How can you properly vet manufacturers? Start with Alibaba.

If your business involves supply chains, one of your greatest challenges is to make certain that the suppliers you engage are capable and dependable. Any that are not first-rate could become a major weak link in that supply chain.

Alibaba is your “go-to” for vetting.

Alibaba provides virtually everything you need to consider in making your decisions on supplier hires. Remember, since your choices of suppliers factor so prominently in your bottom line, take your time and don’t be reluctant to ask as many questions as needed. This is too consequential not to.

Here are the kinds of questions to pose:

How long have they been in business?

Not to say that newer companies can’t be great but a proven track record demonstrates genuine expertise. Experience counts! Well-established suppliers often have photos of international exhibitions on their profile. Related to this is the supplier’s financial stability. If they’re on shaky ground, think twice. Then think again.

How many people do they employ?

Again, smaller companies can be a good choice, but what if you need greater capacity than they can provide? Size tends to be an indicator of success which usually results from strong performance.

Where do they export?

If a supplier has worked in the same countries as you, they have directly related experience with those regions, which can be a big plus – a much shorter learning curve! A wide diversity of countries can also indicate broad capabilities.

Do they have any case-history-success stories to tell?

There’s nothing like real-world examples to demonstrate how a supplier can come through for its client. Also, ask for references and what they say about your prospective supplier. Word-of-mouth can be very revealing about character and capabilities.

Be sure to check product reviews, as well, for further information about a supplier’s performance.

What certifications have they earned?

Be wary of any supplier that has no certifications to its credit. Indeed, you need to work with suppliers who are certified in the markets where you seek to do business. Examples of certifications  include ISO and FDA.

What about trademarks or patents?

Ask your prospective supplier if they have any. If they do for a given product, it could indicate that not many of these products are on the market, thus providing a possible business opportunity.

What do they say about delivery rates, response times, etc.?

Usually, this information is correct but not always. If interested in a given supplier, make sure they verify what is stated.

Alibaba gives you three categories to explore:

Custom Manufacturers

Looking for high customization or specialization? Custom Manufacturers have dedicated production lines and custom-design expertise with reputations for outstanding quality, delivery times and after-sales service.

Multi-specialty Suppliers

If you need a supplier who offers minimum-order quantities (MOQs) and great product variety, you need a Multi-specialty Supplier. They deliver low MOQ customization, end-to-end logistics solutions and multi-category procurement.

Brand Holders

Are you a buyer who seeks to import and stock established-brand products to resell in your market? Consider Brand Holders that have overseas brand-distribution capabilities for products made at independent factories.

To see Alibaba’s vetted potential suppliers for your company, just go to Verified Suppliers.

Here’s another great option.

In addition to Alibaba, companies like Glovendor have an ecosystem of vetted manufacturers.

With respect to Glovender, they actually cover many companies who are not on Alibaba, which expands your list of potential suppliers considerably.

You can also ask Glovendor to conduct a free audit of your supply chain as well as provide you with potential vendor options, a risk analysis, timelines, compliance and technical notes, and more still. You could discover that its supplier-vetting capabilities are just one of many ways Glovendor can make life for your company vastly easier – and more profitable!