Top 10 Truths about Alibaba Furniture -an 8 Year Gold Supplier's View

Brief Introduction about Alibaba Furniture

 

Alibaba furniture is an important channel for many furniture buyers, especially small buyers.

I have heard a lot of successful stories of buying furniture from Alibaba. I have also witnessed many buyers get scammed when working with suppliers on Alibaba.

After talking to hundreds of Alibaba buyers, I realized that it’s necessary to help small-medium buyers get to know the facts and truths about Alibaba furniture.

As I have been a supplier on Alibaba for 8 years, let’s start straightforward with a list of facts about the Alibaba platform and furniture suppliers on it.  

  • Alibaba is the biggest B2B platform in the world

  • You can find lots of furniture options for Alibaba.

  • Suppliers on Alibaba are mainly small to medium-sized factories and trading companies

  • Most Alibaba furniture suppliers can offer competent furniture products and a few of them can match with big factories.

  • It’s important to learn how to verify suppliers on Alibaba and control the quality.

  • Verified suppliers are relatively better but don’t mean a reliable suppliers.

  • Only a few big factories choose Alibaba though Alibaba is trying to attract more.

  • It’s possible to get scammed buying furniture from Alibaba.

  • Trade assurance is good for buyers though the charge is high on some conditions.

  • Alibaba is gradually transforming into a B2B2C platform instead of a B2B platform.

Above are some basic facts which you should pay attention to if you plan to buy furniture from Alibaba. Now let’s dive into the topic with some frequently asked questions that Alibaba furniture buyers’ concerns about the most.

1. What Furniture Can I Buy From Alibaba?

Alibaba is the largest B2B marketplace in the world. We can verify from its traffics. Below are the latest traffic results from similarweb.com.

It has gathered lots of furniture suppliers of different furniture categories not only from China but also from other main furniture manufacturing countries such as Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, India., etc.

From Alibaba, you can easily find below furniture:

 

Hotel furnitureBar furnitureHospital furnitureLaboratory furniture
Industrial furnitureOffice furnitureLibrary furnitureRestaurant furniture
Salon furnitureSchool furnitureTheater furnitureWaiting chairs
Living room furnitureDining room furnitureBedroom furnitureKitchen furniture
Other home furnitureStudy room furnitureKids furniturePatio furniture
Furniture accessoriesFurniture partsFurniture hardwareCustom furniture

 

 

 

 

2. Does Alibaba have good furniture products and sellers?

My answer is a straight “YES “but you have to learn how to verify. Why?

 

If you search for furniture on Alibaba, you will find that there are over 5000 furniture suppliers and more than 1 million products. It is no doubt there will be good furniture products and sellers though there are many duplicate products.

 

If you have enough time, you can dive into Alibaba’s supplier and get really good deals.

 

However, as I have mentioned earlier that most suppliers on Alibaba are small-medium sized companies. It’s impossible for Alibaba to ensure every one of them is good.

 

Based on our experience, you may have problems like poor communication, just so-so quality, unmatched products with photos, delay on deliveries., etc.

 

It’s very important to verify the supplier before making an order. Pre-shipment inspection is necessary while a during production inspection is recommended if you want to secure the quality of your order.

 

For small furniture factories, you will probably find it hard to communicate with the sales because most of them are in the industrial area. It’s hard for them to hire salespeople who can speak fluent English. People, especially young people, do not wish to live there since it’s not convenient in life.

 

For trading companies, communication is mostly good and effective. But you may find that they have poor quality control as they do not own any factories.

 

3. What kind of furniture sellers can I find on Alibaba?

 

On Alibaba, there are mainly 3 types of furniture sellers.

 

  • Factories
  • Trading companies
  • Manufacturing & trading combo.

 

Factories on Alibaba are mainly small to medium-sized factories with less than 200 people. Most of them will be 50 to 100 people with 3 to 5 of them are export sales.

 

As small factories, they often specialize in a certain product category and won’t have lots of products in different styles. There is a good chance that you can find really good factories for a specific category if you can go deep into Alibaba furniture factories.

 

One of our UK clients once finds some good suppliers on Alibaba after investing a lot of time and money testing products and services from Alibaba furniture suppliers.

 

Trading companies on Alibaba are small companies with less than 20 people. Mostly may have 5 to 10 people.

 

Furniture traders on Alibaba take products from factories and upload them to their Alibaba page to get customers. And most of the time they can offer better services than the factory. For a few items, they may even have better prices than factories as they can source nationwide and get a better deal.

 

Trading companies often have more product categories and styles as they have the entire China furniture factories as their source.

 

Manufacturing and trading combo often have a small factory for their core products. At the same time, they outsource related products to enrich their product lines.

 

For example, you may find some of the furniture sellers on Alibaba are good at sofas, but coffee tables are outsourced. It is not hard to judge when you simply asking a few prices. If you find the price is not reasonable. It’s probably not produced by their own factory.

 

You must be wondering how you can know whether the supplier you are researching is a factory or a trading company or combo. It’s simple. You can just check their about us pages. There you can find their identity easily because Alibaba will verify if a supplier wants to open an Alibaba account.

 

4. Can I trust furniture sellers on Alibaba?

 

There are thousands of furniture sellers on Alibaba. Most of them can be trusted to a certain extend. But it is necessary for you to be cautious. Necessary verification should be done before you start making an order.

 

We would like to recommend using a third-party service or an agent. It’s reliable and more effective. If you decided to do it by yourself. Here are a few tips.

 

The most straight and effective way is to make a factory visit. If it’s not possible for you and you don’t want to use a third-party service or an agent. You can follow the following steps.

 

Filter by the verified supplier. A verified supplier has a higher standard and must pass Alibaba’s audit. So, you can be sure that it is a true company and have a certain size.

The verified suppliers also spent more money on Alibaba marketing, which means they are more competent than non-verified suppliers though it is not always true.

 

 

  • Download and check the audit report. For each seller Alibaba, there is an audit report by SGS indicating the verified basic information of the seller. Most of the time, the report is real though it mostly shows the good part.
  • Check their registration information from websites like httpss://www.tianyancha.com/ or httpss://xin.baidu.com/. When you put into the Chinese company name of the supplier. You will see their basic information and risks of the company. For example, the below shows Kuka furniture information.
  • Ask for their business license copy. With a business license copy, you will know if the seller is legally registered. Remember to check their business scope so you will know if they are factory or trading company

5. How can I avoid being scammed buying furniture on Alibaba?

 

 

There is a chance you get scammed buying furniture on Alibaba. Here I would like to show you 5 types of typical scams that you may come across when buying furniture on Alibaba.

 

1) Attract you with beautiful brand furniture photos and deliver copies that are different from what you expected.

 

On Alibaba, you can find some really beautiful furniture photos. But wait a minute. They may come from brand furniture in Europe or in China. Many small furniture companies start with copy famous furniture brands like Minotti, Poliform., etc. When I was a new fish in the field. Once I was attracted by a furniture factory because they have very good product photos. I was amazed to find that there is such a factory in the town who is so serious about product photos. I decided to join them. However, after one month, I noticed the secret and found that it all comes from a famous brand in Europe.

 

Though there is a chance they can also produce similar products, but it won’t be the same. It won’t have the same taste as proportion and colors matter a lot for furniture.

 

Now Alibaba is also discouraging using branded photos. Despite the severe rules by Alibaba, there are still few sellers using fake photos. Or they use dedicatedly taken photos which is different from mass production.

 

Remember to ask for real photos from showroom and production will save you from such scam if you cannot visit the seller by yourself.

 

2) Offer a low price for a high-end product to get your down payment and then increase the price.

 

The competition on Alibaba is fierce as more and more suppliers joined the Alibaba platform.

 

I have once studied the top 20 furniture sellers on Alibaba. The result shows that they share the same character. They all have a very attractive price. And the design and quality for sure are equivalent to the price.

 

All furniture sellers on Alibaba knows this trick. And they use extremely low prices to attract customers. But when you get the quote, you will find that it’s only the price for a small part of the furniture. For example, an ottoman.

 

What worse, there are a few suppliers quote you with low price and all goes well until you paid the down payment. After the down payment is done, they claim that some of the material is out of stock or discontinues and ask you to make the change. And at the same time, they increase the price.

 

3) Change materials without notification.

 

The supply of furniture materials is not stable, especially for material such as fabric. It may happen that the material you have selected discontinued after the order is finalized. Some small sellers may use similar materials for replacement without notification.

 

There is another situation which is connected with the second scam. Some of the bad sellers may offer very competitive prices to get your order and then use inferior material instead.

 

For products like sofas, there is a lot that can be done. From the wood frame to foam and spare parts. They may change the material. For example, imported solid pine wood frame and solid wood without requirement on wood category, there is a huge gap.

 

Though this seldom happens, you should be cautious about it. To completely get rid of this kind of scam, a during production inspection would work very well.

 

4) Disappear after receiving your payment.

 

Most furniture sellers on Alibaba are honest and many of them live on Alibaba. But sometimes there are cheaters. They have no intention to work as long-term sellers. They are there to cheat buyer’s money and then disappear.

 

5) Asking for payment to another account by hacking the supplier’s email address.

 

This is in fact not a scam caused by the seller, but by hackers. They normally hack the supplier’s email address and use a similar email address to communicate with you in the way your supplier communicates with you.

 

It’s not easy to notice it as they use similar email addresses which won’t get your attention and they won’t require abnormal actions until you trust them.

 

Finally, when it comes to the time of payment. They will ask you to make a payment to a different account.

 

To avoid been frauded, please do not accept any notice change sent by email or SMS. Call your supplier and clear the issue before you take further action.

 

You can also make payment through Alibaba trade assurance payment platform to avoid such scams.

 

6. Can I buy 1-piece furniture from Alibaba?

 

Yes, you can buy 1-piece furniture from Alibaba though there will only be a few suppliers accept such a small quantity.

 

Traditionally, Alibaba is a B2B platform, but as the development of cross-border e-commerce, part of sellers on Alibaba starts to involve in B2C business and accept retail orders.

 

The real problem for small quantity furniture orders on Alibaba maybe not the MOQ, but the prices and shipping cost.

 

From my 10 years of experience in the furniture sector, I know exactly how different it is the cost of small quantity production and large quantity production. So, the price will be much higher than the wholesale orders. Many customers are looking for furniture from China at wholesale prices while they are ordering a very small quantity. I should say that’s not always the real situation. There is no such thing unless there are special cases.

 

One of the situations you can get a good price for small quantity is that you buy through sourcing agents and trading companies like simonsense. A competent agent or trading companies have a good relationship with factories and buy a large amount yearly, thus makes it possible for them to negotiate a good price for retail orders.

 

Another major problem of buying a small quantity of furniture from Alibaba is the shipping cost. Furniture is of low value but high volume. It is quite costly to deliver by air. Few buyers will select air freight unless it’s very important and urgent.

 

Normally people will choose shipment by the sea which takes a long time but much cheaper than by air. However, though it is cheaper than by air, it is still costly for LCL shipping.

 

After comparing all the cost, if you still find that it is cheaper for buying furniture from China. Simonsense and some trading companies can offer door to door services which means the only thing you need to do is receiving the furniture at home. You can contact us for a free consultation now.

 

7. What is the best way to pay on Alibaba?

 

On Alibaba, there are several payment methods. Here is a table offered by Alibaba for your reference.

 

Payment MethodCurrency/LimitFeeProcessing time
Credit/Debit Card
            
Multi-currency 
Up to $12,000
2.95% of payment amount (3.5% for Amex)
Capped at $40 for APAC-issued Mastercard (for USD payments only)
1 – 2 Hours
Online Transfer
      
Local Currency Only
Up to $300,000
$15 – 30
Depends on the payment amount 
1 – 3 Business Days
Online Bank payment -American AccountUSD Only
Up to $50,000
$15 – 30
Depends on the payment amount 
4 – 5 Business Days
Online Bank payment -European AccountEUR Only
Up to $50,000
€15 – 30
Depends on the payment amount 
9 – 10 Business Days
Wire Transfer – DomesticLocal Currency Only
Up to $300,000 
Around 1 unit of local currency
Depends on your bank
1 – 2 Business Days
Wire Transfer- 
International
Multi-currency 
No limitation
Around $40
Depends on your bank
3 – 7 Business Days
West unionUSD Only
Up to $2,500
$4.90 – 45.00
Depends on the payment amount 
1 Business Day
Boleto USD Only
Up to $3,000 per month
1.30% of the payment amount
 
3 – 4 Business Days
  Pay later
 
USD Only
Up to $150,000
Free
 
1 – 3 Business Days

 

For more details, you can go to the payment page on Alibaba.  

 

To protect buyers, Alibaba offers trade assurance orders. In this way, you can get a refund if you get fraud dealing with Alibaba furniture sellers. It works in two steps:

 

Step 1: Place an online order with trade assurance suppliers

 

Step 2: Pay through Alibaba’s secure payment platform.

 

For a trade assurance order, if there’s an issue with your order, you can request a refund within 30 days of product delivery.

 

8. Does Alibaba offer a shipping service?

 

Shipping furniture from China, especially small quantity is always a problem for both buyers and suppliers. It is costly compared with other products with higher value and smaller package and weight.

 

To solve this problem, Alibaba offers a shipping service at the buyer’s cost. It may be to some extent cheaper coz they can consolidate different orders from the same destination into one container and make the shipment. In this way, the share of cost might be lower than your agent quotes you.

 

If you would like to use Alibaba shipping service, you can contact your Alibaba furniture supplier. They can quote and arrange to use Alibaba shipping service.

 

9. How can I ship furniture from China?

 

There are mainly 2 ways to ship furniture from China.

 

  1. Full container load (FCL shipment)
  2. Less than container load(LCL shipment)

 

The best way to ship furniture from China would be FCL shipment as it saves significantly on the overall cost. To make FCL shipment, you can rely on a shipping forwarder or your sourcing agent, they can offer international shipping services to set you hassle-free.

 

LCL shipment is often costly due to the small quantity and there will be high handling charge and delivery cost at destination.

 

At simonsense, we often suggest our customers consolidate one container and make FCL shipment. It’s easy to fill one container if you buy most of the furniture and renovation materials from China.

 

Here in Guangdong, we have a wide range of options for all of those products. You can source without compromise with simonsense help. Contact us now for a free consultation.

10. How do I reduce the furniture shipping costs on Alibaba?

 

 

As we have discussed in question 9, we can reduce the furniture shipping costs on Alibaba by consolidating one container for furniture and renovation material. In this way, you can save significantly on shipping costs. Talk to us, let simonsense help you handle your furniture from China.

 

Conclusion:

 

Alibaba is the largest B2B marketplace in the world, it has a wide range of furniture. However, it is necessary to be cautious when you are dealing with furniture suppliers on Alibaba. To engage a sourcing agent could be a good option to set you hassle-free from buying furniture on Alibaba.

 

About Simonsense:

 

Simonsense is a one-stop supply chain management company with a demonstrated history and experience. We help companies and individuals buy furniture and renovation materials from China at ease. Order a FREE consultation for your orders. We are glad to offer help.

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