Episode 10: Finding an FBA Supplier & More
In This Episode
You did the research and know what product you want to sell. What do you do next? How do you find the right supplier or manufacturer? How do you assure they meet your cost and quality standards? Tommy answers your questions in this episode of Sell. Rank. Win.
What's up you data-hungry Amazon sellers? This is your host Tommy Beringer of the Sell, Rank, Win podcast for MerchantWords. And in this podcast, we give you the answers to your most burning questions, actionable insights that you can take away and implement into your business today. So let's go ahead and dive right into today's episode. What do you say? Let's go!
In this episode, I go over how to find a supplier. I give you some tips on how to save money on shipping and on Amazon FBA fees. I also give you my own contacts at the end that I use for my own sourcing agents and shipping agents. So let's go ahead and dive right in.
What's going on, everybody? Thank you for tuning in to the Sell, Rank, Win podcast for MerchantWords, I'm your host, Tommy Beringer. And in today's episode, we're going to go over how to find a supplier and also pepper in a little bit of shipping stuff. So try to figure out how to ship that product over from China or India or wherever you're sourcing from into your warehouse.
Okay. Let's start out with finding a supplier. This is the step after you have figured out, you've done all of your research, your product research, and now you're narrowing it down, or even at the moment, you're narrowing your product down. Maybe you want to just reach out to a supplier to see how much it's going to cost, to see if it's going to make sense. So the product research process and the looking for a supplier or a sourcing agent process could be kind of over overlapping, but it's either towards the end of the product research process or right after it. So that's where I like to usually contact a supplier or reach out to my sourcing agent.
I've been selling on Amazon for quite some time now, and there's a lot of sites out there, there's a lot of companies that you can go ahead and try to get some pricing on some products. But the best company that I think is always going to be doing well for this process is going to be Alibaba, alibaba.com. What you want to do is just reach out to Alibaba or go to alibaba.com, type in the product. So you narrowed it down to a wireless charger. Don't ever sell a wireless charger. But say you narrowed it down to that, you want to go into Alibaba, just type in wireless charger, and then you're going to see a whole bunch of different manufacturers and trade companies come up. What you want to look at now is, you know, they'll have some prices, it'll say, “Two pieces for $3 to $4, 500 pieces $2, $3.” Or whatever.
That's sometimes right, but I never really look at the pricing. You can always go in and negotiate the price I found. And you can also negotiate by say, “Here, I have gotten this product cheaper from this other company. They offered me this.” And just go ahead and straight up send them over the spreadsheet that they sent to you. And maybe they'll drop in an extra couple of pennies or 5 cents or whatever. But the most important thing you want to look at is to see if they are a gold supplier and if they have trade assurance.
The gold supplier, definitely it's going to be something that you're going to want the manufacturer or the trade company that you contact to have because this is going to be letting you know that they're paying to be on Alibaba. They're paying in there and they're being serious to be there on Alibaba. And then also the trade ... Or excuse me, yeah, the trade assurance is going to be there just in case something happens with the shipment, they don't ship out the product. There's a few different things there. So it's kind of like an escrow account. The money gets held in an escrow account and then once everything is clear, your products pass the port of where it's supposed to be, then they go ahead and release the money to the manufacturer. So it's always good to have that trade assurance.
And then also they have these diamonds there as well. It's basically showing the company's transaction level. And that's just showing you how much business they're doing. That's not always necessary if you see like a three diamond or a five diamond. If you found a one diamond and they meet all the criteria of having trade assurance and being a gold supplier, then I say go for it.
Another big thing you want to look at is how many years have they been on Alibaba. So you can see the year right next to the gold coin, which shows them as a gold supplier and the little trade assurance box is kind of like a box or a crown or something with the dollar sign in it. And you can see how many years they've been on Alibaba.
I want to see the suppliers, at least on Alibaba for at least three years. Because that's allowing me to know that they're there to play, they're not there to mess around and try to swindle you or anything like that. Because people come on for one year sometimes, who knows what happens? I wouldn't trust them too much, but if you see someone on there for like three years, you can trust them, and then go ahead and reach out to them. Reach out to those suppliers.
What you want to do after you narrowed it down to a few suppliers, and first you want to reach out to about at least 10 suppliers and get back as much pricing as possible. Because you want to make sure that you're getting the best price. So what you want to do is reach out to them and ask them for as much information as possible because you guys are in two different time zones here. They're waking up at my 6:00 PM. I'm in California, so they're waking up when it's like 5:00 or 6:00 o'clock for me. So if you contact them during the day, they might not get back to you right away. Just understand that as well. And what you want to do is just make sure you ask them to, when you reach out, for different tiered unit counts. And you want to make sure you get a pricing door to door, which means you're shipping it from China all the way into your Amazon warehouse and then you got to give them a zip code of where that product is going.
If you don't have Amazon, you're not going to have an Amazon warehouse zip code just to yet possibly. So you can just give the zip code to your house or to your warehouse and you can get the pricing like that. But you might not have the FBA warehouse that you're going to send it into just yet because you're just trying to get a price here. And when you reach out to them, you can also ask them for their WeChat and for their WhatsApp, how to get a hold of them that way as well. It's a lot quicker, a lot easier. You can contact them right from your phone. Just download the WeChat app and the WhatsApp app. That's the way that they like to communicate.
Like right now it's about 6:00 o'clock for me, and I know that they're up. And I can contact my sourcing agent right now and she will get right back to me usually within 30 seconds or a minute. They're really quick. And they love using, WeChat and WhatsApp instead of email and talking on Alibaba. It's a lot easier for them and it's going to be a lot easier for you as well. So I really recommend that when you reach out to them, ask them for their WeChat and their WhatsApp.
Let's go ahead and kind of recap on that. So when you reach out to them, when you send a message to them, make sure ... And first off, ask them for a sample, how much it is going to be for a sample. You want to make sure you get a sample. You want to get a sample from at least three to four different manufacturers. Because everything could look exactly the same online, on Alibaba, but once you get it in your hands, things are going to feel different. Things are going to look different. And then you could kind of make your final decision from there after you have received those samples. And the samples are not going to be cheap. They could be upwards of $100-$150, depending on what you're ordering. So just be ready for that. It's the cost of doing business, guys. So just be ready for that. You're paying a lot for the shipping and they want to make sure that you're real, that you're ready to do business with them. So make sure you get a sample that's very important.
When you reach out to them, tell them you want a cost for like 50 to 100 units, 100 to 200, 200 to 500, 500 to 1,000, 1,000 thousand to 5,000 and so on. You want to just get all of the different costs, what it's going to be per unit for those different amounts of orders. And also there's something that you might see called, they'll say, “Our MOQ is this.” What MOQ is, is Minimum Order Quantity. Now, if they come back and say, “Oh, sorry, our minimum order quantity is 10,000 units.” Then you have no business with them because basically they're a real deal manufacturer. At least you found a manufacturer there. But they're not going to have anything less than 10,000 units to give you. And you're going to be spending a lot of money. And when you're starting out and you're trying to test a product on Amazon, you have no business buying 10,000 units. You want to buy about 50, maybe 100 units, send them into Amazon, see if they work. And if they work, then contact them back and say, “Hey, I need now 500 units.” Or whatever you want to order there.
The companies that are able to give you between 50 and 100 units are going to be trade companies. Trade companies are middlemen. And that's not a bad thing. I know when you say, try to cut out the middleman, but in this case, you want to be able to purchase a smaller amount of units. So smaller MOQ. And the trade companies can handle that for you. It's going to be a little bit more expensive, but you're testing here. You want to make sure that your product is going to sell an Amazon. You don't want to buy by 1,000-5,000 units of something, send it into Amazon, and then find out it's not working because then you'll have to actually pay Amazon to get rid of them for you or send them back. It gets messy. So you always want to test and make sure that the product is going to work. That's always the first thing I do when I go ahead and send in a new product into Amazon.
But unfortunately, right now, it's kind of hard to do that because of all the new restrictions going on with the COVID-19 and how many products you can send in at the moment. But just continue on, stay in the course guys, everything's going to be all right.
Now, there's another company or there's another site called 1688.com. 1688.com is like an Alibaba, but it is in all Chinese. But the prices are going to be way better on there. It's kind of hard to navigate, but if you really want to, have someone go in there and navigate and negotiate for you. You can go to Fiverr and to have someone, hire someone to negotiate for you on 1688. I think there's actually even people who do it. You could just type in 1688 on Fiverr and you can find some people that'll do it.
And there's also another company. This is the company that I personally use for my products, and they're called Jingsourcing, Jingsourcing.com. And they have been great for me. I've been using them for a few years now. They're my sourcing agent. You pay them a little bit of extra fee, but they get you a really good price and they can get you anything you want. You can tell them, “Hey, I want leather pants and a cowboy hat and a pair of, I don't know, Ray-Ban look-alike glasses or something.” And then they'll come back to me within 24 hours and say, “Okay, here's the pricing for all of this. What do you think?” You know, “Do you want to order some samples?” And so on. So they're great over there. So if you don't want to go to Alibaba and do the legwork yourself.
However, I do recommend to go over there and try to at least do the first couple yourself and see what happens because I actually got lucky on Alibaba for one of my first products in fact. And I reached out to a manufacturer and I got really, really good pricing, and I'm still using them to this day. So you can get lucky on Alibaba and it's a really good place to go to and a really good place to start. And just trying to get those wheels turning for the ... The manufacturer wheels turning, I guess you could say, or the sourcing wheels.
Now jumping over to shipping a bit. My shipping agent that I use, his name is Mike Rose. He is my shipping agent. He does all my shipping for me and basically make sure I don't have to worry about anything. I just say, “Hey, my stuff's ready in China and I need my stuff shipped from China to this Amazon warehouse in Dallas.” Or whatever it is. And he says, “No problem, I got you. Here are the prices. What do you think?” And then just pick the lowest price and just make sure that's going to get there at the time that you want and that's how it's done. Simple as that. And he takes care of everything for you that way.
Also, the manufacturers that you deal with will also have sourcing agents on hand that I have used as well. Sometimes the prices will be cheaper, sometimes there'll be a little bit higher. So obviously, you want to go with the best price. And then also our friend Jing Gao, she has created a couple of companies, one called OutsourcedPrep.com and one called OutsourcedImport.com where they have sourcing agents and shipping agents, there for you as well.
So these are all of my contacts here, guys, that I'm giving you that I actually use myself as an Amazon seller, so you don't have to go ahead and do some digging. I trust these guys. I've been using them for years. I have not tried Jing's company yet. Jing Gao's company, Outsourced Prep or Outsourced Import, but she's an Amazon seller herself and they're very serious. I actually might reach out to her to see if she can source some products for me, probably within the next couple of months or so.
Another pro tip I wanted to give to you guys is regarding packaging. If you are able to work with your manufacturer, just ask them, say, “Is there any way I can make this product smaller inside the packaging? So maybe it lends itself to being folded an extra time, or if you can just break down the parts of it, you know, take off the parts to make the packaging smaller.” It's going to save you guys money in shipping costs. And it's also going to save you guys money inside of Amazon, whatever they deem you, whatever tier they deem you as. If it's the small standard tier, the large standard tier, oversized, or small oversize, or whatever it is. Each one is going to have less expensive fees once it comes. Obviously, the smaller standard tier is going to be the least amount of fees there that you're going to pay to Amazon.
So you always want to make sure that the product is as small, as compact as possible as you can. Also actually, you want to make sure you get an inspection after you have a run of products made. So that the inspection company will come out, make sure that there's not a lot of defects, everything is done the right way. And it's going to be well worth the money. And I use TOPWIN Inspection for my inspections. That's topwininspection.com. Go ahead and check them out. Make sure you get that inspection. I mean, it's like $100-$200. There's different levels of inspections, but you only need like $100-$200 level one, where they go in and test a certain amount of products and just make ... They do like a drop test. They'll videotape it. They send you this huge report. So make sure you get your product inspected as well. I just wanted to let you guys know that.
Bye guys, thank you so much for hanging out with me and talking shop, suppliers, and shipping, and all that fun stuff. Till next time guys. Please stay awesome and be awesome. Thanks so much.
All right. Thank you guys so much for listening. And if you got any value out of this podcast at all, please let us know at the place that you listened to it at, whether it be iTunes, Stitcher, whatever it is. Give us some love, give us an awesome review, and let us know maybe some things you want us to talk about on the next podcast. Until next time guys, stay awesome and be awesome.