How to approach Alibaba suppliers for 'test' quantities?
Where minimum orders are 500 or 1000pc., does anyone have experience on how to approach Chinese manufacturers to request small orders of 10-20 units? In my case I want to set up an online shop selling solar bike lights. There are lots of different models from different manufacturers available but I would need to do fairly extensive testing to make sure they weren't junk, and to see which users like. How would you approach this situation? Thanks, JohnH
This is exactly how I started my first online business. I ordered a test quantity, and sold the test lot. I just asked them if they would ship me some test units, and I would of course pay their rate for them. I think I got 25-30 test items which is why I needed more than just a couple. I told them that I needed to verify that quality was consistent over more than just 5-6 sample items. I also said that if everything went well I'd be ordering a full lot from them. It did, and I ordered from them.
Chinese manufacturers are in the practice of supplying samples for the reason you indicated. If you can get away with one per sku/product, they will typically provide it either at retail cost with a credit back when you order, or they will provide it free. In either case you pay for shipping which is what keeps people who are not serious from getting ordering samples. Pay the factory (ideal) or a Chinese shipping agent to ship it from China which costs much less than arranging pickup in china from the US (like DHL).