Importing products for your business is no easy feat. This is why it’s important that you make the right choice when choosing a supplier from China.
Doing so will involve a series of steps and a lot of your time. But, it will pay off in the end and your business will have a bright future if you find a reputable supplier that you can establish a long-term partnership.
Step 1: Make a Candidate List for the Suppliers
There are three effective ways to find really good Chinese suppliers:
- Sourcing companies
- Dealing with trading companies
- Looking for suppliers by yourself
It’s important that you determine first which of these works best for you. Once you have decided on that, you can make your candidate list.
Step 2: Perform an Evaluation on the Suppliers
When you have completed your list, it’s time to evaluate each one of them. To do so, you must consider the following:
a. Registration and Certificates of the Company
By checking these documents, you can verify the following:
- The legitimacy of the company
- Whether or not the company’s products are compliant with importing regulations in the country.
b. Business Model
- Review the company’s product range from its official website or online supplier directories, such as Alibaba and Global Sources. When reviewing, refer to these questions:
- Does the company offer products for a single niche only or do they offer multiple categories?
- What type of products do they showcase that appeals to you the most?
- Read the registration of the company and check out the information about its business scope. Then, check whether or not the scope corresponds to what the company is promoting.
By doing this, you will have an idea of whether or not the company is a manufacturer, wholesaler, trading company, or a middleman.
c. Supplier Scale
The supplier scale of the company must meet your order and business scale. Check out how companies rank in various metrics:
- Price level: small-scaled supplier < medium-scaled supplier < big-scaled supplier
- Flexibility: this refers to the company’s services and design alternatives; big-scaled supplier < middle-scaled supplier < small-scaled supplier
- Stability of Quality: small-scaled supplier < medium-scaled supplier < big-scaled supplier
- Lead time: small-scaled supplier < medium-scaled supplier < big-scaled supplier
Basing on the data above, we can say huge manufacturers ask for higher costs due to their management, facilities, equipment, etc are more expensive. However, you’ll have better assurance that they provide better quality with minimal issues.
The downside to big companies is they have less flexibility. This is because they need to observe a system so they cannot conveniently change things.
d. Quality, lead time, prices, and service terms
These are the main points you must refer to when deciding whether or not the supplier can meet your requirements and specifications. You must take note though, price is indeed a major point to seriously consider. However, you should not base your decisions on this alone. Getting a really good deal surely is ideal but you must also think what the reason behind is if the company is offering a price really low.
It is important that you choose a supplier that is both professional and has moral values. When talking to the company’s salesperson, take note of the following:
- Product strengths
- Market competence
- Market trend goals
- Excellent knowledge of what is essential to their clients
- Determine their clients’ needs and wants
- Ability to provide effective proposals
Being able to work with a company that honors professionalism will surely go a long way. It means that your needs and wants are important to them and providing excellent service is their main goal.
Step 3: Double-Check Your Prospects
In this stage, you will further shortlist your prospects. You must do this surely and carefully, especially if you are planning to have a big order or your product is quite complicated.
a. Background of the Company
To check the company’s background, ask if they can provide you the following:
- Business license
- Business registration
From these official documents, you will gain basic essential information such as:
- Product compliance
- Quality management
- Registered capital
- Business scope
- Date of registration
b. Online Presence of the Company
You can directly search on Google to check the company’s online presence. With luck, you can even find some online reviews which you can use as a reference for the company’s reliability. Search using the company’s name, contact number, email, and address. This will also verify if the information they have provided is true or not.
c. Custom Data Records
This gives you information on the clients the company has worked with. This will also let you know if they have constant exporting records.
d. Meeting Through Call or Video
Some don’t like to hold a call or video meeting with Chinese suppliers since English is not their first language. This might be true, but talking to them directly will greatly help in getting to know them more. Also, a lot of Chinese know and understand English since they have been working with so many clients worldwide.
A quick call will be enough. Ask them questions about the company and the products they offer. Then, check and compare if what they are saying matches what they are claiming online.
e. On-site Visit
You might think that it is too costly to perform an on-site visit. But, visiting the factory in China firsthand will be a key point in determining whether or not you have found the right supplier for you. A factory visit will give you a clearer picture of the company’s production scale and process, personnel, performance, equipment, and so much more.
When doing a site visit, here are some questions to guide you:
- Is the factory legit?
- What do you think about the personnel?
- How does the company manage quality control?
- Is the factory productive? Is it continually operating and does the company have various clients?
- Is the company aware of product development?
There are still other questions you can ask the supplier. However, be careful when interviewing them. Only ask the right questions and don’t ask too many. This might overwhelm the supplier and they might have doubts about whether or not you are really interested in working with them.
The things mentioned above should be able to help you find the right supplier when importing from China. Remember to take your time and consider all your possible options. It is crucial that you are able to find the right supplier to avoid product issues and unnecessary expenses in the future.
Best of luck!