Juts like importing products from 1688, Aliexpress and Taobao, you can also venture into importation business by ordering products from Alibaba.com, which is an online marketplace for businesses or individuals to buy products at wholesale prices.
It’s generally not an online store for pretty traders or an average student to buy from, as it involves you buying a particular product in bulk.
For people who want to start importation business in Nigeria, we have written a full guide on how to start Mini importation Business in Nigeria, how to buy products on Aliexpress and ship to Nigeria, and how to buy products from 1688 and ship to Nigeria.
If you’re just starting and want to test products that you can sell with ease and at a minimum risk, then Aliexpress is for you, as you can order a single product or small quantity of goods.
But in tis guide, we’ll discuss how you can easily order products from Alibaba and ship to Nigeria.
That being said. let’s get started
Alibaba has a wide range of product categories such as Electronics, Home Appliances, Apparel, computer and its Accessories, Phones, Beauty products, Industrial Tools, Clothing, etc.
Alibaba is one of the largest wholesale marketplaces in the world where you can buy products in bulk and at a cheaper price. The online store started as a way to connect Chinese factories and suppliers with global retailers.
But today it as turn into an international market where people from all works of life come to purchase different kinds of products. As a buyer from Nigeria, you can purchase products on Alibaba without any legal requirement or license as it is free entry and exit business.
You have the opportunity to buy goods that are best selling products in Nigeria and including products that are not available in the Nigerian market yet.
Pros of Buying Product on Alibaba
- You can easily search for goods using product names or images.
- You have the opportunity to negotiate MOQ (minimum order quantity) with the suppliers.
- The platform is available in different languages, unlike 1688.com.
- Products on Alibaba are quite cheap.
- You can easily pay with your cards( Visa and Master cards) or Alipay.
- Alibaba has good customer service that responds to complain.
- Wide varieties of products from almost all niche to choose from.
- You don’t need an Agent to buy on your behalf as you can buy products yourself on the Alibaba website.
Cons of Buying Product from Alibaba
- There are wide range of suppliers selling the same product which makes it more difficult to decide on a seller.
- Some wholesalers have MOQ(Minimum Order Quantity) that are not negotiable.
- You will always need to negotiate prices with sellers before buying.
- Buyer uses his/her own logistics company as there is no option to select NIPOST.
- Some products are more cheaper on the 1688 website.
- Deliver to Nigeria can take 3 to 18 days depending on your logistic.
- High shipping fees, and mostly bad customer service by logistic.
- There are a lot of fraudsters on Alibaba, but they are avoidable.
How to Buy Products on Alibaba and ship to Nigeria
Step 1: Getting Started and Creating an Alibaba Account
Alibaba is an international platform to purchase items which have been reduced to an easy to use platform for anyone either on mobile phones or computers.
Using the Alibaba website or app is quite easy, especially the mobile app as you can easily search for goods, chat suppliers, make a payment, and contact customer service.
You can assess Alibaba in two ways, i.e
- Through the App
- Through browser
The view will be different on the computer but you can still use the same procedures to buy on Alibaba using your PC or browser.
Since we would be using the Alibaba mobile app to explain this guide, you will need to install the Alibaba mobile app from google play store. After the installation, go ahead to open the Alibaba mobile app, the home page will appear, just like the below image.
In the Alibaba homepage click on the menu icon, then click on Join free to create an account.
When you click on join free the below page will appear. Fill the form correctly with your details. After filling the form, slide the button.
Note that it might take a while for Alibaba to approve your account, and it might still be asking you to confirm your mail even after you must have confirmed the mail sent to you.
After confirming the mail, go back to Alibaba website or app to sign-in into the website with the same Gmail and password you to set up your profile.
The below page will open displaying your incomplete profile. Fill the form correctly.
After completing your profile, the next step is to go ahead to search for products you want to buy.
Step 2: Searching for Product On Alibaba
After your account has been approved, you can then proceed to search for the goods you want to buy on Alibaba.
- Using the product picture
- Typing product name
Note! If you don’t know the name of the product you want to buy, you can use the product image to search for it.
When you search for goods, a new page will open displaying your search result. Go through the long list of items and select the one you want to buy.
After discovering the products you want to buy, you can then go ahead to contact and negotiate with the product seller.
Step 3: Contacting Supplier on Alibaba
After using any of the search methods to search for the item you want to buy and you have found it, the next step is to contact the supplier.
Note! You can contact as many as possible suppliers selling the same product/goods to get the best price, as some suppliers are easy to convince.
Alibaba is a little bit different from Aliexpress, as you will see a lot of suppliers selling the same items at different prices and the quantity they are willing to sell to buyers differs, unlike Aliexpress sellers who have a fixed price for each item and you can buy any quantity you need.
There are three ways of contacting a Supplier on Alibaba.
- Through Alibaba chatbox
- Through Gmail (Enquire)
- Through RFQ (post buying request)
1. Using Alibaba Chatbox
This is the easiest and best way to chat with a supplier on Alibaba as it looks like Facebook or Whatapp chat. The Alibaba chatbox makes it easier to negotiate with different suppliers on time and it will always show you pass chatting or negotiation with each supplier you are communicating with.
Follow the below procedure to use Alibaba chatbox:
Tip! You must make sure you know everything you need to know about the product as product pictures can be deceiving.
Check the product description on Youtube or Google or forum to know that the product actually looks like what is displayed online
2. Using Gmail(Enquires)
This is when you send product enquiry to suppliers through your Gmail on Alibaba, the suppliers will also reply back through the same Gmail you used to send the message.
But the major disadvantage of using Gmail to negotiate with Alibaba supplier is that, negotiation will be too hard to pass or follow up, as different mail pages will be open for each message exchanged between you and the supplier.
And it can also be hard to negotiate with suppliers as most Nigerians are not used to Gmail messaging in Nigeria. Most suppliers like using Gmail as they are used to it more than us. Follow the below procedure to use Gmail.
All replies from suppliers will appear in your Gmail account as well as under inquires under message in Alibaba app.
3. Using RFQ (Post Buying Request)
RFQ means Request For Quotation which also means post buying request. This is when you send bulk message to all suppliers selling that same product or items you want to buy on Alibaba.
You can decide to reply back through Gmail or just reply to the supplier with the best response to your enquires, if you like you can go ahead to chat the supplier up in the Alibaba chatbox.
To use the RFQ, scroll down after each search to see the “Submit RFQ” button on the app. Click on submit RFQ to send enquiry to all suppliers selling that particular product you want to buy.
Note! You can use the three methods above together if you like.
Another way of contacting a supplier is to ask for supplier Wechat ID through any of the other three methods above, you can then continue the negotiation on Wechat.
You first install the WeChat app (Chinese WhatsApp) on your phone to chat suppliers up. But do not make payment of item(s) to the supplier through WeChat.(Not recommended).
After choosing your preferred way of communicating with product sellers on Alibaba, the next step is to start negotiating with the seller(s).
Step 4: Negotiating with Suppliers
After you have decided on the contact method you will like to use to chat with your select suppliers, the next step is to chat them up not as CEO or individual but as a purchasing agent who is purchasing goods on behave of a client or company.
Placing yourself as a purchasing agent will give you a better advantage when negotiating as you can be giving excuses that your boss is not happy with the price, the company will like to buy a few of the products as a sample, etc.
There are two types of Negotiation.
- The Intro Message
- The Real negotiation
The Intro Message
This is your first chat with a supplier to capture their attention quickly. The intro message will be the first message you will send through any of the chosen methods of contacting a supplier.
The intro message is really important and it must be written in a little professional way for suppliers to take you seriously. The intro message must contain all the necessary information you needed to know about the product or item you want to buy.
For example: Ask about the Price of the item, the size, the weight, the color or send sample picture of the product, etc
Note! The minimum quantity that each supplier can offer you does not matter as you can still buy in small quantities from some suppliers.
How to Write an Intro message for Suppliers
There are three methods you can use to write an intro message to be sent to a supplier.
1. Alibaba Enquiry
This is when you send the product enquiry for each supplier directly without editing it. You can also copy one of the product enquiry without editing it, then paste it in each supplier’s chatbox.
This is not advisable as most product enquiry will not ask the first-hand information you really need to know about the product you are buying, as must question is always about the product weight or shipping fees. And this is not profe+ssional.
To use Alibaba Enquiry, just click on Send enquiry after you open the item, then copy the enquiry and send it to the supplier.
2. Edit Alibaba enquiry
This is when you edit the Alibaba enquiry made for each product on Alibaba, i.e. you will add other important questions you will like to know about the product from the suppliers, you can then send it as enquiry or copy the edited text, then go back to the chatbox and paste it in the chatbox and send to multiple suppliers selling the same product.
We actually recommend is method for everyone, most especially those sourcing for different products to buy as you don’t have to be thinking of the intro message to use each time you want to buy any product.
After editing the product enquiry to your taste, click on the Send button or copy and paste the texts in different suppliers’ chatbox.
3. Design or customize your own product enquiry template
This is when you design a questionnaire/text you want to use to require information about a particular product from suppliers. This can be used by anyone but is mostly used by an individual who only wants to buy one or two products in bulk.
You can still use Alibaba enquiry to customize your enquiry questionnaire/text, then save it on Note or in a Word document on your phone or PC for easy access anytime you need it. You can also look for sample templates of negotiation on the internet.
The Real Negotiation
After you have sent your first message to supplier(s), wait for the supplier(s) to reply, which sometimes can be immediately you drop the message, while some can take minutes or hours, it depends on the time, since we have a different time zone.
You can be checking the chatbox to see if supplier*s) has replied to your message. when the supplier message you back about what you have asked him, then start Negotiating the price.
Take note of the below texts, it consists of what you need to know when negotiating with a supplier:
- This is where you show your negotiation skills, just like the way you buy things in Nigeria especially from Awusa people (Northern people in Nigeria) as they are not different from Chinese.
- Ask for the product picture or send the supplier the product picture to confirm that’s what you needed before going into a deep conversation as there are a lot of products with similar names, in order to not to waste your time negotiating on the wrong product.
- You can chat with different suppliers selling the same items to have a fair price.
- When you have negotiated to a stage and you are satisfied with the price, then tell the supplier you will like to purchase the initial quantity you have money for as sample for now. Then tell him you will order for more if your client or boss likes the product since you are purchasing as a purchasing agent.
- Some suppliers may tell you they want to ship the goods for you through courier services like DHL or FedEx, etc, just tell them that you will like to use your logistics company to ship the goods to Nigeria. Using such companies can lead to loss and debt as shipping through DHL, FedEx, etc will be too expensive.
Tips for negotiating
- Try to know much about the product you are buying (you can watch Youtube videos about the product or google the product images to know more about the product, product image can be deceiving).
- Know the product price in Nigeria before negotiating, as the price must be cheaper than the price of it in Nigeria. Remember you are still paying for shipping which might be quite expensive. You can check on Jumia, Konga, or any marketplaces around you for the price of the item in Nigeria.
- Never think the first price given to you by any supplier is the best price just because the price given by the supplier is cheaper than Nigeria’s price, try to negotiate like a pro.
- Be friendly with the supplier as some can reduce the price base on how friendly or funny you are.
After negotiating with sellers and you have both agreed on certain price, your next step is to get a logistics and also calculate your cost.
Step 5: Logistics – How to Ship your Goods to Nigeria, and Calculating your Cost
You will need a logistics company based in Nigeria with a branch in China that can help you ship your goods from China to Nigeria.
When negotiating with the supplier(s), you can also be checking out for a logistics company that can ship from China to Nigeria, as is not all logistics companies in Nigeria that can ship from China.
A logistics company in your state or area is the best option to escape the extra cost of waybilling the goods to your location, but most logistics companies are located in Lagos.
You can google search or join mini importation groups on Facebook to ask for the best, fastest, and cheapest logistics company address or contact number or website address that can ship from China to Nigeria.
After collecting like two to three logistics contact, call them and ask for their shipping rate per KG and clearing fees, then decide on the one you want to use. Make sure the shipping cost is not too much to bear.
Then ask for the China warehouse address of the logistics company, that’s where your supplier will send your goods to after paying for the goods.
You also need to know that shipping fees and clearing fees are not fixed as it changes from time to time. You can price it today and before your goods arrive, the shipping fees might have increase or decrease. That is why Mini importation is a business of risk.
Note! You can’t use logistics like DHL, FedEx, etc as the shipping cost will be too expensive but their delivery much more faster.
You also need to now that you will still pay the supplier express fees to send the goods to your logistic office or warehouse in China. This can sometimes be a bit costly depending on the product weight. You can still negotiate the express fees with the supplier.
How to calculate the Cost of shipping goods from China to Nigeria.
In order not to avoid any mistake that could cost you a lot of losses, you need to sit down and do a good calculation of the total cost of goods and shipping to Nigeria.
For example: Assuming you want to buy 30 items of Virgin Cuticle Brazilian Human Hair, and you have 3 suppliers who gave you the below prices for the product after chatting them up.
- Supplier 1: $30.20
- Supplier 2: $20.90
- Supplier 3: $25.60,
You as a buyer will pick the supplier with the least price i.e Supplier 2. Then you will go ahead to ask the supplier the express fees. Assuming the supplier said the express fees to deliver the goods to your logistics warehouse in China will be $10.
Assuming the shipping fees given to you by the logistics you want to use is $5.5 per KG, and clearing fees is #400. The weight of the item is 65g per one.
Now let’s calculate the total cost of the goods
- A Virgin Cuticle Brazilian Human Hair = $20.90
- 30 Pieces of the Human Hair = $20.90 x 30 =$627
- Express fees is $10
- The total Money you will pay supplier = $627 + $10 = $637
You will pay the product supplier $637 as the total cost of goods
Next, is the shipping cost to Nigeria.
- The total weight of the goods is 6.25kg
- The shipping rates from China to Nigeria is $5.5 per Kg
- The clearing fees is N400 per Kg
- Shipping fees = 6.25kg X $5.5 = $34.375
let’s assume the exchange rate is N365 per $1
- Shipping fees in Nigeria = $34.375 X N365 = N12546.875
- Clearing fees = 6.25kg X N400 =N2500
- Total shipping fees = N15046.875
When your goods arrive in Nigeria, you will pay the total sum of N15046.875 to your logistics in Nigeria (the customer service will specify the mode of payment either in cash or bank transfer).
Note! The shipping fees of your goods can be more than the total cost of the product
Waybilling Goods to your Location
If the logistic office/branch you used to ship your goods to Nigeria is not located in your state or area, you can ask the logistics company for a waybill man who will waybill the goods to you, but it is optional as you can pick it up by yourself at the logistic office or ask someone to do so.
For example, if your logistic office is in Lagos and you stay at Abuja, to send the goods to you in Abuja you will pay waybill fees then the waybill man will send it to you by a commercial bus.
Most logistics collect waybill fees around N2000 within their state of location, other state can be like N3000. The waybill fees differ from one logistics company to another.
You can avoid the waybill fees by asking a friend in Lagos to pick up the goods on your behalf at the logistics office and then bring it for you. A trusted delivery agent within Nigeria can also pick up the goods and deliver the goods to your address.
We hope you now know that in purchasing an item from China to Nigeria, you have to take note of your product landing cost.
Things to know before shipping your goods
- The total price of the goods
- The total weight of the goods
- The current shipping fees of your logistic. (Note that shipping fees changes from time to time especially a few weeks to or during the Christmas period, New year period, and Chinese festival period.
- Know the Waybill fees, if your logistics is going to send it to your location.
After knowing your total cost of importing your products to Nigeria, the logistics you are going to make use, and how the goods is going to get to you, and you are satisfied with it, you can then go ahead to make the payment for the goods on Alibaba.
Step 6: Making Payment for Goods on Alibaba
After you have known the total cost of bringing the goods to your location in Nigeria and you are satisfied with it, you can then proceed to make payment for the goods.
Before making the payment send the supplier your logistic China warehouse address given to you by the logistic company in Nigeria and ask the supplier if he knows the address.
If the supplier does, you can then proceed to make the payment, But if he doesn’t, ask him to ask around, maybe he can locate the address. After the supplier has located the warehouse, you can then go ahead to make the payment.
Follow the below procedure to make the payment.
The following procedure we’re going to show you in this guide is the way we make our own payment on Alibaba.
Firstly, ask the supplier to tell you the total cost of the goods i.e both the total cost of the item and the express fees to your logistics China warehouse.
Note! You can still negotiate the express fees to be paid and some send for free.
After you are finally satisfied with the total cost, ask the supplier to prepare your invoice and send it to your Gmail.
You can ask the supplier to inform you when he has sent the invoice to your Gmail. You can give the supplier the Gmail you used to register your account on Alibaba if asked.
Click on the Go to pay to fill your payment details and to edit your shipping address.
The below image is the new page that will show displaying some details that you must fill correctly. Select Credit card as your method of payment.
You can only make use of your Visa card or Master card, as Verve card is not allowed and the address must be the China warehouse address given to you by your logistics.
When you have completed the payment form, click on confirm and pay to make the payment. The amount will be deducted from your bank account immediately.
Note! Make payment through Alibaba‘s recommended payment gateways only. Don’t pay to supplier account directly or pay suppliers through Wechat wallet, Money gram, etc.
View Transaction detail
After making the payment, Alibaba will send you another mail where you can view the transaction details. To view the transaction detail click open the new mail you just got from Alibaba, you will see a message just like the below image, click on View Detail to view the product detail you just paid for.
The detail consists of the total cost of the items, the express fees to your agent office in China and the shipping address. You might see something like Insurance fees and shipping fees showing the same amount, you don’t have to worry about that has you have paid only for shipping fees.
After making the payment for the goods, you need to add your personal contact details to the goods, which will tell logistic who the goods belong to.
Step 7: Adding Personal Details to Goods before Sending to Logistics Warehouse
Once you have made the payment, inform your supplier about the payment in order for the supplier to ship the goods on time.
After informing the supplier of the payment, ask him/her to write the following details on the goods after he/she has packaged the goods, in order for you and your logistics to identify the goods when it reaches Nigeria.
- Name: (Your name)
- Phone No: (your phone number that the logistic will use to contact you)
- Seller: (Name of your supplier, in case you have goods from different suppliers)
- Weight: (item total weight after packaging the goods)
Then ask the supplier to take the picture of the goods while the goods are still on the scale, for you to be sure that the supplier has packaged the goods and to know the weight, as some logistics might try to add to the weight.
Then ask the supplier to send the goods to your logistics China warehouse.
After supplier has inform you about the delivery of your goods to your logistics warehouse in China, the next step is to collect the goods tracking number.
Step 8: Tracking your Goods
After your supplier has deliver the goods to your logistics warehouse in China, ask the supplier to send you the tracking number and the name of the express company use to send the goods to your logistics warehouse in China.
Sometimes the tracking number wi work or show information that you understand or the shipping information might not show original shipping detail but be rest assure you will still see your goods, as long as you fill in the correct address given to you by your logistics in Nigeria.
The tracking number might not work on the first day, you can keep checking on it.
Informing your Logistics about the Goods Delivery
After you have paid for the goods and you have collected your tracking number, then contact your logistics in Nigeria through the means you first use to contact them whether through a phone call, WhatsApp, or through their website.
You also need to know that some logistic company has bad customer service and it can be frustrating as they may not reply to your message or call after you have shipped the goods to their warehouse in China. Some might even delay your goods for weeks.
That’s why we ask you to get recommendations from other mini importers in Nigeria.
When you are able to get through to the logistic company, send them the below details:
- Your name on the item you are shipping
- Your phone number
- The name of the express company and tracking number given to you by the supplier.
Then ask them to confirm the delivery of your goods to their China warehouse. If the logistics claimed that they have not received the goods, contact the supplier to question him/her about the whereabouts of the goods.
You can also contact the express company through their website and ask them about the delivery of your goods, if you don’t get a better response from them, contact the Alibaba customer service centre.
If they confirm that they have received the goods in their China company, patiently wait for your goods to arrive in Nigeria which can take 3 to 18 days or above to arrive in Nigeria depending on the logistics company you used.
When the items arrive in your logistic office in Nigeria they will call, text, or chat you up to inform you.
Step 9: Collecting your Goods when it Arrives in Nigeria
When your goods arrive at the logistics warehouse in Nigeria, the company will contact you through the details written on the goods.
It usually takes some logistics companies like a week to 3 weeks to ship your goods to Nigeria, depending on the company you used i.e. how fast they are in delivering goods to customers in Nigeria.
One of the logistics customer services will contact you and inform you about the arrival of your goods in their custody.
They will send you a text message or WhatsApp message containing the total shipping fees and clearing fees to be paid, i.e the shipping fees from China to Nigeria and the amount charged by custom for clearing the goods.
The logistics company will also include in the message the account number you are to make the payment to. Most companies actually prefer bank transfer or bank deposit.
After you have made the payment, send the company the evidence of the payment i.e the bank app receipt, bank teller snaped, or screenshot of the transfer. you can then go to their office to collect your goods or ask someone to collect it on your behave or ask the logistics company to waybill it to you.
if you are using a waybill man, the company will give you their waybill man contact who will inform you about the amount you will likely pay as waybill fees to your location, which you have to make payment for too before or after the goods reach you, it depends on the waybill man you are using.
Some logistics companies waybill man charge like N2000 for waybill within their location eg Lagos and N3000 outside their location eg. Osun. But if you live within your logistic state, you can just go to the address sent with your delivery message to pick up your goods.
Step 10: Cross-checking your Goods
When you receive your goods from your logistics or waybill man, cross-check it immediately in case of any error, as you can contact Alibaba customer service to inform them about the error or default in the goods.
You can open dispute with a seller within 90 days after you made the payment for the goods or after 15days the supplier has shipped the goods, after which, the dispute slot will be close and you will not be able to correct the error or collect refund in case of error.
You can also ask for a certain amount as a refund, in case of default, if you wish not to return the goods.
Make sure you always take pictures of the items after it has been shipped to you, i.e take a picture of it as it was packaged from china and also when you open it. Those pictures will be used as evidence in case of default or scam.
Note! It better to carefully search and select the best product you want to buy from Alibaba before ordering, as in case of return, you will be the one to pay for the shipping fees back to the supplier in china.
If you are satisfied with your goods, you can start selling online and offline.
Ordering products from china is now a common online business in Nigeria that most people especially students are now using to make money online. You too can learn the business and get started with little capital.
At the early stage, keep your costs as low as possible, avoid poor quality products, take the shipping fees into serious consideration. To be successful as a mini importer, you need to pay attention to every details, from product price to landing cost.
Don’t just buy any product you like or think is beautiful, validate that product before buying i.e know the benefit of the product, the audience who is going to buy from you, the landing cost and an assumed selling price.
For your first purchase on Alibaba as newbies to mini importation business, buy light-weighted goods as shipping fees can discourage you from coming back for more.
At the same time, consider the marketing strategies you are going to use to market and sell your products on time. You can use your social media account, your blog or website to market your product to large audience.
That’s it. we hope this guide helped you learn how to order products on Alibaba and ship to Nigeria easily.
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Now, Over To You
What did you think of our guide on how to purchase products on Alibaba and ship to Nigeria?
Or if you have any questions that have not been covered in this guide about importing products from other China, ask in the comment section, we will give you an answer.