If you are new to the importing business and are looking for Chinese suppliers, then you might be confused about how to search for genuine ones. If you search online, you will be flooded with a lot of options, making it difficult for you to make a choice.
Research and patience are the keys
When it comes to your business, you do not want to take the risk of choosing the wrong product sourcing service. There are many sources from which you can find reliable suppliers for your product.
Some of the common platforms include:
Online Sourcing Platforms
Trade shows are a perfect option wherein you can meet potential suppliers face-to-face and see for yourself the services they offer. There are two popular trade shows in China which is The East China Fair and the Canton Fair.
You might need to personally visit China to attend these tradeshows. Attending tradeshows allows you to build rapport with many suppliers and expand your networking skills.
Social media is another alternative wherein you can check reviews and feedback on potential suppliers and decide of choosing them. It is always better to call up the suppliers and discuss your requirements with them.
Sourcing platforms such as Alibaba, Global Sources, and Made-In-China can share your details about credible suppliers. If you have doubts about any suppliers, you can check if the supplier is blacklisted on Alibaba. Many sourcing platforms also offer detailed information such as credit check services, nature of business, and financial position.
No matter where you find your supplier, you need to do thorough research. Some of the ways in which you can do so are by:
Checking their official website for communication address and customer support contact
You can even check for registration details by visiting any local government agency
You can ask for their financial statements and have them verified by your auditor
Now, that you have verified your supplier, you can sign the manufacturing agreement with them and discuss the payment terms. Most of the suppliers agreed with LC which is considered a safe option.
If you do not have the time to visit your suppliers, you can always hire China sourcing agents to do the job for you. Sourcing agents can help in handling all the research and verification hassles for you. They can help with:
Identifying the right suppliers based on your requirement
Acting as mediators and negotiating prices with the suppliers
Looking into the quality control aspect
Follow-up on the production process
Product compliance and testing
Not visiting the suppliers personally does have its pros and cons. The pros include:
You save time and money
You can ask for as many samples as you like
You can contact suppliers via chats or email and discuss your requirements
The downside of this is:
You can easily get duped by fraudsters
You might not be able to get acquainted with your suppliers
They may request higher MOQ
Even if you do plan to visit the suppliers, you can hire sourcing agents to make things easier for you. Some of the benefits of hiring agents include:
Sourcing agents act as a bridge between you and the suppliers
They have better knowledge about the market and can help you get the best suppliers
They are great negotiators and can get you good discounts
They are well versed in Mandarin and aware of Chinese culture
They can help save you time
They will verify all the shortlisted suppliers personally before reporting to you
They are good at networking and can help you get many manufacturers at short notice
When it comes to sourcing agents, you might need to choose the right one. You can either opt for independent agents or sourcing agencies who will assign their personnel to source the suppliers for you.
If you have a small business, you can hire an independent sourcing agent to search for suppliers. The only downside to this would be you would be wholly dependent on them to get you the right supplier. When compared to sourcing agencies, their network is relatively small.
If you hire China product sourcing agencies, they will have a huge network and can find you 5-10 suppliers in a short time. When you finalize your product sourcing service supplier, ensure you discuss the payment options with them.
Sourcing agencies have 3 payment models:
Under a flat fee, you will be charging a fixed rate for their service. The rate can be charged as per product or for a particular duration. Under the hourly basis model, the agents are paid accordingly to their working hours.
Under commission-based pricing, your sourcing agent will charge you between 5% to 10% on the total purchase value of your order. However, the percentages might vary depending on the nature and size of your products.
In some cases, sourcing agents might even agree to a mixed pricing model. Under this model, you pay a flat fee to the sourcing agent. You can review the quality of products manufactured by the supplier they have chosen by giving a sample order. If you are happy with the product quality, you can change the payment model to commission based.
If you have a small niche in the market or are dealing with a small product line and cannot afford to hire product sourcing service agents, you can check out trading companies.
Trading companies do not involve in the manufacturing of products. They deal with sourcing products from multiple factories. The benefits of such companies are that you get more variety of products at a low MOQ. The downside to this is you end up paying higher prices and have no control in choosing the suppliers.
Sourcing from China comes with its risks. This can be minimized if you know which products to source. The best option would be to choose products that are easy to ship and easy to manufacture. Go for products that have a small niche and where competition is less.
If you have no idea where to search for niche products, you can take the help of online platforms such as Alibaba and Amazon and go through their “Popular Categories”. You can even use Google Keyword Planner to get a fair idea of niche products.
Tips for hiring the right sourcing agents
You might be excited about hiring sourcing agents but might hire agents based on recommendations from friends and peers. Word of mouth does help in narrowing down your options, but that does not mean, that what worked for your peers or friends, might work for you too.
Here is where you need to take some time out and do your homework. Some important factors that you need to take in mind are:
What type of sourcing agent are you looking for?
What are your requirements?
Are you looking for only finding suppliers or require additional services such as China inspection services?
All the above questions can help to narrow down your search and make it easier for you to choose the agents. When it comes to setting your budget, ensure that you keep a buffer in case of unexpected costs.
Be clear with your requirements. Make a list of things that you require from the agent right from product ideas to the quality of material that will be used. You can even check out the delivery time for similar products and specify those as well.
Different sourcing agents will charge different fees depending on the services they offer. You need to be clear on the type of sourcing agent you are looking for. If you are searching for sourcing agents who will handle all the hassles of finding the suppliers, then be ready to shell out extra money for such services.
No matter how good the reviews are, do your research. Some of the questions that you need to ask your product sourcing service agent include:
Are you a licensed agency?
How many years have you been in this business?
What is your specialization?
Is your company based in China?
Can you share some references?
How would you communicate with the Chinese suppliers?
What is your language proficiency?
Do they have documents such as a Bill of Lading, Certificate of Origin, etc?
Do they do quality check?
What if the supplier is not up to the expectations?
What is the procedure if the products manufactured are inferior?
Credible sourcing agents will answer all your queries to the best of their knowledge. They will not promote their business or give you a rosy picture of their agency. They will be completely transparent with their cost and will not have to add any hidden charges.
After you have finalized your sourcing agent, ensure that you draw a contract mentioning all the terms and conditions. It should also include the roles and responsibilities of all parties, payment terms, and termination of the contract.
Working with the right sourcing agents can help ease your burden of searching for suppliers. This will give you time on boosting the sales of your business and improving your profit.