Finding a reliable partner when sourcing items internationally can be a challenge, but it’s crucial to making a long-term business relationship work. Alibaba is the largest supplier based out of China and does billions of dollars in sales working to connect factories that can provide inexpensive supplies and goods to international businesses at a premium price.
The Verified Supplier program is one of the major tags that can be found when looking at Alibaba suppliers. What does the Verified Supplier tag mean though?
Is this a membership level any provider can get by paying enough or does it actually involve a review process and solid history that shows they are reliable when they have that Verified Supplier mark?
I’m going to go into an in-depth analysis of the Alibaba Verified Supplier program, what it is and what it isn’t, and how you should react when you see that tag.
This article will show:
- What an Alibaba Verified Supplier is
- How a provider can become a Verified Supplier
- The memberships fees and benefits
- Comparing and contrasting to Gold-level Suppliers
- My experience finding trusted Verified Suppliers
Let’s dive in!
What Does Verified Supplier Mean on Alibaba?
Verified Supplier is a membership level on Alibaba that is available in some markets that companies need to apply for. This is a paid membership which provides benefits like more exposure to potential clients, and increases trust with them by having that Verified Supplier mark.
Takeaway: Verified suppliers are required to pass a third party audit and is currently the highest level of membership on Alibaba.
This membership level does have a verification process, meaning it’s not just “pay to play.” When I’m dealing with a Verified Supplier I know they have gone through at least a basic series of inspections and verification in order to qualify for the membership.
This is currently the highest level membership on Alibaba, a step above Gold Suppliers, and while it is a paid membership a company must still be able to pass third party audit and verification otherwise they will not be allowed to be a Verified Supplier.
Verified Supplier Membership Information
One thing I think it’s very important to understand is that Verified Supplier is a membership level. That does mean that the company with that mark has paid to get to that membership level. This can lead to valid concerns over a conflict of interest.
In theory, this shouldn’t be a major issue as Alibaba has a vested interest in making sure any factories, companies, or other material providers they allow a Verified Supplier membership provides reliable high-quality products.
Currently, this is the highest membership tier widely available.
Verified Suppliers Must:
- Make a request to become a Verified Supplier
- Pay the initial application/membership fee
- Pass a 3rd Party on-site audit and inspection of both paperwork and factory grounds
- Any problems found during the audit must be corrected before the process can move forward
- Once the company fully passes the audit, they are a Verified Supplier as long as membership fees remain current
The Membership Fee is a major part of being a Verified Supplier and keeps companies committed to doing things right to get the recurring business necessary to cover those fees.
There actually isn’t one membership fee for everyone. The membership fee is region based, taking into account things like average income, shipping, etc. This means the cost of a Verified Supplier can vary greatly for companies in India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, or China, but each one in a region will be about the same price.
Currently for companies based out of China, where the majority of supplying is from, the average verified supplier fee is around $12,500 per year.
There are many membership benefits that make it easy to see why a company or factory would want to become a Verified Supplier. The first is obvious: the trust factor. There are a lot of horror stories involved around outsourcing and international shipping so reliable companies want that extra trust that encourages potential clients to do business with them.
Other major advertised benefits that suppliers can find useful include:
- Learning & development program
- Available 1 on 1 consulting 12 times a year from a service specialist
- Access to Alibaba’s customer support team
- Feedback for improving a factory floor, presentation, and online presence to get client attention
A full list can be found on the seller section of Alibaba’s site.
Now in fairness, I wouldn’t necessarily trust the “cash value” of some of the benefits they’re touting at face value. That said, there’s no question that the extra value from getting shot to the top of related searches on Alibaba is the main selling point.
More trust and and more visibility with clients is a strong combination, and those are going to remain the biggest selling points of the Verified Supplier Membership that Alibaba offers.
Are Alibaba Verified Suppliers Reliable?
Alibaba Verified Suppliers are more likely to be reliable. There must be a certain amount of infrastructure in order to pass inspection from trusted third party auditors and pass the set requirements Alibaba has for Verified Supplier Membership.
But that’s 100% guaranteed. There is always the chance that a company approved for this membership could start off with all the proper quality and warehouse set up to pass, but then employ sleazy business practices like a bait and switch, or pushing for payment outside of Alibaba’s systems, thus nullifying the Trade Assurance policy that would otherwise protect you.
Takeaway: Ensuring your supplier is a Verified Supplier is the first step of my due diligence on Alibaba. However, it is only the first step and more due diligence is required before I enter into a business relationship with any supplier.
What to look for in a Verified Supplier:
- Length of time on Alibaba – Longer is better. If a company has been doing business there for many years, that’s a good sign they do things the right way.
- Is the promised price range reasonable? – If the items being offered are far under standard market pricing and appear too good to be true, they almost certainly all. While I like a good deal, there is a reasonable range of prices and that’s where I want to see things priced at.
- Confirm information on a seller’s business license – The blue triangle by a Verified Supplier leads to a page with the company’s basic information. Look to verify and consider hiring a trusted local 3rd party to do this.
- Check ratings – The star ratings aren’t the end all, be all, of knowing whether or not a company is reliable, especially when they have less than 20 reviews. However, if I see a provider with 900+ reviews at 4.8 or 4.9, I feel very confident about contracting their services.
Verified Suppliers vs Gold Suppliers
Gold Suppliers are another membership level that offer some benefits and some degree of verification, but not nearly the same level as a Verified Supplier. A Gold Supplier membership will generally cost quite a bit less in comparison but it will not come with many of the same benefits or it might have reduced benefits.
For example, Gold Suppliers don’t get a Verified tag, On-site video, Assessment reports, or mini sites, which Verified Suppliers do.
Verified Suppliers also get more Showcases, Sub-accounts, and other benefits, including being ranked higher in the on-site search results of Alibaba.
Frequently Asked Questions About Verified Suppliers
How Do I Know if a Supplier Is a Verified Supplier on Alibaba?
Verified Suppliers are clearly marked as such and the distinctive blue checkmark is hard to miss. They are also going to appear first in searches done on the Alibaba site, so between the clear markings it shouldn’t be hard to tell a Verified Supplier from one who is not.
How Do I Find Trusted Suppliers on Alibaba?
I limit my searches to Verified Suppliers whenever possible and follow it up with due diligence. Pay attention to ratings, length of history, and recent reviews and I’ve found a lot of success finding reliable providers through Alibaba this way.
Are Verified Suppliers or Gold Suppliers Better on Alibaba?
Verified Suppliers are the highest tier of membership and offer a bit more security in the due diligence done than Gold Suppliers, though both are better than not having a membership rating at all.