Over the years, China-made products have reached different countries around the world. In fact, the country has become one of the largest manufacturing hubs in the world. Also, you will know how vast China is in terms of product sourcing when you search it on the Internet – get ready to search from more than 30 million results online.
From electronics to fashion apparel, you name it – China offers it. You will also be surprised to know that products from some of the world’s popular brands are actually manufactured in China. Although China still carries a negative perception in terms of quality and labor practices, the country is still one of the go-to’s when it comes to sourcing for cheap products that can compete in the international market.
However, that negative notion is slowly fading away thanks to technological advancements and competitive business and supply chain. As mentioned, China can compete with other countries in terms of vast product offerings and international business connections. It is also important to note that product sourcing from China may differ from other countries, so each of them has its own pros and cons.
That said, here are some tips you should remember if you are planning to source China-made products for selling:
1. Do your research
Because you will mostly be contacting suppliers online, it is only logical to do your own research when it comes to checking their background and overall reputation. Scammers lurk not only in China’s business world but also elsewhere around the world. Here are some ways to check out your potential suppliers:
• Search via reliable Chinese business directories like Alibaba and Global Sources.
• Once you found your potential suppliers, search them via their social media account, say, LinkedIn, or other social media sites or websites if they do have one. Make sure that their profiles are verified. Likewise, their company websites should look professional and contains the company’s registered address and other contact details. You can also check out online reviews about them.
• Talk to them via Skype or elsewhere with a webcam feature so you would know whom you’re transacting with. If possible, request to have some product samples shown to you. If they are nagging you to make any kinds of payment without an official supplier-customer agreement, drop them and move on.
2. Meet your potential supplier(s) personally
While many suppliers are proven to be trustworthy, it is still best to trust your gut and meet them in person. After all, everything can be faked especially when transacting business online. Meeting them in person will assure you that the person(s) you’re transacting with are reliable and sincere to do honest business with you. Some ways to meet potential suppliers face-to-face include:
• Visiting trade shows in China (yes, you got to have some time to do this if you are serious with your business). For example, The Canton Fair is usually held bi-annually in Guangzhou, and features wide product assortments such as consumer goods, apparel, medicine, and electronics to name a few. However, make sure to deal only with direct suppliers or manufacturers as they can offer you lower prices. You can check out upcoming national and regional trade shows online.
• You should know about your destination first – in this case, China. When meeting suppliers, make sure to plan ahead and utilize your schedule so your entire stay will be worth your time and budget. For example, you can schedule a business trip and squeeze some time to meet some suppliers along the way. Since China is THAT big, knowing the estimated distance from one city/province to another is also crucial if you want to utilize your time.
3. Learn to bargain hard.
In some countries especially the more developed ones, bargaining is not normally in their vocabulary. On the other hand, China is accustomed to bargaining buyers until the two parties meet halfway. Seize this opportunity when sourcing products in China – you may get the best deal, who knows?
Also, don’t just choose ones with the lowest price. Rather, you should also consider the potentially long-term partnership with these suppliers who can even give you perks in the future.
4. Hire a sourcing agent.
There’s no lying of the fact product sourcing in China can be a tedious task. In this case, you can have the option of hiring a sourcing agent/agency to help you out. For example, the sourcing agent may help you get product samples and help you with handling business negotiations with the suppliers. He or she can function as one or more of the following:
• Supplier – responsible for overseeing overall factory production. He or she will also prepare the needed documents to export and ship the products.
• Sourcing Consultant – can offer consultation services to help you in dealing with your suppliers in exchange of certain percentage of the purchase price.
Hiring a sourcing agent can be more applicable if you are new to Chinese outsourcing industry. Eventually, you can learn the ropes of outsourcing and you can handle these tasks on your own – and save money from hiring someone to do the job for you.
5. Give importance to creating positive relationships
Building a long-lasting business relationship is more than just a mere handshake and a binding contract. Rather, establishing interpersonal relationships are just as important for business.
If you are scheduled for a suppliers’ meeting, take some time to go out or have some dinner outside or other leisure activities. Such initiatives can build trust and camaraderie between both parties, and make your business connections stronger.
6. Be of great value to your supplier.
While you ensure that your supplier is a trustworthy one, you should also be the same for your supplier. Assure them that you do good business and expect only the best from you. Of course, there should be a mutual understand between both parties on this part.
7. Never be a source of headache to your supplier.
As experts say, make reasonable demands and orders to suppliers to prevent production issues that can cause delivery delays. For example, you can order a certain amount at a reasonable production lead time. On the contrary, “rush orders” can most likely compromise quality and cause customer complaints. As a result, these instances can greatly affect your working relationship, which should be avoided at all costs.
8. Make a bidding process.
Implement a bidding procedure to determine the best suppliers out there in terms of competitive pricing. Then again, it is also advisable to have some product samples to support your awarding decision.
9. Consider other purchase aspects.
Aside from buying the products, you may also have to consider other requirements such as initial down payments, discounts (especially for bulk buying), shipping rates and other necessary fees.
10. Quality is still top priority
If you want to have loyal customers, make sure to have a reliable supplier that offers quality and competitive products. You may find some of the prices a little high, but quality should matter more if you want to grow your business. If you do good business with your supplier without sacrificing quality, it’s going to be a win-win situation for both parties!