Why Alibaba and Online Sourcing Platforms Are Not Enough To Establish an Overseas Supply Chain Strategy

When it comes to establishing your overseas supply chain strategy, do-it-yourself-ers and independent business owners often turn to websites like Alibaba or similar web-based sourcing platforms. These may feel like a one-stop-shop for all your sourcing and manufacturing needs. The reality is that these platforms oversimplify the complexities involved in managing a supply chain, which can leave you at risk of implementing a half-baked supply chain strategy.

Buyer Beware: Look Out For ScammersCaution Sign

Alibaba can be a difficult website to navigate in itself. Out of a hundred manufacturers listed, only a handful will be reputable. However, their factory rating system is often unreliable because any factory can pay for higher rankings on their site. It’s not uncommon for scammers to pay for top ratings in order to take advantage of people.

The most common way that factories take advantage of people is during the sampling process. We’ve heard countless stories of people who have received high-quality samples, which prompts them to place a large quantity order, only to receive a shipment of product that is nowhere near the quality of the samples. This is devastating for any business.

Cost creep is another common tactic. This is where the factory gives you an unbeatable production price quote and then works with you over months to develop your product. After this process, you’re ready to place a large order, but that’s when they reveal the actual price quote, which is much higher.

These sloppy mistakes are easily avoidable if you work with the right partner. Trusting unreliable sources can be costly to your supply chain strategy. 

Supply Chain MeetingCommunication And Superficial Relationships

Communication between you and your supplier is key, but it can go awry for several reasons. The language barrier is the first issue. Trusting someone who will communicate the intricacies of your product without the details getting lost in translation is imperative. Another major problem is time zones. Calls need to occur early in the morning or late at night in order to reach your factory. 

If communication isn’t up to par, then there will be a delay in the production process. Manufacturing partners that have reliable communication are key in creating a sustainable supply chain and business. 

IP TheftIP Theft

Unfortunately, IP theft is all too common on sites like Alibaba and often goes without punishment. Novice users may deal with advantageous manufacturers, and without the proper documentation and references, there’s no guarantee that your designs, names and other ideas are kept confidential. 

Supply Chains are Built on Relationships

The difference between relying on Alibaba or web-based sourcing platforms and a professional supply chain management firm, like Blacksmith, is that the latter utilizes their relationships with top factories around the world.  to get your products made efficiently, without defects, and at the perfect balance between price and quality.

Having a team on the ground in China gives our clients the reassurance and peace of mind that their project is staying on course. Being knowledgeable concerning laws and regulations in different countries means we know how to protect you against IP theft.

Put simply, there’s no substitute for having a dedicated partner that has your back as your company grows. To learn more about the supply chain solutions that Blacksmith offers, contact us today.