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Tips On How To Find Reliable Suppliers In China

Updated on December 20, 2013

If you are a company looking to source products from China, the first thing you will need to do is to find a reliable and trustworthy supplier.

Here are 6 golden tips for finding suppliers in China:

1. Ask for References

Insist on references and follow them up. Whilst you may get the impression that there is an overwhelming choice of suppliers from websites like Alibaba or Global Sources, your enquiries will likely mean that you will discount 90% of potential partners right away.

If you are UK-based you should ask the company to provide references from a UK firm, or at least elsewhere in Europe. Understandably a supplier may indicate that such information is confidential, but if a supplier cannot provide at least one named reference within your locality with whom you can speak directly, then don’t offer them your business.

2. Arrange an Independent China Supplier Verification

This will be an examiner from a professional China-based firm who will visit your potential supplier on your behalf and provide you with detailed feedback on their findings. Generally these reports are very cost-effective and could save you from making an expensive error further down the line.

3. Ask for a Product Documentation Sample

Request a sample quality control checklist, lab testing document or similar – something which proves the materials your proposed factory uses are safe and legal for selling to your intended market. Again if your contact stalls or makes avoidance noises then tactfully withdraw. Any professional outfit will be highly familiar with this type of request and should have no problem complying.

4. Rely on Gut Instinct

Perhaps something of an underestimated tool in business circles, but nevertheless ‘gut instinct’ can prove a lifesaver when it comes to choosing a potential trading partner. If something feels wrong to you, even if you can’t rationalise it, don’t do it.

5. Sample Quality

Ask for a sample of the goods you plan to order. Does the sample measure up to your expectations? Exceed your expectations? Your supplier should be trying to impress you so don’t agree to do business with anyone who says: “This is just a sample – it’s not representative of the quality of the real thing.” Or, “We produced this is a hurry – your order will be far superior.” Any supplier willing to present substandard or shoddy goods to you isn’t worthy of your business.

6. Ensure the Terms & Conditions are Right for You

When you decide to go ahead and engage a supplier, check the company’s small print carefully to ensure it fits with what was discussed and that any pertinent clauses or trading conditions are included.

To the uninitiated, finding suppliers in China can be a tricky business, but maintaining common sense and a keen awareness should ensure you don’t waste time and money engaging the wrong supplier.

Finding Product Suppliers In China

Seeking Product Suppliers In China? Think: ‘Win-Win’ and Benefit from Continuous Product Cost Reduction

Your strategy for finding suppliers in China should amount to a win-win situation for your company and the supplier(s) concerned. Because Chinese businesspeople place a strong emphasis on the relationship-building aspect of doing business, finding suppliers you can work with over several years (if not a decade or more) should be a high priority for you.

Finding cost reduction ideas whilst not devaluing the functionality of their products is something which most factories across the world will do routinely – either formally or informally – and as the client you will be able to benefit from these valuable Research & Development processes.

Arguably, choosing the option of Far Eastern manufacturing affords extra benefits from Western-based organisations simply because of the lower labour costs involved. What’s more, the impact these costs have on the ‘redesign’ process can be significant even when production margins are tight.

Typically this is how the process of ‘continuous product cost reduction’ occurs:

  1. The manufacturing team examines the functionality of a product and determines how that product could be made (just as effectively) with fewer components, materials, or perhaps in a shorter time span.
  2. The review team completes a case study detailing the potential cost of undertaking the redesign compared with future savings which could be achieved by implementing the new design.
  3. The team presents its findings along with key economic data such as estimated production volumes, budgetary figures and their projection as to how quickly the concept redesign is likely to pay off. A decision is then made whether to implement or reject the alternative design.

Typically the annual savings achieved by these innovative processes can be anything between 5%-30%, so you can appreciate what the cumulative effect of these savings could amount to over the course of several years, say.

As the client and purchaser you can also assist in the cost-reduction process by proposing innovative ideas of your own. But you will also need to keep a close eye on manufacturing procedures to ensure that cost-cutting does not lead to an inferior product. To this end, your China-based agency contacts will prove invaluable.

If finding suppliers in China is a priority for your business, then being introduced to a proactive manufacturing company – one with a history of successfully identifying continuous project cost reduction concepts – could significantly benefit your bottom line.

So insist on partnering with a China-based firm that makes it their business to get to know local businesses and can put your company on the road to business success with unrivalled local knowledge and the latest market intelligence.


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