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How to Find A Supplier on Alibaba – Part 4

Welcome to the fourth update in my Amazon FBA case study. Up to this point I have introduced you all to the case study, explained my goals and in the last update wrote a huge guide on how to find profitable products to sell

You can also check out the rest of the updates below:

Now, in this post I am going to get into how to actually find the suppliers for the product that you want to sell.

I will be walking you through the process of using Alibaba to find trustworthy suppliers to make your product. For people new to the whole private label business, like myself, it can be intimidating your first time. 

Overseas Vs. Domestic Manufacturers

The first thing that I want to talk about the difference between sourcing your product overseas, mainly China, and sourcing your product domestically. When I say domestically I am talking about sourcing your product in the same place that you live and where you are going to be selling your product.

Let’s take a look at some of the good and bad of sourcing overseas:

The Good

  • Huge selection of products to source
  • WAY easier to find a supplier that will manufacture your product
  • Products made very cheaply
  • Suppliers are willing to work with anyone that will pay

The Bad

  • High shipping fees
  • Long shipping times
  • Language barrier makes it difficult to communicate
  • Lower perceived value by customers
  • Higher risk of something going wrong

To find the good vs. bad comparison for sourcing domestically all you have to do is swap the above list. There is no point in me re writing it all out.

By looking at the size of each list you would think that sourcing your product overseas would be a bad idea.

The reason why I am going to be going overseas is because the things that are good about overseas sourcing are the most important for success.

Let me explain, the most important thing to have with a manufacturer is one that is able to make the product that I want for the cheapest price. Realistically, that is all you should care about.

By going overseas we are able to get both of those advantages, which makes it the better choice. 

Do I wish that all oversea suppliers first language was English, that the shipping times weren’t so long and that it wasn’t so expensive to ship to the US? Of course!

But those negatives don’t come anywhere near the importance of being able to easily find a manufacturer that will produce the product that I want for the lowest price. 

Don’t get me wrong, if you can find a supplier domestically that will make your product cheaper than overseas then by all means go with them. The only problem is that this situation rarely happens.

For that reason, I am going to be explaining the best way to find suppliers overseas by using the awesome resource of Alibaba.

Alibaba 101

Alibaba is going to be your best friend when it comes to finding a supplier. They make it extremely easy to quickly find suppliers that are willing to work with you.

Before we get into finding the suppliers, let’s get into what Alibaba actually is for those that don’t know.

What is Alibaba?

In a nutshell, Alibaba is China's version of Amazon. It is a HUGE marketplace that sells just about everything that you could ever imagine.

​Not only is it a marketplace, but it also acts as a directory that helps connect suppliers with people like you and me. That is what we are going to be using them for.

If you cannot find a supplier that makes your desired product then you are more than likely not going to be able to find a supplier anywhere.​ Just keep that in mind.

We are going to be using Alibaba as a tool to help us find suppliers. They make it very easy to find the exact manufactures we want in a quick and efficient way.

Alibaba also puts in certain measures that will allow you to only work with trusted suppliers so that it minimizes the risk of being scammed.

Overall, when it comes to sourcing a product in China there is no better place to go then Alibaba. And that is why this post is dedicated to helping you find a supplier with the help of Alibaba.

Quick Note

​Before you place any large orders with a supplier make sure that you do enough due diligence to make sure that you are confident that you and your money are safe. 

There are a lot of scammers out there that will gladly take your money if you are not smart. That is why I want to make this post so that I can hopefully educate you enough so that doesn't happen to you.

If you follow the guidelines laid out in this post, then you should be fine. That doesn't mean that you still shouldn't be doing your own homework on the suppliers as well.​

Finding your Product on Alibaba

Now that we have all of the other stuff out of the way, we can now get into the meat of the post, which is actually finding and dealing with suppliers.

The first thing you are going to do is search for your product on Alibaba. That should bring up a huge list of potential suppliers that will make your product for you. 

After you have searched for your product, the next thing we want to do is filter out all of the possible scammy suppliers.

We do this by applying a couple of filters that Alibaba supplies us with. This is a really quick and easy way to filter out the bad suppliers.

You can see the type of filters that Alibaba provides us with above in the image. You can filter it by suppliers that have Trade Assurance, Gold Suppliers, Onsite Check, Assessed Supplier, Location and Minimum Order.

Personally, I usually only check the gold supplier filter but I first want to explain what each filter does so that you can get a better understanding of what you are filtering the suppliers by.

Trade Assurance

By clicking the trade assurance filter you will be guaranteed on time shipment and pre-shipment product quality. I love to see my supplier offering trade assurance.

You can read more about what it means by visiting Alibaba's full page dedicated to explaining trade assurance.

Gold Supplier

When a supplier is a gold supplier that means that they are pre-qualified by Alibaba. To be a gold supplier they have to pay a yearly fee to have that label.

This keeps away a lot of the scammy suppliers but there is still a chance of a bad supplier being a "gold supplier". That is why I suggest you don't solely rely on the filters to find good suppliers, always do your own research.

Onsite Check

Onsite check means that the supplier has had their operations checked out by Alibaba and that their legal existence has been confirmed.

This is a great way to make sure that the supplier you are dealing with is trusted and legit. 

Assessed Supplier

If the supplier is an assessed supplier then it is safe to say that they are legit. This is the highest level of standard that a supplier can achieve on Alibaba.

If they have the the title of an assessed supplier that means that an inspection company has taken a look at them and have approved them


If you want your supplier to be located in a certain area of the world then you can choose a specific location if you would like. 

I like to check if there are any US based suppliers for my product first. If there aren't then I usually don't pick a certain location.

Minimum Order

With this filter, you can choose what you want the minimum order to be. For example, if you wanted to place a minimum order of 250 or less then you would type 250 into the minimum order box. This will bring you back suppliers that have a minimum order quantity(MOQ) of 250 units or less.

This can be quite useful if you want to only look at the suppliers that will offer the amount of units that you want to purchase. Keep in mind that even though some suppliers say they have high MOQ on their product page, a lot of the times they are willing to work with you on your preferred order quantity.

Like I mentioned, I usually only check the gold supplier filter because from what I have experienced it will do a pretty good job at filtering out the bad ones for you. Sometimes a crappy supplier can still be a gold supplier but that isn’t too often(from what I can tell).

I also like to see that my suppliers have trade assurance, this is a good filter to use to make ensure that you are dealing with only trusted companies.

My suggestion for you is to click all of the filters: gold supplier, trade assurance, onsite check and assessed seller when searching for your product for the first time. 

This way, whatever results show up you know with good certainty that they are trusted. Depending on your product you may or may not have any suppliers show up. If your item is on the popular side then you will probably have enough suppliers to choose from.

If your product is less popular, then there will be less suppliers making your product which means you may not have a supplier that fits all of the criteria of your filters. 

If this happens then start to uncheck the filters one by one until you begin to see suppliers show up. The first filter I would remove would be the assessed supplier because that is the hardest to get for the suppliers. 

After unchecking the assessed supplier filter you should have a good amount of suppliers to choose from. If there is still a small selection then you can begin to uncheck the others until you find a supplier, try to keep the gold supplier checked the whole time if possible.

Walkthrough of this Process

To better demonstrate what I am talking about, I am going to go through the process of finding a supplier for silicone baking mats. I have used these baking mats as an example product before in my previous updates so I figured I might as well keep using them.

Let’s see how to find high quality suppliers step by step below for silicone baking mats.


Apply All Filters and Search for Product 

To begin, you are going to want to apply all of the available filters(besides location and minimum order, leave those as-is) and then search for product

​To get an idea of how this filter affects the results let's compare the number of results without any filters vs. all of the filters.

​No Filters Applied

All Filters Applied


Remove Assessed Supplier Filter if Needed

Silicone baking mats are VERY popular on Alibaba and there are a lot of different suppliers making this product.

It will not be like that for every product and there is usually a lot less suppliers to choose from. If this is the case for you then applying all of the filters could possibly ​remove all of the possible suppliers.

If that happens then we can start by unchecking the Assessed Supplier filter to view more possible suppliers. There a a TON of suppliers that have been inspected by third party companies that are still trusted and viable for you to use. That is why I like to remove the Assessed Supplier filter first.

Removing Assessed Supplier Filter

When all of the filters were checked there was only 4,400 suppliers to choose from, once we removed the assessed supplier filter that list grew to over 19,000! Much wider selection


Keep Removing Filters as Needed

If you still can't find a good supplier with the assessed supplier unchecked then you can begin to remove the other filters.

This will give you more options to choose from but it also raises the risk. Just remember that.​

Work your way down to only having the gold supplier checked if absolutely needed. If you can't find a supplier then you are going to have to do your own research on the companies.

This is not a hard process and I am sorry if I made it more complicated than it should have been. Bottom line, try to find a supplier with as many of the filters as possible that will make your product for a good price. That is all you need.

If you are really worried about getting scammed then you can do deeper research on your own of the different suppliers. StartupBros wrote a good article on how to avoid getting scammed and ripped off and you can read that if you are interested.

Dissecting the Product Page

In this next part of the article I am going to be breaking down the important parts of the product page and letting you know what information is vital for you to know.

It can be confusing if it is your first time using Alibaba and that is why I want to highlight some of the most key parts of the product page.

Below is an image of what a standard product page looks like, I am going to be using silicone baking mats as my example again.

Top of Product Page

In the picture above you can see that certain areas of the page are boxed and numbered. I am going to use these numbers as a reference so that you know what I am talking about when I am explaining them. 

1. Pictures

This area of the page is self explanatory and doesn’t really need any more info. One thing I do want to say is that high quality images is a good sign. If they have more than one image that is also a good sign. By having multiple high quality images you can assume that the supplier at least cares enough to have them taken.

2. FOB Price

FOB stands for free on board and you can get the full definition here. Basically, it means the cost range that it will take to make one unit. Take this price with a grain of salt because the actual cost per unit is usually different once you start talking to the supplier.

It is a good way to get a rough estimate of the costs so that you can have an idea. The higher quantity of your order the lower the cost per unit will be on the FOB range given. Vice versa with a lower quantity order.

3. Minimum Order Quantity(MOQ)

Minimum order quantity, which is often referred to as MOQ, is the like the name suggests; the minimum amount of units per order.

For this example with baking mats, the MOQ for this supplier is 2000 units. The MOQ is going to vary from supplier to supplier and you will need to take this number with a grain of salt as well.

A lot of the times the supplier will be open to lowering the MOQ if you simply ask. So don’t be afraid of contacting a supplier just because they have a high MOQ. Often time they will be willing to lower the MOQ for you. 

4. Supply Ability

The supply ability tells you how much product your supplier is able to produce in any given month. I wouldn’t spend too much time with this because any good supplier will be able to supply you with as much product as you need. 

5. Port

This is not a very important metric to look at when you are looking for a supplier. Later down the road when you are trying to handle all of the shipping logistics, you will need to know the port that your supplier ships out of. 

This is a good thing to take note of so that you can refer back to it later. 

6. Payment Terms

This is a really important part of the page because this is where you find out what types of payment that they accept. 

There are a couple of different types of payment methods that are accepted; some are riskier than others. I would suggest using either Paypal or Escrow when you are ordering your products. Or 100% backwards TT for the best buyer protection.

If you want a full breakdown of what each payment type is and the risk level of them you can read this little buyer’s guide by Alibaba.

7. Trade Assurance

This part of the page will let you know if this specific supplier has trade assurance or not. Obviously, it is a good thing if they have it. The higher their trade assurance is the better!

8. Supplier Info

This little area on the right gives a whole lot of good info that we should know about a supplier before we buy anything from them.

It tells you the company’s name, if they are a verified seller or not, how long they have been a gold supplier, their badges(if they are a gold supplier, assessed supplier, if they have had an onsite check and if they have trade assurance), key strengths, top markets they sell to and how long they have been in business.

All of this information is useful and something that we can use to help us gauge the legitimacy of their company. 

Bottom of Product Page

Once you scroll down a little bit on the product page you can view some more useful info about the product and the company. 

The first thing we are going to look at is the quick details about the product.

Product Quick Details

This section is packed full of good info that we need to know. Some of the most important things to note in this section are the size, material, place of origin and color.

All of this info can be found within this little section. It is a quick way to see all of the need to know info.

Company Profile

This information can be accessed by switching the tab from “Product Details” to “Company Profile”.

All of the information displayed in this section is very useful if you want to do some more background research on the company. They supply you with all types of details about this specific company that can be used to help determine the legitimacy of the company.

Package and Delivery

This little section has some good info that you should be taking note of. It will tell you the packaging details so that you know what to expect when it’s shipped. It also explains how long you should expect it to take for your product to be delivered once an order is placed.

In this example, I know the silicone baking mats come in either an OPP bag or a gift box and will take around 15 days to arrive  once ordered.

Product Info(Supplied by Manufacturer)

Next up is the product info, which will be located below all of the above mentioned information. 

The amount of info in this section is going to depend on whether or not the supplier decided to put in the effort to give the buyer details about their product.

The more information you see in this section the better. Let’s take a look at the example of the silicone baking mats.

The supplier of these baking mats did a good job of giving us, the buyer, ample info about their product.

From the table alone we are able to know a lot, such as the different sizes offered, if they allow a logo, sample times and materials. A lot of the time you will have to email the supplier to find out this info.

Below the table, there is a list of the main features of the product. This info isn’t crucial to know at this moment in time but later it could prove to be useful. For example, when we go to make our listing on Amazon we can refer back to the features listed here.

The screenshot above shows more details that this specific supplier gave about this product. Again, this type of info is more useful to us when we go and make our Amazon listing. 

Not only could it be used for our Amazon listing but also for the packaging of the product. 

What I mean is the “Before the first use” and “Important” section has information that could be placed on the packaging of the baking mats. Something to keep in mind.

Product Images

This part is self-explanatory but the more, high quality images the suppliers uploads to the listing the better it makes the supplier look.

A supplier that has a bunch of different images that shows everything about the product such as all of the angles, how it looks packaged up and how it gets shipped in are all good to see. 

Important Information to Know

There is a lot of different info that you can gather from the product page and all of it can be of use. 

At this point in the process where we are just trying find good suppliers there is some information that is more important than other stuff.

Some of the most important stuff to note is the FOB price, MOQ, if they make the product you want(size and color) and that they have some proof of being a legit company.

So when you are looking through all of the different suppliers I would give the things mentioned above the most weight.

Compile List of Potential Suppliers

Now that have have a solid understanding of what a good supplier is and how to determine one, we can now go out and put together a list of all of the suppliers that we could work with.

I like to keep track of all of my potential suppliers in a custom spreadsheet. This helps me keep everything organized and I can easily tell which suppliers are the best.

The screenshot above is what my spreadsheet looks like. As you go through the process of finding suppliers fill out the information for each one in the spreadsheet so when you are done you can easily pick the top ones.

Breakdown of the Spreadsheet

Left Side

This part of the spreadsheet is meant to be filled out before you have any contact with the supplier. 

In this section you fill out the info that you get from their product page such as the MOQ, FOB price, payment types and then I link to their product page in the first column.

This will give you a good place to sort through all of your suppliers and figure out which ones you want to contact. 

Once you get into contact with the suppliers and get some exact info from them then you will place that into the right side of the spreadsheet. I will talk about that next!

Right Side

The right side of the spreadsheet is going to be filled out with info that will be provided by the suppliers AFTER you message them and ask them certain questions. 

I talk about some of the questions you should be asking them later on in this article. Basically, you fill out this side of the spreadsheet with actual data. Not just estimates from their product page but exactly what they tell you when you contact them.

Filling out this info will make it very easy to spot the good suppliers that offer what you need vs. the ones that don’t.

Download Alibaba Supplier Spreadsheet
If you want access to this spreadsheet as well as a first email template sign up below
100% Privacy. We don't spam.

The reason why I would suggest you using the spreadsheet is because it keeps all of the supplier information in one place so that you can easily refer back to if need be. 

I also like that you can compare suppliers in one place without having to recall what they said about their MOQ or PPU.

If this seems like something that would be useful then you can download the spreadsheet above. If you download the spreadsheet you will also get a bonus email template that you can use when you are contacting your supplier for the first time.

Email Each Supplier on your List

By now you should have a list of possible suppliers that you can email to get more details about what they can offer you.

To reach out to these suppliers for the first time you are going to need to message them through Alibaba most of the time. You might be able to find an email or a Skype but you never know if they are still active or not.

The best route to go is to head over to the product page for the supplier and click on the Contact Supplier button.

After you click there you will be taken to a place where you can leave the supplier a message. It should look like the place below.

In your message you should ask a couple of things right off the bat so that you can eliminate suppliers that don’t fulfill your needs.

First Message Objectives

The most important info that you want to find out in your first message is what the minimum order quantity(MOQ) is, the real price per unit and what types of payments they accept.

In my opinion, a bad answer for anyone one of those questions will remove that supplier from my list of candidates usually.

For example, if the company only accepts sketchy payment methods then I would stay away. Or if the MOQ is way too high and they aren’t willing to lower it then I will pass on that supplier.

We know our main objective with our first message to the suppliers so let’s start sending them out.


You are going to be dealing with people where their first language is more than likely not English and they will be reading your message as Google Translate reads it.

Try to write very simply and easy to understand, stay away from slang words if you can.

People in the US are straightforward and to the point, especially in emails. ​Suppliers in China and Asia are very friendly and seem like they want to be your friend before business partner some of the time.

I would suggest greeting them nicely in each email and wishing them a nice day​ at the end of your emails. Building a good relationship with your supplier could save you thousands of dollars down the road!

Also, keep in mind that the time difference over there. Depending on where your supplier is located it could be 15 hours difference. This could lead to some late night email sessions with your supplier.​

Sending your First Message

We have already discussed our objectives for the first message but now we have to go do it. Sending the message is fairly straightforward and just ask your questions. I like to number my questions so when they reply I know exactly what they are referring to in their answer.

I have read on other sites that they suggest that you act as a business owner or as an employee of a big corporation. I have never done that and I am usually honest with them. I would say that I am looking to start selling “____” and I am looking for a supplier that can do everything that I need.

Also, remember to be as friendly as possible and you should be good. If you would like an email template to follow for each email then you can download one below. Just throw in your email and you will get access to it within a couple of seconds. 

Download Alibaba Supplier Spreadsheet
If you want access to this spreadsheet as well as a first email template sign up below
100% Privacy. We don't spam.

Email each supplier in your spreadsheet and then make sure that you mark in the spreadsheet that you emailed them. This way you can keep track of who you have and haven’t emailed. 

After you email your whole list of suppliers, all you have to do is wait for a reply.

Wait for Replies and Trim List Down

Keep in mind the time difference and which day you sent the messages out but you should get a reply back soon.

When you do, mark it in your spreadsheet that they replied. This will keep everything organized and you will be able to go back later and see who replied and who didn’t.

When they reply, determine if they can offer you what you need for a good price. If so then I would keep them. If not, then delete them from your list. You can try negotiating with them before you delete them to see if they will work with you.

Depending on how many suppliers you started with, you should have anywhere from 2-5 suppliers left after the first message. If you have more that is ok.

With our new list of suppliers that seem like they could work, we are going to put them through another level of questions to try and find the best supplier for us.

Follow Up Questions to Ask

Now that all of the crappy suppliers have been filtered out from asking the initial questions we can now begin to pinpoint the best supplier for our needs.

Assuming the supplier answered your questions in the manner that you had hoped, we should now know some basic info about them. Such as their MOQ, price per unit and their accepted payment methods.

Figure out(roughly) How Many Units you Want on First Order

You don’t have to know exactly how many units you want your first order to be but you should at least have an idea based off of the PPU. 

The PPU gives you a good idea of how many units to order because if the PPU is $10 then ordering 1000 units is $10,000! Which is a little much to invest in a unproven product.

If your PPU was around $2-$3 then ordering 500-1000 units on your first product is reasonable. That would make your first order around $1000 – $3000, not too bad.

Settle on an amount that you think would be good for your first order. This amount can easily change but it is good to at least get an idea in your head.

One thing to note, your supplier has already given you the PPU but you haven’t specified how many units you want yet. So that PPU is based off a number of units that we do not know, that is where our next question will clear things up.

Find PPU on the Amount of Products YOU Want

The part is important. 

When you email the supplier back with follow up questions one of the most important things to figure out is the PPU on the amount of items you want to order. 

Just ask the supplier, “How much would it cost per unit for an order of 500 units?”

You can change 500 units to however many units you are thinking about ordering. Asking the above question is important because it will usually differ from their initial PPU that they gave you. 

Keep note of their response and place it in the spreadsheet.

Find Shipping Costs on this Amount

Another really important question to ask is how much the shipping will cost. 

Many people, including myself, don’t realize how expensive shipping can be and it is important that you find this info out before placing an order.

Most suppliers will have freight forwarder that work for them and they can give you a quote.

Simply ask your supplier how much it would cost to ship 500 units to the U.S. and they will ask their freight forwarder.

If they ask for a destination, give them the address of an Amazon warehouse closest to you. 

Try to find a supplier that has a freight forwarder that will do all of the work for you including delivery, customs, and delivery to the Amazon warehouse.

This will make it 100x easier down the road because you won’t have to deal with all of that stuff.

Get a Rough Estimate on all Costs

Basically, what you want to do is find out how much your first order will cost if you went with that supplier.

You will need to know how much it will cost to make the product and how much it will cost to ship your order to Amazon’s warehouse.

Once you have that information you can begin to start calculating the profit margins that you will get when you the sell the product. I will be going more in-depth on how to calculate profit margins in the next update but for now just find the costs.

This is the most important information to know about a product before you place an order. The product costs + shipping fees is where 90% of your costs are going to come from so it is vital to find this stuff out.

Place all of the information that you gather into the spreadsheet so you can remember which supplier offered the best prices.


Some More Questions to Ask

Do they provide a sample?

Being able to see a sample of your product before you make an initial order is VITAL.​

You wouldn't buy a car before you saw it in person and test drove it would you? Same applies here.

See if your supplier will send you a sample for free, or at least cheaply, so that you can see first hand the quality of your product.​

The good news is that most suppliers are happy to send you a sample or two for you to check out. If they provide samples, add that to the spreadsheet as well!​

Ask about packaging and logo

A good question to ask the supplier is if they allow you to customize the packaging and if they allow you to apply your own logo somewhere on the product.​

Being able to brand your product is HUGE and will make your product stand out from the rest of the competition.

Some suppliers will allow you to customize anything you would like while some suppliers will only allow you to add a logo. It will differ from supplier to supplier so it is smart to ask them about it.

In my opinion, it is a smart thing to try and customize your product to match your brand as much as possible.​

Ask about applying labels

One question that I didn't even realize I had to ask my supplier was if they would apply the UPC code to my product for me.

The UPC code is a barcode that goes onto every single product that is sold and helps make each product unique from one another.

Your product NEEDS a UPC code before it can be shipped to Amazon, so make sure to ask them about it. If they can't apply them for you then you will have to find a third party to do it for you or you will have to do it yourself.

Another label that is needed is the FNSKU, which is what Amazon used to keep track of all of the different products in their marketplace.

Every product sold on Amazon will need a FNSKU. You can send your FNSKU labels to your supplier and ask them to apply them for you.

Otherwise, Amazon will apply them for you but at a cost of $.20 per item, which can add up over time.​

Ask about customizing product

In the last update, I talked about trying to make your product superior over the rest of the market by doing something a littler better than everyone else.

This could be as simple as making it a better color or fixing a common problem among the rest of the products in your market.

Whatever you are trying to change about the product, ask your supplier if they are able to make this change for you. It might cost extra money to get this change made but it could payoff in the long run. You will have to weigh the pros and cons.​

Ask for all of the dimensions of your product

This question might be asked a little bit further down the road, but it is very important to know all of the details about your product.

You need to know things such as weight of product, dimensions of the product(length, width, volume) and anything else that ​you might need.

You will need this information when you are creating your listing on Amazon about your product, so it is smart to know all of this info.​

Ask about shipping information

This is another question that I would have never thought of to ask but is still very important, especially when it comes to calculating shipping and Amazon fees.

Ask your supplier what the shipping size and weight of your product is. You will need to know this info for the Amazon listing as well as calculating the Amazon fees.

It is also smart to ask about how the items will be packaged and shipped. Will they be shipped in a carton? A pallet? How many items will be in each carton/pallet? What will be the total shipping weight of the first order?

All of the questions above are important to have answered by your supplier.​

Ask about how they plan on shipping the items

Your supplier might tell you this without you having to ask but ask them how the items are being shipped.

Will they be shipped by air or freight? There is a huge difference in the cost and time to arrive in these two.

Figure out which one your supplier will be using so that you can plan accordingly. ​

Pick the Best Suppliers

After you have gone through that whole process of filtering out the bad suppliers, asking them a ton of questions and finding the best suppliers you can now move into the next step.

This whole time while you were going through the process you should have been recording all of the info of each supplier into the spreadsheet. Now it is time to go back through that spreadsheet and determine the top 2-3 suppliers based on that information.

It is important to know that it will be hard to find a supplier that offers every single thing that you want, so you will have to try and pick the one that offers you the most.

It IS important to have a supplier that will give you things such as a reasonable MOQ, a good PPU and fair shipping costs. Those three things are vital to your success on Amazon so having a supplier that will give you those three things should be at the top of your priority list.

Ask for Samples

You should have a list of 1-3 suppliers that offer you what you need. Ask those suppliers to send you a sample so that you can determine which supplier produces the highest quality product.

Once you find the supplier that has the highest quality product and fits all of the other requirements it is time to place your first order. One thing you need to do before you actually place your first order is try to calculate the profit margins on the product as accurately as possible.

This can be tricky as there a lot of things that go into the profit margin and I think that in itself deserves its own post.

The next update for this case study will be a breakdown of how to accurately calculate the profit margin on your product before you place your first order.

Information About my Supplier

I have walked you through the process of finding a good supplier for your product but now I want to give you all some details about my supplier that I am using for my product.

My Supplier Info

  • 4 Year Gold Supplier
  • Trade Assurance up to $11,000
  • Verified Onsite Check by Third Party
  • Pictures of legal documents and of factory
  • Around $5 million in Sales Annualy

Overall, I feel very comfortable about dealing with my supplier because I know they are a legit company that will not scam me.

They pass all of the guidelines that I laid out in this post that make a up a good supplier and the best part is that they are giving me a great price.

They also have their own freight forwarder that they deal with so they are taking care of the whole shipping process for me. I do not have to worry about having someone get my order from the port and take it to Amazon because they do it for me.

I am still contemplating about whether or not to use a third party inspection service but if I don’t then my supplier will take care of getting my order from their factory to Amazon’s warehouse.

Pretty sweet!

My supplier has been a pleasure to work with and have been cooperative with me the entire time. They have answered all of my questions and helped me figure everything out.

Some of the things that they have allowed me to do have been: place my logo on the actual product, customize the packaging, create a custom product that they hadn’t offered before(cost me $300 but worth it), applying UPC labels for me and have been super helpful the entire time.

Overall, extremely happy with my supplier and everything they have done for me. 

It took me a couple of weeks and talking to multiple suppliers before I settled on this one supplier. I am glad I talked with multiple suppliers and got pricing quotes from a couple different sources so that I could pick the supplier that gave me the best price.

I am confident that by following the guide that I laid out above, you too can find a good supplier for your product. Don’t rush the process because finding a good supplier is very important for you to be successful selling on Amazon. 

Wrapping Things Up

Alright, another really long how-to post but I wanted to thoroughly explain the best way to find good suppliers because I know firsthand how confusing it can be. 

I also wanted to keep you from dealing with a supplier that will scam you out of your money and I feel like this guide did a good job of that. I think that for people just starting on Amazon this will be helpful to them and give them a process to follow.

I know the last two updates have been more how-to types of post and I know that you all like those, but I also know that you want to hear about how my journey is coming along. 

The next couple of updates will be more focused on my product and my journey of selling on Amazon except for the next update. Like I mentioned earlier the next update is going to be about how to calculate profit margins accurately.

The reason why I write these long, detailed posts is because I know that people struggle in these areas(IE finding products to sell, finding suppliers, calculating profit margins).

How do I know people struggle in those areas when starting to sell on Amazon? Because I struggled in those areas and you are in the same boat as me.

I know firsthand what parts of this process can be the most confusing and the most intimidating because I have already gone through them. That is why I write these long posts on certain topics, to help the people out that are in the same place that I was a month or two ago.

Anyways, I hope that explains my reasoning behind these detailed how-to guides and I think that you all really enjoy them and find them useful.

Thank you all so much for reading this far, before you go I want to ask you all a question!

What is one thing that confuses/intimidates you the most about selling on Amazon? Let me know in the comments below and if I get enough responses on one certain topic I will write about it in a future update.

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Another great write up, Josh!

The only thing I can think of to add here is when searching for your product on Alibaba, when you first enter it, scroll down the left side and be sure to click China as the only region option to show results for. Obviously this eliminates any other country to get product from, since your article is specifically looking for a Chinese supplier.

Keep it up man!


Thanks for the tip Kyle! Also thanks for taking time to leave a comment, have a good day.



Once again, more great info! I’ll be following. Thanks!


Thank you James!


One question I have has to do with copyrights, patents and trademark infringement. If I find what appears to be a reputable manufacturer on Alibaba and they list a specific dog collar (to use your example), does that mean I can sell that specific product “as-is”? Ideally I would find a product that could be customized in some fashion, but if I see a product on Alibaba and then see that specific product on Amazon, I’m immediately thinking “would I be infringing on some trademarked product?”……..any clarification or thoughts on this would be appreciated.


Hi Josh,
Great article and I’m sure it will help many people narrow down and reach out to suppliers.

A couple things I wanted to touch on though.
First and foremost you seem to bring up ‘not getting scammed’ quite a bit. That’s huge in this type of business. One sentence in this post made me yell ‘NOPE!’ after I read it. “I would suggest using either Paypal or Western Union when you are ordering your products.”
Western Union is exactly the thing that scammers are using to steal your money. It’s irreversible, once it’s sent, it’s gone. WU doesn’t care. Another thing is it’s against WU’s TOS (terms of service) to ‘pay for a product’ with their service. No one should ever, EVER pay with WU. Unless it’s their father running the manufacturing factory.

Paypal is great, but so is T/T (bank wire), because if the seller has Trade Assurance, you’re covered through Alibaba. You can also use Alibaba Secure Payment (escrow) if your seller agrees. Typically sellers will tack on a percentage (usually 5%) when you pay with Paypal so you could end up paying more than if you went with T/T. Yes, bank wires can be $20 or up to $80 depending on your bank, but what’s 5% of $3500 😉 Using Paypal for a sample is okay IMO.

Newbies should never be using WU as a method of payment, nor should anyone for that matter.

Another point I wanted to touch on is samples. You compare seeing a sample to seeing and test driving a car. That’s quite an exaggeration. A ‘silicone kitchen utensil’ is just that.. go look at some in Wal-Mart. They’re all exactly the same. You can’t compare a $0.10 silicone spatula to a $20,000 car. Sometimes seeing a sample isn’t necessary. Are you ordering something mechanical and you’ve made some design changes etc, sure get a sample. Ordering a silicone spoon, chances are it’ll be a silicone spoon just like the pictures they send you.



Hey Alex,

I really appreciate your comment and you are right, western union is terrible for buyers and I knew that from doing all of my research and I meant escrow. My mistake and I am glad that you caught it before too many people read that. Good catch and I really do appreciate and I am in no way disagreeing with you about bank transfer being the best way to buy from alibaba.

As for the sample, I can see where you are coming from but I see a sample as being quite important for a couple of reasons. The first being that you have no idea how your manufacturers product stacks up to what you think it will be like.

Another reason is so that you can see how your logo/packaging looks. Also you can see how they ship the product and see if it up to your standards.

One of the major reasons I would suggest getting a sample is so that you can take pictures of it yourself for the Amazon listing. You can also have other people or you try out the sample and make sure that it holds up from normal wear and tear, you don’t want to promote and sell a cheap item.

Overall, I think it is a very good idea to have samples made before you place an order for all of the above mentioned reasons.

Thank you for commenting! I along with everyone else would benefit from you and your knowledge in our Facebook group if you want to join. You seem to know what you are talking about and it would be a great help to the many people in the group, if interested you can join here –


Thanks for the detailed post. Maybe you were already planning on this, but I would like to read more details about the process for working with the manufacturers to get your own packaging or labels made, as well as creating bar codes.


Hi Trey,

I am planning on doing a post or posts covering this stuff but I can give you a quick answer here. For the packaging and labels just ask your supplier and see if they allow you to customize it. If they do then you have to get a design made and a logo made and send the design/logo to them. They will handle the rest.

As for the bar codes, you will need to buy a UPC code and register it with Amazon. Then Amazon will give you a FNSKU label that you will need to put on all of your products. I will be going into more details about how to do this in an upcoming post.



Hi Josh, great article again.
I am bit confuse here. Just to clarify, that means i have to get UPC code and register it with Amazon. In return Amazon will provide FNSKU to pass it on to Alibaba supplier to label it on each items? I am trying to figure out how the detailed process looks like as this is the first time I am going to ship my product to FBA warehouse. I’ve found a supplier, and agreed to buy a product.



Hey Jerry,

I just wrote about this whole process in my most recent article, you can read that here. if you still have any questions just let me know



I just realized you left a comment on my article where I talk about FNSKU/UPC labels so I am assuming you already read it. So in that case I will try and explain it further.

– You need to get a UPC code and register it with Amazon so that they know your product belongs to you.
– Once you do that, you can get the FNSKU labels from Amazon
– Once you have the FNSKU labels you will want to send them to your supplier/freight forwarder or whoever is handling your shipping and tell them to apply them to each one of your items.

I hope this clears things up,



What if you can’t find a supplier on Alibaba? I found a product on Amazon, typed it in on Ali, and nothing? Any suggestions? Maybe I’m missing something as I’m new to Alibaba. Thanks Josh.


Hi James,

Maybe there is a more popular term that is used for the product? i.e. grass cutter to lawn mower

Otherwise, if you can’t find a supplier that makes the product then you’re kind of out of luck. Maybe you can try finding one by searching in Google? You can email me at [email protected] if you want me to see if I can help you out!



Josh, I’ve sent a couple emails to you. Maybe check your spam as I haven’t heard back? Thanks!!



Hey James,

I have emailed you back, your first email went to my spam for some reason. Sorry for the delayed response


Hi Josh,

Thanks for the series, it’s been really helpful so far. I have a few questions. If I find a supplier that wont ship to Amazon, or if I want it shipped to my house for some reason – can suppliers ship to your home or is this something one would have to pickup at port?

Do suppliers generally charge the shipping costs for a sample, or do they work with their shipping providers to send it over with another shipment headed your way?

Since being a gold supplier is something they pay for in advance like you said, is something like a 4 year gold supplier someone who has already paid 4 years in advance or who has been using alibaba for 4 years as a gold supplier? I think the latter would be more trustworthy.


Hi Josh,

I very much appreciate you detailing every step of your process. I’d been reading blogs about FBA but couldn’t exactly figure out the criteria for product selection, so I googled and found your step-by-step instructions which have come in so handy.

What does it mean when “US” is selected as a location filter in Alibaba? I did that but the supplier pages list China as the place of origin and Chinese ports.

Thank you!


Hello Delan,

Thanks for commenting and it is awesome to hear that my post was able to help you out! The “US” filter is supposed to only keep the suppliers from the US but it seems like for you there aren’t any suppliers in the US for your product, only suppliers trying to trick people into thinking they are based in the US. From what I have experienced, most of the time you won’t find any good suppliers in the US on Alibaba. However, it is worth at least looking

Thanks again and have a nice day Delan,



Hi Josh,

Really excellent posts. I’ve watched tons of Youtube videos and read many blog posts about the Amazon private label process, but yours is about the most thorough I’ve encountered. My thanks.
There’s one big, burning question about this whole process that has me scratching my head:
I frequently find that the top selling products are often being sold directly from the manufacturer in China. Naturally, since they create the product they can easily cut us (that is, people like you and I who want to buy from a manufacturer and sell on Amazon) out of the equation and reap far greater rewards. It just seems like there wouldn’t be much incentive for them to deal with us when they could just as well send their products to Amazon warehouses, no? Thoughts?


Hi Charles,

I thank you for the kind words, means a lot 🙂

As for your question, I have not encountered that with my products that I have looked at. I have heard of people bringing this topic up before but I have not personally experienced this. But you ate right, it wouldn’t make sense for them to sell to you when they can sell directly on Amazon without the middleman(us).

I would suggest trying to find a product where the supplier is not selling on Amazon and stay away from suppliers who are selling their own products.


Josh I

I just wanted to thank you
You are amazing



You are welcome 🙂



Do you have any advice for me in finding a manufacturer, as I have a unique product; have not found similar on Google images, Alibaba, Amazon, Ebay. It might be an invention, but who knows; I know it would be incredibly cheap to produce (some plastic or firm sheet foam punched out)


Great series of articles. I’ve learnt so much and have just started contacting suppliers. Couple of quick questions:

Do you find the FOB price is generally accurate? I’ve been quoted ABOVE the higher range, albeit with minor modifications.

Also, is it worth contacting different suppliers even if they use the same manufacturer? Do they have any say in the price or does it go to the manufacturer?

Thanks for your extremely helpful and detailed posts.



Hi Ed,

Thank you!

FOB is usually generally correct but, if you made any changes there is a good chance that it will be higher.

The supplier and manufacture should be the same person. If they aren’t then you are dealing with a middle man that is only cutting out your profit margin. I would try to go straight to the source and buy straight from the manufacture if possible.



I am emailing a few suppliers. Should I ask first if they can do a smaller order BEFORE I have them send a sample? I notice all of them want a large first order (1k to 5k). Or will most negotiate that…


Yes, I would ask about the MOQ before getting a sample. I also have found that most suppliers will be willing to negotiate their MOQ



Hi Josh, I don’t know if anybody else has asked this question. Have you considered customs duty? Since you are importing products from overseas, how much the US Custom charge you for your product?

Thank you for all these super valuable info.



Hi Alfred,

My freight forwarder handled that for me. I paid around $100 for customs duty


Abu Omar

Hi Josh,

Thank you for all the wonderful information, it’s very useful. My question is: if I wanted to get a product copied by an Alibaba manufacturer, is that possible because sometimes on their listing I cannot find the exact product which I am looking for.


Hi Abu,

If you can’t find a supplier that makes your exact product then what you should do is send them an email and explain to them what your product is and ask if they could make it for you. I would email all of the suppliers that make similar products to your product



Hello Josh,

I have to say you are so great a guy!
You have deeeeply researched about the things you are doing.
Actually i am a chinese supplier, from your perspective i learn a lot how to improve ourselves when dealing with buyers like you.

Thank you for sharing all of these.


Thank you and I am glad I could help Willi


Hi Josh,
Thanks for all the great job you did here, its help me a lot.

I have Q about the sample; I took your advice to customize my product a bit in order to be outstanding. Therefore, my idea was to add some related product in one package.

The supplier says I will need customized package, and most of them did not provide it in the sample, especially not with my logo. Only one want it and ask for around 300$ for sample, product will cost around 6 $

How important is to insist on the box in advance?


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