Suppose you come up with a product idea or think you have market channels for certain products, and you want to find a supplier from China because of the low product development cost and low production cost there. If you Google a product name or concept, you find tons of China suppliers/manufacturers. May you cannot find capable and reliable information that would satisfy your specific needs and have a strong desire to do business with you. People also feel frustrated when they have been communicating with suppliers in China for months, but fail to move forward. The reason, most likely, is that they did not find the suitable one at the beginning. To successfully find a suitable China supplier, you need a strategy. This strategy will consist of awareness, knowledge and a good amount of homework. Below are some practical steps to find a suitable Chinese supplier for you.
1. Decide what style you need. You need to first know what is available and have a way to categorize the information. Here are some categories to help you think about Chinese suppliers: manufacturer vs. 3rd-party supplier; Big corporation vs. small family-owned; 3rd-party supplier with in-house product development capability vs. 3rd-party supplier that just buys-in and sells-out; vertically integrated manufacturer vs. assembly-based manufacturer; etc. Properly categorizing the suppliers will help you understand what you need. For example, if you need to import products in a narrow range, you may choose a manufacturer other than a 3rd-party supplier. If you are a small business and need dedicated attention, you may want to develop a good relationship with a small family-owned business.
2. Do enough preliminary Internet research to further develop your category system towards your specific needs. Create a data table to help you record the search result, so the job can be done more efficiently and effectively. The table should include columns like company name, contact information, business scale and scope, category check boxes (important), and notes.
3. Use search engines to search information related to your ideal product. The first 100 results would be the most relevant websites related to the product of your concern. You can also find your competitors’ information and develop a better sense of market segment and marketing channels.
4. Use popular business directory websites to obtain very structured information for Chinese suppliers. The directory websites are also excellent resource to obtain industrial knowledge.
5. Narrow down the list of suppliers you want to work with to a manageable amount. At this stage, you may already know what your real needs are and what is available. Initiate contact with the suppliers you want to work with, and further develop relationships with them. Eventually, you will find the one. The process can be fun and a friendly experience.
6. Find a Chinese local business to help you. The local man know how to check the supplier, some special business manner is unknown by the foreign ones, once you have a local guide, all your business work will be easy.
1. Consider accessing the U.S. customs records for your supplier to get an independently verified list of their shipments to the U.S. This will tell you who their customers are, how loyal those customers are, as well as the volume capabilities of your factory. Import Genius offers these hard-to-find customs records at affordable rates.
2. Work with suppliers that have already exported their products to Europe or the US. Many manufacturers may have their products exported to the US in good quantity through a third party supplier without an exclusive supply agreement. They may want to have direct channels to the US, and that might mean more business for you.
3. Email is good for exchanging product specifications, catalogue and price list. You can do in-time communication with customer service of supplier you choose so that you know the specific rules and information of products.
4. An independent third party sometimes is not essential because some fashion jewelry suppliers from China do direct sale. If you find direct sale supplier, you will save much more budget.
5. Analyzing the types of suppliers has strategic importance. It will help you to understand where you are, what kind of results to expect, and what things you need to take care of in the mutual cooperation. You may want to have an experienced person help you to analyze the information. In your strategy, you will also need to include the consideration of the future contracting and operation. You may seek advice from Chinese professionals who understand the Chinese mentality, culture and business practices. You may get the incorrect interpretation if you visit the supplier’s English website, or you could omit data that contains key information.
6. Document your product as effectively and as completely as you can. 3D drawings, 2D drawings, Bill of Materials (BOM), photos, samples and prototypes are all good ways to do this. Sometimes, words just aren’t enough.
7. A visit to your supplier production site in China is the only reliable way to truly know its capabilities, to check that the data you have collected on the company is 100% correct, and that ISO & Quality principles are applied: Check the factory organization, its process flows, the quality of goods produced, the packaging, the workers’ training level, the overall working conditions, equipment maintenance, etc. This will give you an indication of how the company is managed. A face-to-face meeting with the supplier’s management team will also give you an idea of their experience and willingness to embark on your project. You will also be able to create a friendly relationship, which is crucial for your project!