How to Find The Right Supplier on Alibaba

Author Image

Mark Pecota | CEO at LaunchBoom

How to choose the Right Supplier on ALibaba

Every year tens of thousands of products fail simply because they didn’t choose the right supplier.

And product creators continue to make the same mistakes – they grossly underestimate how hard it is to find the perfect supplier or settle for a mediocre one.

Fortunately, Alibaba makes it a lot easier.

Still, you can’t just go on Alibaba and expect to be paired with the right manufacturer. You need to follow a system for weeding out the bad and only being left with the good.

Now, you don’t have to use Alibaba to find your supplier, but for most, it’s going to be the best option. The platform makes research, choosing, and communicating with suppliers way more streamlined than other options. For that reason, we almost always recommend Alibaba to source top suppliers.

And today, we’ll dive into how you can do it.

The steps I’ll share are straight from the brain of LaunchBoom’s sourcing and manufacturing expert, Kian Golzari (the guy in the thumbnail). Kian has personally sourced over 2,500 products and worked with companies like the NBA, Google, Amazon, and the Olympics. I interviewed him to understand his system so I could share it with you.

Anyways, let’s start with step one.

Step 1: Create a Specification Sheet

So before you open up Alibaba, you have to get your Specification Sheet complete.

What is a Specification Sheet you ask?

It’s a PDF that has all the key information about your product for prospective suppliers – stuff like weight, materials, dimensions, cuttings, certifications, and/or packaging.

You want the supplier to be able to look at it and understand what they are quoting you on. Plus, having a standard Spec Sheet will ensure that you are comparing apples to apples when talking with different suppliers.

There isn’t one way to complete a Spec Sheet. You can draw it yourself, hire a professional, or include different products as references to explain what you want.

Here’s an example of a page out of a Spec Sheet.

Specification Sheet

You can see how it includes dimensions, references to other products, and different components for this new backpack. This will come in handy once you start talking to suppliers. Speaking of talking to suppliers, let’s talk about finding them on Alibaba.

Step 2: Conduct initial supplier research on Alibaba

Selecting a supplier is more than a transaction; it’s a key decision that can make or break your product. The global manufacturing landscape is dotted with tons of suppliers, each offering unique strengths and capabilities. Making the right choice requires following a system and understanding the nuances of supplier selection.

To explain how to conduct the initial supplier research on Alibaba, I’m going to walk you through finding suppliers for an example product.

Let’s say I’m trying to source a supplier for blue light blocking glasses.

First, I’ll go to and type blue light blocking glasses into the search bar.

Alibaba Screenshot

Then, I’ll choose Verified Manufacturers, which means the information they post on Alibaba has been verified by a third party.


Verified Manufacturers

Next, I’ll choose ISO and BSCI under Management Certifications in the left hand menu. If they have these accreditations, they are more likely to be a reputable supplier.

Management Certifications

When looking through the list, we can see that the first name in the title for each supplier will be a region. For example, it looks like this for our search for blue light blocking glasses.

Blue light blocking glasses

Certain regions are more well known for producing certain products. I’ll look for the most common region that’s showing up in the search results because it probably means that region specializes in my product.

Next, I’ll check to see how many years they’ve been on Alibaba. See the screenshot below to see where you can find that info. In general, I recommend only working with a factory that’s been on Alibaba for at least 5 years.

Years on Alibaba

Next, let’s look at how much staff they have:

Staff they have

Bigger is not always better. In fact, if you expect to produce less than 1,000 units in your first run, it’s probably better to go with a smaller manufacturer as they can give you more personalized and customized attention.

Next, I’ll want to click on one of the results. For this example I chose Wenzhou So-Pal Optics Co., Ltd.

Then, I’ll click on Visit store.

Visit Store

From there, I’ll hover over products and see what other products they produce. I want them to be mainly focused on products in my category. As you can see below, I can confirm they produce blue light blocking glasses plus other optical products.

Blue Light

If they were to sell a random assortment of products, that wouldn’t be a good thing. I want them to be as specialized as possible.

Next, I’ll go back to the main page for the supplier and click on See all verified capabilities.Verified capabilities

This will show us all of the capabilities that have been verified by a third party.

All capabilities

Next, I’ll check how many years they’ve been in business and review their certifications. Certifications.

Next, I’ll check the main markets they supply. I want a large percentage of their exports to be the market I plan to sell into – because if they have a lot of experience exporting to my market, then I can feel confident that they understand the standards of that market.

Main markets

What we just went through is the bulk of the research process. Going through each of these steps for multiple suppliers will allow you to choose a group of initial suppliers you want to reach out to – which brings us to the next step in this process..

Step 3: Contact suppliers on Alibaba (the 10-5-3-1 Framework)

Now that you understand the research process, it’s time to start contacting suppliers on Alibaba. The framework that we recommend is called the 10-5-3-1 Framework. Here’s the idea:

10: Reach out to ten suppliers on Alibaba

If a supplier looks good after following the research process above, you can start to reach out to them. On the supplier’s main page there will be a Send Inquiry button.Send Inquiry button

Be professional yet personal. Tell them about yourself and your credibility. And most importantly, include your Specification Sheet. This will ensure that all ten of the suppliers you communicate with will quote you using the same information.

5: Narrow the list to five

You should start getting responses back quickly. It will turn into a back and forth conversation if they are interested in working with you. Narrow the list to five and get price quotes.

After you get the price back from the supplier, make sure you ask for the bill of materials (BOM). This will break down the price of all the individual components they expect to use to create your product. It will look something like this.

Bill of materials

It’s hard to overstate how valuable this information is. Knowing the detailed breakdown of the costs will allow you to more easily find ways to optimize your pricing and compare suppliers against each other.

3: Get samples from three

With pricing in hand from five suppliers, it’s now time to narrow the list to three. Price is a very important factor, but not the only one. Also take into consideration the communication so far and how impressed you’ve been with their capabilities. Once you’ve got your list of three, order samples.

1: Order from one

Once you get your three samples, put them through the gauntlet. Make sure you use the samples as intended to see how they hold up. The goal is to get one that works 100%. There’s likely going to be some back and forth during this part of the process where you are iterating on the sample. But once you’ve found a supplier that can build the perfect one, make your order.


Finding the right supplier for your product is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Alibaba is one of the best resources for finding that supplier. To start, make sure you create a Specification Sheet. With that in hand, you can start researching top suppliers using the method I outlined. Lastly, use the 10-5-3-1 Framework to filter the suppliers down to the perfect one for you.

Happy sourcing.

Found this article
Share it!


Subscribe to our Newsletter

Lauchboom Logo


Subscribe to our Newsletter


Talk To An Expert