Vietnam is one of the largest manufacturing economies globally and among the top manufacturers by output with $290B in annual exports. The world’s largest corporations, like Nike, Adidas, Panasonic, LG, and Apple, have started manufacturing their products in Vietnam. The US-China trade war led to a surge of foreign investment in the country and lured tens of thousands of manufacturers to Vietnam. Investors are attracted by the country’s low labor costs, abundant workforce, convenient geography, and political stability.
Vietnam benefited from a lack of tariffs and accessible shipping routes on the Pacific Ocean, and it is currently one of the fastest-growing manufacturing centers in the world. Nike manufactures more than 50% of its footwear in Vietnam. Vietnam is great for heavy industry and is currently among the world’s top 20 largest metal producing economies.
Sourcing Products In Vietnam // Alibaba Alternatives
This guide will focus on websites where you can source products in Vietnam. Alibaba is the largest website for sourcing from Vietnamese suppliers, but we’ll also show you alternative e-commerce websites and directories where you can reach out to suppliers directly. Doing business with suppliers in Vietnam is not as straight-forward as in China; it is a lot harder.
There are also many fewer alternatives to Alibaba in Vietnam (as there are in China, for instance – read our guide on Chinese Alibaba alternatives). <<<LINK>>>. The lack of suppliers’ databases makes it harder to do business if you don’t know where to locate suppliers. Successful sourcing in Vietnam is done using sourcing agencies like Cosmo Sourcing that deal with factories first-hand and can negotiate prices and verify quality for foreign buyers. Cosmo Sourcing can help you manufacture every kind of product in Vietnam.
Sourcing Products Digitally In Vietnam // Introduction
There are few options for sourcing products on the internet in Vietnam: Supplier directories and e-commerce websites. The supplier directories listed below allow you to discover suppliers based on the industry or location in one of Vietnam’s 58 provinces. The e-commerce websites are available for Vietnamese customers, but most of them are Vietnamese, so you’ll have to be acquainted with the language to use those websites.
Vietnamese e-commerce is not as developed as China’s (the market is estimated at $10B/year currently), but it’s fast-growing and expected to reach $25-30/B year by 2025. For comparison, Indonesia’s e-commerce market is estimated to become $100B/year by 2025, and Thailand will be $40B/year.
Note: Chinese suppliers are heavily involved in the Vietnamese market. Many websites below (including Alibaba Vietnam) have Chinese suppliers offering their products for sale, keep in mind it may be harder to locate Vietnamese suppliers exclusively even with those resources.
Why Sourcing In Vietnam Is Harder Than China
Sourcing in Vietnam and other SE Asian economies is more complicated than China. The market is smaller than the Chinese, which means the internet presence of manufacturers is severely under-represented. There are thousands of factories in Vietnam that lack a website (or even a directory listing), making it nearly impossible to source products unless you fly out to Vietnam and start vetting factories personally.
- Many manufacturers in Vietnam don’t have an English-language website, so you’ll have to speak Vietnamese if you want to place an order. If you reach out to sourcing agencies like Cosmo Sourcing, you can manufacture virtually every product in Vietnam – doing this on your own is a lot harder.
Example: Let’s say you decide to source products in Vietnam on your own. We’ll start with a popular item like bags. First, you’d have to research bags suppliers on popular websites like Alibaba. The keyword “Bag” on Alibaba pulls up 331 manufacturers from Vietnam while there are 39230 manufactures from China for the same keyword. Even though you’ll pay less if you cut a good deal on bag manufacturing in Vietnam, getting to those suppliers is hard.
Sourcing Problems In Vietnam Vs. Region
Sourcing is easier in China, where you can find thousands of suppliers for every product. It doesn’t matter what you need, you’ll find it in China. In China, there’s a general assumption that everything can be done – a few clicks on Alibaba, and you’re done. These problems do not apply in Vietnam, where many suppliers don’t have a website or even listings on trade websites like Alibaba.
Manufacturing in Vietnam hasn’t matured to the extent where suppliers have the internet presence, infrastructure, materials, and other essentials needed to manufacture every product under the sun. Manufacturers are frequently importing materials from China for textiles and electronics. What’s more, even when the suppliers are established and have full manufacturing capability, they are rarely open to foreign buyers. You’ll need a mediator who can source those products on the ground for you.
Example: Let’s say you were to place an order with a footwear manufacturer in Hanoi. The factory owner might not speak English, and they may request an MOQ of 5000 pieces even to start working on your order. Your only option is to have a large budget or hire a sourcing agency that will negotiate on your behalf and get them to lower the MOQs by visiting the factory in person.
To drive the point home, manufacturing in Vietnam is not as simple as calling up a supplier and getting them to start manufacturing. You may even run into issues finding the suppliers. The only solution is to use the resources listed below or hire a reliable sourcing company like Cosmo Sourcing, to get the job done for you at a fixed rate.
What Are The Best Websites For Sourcing In Vietnam?
The best websites for sourcing in Vietnam are hands down Alibaba and Global Sources. These two websites have the largest number of Vietnamese suppliers that list their products catered to an English-speaking/foreign clientele. Virtually all suppliers listed on these websites are open to foreign orders with few restrictions. They are by far the most reliable websites for foreign investors looking to start manufacturing in Vietnam.
There are surprisingly very few websites that list Vietnamese manufacturers; we only use a total of 2 reliable (Vietnam AZ and VTown). For the most part, Cosmo Sourcing uses a self-built internal database that we created from scratch. Last year we made a listing of other supplier directories, but most of those websites have been shut down or went out of business since. It’s a lot harder to find quality suppliers in Vietnam, and there are fewer alternatives to Alibaba in Vietnam compared to China.
Alibaba remains the greatest and most reliable source for suppliers in Vietnam. Global Sources also has a large database of suppliers with quality products, albeit slightly smaller than that of Alibaba. There are also a few reliable e-commerce websites where you can purchase from Vietnamese suppliers listed below.
Pro Tip: The website you use to reach out to suppliers in Vietnam isn’t as important as the supplier itself. We at Cosmo Sourcing can help you make an informed decision and/or recommend suppliers based on our personal experience, sourcing over $60M worth of products in Vietnam.
What are the MOQs For Manufacturing In Vietnam?
The MOQs (minimum order quantity) in Vietnam tend to be higher than in China – sometimes up to 2-3x higher. However, this mostly depends on how expensive the product is. If you’re manufacturing a $1 backpack, you may have an MOQ of 300-500 pieces, while a $100 bicycle might only have an MOQ of 10-30 pieces.
The MOQ in Vietnam always depends on the individual supplier, and if you reach out to us, we can tell you the average MOQ per factory for your industry. We help clients manufacture in all industrial sectors in Vietnam, such as textiles, electronics, handicrafts, and more.
How To Place An Order With A Vietnamese Supplier
To place an order with a Vietnamese supplier, you have to reach out and consult factory representatives. This process can be a lot trickier than China because Vietnamese suppliers are less trustworthy of foreign buyers, and they may refuse to work with clients looking to place smaller orders. We find that Vietnamese suppliers are only willing to work with buyers who they trust, and it may take some time to build up that trust before they even allow you to place your first order.
For comparison, Chinese suppliers will reach out to you the minute you show interest on websites like Alibaba, and you don’t even need to introduce yourself. In Vietnam, you’ll have to state who you are, what your company is, purchase history, etc. Only then start negotiating the first order. The supplier will also ask you to pay them in advance through one of many potential payment methods (read our guide on paying suppliers in Vietnam). We can shorten this time significantly by directing you to reliable suppliers at Cosmo.
To further drive the point home, Vietnamese suppliers might refuse to work with small businesses and start-ups. Many factories only produce for large brands that place huge orders with the factory. We find that in China, even large factories that work with big suppliers will be open to small orders and start-ups trying to work with them. The flexibility is usually not the case in Vietnam.
Vietnamese suppliers’ inaccessibility is one of the reasons Vietnam is still lacking compared to China in key industries, despite the lower cost of production. Even when you think you have a qualified supplier, you should also be wary of advance payments and payment fraud. While you have access to suppliers using the resources below, we always recommend a qualified sourcing agent to minimize risk while doing business in Vietnam.
The Largest Manufacturing Industries In Vietnam
Vietnam’s manufacturing focuses on a few key sectors that make up the bulk of the country’s exports. The suppliers you’ll find using the resources below will usually specialize in one of the following product categories:
Fashion/Textiles/Footwear in Vietnam
The fashion and footwear industry is one of the largest industries in Vietnam. Nike and Adidas now manufacture more than 50% of their footwear and clothing in Vietnam and close down factories in China in favor of Vietnam. Vietnam has tens of thousands of factories in these industries, and these are the easiest products to source in the country. It’s possible to manufacture everything from t-shirts to sneakers to backpacks.
Lately, there’s a trend of high-end fashion manufacturing moving to Vietnam. One such example is the Swedish high-end backpack company Fjällräven that moved most of its production to Vietnam from China. Clothing, garments, and textiles are industries where you’ll find it just as easy to place an order and customize your products as you would in China – at much greater savings.
Furniture & Accessories in Vietnam
The furniture and home accessories industries are among the fastest-growing in Vietnam. Vietnam is one of the world’s leading furniture manufacturers, and this is a great industry to get involved with. Most furniture manufacturers in Vietnam are concentrated in the southern portion of the country. It’s relatively easy to source furniture products in Vietnam. Still, most manufacturers will ask for your designs – so be prepared to spend time agreeing on designs before the manufacturer goes to work for you.
Handcrafted Items in Vietnam
While this category may be listed under Fashion/Textiles, handicrafts are a special category in Vietnam due to the country’s long history of manufacturing handcrafted items. Vietnam is probably the best location in the world to source handcrafted items ranging from wooden products to baskets.
Tech/Electronics in Vietnam
Electronics are becoming a big deal in Vietnam in the last five years, and many of the world’s largest companies are starting to manufacture their electronics in the country. The main problem this industry faced was the lack of materials, and most materials were imported from southern Chinese provinces into Hanoi, where most electronics manufacturers are located in Vietnam.
Apple recently decided to start manufacturing its AirPods in Vietnam. Big names in electronics like Samsung, LG, Panasonic, and Toshiba are now manufacturing in Vietnam and have factories employing tens of thousands of workers. Electronics in Vietnam are slightly harder to get into compared to fashion/textiles.
Heavy Industries in Vietnam
The heavy industry in Vietnam, such as metal manufacturing and processing (for export or construction), is fast growing. Vietnam is currently the #18th largest metal exporter globally, and this is only expected to increase. For reference, read our “Metal Suppliers In Vietnam” guide.
It’s possible to manufacture everything from metal sheets to stainless steel, while services like CMC machining are widely available. If you’re looking to get started in heavy industries in Vietnam, reach out to us, and we’ll give you a rundown on the most qualified suppliers based on what you’re trying to manufacture.
Top Alibaba Alternatives In Vietnam
Alibaba isn’t an effective database in Vietnam. Only a small proportion of factors in Vietnam are listed, and the ones that do have profiles are not very active. We have tried to use Alibaba many times but have had 09 luck with it. In the seven years we have been sourcing from Vietnam, we have found a total of zero suppliers in Vietnam that we ended up making a purchase order.
001 // Global Sources VIETNAM
Global Sources is the main alternative to Alibaba for the Chinese market, but did you know Global Sources has a section for Vietnamese suppliers? Global Sources has a very similar platform to Alibaba, making it easy to narrow down your search based on the kind of suppliers you’re looking for. Global Sources is arguably the most reliable trading platform in Asia and the second largest after Alibaba.
Global Sources has been in business longer than Alibaba when it was started in 1975 by Western ex-pats who wanted to promote manufacturing in Vietnam. Global Sources has a better reputation than Alibaba for product quality, and the products are generally of higher quality than on Alibaba (where many products may be counterfeit). There are few suspicious factories on Global Sources because they’re all personally investigated before gaining permission to sell on the website. Many of the biggest stores are relying on GS to find suppliers in Vietnam.
If you go to the “Vietnam Manufacturers And Suppliers” section on Global Sources, you’ll find there are currently 5,922 wholesale products from 562 suppliers. The products vary in industries ranging from electronics to bags to aluminum – there’s a huge variety of products. The minimum order quantity varies from as little as ten pieces up to 5000 pieces on certain items. The suppliers you’ll find here are some of the most reliable suppliers in all of Vietnam, and there’s little that could go wrong as long as scams/payment fraud as long as you’re cautious about your partners.
Note: These are Vietnamese suppliers on a website (GS) known for higher quality. Even when you’re sourcing from China on Global Sources, the suppliers may vet you to find out more about your business and who you are. The quality is amplified when you’re doing business with Vietnamese suppliers on GS, and you should brace yourself for questions regarding your purchase history and business background.
The suppliers will want to ensure you’re a reliable buyer who will pay them on time. As long as you’re willing to put in a bit of time to gain the trust of these suppliers, you should be able to place your order and get the products manufactured at a lower rate than you would in China. Henceforth, Global Sources is the best alternative to Alibaba in Vietnam.
002 // VTown (Largest Supplier Directory)
VTown has been around for decades, and it is by far the largest manufacturer/supplier directory by size. We must emphasize the keyword here: ‘Directory.’ VTown doesn’t allow you to purchase from suppliers like Alibaba or Global Sources, where you can place orders immediately. VTown only provides listings of manufacturers based on the industry, location, and other essential information. At the time of writing, there are 5088 suppliers listed on VTown and 11354 individual products for sale. Virtually all industries are represented from footwear/textiles to agriculture and construction.
It is up to buyers to conduct their research and contact suppliers individually if they want to order. Even though you have a wider choice regarding factories, this can be a downside because you don’t know if the suppliers are open for business or if their listing is outdated – you have to contact them personally. On Alibaba, you know who’s operational because they have active listings for sale, and you can purchase directly. Nonetheless, VTown is a great resource for discovering suppliers in the country.
003 // VietNam AZ (Alternative Supplier Directory)
VietNam AZ is the leading alternative directory to VTown and also a reliable source for discovering suppliers in VN. VietNamAZ has an accessible platform that allows you to narrow down potential suppliers based on the industry and the products. This website has been operational for decades, and it’s useful for conducting quick research when you’re seeking out new suppliers. The website stands out because it was started as a directory for Japanese companies in Vietnam but grew into a larger directory where companies from all over are listing their factories in Vietnam.
VietNam AZ’s directory has an extensive list of thousands of businesses (not just manufacturing) operating in Vietnam. At the moment, hundreds of manufacturers are listed in industries such as vehicle manufacturing, wood, furniture, medical equipment, packing, oil, electric appliances, handicrafts, plastic industries, machine engineering, and more.
Largest E-Commerce Websites In Vietnam (Vietnamese LANGUAGE)
Certain websites have extensive coverage over the domestic market in Vietnam, but they are only available in the Vietnamese language. Below we’re going to list the largest Vietnamese e-commerce websites where you can purchase products from Vietnamese suppliers (as long as you’re willing to overcome the language barrier):
004 // Sendo
Sendo is the largest Vietnamese c-commerce platform that specializes in consumer-to-consumer trade. Sendo is a trading platform for Vietnamese citizens who sell to each other and the dominant website in the C2C category in Vietnam. Sendo’s directory currently has 10 million products for sale and 300,000 registered users.
Sendo’s user base is comprised of regular citizens and small businesses selling their products on the website. The website aims to revolutionize e-commerce in the country, especially in rural provinces where internet shopping has not yet penetrated the extent of HCMC and Hanoi. They are currently marketing their website in areas outside of HCMC and Hanoi (the most industrialized areas) and focusing on other provinces where nearly 2/3 of the population resides.
Sendo is currently the largest e-commerce website in Vietnam, with over $1B in annual gross profits. The company aimed to achieve this figure by 2020 but managed to hit its target earlier in 2019. Sendo first gathered a large Series B round of $51M in 2018 and another Series C round of $61M in 2019. In the future, the company will also focus on developing its B2C marketplace.
005 // Shopee (Not Vietnamese-Owned)
Shopee is a Singapore-based e-commerce platform for consumer goods, and its Vietnamese branch is currently among the leading platforms in Vietnam, with over 33.6M monthly visitors. Shopee is considered the “eBay of Southeast Asia” and is arguably the largest retail website in the region. Shopee is owned by the Sea Group and generated over $1B in revenue in 2019 on Shopee Vietnam. Shopee provides refund guarantees for flawed products and customer protection.
006 // Tiki
Tiki was founded as an e-commerce book selling platform (similar to Amazon) in 2010 and became one of Vietnam’s largest online retail companies. Tiki is considered among the top 3 biggest retail websites and has over 300,000 products for sale across 12 product categories.
Their annual revenue is close to $250M/year. We should note that despite the high revenues, Tiki has had financial profits due to spending a lot on warehouses and human resources. The company is setting itself up to be Vietnam’s largest e-commerce platform and scale its operations further. Over the year, Tiki’s management will raise a new seed round of close to $100M that will reinvest in new technologies, mobile services, infrastructure, and R & D.
007 // Bachhoaxanh
Bachhoaxanh, previously known as Vuivui, is one of the biggest Vietnamese online retailers. The company is owned by Mobile World Investment Corporation and was started in 2016. The website currently has over 50,000 products for sale. Their product categories include electronics, fashion, cosmetics, packages goods, pharmaceutical drugs, toiletries, and many others. Bachhoaxanhm has a high degree of consumer protection and one of the biggest marketplaces in Vietnam.