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How can I get in touch with the factory that is building the products I’m looking for?

by Mike Bellamy in 'China Sourcing Information Center'

How can I get in touch with the factory who is building the products that I’m looking for, like mobile phones? I know there are a lot of them in China, but it seems that I always get answers from small companies who claim that they are making the products.

ANSWER:

At the risk of oversimplifying things, we can say there are three types of phone suppliers in China handling large, medium and small orders.

The first group is large factories producing branded products for international and domestic consumption. They have their distribution networks well established and are no so interested in doing small orders for new clients.

The second group is smaller factories who kit together phones on a small scale as contract manufacturers. They may have their own brands, but are also open to branding their output under private label of their clients. Much of the BOM (bill of material) or “guts” may be similar and coming from the same sub suppliers used by the larger factories, but this group of smaller factories may not engage the same level of quality control or cutting edge technology that the larger factories in the first group employee.

The 3rd group are trading companies who have relations with factories but they don’t really make anything themselves in-house. These guys pick up the small orders that the first and second group don’t accept due to MOQ (minimum order quantity) levels. They may have their own brands, but are open to putting your name on the products they arrange.

Your orders have to be really large to get in the door with the first group, but from your background it sounds like your orders are large enough to attract the second group and you want to avoid the 3rd group of traders. So here are some suggestions.

  1. Use the verified list of suppliers at GlobalSources.com as vendors on this list are less likely to be traders than companies you discover on less reputable websites or on the internet.
  2. Be clear that you will be doing an audit and will need to see the production line before you place a purchase order.
  3. Ask for references. Talk to some of their customers to get a feel if it is a type 2 or type 3 supplier.
  4. Get a copy of the business license. It will be in Chinese, but somebody independent can translate it and see if they are registered as a manufacturing company or trading company.
  1. There are 3rd parties who can investigate your potential suppliers and confirm for you if you are unable to travel to China on your own. If you need help in this area, I would be happy to introduce you to reputable companies that have helped me.

BTW, lots of buyers are looking to get a factory direct purchase with famous cell phone brands like Apple and such. Read this blog post (Genuine products from China?) if you want to learn why such a purchase if very unlikely to happen and why buyers of these goods are often targeted by scams.

Wishing you successful China sourcing!


Answer written by Mike Bellamy, an Advisory Board Member & Featured Blogger at the not-for-profit China Sourcing Information Center. Mike is also the author of "The Essential Reference Guide to China Sourcing" and founder of PassageMaker Sourcing Solutions.

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