Alibaba, Made-in-China, Global Sources, and B2B China Sources are familiar online marketplaces and directories – but just because something pops up first in an online search result does not automatically make it a legitimate and reliable resource for global sourcing.

How can you know what resources are reliable and trustworthy? How do you know if a factory that advertises on one of these giant online marketplaces is reputable? The answer is very straightforward: You can’t know by virtue of an ad or by the website itself.

It takes a global village

Trustworthy China manufacturers are unlikely to advertise on an online marketplace because, simply enough, they don’t have to – they have a solid reputation through global sourcing agents and that keeps them busy enough. A company that advertises through a large online directory may have the means to do so, but that doesn’t automatically make them creditable. An enterprise that has a flashy, well-designed website may seem authentic, but all it takes is a little bit of money to look good online. An impressive website does not a verifiable company make.

One of an import management company’s roles is to do the behind-the-scenes research on overseas suppliers so you can trust that you will receive the products you ordered and that they will be of a high quality. Sourcing agents already have a list of qualified suppliers who have earned a solid rating and respectability. Sourcing agents do what the internet cannot – investigate and guarantee legitimacy.

Beware of offshore frauds online

Just like any internet ad, many companies claim to be something that they are not. Made-in-China companies might allege through their ads or marketplace listing that they are a “manufacturer” or “factory” when in fact they are not.

If you choose to make contact with made-in-China companies on your own, without the help of a global sourcing agent, keep a few things in mind. When communicating with representatives of the company, be aware that the promptness of a response to requests for information or the manufacturer’s willingness to send samples may indicate legitimacy. A reluctance to engage or offer specifics on a supplier’s part is a red flag.

Feeling overwhelmed by the too-available offshore manufacturers? Not sure who to trust? Walker World Trade has established worldwide relationships with trustworthy and experienced global sources over the past 75 years. Whatever your industry, the experts at Walker World Trade can help you connect with reputable offshore factories, be they China manufacturers, European suppliers, or otherwise.