Buying hardware in bulk from overseas supplier

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Forum topic by ezgnann posted 04-18-2014 02:16 PM 1982 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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30 posts in 3183 days

04-18-2014 02:16 PM

A local brewery has asked me to build a bunch of taps for them. The taps handles are easy but the prices on the ferrule and hangerbolt are outrageous. Rockler sells them for $4.99. I can buy the parts separately though other sites, but the price for the hardware is still around 3.50, but I cannot find a supplier with bulk discounts.

So i found through a site called Alibaba that I can order the hardware in bulk (lots of 100) at a dramatically lower price. Has anyone had any experience with ordering hardware of Alibaba or from a overseas supplier? Any pitfalls?

Quality is important, as is speed of delivery, and the security around payment.

And advise or tips is appreciated!

-- Woodworking is cheaper than psychotherapy and better for me than whiskey

14 replies so far

View vetwoodworker's profile


104 posts in 2267 days

#1 posted 04-18-2014 02:36 PM

1-Check your supplier company information (address, telephone, emails, web page,workers, history, some important customers they may have, experience, and certificates)
2-GOLD Member in Alibaba is also a good filter to choose your supplier.
3-Ask about if they have some customers in your country, and if you could contact them to get some feedback and references.
4-Ask for sample before making the order, and also if possible, sample when the production is finished, this way, if there is any problem during production, you still have time to fix it, before the shipping.
5-Payment terms – LC, or deposit and the rest against copy of BL. Check it carefully with your bank
6-Avoid those companies in Alibaba that are selling in free membership and offering copy, fake and * brands, or even telling you that are original ones. Famous electronic brands, and brand clothes, normally are more expensive in China than overseas, so is impossible they can sell it toyou much cheaper. Shipping copy products can give you big problems when arrive to the customs in your country.
7-Proforma Invoice need to be made it clear, and in English, with all clauses and guarantees.
8-Normally, serious companies, their company email never end in hotmail or yahoo, always end with their company name like [email protected]
*.com or [email protected]
Sometimes is easy to identify a bad company or scammer like Daxun International Electronic With web page
Check in their web page their company email, after their company phone. A real supplier, will not have an email like this for his company, and second, they will have many telephone lines, one for each sales department. If you look for the company name in google, you will find in the top of it, internet address about scams and scandals about this company.

View Marcus's profile


1165 posts in 2580 days

#2 posted 04-18-2014 02:44 PM

Alibaba is a legit business. My mother in laws office goes through them to order a few bulk items.

View bigblockyeti's profile


6112 posts in 2281 days

#3 posted 04-18-2014 02:45 PM

I would think about it only after much communication with the sales company having proved to you whom ever is on the other end actually understands and has a command of the English language and can assure you of their quality. I’ve bought stuff of amazon that was shipped from overseas and sometimes you get what you’re expecting, some times you get well packaged junk. Case in point, I ordered two A/C adapters to power strips of LED lights and they worked perfect at a reasonable price. I ordered 8 more for another project and all of them failed in 15 minutes despite looking exactly the same; well packaged junk! They even had the UL trademark with after many emails with the UL fraud unit they were determined to be counterfeit trademarks. That this kind of stuff is being sold on amazon is bad enough, less established sites could be more likely to offer well packaged junk. If you go this route, understand their return policy and have a back up plan that still leaves you profitable and able to deliver on time if you’re unable to use what you receive from overseas.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View NoThanks's profile


798 posts in 2089 days

#4 posted 04-18-2014 03:00 PM

If you’re talking about only getting 100, then I wouldn’t mess with overseas. $5.00×100 = $500 bucks.
I would just add it to the bid. Might be different if you’re talking about a 1000.
If you got them cheaper than 5 bucks are you giving the client the savings? Or money in your pocket?
Bottom line is how many your buying to determine if it’s worth it, at least that’s my opinion.
PS, If I got them cheaper the extra savings would be going in my pocket.

-- Because I'm gone, that's why!

View ezgnann's profile


30 posts in 3183 days

#5 posted 04-18-2014 03:08 PM

Any savings is will go in my pocket, hence the desire to drop the price on the hardware. The savings even at bulk prices is very signicant, like 75%. I have not see the quality, but the difference in price is significant enough to investigate.

-- Woodworking is cheaper than psychotherapy and better for me than whiskey

View waho6o9's profile (online now)


8799 posts in 3137 days

#6 posted 04-18-2014 03:10 PM

Why take the chance?

Use the good stuff.

View doitforfun's profile


199 posts in 2168 days

#7 posted 04-18-2014 05:05 PM

I think more than any other consideration, I’d be most worried about it showing up on time. No deadline was mentioned but that’s always at the top of my list when awarding contracts and buying stuff for work.

-- Brian in Wantagh, NY

View Whiskers's profile


389 posts in 2587 days

#8 posted 04-19-2014 11:09 AM

I’ve never ordered anything in bulk from China, but I have dealt with Chinese companies a few times and never had a problem. Monetary concerns is a legitimate concern, but just cause a company or individual is in China does not mark them as bad. Due Diligence is required. Look for feedback and ratings etc. If you get your CC number into the hands of the Chinese mafia, most American banks will wash their hands of the situation, and leave you hanging for the bill. Paypal is a valid option here, but than again, Paypal has had it’s problems in the past. Disposable credit cards are another option where you buy a prepaid visa card with a balance for a specific order.

Now about that delivery time. LOL, well that can vary. Everything is going to come from California, so that going to be a week if your on the East coast right there. Now it comes to size. If it coming from Hong Kong it has a direct route into the states. No Donkey trains to carry it market. If it really small, Hong Kong will toss it on a airplane, and you will have it in a week + 1 day. If it bigger it going to come by ship, and it takes a week or so for a ship to get to the states. Than you find that what we call China ain’t just China, it may be Singapore or some other odd ball place, which is a island of itself near China, relatively speaking. So now you have 2 ships involved. I’ve seen packages from these places take just a week to get to me, and others take 6 weeks. You can save a ton of money buying that way though. Often the time is surprisingly fast.

Example, I also like to make models, and found a guy on ebay who was willing to sell 50 alligator clips for 1/20th what anyone else could do. The clips are for holding small parts on a pegboard while I spray painted. He was in China, but he was so much cheaper than anywhere else so I ordered. They showed up a week later in a simple post bag. Apparently they were in Hong Kong.

I also deal with meritline sometime, which is a China front company. They have offices and warehouses in California. Totally reputable. I ordered 2 bicycle lights from them knowing they were coming from Singapore. They very plain about where things are shipping from when you order. They don’t hide it. Took 6 weeks, one of them was defective. I was like eek, they cost $5 each, I wonder if I have to return them. I emailed them and they were like, well that sucks, sorry about that, we will send you another one, just throw that one away. That was a relief but it meant another 6 week wait. The lights work great though.

View Scott's profile


153 posts in 3532 days

#9 posted 04-19-2014 11:32 AM

Where does Rockler get theirs? Where is produced? How is the quality? You may end up with the same exact thing just with Rockler’s markup. Granted, customer service will likely be much better with Rockler but that may not matter in the end.

Just my $.02. I’ve run across this a few times where I ordered from a big company like Rockler and then found out the OEM when it arrived.

FWIW, Alibaba is partly owned by Yahoo and is about to come out with an IPO. Kind of like the Chinese version of Amazon.

View MrRon's profile


5783 posts in 3803 days

#10 posted 04-19-2014 04:01 PM

Reply deleted.

View Knothead62's profile


2600 posts in 3521 days

#11 posted 04-19-2014 10:40 PM

How about one of the big suppliers like MSC or Fastenal?

View Rob's profile


704 posts in 3631 days

#12 posted 05-10-2014 12:34 AM

I’ve looked at Alibaba before for some things but haven’t bought anything yet. I get the impression that it’s generally safe but a few sellers here and there are some scammers. The general advice seems to be that you should request a sample first to inspect for quality, and place multiple smaller orders instead of one huge order if you’re buying large quantities. I think vetwoodworker pretty much summed up everything else you need to know.

-- Ask an expert or be the expert -

View Knothead62's profile


2600 posts in 3521 days

#13 posted 05-10-2014 06:07 PM

What about shipping and import duties?

View Knothead62's profile


2600 posts in 3521 days

#14 posted 05-10-2014 06:08 PM

Duplicate! It’s been a long day!

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