One of the most common questions asked by new Amazon sellers is “where can I buy products to sell on Amazon?” While there are a few different answers to this question, an experienced seller’s answer will most likely be “on Alibaba.”
Alibaba is a great place for sellers of all experience levels to source millions of different products that you can private-label and brand. Many businesses rely on getting profitable products from Alibaba to Amazon FBA.
If you are unfamiliar with Alibaba and how it works, it can be overwhelming. In this guide, we’re going to go over everything you need to know about Alibaba, so you can successfully source quality products for your private label Amazon FBA business.
Here’s what you will learn:
- What is Alibaba and is it safe?
- How to find suppliers and order products on Alibaba
- The risks of sourcing from Alibaba
- How to sell Alibaba-sourced products on Amazon
READ MORE | How to Make Money on Amazon in 2023 – 15 Top Methods
What is Alibaba?
Alibaba is a global business-to-business ecommerce platform that connects sellers and brands with manufacturers and suppliers for millions of products. If you want to create custom products for your brand, this is where you go.
Unlike traditional ecommerce websites like Amazon, where consumers make one-off purchases, Alibaba is a platform where businesses purchase products in bulk to resell online or in a brick-and-mortar store.
Alibaba connects you with different suppliers around the world so you can find quality products at extremely low prices — even if you don’t have a big brand! Whether you are the CEO of a large corporation or are running an Amazon business on your own, you can sign up and source products from Alibaba.
Why do Amazon sellers use Alibaba?
Many Amazon sellers use Alibaba to source products because of the simplicity of its user-friendly site and, well, the low prices. Most manufacturers that you come across on the platform will be based in China, where they can produce quality goods at a much more affordable price than, say, in the United States or Canada.
Any seller can go to Alibaba right now and search for the type of product they’re interested in selling and come across thousands of potential suppliers. Finding a manufacturer for your product has never been easier.
What types of products is Alibaba good for?
Use Alibaba if you are looking to create a private label product that is unique to your brand. If you have your own custom logo and/or design specs for a product, Alibaba is a great venue to find suppliers that can make your ideas become a reality.
DO NOT use Alibaba to purchase branded products. While there are many reputable suppliers on Alibaba, there are some who try to sell counterfeit products of big brands such as Disney or Nike. Some products could look tempting to sell, but you should refrain from pursuing this option. Selling counterfeit goods on Amazon is strictly prohibited; you’ll become permanently banned from selling on the platform if you ignore their anti-counterfeiting policy.
Is Alibaba safe?
In short — yes! For the most part, Alibaba is very safe for sellers to use. But there are things you need to be aware of when using Alibaba such as counterfeits, payment scams, and suppliers who send high-quality samples but low-quality bulk orders. When ordering products from a supplier, it is likely that it will be a large order, so you want to be sure that the company you’re doing business with is legit.
Just like Amazon, Alibaba consists of sellers that will try to earn your business. This is why it is very important that you contact multiple suppliers and order samples to evaluate before placing a larger order.
Alibaba offers a secure payment portal for all transactions so you are assured that your payment or credit card information is safe. They also offer an order protection service called Trade Assurance which will get you your money back if the product quality is different from what you and your supplier discussed, as well as if your order was not shipped on time.
As long as you make payments through Alibaba’s payment system, your money will be safe and secure.
How to decide what to sell on Amazon
Before you can find suppliers on Alibaba, you need to figure out what you want to sell on Amazon! If you are a beginner seller, you typically want to focus on products that have high demand and low competition. This will give you the best chance of competing with already established brands in your niche.
Product research is a very important step in your Amazon seller journey, so make sure you take the time to properly analyze the products you’d like to sell. Having said that, don’t get stuck with “analysis paralysis.” Many aspiring sellers get caught up in so much information that they end up overwhelmed with what to sell and can’t make a decision. If you have a couple of ideas you think would work well, just pick one and get started!
When analyzing products to sell on Amazon, you need to consider three things: profitability, demand, and competition.
- Profitability: To ensure that the product you’re selling is profitable, you need to be able to source it for much less than you would sell it for. The 3X rule is a good strategy for new sellers to determine the profitability of a product: 1/3 of your sale goes towards product costs, 1/3 goes towards Amazon fees, and 1/3 is your profit, which goes to you.
- For example: If you purchase an item for $10, you should be able to sell it for $30. $10 pays for Amazon fees, and your expected profit should also be $10. You should aim for higher profitability to account for advertising costs but use this rule as a minimum.
- Demand: Are customers actively searching for and purchasing this product on Amazon? When you’re able to determine the demand for your niche, you can feel confident about investing in a particular product. Without proper demand, you may end up with a product that no one wants to purchase.
- Competition: The demand may be there, but what is the competition like? You need to find the right balance of demand and competition when selling products on Amazon. If there is too much competition, it will be more difficult to gain the rank needed to be in front of customers. If the competition is low with decent demand, you may have found yourself a winner!
Ok, so how do you actually find a good product to sell? The best way to conduct product research for Amazon is to use powerful tools backed by accurate data.
Jungle Scout offers a few different tools you can use to find and analyze products to sell on Amazon:
- Product Database
- Opportunity Finder
- Product Tracker
- Category Trends
- Keyword Scout
- Rank Tracker
To learn more about what you can do with product research, check out Chapter 4 of our How to Sell on Amazon for Beginners guide.
Or, check out our How to Sell on Amazon video!
How to find suppliers on Alibaba
After you know what product you’d like to sell, find suppliers for it! If you searched for products on Amazon, Alibaba pretty much works the same way. Simply conduct a keyword search and see what comes up.
Let’s go over an example of a product search on Alibaba. I am going to search for “blackout curtains.”
Similar to Amazon, the results appear based on my keyword search. I can now scroll and see which products pique my interest. But before we go through the current results, let’s take a look at the filters on the left-hand side of the page.
You can see different filters to choose from, such as supplier type, product type, price, supplier country, and certifications. A common misconception about Alibaba is that the suppliers are only from China, but this is not the case. The Supplier Country/Region filter allows you to choose from many different countries to source from for this type of product.
Out of all the filters available, the most important to me is “Supplier Types.” I suggest checking off “Trade Assurance” and “Verified Supplier” so you can have an extra layer of security, and deal only with professional and legitimate suppliers.
After checking off these two filters, the search results changed a little bit, but now I can feel more confident choosing from the suppliers within the results.
Go through the results and keep track of the products that look interesting. You will also see pricing information but that may not always be accurate at this point in the process. The price per unit will depend on the product specifications and number of units purchased so you will need to contact the supplier to get a product’s true pricing.
Let’s look at a listing for one of the “blackout curtains.” Once on the listing, you can find more information about the product and the supplier.
Towards the bottom of the page, you will see “Company Profile.” This is where you can learn more about the supplier company, their sales, employees, quality control, and process for manufacturing.
How to contact suppliers on Alibaba
Before you make any decisions, contact a few different suppliers for your product so you can choose the right one for your business. Here are a few things to consider when contacting suppliers:
- Product quality: High-quality products lead to happy customers, and happy customers lead to positive reviews! Aim to find good quality products that meet your standards. You can test the quality by ordering product samples from each supplier you’re interested in working with. This allows you to see and feel the product in person, test it with family or friends, and make a more informed decision.
- Communication: Does the supplier get back to you in a timely manner or does it take days to get a response? While a slow response time may not be a deal-breaker for some, it may be for you.
- Don’t forget to evaluate how they respond to your inquiries. Was the information clear and thorough? Does it look like they have a good system in place for communicating with potential buyers? If you have to constantly go back and forth to get an answer, try contacting another supplier.
- Industry experience: How long has this supplier or manufacturer been in business? Can they customize a product based on your specs? Do they have product certifications? What other products can they produce? You can find all this information on the company’s Alibaba profile.
- Many suppliers will have their own Alibaba storefront or minisite, similar to an Amazon Storefront. The storefront will typically include an about us section, the types of products they offer, certificates, quality control process, and contact information.
- Price: Pricing is one of the main reasons sellers source products overseas. There’s a wider range of price points to choose from, and many opportunities to save money on your product. With that said, a product that is priced much lower than what other suppliers offer may be a sign of poor quality, while products that are priced too high may leave you with little-to-no profit margin.
Contact multiple suppliers
Once you click-through to a listing, you’ll see a “Contact Supplier” button or maybe even an option to have a live chat. Here are some tips for contacting suppliers on Alibaba:
- Cast a wide net. We suggest contacting at least 5-10 suppliers so you can explore a cross-section of companies, and weed out those who are less than ideal.
- Be detailed. Your first communication should be detailed and clear. Use bullet points with the exact product specs you’re looking for.
- Be polite and respectful. Give some information about yourself and your company. You don’t need to have a registered company to do business with an Alibaba supplier, but you do need to conduct business professionally.
- Ask questions. Include questions you may have for suppliers about key specifics such as pricing, minimum order quantity, lead times, and sample costs.
- Be clear. English may not be a supplier’s first language, so make sure that you are clear in your communication. Many will have an English-speaking rep to make communication much easier.
- Do your research. Vet each supplier based on the response time and how they communicate with you. If you are not able to get all the answers you need from one, you can cross them off of your list.
- Ask about shipping. Ask for estimated express shipping costs to your location.
Here’s an example of how to word your email:
For more information on contacting, vetting, and negotiating with suppliers, check out Chapter 3 of our How to Sell on Amazon for Beginners guide.
The risks of sourcing from Alibaba
Sourcing and purchasing products from Alibaba is very safe and secure. But just like in any marketplace, there are ways you can get scammed. Here are some measures to mitigate risks on Alibaba:
- Vet suppliers. Always look for Alibaba Verified Suppliers and Trade Assurance suppliers on the platform. These protective measures are set in place so you can avoid theft and purchasing poor-quality products.
- Beware of counterfeit products. If you come across a branded product, there is a 100% chance that it is counterfeit. Your account will be banned if you’re caught selling counterfeit goods on Amazon. To sell branded products, follow the wholesale or arbitrage business models for Amazon.
- Purchase samples first. Always purchase samples to evaluate before placing a bulk order with a supplier. The last thing you want is to receive hundreds of poor-quality products that you can’t sell. You can also have an inspection done during the manufacturing process to ensure your products are in good condition.
Placing an order
Now that you’ve received samples, chosen your supplier, and negotiated on price, it is now time to place your order! We recommend that you send a purchase order agreement to your supplier so you’re both clear on the units ordered, pricing, and shipping terms. In Jungle Scout’s Supplier Database, we have purchase order samples and helpful templates you can use to send to your supplier.
Once everything is agreed upon, the supplier will draft an order for you and send over an invoice. Through Trade Assurance, you can place an order via bank transfer, credit card, as well as a few other options.
NEW U.S. SALES TAX REQUIREMENTS
Alibaba is now charging U.S. sellers sales tax depending on the jurisdiction you order from. In order to be exempt from paying sales tax when placing an order on Alibaba, you must apply for the Alibaba US Sales Tax Exemption Program.
If you have a resale certificate with your state or a federal EIN number for you business, you can be exempt from paying US sales tax on Alibaba.
Shipping your products from your supplier to Amazon FBA
Next, get your products from your supplier into an Amazon FBA fulfillment center. Beginner sellers can usually go through a supplier to arrange shipping since the first shipment will likely be small enough for air freight vs. sea shipment.
Most suppliers on Alibaba are familiar with selling on Amazon and can help you get your products into FBA or to your location. They will arrange to ship with an express carrier such as FedEx or DHL and will typically include the shipping costs in your invoice.
If your shipment will be over 200 kg or 440 lbs, we recommend using a freight forwarding company. They will help arrange sea shipments, customs clearance, packaging, and more. Sea shipments can be complicated so it is best to work with a forwarder if going this route.
For more information on getting your product from China or any other foreign country to Amazon, check out Chapter 3 of our How to Sell on Amazon for Beginners guide.
How to sell products from Alibaba on Amazon
Before your products arrive at Amazon, you will need to have a listing. Assuming you already have your Amazon account set up, let’s create your listing! You will need to have your listing done before shipping directly from China or another country to FBA.
In Seller Central, go to Catalog > Add products.
Choose “I’m adding a product not sold on Amazon” then choose your product category.
Enter your product information, including its UPC, brand name, images, product features, description, and so on.
Note: if you do not have a UPC for your product, you can apply for a GTIN exemption to list your product.
After you fill in all of the required information, your listing will be ready to go live once your inventory arrives!
If you need more information about how to sell on Amazon from Alibaba, download our full in-depth, step-by-step guide on How to Sell on Amazon for Beginners to learn everything you need to know.
Launch your brand using Alibaba
Starting your own private label business doesn’t have to be difficult! With the right resources, knowledge, and commitment, you can be on your way to creating your very own branded product.
We hope this article on using Alibaba helps and inspires you to move forward in your ecommerce journey. Have you used Alibaba to source products before? Share your experience with us or ask us your questions in the comments below!
Want to learn more about how you can use Jungle Scout to launch, grow, and run your Amazon business? Click the Learn More button below!
Quick Question. So do I need UPC code or FNSKU or both? Thanks again Brian!
Check out this article here: https://www.junglescout.com/blog/amazon-fnsku-guide/
Hello am I able to sell on amazon directly from alibaba without me purchasing a bulk of stock a middle man so to speak just taking a fee in the middle
That is called dropshipping, but Amazon has very strict rules around it. Check out our article on that topic: https://www.junglescout.com/blog/dropshipping-on-amazon/
So basically you pay for the products, from the whole saler on Alibaba. The products get shipped to an Amazon storage facility. For a monthly fee. Then they are sold through your Amazon store. Amazon handles the shipping n receiving. And you collect the monthly check. N the cycle continues?
At a very basic level, yes, that is how it works. I suggest checking out our How to Sell on Amazon for Beginners guide and video on YouTube!
Can I use alibaba if I want to resell an existing product on amazon that no one else created can I upload if there are no restrictions from that seller.
Yes, you can do that.
Hi i m living in Australia and i m very confused what to do first do i have to order from alibaba first send to amazon warehouse through Amazon FBA fulfillment center
Did you create an Amazon seller account yet? That would be your first step.
Do I need labels for my products?
Yes, you will need product labels for products sent to Amazon fulfillment centers. We have an article on FNSKU, check that out!
Since many people are selling on amazing. what is success chance of new seller by buying from alibaba
Amazon is more competitive than ever but it is still possible to be successful. You need to have a unique product and not just sell something generic.
When you start at Amazon fba. Which do you think is better buy the goods from alibaba or from stores like tjmax, Walmart , Burlington etc,
It depends on your goals and your budget. If you have a smaller budget, start by reselling other brands on Amazon to help make some money and learn how selling on Amazon works. Then, use that money to invest in your own brand if you choose to.
Great useful content. Much Appreciated.
I have 3 quick questions please..
1) Once we found the supplier and product then will supplier provide UPC code\product images\ product details which I can use while adding product via seller central? i am still bit confused.
2) I see one related question on logo\brand.. but still little confuse. I selected one generic product example – women hand bag, can I just put logo example “ORSR” on the bags and without any brand\trademark registration can I sell on Amazon.
3) Found one product from SSS supplier example Mens wallet and i dont want to have any custom logo then on which brand I need to sell that product on Amazon (i need to mention some brand name correct)?
Again thank you for your support and time.
1. You will need to buy the UPC yourself. You can do so on Gs1.org. It is $30 for one. I suggest having professional product images taken, don’t use the images from your supplier unless they are high quality.
2. If you selling a “branded” bag, you should put the brand name on your listing. Someone can list the same product on your listing if it is listed as generic. Plus, a customer will rather purchase from a brand. You don’t need a trademark, though.
3. You need to come up with a brand name for your products. But if it doesn’t have a logo, you can also list it as generic.
How are products labeled with codes that are sent from Alibaba to Amazon fba?
You will need to send your FNSKU barcode to your supplier on Alibaba and they should be able to print it on your product for you.
Who will provide me the FNSKU barcode ?
You will get it from Amazon after creating your listing in Seller Central. Every FBA product offer is provided with an FNSKU code.
First of all thanks for so much information. I just get to know we will get information about UPC or GITN from supplier from whom we are getting those products. I hope you can understand what I am trying to ask.
Second question is that how can we advertise on amazon our listed products.
You will need to purchase a UPC from GS1.org.
Amazon has a few different advertising options within Seller Central.
Shipping is from alibaba to amazon, if customer return the product to amazon, then what happened, are we available to resend the product to alibaba, I mean what is the policy in this situation. Thank you
Once you purchase your products in bulk to sell online, you won’t be able to send your returned items back to your supplier.
What type of information should I supply to the alibaba supplier so they can get the products that I ordered to the Amazon facility?
I suggest working with a freight forwarder that can help get your goods from your supplier directly to an Amazon fulfillment center.
Is Amazon fulfillment center not picking up the goods from the supplier?
No, you will need to arrange shipment to an Amazon fulfillment center.
Hi Brian. Great article! This information is much appreciated. We’re running into issues with Amazon on the verification of supplier information provided on an invoice. It’s a supplier that we are using through Alibaba. We checked out everything and they look good. Are you familiar with this issue? Any known points of interest that we clarify for Amazon to get through this process and list our product?
Here’s the specific response from Amazon.
We are unable to verify the supplier information provided in the invoice. Please provide invoice from valid verifiable supplier.
What exactly is Amazon looking for? Have you tried to speak to someone on the phone at Amazon seller support? Going back and forth through email will not solve anything. Do you need to be approved for the category or the type of product you are selling?
Hi Brian, great article! I have seen many of the same product on Amazon but with different “Brand Names”. Can I purchase the same generic item from Alibaba, put my own logo on it and sell it on Amazon as my own “Brand Name”? Thanks in advance! 🙂
Yes, you can! Just make sure before you sell a product that there are no patents.
I am struggling with prices
I don’t understand when it say £0.0085-£0.425
Would be great if you could explain it to me
Many suppliers give a wide range of pricing in the search results. You need to contact them to get the exact pricing.
Sooo nice thanks for explaining this with so much détail !!!
Great blog post. Really informative. Keep up the good work.
Thanks for reading!
My friend lives in Africa. He can’t Make it to Either us or china for now and would love to sell this on Amazon.
How do to think this can be possible?
How will he get his profits? ( he doesn’t have a us bank account )
How will he get permits to sell this stuffs without visiting the us.
Is African allowed to have an account too.
Just asking. Hoping to get a reply thanks for the article.
You did so great.
Someone residing in Africa should be able to create an Amazon seller account. I suggest starting the registration process and seeing what Amazon requires.
You don’t need a US bank account but will need to use the Amazon Currency Converter for Sellers to transfer funds into their local bank account.
Check out this article for more info! https://www.junglescout.com/blog/how-to-sell-on-amazon-from-overseas/
I don’t understand after I get the product from Alibaba,how can be send to Amazon what do I need to do?
Check out this article here: https://www.junglescout.com/blog/shipping-to-amazon-fba/
How to source product from Alibaba to sell on amazon in order to aviod IP complaints, copyright, trademark law.
hello my question is that did i need a custom broker if i am sourcing from alibaba to amazon fba warehouses.
Yes, you’ll likely need a customs broker. I suggest finding a freight forwarding company that can handle every aspect of your shipment.
Hi thanks for the great content. I just started an Amazon FBA business and I made my first inventory purchase from China and paid DDP. I know Amazon is the market facilitator and they’ll collect and remit the sales tax for all the states that are apart of (all but Missouri as of now. I know I will need to register for a sellers permit with CA since I have physical nexus. What about the resale certificate? Is this the same as sellers permit? I want to make sure CA does come after me for sales tax on my inventory purchase since I’m selling them on Amazon and customer would pay the sales tax upon purchase. Please help me with this as I’m struggling. If I do need a resale certificate, do I just give that to my supplier in China?
A resale certificate is sometimes called a reseller permit — it’s the same thing. I would talk to an accountant to be 100% sure you are in compliance with any CA laws.
If buying products from China, you won’t need the resale cert. A supplier won’t ask for that.
I am very interested in starting this business, buying on Alibaba and selling on Amazon.
But Unfortunately Shipping costs can sometimes exceed the cost of the products you want to order and purchase from Alibaba.
Any ideas how to reduce shipping cost.
There’s not much you can do right now to reduce shipping costs except for getting quotes from multiple freight forwarders or choosing a slower shipping speed.
Hello my name is Jamie Cassell I’m looking into getting a online business I need to learn a little bit more about it then I’ll get started I would love to speak to someone about that thanks look forward to speaking with you soon
Take a look around our blog and Youtube channel. We have tons of free content about selling on Amazon!
If alibaba sells a cooler that looks very similar to a Yeti but I put my own name and logo on it, is it ok to sell on Amazon?
Typically yes but you need to be sure there is no patent involved with the design of the product. For a Yeti cooler, there is definitely some kind of design patent for their products. If the cooler looks different, you should be fine but I would make sure you’re not infringing on a patent or copyright.
Thank you Brain connoly for fruitful article much more interesting and informative.. will trying to get more information about Amazon ..
Hello i’m live in Korea and i want to start my own business with e-commerce so the question that bothers me a lot is how can i buy a product from alibaba and sell it on amazon and how can i take a picture of that product without even holding it, because i live in korea so if i buy a product from alibaba do i have to ship that product directly to korea and take the pictures of it and then ship it to Amazon from Korea. Sorry for giving a silly questions because i am really complicated. You have advised to take a picture of the product by ourselves or hire a professional photographer but how do we do this kind of process if our target is just buying from alibaba and directly ship it to Amazon warehouses.
In this case, I suggest having one unit of your product shipped to your location in Korea so you can have photography done. You don’t need to send the entire shipment to you.
if i request an exempt from GTIN. how would amazon fba distribute my goods
By using the FNSKU barcode. Check out our article on the FNSKU: https://www.junglescout.com/blog/amazon-fnsku-guide/
Hi would this work to do businesses in Mexio Amazon?
Yes! This will work the same way on Amazon Mexico as it does in the US.
If I have a Shopify store and I would like to sell in Amazon too with my store name and maybe products. How I can do that?
Because when I log in with my normal amazon account shows me my store, but I don’t want to messed up and made one account new.
Can you help please 😀
Have you created a Seller Central account yet?
When listing the products on Amazon, are we permitted to copy images and descriptions from Alibaba? If not, how would we use images in our listing?
It is best to have your own professional photos taken of your product versus using the images from Alibaba. If you are just starting out, that will be fine, but if you have your own branding on the products, you’ll need new images.
You can search for professional product photographers on freelancing websites such as Fiverr or Upwork.
The same goes for your product descriptions. Make sure to create a unique and optimized title, bullets, and description instead of copying and pasting from Alibaba.
Hello, how do I actually have my purchase from Alibaba ship directly to an Amazon Fulfillment center? Is there a button on Alibaba or Amazon selling account that allows me to ship directly to Amazon?
Check out this Youtube video by Jungle Scout that helps explain the process of shipping your products from China to Amazon FBA. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwDYqTJNJbA
Hey Brian, Thanks for this article!
I gave birth to an idea I’m trying to develop and sell either to Disney or myself through Amazon.
Add my name to a list, if you have one…would love to read more from you.
Thanks for reading! Keep checking out Jungle Scout for more blogs–we always have new articles coming out!
Great information. If I am creating my own logo, do I still need a brand name registration or trademark registry that might take a while. Can I hust create my logo and start selling products on amazon fba? Please advise. Thanks!
Yes, you can! You do not need a trademark or Brand Registry to start selling on Amazon. You can apply for Brand Registry when you are ready to do so and have a trademark.
I want ask you a question when i received my sample from ALIBABA for example and i decide on a product do use
the sample i received to be listed on my account before i received the order to the FBA. I am new to this so i
want do this the correct way.
Yes, you can but only if it is the exact same product you will be selling in the future. For example, if your products have a logo but your sample does not, don’t sell the sample piece. You can always list the samples you receive on eBay.