How to Source Promotional Products from China?


插图1.jpgDemand for promotional products such as mugs, notebooks, pens, keychains, calendars, and even t-shirts is growing rapidly across many industries. If you have recently attended a seminar or orientation at your workplace, a flashy shirt, keychain, or notebook with companie's logo would have stolen your attention for some time.  

Many organizations use such promotional products to engage with their employees or as a marketing tool to spread their companies' names. It ensures uniformity when using promotional products as corporate giveaways during initiation ceremonies or annual events. That way, all students or employees can receive the same type of products.

So by now, you would have recalled at least one instance where you might have glimpsed at promotional products.

But before we dive into promotional product sourcing from China, let us contextualize what promotional products are?

What Are Promotional Products?

Promotional products are not the ones you see lying on the supermarket store shelves at a 50% discount. But, these are customized products that are made specifically for businesses, non-profit organizations, and educational institutes. Let's make it a little more contextualized. If you have ever stepped inside a bank and taken a pen or a drawstring bag that has a bank's logo and is following the color scheme, chances are you were holding a promotional product.

Promotional products usually include a list of these items that organizations favor due to their versatility and popularity as gifts:

  • Drawstring bag

  • Keychain

  • Pens

  • Bottle

  • T-shirt

  • USB or chargers

  • Mugs

  • Power banks

  • Office supplies

  • Calendars

Now you may be wondering why these items are chosen as promotional products. The answer is simple, such products are easier to be used in daily life, and they are much easier to source due to the materials used in making them. To make these products reflect the organization, they usually have the company's logo, slogan, color scheme, and contact details. So promotional products aren't necessarily only accessible to those who work in an organization; they can be more common than you may have thought of. For example, the band t-shirt you bought while attending a concert or a foam finger you held up during a football match is all promotional products.

Did you know that the industry for promotional products is worth $23.3 billion, with over 40,000 companies and organizations benefitting from this? So there is a lot of potentials to generate revenue by targeting the audience in this industry.

Hence, this article focuses on the phenomenon of sourcing promotional products from China.

Why Source Promotional Products from China?

You might have heard that many big brands and companies are sourcing ingredients, materials, and products from China due to the low cost incurred in getting their order. The reason lies in the Chinese government's policies to attract foreign investment in their manufacturing sites.

With lower production costs and a saturated market for all types of goods, people can obtain a good bargain for the order that they place. Believe it or not, the rumor states that the Chinese currency is deliberately depreciated to keep the price of Chinese products low compared to world prices.

Ensuring that it keeps attracting foreign investment and demand remains high.

That is why it is no secret that China is considered the world's factory due to its vast product portfolio. The country has emerged as one of the top global promotional product sourcing destinations in Asia and worldwide. It is this quest for a low-cost strategy that is the reason why promotional products are sourced from China in great abundance.

插图2.jpgSteps for Soucing Promotional Products from China

Step 1: Do a Market Research of Promotional Gift Suppliers and Promotional Product Manufacturers

Just like when shopping for any item online or in-store, a preliminary unofficial kind of research is done to ensure that your purchase is worth the money. Similarly, when sourcing promotional products from China gift suppliers and manufacturers, you need to do thorough market research. This research has to be done not just for the suppliers and manufacturers but also for the type o promotional products that the organization is looking to give away or sell.

Doing this two-way market research helps you narrow down the portfolio of products and the type of customization you want to get if you are confused about whether to opt for a supplier or a manufacturer. It also helps you understand your target audience or the organization you aim to provide for their spending patterns. You can price the sourced promotional product. That way, you can maximize your profit as well in this online sourcing business.

What is a Promotional Gift Supplier?

A promotional gift supplier is probably one that is only supplied customizable promotional products to different foreign clients. They are not a bad option if you are new and don't have customization requirements for your product development. But, they are also not the best option available on the market. You see, Chinese suppliers are like the middleman; you can bypass them and reach out directly to the manufacturer with whom they are working.

The one major communication issue that comes up when looking for promotional gift suppliers is that they usually pose as manufacturers, but they aren't because they don't own any factory or manufacturing site. That becomes a major problem if you are looking for specific customizations or want a product to be developed for you from scratch. Not to mention, Chinese promotional gift suppliers usually would charge a little higher price. This is because they are the middleman, and they need their cut of the profit from the difference of the cost they incurred in getting it from the manufacturer. Clients that are sourcing promotional products are often seen as corporate individuals, and hence, the Chinese suppliers are aware that they are loaded, so they would try their best to charge prices that guarantee them profits.

What is a Promotional Product Manufacturer?

A promotional product manufacturer is, as the name suggests, a Chinese factory that deals in producing and customizing promotional products. We'd recommend opting for them because it is easier to communicate your requirements to them, especially regarding customizations. Since customizations fall under product development hence, it is better when you opt for a manufacturer. The reason is that they can easily provide you with samples of the promotional product before you place an order with them.

Promotional product-making factories have a proper supply chain management system that has improved their manufacturing capabilities and efficiency. Not to mention Chinese factories can offer you great rates and value-added services that can benefit your business compared to opting for a supplier.

Either way, selecting a promotional gift supplier or a promotional product manufacturer solely depends on who you want to serve and the organization's requirements. Often time's organizations don't opt for small items like keychains or notebooks, but they opt for branded motorcycles or cars to be used as a brand endorsement in contests for which they require direct access to the factory.

Step 2: Create a List of Potential Suppliers and Manufacturers

Once you have browsed through the internet or have a sourcing partner helping you look for the right supplier or manufacturer, the ideal way to go about it is to create a list. A list enables you to have options available if a supplier or manufacturer backs out or whose details do not convert into a lead. The reason is that supplier and manufacturer directories are often not updated regularly, so contact details often are not reachable. One way is of going about creating a list is to look at customer referrals

Ask your Suppliers or Manufacturers to provide you Customer Referrals

When making a list of potential suppliers and manufacturers, customer referrals are the most important component to focus on. They give you an idea of the supplier's and manufacturer's performance in delivering the promotional product and the customers' quality. Often, products costing just a penny about the dollar can seem highly tempting but, when you look at the number of times people have ordered from the supplier, you find a negligible number. That is one way of knowing which promotional product supplier to trust. Another way is the customer ratings that give you an idea of the product's ranking out of 5 stars. Such items are the first and the last impression in the promotional product industry, so they have to be perfect and fault-free. By looking at customer referrals, you get an idea of the satisfaction rate of previous corporate clients regarding the factory or supplier's performance in fulfilling the order.

Your approach to using the internet for market research would be similar to how you search for a product seller by shortlisting promotional product suppliers and manufacturers based on pricing and customer referrals.  

Look Up Videos Online for Reviews on Promotional Product Sourcing Experiences

We have used platforms like YouTube, Dailymotion, and even Facebook to look for reviews and experiences before deciding. Promotional product sourcing from China is no different. Since this decision can affect the profitability and revenues of your business, you should not just rely on the manufacturer's or supplier's customer referrals. That means you need to do additional independent research on the internet on your own. There are many videos and articles where people have discussed their opinions and have even listed some of the promotional gift suppliers that excel in this industry. By watching other client's experiences of sourcing promotional products from China, you would feel more confident, less anxious, and more self-aware when diving into the promotional product industry of China.

Selecting a Manufacturing Region Based on the Promotional Product Being Sourced

So once you are starting with creating a list and have looked at customer referrals, you need to focus on the promotional product's manufacturer or supplier's region they are based in. Within China, many of the promotional product manufacturers are concentrated in one specific region: Shenzhen. An example of this is PapaChina that is believed to be one of the oldest wholesalers of promotional products for more than a decade. Many such manufacturers exist in specific areas. They are considered a better option because they have easier access to sourcing materials for promotional products.

We'd recommend you take the help of a sourcing company for this purpose that will provide you with the best list of promotional product manufacturers according to the region from where the product is being sourced.

插图3.jpgStep 3: Focus on Quality Control for Promotional Product Sourcing from China

Quality control is the foundation of preventing your promotional products from accidentally getting banned in the country you aim to sell and preventing a disappointed corporate client. A quality control team is essential during promotional product sourcing from China so that all quality-related issues are resolved before your order leaves the Chinese factory. Promotional products are the brand image of a company and institution; hence, they have to be of the highest quality.

Unfortunately, in China, trusting the promotional product manufacturer alone for quality control is a big risk. This is where your sourcing partner's responsibilities enter. Their job would be to ensure that a quality inspection is carried out for every promotional product prepared as part of your order.  

Proper Communication Channel with Promotional Product Manufacturers

This step needs to be reiterated that having a transparent communication passageway is essential to having your promotional product manufactured exactly how you wanted it to be. Frequently, factories and suppliers tend to not work on your customizations by providing you with a similar promotional product with slightly different features than what you asked for.

Communication involves letting the Chinese manufacturers and suppliers know the requirements for developing your promotional product and the quantity of product you want. You also need to ensure there is clarity between both you and the factory or supplier. We'd recommend not going for those suppliers or manufacturers that do not cooperate, tend to make assumptions, and are not responsive on emails or through other communication channels.

Visiting China to Conduct Product Quality Inspection

We know this is hard and quite near to impossible. But, if you do not feel satisfied with the replies of the supplier or the factory, then we'd recommend that you visit China yourself. That way, you can have a look at the factory for quality inspection.  This ensures that your order is being manufactured exactly as you wanted it to be, with no faults and minimum defects.

Specify your Requirements for the Promotional Product's Customizations and Cost

Discuss the promotional products' cost and the customizations you would like to have with your supplier or manufacturer. In most cases, there will be a competitive market of suppliers and manufacturers for the promotional product you are sourcing. Hence, we'd recommend that you opt for bargaining the price for bulk orders.  

You can ensure product quality by requesting product samples or auditing the Chinese factory.

Only Pay Once Quality Inspection is approved.

This is one of the biggest openings where fraud is most likely to happen. Once your order has been delivered, do not make the payment unless you are certain that quality approval is given. If you are still unsure about it, you would need to check the quality of the order yourself to avoid a mishap with a potential organization or corporate client.

Wrapping Up

If you are an organization or even an individual seller catering to corporate clients, China is a great destination to source promotional products. Not only are you saving on costs while getting a wide variety of goods, but you can also obtain high profits and make it a scalable opportunity.

At Maple Sourcing, we believe the customer that is you comes first. So to make your sourcing experience smooth and easy, we have partnered up with different manufacturers to cater to your requirements. We provide a range of services, starting from manufacture control all the way to order monitoring. You can rest assured that we will cater to all of your needs regarding the order you place. We believe in making product sourcing as easy as shopping online; you can leave the rest to us!

If you wish to source promotional products from China, please reach out to us. 

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