How to get FREE Product Samples from Alibaba/Aliexpress

by Tim Blue

I’ve worked with numerous suppliers and have received countless products from many direct manufacturers and also resellers. The first step most rookie e-commerce entrepreneurs struggle with is getting the first few products. There are numerous questions that arise. Today we’ll cover them briefly, but we will also cover how you can get free product samples from Alibaba or Aliexpress.

Aliexpress Free Samples

Why should you get samples?

If you are new to the game, then you need to understand that China doesn’t work in the same style as “What you see is what you get”. In a lot of cases, what you see on the product page is not what you receive. This can be due to various factors, but some of the most common factors are.

  • The supplier has just copied the catalogue images of some other company
  • The supplier’s products are not as good looking as the ones on the catalogue
  • The supplier cannot be bothered about taking pictures of his products and uploading them online.

Now the truth of the matter is, you don’t know what you’re dealing with!

When you deal with a supplier to get a sample, you learn a lot more about the process.

  • You know how the supplier communicates
  • You understand about the shipment process and the time taken
  • You understand how customs work in different scenarios,
  • Finally, you know how the product is

This is why you should get samples.

How to get Free Samples From China

Well, there isn’t always a guarantee and don’t expect a supplier to ship an electric scooter as a free sample. A free sample generally works for smaller products. Some of the examples are

  • Phone screen protectors
  • Stickers
  • Mugs
  • Cables
  • Chargers

But a supplier will go out of his way to avoid a free sample if they find you aren’t genuine enough. They deal with a lot of customers who are looking for free products every once in a while and they will be able to figure out who you are.

Here are some techniques to get a Free sample.

  • First of all, be genuine with the way you deal with them. Here is an example of a bad way of dealing with your potential supplier – “I guarantee to give you a huge order if you give me a free sample”. A supplier is smart. If they know you have big money, why would you not pay for a sample?
  • If the product value is less such as a screen protector. A supplier may send you one as a free sample as it doesn’t hurt them much. It costs them a few cents and there is nothing lost.
  • If the product you are purchasing has numerous versions, you can ask the supplier to pack the different variations in one box and give you a standard rate for all of them. This is something they see as more genuine because you want to test the product range
  • If you have a website. You can share the details of your website with them and show them the traffic that you get to allay their fears and it shows that you are genuine.
  • You could also show screenshots of your interaction with other suppliers and tell them you are making a comparison and you have received the other supplier’s product and would like to test theirs.
  • Offer to pay a reasonable amount for your samples the first time and when they do business with you, they will know you are genuine and provide you with free samples in the future.

Paying for a sample – Why and How?

If you are a serious buyer, then it makes sense to pay for a sample. This shows that you are genuinely interested and will make you stand apart among other people requesting the same thing. When you also pay for a sample, they take you more seriously and reply to you faster, giving you the best service.

If you are wasting time negotiating a free sample, then you aren’t on the right track. You would rather pay for the sample and then receive the product and form a good relationship with your supplier.

How much to pay for a sample?

This is where things get tricky and a lot of people feel they are being conned by their supplier. But the truth of the matter is, a lot of suppliers do charge retail rates even for sample products. They do this so that they can avoid retail customers trying to get a good deal.

The best way to deal with this is, pay for the sample with retail rates and if you are happy with the product, you can ask the supplier to refund the amount when you place a bulk order.

Most suppliers will be more than happy to do this, as they get a bulk order. So paying retail rates are not unheard of for a sample.

If you are getting a large number of samples, then you can request the supplier to charge you bulk rates that they would charge in case of a MOQ order.

The one thing you need to be careful when paying for a sample is the shipping cost. Shipping costs from China are generally inexpensive for small orders and take 15 to 20 days to reach you. If your supplier is charging anywhere over $50 for a small shipment then you need to be wary.

What is the safest way to pay on Alibaba?

Generally, most people pay for the samples using Paypal. Paypal is a trusted source by both the supplier and you and it’s a good method for transferring the amounts. The other methods for transferring are Western Union, but it isn’t a recommended channel. Before you pay, make sure you do research about the supplier and understand the clients they’ve dealt with, the work they’ve done. You can always ask them to send actual pictures of the product via chat before you even book a sample.

How to request product samples from a supplier

how to ask for samples

In the screenshot above, we have a Alibaba page that has some pertinent details regarding the supplier. Here’s how to verify the supplier and get a free sample.

  1. Check the supplier’s age in the marketplace:  In this instance, it’s been 7 years, which is a good sign of longevity. This particular supplier is also verified and have assessed videos, pictures, factory inspection reports and verified production lines. This means it’s very likely that the supplier has pictures of their products, even though they might not uploaded it. You can ask for all these details from the supplier.
  2. Check the reviews for the supplier : Reviews are a clear tell tale sign of the staus of a supplier’s performance. They reply to 93.5% of their customers and under 24 hours. They also have a decent rating. You can see the majority of the business of this supplier is from Western Europe. This gives you an idea if they will be your ideal supplier based on location.
  3. Shipping Fee: The shipping fee might seem like a big amount. But when you click on it, you will see the shipping cost per piece. You can use this as a base to negotiate with the supplier

shipping samples from china

4. Contact Supplier: Finally when you are ready to get in touch with the supplier for a sample. Click on the ‘Contact Supplier’ button. Here you can fill a form with the details you require and give them some extra information that piques their curiosity and shows that you are genuine too.

alibaba sample shipping cost

The best part about this form is, you can choose to receive incoming messages from similar suppliers if this supplier doesn’t respond within the stipulated time, which gives them an impetus to reply quickly.

You can also upload your business card to the Alibaba website and have that shared with the supplier.

Free Samples from Manufacturers

Getting free samples from suppliers may seem like a fun thing to do, but its serious business. If you want to be taken seriously you cannot bargain for a free sample every time. A person who pays gets better service. So it’s suggested to pay for your sample and build a better long term relationship with your supplier.

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