Recently, we posted an article about how you can manage quality control for your FBA products. We discussed the importance of pre-shipment inspections and went into some specific checks to help you ensure Amazon compliance.
If you haven’t already chosen a supplier, though, you need to go through the process of finding one. How do you do that? Let’s dive into it. But, first, a warning: Choose your suppliers for Amazon FBA very carefully.
This is Why You Should Choose Suppliers Carefully for Amazon FBA
It’s very important that you manage the quality of your products.
Shipping poor quality products to Amazon can lead to heavy consequences. Too many less-than-5-star reviews or returns will land you in trouble.
Amazon can cancel your listings or even remove your listing privileges altogether. That puts you back at square one with none of your products getting sold.
That’s why you don’t want to go with just any supplier you can find. You should choose a factory that will do good quality work and ship on time.
Of course, you need a supplier that is going to give you a good price. But you also need your shipment to have the lowest number of defects possible.
With this in mind, let’s talk about 3 common options people typically consider.
Option #1: Should You Go to China in Person?
If you have the budget for it, coming directly to China to a trade fair or market can be a great option.
At the China Import and Export Fair (Canton Fair), for example, you have the chance to meet with tens of thousands of different suppliers. You can also browse around to see what new products are available and get ideas for products you’d like to create or buy.
Go to Yiwu International Trade City (Yiwu Market), and you can visit tens of thousands of booths selling different wholesale items. You can buy all kinds of relatively inexpensive, non-technical, mass-market products.
For many Amazon FBA sellers, though, it’s not feasible to hop on a plane to China.
That means you may want to limit your search to suppliers you can find online. Generally, that means searching on Alibaba.
Option #2: Should You Search for Your Amazon FBA Suppliers on Alibaba?
Alibaba is the best place to search for Chinese suppliers online.
That’s because many factories in China don’t have a website. If they do, it’s often a very limited web presence. So, Google searches won’t give you very much.
There are some factories that do have a strong web presence.
These companies have good information available and probably have a good English-speaking staff. The tradeoff of working with them is that they may be higher-priced.
As a small FBA seller, this can be a problem.
On the Location Rebel blog, there is a great article about how to find suppliers on the Alibaba platform. It talks about how to pre-qualify, begin your search, and build a list of potential factories.
When you’re looking for high-quality suppliers, we have one key suggestion:
Work with “Trade Assurance” suppliers or ones that are willing to accept “Alibaba Secure Payments.”
These factories are willing to guarantee their work. If they don’t ship on time or they send you a shipment with sub-par quality, they don’t get paid.
Some factories will complain about the fees associated with these programs. Forget about working with these suppliers.
They may just be worried that they won’t meet the required standards.
Alibaba can be a great place to search for suppliers as long as you do your research and investigate suppliers thoroughly.
This can be time-consuming. So, what if you don’t have time to look for suppliers and sort through them?
Another option people often consider is working with sourcing agents.
Option #3: Should You Work With Sourcing Agents?
Sourcing agents are companies that help you locate sources for your product.
If you’re doing FBA for the first time, you may not have much (or any) experience with manufacturing.
A good sourcing agent has the experience you’re missing and can help you find suppliers. They will generally get paid as a percentage of the order by the buyer. Depending on the order amount there may be a minimum charge.
In our white paper, What is a Sourcing Agent? we talk about what sourcing agents do, the benefits they offer, and how to choose a good one. Feel free to download it for more information about this option.
The important thing to keep in mind is that most of the time, unless you are on the ground where your supplier is located, working with these agents can really save you a lot of time and energy.
When starting out, it is important to know your product in and out before relying solely on a sourcing agent. You can focus your time on the marketing of your products. Over time, you’ll get more experience with the manufacturing side of things and can learn how to manage some, or all, of it yourself.
Finding a Supplier for Amazon: Choose the Best Option for Your Situation
When you are an FBA seller, you need to find the right factory (or factories) to work with.
Remember that there are different ways to go about this. Visiting trade fairs and markets in China can let you see things up close and get new ideas.
If you’re not the adventurous type or an overseas trip doesn’t fit within your budget, you can search online through Alibaba or work with a sourcing agent.
Most often, FBA sellers will choose to go through Alibaba. If you do, make sure you research suppliers carefully.
However you choose to approach finding a supplier for Amazon FBA, always keep quality top of mind. This leads us to the question…
How Important is Quality, Really?
Download our free white paper, Price vs. Quality, to learn how to produce great quality while keeping your costs low.
Regarding China. With the “trade wars” upon us we’re relieved that we purposely tried hard to distribute our manufacturing. Rather than being 100% dependent on China, we manufacture products throughout Asia, Europe and here in the US.
Finding FBA suppliers in US is tough because you gotta go with brand name products and a brand just won’t give you permission to sell on Amazon right away. However, some suppliers do allow resellers.