To make a business flourish, it is utterly important to find a well-trusted direct factory to make the products. While there are so many factories in China, choosing the best can be a headache. One good way to find a Chinese supplier is through Alibaba.

But, even in this online marketplace, you will still have a spectrum of choices to make your products. So, what’s the best approach when finding direct factories on Alibaba?

This post will guide you through the entire process so get your pen and paper ready! Today, you will learn how to find a reputable direct factory in China that will potentially become your long-time partner!

Step 1: The Pre-qualification Stage

Before you can actually start searching for direct factories, there are things you need to learn first. These are:

a. Identify the Specifics of Your Product

You must first identify the specifications you want for your product. This allows you to search through the factories which of them provide the exact things you need. Consider the basic specs, design, required materials, order quantity, and maximum expenses.

b. List Down the Features of Your Ideal Factory

There are two types of factories – ODM and OEM. An ODM or original design manufacturer factory will make products from scratch. If you are an inventor or you have a unique design in mind, then you might want to go with an ODM.

Meanwhile, an OEM or original equipment manufacturer factory will make products that come in existing designs. If you only want minor changes in the design, then an OEM is a good option.

c. Determine the Location of Your Ideal Factory

China is a huge industrial country and its regions specialize in certain products. Generally, suppliers are from Guangdong Province. However, in this area, the cities specialize in numerous things. It’s a good idea to pick a factory that is near other factories that offer similar specialties.

Step 2: Time to Begin Searching

After the pre-qualification stage, you can now begin your search in Alibaba. Take note, even if it takes a lot of your time, consider different direct factories so you can compare properly and determine which one suits you best.

a. Methods to Follow When Searching

Methods to Follow When Searching

Alibaba has countless suppliers and picking one can be challenging. To filter them out, you must enter the right keywords. It’s highly recommended that you enter specific keywords; otherwise, you will get vague results. For instance, if you are looking for watch straps, enter keywords such as “metal watch straps” or “leather watch straps.”

After searching, narrow your list down by checking the locations. For example, you can check Guangdong province first.

Next, you’re going to notice that there are three options when searching, which confuse a lot of people. Let’s explain each:

  • Alibaba Trade Assurance – Clients can submit claims to Alibaba when there is a dispute with their suppliers. Alibaba will carefully review these claims. When it is confirmed that suppliers did not fulfill their end, Alibaba will return the money to the clients.

When submitting claims, remember to list down the points that did not align with your agreement with the supplier. These include lead times, quality control, etc.

  • Assessed Supplier – This means that Alibaba had a third-party company perform an on-site visit to check the factory and its facilities.
  • Gold Supplier – A gold supplier means the company is paying Alibaba so it appears on search results advantageously. A paid account means the company is pushing its business forward and therefore, a good sign.

b. Shortlist the Factories

Do a quick search and check out about five to ten suppliers. When checking the companies, pay attention to the following – keywords, location, products, time the company was listed on Alibaba, and the time it became a good supplier.

Take note, a gold supplier may mean a good sign but you should not rely on it completely. Take a look at how long the company has been operating. If it has been in operations for more than 5 years, then that is also a good sign.

c. Questions to Guide You to Further Shortlist the Factories

If you still have a handful of suppliers to choose from, you can make it easier to select by asking yourself these questions:

  • How systematic is the company’s page?
  • Does the company provide numerous and professional images of the products they offer?
  • Does the company provide enough information about its products?
  • Does the company provide information about its factory and where it is located?
  • Does the company provide clear information about the quality control of its products?
  • Does the company’s page have the proper keywords or is it stuffed with irrelevant ones?

By answering these questions, you will decide whether or not the company is legitimate. Make sure that it has provided enough details for you to have a good picture of the company, its background, factory, and the products it offers.

Step 3: Build An Initial List of Factories

Build An Initial List of Factories

The next step is to make an initial list of direct factories. Usually, you’ll come up with about 30 to 50 factories. If the company has passed the previous stages, it’s only fair that you add it to the list.

Once you have completed the list, you have to collect important details about the company. These include:

  • company name, 
  • location, 
  • employee capacity, 
  • whether it is a direct factory or trading company (many companies in Alibaba are trading companies, resellers, and manufacturers), 
  • contact details, 
  • Website,
  • Lead time, price, and MOQ or minimum order quantity

Step 4: Reach Out to Factories

Reach Out to Factories

Once you have the necessary details, it’s time you have to contact each supplier. When doing so, here are some helpful tips:

How to Contact the Supplier

The most common way of contacting a supplier is through email. When you send emails to suppliers, make sure that it is well-organized. You must provide complete details; otherwise, there is a high chance the supplier will not respond. Be clear of what you want. For instance, you want to order 500 samples first to check the quality and if all is good, you’re going to order more next time. 

How the Supplier Should Respond

How the supplier responds also tells a lot about their company. When responding to you, these factors should be included:

  • Addresses all your concerns and questions
  • Explain challenges and offers solutions
  • In some cases, they will not agree with everything you have stated and will provide a clear explanation as to why.
  • Proves the company can meet basic requirements
  • Communicates professionally and clearly

Step 5: Assess Your Options

For this step, it’s time that you narrow your choices further to between three to five direct suppliers. To do so, here are some questions that can help you:

If You Are Looking for ODM Factories

  • What are the lead time and costs for creating new designs?
  • Does the company agree to go through a sampling process?
  • Does the company have experience in creating products similar to yours?

If You Are Looking OEM Factories

  • Can they adjust or modify the product?
  • How much can the company customize?
  • How much does the company charge for customization?
  • Does the company approve an exclusivity agreement?

And that’s it! Hopefully, this post will serve as your guide in finding the best Chinese product supplier for your business!

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