of filtering for products from Canadian merchants when searching.
Even if you are not situated in the United States and are not selling to a US audience, you can use Worldwide Brands; nonetheless, it is more beneficial for US sellers.
Because the majority of the products are supplied in the United States, they will arrive sooner.
This is critical for short turnaround times, but more so if you’re employing the dropshipping model.
You don’t directly handle the product with dropshipping; instead, you operate as a middleman between the supplier and the customer (whether the consumer is purchasing on your own Shopify store, eBay, or Amazon).
If you’re using an overseas dropshipping supplier, the merchandise may take a few weeks to arrive at your consumer.
This can result in customer discontent and negative feedback.
If you’re selling to Americans, using suppliers from the United States will make a major difference.
Products sourced from within the United States, on the other hand, are usually more expensive.
This does not rule out the possibility of making a profit; you can always pass on some of the additional cost to the customer.
Higher-quality goods can be sold for more money.
However, if you can obtain your things for pennies on the dollar, you will usually make a higher profit.
The majority of Alibaba’s suppliers, on the other hand, are based in China, and Alibaba is a Chinese firm that is owned by Jack Ma, a Chinese politician, and financier.
This does not imply that all suppliers are Chinese.
Other nations, such as Vietnam, India, and Pakistan, have many suppliers, particularly in the garment industry.
If you sell in those nations, this is fantastic.
Even vendors from the United States, Australia, and Europe are available. In the search results, you can filter and search for those suppliers.
Let’s have a look at the providers’ availability based on their location. I used the search bar to look for “caps,” and the product breakdown was as follows:
- China — almost 42,000
- Pakistan — 693
- Vietnam — 127
- India — 124
- France — 52
- United States — 44
- Bangladesh — 28
There were also several additional countries. Australia, for example, had only one product/supplier, while Turkey had ten, Egypt had nine, Italy had 18, and Japan had eight.
As you can see, finding suppliers in your own country is not hard; there are more vendors in China than in other countries.
What does this imply for you? On the one hand, it implies that you will obtain lower-cost products when purchasing in quantity.
While caps from US suppliers were still inexpensive, caps from Chinese vendors were even less so.
Most US caps appeared to start at $3-6, though I did see several caps for $1-2 if purchased in bulk quantities of 500 or more.
However, I discovered caps for $1 per unit and considerably cheaper (as low as $0.60 per unit or possibly even lower) if purchased in quantity.
Let’s look at another example: bandanas. If you buy in quantity from China, you may have bandana scarves with your personalized logo for as little as $0.20 per item. On Amazon, these bespoke bandanas can easily sell for $5-12 each.
However, as previously said, the disadvantage of shipping from China is that packages can take a long time to arrive.
This is OK if you are storing things in your warehouse or a fulfillment facility.
If you’re using dropshipping, though, a US vendor is your best chance. Consumers anticipate fast shipping times when they shop online, and Amazon has set the bar high.
Customers do not want to wait 3-5 weeks for a product, and a week should be the absolute maximum.
Product Variety And Availability
The second topic we’ll discuss is product variety and selection.
We’ll look for three products on each platform: facial creams, baby pacifiers, and earphones to achieve an exact comparison.
On Worldwide Brands, I found six pages of results for facial moisturizers, with about six providers on each page (a total of 36 suppliers).
Keep in mind that the results display providers rather than items; some suppliers may sell multiple types of face moisturizer.
Only ten vendors were identified when I looked for infant pacifiers. I found 19 sources when looking for earphones.
On the other hand, when I searched Alibaba for “facial moisturiser,” I found 33,720 product results, with 89 in the United States.
Because these are product results, some of them may be from the same provider.
There were 8,208 infant pacifier results and 88,845 earbud results.
So, who comes out on top here? There are far more results on Alibaba than on Worldwide Brands; there isn’t much competition in terms of product availability.
That isn’t to say that all of Alibaba’s products are bad or that you won’t be able to find what you’re looking for on Worldwide Brands.
You only need one good supplier to build a successful eCommerce business (and possibly 1-2 backup providers).
Supplier Certification And Vetting
Working with dependable suppliers who will deliver high-quality goods on schedule is critical. You can qualify suppliers on both platforms.
One of the primary selling features of Worldwide Brands is that all of its suppliers are Worldwide Brands Certified (WBI Certified).
This means that all suppliers have to go through a vetting process to be included in the directory.
Not only are they checked for legitimacy, but WBI Certification also involves talking to manufacturers to ensure that the supplier is a factory-authorized source at the top of the supply chain, guaranteeing that you get the best deal possible.
One of the best aspects of WBI Certification is that vendors do not have to pay to be certified, contributing to the certification’s objectivity.
While Alibaba is open to all providers (which explains why there are so many results and allows scammers to operate), it doesn’t mean you can’t be picky.
On Alibaba, you can filter for high-quality, dependable suppliers in a variety of ways.
To begin, you can apply a few filters to limit down your search results.
You can limit your search to only products from Verified Suppliers.
Verified Suppliers have undergone an audit by a third-party verification and investigation firm (from which they can pick) to ensure that they follow good business practices.
Some suppliers may be labeled as “Assessed Suppliers,” indicating that an assessment service inspector has visited their location and conducted an inspection. The term “onsite check” refers to some onsite checks; however, the term “A&V” refers to the seller’s business license being validated.
You can also check to see if the seller is a Gold Seller, which means they’ve paid the $10,000 annual Alibaba Gold membership fee.
Remember that this doesn’t imply they’ve been verified or that they’re selling high-quality goods, but it does mean they’re not scammers, as criminals don’t normally pay $10,000 to create phoney product listings to steal your money.
It’ll also tell you how long they’ve been selling gold. The longer they’ve been a member, the more likely they are to be trustworthy.
You can also look for Trade Assurance-certified products.
This indicates that the seller has purchased guarantee insurance that protects you if your items are lost or damaged during transit.
Finally, you’ll be able to see the following information for each seller:
- Buyer reviews and star ratings for three factors: On-time shipments, supplier service, and product quality
- % of people who responded
- Rate of on-time delivery
- Level of the transaction (the more transactions they have conducted, the more likely they are to be reliable)
- How many buyers have they worked with, how many things have they shipped, and which countries have they shipped to?
You may also filter for product quality and management certifications to ensure that you only receive high-quality items that will not break within a few hours.
Just keep in mind that these are not Alibaba certificates but rather third-party certifications.
In a word, seek verified suppliers who offer trade assurance, deliver on time, have a lot of transactions under their belt, and have high ratings; likewise, look for certified products.
Dropshipping, private labeling, Low-Bulk orders, and eBay/Amazon
You can employ a variety of eCommerce models. Let’s look at which directory is the best fit for each of the models above.
Worldwide Brands caters to both regular wholesale and dropshipping customers.
Only vendors who allow dropshipping can be found using the “dropshippers only” filter.
Worldwide Brands is also ideal for buyers who buy in small quantities. If you’re new to eCommerce, you might not have the funds or storage room to invest in a large amount of inventory.
Maybe you want to try out a new product but don’t want to spend too much money all at once.
You can use the “Light Bulk Only” option to see sellers with low minimum orders.
Finally, while some vendors will not allow you to resell their products on Amazon or eBay and only allow you to sell on your website, you can filter for sellers who don’t object if you sell on both Amazon and eBay.
Private labeling could be more challenging because you’d have to negotiate directly with the supplier, which normally necessitates large quantities.
Alibaba, on the other side, is terrible for dropshippers. To begin with, most products have a minimum order quantity.
While it is possible to search for and find products with a one-item minimum order, fewer are available, and they usually cost more.
That’s why AliExpress was created: to allow customers to buy things in single-unit quantities.
Dropshippers, on the other hand, prefer AliExpress to Alibaba. Although dropshipping from Alibaba is theoretically possible, it is not recommended.
However, both AliExpress and Alibaba have a big problem for drop shippers:
Shipment can take a long time because the products are mainly purchased from China.
Finding low-bulk items, on the other hand, is a lot easier. Sellers with minimum orders of 10, 25, 50, 75, and 100 are plentiful.
Generally, the more you buy at once, the cheaper your stock will be.
Alibaba is also perfect for private labeling. Look for merchants who can alter the product and logo for you by clicking the “customization” button in the search results.
You can also use the search bar to look for “product + private label” (“face moisturiser private label,” for example), and you’ll likely discover several suppliers ready to put your brand on the goods if you place a large enough purchase.
Furthermore, finding things to sell on Amazon and eBay is simple.
Naturally, after you’ve identified a product that appears to meet your requirements, you’ll need to contact the seller directly to work out a deal.
On Worldwide Brands, you may find the supplier’s website and contact information, as well as a contact form to contact them.
It’s quite simple.
You can also contact each vendor on Alibaba by filling out an online message form.
You may also view the seller’s Alibaba profile, certificates, and products by clicking on their name.
The main problem with Alibaba is that, because its suppliers are all situated in China, linguistic barriers will likely arise.
Google Translate and other translation services can be useful, but they are not always reliable.
Look for suppliers who have already supplied to US buyers since they will have greater experience, speak English, or have a representative you can interact with.
Trade Shows, Liquidations, Etc.
Alibaba maintains a trade show calendar that lists forthcoming trade exhibits in the United States, Europe, Asia, and other locations.
Liquidation auctions, import deals, and liquidation wholesalers may all be found via Worldwide Brands.
This can assist you in finding fantastic bargains.
Finally, there’s the question of cost, and this is the most significant distinction between Alibaba and Worldwide Brands.
Alibaba is a completely free service. To explore products or make a message inquiry to merchants, you don’t even need an account.
Worldwide Brands, on the other hand, are not free. Instead, a one-time price of $299 is required (though there are sometimes sales, as in the screenshot).
You can sign up for a free “preview” account, but your options will be limited.
You won’t be able to see or message sellers’ contact information; you won’t be able to see which brands they sell (though you will be able to see what kinds of things they offer), you won’t be able to save vendors — you get the idea.
You won’t be able to do much, in general.
Which Is Better: Worldwide Brands or Alibaba?
Overall, Alibaba is a better option. When Alibaba is free and offers a far larger assortment at lower costs, there’s no reason to pay $300 on a directory.
Yes, only certified sellers are included in the WBI.
Even on Alibaba, though, you can find vendors who have been verified, have been in business for years, have shipped thousands of stock goods, and have excellent ratings.
Furthermore, as we’ve seen, the variety on Worldwide Brands isn’t particularly extensive. This implies that even if you only want to use WBI for dropshipping, you’ll likely face a lot of competition on Amazon and eBay from other drop shippers because all WBI users will have access to the same narrow range of suppliers.