Supplier in China

China is the world’s manufacturing hub, and it makes sense for western companies to take advantage of the highly competitive prices of suppliers in China. Chinese labor is cheap and abundant. However, additional factors enable low-cost Chinese products, including a solid business ecosystem, minimal regulatory procedures, and low taxes and duties.

As prices in the west continue to rise, suppliers in China provide ideal opportunities for western companies to buy and sell products at competitive prices, rather than increasing pricing on goods sourced outside China.

Best Ways to Find Chinese Suppliers

There are various established methods of finding Chinese suppliers: online research, networking with companies who successfully import from China, and visiting Chinese trade shows. In this section, we’ll look at these methods in-depth.

How to Find Trusted Suppliers in China

The most straightforward option for Western companies looking for trusted suppliers in China is to begin online. 

Online supplier hubs for wholesale China products include Alibaba, DH Gate, Global Sources, and Made In China. These sites are not niche-specific. Instead, they are general marketplaces offering a broad selection of products from independent suppliers who advertise on various platforms.

Each platform has procedures to promote its advertisers’ honesty and reliability. We’ll use Alibaba as an example.

If you go to Feeds> Discover on Alibaba you will find verified companies and additional information: company profile, products, and production methods. Alibaba’s verified companies are third-party assessed.

In addition, there are Gold suppliers in China on Alibaba, which means that they have paid Alibaba accounts rather than free accounts, another indicator of reliability.

One low-cost, low-risk method of tracking down wholesale China products is to use Alibaba’s sister company Ali Express. Companies advertising on Alie Express will deliver small sample product quantities via Air Mail, saving time and enabling western companies to evaluate product quality and speed of supplier response.

Ultimately, there is no way of determining rock-solid reliability when buying from online Chinese sellers. Unfortunately, some Chinese suppliers contribute to a reputation for poor service and product quality in goods from China, so many Western companies do not consider online bulk purchasing to be appropriate.

How to Find Reliable Wholesale Suppliers in China

Word of mouth is one option when looking for reliable wholesale suppliers in China. If you have trusted industry contacts in your home country, ask which Chinese suppliers they recommend.

An online search in your niche can be helpful to get unsolicited testimonials that attest to the quality of Chinese suppliers.

A good sourcing agent will ensure that you find a reliable Chinese supplier. They have a wide range of contacts within China and will put you in touch with an honest and efficient company that will meet your production needs. For many companies, a sourcing agent is the best option to find reliable suppliers in China.

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Wholesale Suppliers in China 

When evaluating wholesale options from suppliers in China, it’s best to focus on your industry, rather than conducting a broad search. In this section, we’ll investigate some of the most important niches related to China supplier wholesale.

To find wholesale suppliers in China, narrow your search within your industry. Usually, different Chinese provinces serve different niches. Here, I will describe the best purchasing practices for industry-specific niches.

Find China Manufacturers for Clothing

One of the most popular searches for western companies online is China manufacturers for clothing. Here we discuss your options for suppliers of clothes in China in-depth.

Seventy percent of China manufacturers for clothing are in the provinces of Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong, Shandong, and Jiangsu. China is the global industry leader in garment manufacturing, renowned for timely and cost-efficient clothing production.

If you are wondering how to find a manufacturer in China for clothing, online B2B marketplaces like Global Source and Made In China are good places to begin.

Suppliers of Clothes in China: Investigating your Competition

As clothing is such a popular industry, finding companies in your country who import from clothing suppliers in China is a good option. Look for companies that already sell similar clothes to those you plan to import and ask them if they can recommend any specific suppliers. 

Use your Contacts to Find Out more about Suppliers of Clothes in China

If you already know clothing importers in your niche, they will be the best companies for you to approach for guidance and recommendations, so that you can find out more about suppliers of clothes in China. 

Wholesalers in China: Working with Gym Equipment Suppliers 

Chinese gym equipment manufacturing centers around China’s southeast coast in provinces like Jiangsu, Shanghai. Shandong, and Guangdong. Most gym equipment comes from China; western companies benefit from the knowledge and expertise of wholesalers in China for gym equipment production.

Find Chinese Suppliers for Gym Equipment 

Gym equipment is a large and growing industry in China; there is no shortage of suppliers in China. Providing that you do due diligence in determining the best company for your products, there is less risk in partnering with gym equipment suppliers in China.

The Advantage of Well-Known Gym Equipment Suppliers 

If you buy from established gym equipment suppliers, the chances of you getting scammed are minimized. Among the most successful gym equipment suppliers are Johnson, Impulse, Tanre, and WNQ.

Import gym accesories

Find Chinese Suppliers for Toys 

About eighty percent of toys come from China. Most toy manufacturing in China is in Shantou City, Chenghai District, and Guangdong Province. The low production cost and the cheaper materials used for production make China wholesale suppliers popular with western countries for importing toys.

All toys for importation need a certified tracking label on the packaging or product; these should include 

  • The name of the manufacturer
  • Toy production area and date
  • Batch or run numbers for the manufacturing process
  • Product source information

Toy consignments for children under 12 should include a Children’s Product Certificate. Testing is at a CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission)-approved laboratory.

Find Chinese Suppliers for Furniture 

Over 50,000 furniture manufacturers in China account for over forty percent of the world’s furniture. In China, most furniture wholesalers in China are in the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta regions.

Lecong Town is home to the Shunde Empire Furniture market and is the capital of furniture production in China.

China wholesale suppliers have a reputation for high-end furniture, but as with other wholesale China products, the quality varies; it is essential to find a company that understands your needs.

A signature Chinese style enables wooden furniture without glue, screws, or nails. This furniture is designed to last over 20 years but demands high raw material quality and expert supervision of product creation. Because of this, the best option is usually to employ a china furniture sourcing agent to oversee all aspects of production and importing.

furniture wholesale

Find Chinese Suppliers for Construction Material 

The majority of industries now source their construction materials from China. The main provinces in China for construction materials are Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Guangdong in the east. Qinghai, Tibet, and Ningxia are also buoyant construction sectors.

Amongst the materials for construction in China are stone, tiles, and bricks. Tu-mu is the combination of wood and earth, synonymous with construction throughout China’s history.

If you have found a promising building materials supplier in China, check that they have appropriate patents, trademarks, and safety certificates.

If the supplier is on AliExpress, you can order a low sample quantity for expedited delivery so the evaluation process will be straightforward.

Your potential China wholesale suppliers should have a sound and verifiable background within the industry. Check for reviews on the internet that affirm a reliable local and international reputation. There should be no problems with their monetary history.

As with other wholesale products from China, the complexities of importing from China soon mount up; it’s best to get a good sourcing agent to handle construction material import processes on your behalf.

Suppliers in China

Where and How to Find Suppliers in China 

When investigating how to find suppliers in China, it pays to dig a little deeper for wholesale products from China than a basic internet search. Before you begin, ensure that you know what your initial requirements will be.

Define Product Specifications for China Supplier Wholesale

Regardless of the method you choose to find a China supplier wholesale, it’s crucial to define product specifications.

Using multiple channels to convey product specifications to a supplier will be unhelpful to your company and theirs. Avoid a mix of email threads, Zoom calls, samples, and face-to-face meetings.

Instead, if you’re not buying products off the shelf and there is any degree of complexity to your product specifications, assemble a master document that contains all product specifications in one place.

The supplier’s designated sales assistant should also be able to translate the document into Chinese and convey the instructions clearly to the technicians and engineers assigned to manage the production of your goods.

Wholesalers in China: Source Providers

When a western company wants to source providers from China, it’s beneficial to choose direct, straightforward wholesalers in China to avoid complications and difficulties further down the line.

Trade Fairs and Events in China

Visiting trade shows is a helpful method of finding wholesale products from China. Meeting companies is an excellent way for western companies to build relationships with potential suppliers in China. Unfortunately, governmental responses to Covid both in and outside China make trade show visits difficult.

Sourcing Agent

Sourcing agents make commissions on product orders by contacting various suppliers and finding the products you want to buy. The agent receives a commission on the supplier and buyer-created order.

There are additional benefits to using a sourcing agent in China rather than going it alone when buying wholesale products from China. They can also supervise the product creation process and undertake quality control checking.

Sourcing agents usually deal with multiple clients at once. It’s unusual for sourcing agents to investigate your company. They are most suited to off-the-shelf products sourced from one of the manufacturers they know.

As a result, sourcing agents may miss out on better deals. You will find it challenging to ascertain if they have done an appropriate amount of work to get the best deal for you.

Nevertheless, if your product needs are straightforward, a sourcing agent may well be the best choice for you.

chinese sourcing agent

Sourcing Company

If you plan to sell bespoke products requiring an in-depth production process with closely supervised quality control, a sourcing company will be better for your needs than a sourcing agent.

The downside is that you will pay more for a sourcing company. But if a sourcing agent isn’t the right choice for your needs, you may lose money in the long term.

A good sourcing company will provide:

  • Bilingual support to facilitate negotiation and communication
  • Access to high-standard Chinese suppliers
  • Genuine suppliers in China — no middle-men to dilute your profits
  • Constant production updates
  • Flexibility in shipping and supply options
  • First-class customer service
  • Improved return on investment
  • Optimization of production and fast delivery

Find out more about how smart sourcing can help your business.

Request a Quotation

A request for a quote, or RFQ, should only be sent when you are sure that you have included every element needed for your order. If your sourcing needs are straightforward, enclose a specification sheet with your RFQ. If the sourcing process is complex, you should supply a concise but detailed spec sheet with your RFQ. Send the RFQ via email.

Share your spec sheet with relevant individuals within the Chinese company. You may have been dealing with an individual within the company up to this point. Remember to include every detail of the production process within your spec sheet. If you have given details on production to your contact via Zoom, email, or phone, remember to include those details too.

To expedite your RFQ, ensure that the title is clear and relevant. The content of the email should include the following details:

  • Product size and dimension
  • Initial and repeat order requirements
  • Manufacturing requirements
  • Material needs
  • Blueprints and pictures 

The more professional your RFQ presentation, the more seriously your supplier will take your order, and the better the response will be.

Include full company details at the end of your email. Repeat the email address and contact information, and consider including your company website link; this will help your email get to the inbox. Many emails scant in personalized detail will end up in the spam folder.

Ensure that you don’t send identical quotation requests to different suppliers in China. Companies may receive multiple RFQs every day and will not respond to all of them. The best option is to create an RFQ template and tailor it to each company you approach.

Suppliers in China

Create a List of Potential Suppliers

Use the following methods to compile a list of potential suppliers in China for your company. Begin with a shortlist of companies and then undertake a process of elimination to determine suppliers in China that are unsuitable for your needs.

First search online. Check that each wholesale company on your shortlist has policies for damages and returns. Ensure that their website contains their contact information.

Search Google for [name of company] scam, which will help weed out unreliable companies from your list. Then look for reviews and references on sites like Alibaba and Global Sources. A general search for reviews for companies will also yield more information.

If a company has participated previously in Chinese trade shows, it’s a good sign of its reliability.

Ask for a sample. If you can get a good quality sample from the company, this is another sign that you’re dealing with a reliable company.

Can the supplier create the kind of products you want to source?

Does the business have an excellent reputation, or is it highly unreliable and approaching bankruptcy?

Phone potential suppliers in China. A scammer will usually not provide legitimate information online about their business. It is customary for a fraudulent supplier to use a fake address and phone number. The only point of contact is often by a mobile phone number.

When you phone a Chinese supplier, ask for their business license number. Also, ask for the supplier’s landline phone number. There is no restriction on buying multiple mobile phone numbers in China. A landline is an indicator of legitimacy.

The preceding steps will narrow the shortlist of companies you plan to approach; this is where you can begin the more exacting task of verifying suppliers in China.

potential chinese suppliers

Verify your Chinese Suppliers

Once you have eliminated unsuitable or fraudulent Chinese suppliers, you should use more exacting methods of verifying the legitimacy of Chinese suppliers. A landline number is usually 12 digits, beginning with the 86 Chinese country code. The following two digits are the area code. Check the company’s location by ensuring that the area code corresponds with the address on their website.

Tell your potential suppliers in China that you would like to pick up samples from their address using your local agent. Offer to pay cash on delivery. If your supplier is legitimate, they will comply with your request. 

Notify potential suppliers of your plans to conduct a factory audit before ordering. There’s no need to go to this expense; it is another process to eliminate fraudulent suppliers. Mention this early on in your communications with possible suppliers.

A request for a Chinese supplier’s bank reference letters will determine their level of credit worthiness. Also, ask for the details of previous customers for reference purposes so that you can contact them and ask about their experience and level of satisfaction with the supplier.

You can add to your list by contacting suppliers of similar products in your industry. Ask them if they can recommend any Chinese suppliers — many will be pleased to help.

Order a third-party background check from an authentication service like China Checkup. 

Their credit report service has valuable information on Chinese suppliers. On China Checkup, you can access financial records from a company’s preceding three years of business and details of legal representation and shareholders. China Checkup caters mainly to companies outside China, making it easy for westerners to navigate and access the information they want.

Visiting a supplier is the best way to verify them. You can get to know the people in the organization and discuss all your product and processing needs with them after you’ve used the other methods detailed here to narrow down the suppliers in China you may wish to work with, or it will cost you a lot of money and time.

Be exact with the methods described here. You will ensure that you settle on a professional and reliable Chinese supplier.

Suppliers in China

Which Companies Should Manufacture in China?

Importing from wholesale suppliers in China is ideal for companies that want to reduce manufacturing costs and finished products due mainly to China’s low labor and material costs. Chinese suppliers specializing in customized product creation will help with new product designs. China is particularly suited to companies creating products in these industries:

  • Toys 
  • Games
  • Gym Equipment
  • Furniture
  • Shoes
  • Clothing
  • Iron, steel, and plastic products

Steps to Import from Chinese Suppliers

China’s manufacturing base, skilled workers, and in-depth industry experience make China a perfect place for cutting costs and expanding western businesses. However, the process can be complex and confusing. Here, we break down the steps to import from Chinese suppliers.

Product Sourcing

As the importer, it is your responsibility to ensure that your products comply with your country’s regulations. As a general rule, avoid the importation of these products:

  • Food products
  • Plants
  • Seeds
  • Animals
  • Tobacco and related products
  • Fireworks
  • Non-flame retardant products
  • Lighters
  • Fireworks
  • Drugs
  • Cosmetics
  • Medical devices
  • Precious metals
  • Animal furs
  • Trademarked and branded goods
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Boats
  • Motor vehicles

Failing to comply with your country’s rules may result in hefty fines for your company. 

Once you have decided on the products you want to import from China, you need to find a manufacturer rather than a middle-man, as an intermediary will decrease your profits. Some importers make an exception to this rule when importing cheap toys and electronics.

Negotiating with Chinese Suppliers

Rather than narrowing your options to one supplier at this point, it’s best to contact a few wholesalers in China and ask them for product samples. If you plan to import bespoke products from China, you won’t immediately get the exact product you want as samples; ask for similar products that will give you an idea of their manufacturing abilities and quality control standards.

Negotiation should result in a win-win scenario for you and your potential supplier. You are seeking to get low-cost goods and initiate long-term relationships.

Once you have narrowed down your search to one supplier, you need to get an agreement in place with the supplier.

Your supplier in China should agree to keep a bill of materials (a list of components with prices and sources) that you can access.

Ensure that your supplier has granted you intellectual property rights, which means that trademarks, patents, copyrights, and trade secrets are protected. Intellectual property rights are commonplace in other countries — less so with wholesalers in China.

Design

If you anticipate delays in the product creation process, it’s best to identify them in prototyping rather than mass manufacturing. 

Ensure that during prototyping, product finishing levels are up to standard. Make sure that the retail packaging is appropriately sturdy. If a part needs replacing by an end user, ensure those parts are available.

The more complex a product design, the more likely it will need multiple prototypes. For complex hardware, insist on three prototypes. 

Identify manufacturing milestones for bespoke products as follows:

  1. Confirm that the design will be attractive to the target market.
  2. Create drawings detailing work in progress and finished product.
  3. Identify a similar product and confirm that it is successful and in high demand.
  4. Confirm that the product functions successfully.
  5. Employ a third party to perform product certification.

Allow for delays in the design process, and build them into your schedule. Even with careful planning with wholesale suppliers in China, some delays in the product creation process can occur.

Payment and Deposit

The standard payment to suppliers in China is 30% in advance, with the balance paid on completion, usually before shipment. Payment upfront will disincentivize the supplier from delivering in full, on time, and to the high standards stipulated. Initial part-payment will help you avoid payment fraud which is unfortunately common in China.

There are multiple payment options; each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Telegraphic Transfer / Bank Transfer

All Chinese suppliers accept telegraphic transfers, but you must pay a standard fee for every transaction.

Bank exchange rates are usually poor. An alternative is the negotiation of a decreased transfer rate with your bank. Or, decide with your supplier who will pay the bank fees and include the adjustments within your contract.

Letter of Credit

A letter of credit for supplier China wholesale is suitable for large orders and offers protection to western companies. A letter of credit negates the necessity of a deposit payment because the payment doesn’t get made until your supplier meets the goods delivery deadline.

If there is a delay, you have the right to determine whether or not the transaction progresses. You have the right to cancel the letter of credit, which incentivizes your supplier to deliver on time.

The disadvantage with a letter of credit is the excessive paperwork involved in the process.

PayPal 

Paypal is suitable for small orders and samples for supplier China wholesale. Their standard fees are high and prohibitive to Chinese suppliers, who need a third-party service to move the Paypal payment into their account. There are also additional commissions for balance conversion payments.

Chinese Currency

Paying your supplier in Chinese currency (Yuan/Renminbi) often results in an improved exchange rate and is fast and straightforward. However, there may be fluctuations in the exchange rate; also, payment acceptance in China is restricted with this method.

Western Union

Western Union is used for sending money to individuals worldwide but is best avoided by companies because it involves high charges and little payment protection.

Escrow

With Escrow, a third party holds payment until the seller agrees to predetermined conditions to be met by the supplier. When the conditions are met the payment is released.

The supplier is also protected because payment occurs when the agreed conditions are met. However, this is not a popular payment method with suppliers in China because they don’t receive any upfront payment.

Lead Times

There are notable benefits of short lead times. It makes sales forecasting easier, responding to market changes is more straightforward, and there is less likelihood of goods running out of stock.

The challenge for western companies is lead time reduction from suppliers in China without sacrificing quality.

Building a relationship with your supplier will encourage them to prioritize your orders.

Be aware of where your supplier buys components. If there are delays with component deliveries, have an alternative supplier ready as an alternative.

Reduce your order sizes, as this can overwhelm your supplier. Instead, increase order regularity. It may cost more with price-based order size but offset that with the advantages of increased supply predictability.

Using enterprise resource planning (ERP) software may streamline your supply chain and reduce lead times, so it’s well worth considering.

Price per Unit

When negotiating price per unit, don’t immediately settle on prices dependent on a fixed order quantity. No matter how much you plan for smooth order processes, there will inevitably be trial and error. Instead, negotiate pricing tier quantities. You may find that you and your supplier are more comfortable with a change in order quantities.

When negotiating tier quantities, try to increase price differentials. For example, if you only get incremental 5% discounts per tier, tell your prospective supplier that their quote is disappointing and you had hoped for better prices for large quantities. In the negotiation stage, this is perfectly acceptable.

You’re more likely to get positive responses during negotiation if the supplier thinks you have a large business, whether you have or not.

To look like a large business, talk about your business team. Talk about your boss giving final permission for pricing decisions, and tell them your boss will visit the factory when he’s next in China.

Exaggerating business size is a standard business practice and shouldn’t be considered unethical.

Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ)

Chinese suppliers always observe MOQs (minimum order quantities), and no supplier is willing to send orders below an agreed threshold. Often these thresholds are high, which is part and parcel of Chinese companies supplying goods at low cost to westerners.

Chinese companies order raw materials for goods that are in turn subject to high MOQs. Goods destined for markets outside China need special certifications and may require components and materials that are higher quality than Chinese suppliers use for customers in their own country.

All these factors contribute to high MOQs.The exception to the rule is for sample quantities only.

MOQ

Factory Inspections and Audits

Factory inspections are manufacturing facility assessments to assess quality control systems and production capabilities. The factory is usually out of 100, 100 being the maximum score.

The factory inspection should determine whether or not the factory is equipped to create your products if quality control standards are high and the machines they have for goods production.

Additional factory inspection results may include

  • Number of employees
  • Important customers
  • Number of highly skilled staff
  • Specialist products
  • Subcontractors
  • A list of machines
  • Hours of work
  • High volume production months
  • Subcontractors

Factory inspections don’t cover product quality, as they are usually made before order placement by a company. 

Factory inspections don’t account for working conditions or environmental practices, which is where they differ from audits.

An audit is a neutral survey in which equipment and practices are assessed based on a supplier’s written procedures; the auditor often conducts interviews to confirm that their work experience and actions are as per the supplier’s written procedures.

For example, if the supplier has ISO 9001 certification then the auditor will look for proof that all processes, forms, and records meet ISO 9001 standards.

Sample Development

Sample development is the best way to test design viability. If poorly managed, the sample development process can take months or even years, so it’s essential to ensure an efficient sample development process.

Before product assembly, there must be a paper product plan. A supplier expects the following information before proceeding:

  • An ASI (Architectural Supplemental Information) or ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standard drawing.
  • CAD files
  • Product and component sizes
  • Color codes in either RAL or Pantone
  • Bill of materials

If anything is missing on the sample sheet, the sample will mimic the omission, so a complete sample overview is essential in the product plan.

Product regulations, standards, and restrictions must be conveyed to the supplier. Suppose the initial sample is deficient in any way that will be corrected in mass production. In that case, the company must insist that the supplier provides the relevant information related to the proposed correction.

Include packaging specifications such as artwork and packaging design files in Illustrator .ai format. If the product requires any additional labeling, be sure to specify your requirements, which may include:

  • FCC imprint
  • CE imprint
  • Warning label
  • Country of product creation
  • Serial number
  • Batch ID number
  • EAD code

Even when all the above is adhered to, it’s rare for initial bespoke sample products to meet required standards, so factor in more time for multiple sample creation.

Quality Control

Mass production is never infallible. Quality control is damage limitation; fault reduction rather than complete fault prevention.

Because goods can’t be returned to China by western companies, quality control is particularly vital when importing from China.

A quality inspector will

  • Photograph products
  • Take the product measurements
  • Inspect products for damage
  • Test products
  • Inspect product packaging

A day after the inspection, expect a PDF report of the collected data. Request videos if needed.

It is now your choice whether or not to accept the results and continue with the supplier.

Most quality control inspectors have online booking systems, so usually, an inspection is easy to organize.

Shipping

Shipping from China involves getting your finished order packed and loaded on a cargo ship that will sail to your home country; this means you must factor in the shipping cost and wait time. You must also be prepared to handle the goods after arrival in your country or employ a freight handler to assist you.

Depending on the size of the consignment, you can choose either FCL (full container load) or LCL (less than container load). LCL shipping is often set at low prices, as it’s not cost-effective for cargo ships to send out half-full shipping loads.

Other variables that affect cost are location and destination.

Shipping costs have increased dramatically due to governments’ responses to Covid 19.

Conclusion

Finding and employing suppliers in China is a complex and involved process. An alternative is to a sourcing company. At Easy Imex we’ll handle the process of sourcing from a Chinese supplier for you.

If you need a sourcing company that will handle the sourcing process for you while you concentrate on running and growing your business, we’ll be happy to help.

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