Chapter 3 – Finding Suitable Suppliers in China

Identifying suitable suppliers in China is not easy because there are tens of thousands of them and you cannot visit everyone. First of all, you must filter down to the suppliers which may have the products which you want to import.

Searching for Suppliers

There are several companies with high performance search engines for either supplier or product searches. As an already successful importer, I have had the best experience with these companies:

Global Sources
Global Market
Made-in China
Hong Kong Trade Development

Alibaba is by far the largest one of these companies. Each company not only provides you with search engines but they are also involved in arranging exhibitions in China and overseas. Additionally, they publish monthly magazines that you can and should subscribe to, after you have found your market niche and know exactly what you are looking for.

For a free sample of Global Sources monthly magazine with 13 titles to choose from, click here to request a free sample.

Smart China Sourcing is another site providing information to buyers new to importing from China, to help them learn how, while sharing interesting stories and information

What You Will Learn About Suppliers

Using their search engines places a wealth of information about many suppliers and their products at your fingertips. Usually you will find photos of each product, a short description, and photos, or even videos of the factory and/or their showroom. Additionally, you will find all contact details to approach the factory without having to guess who you should send your e-mail inquiry to.

The verified suppliers on Global Sources are physically visited 3 times to confirm they are real companies and export-capable which will provide you with an extra assurance for your sourcing activities. At this stage, you may not be aware that many of the companies in your search results (mostly the better-organized ones) are not manufacturers but in fact are trading companies or agents. This is not necessarily bad if you are new to importing because they can provide services that the factory is unwilling to provide.

About Trading Companies

In China, it is all about buying power and volume and some big factories are reluctant to cooperate with small volume importers. That is where the trading companies come in because they do have volume from their larger number of customers and are familiar with most factories in their area.

If you have a large enough  buying volume, I strongly suggest you to buy directly from the factory, simply because it is cheaper. Also in the case of a claim, you can more easily deal with the factory directly than through a middleman.

Since you will not be able to distinguish between a manufacturer and a trading company, you must directly ask them when you contact the first time. I believe there is no need to teach you how to write your inquiry e-mails because you are already in business and know which questions have to be asked. The communication nowadays is much easier than 10 years ago. Today, most factories employ marketing or sales managers who can communicate reasonably well in business English.

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