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6 questions to answer before buying anything from a Chinese supplier

by Adam Gilbourne

1. Have you made my EXACT product before? What product is your factory best at producing?

If a factory has made your product before, or something similar they are much less likely to make mistakes.  If it’s a new product to them mistakes are much more likely. Make sure you do QC early and QC often. Expect the factory to make mistakes.

2. Do you mind if I send in my QC team to evaluate your factory?

Don’t assume you’re dealing with the factory where the product will be made. If they are a trading company and lying about it, they will have a problem with this request. They will obfuscate, avoid the question or outright tell you no! Even if they do send you details, it doesn’t mean it’s the real factory where production will actually take place.

3. Tell me specifically about your factory’s internal quality control system

How does your supplier handle defects of your EXACT product? Will they repair them? Thrown them in the bin? How does their process work – who checks product and when?

4. Tell me every material/component of my product which is purchased elsewhere or subcontracted to another supplier?

You need to know the potential issues coming from other suppliers. As discussed in the article “Why Chinese don’t do incoming materials QC” – you cannot assume your supplier will check their sub suppliers. So you need to check this yourself.

5. Tell me about your workforce

Specifically, how many are they local workers? How many are from the countryside? How many are full time vs part time (i.e. are there rice pickers/farmers working on this?). Who is the senior production manager for my product and can I speak directly with them?

6. Tell me about your current buyers?

Which country are your 5 largest buyers from? How do they sell (online, retail, wholesale?). Can I contact any of them?

 

FINAL THOUGHTSXXX

You will notice that many of these questions need to be asked face to face. Because when you’re trying to attain detailed information – the salesperson is not usually the best one to answer.


Adam Gilbourne is the founder of Easy Imex Ltd and helps importers to source product & manage their supply chain in China. He writes advice for importers on the Easy Imex blog. He lives full time in Shanghai, China. You can contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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