5 Reasons Sourcing on Alibaba Can Be Risky

Do you know the risks associated with sourcing products through Alibaba? Here are the top 5 reasons you should avoid sourcing on your own.

  1. Communication

When you are dealing with an overseas supplier through Alibaba, you are going to run into a variety of communication barriers. Language misunderstandings, time differences, cultural understanding, etc. can all play a part in potential order issues.

2. Quality Assurance

Many products on Alibaba seem great at first glance, but upon closer inspection turn out to have a series of quality issues. Even if you are able to get a sample directly from the overseas supplier, you can never be assured that your final production quality will be the same. Without someone you trust to oversee the production, you risk receiving an end product that does not meet quality standards.

Suppliers will promise the world in order to get your business, but you really have no control over your end product. And that, is a recipe for disaster.

3. Logistics

Your timeline is important when launching a new product. Supplier lead times may initially sound appealing, but they are often not accurate due to a variety of variables that might delay the process.

You must also make sure you have all the necessary documents to clear customs and ensure your shipment makes it to the correct destination. Then you have to consider where you will store your products. Logistics can be a nightmare when not handled by someone with the correct experience.


4. Fraud & Scams

Scary words, yet cases of fraud run rampant on Alibaba. One common technique that scammers on Alibaba use is the bait and switch scheme. Essentially, a supplier will attract buyers with advertisements for one type of product, but when a buyer places an order, he’ll be sent an obviously inferior product instead. Other types of fraud include  things like broken or shoddy merchandise, counterfeit products, and fake goods.  Or when no products are shipped at all!


5. Experience

We have talked about how sourcing through Alibaba can carry significant risks. Without someone to rely on to review production for quality assurance, you could risk receiving defective units and a whole host of issues that ensue.

All of these potential issues can mean a lot of headaches for you. You may get a product in the end, but the stress of doing it all on your own might not be worth the trouble.

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Should you source your project overseas or domestically?

Knowing whether to source your product or custom packaging overseas vs. domestically is a loaded question. The short answer, it depends!

If you are just starting to source goods of any type, you know how overwhelming it can be. It isn’t as simple as jumping on Alibaba and adding 500 pieces of an item to your cart. Many would argue that sourcing overseas has too many risks, but then you’re stuck with sourcing from the limited domestic options  that will charge an exorbitant amount for relatively simple projects. So which route do you take?

Consider the Details

Let’s say you are looking for a custom rigid box for your product with a soft touch finish and embossed logo. In this situation, it would be far cheaper to source the box from overseas, where the cost of hand labor and printing extras is much less expensive than in the US.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you are just looking for a simple mass produced carton with limited printing, a domestic printer could provide you with a similarly priced item and at a much faster rate.

Project Timeline

Do you need your products delivered in 6 months, or in 3 months to meet the holiday season deadlines? Your project timeline will have a significant impact on what your options are for sourcing. Domestic sources will have a faster turn-around, but with proper planning you can often meet your deadlines with a combination of air and sea shipments from overseas.


If you have never sourced from overseas before, doing so on your own can carry significant risks. Without someone to rely on to review production for quality assurance, you could risk receiving defective units and a whole host of issues that ensue.

Are there great savings to be had by sourcing overseas? Absolutely. But if you factor in the risks, it could turn into a financial and logistical nightmare without the proper help and guidance.

GLS has their own facilities overseas, along with a trusted network of factories that we have been working with for well over a decade. With offices in both California and overseas, we make the entire process seamless and simple. We handle your project from concept to completion, and take care of every detail along the way.

Need Help Getting Started?

Contact us today to begin discussing your project, and we can help you find the right material for your product and budget.

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