Buying from China and selling on Amazon in the UK is becoming more accessible to the average citizen. As we delve further into the 21st century, it is evident that the commercial and digital transformation in the world has enabled us to acquire merchandise and sell it from anywhere to anywhere in the world.
Companies like Amazon, Rakuten, eBay, Alibaba, and Aliexpress, among others, have revolutionized the way we do business and how we can reach the end customer, changing it forever.
Moreover, this symbiotic relationship allows any citizen to take advantage of these advancements, technological and digital developments, to create business models that used to be much more costly and complex from a logistic, business, and economic standpoint.
Therefore, in this article, we will discuss buying from China / Alibaba and selling on Amazon (I recommend checking out this program) as a business model, both for existing companies and for anyone who wants to establish their own business.
The 3 Best Websites for Buying from China in English
One of the primary considerations when buying from China is, “Which is the best website for purchasing from China… and is it in English?” Doubts also arise, such as, “Is it reliable to buy from there?” “How can I make payments for these purchases in China?”
There are many wholesale websites in China, and yes, there are some very reliable ones. In UK, there’s a tendency to think that everything coming from China is fake, of poor quality, or that we’ll be deceived and scammed.
While it is possible to encounter such issues, with careful searching, you can find trustworthy sources to start your own business and take advantage of what this highly competitive market has to offer. If everything were bad, fake, and full of scammers, how would China already be the world’s largest economic powerhouse?
How to Buy from Alibaba
Alibaba is the most well-known platform. Millions of buyers shop on their website from thousands of Chinese sellers. It operates on a seller rating and feedback system similar to what you might be familiar with on Amazon.
You can rely on this information to determine if a seller is trustworthy, delivers on time, accepts returns, etc.
Furthermore, Alibaba has robust anti-hacking measures in our opinion. For instance, it is the only platform that requires a verification code sent to your phone or email upon login, allowing only 1 minute to enter the code.
Like Amazon and other major websites, these platforms keep track of our devices, whether we connect from an iPhone or a Samsung, what type of computer we use, and our IP address.
Thus, we feel quite secure while navigating and making payments on Alibaba. In fact, I would trust Alibaba’s payment systems more than those of any other website. This is mainly because they are one of the most significant websites in the world, likely facing hundreds of cyberattacks every week, yet there have been no reports of breaches related to stolen data.
DHgate.com is another of the major stores for buying from China and selling on Amazon from the UK. Although less known than Alibaba, that should not be an impediment.
It is a globally developed company with over a million Chinese sellers and millions of buyers. They have the website available in Spanish and have even created a very intuitive and user-friendly app.
Sometimes, you might come across the same sellers as on Alibaba, but DHgate offers its own deals, discounts, special days, etc. It’s a good alternative if you want to purchase wholesale products from China and explore a different marketplace than the one everyone frequents.
In fact, we like their Wholesale Flash Deals option, so if you are patient, you can save a lot of money. And if you coordinate this with special days in China when they offer free shipping, the economic performance you can get from your products will be much higher.
HKTDC finally has a Spanish version. This company is increasingly focusing on the Spanish market, and we can find it more and more due to their advertising efforts.
It has a similar style to Alibaba, but it was originally established as a business platform in Hong Kong, primarily in the real estate sector.
The main categories for wholesale purchases from China that you can find here are Electronics, Clothing, General Gift and Home Accessories, and Jewelry.
As drawbacks, we find their website to be quite slow, and the purchasing process is somewhat cumbersome due to its outdated and rough web design. Additionally, they have not yet implemented the essential security protocol HTTPS, which is crucial for secure payments.
Made In China Lastly, we highlight these two companies. Made in China is a simpler version of Alibaba, with a .com domain that features a more stylish and well-developed website, and a .es domain that provides a less user-friendly experience for the final customer.
We must emphasize the vast array of products they offer (Goyo Jimenez: Ingente, for those familiar with the LOGSE educational program, meaning a considerable quantity :D).
We appreciate the European style of this online store. If you want to sell accessories for men or women or clothing, you should take a look at this wholesale marketplace, as it specializes exclusively in clothing and accessories.
Tips for Safe Buying in China
When purchasing from China, consider the following tips to ensure a secure transaction:
- Choose reputable websites with a seller rating system.
- Look for websites with the HTTPS protocol to ensure secure connections.
- Opt for multi-language websites as they indicate a business with international reach and credibility.
- Check the web design; a clean, modern, and fast-loading website suggests a well-established and reliable business.
- Prioritize platforms with responsive customer support, even if it’s through chat, as it demonstrates their commitment to serving customers effectively.
- Ensure secure payment systems, even if they require a small commission fee.
Tips for Making Money through Buying and Selling
Here are effective practices to become a successful entrepreneur in the buying and selling world:
- Start small before investing in large inventory: Begin with smaller items to gain experience and avoid substantial initial investments. Practice with inexpensive products before venturing into costly items or novelties. As you gain expertise in a particular area, you can expand into larger assets.
- Verify product quality: Always check the quality of products before purchasing them for resale. If you receive products that don’t meet your standards, make a claim with the seller. Thoroughly inspect the products to ensure they offer the best value before selling them.
Buying Wholesale from Alibaba and Selling on Amazon
If you’ve decided to enter the world of online selling, be your own boss, and make money, it’s time to join the league of merchants who buy from China and sell on Amazon.
For a safer bet, let’s provide more detailed information about the most secure option: Alibaba.
As you might already know, the Asian giant is renowned for manufacturing numerous goods at highly competitive prices, while the North American behemoth, Amazon, is an ideal platform for generating sales.
Together, they form a perfect symbiosis that showcases how the world functions globally today: Two super platforms connecting millions of people for exchanging goods.
Search for the Product You Want to Sell on Amazon
The first step is to search the Amazon website in your country, in this case, from the UK, to see which products you can sell there. This might seem trivial, but it’s essential to highlight because doing it the other way around can lead to significant mistakes.
If you start browsing Alibaba first without knowing what you want to sell, you’ll encounter dozens of products, see bargains, come across peculiar items, and probably stumble upon incredible ideas that you think will make you rich. However, none of those products may have sufficient demand on Amazon, and they could end up being a failure.
That’s why the first thing you should do is find a niche on Amazon. In other words, identify a sector or a small product category with good demand and low competition.
Most important steps to find your product niche on Amazon
In summary, here are the most critical points to consider when selecting a product on Amazon:
- Keep an open mind and be willing to sell anything. Don’t get fixated on selling one specific item.
- Brainstorm and jot down ideas that come to mind—write down things you see on TV, weird items your friend needs, or quirky things your mother loves.
- Get a tool like MerchantWords and Jungle Scout. Measuring demand for what you want to sell is vital. If you don’t know how many people are interested in buying a product or how many sales your competition generates, how can you succeed?
- After conducting your research, clean up your list and add any new ideas you come across.
- Choose ten products from that list that you believe you can sell, based on your analysis using the tools mentioned earlier.
- Go to Amazon and examine your competitors’ products to find out if Amazon itself sells the product. Do rival products have hundreds of reviews? Do their titles look appealing? Do their product listings contain relevant information and high-quality images?
- Reorganize your list based on this information.
- Consider the size and weight of the products, as these factors will affect your Amazon logistics fees. Additionally, avoid products containing hazardous or chemical substances if you’re new to the business.
- Have you thought about how much you want to invest? Based on your budget, you’ll need to reorganize your list by price. For products selling between £10 and £15, purchasing from China will cost you around £0.50 to £3 per unit. However, for products selling between £30 and £50, the investment required will be significantly higher, as wholesale marketplaces often have a minimum order quantity.
- Now you’re ready to buy from China. Visit Alibaba or another B2B marketplace and find reliable suppliers selling the products you’ve selected. Negotiate, chat, and don’t purchase at the initial price they offer. Above all, don’t buy 1,000 or 5,000 units at once during your early months as an entrepreneur. Shipping errors or customs issues could lead to significant problems.
How to Buy Online from China on Alibaba: The Most Important Details
With that said, let’s now delve into the topic of Alibaba specifically and discuss what you can expect and the challenges you may encounter while negotiating or purchasing products through this platform.
As most of you already know, Alibaba is a portal where you can buy wholesale products primarily coming from China. Therefore, the first thing you need to consider is that all your interactions on this platform will be in English. The sellers there have no idea about Spanish.
Why do we choose to talk about Alibaba and not other wholesale marketplaces?
In our opinion, the reliability and the multitude of suppliers this website offers make it ideal for the purpose of buying from Chinese wholesalers.
We recommend Alibaba because we were skeptical about the payment processes on other sites. We didn’t want to spend money only to receive products that didn’t arrive, were not as described, or were charged twice, among other potential issues.
Additionally, when we first ventured into this in 2018, we had general mistrust towards China (as did most people), so we opted for Alibaba due to its diamond and star rating system. These ratings allow you to see how many years of experience a specific seller has, the volume of business they handle, and the opinions of other buyers about that company.
This is crucial in choosing a supplier with confidence. However, it’s essential to remember that unfavorable things can still happen, even if you try to ensure the highest level of certainty. But if you don’t do that… it can be even worse.
Product Search on Alibaba
Interestingly, you can use Alibaba’s search engine in both Spanish and English to buy your wholesale products from China.
In fact, sometimes you’ll get more and better results using a Spanish keyword, while other times it might be better in English, so try both.
Once you begin your search, you’ll come across results with very enticing prices. And you’ll see things like this:
The ideal approach is to use the Min. Order profile and Price boxes when searching. First, we recommend conducting a general search to explore the available suppliers, and then examine what they offer, their price ranges, quantities, etc.
Afterward, refine your search by segmenting it based on Min. Order or prices, aligning them with your needs. Why? Because there are many more sellers than it initially appears, and if you only use one keyword and view the results on the first page, you may miss other ideal suppliers for your business.
Keep in mind that some vendors cater solely to large clients and accept orders for thousands of units. However, there are also smaller suppliers in China from whom you can purchase at even lower prices, and they may accept smaller quantities.
Tips for Negotiating on Alibaba for a Good Deal when Buying from China:
- You’ll need to communicate in English.
- They are generally available at all hours every day of the week, so you can reach out even on weekends.
- Good sellers usually have a designated agent, so you will consistently negotiate with the same person.
- Beware of attractive images of Asian women used by sellers for negotiation purposes. This tactic works, and those unaware of it tend to accept unfavorable conditions and negotiate less.
- Request negotiations through WeChat, a Chinese messaging app similar to WhatsApp, to ensure you are dealing with the right person.
- If they ask for a Minimum Quantity Order (MQO), it doesn’t have to be for the same product. Often, an MQO is requested due to manufacturing or international shipping requirements. You can order different models, colors, etc., creating multiple products to sell on Amazon.
- Negotiate the price diligently. Strive to find three suppliers who meet your requirements, compare prices, and honestly tell them that another supplier offers the same product 10% cheaper. However, remember that there are limits – they need to make a profit, and the sellers adhere to company policies. They won’t sell you products at a price that goes against their bottom line.
- International Shipping: Air transport is the most expensive but fastest option, while trains are the cheapest but slowest. Shipping by sea may be the riskiest option, in our opinion.
- Delivery Location: It’s vital to clarify that the shipping costs charged by Chinese sellers cover All Shipping Costs from their warehouse to yours, including customs and all related fees. Shipping through ports can be especially tricky, as there’s more ambiguity regarding the fees, and you may encounter unpleasant financial surprises.
- Legal Documentation: It’s also crucial to determine if the products you intend to sell require special EU certificates. In our experience, we faced issues with a failed venture to sell Beach Toys, and we needed suppliers who possessed the necessary permits. If they cannot provide such documentation, seek other suppliers.
- Photographs: Since you’ll be selling on Amazon, quality product photographs provided by your supplier will save you many headaches. Don’t hesitate to request them.
- Labeling or Packaging: A useful tip is that if you negotiate skillfully, you may arrange for your products to come with the required labels for Amazon logistics, and free of charge. However, for this, you need to have already registered on Amazon and created, even a basic, listing for your product.
These are the most important points we recommend when starting to buy from China to sell on Amazon.
Why Buy from China and Not from My Own Country?
This point is contentious. Many people in society get indignant over these practices, as if they were discrediting Spanish suppliers. However, this perception is far from reality. In my opinion, these individuals hold their views without adequate knowledge.
The decision to choose a foreign supplier through Alibaba or a Spanish one mainly depends on the type of product you want to sell and, secondarily, on the price. Why do we say this?
If you’re planning to sell a product that needs to meet regulations for quality, toxicity, medical aspects, materials, resistance, safety, etc., we recommend opting for a Spanish or local supplier, depending on the country where you reside.
The main reason for this is that all these regulations must comply with EU standards and guidelines, and many Chinese companies lack all the necessary documents for all products.
We’ve seen cases of companies selling products for skin application without the required regulations, or others offering ten different models of floats, of which only three or four actually meet all EU requirements.
For such products (beauty, health, supplements, toys, etc.), our recommendation is to go for Spanish suppliers, even if your profit margin is slightly lower.
However, most businesses you can create on Amazon don’t involve such products; instead, they deal with much simpler items that require fewer certifications and compliance with European guidelines.
For such products, it’s ideal to find a foreign supplier as the costs are significantly lower.
Why Are Costs Lower When Buying from China
We won’t claim to be experts in international trade, but we know enough about buying wholesale products from China to affirm the following: For decades, successive Spanish governments haven’t focused on fostering the country’s business landscape.
This has resulted in:
- Low productivity among Spanish companies.
- High energy costs, which increase the product price.
- High taxes for companies and limited support for international expansion.
- Comparatively low wages in relation to productivity, making Spanish companies less competitive compared to Asian countries.
- Insufficient support for research and technological improvement in companies, resulting in outdated production methods and decreased productivity.
Therefore, for products like technology, telecommunications, mobility, art, decoration, tools, utensils, etc., Spanish companies offer wholesale products at much higher prices compared to other countries, and in many cases, the quality may be equal or even inferior.
Conversely, cheaper labor, business incentives, and lower energy prices in Asian countries make them much more cost-effective and competitive.
In fact, the main drawbacks, barriers, or hesitations in hiring Asian suppliers stem from a lack of proficiency in negotiating in English with them and concerns about reliability, quality, and the possibility of being deceived, resulting in financial losses.
However, we can assure you that the image of Asian companies in the world is, at the very least, misconceived. They offer excellent products, competitive prices, and products of high quality. For reliability, look no further than Alibaba.
Initiating Contact with Companies in China through Alibaba
Conducting the process of buying from China and selling on Amazon requires thorough research. You need to contact Chinese companies that distribute the products you intend to have. Also, ensure that you obtain good prices, but don’t be swayed solely by the cheapest option. Focus on products of quality that are reasonably priced.
When searching for suppliers to import cheap products from China for selling on Amazon, check their ratings and reviews from other buyers who have had purchasing experience with them. Additionally, ensure that these comments are from registered buyers and that there are reviews and ratings from buyers in different countries. This helps reduce the risk of falling victim to scams that can result in financial losses.
Another crucial aspect is negotiating directly with the manufacturing companies. Buying from intermediaries will mean paying more for the products. Your aim should be to reduce your costs of buying from China for selling on Amazon to increase your profit margin. You can achieve this through Alibaba’s chat feature, and we strongly recommend that you negotiate.
Learn where to buy in China for imports, customs, and shipping methods
Learn all you can about the topic of imports and how to handle them online. This may seem trivial, but what’s truly trivial is facing unexpected hurdles due to negligence in this aspect.
Here, we’ll only provide the basics; it’s ideal to consult with experts, but we’ll offer some very useful points you can refer to.
Shipping methods after buying in China
There are mainly three: Air, train, and sea.
- Air freight is the most expensive, fastest, and, in our opinion, the most reliable option to avoid unexpected expenses.
- Trains and ships are cheaper, but goods take much longer to arrive, and you may encounter many unforeseen expenses, such as additional fees to pay.
In international trade, there are many tricks for suppliers to take advantage of novices. The main problem we’ve seen relates to the pick-up point of the product.
In many cases, the Asian supplier provides you with a shipping price, and you give the okay, but then the product doesn’t arrive at your address, warehouse, or home. Instead, they only paid for transportation to the airport or port.
In such cases, as the buyer, you have to bear the transportation costs associated with shipping the goods from the respective airport or port to your warehouse, unexpectedly increasing your costs.
So, our advice is to make it very clear to the Asian supplier that they must deliver the product to your shipping address… and that the product must be delivered to that address as well!