When you’re trying to source stock for your business, a lot of people buy from overseas in China – and one of the easiest ways to do this is through the online marketplace Alibaba. However, as easy as it is to find and contact manufacturers through Alibaba, you still aren’t going to get very far if they don’t respond to you. Today, we’re going to be explaining the common reasons that suppliers may not respond to your enquiries and how you can improve their response rates.
1 – You didn’t provide enough details
Suppliers on Alibaba receive a lot of emails – and a lot of them don’t lead anywhere. Due to this, suppliers need to cut down on wasted time by only responding to enquiries that are going to lead to business for them.
If you provide details about your enquiry as opposed to a vague enquiry, not only do you seem more professional – you also give your supplier something clear-cut to respond to. Providing details allows your supplier to easily know what you’re looking for and what information to provide you. Being vague leaves room for confusion and, if a supplier isn’t entirely sure what you want from them, they’re more likely to just ignore the request.
Make sure your enquiry is specific as possible. Include all the details your supplier needs to give you a quote; quantities, shipping terms, packaging details etc. This also makes you sound more professional.
2 – You didn’t sound professional
As we’ve already mentioned, Alibaba suppliers often receive a lot of dead ends – so, if you’ve approached them in a way that’s unprofessional, they’re far less likely to respond as you don’t seem like a serious lead.
Suppliers are more likely to reply to people who seem more likely to result in legitimate business, so mentioning that you’re a brand new business, or just thinking about starting a business, can go against you. If you think about it, this is pretty logical – sure, you may have every intention in the world of starting up a new business . . . but you could look into it and realise it’s not financially viable; you could get promoted at work and decide against it; you could go down a completely different route. You saying that you want to start a business is great, but from their point of view it’s likely a wasted response.
Plus, remember that if you’re doing initial research into starting a business through Alibaba suppliers, imagine how many other people are – and then consider how many people actually go through with the order. As a supplier, you can see how this could be annoying, right?
Don’t mention that you’re a new business; don’t lie to your supplier, but maybe consider referring to yourself as “small” or “growing” business instead, if you need to mention your business size. Make it very clear what you’re looking for, as mentioned in the previous solution, so that you sound as knowledgeable as possible. Mentioning things like shipping terms, quality checking, samples, etc. shows that you are familiar with the process and have some experience too.
3 – They couldn’t understand your enquiry
When dealing with Chinese suppliers, there will likely be a culture and language barrier; sometimes, your enquiry may just have been too complicated and the supplier just didn’t understand what you were saying. This ties into not providing enough details – if you haven’t provided enough details, the supplier can’t understand what you’re asking and therefore whether they can provide a service for you, so they’re less likely to respond.
Keep the enquiry short and sweet; make sure your writing is succinct and simple to read. International trade terms (like the Incoterms we use in shipping) are really useful as everyone is aware what they mean, so use these where possible.
4 – The quantity is too low for suppliers to be interested
While negotiating with your suppliers is encouraged, going in too low immediately can put them off. Enquiring about the MOQ (minimum order quantity) is fine, but requesting 10 of a product with a MOQ of 150 is likely to get your enquiry ignored.
Ask if the MOQ is negotiable in the initial email (maybe citing that you want to make an initial order to test the supplier’s production quality before purchasing large amounts), but don’t immediately jump in with a much lower figure. Most suppliers are willing to lower the MOQ, but not to a ridiculous degree.
5 – It’s a Chinese holiday and your suppliers are busy
The last reason your supplier may not have responded to your enquiry is simply that they’re on holiday! Like every country, China has their own national holidays and your supplier may just be busy enjoying themselves. There’s no solution for this problem, unfortunately, other than to wait for the Chinese holidays to be over – but you can prepare in advance! While most of 2017’s Chinese holidays are done, here’s a schedule for the upcoming year:
Hopefully, this post gave you a better idea of how to approach suppliers on Alibaba and increase their response rates. If you do find a supplier and need someone to help you with your shipping, feel free to contact us for further help.