Ordering factory direct from ali baba

Hey everyone,

I was just wondering if anyone here has any importing experience; I was thinking of trying to order a bicycle frame prototype for a business class project due in 3 months.

Alibaba.com isn’t a factory, it’s part of a system of web portals connecting western buyers with eastern factories. I think your question is actually more like asking about ordering a bicycle frame factory direct from Ebay.

I have ordered quite a bit of stuff from alibaba suppliers and never had a problem with the supplier. Just like on ebay, I only order from suppliers who have been on the site for a while and are Verified.

It can be “interesting” to have a Chinglish chat box session, and can be somewhat unnerving to do a bank transfer of substantial amounts of cash, and then there is the Chinese version of Quality Control … but so far I have always felt that the items I received were at least acceptable for the price and sometimes a very good bargain.

Are you talking about ordering an existing product or using a Chinese factory to produce a new, custom design?

Some of the factories claim custom designs as one of the things they do, I am not looking to do anything crazy, just order a bike frame with certain dimensions; If I could find what I needed in a stock frame that would be fine, but I have not found any stock frames that are the right dimensions.

I am aware of what Alibaba is. More specifically I am interested in knowing certain things such as how to determine which factory or factories are the most reliable, what shipping arrangements are used, how difficult is the language barrier to overcome, are there any customs fees or import duties or other things of that nature that can add considerable cost to the transaction. Also, are there certain countries or provinces that are significantly easier or harder to trade efficiently with. Finally, are there cultural differences to worth taking note of when interacting with overseas suppliers?

My experience in buying anything from another country is that it is very easy for the item to get held up in customs because of some tiny minor screw-up (which might even be a customs official’s fault for making the wrong thing on one line of a form or something like that). I’ve had some things sail right through and other things held up for six weeks or more for no really good reason.

Since your class project deadline is probably a hard deadline, I personally wouldn’t risk it.

Thanks for the input. I would not be overly upset if the deadline wasn’t reached, the class project kind of gives me the excuse/incentive to try something out that I’ve been wondering about for a while. This may seem like a pretty basic question, I’ve never ordered anything from overseas, but who generally pays for the customs fees, is it included in the shipping cost or does the buyer usually pay it? Also, is FOB usually shipping point or destination point or is FOB something or just something worked out on a case by case basis?