At first, it may seem a daunting and difficult task to source a supplier or manufacturer in China or Asia without knowing anyone to help you, and without having the right connections. Thanks to the Internet, it’s much easier to find a supplier now than ever before. For the most part, you can find a reputable supplier in China from the comfort of your own couch. But there are two important rules you must know: don’t be naïve and do your due diligence.
Understand What You Need in China / Asia
It’s important to know what is available out there and to think about who you want to work with. Do you think you can build a better relationship with a large factory or corporation? Can you build a better relationship with a small family-owned manufacturer or supplier? If you’re just starting your business and don’t need a lot of product, it might be best to work with third party suppliers and/or small family-owned manufacturers.
Build a List of Potential Suppliers / Manufacturers
The next thing you want to do is start working on a list of potential suppliers that can make what you want, in the quantity you need. By building this list, you’ll feel more comfortable knowing that you can talk to multiple suppliers to negotiate the best price for the highest-quality product. How do you build this list? Two places you can start searching for suppliers is Alibaba and Global Sources. Each website lists hundreds of thousands of suppliers and manufacturers making and selling all kinds of products.
Here are some things to look out for:
- Choose a supplier/manufacturer that already makes something similar to what you want. Some manufacturers will want to make anything, but their quality will be poor. It will also make it easier and more cost-effective for you and the manufacturer to use existing equipment than to outsource the work to someone else.
- Only work with suppliers that have lots of reviews. But don’t fall into the trap thinking anyone with a high rating is good to work with. You want to read the reviews and find detailed ones that list the pros and cons of working with the supplier. In addition, you can request the supplier or manufacturer to provide references from current and former customers before ordering from them.
- Find manufacturers that already export products for the western market. Western markets in the US/Canada and Europe have high-quality standards in contrast to developing countries. To market to western countries, these manufacturers also have to meet compliance standards such as safety and regulations. They also understand the logistics of shipping to the west.
- Look for manufacturers who are willing to provide documentation such as business licenses, quality control documentation, compliance documentation, certifications, and anything else that is necessary. Good manufacturers will supply this information without making a fuss.
Avoid Getting Scammed by Self Claimed Suppliers
So now you have a list of potential suppliers and manufacturers and you’ve been speaking with them via email for a few days or a week. Everything looks good and they are willing to work with you. Should you just go ahead and make a deal? Most definitely not! It’s still very easy to get scammed online or receive boxes weeks and months later that’s nothing except safety packaging or poorly made product.
While Alibaba and other sourcing websites do their best to prevent scams by using escrow and other services, you can still lose in the end. Some suppliers are notorious for delivering product very, very late, not at all, or delivering everything – but while it looks good at first glance, 50% or more of the product won’t work! These suppliers and manufacturers don’t know you and you don’t know them. They don’t know if you’ll ever come back and do business with them again, so why should use more of their resources on quality control?
How can you avoid this problem? The solution: fly to China and visit the factories. More on that later…
Find an Intermediary (Sourcing Company or Agent)
If you’re unfamiliar with China and the business manners of the country, and this is your first time trying to source a supplier or manufacturer for your great business idea, then getting the help of a sourcing company is invaluable. Sourcing companies, like Tadex, have excellent networks and can help you find the right company and ensure you get a high-quality product without the hassle.
For example, at Tadex we offer experienced agents and translators who scout markets to find precisely what you’re looking for. Once what you’re looking for has been found, we take care of all the warehousing, transportation, loading, inspection and final shipping to your destination. In addition, our company can inspect all product provided by manufacturers for quality control, and ensure it meets any compliance standards and safety regulations. You can learn more about the services Tadex offers in the “Services” tab at the top of this page.
Visit Trading Fairs or Meetups in China and Hong Kong
Because China has been the world’s factory for many decades, there is always a trading fair happening somewhere in China – and one of the most popular fairs is the Canton Fair. Located in the prosperous city of Guangzhou, it is also known as the China Import and Export Fair, it has been running since 1957 and connects Chinese manufacturers with buyers and exporters. In a short amount of time, and in one place, you can meet hundreds of suppliers who might have what you’re looking for.
As mentioned earlier, trading fairs are plentiful in China and they can be specialized to product niches such as small electronics, beauty, furniture, apparel, and more. An upcoming fair is the Global Sources Summit scheduled to be held in Hong Kong at the AsiaWorld-Expo (near Hong Kong International Airport) from October 27-29, 2018.
In order to attend the conference, you’ll need to purchase a ticket. Use the code “DN100” to save $100 on each ticket. Buy 2 or more tickets to save an additional $100 per ticket.
Buy your tickets here: www.globalsources.com/summit
Visit the Supplying Factories
If you choose to stay in China for more than a week, you can take the opportunity to visit factories from the list of manufacturers you made earlier. By doing this, you not only understand the manufacturing process and see how it is done, but can also resolve any misunderstandings. It cannot be stressed enough the importance of taking factory tours.
In order to get to China in the first place, you’ll need a letter of invitation, a tourist or business visa, and you’ll need to book a hotel and find transportation. This can be both a time-consuming process and intimidating when you don’t speak the local language. Tadex provides business services to take care of these obstacles and also has a team of translators to help you navigate the country and spur discussion with manufacturers.
Are you ready to get your business started and excited to do business with China? Get in touch with us at Tadex Trade – we’re here to help you and make sure your business needs are taken care of.