Be it a multinational company or a luxury brand, you would find almost all of them sourcing products or specific ingredients from China.
Undoubtedly, China is considered the world's factory because it produces consumer and capital goods for the entire global economy. With the added benefit of low cost, Chinese factories excel in producing various goods and services that allow luxury brands and multinational companies to charge a premium through patents or the use of special ingredients. If you are aware of all this, the first question that rises in your mind would be how to contact Chinese factories and manufacturers?
Contacting a Chinese factory can seem quite a daunting and tedious experience. With figuring out all the logistics of where to even begin and navigating through the language barrier, let's face it, it's really not a simple task as not everyone speaks Mandarin. But, the growth prospects of sourcing and using China as a manufacturing base are too tempting to resist.
With different businesses jumping on the bandwagon to earn money, you also would want to benefit from this lucrative opportunity. Not only would you be benefitting from highly low production costs, but you can allocate that money to your marketing or sales efforts.
So what does it take to contact a Chinese factory?
This may seem the most difficult task yet the easiest if you know the Chinese language known as Mandarin or found someone who can communicate on your behalf with the Chinese factory. Mandarin also known as 'Putonghua' is considered the official dialect spoken by nearly 70% of the Chinese population, so this is your safest bet. That means if you ever dabbled with the idea of learning a foreign language and happened to take up Mandarin, then you are in luck with this venture.
However, there is up to 30% population that doesn't speak Mandarin at all. So if that involves the owners of the Chinese factory that you have opted to contact as a potential manufacturer for your goods, then you might be in a crunch. Other dialects spoken in China aren't necessarily taught in language institutes because of the absence of popularity present with Mandarin. Nonetheless, the good news is that people in China are taught Mandarin as a secondary language. So most likely, you won't encounter this issue of coming across other dialects for communication. The other dialects that are spoken in China consist of the following: Yue (Cantonese), Min dialect, Xiang (Hunanese), Gan dialect, Wu dialect, and Kejia or Hakka dialect.
For Western countries such as the United States of America, Mandarin is a highly popular language that is mostly offered in educational institutes as an extra subject. What is the purpose of knowing about this? Well, the answer is simple, it is to enable you to look for Chinese language interpreters that would be your spokesperson and communicate with the Chinese factories in your attempt to contact them.
One thing to note is that the younger Chinese population are also receiving English language education which can increase your prospects of bypassing a Chinese language interpreter that means you have an easier time communicating with the owners of the Chinese factory.
If you have already shortlisted potential Chinese manufacturers or factories and want to figure out the best way to communicate with them. We would recommend that you use short emails with the appropriate amount of visuals to communicate your message.
With the number of technological features that the Internet and specifically Google has to offer, you can even convert the content of your email into the Mandarin language to make yourself appear more easily accessible and flexible to the Chinese manufacturers. In addition, your email should be concise and to the point. You should not be writing long stories that seem to divert the real essence and purpose of sending an email. Chinese manufacturers do not have that much that they can sit and read through paragraphs through emails.
The only circumstance where you can write long emails is if you are sending a product description regarding the quality and quantity that you require. Another situation that merits long emails is those concerned with product development which is for private labeled or patented products. These types of queries cannot be concise because there is a greater chance of misinterpretation occurring. If you are contacting a Chinese manufacturer to finalize the product development, you need to make sure you mention all the details they would need so that later on, if any errors occur, the blame is on the factory and not on you.
Using pictures and any other form of visual is also important if the communication pathway is completely virtual. You should be providing the Chinese manufacturers with enough pictures or relevant videos, especially if you want product adjustments or further developments made. That way, the Chinese factory can understand your requirements and can make your order without incurring any future issues.
There is no better and surer way of communicating than by visiting the Chinese factories. When you visit a Chinese factory, you can not only communicate with the owners in person, but you can see the factory and the manufacturing area as well. It gives you an idea of how your product will be manufactured by the factory and what are quality standards are being observed or kept in compliance with.
Factory visits allow you to express concerns over your product choice or any specific order. You can get immediate replies or suggestions from the manufacturers over what would suit you best. So by deciding to visit the factory, you can ensure that the product or your order meets your expectations. This is specifically mandatory if your product requires customizations.
Another big reason visiting Chinese manufacturers can prove great for you is to save yourself from being deceived it's pretty common for suppliers to pose as manufacturers, and remember you need manufacturers, not re-sellers or traders.
Dealing with suppliers can completely keep you out of the loop about your product quality and actual price. You may pay more than what it actually cost because sellers/ traders outsource your order from some third-party factory that you have no idea about. So a visit is the best way to communicate with authentic Chinese manufacturers that own factories to get a clear picture of whom you are dealing with.
When you speak to a manufacturer, you can make them accountable for your product if something goes wrong and can even help you get it fixed.
If the first three methods seem way too tedious in terms of execution and cost, another way of contacting manufacturers is to look them on online directories or at online B2B marketplaces.
This makes contacting Chinese factories much easier for product sourcing. However, this is not the best method if you are looking to get your product customized. The reason is that places like online directories might have obsolete details, which could land you at a dead end because then you don't have any potential lead for contacting the Chinese manufacturers.
A similar problem that exists with B2B marketplaces such as Alibaba is that mostly it consists of sellers or re-sellers; there is a very low likelihood that you would find authentic Chinese manufacturers who are not actually suppliers or re-sellers or even wholesalers. In China, these terms within the supply chain don't matter. But from your business's point of view, it could be the difference between the type of price and quality you receive for your product.
So Alibaba is one of the top 5 players in the online directories of manufacturers and suppliers. The B2b online marketplace took in 2003 after the SARS health crisis when few people would dare to import or source products from China. However, this website also caters to final consumers, some of which could be your potential target audience. Moreover, it is also difficult to connect with a manufacturer through platforms like Alibaba. Usually, the website and application's design is such that you can only chat with the manufacturer regarding the potential product or after the order has been placed.
For people just looking to place mass orders, this issue might not seem that big of a drawback. It might seem like an advantage for them with the ease of communication. However, for businesses that depend on or want customizations or discuss the idea of product development, this forum is not our recommended place.
Trade fairs are another great place to explore, especially if you are trying to contact Chinese factory owners who belong to electronic, airplane, automobile, medical equipment, or even metal-based products. Manufacturers from such industries tend to display their products and are looking to get clients to export orders. So this is one of the golden opportunities of contacting a Chinese factory. Previously, this process used to take place physically in China, and it still does to some extent. But due to the onset of Covid-19, such trade fairs have shifted to online, which means it makes it even more accessible for you to view product portfolios from the comfort of your homes.
Be it a start-up or a fully established business, hiring a sourcing company or a sourcing agent can enable you not to worry about how you will contact potential Chinese factories or manufacturers. This is because your sourcing partner will handle the entire product sourcing process in return for a small fee for their services. With the type of work and effort that goes into contacting a Chinese factory, it is safe to say most of you might be turned off from the idea of importing from China due to all the barriers that exist.
But before you hire a sourcing company or an agent, you should know the difference between both of them. A sourcing company will provide a range of services starting from manufacturing control to order monitoring. They also work well within your budget, and they will make your product sourcing experience seem like ordering a product straight off from Amazon. Now isn't that smooth?
On the other hand, a sourcing agent is one person, and though they will try their best, it can be quite over-burdening to have one person handling the entire process. That means they can make mistakes with communication.
In some cases, hiring a sourcing agent means trapping yourself in a web of fraud because often such individuals are just looking for easy money from foreigners. What makes them have the advantage over you is the knowledge of China and the language, which they know that you don't have, and hence, they can easily extort money out of you without offering any results.
A great sourcing partner will do the entire communication process for you. They will act as your wingman pushing your order forward and communicating to the Chinese factory about your requirements.
With the on slot of Covid-19 that continues to make its impact on various industries in the world. The situation holds for Chinese factories as well. Within China, the two biggest hurdles have always been the language barrier and prevailing business culture which comprises of manufacturing practices that are adopted by Chinese factories. If you are living on the other side of the world, making the journey to China for product sourcing can seem way too tedious especially if you are going for a factory audit.
This takes us to the next issue, which is often when you try to contact Chinese factories about making a factory audit to see if they meet the quality inspections that are needed for the country you aim to sell them in. One of the problems you face is that managers or the owners will refuse to process your order if it requires separate quality assurance standards that need to be met. This also applies if you want to bring your own QA team that will try to audit the factory. For Chinese factory owners, it may appear like an invasion of their business by foreigners which they might not take too kindly at. This is why the respecting cultural difference is so important to ensure that your business experience is not hampered.
With that said, opting for a sourcing partner also requires you to see how they will be contacting the Chinese factory. There is a separate amount of research and effort that goes into picking the right sourcing partner. This can be based on the location of the Chinese factory, the number of years of experience that the company or agent has in handling orders, and the validity of their trading license.
Getting into contact with Chinese factories can seem very mind-boggling because of the intricacies involved. But, it is a very rewarding experience once you receive your order and it meets and exceeds all of your expectations at a fraction of the cost. We'd recommend getting a sourcing partner to help you with the communication process because that way a burden is lifted off of your shoulders. You can rest assured that your requirements are communicated to the factory. With a professional team at work, you remain ensured that you get your money's worth.
At Maple Sourcing, we value you as the final consumer, and we believe that your product sourcing experience should be as smooth as online shopping. To that end, we would handle all the communication of contacting the Chinese manufacturers for the product or order that you want to get produced. We will maintain two-way communication so that there is no space for misinterpretation between you and the factory that manufactures your order.