5 Important Reasons Not to Source Your LED Lighting Suppliers on Alibaba

Jack Ma and the inspirational story of Alibaba’s rise in the world of e-commerce became front page news after the company’s IPO broke all conceivable records on the 22nd of September 2014.

Its popularity coupled with China’s rise as a manufacturing hub has led millions of individuals and businesses from across the globe to seek solace in the entity that is Alibaba.

As with most online movements, there are a lot of good balanced out by bad experiences and a cursory search using the keyword ‘Alibaba scams’ would quickly get you acquainted with the struggles of sourcing out suppliers on Alibaba.

But today, this article will attempt to narrow the negatives of shopping on Asia’s biggest e-commerce platforms, by focusing on its effects on LED lighting businesses across the western world when searching for LED Lighting Suppliers on Alibaba.

1. Sourcing LED Lighting Suppliers on Alibaba and the Scamming Problem

Ask a cross section of manufacturers why they source out most of their products and manufacturing tools from China and the first answer you get is: The affordable prices.

But taking advantage of this comes with the difficulties of navigating through the thousands of fake vendors currently making a living of transaction scams on Alibaba.

LED Lighting Suppliers - 5 Important Reasons Not to Source Your LED Lighting Supplies on Alibaba - DUMALUXAlthough there are no official numbers, the resignation of the e-commerce giant’s top two staff and the sacking of approximately a 100 staff from the rank and file in 2012, showcased its lax approach to vetting vendors.

An investigation unearthed 2,300 fake accounts which had been used to scam unsuspecting shoppers on the platform.

This makes the issue of navigating through the ‘sharks in Alibaba’s waters’ one of the more important reasons why shopping for LED lighting suppliers could end up stabbing your business in its back.

There are many ways to avoid been scammed on Alibaba as can be seen from this guide to Alibaba scams but these methods cannot be relied upon by businesses that purchase hundreds or even thousands of LED lighting products under a month.

You can also watch this video where Business Coach & Consultant Eugene Cheng teaches How to Avoid Scammers in Alibaba.

It is not related to Alibaba LED lighting specifically, but it should help anyone sourcing for suppliers in Alibaba:

Therefore, the best solution to sourcing LED fixtures still remains to purchase locally or actually travelling to China LED Lighting Fairs to partner directly with genuine LED manufacturers which come with considerable costs.

LED Lighting Suppliers - Increase Your LED Sales - DUMALUX

2. Standards and Quality Control is a Myth

Despite the in-roads made in China goods have made in the West, the developing world still remains China’s biggest markets and sadly, the quality of the goods they manufacture may not meet the standards of the West.

These same limitations apply to the Alibaba LED lighting supplies and fixtures.

Therefore in most cases, the LED items businesses end up importing do not meet the standards or requirements your customers expect when purchasing a LED fixture for the long-haul.

LED Lighting Suppliers - 5 Important Reasons Not to Source Your LED Lighting Supplies on Alibaba - DUMALUXForbes ranked the problem of no quality standardization policy as one of the 2nd most important problem US companies face when sourcing for suppliers from China.

There have been multiple calls by foreign standards organizations to instill a form of quality control over items sold on Alibaba but till date, no defined policy has been set.

The lack of standardization means that as a LED manufacturer, your Alibaba purchases are done on blind faith.

Facing this alongside the challenge of a no-refund policy could hamper your business dealings in the long run.

3. Lack of Payment Protection

LED Lighting Suppliers - Increase Your LED Sales - DUMALUXShopping on Alibaba is synonymous to shopping in China which means your business now swims in the murky waters of international trade.

Also, Alibaba’s reliance on its own payment gateways means that you may end up having to pay upfront before receiving your goods which of course comes with multiple challenges.

These challenges include paying fully to the Alibaba LED lighting suppliers without first ascertaining the quality of the goods you will receive or even knowing if it had been shipped in cases where the shipping plans are arranged by the vendor or supplier.

There are a couple of ways to avoid the issue of losing your funds which include:

  • Buying through Escrow services
  • Paying a small percentage upfront


  • Sending a post-paid check prepared by your bank.

But in these situations, the risk of losing a part of your funds still looms large and this is a risk most LED business are ill-prepared to handle.

4. Battling China’s Problem with Fakes

Statements that depict China as the biggest source of counterfeiting goods worldwide definitely holds true till date.

According to the 2016 annual report from the US Customs and Border Protection agency, China accounts for more than 80% of the counterfeit goods seized at the border.

China’s place the king of counterfeit is made possible by its government lax implementation of trademark laws across the country.

Furthermore, brands with no existing trademarks or copyrights in China have no legal recourse to fight counterfeiting.

This leaves LED vendors who source goods from China at a disadvantage.

LED Lighting Suppliers - 5 Important Reasons Not to Source Your LED Lighting Supplies on Alibaba - DUMALUXSimply imagine a scenario where you spend thousands of dollars with a LED lighting supplier on Alibaba to purchase branded products, only to get a call from customs confirming the seizure of your goods due to counterfeiting.

The heartache and loss of funds is something businesses can avoid through direct purchases from recognized LED lighting manufacturers.

As for those who believe they can avoid this tragedy, available statistics which puts 70% off all counterfeit goods worldwide at China’s doorsteps show that your LED business will definitely fall into the counterfeit trap.

5. Navigating the Language Barrier

You speak English, he speaks Mandarin.

This alone lays the ground for confusion when business transactions occur.

The rule of thumb for LED businesses interested in sourcing from Alibaba is providing clear specifications and requirements in order not to receive products with defects or inaccurate items.

The language barrier has landed many a business in serious trouble when purchases go awry due to either willful or a genuine miscommunication problem.

LED Lighting Suppliers - 5 Important Reasons Not to Source Your LED Lighting Supplies on Alibaba - DUMALUX

To solve this issue, most LED vendors now employ a team of Mandarin speakers to handle business transactions when communicating with manufacturers from China.

But the prevalence of some of the other issues listed above—fraud, scams and counterfeiting—still makes your businesses entire sourcing plan a difficult one.

Final Thoughts

The dearth of individuals who truly go through the terms and condition associated with a product before purchasing it also has a role to play in making shopping on Alibaba an adventure to avoid.

As a LED business owner, you must take it to heart that you can be scammed at any time on Alibaba and this will ensure that you stay on your toes when sourcing for LED items.

Conversely, you can also consider making your LED purchases from local manufacturers in close proximity to you to avoid the pitfalls stated above.

Have you ever considered buying from an Alibaba LED Lighting Supplier? Do you have any experience? Was it a positive experience or a negative experience? Share your opinion with the readers of this blog!

LED Lighting Suppliers - Increase Your LED Sales - DUMALUX


  1. Adam Williams says:

    I have been sourcing LEDs for almost three years now in Alibaba … They have tried to rip me off, but I am very meticulous when I am in my research, so to date I have never been scammed!

    1. Sissi Leau says:

      How did you know that a supplier want to rip you off?
      I’m one of the Chinese supplier,but also confused why some people would rather trick the clients to seek for a sum of money,instead of a long-term business relationship…Wouldn’t it be more profitable to convince clients by quality and price and start a long-term/stable business relation??

      1. Adam Williams says:

        They told me they had a factory and that they were actually manufacturing their product lines. A few months later I traveled to China to a LED Lighting Fair and visited the address where the supplier claimed their factory was located, just to realize that it was a LED Lighting Factory but from a completely different company… And they did not know the company I had dealt with!

        It was a SCAM!

  2. Rik Kaminsky says:

    In all my transactions, I have been scammed once with an intercepted email. It was for something other than lighting though. I would have to say that you must ask the question of warranty and how it is handled in North America. I am almost exclusively buying Chinese product from the the US or Canadian Representative, which are often times simply a holding warehouse.

    1. Michael from DUMALUX Team says:

      You have mentioned a very important point: You must always ask how guarantees will be handled bearing in mind that both are on completely opposite sides of the world.

  3. Sissi Leau says:

    As one of the Chinese Supplier,I have to say there did have leaks in Alibaba,even we supplier can not be avoid being tricked.I even had witnessed that somebody had used my account and chat with a client,I didn’t noticed it at all,but later on,I found someone in my latest contact list ,but nothing can be remembered about him,so I clicked and found the chat message,I realized this guy was stealing my account and trying to trick the clients.I instantly sent a lot messages to the client and asked him to pay attention to that guy.Luckily,the client had checked his profile and compare it with our sales team in our Alibaba homepage,he found no one named this, he suddenly understand what’s happening.That’s the end of the trick.What a horrible thing!

    So when you trade in Alibaba,the first thing is check if the sales really belong to this company,ask he/she if they had a company email,from our experience,a private mail would largely increase the risk of being tricked!

    1. Michael from DUMALUX Team says:

      Fortunately you managed to detect on time that your account had been stolen to warn your customers … You were lucky!

      Moral: ALWAYS require suppliers to communicate from a corporate Email.

  4. Henry Hsu says:

    Most of us China suppliers are very confused that too much buyers complain our prices were too high, especially for buyers from India, they always ask for top quality but they are only willing to pay for a price to rubbish,

    If the buyers only want lower and lower prices, what can we do?

    1. Michael from DUMALUX Team says:

      You have to focus on a market and answer the following question with all objectivity:

      Do I want to attract customers with my prices or my quality? It is very likely that you can not meet both and you must decide for one.

      If a customer requires high-quality LED lighting but is not willing to pay the fair price, that customer probably will not know much about LED lighting.

  5. Jim says:

    I’m from China, I have to say the article is not that good, the five reasons you pointed out now are existing when you import anything from China(or any developing countries like China), not just through Alibaba. I’m not a fan of Alibaba, but I don’t completely agree with what you said. we are still making a progress, just need some time. Being careful is the very important when doing business.

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