ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Select a Chinese Supplier

Updated on July 2, 2016

If you are in the retail business, there’s a strong chance that your search for suppliers will bring you to China. The suppliers here are able to take advantage of inexpensive raw materials, labor and shipping costs to offer prices which suppliers outside of China simply cannot compete with.

Finding a reliable supplier in China is critical for most retail companies, but for many of them, finding and selecting the right supplier can be a daunting task. There are a seemingly endless number of suppliers to choose from, and communication issues, time differences, physical distance and cultural differences can make the selection process pretty complicated.

In order to help you navigate through the process and make the best possible choice, I've put together the following tips based on my own experience living and doing business in Shenzhen, China. I hope you will find it useful.

Finding the Suppliers

Add an interesting subtitle here!

There are several websites that allow buyers to search for a product and find the suppliers who can offer it. Websites for this function include,,, and

The three Websites I recommend are Alibaba, DHgate and Aliexpress. Alibaba is the powerhouse of this industry, and for almost every product, it will offer the most comprehensive list of suppliers. DHgate and Aliexpress are like scaled down versions of Alibaba, and they are tailored more toward smaller orders. On DHgate and Aliexpress, buyers can purchase amounts as small as just one piece, but on Alibaba, the minimum order for most products is usually about 50 pieces.

When you get on these websites and begin to search through potential suppliers, make a list on Word or Excel of your top 5 to 10 choices. On this list, include the company name, price per piece (if listed), and contact information. With this list compiled, you are now ready to start picking out the winners.

The First Cut

The first step is to simply look at the feedback from their past transactions. As a general rule of thumb, you will want to identify suppliers that have made at least 50 transactions and have a buyer satisfaction rate of at least 90 percent.

Some buyers have unreasonable expectations and will leave negative feedback regardless of the product or service, and sometimes a supplier’s competitor will buy a product just to leave negative feedback on their page. For those reasons, I think 100 percent satisfaction is not required, but a satisfaction rate above 90 should be attainable for a good supplier.

Now, remove the suppliers that do not meet the requirements (50 transactions, at least 90 percent customer satisfaction) from your list.

Guangzhou is home to a lot of factories in China. The locals say, "When the sky is blue, business is bad."

The Second Cut

Now that you have narrowed down your list of prospective suppliers, it is time to contact them. Simple send them an email to tell them you are interested in their products and you would like to ask them a few questions. Ask them if the price they listed is the best price they can offer, and what kind of return policy they have in case of any defective products. Also, ask them how long it would take to have the products manufactured and delivered and any other questions you might have.

These questions are important not only because of the basic information they provide, but also to test the supplier's communication capabilities and level of customer service. If the supplier takes a long time to respond, responds with incomplete information, or has a bad attitude, you can cross them off your list.

After receiving the initial response, wait a couple of days and send them a follow-up question. You could ask them if they are currently selling to other buyers from your country, how many products their factory can produce each month – anything. Communication is critical when doing business overseas, so before buying anything, make sure the supplier is willing and able to answer all of your questions.

Bao'an at Night: Although Shenzhen is a city that never sleeps, the time difference can make communication difficult.

The Third and Final Cut

After removing the poor communicators, your list should be narrowed down to a few finalists – maybe just two or three companies. Now it’s time to order some samples.

Order one or two samples from each of the finalists and evaluate them carefully. Monitor the delivery speed and tracking service, the quality of the packaging, and of course the quality of the products.

At this point, you should have a good idea about each supplier’s level of reliability. After receiving the products, if you judge all of the finalists to be about the same, simply choose the one with the best price. If the prices are also the same, just flip a coin or follow your gut as the tie-breaker, because at this point, there’s probably not much difference between them.

And then...

Build and Maintain the Relationship

After receiving your products and selecting your supplier, log back onto the website and give the supplier some positive feedback. Positive feedback is like gold to the suppliers, because they need customer trust in order to be successful. The suppliers will appreciate it, as will other potential buyers.

Then send the supplier an email to say thanks and something to the effect of: “We hope to have a long-term relationship with your company and we look forward to doing more business with you.” This is important because it will improve your chance of getting better prices in the future.

Chinese suppliers place high value on long-term business partnerships, and they will give preferential treatment to their repeat customers. It’s part of the guanxi system, which continues to thrive in modern day China.


Which do you prefer?

What is your favorite Website for finding suppliers?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)