I regularly receive messages from importers who were cheated by a Chinese company and seem very surprised because they were dealing with a company which had ‘Alibaba gold supplier status.’
So, what does Alibaba gold supplier status mean?
Here is the explanation Alibaba shows on their website:
Gold Supplier is a premium membership for suppliers on Alibaba.com. Members are provided with comprehensive ways to promote their products, maximizing product exposure and increasing return-on-investment.
In other words, in terms of ethical behavior and quality level, it means nothing. A supplier that pays Alibaba gets that status and is given better visibility and a nicer presentation on alibaba.com.
My experience with Alibaba suppliers
From my experience:
- Some very good manufacturers are “gold suppliers”. Some very good trading companies are “gold suppliers”.
- A terrible factory that increases prices at the last minute and delivers substandard quality can be “gold supplier”. A couple of people setting up a trading company and renting an office can be “gold supplier”.
A few real complaints for example
To drive my point, here are a few complaints I received from foreign buyers (naturally I erased all identifiers):
We had ordered one container of A4 paper from a gold supplier. They have cheated us and sent us substandard 70 gsm paper instead of 80 gsm as promised and sample. We won the case on Alibaba but nothing concrete. We are stuck with one 20 ft container in our store which we can’t sell becaue they have put the wrapping as 80 gsm when in fact it is not.
Unfortunately I have faced several delays with the factory in China and the communication has been very difficult with misinformation. The factory claimed to be very experienced with producing [this buyer’s product], but they have apparently had a lot of difficulty producing good quality samples with any consistency.The factory is listed with Alibaba.com as a gold supplier, but that doesn’t appear to mean much. I also tried to check references for the factory in advance, but was told that the customers’ contact information is confidential.
It says it is a gold supplier. I paid for a laptop, but now they are ignoring my communication. What can I do since they still have a working website and their email is still working?
WE IMPORTED 60.000 pc OF TOWELS HAND TOWELS AND BATH MAT FACE WASHES. THEY HAVE TAKEN 7 MONTHS. WHEN WE RECEIVED THEM THEY WERE FAULTY: GASHES, BLACK THREAD, UNDER WEIGHT, OVER WEIGHT…WE SIGNED A CONTRACT WITH A GOLD SUPPLIER AND THE CONTRACT HAS A CLAUSE — IF THERE IS A PROBLEM AND WE CAN NOT AGREE TO GO TO ARBITRATION AND NO WE DID NOT INSPECT TOWELS BEFORE SHIPMENT BECAUSE THE SAMPLES WERE GOOD AND WE WERE BUYING FROM A GOLD SUPPLIER.
Nearly 4 years ago I wrote The real Alibaba fraud: not the one everyone talks about. At that time, Alibaba had just revealed a serious scandal. Here was my take on it:
[This scandal] is negligible, compared to the intellectual fraud committed by Alibaba in its marketing promises.
Inexperienced buyers get on Alibaba, find a “gold” supplier, and feel they can trust him. That’s the heart of the problem.
Why is it called a “gold” status? Because this marketing is actually directed at a Chinese audience. Alibaba gets its revenue from the suppliers it lists.
So, here it is. “Gold” means “paying”. It doesn’t mean “best” like in gold vs. silver vs. bronze.
Do you agree?
Are you designing, or developing a new product that will be manufactured in China?
Sofeast has created An Importer’s Guide to New Product Manufacturing in China for entrepreneurs, hardware startups, and SMEs which gives you advance warning about the 3 most common pitfalls that can catch you out, and the best practices that the ‘large companies’ follow that YOU can adopt for a successful project.
- The 3 deadly mistakes that will hurt your ability to manufacture a new product in China effectively
- Assessing if you’re China-ready
- How to define an informed strategy and a realistic plan
- How to structure your supply chain on a solid foundation
- How to set the right expectations from the start
- How to get the design and engineering right
Just hit the button below to get your copy (please note, this will direct you to my company Sofeast.com):
Dave Bryant says
The whole ‘gold’ supplier thing just reenforces the problem that a lot of first time importers have: they think that Alibaba, a contract, or authorities will enforce and ensure quality, when of course it’s all on them for that. The ‘gold supplier’ bit does normally signal a legitimate company but as we all know, failure to receive goods is rarely the issue- it’s failure to receive quality goods!
Renaud Anjoran says
Yes that’s absolutely correct.
Unfortunately there will always be bad sheep in the flock. But I do have to say a gold member does gets you more eyeballs and features that could be beneficial for a manufacturer / trading company.
I am still weighing over getting the gold membership or investing in SEO.
Renaud Anjoran says
Yes, on the supplier side it does bring more visibility. I am not disputing that.