On average, Amazon sellers make $1,000 to $25,000 a month. Profit margins are quite high, from 10% to over 20%. China is the source of products for more than 70% of sellers on the ecommerce marketplace. There's no denying how lucrative it is to sell on Amazon and to increase profit margins by sourcing from China's low-cost factories. Behind a successful Amazon (or import) business lies a reliable China supplier. So, how to contact manufacturers to help your Amazon business take off and be profitable?
China suppliers serve buyers throughout the world. Their labour-intensive operations make them uniquely capable to take on more clients without any impact on product or service. Many, if not all, are on B2B communication networks and ecosystems. Those who aren't internet-savvy use the more traditional methods of acquiring clients. So, there are a number of ways to contact Chinese manufacturers, as explained below.
A web search is fast and convenient. But it is just the start, and the contact and verification process can take time.
You may already be aware of Alibaba. It is the world's largest supplier directory, is well-known and much admired globally.
Alibaba is pretty much the default place for buyers looking to make private label products for it covers various product categories, and offers payment to China suppliers, product sourcing and supplier audit services.
You could begin your search for and contact Chinese manufacturers on Alibaba. If you want to buy products in small quantity, keep in mind that most of suppliers have a minimum order quantity (MOQ). Also, shipping is expensive and not all suppliers are who they claim to be.
Importing large quantities of a product often isn't feasible for importers on a shoe-string budget. It is possible to negotiate MOQs and reduce them by half even, but a knowledge of the right tactics will be essential, and fluency in Chinese will be a bonus.
Shipping costs are on the higher side only because of the longer shipping distances. The heavier your goods, the more a forwarder will charge you.
Coming to supplier reliability, it is better to look only at 'verified' suppliers whose company profile, production capabilities and process controls have been verified by third-party agencies appointed by Alibaba. This way, the risk of falling prey to scamsters is low.
The other popular China supplier directories are Global Sources, MFG.com, eTradeAsia.com and Made-in-China.com. It's a good idea to go through all these websites to understand their services and decide which one works best for your business.
You should be able to contact the company directly from their page on the directory. On Alibaba, you can send a message or chat with them, with the average response time also mentioned. You can use the same message for all suppliers you're interested in. Here's an example to help you get started:
I'm [name] and my company is looking for food-grade PP trays. They are used for [application].
We [own molds/need to have molds created]. Our minimum order quantity is [number] units every [frequency] months.
A simple message containing essential information will do. In the time the supplier takes to get back to you, continue your search, refine product features and read up on shipping, payment options or other aspects of sourcing from China.
Although social networks aren't the first thing that come to mind when you're wondering how to contact manufacturers, they can be helpful to your efforts. You can get in touch directly with companies, their employers and the buyer-supplier ecosystem.
A few Chinese companies have a presence on LinkedIn. Their LinkedIn page quickly tells you what you want to know about their company, such as number of years in business, address, employee count, specialities and website URL. You can also go through the bios of the company employees that are on LinkedIn. Any updates posted by the company on their page can inform your perceptions about it. You can message the company for information or even strike up a conversation with an employee to verify anything you need.
Facebook Groups are another option to get in touch with Chinese manufacturers. Although Facebook is banned in the country, people use VPN and other ways to access the social network. Joining a Facebook group of global buyers, manufacturers and retailers is helpful in making connections, asking questions and asking for referrals. You can get insights from non-competing peers and ask them for leads.
Not only is Google also banned in China but many Chinese manufacturers don't have websites or spend money on advertising on search engines. So, the majority of results of a Google search for Chinese manufacturers will be supplier directories or resellers. This information is useful for targeted searches such as 'kitchen scale suppliers China'.
Think about whether the people in your network can help you connect to Chinese manufacturers. Go through your LinkedIn contact list and drop a line to those who visit China frequently on business. Also single out entrepreneurs who do business in China for advice. Expat communities in Guangzhou or Shenzhen may be more than willing to share recommendations on reliable suppliers. If your business contacts aren't able to provide the information themselves, request them to connect you to importers, entrepreneurs or frequent China business travelers who may be amenable to helping you.
How to get in contact with manufacturers without spending hours on the internet? You could do it the old school way - meet them in person at a trade fair in China. It is an option to explore if you're not looking for custom manufacturing. Most suppliers at the trade shows are there to sell finished goods, so you have fewer choices if you need bespoke manufacturing, in which case it is not worth making the trip to China.
Opinions on the usefulness of visiting China trade fairs for Amazon sellers on a tight budget differs. It can be a good exercise in exploring your opportunities, especially if you haven't zeroed in on an industry or a product. Again, if you can afford it, then a trip to China will be a wonderful cultural experience too. Budget-permitting you can plan an itinerary that lets you mix business with pleasure. If you're an established seller exploring new products or suppliers, visiting a major trade fair is excellent to find what you're looking for. Hire an interpreter at the trade show and if you're impressed by a manufacturer, arrange for a visit to their factory.
The trade fairs worth visiting are the famous Canton Fair in Guangzhou, East China Import and Export Commodity Fair in Shanghai and Yiwu Commodities Fair in Zhejiang.
Communicating over long distances can be difficult. Things may get lost in translation and misunderstandings can occur. It can spoil your relationship with the manufacturer and demotivate you early in your business journey. A visit to the factories and workshops that will be used to make your products can be extremely helpful in solving this problem.
A tour of the factory will help you understand the processes and offer visual cues that make it easier to discuss any issue that may come up later. Of course, you should review the facility, practices and procedures to determine if they meet your expectations.
The visit is also an opportunity to speak with an engineer or the factory manager who can understand your requirements, help you finalize a design or take a look at your sample. If you place an order with the manufacturer, then this individual can be the point person you communicate with in the future.
Scheduling a factory visit isn't difficult. The journey from making contact with the manufacturer's sales representative to touring the factory is usually smooth and quick. The onus is on you to prepare for your visit and make the most of your time there. Create a list of the things to review and questions to ask in advance of your visit. Don't hesitate to be forthcoming, the engineers will be happy to address your queries.
A China sourcing agent is the company that controls the entire sourcing process for you. More and more, Amazon sellers and western importers are using sourcing agents to contact Chinese manufacturers.
Going through a sourcing agent relieves sellers of the effort to find suppliers, monitor their orders and manage relationships with suppliers on their own. If you believe that your time can be better spent on marketing your product, expanding your range and growing your business, then you should seriously consider a China sourcing agent.
Maple Sourcing is a trusted China sourcing agent with the resources and network to ably assist importers looking to have custom products manufactured in China. We qualify manufacturers based on their production and product quality. As we're highly selective about the factories we work with, we have a high satisfaction rate among sellers that want to convert their innovative designs to reality.
We provide a number of services under one roof. Our sourcing service is aimed at helping your find a suitable manufacturer for your needs. Rather than worrying about how to contact manufacturers, you can focus on picking the company that works best for you - product- and cost-wise - from multiple suppliers screened by us.
Our manufacturing checks remove the need to schedule a factory visit. We only work with factories that have a manufacturing control system that can make products to a consistent quality and a low defect rate. Based on your requirements, we review the factory's processes and procedures to correctly determine whether they meet your standards.
Order monitoring is a service we offer to remove the hassle of communicating over different time zones. We keep you posted on the status of your order. Any issues with delivery are duly communicated to you.
We also offer quality inspection, conducting in-process checks and a final inspection before shipment sets out to the port. Multi-point checks make it easier to catch defective products, if any, at any early stage.
A number of questions may run through your mind when you think of how to get in contact with manufacturers. For example, if a supplier you contacted on Alibaba gets back within 24 hours, how do you take the conversation forward - via the website or another channel? Are Chinese suppliers as easy-going as the American suppliers you know?
After your initial contact with a supplier and their response, continue further conversations on WeChat, China's most popular business communication app. Download WeChat and sign up for an ID. Ask your supplier for their WeChat ID and add them as a friend. Many suppliers will take the conversation from email or a supplier directory to WeChat, so familiarise yourself with the app and install it on your phone.
As for the friendliness and attitude of Chinese suppliers, it is worth recognising certain aspects of the country's culture. Chinese businesses take an active interest in building personal relationships with their business partners. So, the element of relationship-building by knowing and respecting one another on a personal level features prominently.
It isn't something you need to worry early on. Treating your counterpart with respect, as the Chinese view it, should help you get off on the right foot. For example, the norm in the West is to address everyone by their first name, without distinguishing between peers, superiors and those at a level lower to you. B2B communications in China gravitate more towards the use of the individual's title and last name.
When it comes to negotiating with Chinese manufacturers, virtually all expect it and how they respond depends on the effectiveness of your arguments. So long as they're reasonable or counter the manufacturer with data, you should not face difficulties in finding the price, MOQ or terms you want.
Another best practice is to make a detailed QC checklist for use by factory staff and QC inspectors. It will go a long way in preventing quality issues arising from miscommunications around product requirements.