Finding The Right Product For Your Online Business

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An online sourcing directory is the 21st century entrepreneur’s best friend. It is a resource that eliminates the need for a middleman from your supply chain. Businesses can connect with manufacturers through sourcing directories. My favorite directory is Alibaba, an English language sourcing directory. It specializes in business-to-business trades, especially for international buyers trying to make contact with Chinese sellers.

Alibaba offers a search able database of manufacturers of almost any product you can imagine. It is a free resource for buyers from over 200 countries and territories. They claim to be “the number one destination for businesses to find volume buyers and suppliers from around the world.” Think of Alibaba as the great connector of manufacturers and corporate buyers.

Steps To Use Alibaba

1. Create a free account for your business.

2. Search for your product of interest. Expect to find many companies as Alibaba has a huge database.

3. Contact the factory. Full contact information including phone number, address, website, and e-mail address is available.

You should be familiar with some of the most common sourcing terminology for contacting factories.

MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity) – As you contact a manufacturer, ask about their MOQ. Some factories are only interested in selling you at least one container of product. Others are happy with smaller orders. Contact multiple factories simultaneously, so you can connect with the right one faster.

FOB (Free On Board) – FOB price means, the buyer pays for freight to the port of shipment, plus loading costs. Expect to pay for freight, insurance, unloading costs and transportation from the factory to the port of origin to port of destination to your location. If you are quoted FOB Ningbo (Ningbo is a large port located in China.) $5000 for 500 units of product, you have to consider the additional ocean freight charges.

CIF (Cost, Insurance, Freight) – CIF, unlike FOB, includes freight and insurance charges. If you have no experience importing, CIF might be a better option than FOB. The price per unit will be higher with this option than with the FOB option, but it requires less work on your part. If you want to see the difference between FOB and CIF price, be sure to ask for both in your inquiry.

Dim Weight (Dimensional Weight) – If you choose the FOB option, you will need hire a forwarder for your order. Note: A forwarder is a fancy word for a shipping company. Forwarders ask for port of origin, port of destination, and dimensional weight.

BOL or B/L (Bill of Lading) – A document issued by the shipping company, acknowledging that the shipment has been received on board as cargo for transport to a named place, usually a port of destination, for delivery to the consignee whom is the business buying the product.

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