Over the last three years, you may have encountered talk about supply chains more than usual. That’s in large part because the pandemic as well as other economic factors around the world have brought the importance of modern supply chains in our everyday lives into clear focus. Steady supply chains are also a major factor in the success of a business. As such, vetting suppliers is a crucial part of building a strong supply chain, and choosing the wrong suppliers could be the difference between making a profit and not.
Having a tried and tested vetting process to ensure that various suppliers can fulfill your orders in a timely manner, regardless of the circumstances, is of the utmost importance. Here we’ll share some of the best ways to you can find the right supplier for you, no matter whether you’re just starting your sourcing journey or are looking for ways to improve your supply chain.
Why you should vet suppliers
Vetting suppliers is an integral part of the sourcing process. Therefore, you should take the time to find suitable suppliers as skipping over this crucial step may lead to issues down the line that cost you both time and money. Due diligence will pay off: Ask as many questions as you need of the supplier and don’t let them rush you into making an order.
What questions to ask
It is important you ask the right questions. Here are a few that you should ask every time you meet a new supplier:
What other countries do they export to?
You can tell a lot about a supplier by who they have worked with previously. You should be quizzing potential suppliers on where they’ve exported to before, what type of orders they usually fulfill, what are some of their key accomplishments, as well as the names of some of their previous buyers, if possible. Suppliers who have exported to your region previously are likely to already have some knowledge about the specific requirements needed to ship to your country.
How many years have they been operating?
Knowing the length of time a supplier has been operating can give you an idea of how professional they are. A relatively new supplier may be inexperienced and unaware of the various requirements needed for cross-border trade. Make sure to always compare several suppliers in the initial sourcing stages.
How many employees does their company have?
The number of employees a company has can also give you an idea of its production capabilities. For example, if a supplier only has a handful of employees, it might take them longer to fulfill your order.
What is their annual turnover?
Knowing the size of a supplier should help you gauge whether they’re the right fit for you. If you’re looking to fulfill bulk orders, they’ll need to be relatively established with a significant annual turnover. It’s good to do your homework online and check the financial stability of a company – a supplier with unstable finances is likely to increase business risk, even if you can get a better deal in the short term.
What are their production capabilities?
Ask potential suppliers to show you how their company is set up and whether they have the capabilities to support the volume of products you may need. In addition, ask them to give you a virtual tour of their facilities to see if they meet your needs.
What type of certifications do they have?
A supplier with no certifications is a big red flag. Specifically, you must make sure that suppliers have the correct certifications for the countries you intend to sell your products.
Do they have any patents and trademarks?
Patents and trademarks are methods of protecting an idea while also publicly providing notice to other businesses or individuals to avoid copying your intellectual property. If a supplier has a patent or trademark for a certain product, it could mean that there are fewer of these products on the market. Therefore, it’s important to check if your supplier has patents and trademarks, which in turn should provide you with improved business opportunities.
Can they provide buyer success stories?
Ask the supplier about recent projects they’ve worked on. Seeing evidence of their work will give you a better understanding of whether they are the right fit for you. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for references from previous customers.
Finding the right supplier for you on Alibaba.com
A great feature of Alibaba.com is that we offer answers to all the above questions on one simple-to-digest page. Simply go to Alibaba.com > Manufacturers and select the suppliers you are interested in before clicking “Profile” to view details of their company, certifications, production capabilities, and more.
Another way to shorten the search process is to look for Verified Supplies on Alibaba.com.
Finding Verified Suppliers on Alibaba.com
Verified Suppliers have third-party certified production and service capabilities, helping you to identify suitable suppliers quickly and accurately, source efficiently, and ensure consistent product and service quality. Suppliers must pass the following inspections to qualify as a ‘Verified Supplier‘:
●Have their displayed information and capabilities verified by independent, world-renowned, third-party companies (such as SGS, TUV, Intertek, etc.) with inspection videos and downloadable reports.
●Hold certificates, test reports, patents, and import and export qualifications to prove their industry-leading business and product manufacturing services. These can include everything from private molds, flexible customization, project solutions, and local after-sales support, among others.
●Have proven experience in domestic and foreign trade.
●Have experience on the Alibaba.com platform and can provide exclusive services and discounts.
To further help buyers quickly identify suitable suppliers for their sourcing needs, Alibaba.com has upgraded our Verified Suppliers service by grouping the suppliers into three service-specific types:
1. Custom Manufacturers
For buyers looking for products with high customization and specialization. Custom Manufacturers provide dedicated production lines and custom design capabilities with an emphasis on meeting quality, delivery, and after-sales service requirements.
2. Multispecialty Suppliers
For buyers seeking low MOQs and high product variety. Multispecialty Suppliers offer low MOQ customization, end-to-end logistics solutions, and multi-category procurement, backed by their rich industry and service experience and strong understanding of emerging product trends.
3. Brand Holders
For buyers who want to import and stock from established brands to resell in their markets. Brand Holders are equipped with overseas brand distribution capabilities for products manufactured at independent factories.
Sourcing from Verified Suppliers takes a lot of the guesswork out of the vetting process, as you can quickly understand whether they meet the requirements you are looking for.
Vetting suppliers can be time-consuming and frustrating, but using some key tools on Alibaba.com and making sure you ask the right questions will save you a lot of time and money down the line.