Creative sourcing for “hidden” suppliers Part-1

All of us know the 4 to 5 platforms where most buyers do their sourcing from using the internet. Be it Alibaba.com, 1688.com, Globalsources.com, Made-in-china.com, all of these sites are where more or less each buyer tries to source from. Below are some tips which one can use to creatively Source some suppliers from these platforms and at the same time also look outside these platforms for potential suppliers.

When you start searching on alibaba.com or any of the above-mentioned platforms, you often see several pages of results and start thinking there are hundreds of suppliers out there for the product you need.

It’s overwhelming and exciting at the same time. Though when you start going deeper into your search, you start realizing that the suppliers you found on top of Page 1 are now popping up on Pages 5, 6, and so on.

Yes, there are many products out which are listed by hundreds and even thousands of suppliers but not all of them are going to be on Alibaba/Globalsources, etc. Also, not all suppliers have an online presence on these particular platforms. Some suppliers are so big and have enough business that they prefer not to be bothered with more new inquiries hence don’t invest their money to advertise themselves on these platforms. Many suppliers also prefer to just attend exhibitions in China and abroad and get all of their business from there.

On the other hand, many smaller suppliers cannot afford to advertise their company on these platforms. Some do for a year or two and if they don’t see results, they pull out. Whatever the reasons, every buyer’s goal is to find the right suppliers as quickly as possible. Sometimes it becomes necessary to think a little out of the box.

Hope some of the tips and tools below can be useful for your businesses.





  1. When searching on Alibaba or other platforms try to select the option of “Suppliers” (the option is right beside the search box) when putting in a search for your product. Often you can get a few new suppliers to show up on the subsequent page results.
  2. It’s not always necessary to cast your net far and wide during your product and supplier searches. Going deep can be very useful. A lot of smaller exhibitions are held in China all year round for each industry and niche products. Many times suppliers show the exhibitions they have attended on their Alibaba/Globalsources page.
    So, if you are looking for products in the Pet Industry, you can try finding on the website about the exhibition which the supplier attended, or you can ask these Alibaba/global source suppliers which exhibitions they have attended in the past. So, in this way you can search for suppliers outside these platforms where everyone else is already paying attention.
  3. When you find a supplier for your product (let’s say Bluetooth speakers) who you verified is a manufacturer, you had them send you samples which you approved of but their price is too high and not workable. As a buyer, you don’t need to always think that was a waste of your time and money.
    You can check these suppliers address and see their Industrial area. Often suppliers in China are in one single industrial area of 20 to 200 kilometers. If you find out that the above supplier is in Shenzhen City, Longhua District, then you can put in a search in Alibaba by typing in Longhua + Bluetooth speakers. You are now giving yourself more options & speeding things up by doing these kinds of searches. Also, this gives you more of a chance to do business with an actual manufacturer.


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